July Books

July was definitely not my best for reading since it has been crazy with research but I still managed to get in a couple of audiobooks and one print book. My favorite was definitely There There by Tommy Orange. Seriously such a great book.

Annihilation (3.5/5 stars): I was very mixed on this one. I really liked the idea as it sort of a dystopian style fiction with an interesting female lead but I was not 100% sold on the main character. Granted this is a series so I am sure more will be revealed in the coming books. I am not sure where to even begin with this plot. It is kind of a crazy, this group of women enter into a barred off zone with the purpose of researching and of figuring out what happened (I am sorry this is such a terrible explanation, I am not sure how to overview without giving anything big away).

In the Unlikely Event (4/5): This Judy Blume novel is about the people involved in a series of unlikely plane crashes and the events that occur over time to the characters. I really enjoyed this one and the characters are amazing. I highly recommend checking it out! I listened to it on audiobook which I actually really liked but I am sure I would have understood the characters even better if I read it via print.

There There (4.5/5): Hands down one of the best books I have read this year. Its about many different people connected in different ways. They all are making there way to the Oakland Pow Wow and their individual lives and stories come to life throughout. It is such a moving book that portrays the modern struggles of native peoples with identity in todays world. I highly enjoyed it!

Where’d You Go Bernadette (3.5/5): I have to be honest about this one. I am a little confused about why it got so much hype and why so many people liked it. It was okay to me but I felt like it kind of went on for a really long time and did not hold my attention despite being a mystery. I thought the voice of the book just did not flow super well. In theory the story of a girl sounds good but it was just not flowing for me. I have to say that I am glad I kept reading because I did enjoy the last eighth of the book (still not sure how worth it it is). For how I felt while reading it, I think three stars is actually pretty generous.

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That is it for July reads! I would love to hear what you have been reading lately!?

Erin

To-Read List

Happy Saturday! Here’s to hoping for time for reading this weekend. My stack of books to read is insanely long and as much as I don’t need any more recommendations I keep getting them and just can’t help but add them to the list. Right now I am in the middle of There There by Tommy Orange and I am listening to the audiobook Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus (I really enjoyed her first book, One of Us is Lying). I thought I would do a quick post on the books at the top of my list.

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The first is a Life’s Library pick, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. It is not my usual genre but I am intrigued and can’t wait to start. Next is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. This one has been recommended to me so many times and I have had it on my list for years so I am finally putting it at the top. Third is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. There was a lot of hype around this one a while ago but for some reason I never jumped on it. My mom got it a while ago and gave it to me so now I have no excuses! Scythe is a book I heard about several months ago and was immediately interested. When Aiden took me to Barnes and Noble for my birthday I made sure to pick it up! The other book I am including here is Normal People by Sally Rooney. I got this as my May Book of the Month pick mostly because Bad on Paper Podcast was reading… I am a little behind so I need to catch up.

There are a few others that are very high up on my list as well. Night Circus is one that I have yet to get to but has been on my list for years, it was between Scythe and Night Circus at the book store last week so next time it is definitely coming home with me. Another one is The Farm by Joanne Ramos which is probably my number one to read right now (it sounds so interesting!) but it is in hardback so I am trying to wait until it comes to paperback. Wow I keep thinking of more and more that I am excited about (see Goodreads for my full list). I will mention just one more and that is Becoming by Michelle Obama. I am so excited to read this one, I have heard only good things!

I would love to know what you are reading and enjoying right now! Aside from reading, talking about books is my next favorite thing to do.

Erin

May & June Books

There is so much to catch up on! I have been able to read a lot this year (thanks to audiobooks) so I am going to start consistently sharing my monthly reads. I am skipping to May and June since they are most recent and I will do a round up of all the books I read and my favorites at the end of the year. As I mentioned the other day, the past few months have been so busy so I am actually surprised I was able to get through these five books. My reading list keeps on growing so hopefully I will be able to get through a few more in July.

For now here are my reads from May and June:

The Dinner List (3.5/5): I have seen some mixed reviews about this book so I wasn’t sure what I would think. I listened to it on audiobook while driving to Denver and ended up liking it. Its definitely not my favorite this year but I did enjoy it and would highly recommend. The premise is basically that this girl has a dinner party for her birthday with the people she always wished could be there (alive or dead) and the conversations that ensure captured my attention. Most centers around her relationships with people in her life.

Angels and Demons (3.5/5): If you have read Dan Brown than you know this formula well. They are all usually packed with action and very high energy. The lead is working agains the clock to solve some problem/riddle to save people. I always enjoy these so this was no exception, although I have to be a certain mood to read these books. While I liked Angels and Demons, Inferno is still my favorite by him (I just love the history and have been to Florence). This one still has a lot of historical background but some interesting religious aspects mixed in.

Leaving Time (4/5): Earlier in the year I read Jodi Picoult’s short stories “Where There is Smoke” and “Larger Than Life” and was immediately drawn in. These stories are precursor stories for two characters in Leaving Time. The book itself is about the disappearance of an elephant researcher and her daughter’s journey to find her. I loved so many aspects of this book. I think the research aspect drew me in (relatable and inspired for me), in the short story “Larger Than Life”, so I was compelled to read the book.

The Proposal (3.5/5): I was on the waitlist for this audiobook for months (I use Overdrive to borrow then from the library) and I finally got to read it. While I usually love a good romance I have not been that psyched about them this year so despite all the hype I was skeptical. As you may have heard, this story starts with a guy proposing to his girlfriend and her saying no. The woman gets rescued by some friendly strangers which starts a whole new adventure for her. The storyline was predictable to me but I really liked the main characters so overall I did enjoy it. Its a great beach/vacation read!

One Day in December (4/5): Yup I read this one in June despite it being a winter romance. The writing was really beautiful in that it brought the characters to life in a way I have not experienced before. I could relate to even their bad decisions even if I disagreed, this to me is a sign of great writing and character development. The story is all about the relationships between three people over a ten year period. There is a lot of heartbreak but there is also lots of love and great characters.

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I try to keep of with my Goodreads so feel free to friend me over there (I always love recommendations!).

Erin

Favorite Books of 2018

I will readily admit that I fell short on my reading goal for 2018. I had hoped to read around a book a week (my number goal was 30 total). That worked pretty well through June and then things got crazy with lots of travel and graduate school. Since September I have only read three books. So throughout the whole year I read a total of 24 books (five of which were re-reads) and chose to include eight of those in this list of the best books I have read in 2018.

Educated by Tara Westover: Such a fantastic and inspiring memoir of a woman who grew up in a very religious family in rural Idaho. I listened to this as an audiobook and was thoroughly captivated the entire time. Tara’s story is heartbreaking, uplifting and inspiring all at the same time. It brought on so many emotions for me (it even brought me to tears at one point).

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrass Tyson: This is a short book that gives a great overview of general astrophysics concepts. It is so easy to read (especially if you have to background in physics) and incredibly interesting. I am so glad I picked it up because I feel like I learned a ton and didn’t have to work super hard to understand things.

Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall: I had no idea that this one would be more than just her life with the gorillas. It is so inspiring and uplifting (read my March Book Round Up for more on this one). I highly recommend it.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez: This one took be quite some time and focus to get into but the story is so very beautiful. My friend has told me its her favorite book several times so I finally got around to reading it. I seriously loved it and it will probably be one of my favorites as well!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: In all honestly I am mostly remembering the show for this one since I read it so early on in 2018. I do remembering really liking the book though. Liane Moriarty’s style of writing was refreshing for me and the characters were so intriguing. I will say that I did not like Madly Truly Guilty nearly as much.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: I did an entire book review on this one so I won’t go to into detail. This story did a great job of reminding me to appreciate and understand where I come from and to change my outlook on the future by accepting that I can’t control everything.

Circe by Madeline Miller: This story of Circe (the Greek goddess) was a recommendation from Bad on Paper Podcast and I am so glad they chose it. The tragic and beautiful story of a underdog goddess, looked down upon by many, is told in full. I think this is my favorite fiction read of the whole year!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green: This is the most recent book I read and I really enjoyed it. I have been excited for Hank Green’s book for a while and for me it lived up to that hype. I don’t want to give anything away so I will only say that it is about this girl, April May, and her journey to fame through her discovery of a stature in New York City (yes that sounds vague but just read it!). I will say that it took me a while to get through. I am not sure if thats because I’ve just been busy or because I took a while for me to really get into.

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear what your favorite books from 2018 were. I am always looking for new things to read! Happy reading!

Erin

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Life Update

Wow I have no idea where to even start with this post! Life has not stopped being crazy which has been incredible in many ways but also overwhelming. There have been a ton of amazing opportunities and adventures but I have had almost no time to process anything! Here is my best crack at an update on my life lately:

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Grad School

In August I started my first year of graduate school at Utah State University and I have been so so busy. I enjoy being busy and I think having more to do helps me be more productive but right now it is so tough to get everything done. I am teaching a class, doing research and taking my own classes, on top of moving to a brand new place and trying to figure out my life here. I barely have had time to think which is kind of crazy! The biggest thing I have come to realize is how much time professors spend on single classes. At least three days out of my week have been fully dedicated to preparing for and teaching a class that meets once a week (although we do have three sections). I spend one day focusing on my own research which comprises mostly of reading lots of scientific papers right now. The rest of my days in the week are spent in classes, doing homework and helping around our lab. I have had fairly little time for myself and do not feel like I have been utilizing that time all that well. Also if you don’t know I am starting my PhD in biology!

Summer

I am not even sure where to start with the past few months. So much has happened. My sister and I got back from Europe at the end of July, just in time for the wedding of a family friend (which was very beautiful). My mom and I left the next day to move a bunch of my stuff out to Utah. I had a few meetings with my lab but the trip was mostly filling out paperwork, moving in and getting some things set up. We only stayed three days before driving back to Boulder so I could pick up my friend who came to visit. I absolutely loved having her visit! We hiked every single day, visited the national park and did a short backpacking trip (which I did do a post about). She visited for about a week and then I left for New England because my boyfriend’s family was on vacation. I will do a post on this trip in the coming weeks because it was so beautiful and such a great place to visit (we were mostly in New Hampshire)! I flew home a week later and had one day to get any last minute things, pack the car head out to Utah.

As a side note, I was driving by myself for eight hours so I listened to the book Educated by Tara Westover and I highly recommend it! I spent my first week in Utah doing lots of safety related trainings and getting things in order. Classes started the second week and that Friday I left for Bahamas for 10 days of field work in the Exumas. My trip to the Bahamas was pretty crazy as well! I got sick (for two whole days!), visited pigs, went snorkeling and collected tons of data. I also met some great people and had lots of productive conversations about research!

Fall Outdoor Adventures

I having been really trying to get outside for a little bit every day and do something a little bigger once a week. This has definitely been way harder than I expected! Last weekend though I went camping up in the canyon with some friends which was so fun and very needed. The leaves were bright yellow and the air was cool and crisp. I have had fall camping on my seasonal goals for the past few years and it finally happened! A friend and I also went to the harvest festival to get pumpkins which as so fun and really put me in the mood for fall.

Apple picking has also given me some hard core fall feels. The house I am renting has two beautiful apple trees so I have been trying to bake when I can and freeze as many more as I can. I made an apple pie for our camping trip and am now psyched to get creative with some other apple recipes (we seriously have so many apples)!

Meditating

One of the best things for me lately has been meditating. I took a hiatus for a while and am so so glad to be back at it. I went ahead and bought the student yearly plan on Headspace and it is so worth it. It has been about a week since I started and I am feeling so much better already! Taking a few minutes every morning really helps clear my head and puts me in a better place to start the day.

Reading

One last update! While I definitely have not had as much time for reading, I did finish Circe while in the Bahamas and loved it. If you at all like greek mythology you will love it. The whole thing is about Circe (commonly known for her role in The Odyssey) and her struggles as the not so beloved daughter of Helios. Right now I am listening to In a Dark Dark Wood on Overdrive and I am hooked. If you haven’t heard of Overdrive it is a great way to get audiobooks on loan from your local library!

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Have a great weekend!

Erin

Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

Happy Monday!

This book review is going to be a little shorter than the last but I have been reading a lot lately and really wanted to keep you all updated on my favorites. I recently read The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan and loved it. It has actually been on my radar since last year and I finally got the chance to read it. It is the story of book lover named Nina and her journey. Her passion for books is very strong and she can’t imagine doing something that does not bring that love into her life every day. The catch is that she also is not a risk taker and struggles a bit with having confidence in herself.

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When the library Nina works at closes, her whole world is flipped up side down. She has no idea what to do. A crazy idea hits her, to run a bookshop from a van. This story takes you through this whole endeavor and her relationships with the people she meets from taking a giant leap of faith.

Several moments in this story helped me remember how important it is to be good, to help those who might be in a much more difficult situation than my own. This seems pretty vague now but makes much more sense when you read the book. I don’t want to spoil anything and this is one of my favorite parts! Beyond just helping others, I thought a lot about how much we jump to conclusions and see people how we want to see them, not how they really are or how they want to be seen.

It is overall just a great read that is very heartwarming while also being a quick, easy read. I am looking forward to reading some more of Colgan’s books!

Erin

Book Round Up

About every three months I am going to be rounding up all the books I have read in that time. This will be a good way for me both keep track of everything I have read and to share what I have been reading. In that time I also have some personal goals to read a variety of different genres including at least one newer book and one non-fiction. I will go ahead and do a short verdict on each book I include.

Book Stack

Capture Your Style: For anyone interested in media/blogging etc. this is a really useful book. It helped me think a lot about instagram as a platform and how to utilize it. I really liked her approach to thinking about not just the photos you posts but your feed as a whole. You are telling a story and that should be easy to follow and understand.

The Rules of Magic: Because I did a whole review on this book I won’t go into detail but I absolutely loved this book. Read more here.

Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austin is a favorite of mine but her books can be slower since the language is a little more difficult and the pace in general is a lot slower. This is the one Austen book that I knew nothing about so it was great to read. I actually listened to it as an audiobook while driving back from South Carolina and I think that actually helped me get through it.

Reason for Hope: This is Jane Goodall’s autobiography and it was incredible. I found it to be one of the most honest accounts of life I have ever read. She goes into so much more than just her experience as a scientist. She talks a lot about spirituality and her struggle with humanity and violence.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry: Neil DeGrasse Tyson has always been so intriguing to me. I loved Cosmos and have always been fascinated by the stars. This book breaks down quite a few astrological concepts into manageable pieces and understandable language.

Everyman’s Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: I am not big into poetry but since I loved The Psalm of life so much I decided to try some more of Longfellow’s work. I highly enjoyed it and am opening up a lot to poetry in general.

Harry Potter: I am lumping the second, third and forth together since they are all books I have read many times before. There is something so comforting about re-reading beloved classics. This time was even more special because I was listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text throughout. I feel like I thought about many events and characters in such different ways than how I have in the past.

During the very first week of 2018 I was finishing up Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes but I included that in my 2017 favorites so you have find that here. Thanks for reading! I am always eager for reading suggestions so feel free to comment with your favorites.

Erin

Life Update No. 3

With a lovely trip to South Carolina, this month has been a pretty exciting one. I have been focusing a lot on working, reading and seeing friends. Side note: when I was young one of my favorite activities was visiting the library and I feel like I just re-discovered how much I enjoy that. I have spent lots of free time just browsing the shelf. It also makes reading so affordable! The trip to Myrtle Beach and Charleston broke the daily work routine up which really nice. I got to eat lots of seafood, hang out on the beach, enjoy great company and discover a new city.

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Big exciting changes are happening for me this week. I made a last minute decision over the weekend to move back home to Boulder. The move was going to happen but I decided that I really wanted to be home for Easter so I moved everything up by about two weeks. There were lots of reasons that led to this decision but in short I have been feeling very torn between two places and unable to really give myself to starting a new chapter in life. The last minute decision has made everything this week very crazy. I have been going non stop since Saturday morning, working, catching up/saying goodbye to lots of people and packing. As crazy and stressful as it is, I know how much better it will be to have things here fully wrapped up. I will then be able to put myself fully into my goals for the next few months.

Watching: I have two shows that I have been watching over the past month, Altered Carbon and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Aiden and I started watching Altered Carbon together since we haven’t found a show we both liked since The Good Place. Altered Carbon is a futuristic show that grapples a lot with class differences and how the wealthy control the world in a whole new way. It can be pretty violent but overall I am really enjoying it. The other show I have been into lately is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. This is actually one that I am getting back into after watching the first season last year. I love a good murder mystery and the female lead in this one just makes it for me. If you are looking for some great vintage style inspiration then this is your perfect show as well. I am also into the soundtrack (lots of jazzy music).

Listening: Siembra by Bomba Estéreo has been on my playlist for a little while now but I recently have started to listen to it on repeat. I love everything about it.

Reading: I have finished quite a few books since my last Life Update post but I am currently in the middle of The Tudors. This is the first historical non-fiction book I have read in a really long time. It recaps the whole reign of the Tudor family in England. For some reason I am finding it very intriguing and I like the writing style of G.J. Meyers (it is much more understandable). I realized how little I know about non-US history so I am trying to branch out. The role of religion has especially captured my attention throughout this book since it is historically has such a big presence and that presence has carried into the modern world. In short this book is very out of my comfort zone but I am really liking it.

Wearing: Recently button down shirts have captured my attention. They have always been a staple but I have recently discovered just how versatile they are. One project of mine is to find some button downs that fit well at thrift shops and alter them.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Erin

Book Review: The Rules of Magic

Last week I read The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman, while we were at the beach in South Carolina. I knew it would be good since it is the prequel to Practical Magic and it has been highly recommended. What I did not realize was just how much I would love it and how much it would impact me. Because it was so significant, I have decided to devote an entire post to my thoughts on it. I will not spoil the actual story or ending, but rather talk about the themes that I related to and that impacted me.

The story is entirely separate from Practical Magic, but is about the same family and has similar themes. It is the story of Jet and Franny (the aunts from Practical Magic) and their journeys in life. The family has been cursed in love for hundreds of years. Each generation has their own complex experience. In brief summary, three siblings Jet, Franny and Vincent struggle in their relationships with each other, their parents and their significant others, while also coming to terms with their family’s history and origins. There mother does not talk of her family or the secret’s that are held deep within her past, making the journey of discovery all the more difficult.

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Despite the premise of magical roots, the story turned out to be very relatable. Much conflict within their stories are things that we all face throughout life. Finding yourself, family, love, relationships, death and grief.

This story helped me come to terms with so many things in ways I had not thought about. A major theme, especially in the beginning, is connection to family and how ignoring/denying where you come from will never end well. This is shown through the lens of witches denying who they are, in large part to find love and get away from the legendary curse, and the consequences that ensue. It struck a chord with me because I do believe that those who came before us make up a large part of who we are, although we may deny this at times in our lives. Embracing this could bring about great things and cherished relationships. The first part of the book takes place throughout the teenage years of the siblings and I found their experience and feelings to be very similar to my own in that time of life. This drew me in immediately.

The second element of this book that was important to me was that of grief and death. This is a very human subject that can be so difficult to deal with in reality. There are lots of books that involve death but this one brought out the grief process in a way I never experienced. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into detail, but the subject of death and grief are very prevalent and incredibly relatable. The loss of someone we love so dearly can feel like the whole world crashing in. It might feel like we lose a piece of ourself. The loss in this book brought that reality to fruition and really challenged me to think about how the losses in my life have effected me and how I deal with grief.

Loss goes along with the importance of love because death (and the potential for loss) creates a fear when it comes to love. Opening yourself up to love can be incredibly difficult when loss has been a big part of your life. The fear of loss and pain are so much more real when you have people that are so very important to you. The curse of the family in love brings the fear of losing someone into close proximity. Fear of loss is ever present and cannot be ignored or hidden. Through out the story I thought a lot about what it means to love others despite your own potential to experience great hurt.

As you might guess, I highly recommend this book. It is written beautifully and the characters are developed in a truly remarkable way. I would love to hear any thoughts you have had if you have read this book (or otherwise). I am also always looking for book recommendations!

Erin

Around the Web

Last week was a whirlwind of adventure for me. We drove to South Carolina and spent the whole week on the beach. It was a little cooler than I expected but we had a couple great days for sun bathing and swimming (although the water was freezing). My highlight was definitely driving down to Charleston to explore the city. I am going to do a whole post on what we did because I loved it so much!

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It is going to be difficult to get back to the daily work routine after so much fun in the sun. It should help that the temperature is getting warmer and spring is almost upon us. I rounded up some things I have been looking at for the past few weeks. This week is kind of a jumble, however I have been reading a ton lately, so I included a great booklist and a yearly checklist.

Hunter and Target Collaboration: This is one of the most exciting collaborations! It will debut in early April and will include lots of very affordably prices items. On Hunter’s part is a great way to make the brand more accessible to many more people.

Eartheasy: I just found this website through a podcast and it is a great way to fill your life with sustainable solutions. They sell some great products for more sustainable living and a blog with lots of great content. I have been eyeing this booklist from their blog right now.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Annual Letter: This year they use their letter to answer some pretty tough questions. I am including this because these are questions I often struggle with in my own way and I really liked reading their answers.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: This challenge caught my eye because it is a little more challenging and very specific. The challenge I have been using so far this year had more general book prompts and I like that this one is specific because it forces me to search more and get out of my comfort zone.

JooJoo Azad 5 Ethical Brands: I recently discovered JooJoo Azad and love how it ties fashion with some really important social issues. They have lots of exciting projects coming up so I will definitely be keeping an eye out. The article itself is older but I am always looking to grow my knowledge on eco friendly and ethical brands.

Have a wonderful week!

Erin