One Year of Baby Favorites (0-12 months)

Monday, March 18, 2019
baby must haves; baby favorites; 0-12 months;
Mason had his first birthday last month so I thought it was high time to share some of our favorites. I focused on the bigger items that we used over and over again, but I did mention a few toys and other things at the end.  I've used affiliate links in this post, so any clicks or purchases will earn me a small commission. When we were researching what we wanted to register for it was fun, but overwhelming because there's really no way of knowing what your baby is going to like.

Recently Read 2019 II

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I can't believe it's already time for another book linkup with Steph & Jana. After a big reading month in January, just a short post this month with two Netgalley books from authors I really enjoy.  

Good Riddance | After my last three books I was in the mood for something light and fun and this was exactly that. Daphne's mother leaves her yearbook for her after she dies. Not seeing any significance in it she throws it away. One of her neighbors finds it in the trash & wants to make a documentary about her mom's life based on her notes in the yearbook. The characters were interesting and a bit quirky, and I loved Daphne's relationship with her dad, but there were so many dropped plot points. It was enjoyable enough, but definitely my least favorite Lipman, though I will definitely continue to read my way through her backlist.  c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Invited | Whenever I read a Jennifer McMahon book I feel like I need to preface it by saying it's normally something I would never gravitate towards. I read The Winter People a few years ago, not realizing it had paranormal elements to it, so I was a bit caught off guard but I ended up really liking it. This one is about a couple who buys land to build their dream house knowing there are rumors that the land is haunted. This was spooky, but not in a graphic or gory way. I was really interested in all of the different storylines and how they weaved together. I guessed the ending early on, but it was more that I wasn't sure, so it kept me guessing, not that it was super obvious. c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I'm still very slowly listening to Becoming and I just started Nine Perfect Strangers and have two other books I'm really excited about from the library right now (Daisy Jones and the Six and Two Can Keep a Secret. What are you reading?

Recently Read 2019 I

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
where the crawdad sings; book reviews; best books 2019; recently read
It's crazy to think that this time last year I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby, and now we're already just two weeks away from his first birthday! It has been the best year full of so much joy and laughter (& little sleep).

I've read some really great books so far this year & am excited to talk about them a little bit. I'm linking up with Steph & Jana and am trying to share my reviews over on Goodreads as well, so add me there!

Love & Other Words | Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who recommended this because I definitely would not have picked it up otherwise. I think it was Heather and Oyla who mentioned it being slightly similar to Swear on This Life, which is really what swayed me to read it. I loved young Elliot and Macy-- I wish the entire book had just been about them growing up and falling in love with each other. I wasn't as crazy about the 'then' portions and I thought their whole reason for losing touch was so, so unrealistic but it still wrecked me when it happened & I couldn't put this down.

Believe Me | I went into this book not knowing very much about it, other than that I liked The Girl Before, but this one didn't work for me at all. There were plenty of twists, but it felt like nothing else was well developed in an attempt to squeeze in as many as possible. Pretty big things would happen-- like people being murdered, and it would just get brushed over in a paragraph or two. Or people suddenly falling in love without knowing each other at all & there wasn't even a good meet-cute. I just could't suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy this one. I saw he has another book coming out this summer The Perfect Wife that I'll still likely request & hope it's more similar to his last book.  c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Sadie | I was not expecting the podcast element of this, but it worked so well & really added to the story. The story is about a girl who goes missing after her sister is killed. Part of it is an investigation told as a podcast and the other part of it explains where Sadie has gone. I liked that through the two different perspectives you were really able to learn a lot about Sadie's past-- I enjoyed that it felt plot driven while also being character driven.

Educated | I definitely thought I was going to finish this in December, but I kind of ran out of steam midway and took a really long break. Once I picked it up again, I was quickly transported right back into Tara's world and I realized why I took a break-- it was exhausting. The entire time I was reading this I kept thinking, this is insane. There was one chapter early on where she talked about getting to take piano & dance lessons and I literally got teary because I was so happy for her. Tara's strength and resilience is truly remarkable.  c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Where the Crawdads Sing | When I started this I wasn't sure I was going to be in the mood for it because I had just finished Educated and previously read Sadie, but this was quietly addictive. And sad. It was devastatingly sad, but still hopeful which made it hard to put down because I was so anxious to know how it would end. Kya was a remarkable character and I loved the pacing of the story and the way the investigation of Chase was weaved in. 5 stars from me!

I've also been listening to Becoming and am loving it, but it might be the end of the year before I finish it if I don't pick up the actual book. I usually only listen to 5-10 minutes at a time.

Sadie, Educated, and Where the Crawdads Sing all had amazingly strong and resilient female characters, and dealt with really difficult topics... specifically abusive fathers or father-figures. Love and Other Words is great if you're in the mood for contemporary romance.

2019 Reading List

Tuesday, January 8, 2019
While I'm a big fan of researching and filling out reading challenges, I don't think I've ever actually completed one. I skipped over doing any last year, but I really liked the categories this year for the MMD Challenge, so I thought I'd put a preliminary list together for some books I'm hoping to read this year.

a book you've been meaning to read// There are so many I could choose but I'm going to pick Us Against You because I'm excited to finally read that this year. Beartown is one of my favorite books and I started Us Against You last year but didn't get very far because I was too distracted and wanted to be able to really savour it when reading it.

a book about a topic that fascinates you// The Path Between Us: An Ennegram Journey to Healthy Relationships I'm a sucker for personality typing and know very little about ennegrams, and have seen this book recommended a few times.

a book in the backlist of a favorite author// The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes. Historical fiction usually isn't my first choice, but this was the only book left by Moyes on my TBR and it is highly reviewed by friends on Goodreads.

a book recommended by someone with great taste// A Place For Us from megan (I usually really love all of her recommendations)

three books by the same author// This is a tricky one for me-- I'm tempted to say Louise Penny or Tana French, but knowing how slow I've read previous books by both authors, I don't think it's likely I'll read 3 this year, but we'll see!

a book you chose for the cover// I'm going to keep this one spontaneous!

a book by an author who is new to you// I'm hopeful there will be many this year, but Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is on my library holds list currently.

a book in translation// I don't know why I feel like it's cheating a little bit to pick another Backman novel but My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry

a book outside your genre/comfort zone// Artemis because science fiction is definitely not my preferred genre, but like most, I loved The Martian (even though I've heard this is not nearly as good).

a book published before you were born// A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or The Grapes of Wrath were the first 2 books that come to mind!

Let me know any of your suggestions or what you would choose for a few of the categories.

linking up with steph & jana for SUYB

Favorite Books of the Year (2018)

Thursday, January 3, 2019
Happy New Year! Even though books didn't hold quite as big of a role in my life last year, I'm still so excited to share my favorite books. My top 3 easily stood out, but there were definitely some others I really enjoyed. When I really thought about it, if I could only read one book from last year I would choose There There.

There There | This surprised me so much-- which I think definitely contributed to it being a favorite. I really wasn't expecting all of the different narratives to be so connected throughout the story and it almost felt like a puzzle as I was reading and seeing all of the little connections to characters and storylines. It was hopeful, yet devastating, and explores such an important topic of the history and current lives of Native Americans.
We’ve been defined by everyone else and continue to be slandered despite easy-to-look-up-on-the-internet facts about the realities of our histories and current state as a people.

The Great Alone | While this wasn't always easy to read, the writing was stunningly beautiful and you quickly fell into the Alaskan landscape-- it was hard to believe I could so vividly picture somewhere I've never been. My heart broke for Leni, but I was so proud of her and I loved her relationship with her mother, even though it was also heartbreaking at times.
A girl was like a kite; without her mother's strong, steady hold on the string, she might just float away, be lost somewhere among the clouds.
An American Marriage |  Before I started this I had a feeling I was really going to like it, and then the first sentence pulled me in-- which is often a good determining factor for how much I'll like a book. There were so many layers as Jones really explores love and family and heartbreak and injustice. Roy's sentencing was devastating, and I found myself so angry with Celestial for some of her choices, but I still always wanted the best for her. I wanted her to be happy and successful.
Up until now, I thought I knew what was and wasn't possible. Maybe that's what innocence is, having no way to predict the pain of the future. When something happens that eclipses the imaginable, it changes a person. It's like the difference between a raw egg and a scrambled egg. It's the same thing, but it's not the same at all.

I also loved The Dinner List, Still Me, The Immortalists, and American Street

What was your favorite book from last year?

Linking up with Kristen & Steph.

December 2018 Book Reviews

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Somehow this has felt like the shortest and longest year at the same time. I feel like the books I read in January and February were years ago, but somehow I can't believe it's already December. Linking up with Steph and Jana today for Show Us Your Books to share the last few books I've read-- including 2 books that were 5 stars.

Watching You | I've read very few thrillers this year, and this probably would have sat unread a little bit longer, but after Steph's post a few months back I decided to pick it up after finishing my last book. This is the only book I've read by Lisa Jewell and I really enjoyed it. It was suspenseful, and there was a lot going on, but not in a bad way. It was just enough to keep you interested without being confusing or hard to follow. Definitely recommend if you're into domestic thrillers! c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Little Fires Everywhere | I feel like this is one of those books that most people read last year? It wasn't what I was expecting, even though I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but I did really enjoy it. I slowly read and savored this book-- the plot felt fast, yet slow at times. I would feel like I was going to put it down for the night, but then something exciting would happen and I'd read another chapter. Now that I'm thinking back on it, it wasn't overly memorable, but it was definitely enjoyable while I was reading it.

American Marriage | This was probably my most anticipated book of the year and I was not disappointed. I really think my only complaint was that it took me so long to read and I would have rather read it all in one (or two, or three) sittings. The writing, the story, the characters... it was so easy to feel a connection and completely invested. It was heartbreaking at times, and emotional and hard to read, but easy to read at the same time. Highly recommend!

There There | For some reason this skipped my TBR the first few times I heard about it, and it wasn't until the NBA longlist was released that I finally added it and I'm sooo glad I made it a priority this year because it was everything I didn't know I needed to read. From the synopsis I knew it was going to be told through different Native Americans who all end up together at a powwow in Oakland, but I didn't know the stories were going to be intertwined throughout the entire book. Without that aspect, the story itself was really interesting and I think entire books could be written about each character, but seeing how the people were connected through past and present was really clever. I was so sad when it was over, partly because it isn't the happiest ending, but also because I didn't want the book to be over.

What books have you read lately?

Recently Read | october 2018

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Merry October! I got back on a bit of a reading roll (finally!!) and I really liked almost all of these books! Linking up with Steph & Jana for show us your books.

American Street | This was a NBA finalist for young people's literature last year and I'm so happy I finally got around to reading it. It's about a teenager from Haiti who comes to the United States with her mom to meet up with her Aunt and cousins in Detroit. Her mom gets detained once they land in New York so the story follows Fabiola and her life in Detroit with her cousins as she tries to figure out if/when she'll be reunited with her mom & just life in general in a new country.

I would definitely give this 5 stars for giving me all the feels-- first the relationship with her mother, then her relationship with Kasim even though I feel like it was rushed and I would have loved to read more about the buildup. I definitely felt like certain things were breezed over and at times it felt less character driven and more about trying to squeeze in plot details. It got unexpectedly intense during the last 20% or so, and it wasn't the ending I was expecting or hoping for, but I understood it for what it was.

The Dinner List | I really, really enjoyed this. I don't know if it's because I haven't read very much this year, but as I was reading it I kept thinking it was such an interesting concept and probably one of the best books I've read in having a pretty flawless transition switching chapters from the present to the past. I daresay it reminded me a little bit of Swear on This Life. While the book focuses on Sabrina's relationship with everyone at the dinner, the main focus of the book is her love story with Tobias, I kind of hated Tobias from the very beginning so it was hard for me to want to root for their relationships at times.

Girl Against the Universe | This is a contemporary YA with a protagonist who has PTSD and anxiety. It's a romance, so there's that whole holding your breath moment where you're praying it isn't going to be a boy fixes girl situation. Admittedly when I first started this I thought it was cute, but seemed kind of predictable-- then about halfway through I was hooked and enjoying the writing-- I laughed out loud a few times. Overall, I loved that this focused on the importance of therapy and working on something... it felt like the cute love story and friendship stories on the side were a nice bonus.

All We Ever Wanted | I couldn't decide what to read after Girl Against the Universe, so after starting a few things I wasn't feeling I decided to go with a Netgalley pick that I knew would be a quick read to avoid another slump. I had read quite a few reviews mentioning this isn't a typical Giffin novel so I knew to expect it to be a more serious read. Initially it reminded me a lot of season 2 of American Crime, and then it just reminded me of a book that was trying to do WAY too much.

A privileged teenager posts an explicit photo with a racist caption of one of his classmates. You get the viewpoints of Lyla, her dad, and Finch's mom-- I didn't really see the value in the POVs that were chosen because Finch made no sense as someone you can't see inside his thoughts. What he did absolutely has nothing to do with whether or not he's a "good" kid, but that gets brushed over pretty quickly (which was really weird to me), and I felt like I needed to know more about his motivations for the rest of the story to make sense. I think that was a big part of the problem for me, everyone felt like a stereotype more than an actual character that you feel for, even with an important and timely topic. c/o netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I'm not sure what I'll read next. I have the hardback of Little Fires Everywhere from the library, but we'll see since I tend to favor ebooks. What are you reading?
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