Carly Reads Here | July 2017

show us your books, recent reads, summer 2017, what should i read next, book bloggers,
Aside from The Likeness taking me forever to finish, I finally got back into a better reading groove this month. I finally got all the way caught up with my library books, which meant I could finally prioritize some of my Netgalley queue.

My Not So Perfect Life This book was pure bliss! Aside from Finding Audrey (which I love, but is YA), I've never read any of Kinsella's standalone books (though I have enjoyed the few Shopaholic books I've read). The story is about Katie, a girl from the countryside who has her dream job in London, though her boss is a bit of a nightmare. The beginning was hilarious and all too relatable as she goes through her hellish commute-- I think most people who have moved to a big city can relate to her experience of using public transportation. Things don't go so well, and she ends up moving back home for a little bit to help her dad and step-mom run a glamping business-- which is every bit as hilariously awesome as it sounds.

Of course there's a love story thrown in there too, though I appreciated it wasn't a central theme of the book. Rounding out the title of the book, she also touches on the danger of falling into the perfect life on instagram thing, that was pretty relatable. Overall, a really fun book, that I wouldn't mind reading again/would really like a sequel!
Thank you Netgalley for providing this book in exchange for an honest review! 

The Likeness | After finishing the first book in this series back in April I couldn't wait to dive back into the world of the Dublin Murder Squad. This book follows Cassie (one of the detectives from the first book), as a dead body is found that looks exactly like her and has the ID of one of her undercover aliases from earlier in her career.

The premise was really interesting to me, but then their game plan after finding the body seemed so farfetched and I wondered if I would be able to get past that, but I'm finding French's books to be more about the characters vs the plot. She has a beautiful way with words and writes interesting characters, but this one was a tad long for me. *though of course, now that I've finally finished it I'm anxious to read the next one-- though kind of not because I really don't care for Frank's character, so I'm not sure how much I'll dig his point of view?

Once and For All | This was a most-anticipated book of summer for me, and right away I was filled with the nostalgia that comes with reading a Sarah Dessen novel when you've been reading her books for years... until things took an unexpected turn that I was not prepared for based on what was on the blurb. This happens around the 30% point, so it isn't like the central theme of the book or anything, just not what I expected.

Basically it's about a girl Louna, who assists her mom in her wedding planning business. There was a tragic ending with her first love, Ethan, but the current love interest in the story is Ambrose. It's kind of told back and forth between how she met Ethan, and currently as she's getting to know Ambrose. I preferred one story to the other, and wished the romance with Ambrose could have been kicked up a notch a little earlier on, but it's worth a read if you're a fan of Sarah Dessen.

Perennials | This is a debut novel about a summer camp-- the synopsis makes it sound like it focuses on two girls, Fiona and Rachel, but it really highlights an entire cast of characters with a different in-depth focus on each character. I think the book was maybe too short for this to work, and  it almost felt like a book of short stories that kind of came together in the end, but not really.

I loved the summer camp setting, a few of the characters were really interesting and well developed, but as a whole the book felt scattered leaving it at 2.5 stars.
Thank you Netgalley for providing this book in exchange for an honest review! 

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore | Like most book lovers, I'm a sucker for a book about books, and I could tell from the first few pages that I was really going to enjoy the writing. The story is about Lydia, who works at a bookstore where a patron committed suicide and left her a message to figure out what happened. Lydia also witnessed a horrific event when she was younger, so the book works through that backstory too, which was a tad more scary/dark than I was expecting. I think there were a few plot holes, but the writing/pace of the story was so good that it wasn't something that bothered me. This is a great choice if you're looking for a bookish book, with a great thriller element thrown in as well. I'm really interested to see what this author writes next. This was available through my library, but if yours doesn't have it there's a Goodreads giveaway going on until the 20th!

The Inn at Lake Devine | I can't get enough of Elinor Lipman, and am happily reading my way through all of her books. This one was published back in 1998 and was definitely different in tone from the other two books I've read so far. The book starts off in 1962 with the protagonist, Natalie, as a child and her family inquires about staying at an Inn in Vermont for their summer vacation-- they get a response back that basically says they aren't welcome because they're Jewish. Natalie ends up going to the Inn a few years later with a friend from summer camp, and then the book switches to part 2, where Natalie is an adult (which is the majority of the book). There's some rom-com going on, but also the tension between Natalie and her parents, and relationships that happen at the Inn over the conflict in religion. There was a bit of a lull in the second half of the book for me, and then a ton of action in the last quarter of the book. I loved Natalie's character and found the minor characters to be really well constructed, which is something I've noticed in all of Lipman's books.

So a pretty good little batch of books this time around! My Not So Perfect Life and Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore were definitely my top two. What books have you read lately? Any perfect summer beachy reads? Make sure you stop by the Show Us Your Books linkup to see what other bloggers have been reading.
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Loving Lately

I guess I'm really feeling the random, more spontaneous posts again this month for the first time in a while. Sharing five random recommendations: a tv show, an accessory, a drink, a recipe, and a book.

22

Random Musings

If I could trade places with someone for a day I think I'd pick Kate Middleton. Or maybe Pippa so I could hang out with Kate Middleton all day? I'm not crazy into the royals or anything, but it would be so interesting to have an inside look of how they live.

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Middleton Place | Charleston, South Carolina

middleton place, what to do in charleston,
In case you missed it, or are just happening along this post, I shared a recap of our trip to Charleston, but wanted to do a separate post on Middleton Place because it was such an incredible experience. Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark-- it originated in 1741 and was expanded in the 19th & 20th centuries.

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Carly Reads Here | June 2017

Happy Show Us Your Books Day! My reading picked up a bit thanks to all of my library books expiring at the same time. I'm currently trying out the suspend feature to hopefully help space them out a little bit better. Most of these are pretty long review blurbs because I had so much to say, and I usually like to share a little bit about the plot too.

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TRAVEL: Charleston, SC

visit charleston, where to eat in charleston, charleston guide,
Charleston is one of those cities that seems to have it all-- charm, beautiful architecture, great food, and so much history. My husband had a work training and I was lucky enough to tag along. This was my fourth time in Charleston, but first time spending an extended period of time in the city-- in the past I'd been for a day when visiting Hilton Head or Isle of Palms, so I was excited to see more of the city (really eat more of the food). I came down with an unfortunate case of shingles before our trip, so that put a little bit of a damper on things, but what would life be without trials and tribulations?

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Exciting Book Releases | Summer 2017

summer 2017 book releases; best books of summer 2017; new books 2017
Mid-May means summer is right around the corner, even though that's hard to believe because it has been unseasonably cold. While I tend to be a mood reader more than a seasonal reader, there are so many books coming out this summer that I can't wait to read. These are all books by authors I've read before and really loved.


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Carly Reads Here | May 2017


I've really been jumping from genre to genre this year, which I guess shouldn't be too surprising since my top books from last year were all so drastically different. Each month I tell myself I'm going to do shorter review snippets since I've been reading more books per post, but that never seems to happen. Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books.

In The Woods | After seeing Tana French's books everywhere, this was definitely one of my most anticipated books to read this year. The story follows a detective on the Dublin murder squad investigating the murder of a young girl in a small town-- the crime might be related to two missing children from 20 years earlier. This took me a few tries to get into, and it was definitely a slower read for me, but once I got into it I was hooked! The writing was really strong and engaging, and the story kept you interested until the very end. I'm so excited to read the next book, especially since it switches to a new narrator.

All Grown Up | I meant to read this back when I did my post about new releases, but the hold list took forever despite it being a really quick read. While I believe this is considered a novel, it read more as a series of short stories, or vignettes-- not in any chronological order. The narrator, Andrea, is a 39/40 year-old, who goes against the norm of getting married and having kids, and her struggle to find connection. The writing was sharp and humorous at times, but I found it to have more of a sad undertone and it wasn't very memorable for me. I enjoyed it more for the writing than the content, but I always welcome a New York City setting.

The View From Penthouse B | I was so excited to read my second Elinor Lipman novel after how much I loved the first one, and this one gave me the same blissful feeling while reading! It's about two sisters who live together in a penthouse in the West Village after they both unexpectedly lose their husbands (one dies; one goes to prison). It's comical yet heartfelt and just an all-around really fun read with another great group of minor characters.

The Hate U Give | Thomas' book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, telling the story through YA fiction and has received crazy (& much deserved) hype since it was released in February. It's told from Starr's point of view after she witnesses a friend get shot by the police-- and is really just an honest and raw view at race relations in America today. There was a lot of dialogue, but it wasn't filler fluff dialogue, it was meaningful to the story and the characters. It was captivating and chilling-- definitely a book I'll be thinking about for a long time and still think about.

What have you read recently?

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Carly Reads Here | April 2017

Six books, six different genres. I definitely have a pretty eclectic mix of books this month, including a couple that I really loved. I'll skip the long intro because my review blurbs always tend to be lengthy, but linking up for Show Us Your Books- stop by and share what you've been reading recently.

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Ten Things

Happy April! I thought I'd start out the month with something a little different and share some fun/super random things about myself to linkup with Kristen & Gretch.
  1. I'm an INFJ, and a true introvert (none of that extroverted introvert stuff). It's supposed to be a rare type, but it seems like it's really popular among bloggers which is awesome. 
  2. I have the biggest sweet-tooth ever and I don't think I've never met a dessert I didn't like... unless we're talking about key lime pie or cheesecake. 
  3. My favorite TV shows (of all time) are Friends, Downton, and The Wire. I love cheesy dramas too and am forever wishing Hart of Dixie could return. 
  4. Growing up my dream job was an architect, but I was really terrible at math so I never really gave it a consideration and I definitely regret it. 
  5. You've Got Mail is the one movie I can watch over and over again,  2005 Pride & Prejudice is a close second, and Bridesmaids never fails to make me laugh.
  6. I enjoy reading non-fiction just as much as I love a good novel.
  7. New York is my favorite city ever. I think there's a Gossip Girl quote or something that says when you're there you're never alone, but you're always on your own, and I think that's definitely a little bit of the appeal.
  8. I'm not really an animal person but a poodle is my dream pet.
  9. I'm that annoying person at the grocery store who checks like eight different cartons of eggs before choosing what one I want.
  10. Psalm 46:10 is one of my favorite verses and if I ever decided to get a tattoo, that would probably be my choice. 
What's your Myers-Briggs type? Do you find it to be accurate? Favorite movie or TV show?
27

Designing a Custom Phone Case

case app; caseapp; custom phone case; iphone 6
Happy Friday and last day of the month! This month completely flew by, but April brings the stretch of my favorite months so I'm definitely welcoming the new month. I'm embarrassingly excited for the last episode of Big Little Lies this weekend and can't wait to see how they wrap everything up. Season 2 of Good Witch is finally coming to Netflix next month, so I'm really excited for that. It's the little things right?

15

All of the Recent Releases | carly reads here

I'm sharing a second book post this month to focus on all of the recent releases I've read recently. I'm not sure how far past the publication day a book can be to still be considered a new release, but for the purposes of this post I'm talking about books published in January to March of this year.

The majority of the time I find new releases I'd like to read from the All of the Books! podcast, and I'm always interested to see what the BOTM club choices are each month. Another thing I've learned recently is to check out the recently added tab on my library home page, because you can often get on the wait list before the release date to help cut down on month long waiting lists.

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Spring Things & Wish Listing

Happy first official day of spring! Even though it was still snowy and freezing for most of yesterday and I could do with a lot more 60-70 degree days in the forecast, but such is life. Despite the weather spring has been on my mind for a while, blame that early warm spell we got a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd share some favorite things & a mini wish list.

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Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

We finally had the opportunity to visit the Infinity Mirrors exhibit so I thought I would share our visit. Our experience was so different from what I was expecting. I guess because getting tickets was so stressful, and there seemed to be endless articles about it taking 2-3 hours to get through the exhibit, I expected mass chaos or something. Our tickets were for 10:15 and we got there about 15 minutes early-- there were a few people in front of us in line and quite a few people already lined up for the 10:30 time slot, but getting there that early didn't seem necessary. It was all really organized, as you're waiting outside you flash your tickets and get a sticker and a brief rundown of the event and then you get to go inside.

At that point you can check your bags and jackets downstairs, or head right up to the exhibit where you wait in a second line to actually have your tickets scanned before going into the exhibit. While there is an obvious flow, you don't have to go into the rooms in order (with the exception of the last room). Along with the six rooms, there were other amazing art pieces throughout the exhibit, but we kind of breezed over those to take advantage of there being no wait to go into the actual rooms. There were maybe one or two people in front of us and we got through the entire exhibit in about 30 minutes.

You get 20-30 seconds in each of the mirrored rooms and the time goes quickly, but not as fast as I was expecting. In one of the rooms I was actually ready to get out before the time was over. You go in four mirrored rooms, look into one amazing mirrored space, and on the way out pass through the obliteration room and make your mark by adding dot stickers wherever your heart desires.

We snapped about a zillion pictures on our phones, only to look at them later over brunch at B Too and realize that most of the pictures were pretty underwhelming (or blurry)... at least compared to the ultra creative photos splashed all over social media. Lately I've had to stop and remind myself not to compare myself so harshly to others. Life is more than a clever photograph, and the photos we take are our own experiences and memories and nothing in the world can compare to that, so if you're reading this take it as a friendly reminder not to be too hard on yourself.

We definitely hope to go back again while the exhibit is on display so we can take more time looking at the other artwork in the exhibit-- and get a few better photos ;)

carly blogs here; infinity mirrors; hirshhorn;
The exhibit is at the Hirshhorn until May and free tickets become available Monday at 12pm for the following week. It heads to Seattle in June.
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Carly Reads Here | March 2017

show us your books, book of the month club, botm, behind her eyes, best thrillers
This post was originally going to be the post of all the new releases, but it turned into the post with all of the thrillers instead. After reading Behind Her Eyes I was in the mood for books I wouldn't be able to put down, and it definitely got me out of my reading lull.

Behind Her Eyes | After hearing all of the hype around the ending of this book, I wanted to read it so bad that I finally joined BOTM(link is my referral code) and eagerly awaited its arrival on my doorstep. It's a psychological thriller about a woman who has an affair with a man, who ends up being her boss, and then she accidentally befriends his wife. I absolutely loved the pace of this book, and how pieces of the puzzle are revealed as you're reading-- not all at once when you get to the end. But the ending made me kind of mad/disappointed. Still 4 stars and highly recommend if you like psychological thrillers.

32

Friday Things | March 2017

TGIF! Kind of, I'm a little bit bitter that it's going to be in the 30's all weekend. The early snap of warm weather tricked me into thinking spring was coming early and I'm having a hard time readjusting my expectations.
1. While I steered clear of the Christmas themed pop-up because of tales of how insane the lines were, I love all things cherry blossom so really want to try to make it to the pop-up cherry blossom bar. (I'm also really curious to see what happens with the bloom dates with the weird weather we're having)

2. Monk is one of my favorite shows and sadly it isn't available on Netflix or Prime- my mom text me last week to let me know it's going to be on Hallmark-- meaning I can set the DVR and binge to my hearts desire. I'll also add that I felt a little bit like Monk trying to make the above graphic because nothing was lining up correctly.

3. Makeup brush washing mats have been around for quite a while and I was always intrigued, but never enough to pay $20+. A few weeks ago someone mentioned picking one up at TJ Maxx, which was a genius idea, and I was excited when I found one there for $5.99. I was skeptical, because it is kind of gimmicky but it made cleaning my foundation brushes so much easier. Worth every penny!

4. I'm sure this is news to no one but Ed Sheeran released his full album last week and it has been on repeat ever since. He also released his North American tour dates & he's coming to DC in September

5. I wasn't a super fan of The Girl on the Train, but I'm still extremely excited to read Paula Hawkin's new book, coming out in May. On the subject of thrillers, my #showusyourbooks post on Tuesday is going to be all about thrillers I've read recently. Also on the subject of new releases, apparently there's going to be a third book about Louisa Clark (Me Before You, After You) by Jojo Moyes. I'm curious to see what people think because many people weren't fond on the second book.

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with H54Ffab favoritesoh hey friday.
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Currently | March 2017

Happy March (and almost springtime), I'm always excited to linkup with Kristen and Gretch to share what I've been up to lately, and Joey for stuff & things.
photo @ convival dc
reading | A Man Called Ove, and I'm mentioning it here because I don't think it's going to make it into a reading recap post. It was the Beyond Words book club pick for February and such a great read. Such good writing, storytelling, character development... you'll laugh and cry.

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Current Favorites | Winter 2017

Happy Wednesday, or the day after Valentine's Day, also known as the day to run out and stock up on all of the discounted candy. Just kidding, I'm trying to eat way less sugar as we count down to Easter as visions of jelly beans and Reese's eggs cloud my dreams. Anyway, I've been working on a list of things (mainly beauty) that I've been loving over the past few months.

Candle Glow Sheer Perfecting Powder | I came across this randomly on the Sephora website, and despite never hearing anyone talk about it, I decided I'd order it and try it out. It's a talc-free powder, which is awesome and it's supposed to set, perfect, and leave your skin with a diffused glow. At first I used it to set my under eye area and it did basically nothing. Then I tried it with a big powder brush to apply it all over my entire face and it has some kind of magical power that really does make my skin look a lot more smooth!

Grandiose Extreme Mascara | I finally got around to trying out this mascara even though I accidentally ordered the extreme version. When I first opened the tube I actually thought I was going to take it back because it looks kind of intense between the shape of the wand and the spiky bristles. After using it just once I quickly changed my mind because it's incredible. It gives such a great lift, and the shape of the wand (swan neck) allows you to really coat your lashes without getting mascara onto your waterline or into your eye accidentally. My lashes tend to stick together in the corners and this mascara really helps untangle them. My only complaint is that it's pretty difficult to remove.

Firming Body Scrub | I was in the process of reordering the Acnedote scrub that I love when this one caught my eye. I decided to try this out instead since it doesn't contain any acne medication and I really like it! I've used sugar scrubs in the past and find them a bit too abrasive most of the time, so I really like that this is lightly exfoliating, plus it gets a nice lather.

Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels | I had these for three or four months before I was finally brave enough to try them out and I don't know why I waited so long because they feel incredible on the skin. I'm not sure they actually make a difference in the appearance of my under eye area, but they feel great and definitely add some moisture.

Bobbi Brown Blush | My HG blush, chiffon by Smashbox, got discontinued (apparently all of their single blushes did), so I was on the hunt for a good quality blush to take its place and decided on nectar, a pink-coral. I love the color, the staying power, the size/quality of the compact. If I was a hoarder of blushes I'd love another one or two from BB.

Excursion Tights | I got these for Christmas and I've been stalking the Athleta website ever since to make sure they aren't going to go on sale because I definitely want another pair. They're the perfect running errands tights and I love that they have pockets on the sides and a little bit of structure to them with the detailing around the knees. They're super comfortable, durable, and my most worn pants!

Do you have any new recent favorite products?

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Carly Reads Here | February 2017

Despite all my reading last month, this post is a little light because I did an end of the month review post in January and a standalone book review last week. I've been in a weird phase where just about everything feels very average and I can't figure out what I'm in the mood to read.

The Hating Game | While I'm definitely in the minority of not loving this book, I could not put it down! It's about two co-workers who act like they hate each other, but they obviously really like each other and end up going against each other for the same promotion. Parts were really funny and smart while other parts left me bored. The author constantly described Lucy and Joshua in terms of their appearance and it was incredibly too much for me. There was one part where he literally says all he's thought about since the day they met is how tiny she is... and another part where he admits that he keeps a daily tally of when she wears a skirt or a dress. I think it was supposed to be endearing, but it read as off-putting to me. Nonetheless, this was a book that kept me glancing between the time on my iPad and how much left I had to read,  trying to decide if I could finish it all in one night. Sometimes that's just the kind of book you need to read. 3ish stars.

The Underground Railroad | I've never read anything by Colson Whitehead, but this was the National Book Award winner from 2016, and I meant to read it last year but never got around to it. The story is based on Cora, a slave who escapes using the underground railroad, though in this book it's an actual railroad underground. Reading slave narratives are never pleasant or easy to read, but the story was beautifully written and engaging. I wasn't crazy about the flow or transition between chapters, though things came together throughout the chapters and I'm guessing that's Whitehead's writing style, which makes me curious to read something else by him. Worth the read, and would recommend at 4 stars.

Truly Madly Deeply | I couldn't find anything I was in the mood to read and saw this was available on the library homepage so I figured I would give it a try even though I'm not a LM superfan, and had heard this wasn't a favorite among most people who typically love her books.

Right away it reminded me of the same formula of Big Little Lies, where you know something bad happened, but you're not quite sure what it was, and the characters are all meant to be relatable yet you can't relate to any of them. At first I was anxious to find out what happened, but the more I read it felt like the book was getting longer and longer and more and more dull. Once you finally find out what happened on the day of the barbecue, I didn't even care. and I thought it was all kind of silly and at least 100 pages too long. This probably should have been a DNF for me, but I finished it and gave it 2.5 stars.

Young Wives Club | Today is pub day for Julie Pennell, and thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy to me in exchange for an honest review. The story is about four friends from high school who end up back together in their hometown, so it kind of gave me PLL season 6 vibes combined with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, plus Hart of Dixie because it's in the south... while it's considered women's lit, it definitely read more as YA to me. I found a few of the storylines to be far-fetched and I wish it would have focused more on their friendship and less on their relationships. It was enjoyable and an easy read that might be for you if you're in the mood for something chick lit/YA. 2.5 stars.

If I can stay on top of my library holds this should be a really good reading month for me because (as it goes) all of my library books became available at once and I have some really promising new releases currently on my hold list. What have you read lately? Stop by the Show Us Your Books linkup for more book reviews and recommendations.
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Friday Things | feb17

one | We've needed a new desk chair for a long time, but I've never really put much effort into looking for one. I accidentally came across this one from Target, part of their Dwell Magazine collaboration and haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It doesn't appear to be in stores anywhere near us, so I'm a little skeptical about the legs, especially because we favor gold accents in our house, but it seems to have good reviews so far. I'm hoping there will be a furniture sale sometime soon before it sells out.

22

Pass or Purchase Again? [vol 8]


I took a bit of a hiatus with these posts (the last one was in June), but I miss chatting about beauty products and I love reading empties posts! A few of these are repeats, but I'm excited to talk about a few products I haven't mentioned before. I've used affilate links through Shopstyle in this post, meaning I get a few cents if you browse or purchase a product through my link.

23

Small Great Things: a reflection

I'm not usually a single-post book review kind of person, but when I tried to add this into one of my regular book review recaps, it was way too long because I had too much to say. I'll start by saying I've never read anything by Jodi Picoult. Last year I started one of her books but couldn't get into it, so I figured she just wasn't for me. I'd also heard her books always have a common theme of being super sad, so that was also a deterrent.
Last year I saw quite a few people review Small Great Things and the synopsis sounded right up my alley.

If you're lost and have no idea what the book is about, here's part of the synopsis:
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

I started this on a Friday night and made it a little over 100 pages and didn't think I was going to be able to finish it. It was exhausting to read and I wasn't sure I wanted to read something so heavy on every single page. We all lived through 2016, we know hate groups are a real thing. A person seen as too racist to be a federal judge is our President's choice for attorney general.

I decided to skip to the end and read the author's note and it completely changed my mind about the book. It didn't make it any easier to read, but it reminded me why it was important. The first thing that caught my attention was that Ruth's story was actually inspired by a real case at the hospital where I was born, but more importantly Picoult acknowledges her white privilege and explains why she wanted to write this book, knowing the risk she was taking.

The story moved quickly and the writing was captivating as you're introduced to the different characters (the POV switches in each chapter between Ruth, Kennedy, & Turk). I could quickly see why so many people are big Picoult fans. In the first part of the book I wasn't crazy about the storylines with Ruth's sister or Kennedy's mom. I know they were purposeful to Picoult in showing further dimensions of racial inequalities, assumptions, and passive racism, but with so much already going on, I didn't think it was necessary and it felt forced.

The second part of the story is when the trial begins and I was so relieved to hear Kennedy finally address all of the things that had been overlooked with Ruth being unfairly blamed for the baby's death. I was infuriated with Ruth's co-worker and supervisor, and until that point it saddened me that no one was questioning their competence. The parts with the trial read extremely quickly and then there were two things that happened towards the ending that left me frustrated with the novel (i'll leave out to avoid spoilers, but if you've read this, I'd love to know your thoughts if you know what I'm referring to).

While this wasn't even a five-star book for me, I'd still recommend it. In the author's note Picoult says that one of the reasons she wrote the book because the things that make us uncomfortable are often the things that teach us, and I couldn't agree more. For me, as a white person, it was also a great reminder that staying silent about things is a privilege, and it's so important to stand up for what is right. I know I fall short sometimes, but I think that's part of the reason it was so important for me to share my feelings about this book.
17

Favorite Valentine's Day Cards

Valentine's Day is right around the corner... also known as the best candy holiday after Easter, which has always made it one of my favorites. As it goes, I was searching for something and got sucked into the black hole that is Etsy and kept coming across Valentine's Day cards that made me laugh (or were just cute) so I thought I'd share the love. 

What's your favorite way to celebrate Valentine's Day?

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TRAVEL: Miami Beach, FL

Miami was a dream. This is probably going to be the most boring trip recap ever because every single day consisted of laying at the beach or pool followed by dinner and/or drinks. South Beach is super walkable, so we did get in quite a bit of exercise as well to balance everything out. I'm not sure how or why I got it in my head that I really wanted to go to Miami. My husband was pretty insistent that I wouldn't really like it (the nightlife vibe is really not my thing), but in my mind I just saw gorgeous beaches, good food, and amazing architecture. Because he's a gem he surprised me with a trip knowing he was going to have some extra time off work with the inauguration. Planning to go in January was a bit of a risk in terms of really enjoying the beach, (I think January is typically the coldest month) but we ended up having the most amazing weather- sunshine with temperatures in the high-70s to low-80s!

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Carly Reads Here | end of the month edition

Everything We Keep | This was a Kindle Unlimited book that caught my eye and was already on my tbr shelf after reading Olya's review. I read this in less than 24 hours because it was so addicting. The author did a really good job setting up the characters and storyline in part 1, and then really kicked up the suspense element in part 2. I had a MAJOR problem with the plot though, and I don't want to give anything away, but the little side story romance was soooo unrealistic and ridiculous to me and didn't fit in at all with the main theme of the suspense/thriller.
All The Breaking Waves | I liked Everything We Keep enough that I wanted to read another book by Lonsdale while it was free with Unlimited. I made an assumption that it was going to be the same type of a book (thriller/suspense) only to find out it was more general women's lit with magical realism. I was skeptical at first, I don't think I've ever read any adult fiction that was fantasy, and this reminded me of Hope Floats and Good Witch in a weird way.

I gave both of the books 3 stars on Goodreads, but I definitely liked Everything We Keep a lot more. It was more 3.5 stars and All The Breaking Waves was more like 2.5.

Adulthood is a Myth | I originally got this to take to Miami but in the end decided against it because it's a comic and I ended up reading it all in one sitting right when I got it. It ended up being a good thing because I didn't want it to get bent or anything weird because it's a book I'm so happy to have in my collection. I love Sarah Anderson's illustrations and humor and you'll especially enjoy it if you're an introvert.
Summer Rental | I wanted a paperback beach read for our trip to Miami and despite never reading any Mary Kay Andrews, this had been on my tbr list since 2014. I got this used for around $4 and it was fine to read at the pool, but I really didn't care for it. I found a lot of the descriptions awkward and the characters kind of boring and predictable.
The Shadow of the Wind | I am totally kicking myself for waiting until the end of my library loan to start this one. I don't think I was in the right mood and I had to rush through most of it, when I think it probably would have been better enjoyed at a slower pace. It's a story about a boy in Barcelona who discovers a book with an interesting past and author. Daniel wants to find out more and it starts off innocently enough until there are many dark twists and turns and mysteries revealed alongside his own journey of self discovery. The writing was beautiful, the dialogue was smart and engaging, and the storyline was intriguing, but I found it hard to follow at times. I think it might have been to do with the timing of when I read it though. Regardless, I think there's something enchanting about reading a book about books.

Thanks to the Beyond Words book club for choosing this book to read and review this month. Next month we're reading A Man Called Ove and you can always linkup your book related posts on the last Friday of the month!

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Read My Shelves | pt I

The idea for this post came to me the day after New Years, as we were in the midst of attempting to rearrange our oversized furniture in our living room. I got slightly distracted rearranging the bookshelf and thought, I really need to prioritize reading some of these books. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but the physical books I own definitely get neglected-- or more easily shoved further back on my TBR list. My library books always take priority, and then e-books in general are just more convenient to read most of the time.

I decided to pick 6 books to read in the first six months of this year. I tried to pick a variety, but they were obviously picked based on my mood at the time. I'm sure I might switch up one or two, but I really want to read 6 books from my physical bookshelf. I didn't realize it until writing this post, but I picked 3 fiction and 3 non-fiction.

Bird By Bird | This book is almost always recommended for a wonderful book on writing. It's subtitled instructions on writing & life, both of which I think I can use in 2017.
Love's Executioner | Yalom shares ten stories of psychotherapy-- I've wanted to read this since 2013 when my professor in a course on clinical work with children recommended it-- he was one of my favorite profs ever.
Unfair | This is from Blogging For Books, and I kind of started it last year (and really liked the chapter or two that I read), but never really committed to reading it. I'm planning to use this for one of the categories in this book challenge, for a book that addresses current events.
Shotgun Lovesongs | I've wanted to read this book since I saw it on a best of list when it came out in 2014, but the library didn't have it as an option, so I finally picked it up over the summer at a used bookstore. I've seen a few people (alyssa) rave about how much they love it, so I'm really excited to finally dig into it.
Middlesex | This is another one that had been on my TBR list forever (2012), so I finally picked up a copy at a used bookstore and have been starring at it on my bookshelf ever since. I'm not super familiar with the synopsis but I have a feeling I'm really going to like it.
Go Set a Watchman | My dad loaned me this after reading it when it came out in 2015. I think this one has been avoided more because of the weird pressure to follow up To Kill a Mockingbird, and in general I'm very leery about reading sequels, or even second books by an author I love because I'm worried they won't live up to my expectations.

Do you hoard books, or do you read them as you buy them?

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Current Hair Routine

I'll start this post off with a full disclosure: I very rarely do my hair-- it's pretty much always in a braid or a bun, I haven't had a professional haircut since January 2014, and my hair type is super straight and fine (the photo above is from April with the Conair You Curl XL & a little hairspray probably). I had big plans to take some recent pictures of my hair, but it hasn't really left a bun in days so... Anyway, the real reason for this post is because I've been using a few newish products that I wanted to share and my normal routine does switch up a bit in the wintertime.

Outside of winter I dry my hair maybe once every 1-2 months-- normally I'm all about the air dry! In winter I don't have that luxury because most of the time it's too cold to go to bed (or go anywhere) with wet hair. Before using my hair dryer, I spray the Bumble & Bumble Invisible Oil Primer as a heat protectant. I usually dry my hair about 50% and then use half a pump of the Verb Ghost Oil that I picked up during the VIB sale in the fall. I had originally planned on purchasing the B&B Invisible Oil, but this caught my eye instead. I liked the philosophy behind the brand and it was a much better price point $14 for 2oz. 

The first time I used it I used a full pump (it suggests using 2-3), and it was waaay too much so I'm always very careful to only use half a pump, halfway through my blow dry. For some reason I don't like it as much when I use it on completely wet hair, though it can be used for a heat protectant. This makes my hair so incredibly soft and smooth. Once it's dry I'll sometimes add a tiny bit more throughout my hair and it really does help encourage me to style my hair (aka wear it down or something).

My current shampoos of choice are Biolage and Redken, though I'd love to throw a drugstore option into the mix, so let me know your favorite. I've been using the Living Proof No Frizz conditioner and always have my HG Fekkai Glossing conditioner on hand too. I meant to purchase the PHD conditioner, but got the No Frizz instead and have been pretty happy with it.  

Like everything else if you live in a cold climate, my hair gets super dry in the winter. I've mentioned coconut oil before, but I get into a routine of applying it to my ends (and then using whatever is leftover on my hands through the rest of my hair) about twice a week on nights when I know I'll wash my hair the following day.

Does your hair suffer in the wintertime? What are some of your must-have hair care products or tools? 
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Carly Reads Here | January

2016 brought me some wonderful reads, but there's nothing quite like a clean slate and the excitement of wondering what books you'll read and love. The first three books I read at the end of December, but still wanted to review them, so they're also in this post.

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15 in 2017

Happy New Year! This was originally supposed to be a 17 in 2017 list, but I couldn't come up with 17 things I wanted to share, so it got shaved down to a completely random number. I don't know that I'd call these goals, it's more a list of things I'd like to accomplish or turn into habits at some point this year.

  • Keep my Netgalley queue in check
  • Complete the Read Harder Challenge & the Modern Day Mrs. Darcy Challenge
  • Daily Gratitude Journal
  • Complete a devotional/bible study (starting with Ephesians that I got forever ago & never completed)
  • Send 24 just because letters 
  • Organize a bullet journal
  • Complete photobooks from our recent trips (the most tedious task ever)
  • Run another 5k
  • Fitness specific goals
    • Squat my bodyweight 
    • 3 unassisted pull-ups (currently soo far away from this one)
    • 3 unassisted pistol squats 
  • Budget/track our grocery spending
  • Intentionally dine out (out of interest, not out of desperation)
  • Connect and commit to a church
  • Appreciate the weekdays 
Some thing are measurable, some are vague, some I'll probably revisit often and others will be more of a challenge. What are you hoping to accomplish or work towards in 2017? 

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