Book Recommendations: Review Week Edition

Last week (January 19th-25th) I participated in #reviewweek which is something Phoebe from readandwright.com organized/started. Basically she shared a book every day for that week that fit a different theme/category. So on Instagram I participated in  five out of the seven days. I decided to do a whole round-up of those books on my blog and add my picks for the categories I did not share. Before I get into my reviews I am going to go over the categories.

Sunday: A new release or hyped up book

Monday: A book from 2019 you didn’t review but loved

Tuesday: Anything YA

Wednesday: An honest review of a book that was just “meh” for you

Thursday: An audiobook

Friday: A @bookofthemonth or book that was recommended by a friend

Saturday: A book that you have a personal connection/attachment to

Sunday: So I did start my Instagram reviews on Sunday and shared my pick for a hyped up and new book, American Royals. I talked about this book quite a bit last fall because I loved it so much. I really like Katherine McGee and I think she did a wonderful job with this novel. I chose it for this category because as I looked back through the books I read in 2019 it kept coming back to me and it is a relatively new release. I also felt like in September/October it was very hyped up on Instagram. I am going to include three key reasons why I loved this book. The first is that the characters are interesting and they are royals which is always fun. I just feel like the three royal siblings are all very different and it is so fun to follow their stories. Second is just the whole take on US history. Katherine McGee creates an alternate future where instead of George Washington becoming president he becomes the king and the Washingtons continue to reign. My third reason is definitely the romance. I am very hit or miss when it comes to love stories. I am not sure why but I think there is a fine line between interesting/fun and way to cheesy. The love stories in this are very well done and I think they characters play a large part in that. All in all I highly recommend this book especially if you like books about royals!

Monday: My Monday pick was Verity by Colleen Hoover. I did actually talk about this book in an Instagram story because I was totally shook by the end, but I chose if for this category because I read it before I started rounding up my books each month so I have not really talked about it in depth. I really don’t want to give anything away because it is an amazing thriller with very unexpected twists. In short is about this woman who is hired to finish writing these books that another woman was writing. The original author basically can’t finish writing a series so her husband hires someone else. It is wild. I mean again I don’t want to say much but there are some crazy twists and turns. If you are a thriller person this is an absolute must read.

Tuesday: As you may know I am a big YA fan. This was a hard category since I have read so many great ones. In the end I feel like my final pick was a no brainer only since it is a book that changed my thinking and really opened my eyes. It is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It is one of the only books that I immediately thought should be read by everyone. I do mean everyone (like it should be required reading in all schools). It is about a black girl who struggles with living in her mostly black neighborhood while going to school at a wealthy, mostly white, prep school. She witnesses the shooting of her friend that really changes her whole world and impact both entire communities in very different ways. I think this is such an important read that brings to life some events that have really happened in the United States. Of any book on this list, this is the one I would most recommend.

Wednesday: While I have read quite a few books that I did not like I don’t usually review those books in depth because I don’t really like being negative about books. I know that authors put a lot of time and effort into their writing and often I feel like the reason I don’t like a book is subjective. Because of that I did not include one for this category last week but I do have one that I will share now. For this I ended up deciding on The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory. It is about a princess who is left by her fiancé and ends up meeting his brother a little while later in a bar. She finds out from him that there is a big mystery and no one actually knows where her ex-fiancé went. So the two of them go on a mission to figure out what happened. There are a couple of reasons I ended up feeling ‘meh’ about it. The first is that I think I just had such high expectations and was really into books about royals when I read it. I hyped it up for myself and it kind of ended up being a too scattered for my liking. I just felt like there was a lot of unnecessary action that did not add to either the mystery or the romance. So it is definitely my personal opinion but it was not a favorite for me and I expected a lot more (probably unfairly on my part).

Thursday: I read a ton of audiobooks last year so this was also a very hard category. There are so many great ones out there. I ended up choosing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I think I chose it since I read it very recently (at the end of December) and loved it so much. I would say that it was in my top five of all the books I read in 2019. For some reason I really loved it as an audiobook and felt like the narrator did an incredible job. In short it is about this girl named Kaya who is pretty much abandoned by her family at a young age. The overall story is about her relationship with the natural world and with other people who come into her life. There is also a lot of emphasis on how other people see her. She struggles a lot with understanding the world and with relationships. It is such a beautiful book! There are a couple of reasons that I felt it was so powerful. First I thought Delia Owens brings nature and science into the book and a beautiful way and that is something that I really related to. Also Kaya is a very complex and interesting character. I don’t think I have ever read a character quite like her and that was very refreshing. Finally, it made me think a lot about relationships with people in general and how we (as humans) perceive each other. This is also one that I would recommend to everyone! I will say though that as far as story line goes if you like fast past action this might be hard to get through. I will give a bonus entry for this category since I thin Daisy Jones and the Six is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard!

Friday: This was the last day I participated in on Instagram. The hard part about this one is that I do have quite a few Book of the Month books that I have not read yet. I ended up choosing Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore which I have talked about before and did review in a monthly post. I chose it for this because it was a beautiful romance that has an interesting backdrop and it was one of my favorites last year. The story centers around Annabelle who is a young women trying to find her way in late 1800’s England. As she becomes involved in the suffrage movement she is charged with targeting influential men. He meets Sebastian and they have a very interesting connection and relationship. I really liked Annabelle as a character because she is an incredible, strong female lead that drives a great story. I also really enjoyed that the history of women’s rights at the time is woven in and is so interesting. The love story side of it was also very well done so that was a big bonus!

Saturday: So I struggled a lot with this category. It made me realize that I should read some more books that relate to my life and my beliefs more. Maybe that is hard to do but I had a hard time finding one that I truly feel I have a personal connection to. I decided to choose Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. My reason is that it is a book that blew me away and that I have never forgotten. It has shaped how I see the world in so many ways. It is such a hard one to explain. Basically the world is explained by a gorilla in the most fascinating way. I could talk about this for hours so let me know if you want a more detailed review. I highly recommend giving it a read! It totally changed my world view and I feel like I need to reread it now.

Thanks for reading and I would really love to hear what your favorites are for those categories!

Erin

December Books

December was a slow but good month for reading. I always think vacation is going to be a great time for reading but I end up handing out with family and friends and not reading as much.

Where the Crawdads Sing (5/5 Stars): One of my last reads of the year ended up being one of the best. I just can’t even explain how moving this novel is. It seemed really hyped up to me and for some reason I never was really excited to read it but I ended up getting it as an audiobook for our car ride to Savannah. I was totally hooked from the beginning. I am not sure why but the story of this girl who is abandoned by her family and her relationship is just so interesting and wonderfully written. She just has this relationship with the marsh she lives in that is beautiful. There is also a story that has to do with Kaya’s relationship with people after being abandoned by her family.

Red, White and Royal Blue (4/5 stars): I have so many thoughts about this one. It is the story of the first son of the United States and the royal prince of England. They have a very interesting relationship that weaves together politics, romance, acceptance and family. I thought it would be a fluffy romance, which it kind of is, but there are some aspect of it that made me think and that made me so sad and happy. It is basically an alternate reality post Obama and brings in the press and the public and how all perceive public figures (and what is expected of them).

The Nickel Boys (4.5/5 stars): This is a great read but also quite heartbreaking. The only reason I am not giving this one 5 stars is that because I listened to it on audiobook I feel like I did not pay 100% attention all the time and I think I missed some things. I know that is on me and not the book but I just can’t give it five starts when I feel like some things were missing. One of my goals is to reread it in 2020.

What are some great books you have read lately?

Erin

Week in My Life No. 10

I am skipping straight to another Week in Review since I have not had a whole lot of time to post but want to at least stay up-to-date with what has been going on in my life. This has definitely been a holiday week. I had a ton of work to get done as well and really tried to cram that into the first few days of the week. It was busy since we also had to pack, take Hazel to the vet and tie up all the loose ends around the house.

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Last real day of work attire plus a necessary coffee.

Our drive back to Boulder was quite an adventure. I have to say that one of the biggest struggles we have had with having a puppy is travel. I knew this would be tough but I was always saying to myself that since we drive from Utah to Boulder it should be fine. Hazel hates the car. She whined for so much of the drive. We also had to stop to take her out a lot which is fine but when we did stop it took a while to actually get her to pee and eat/drink if was time. At Little America it took at least 30 minutes just to get her to pee (it was almost 0 degrees so she got really cold and we had to get her warmed up). Anyway we eventually made it to Colorado.

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She could not figure out what this statue is or what she should do with it. This was when we wondered around Little America waiting for her to pee!
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Warming little Hazel up in the car!

I still had quite a bit of work to do from home so I spent the rest of the week doing that and Christmas shopping. It was really nice to be around my family though! We had a great birthday dinner for my dad and brother! I have been doing yoga as much as I can even if it is just an online class (I do Yoga with Adriene and really like it). I also got in a cycle class that my friend teaches at Rush. I also got to spend some time catching up with that same friend (which was long overdue!). The weekend has been overall very chill and nice. Saturday we took Hazel up to Wonderland Lake and she met so many people and dogs. It took us two hours just because we met so many people and she played with other dogs. We baked lots of cookies and had some family/friends over for dinner. Today we baked more and hung out with Hazel.

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Christmas shopping with my sister!
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Saturday morning Rush Cycle in Highlands following by a delicious brunch.
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The end of Hazel’s walk up to the lake. Also the weekend was so warm in Boulder. It feels so weird because last time we were here (Thanksgiving) it snowed over two feet and was freezing. I know Boulder is always kind of like this (very drastic changes in weather/temp especially through winter) but it still feels weird around the holidays.

Articles/links (yes I am a little light on these since I have not really been on my computer this week for anything other than work):

A great last minute gift guide. It has a little of everything!

Women to watch in politics. So this is not just women who are in office (what I expected) but minority women who hold jobs that relate to politics. This is such an interesting and exciting read!

Ideas for New Years Eve. I feel like the New Years Eve hype can be harder as I get older! These ideas for staying in on New Years are great.

I will also say that something else I have been really following this week are politics in general. There are lots of both interesting and frustrating things going on right now. I highly recommend following Jessica Yellin on Instagram for a great recap. I also listen to NPR’s Up First podcast.

Wearing: Lululemon align joggers are amazing. I was picking up some gifts in Lululemon and somehow found my way to these. I am already a huge fan of the align legging so its not really surprising that I fell in love with these. They are so comfortable and flattering and I have been wearing them almost every day since I got them!

Watching: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 3 is out on Amazon! I love love love this show and am so excited. I started watching this week and of course its amazing.

Reading: I am still finishing up Red, White and Royal Blue however I am hoping to finish up in the next day so I can start reading Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House.

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The sun setting over the mountains at Wonderland Lake.

I hope you are have a great weekend and holiday season!

Erin

Week in Review No. 9

This Week in Review is long overdue. It has been several weeks! So much has happened. My last big Week in Review post was just before we left for Thanksgiving break in Boulder. That break ended up containing a big life change for us! We drove back to Colorado the week before Thanksgiving, once I had finished teaching. I-80 can be scary to drive in snowy weather so we left early to avoid in incoming snowstorm. I am just going to jumps straight to the big news (I did mention this in a post last week). In short my aunt’s dog had puppies and we ended up taking one home with us! She is such a cutie and we named her Hazel Jane.

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Little Hazel Jane in our backyard back in Utah. She is a Stabyhoun (I am linking to some information on them since I have yet to meet anyone who has heard of the breed).

Okay we spent lots of time with the litter while we were home. They were seven weeks when we got there and just the cutest little things. I helped my aunt take five puppies into her work on Friday and Monday and it was such a blast. I met some great people and got to spend lots of time with the pups. My brother and sister also came home which was so fun! One of my close friends happened to be visiting other friends in Leadville so she stopped by for a night. We went downtown to Pearl street for some fun at into the wind and dessert. I also was able to get brunch one day with one of my high school friends!

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I spent so much time hanging out with the puppies! It was the perfect therapy!
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My sister with an armful of puppies and their momma in the back!
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Walking around the lake with our family dog, Charlie, a few days before the big snow came in.

It snowed twice while we were there. The second time (just a few days before Thanksgiving) we got over two feet of snow. It was crazy! I feel like I haven’t seen that much in one storm since I was a little kid. We had actually taken Hazel home right before the storm so it was so cute to have her around for all that snow. The morning after the bulk of the snow came in I got up early to take the puppy out. I ended up shoveling and shaking out the branches for a while. Hazel was so adorable but definitely could not go beyond the paths I shoveled for her! We spent lots of time by the fire with warm drinks!

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Snowy little pup on the morning after the big storm!
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Hazel watching Charlie roam the yard. Their relationship was so funny. Charlie is a bit of an old man so he did not really want to put up with her and he kind of ignored her most of the time. She was so curious though and would follow him around and watch him from afar. I can’t wait to see how they are at Christmas!

Thanksgiving itself was a blast. We had lots of family and friends over for a delicious meal. Our neighbors were snowed in so they ended up coming as well! As always most of the day was spent cooking and making last minute trips to the grocery store (I am pretty sure I went to the store four times in two days). We had lots of delicious food and then played several rounds of Telestrations.

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Lots of people required lots of pies (five plus mini pumpkin pies)!
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Our family portrait with little Hazel! Also I am obsessed with this dress from KJP.

We got sushi downtown and spent some time in Boulder Bookstore on Friday night. Both Friday and Saturday were crazy windy. The snow had stopped but the wind caused pretty much all the major highways around us to close. I got a little worried about the drive home. We left Sunday and took I-70 which is a much longer drive. Luckily the roads were clear but with Hazel (we stopped a ton) and the longer route we took almost 13 hours to get home (usually it takes about eight on I-80.

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Hanging out at my parents house. I also stopped in J. Crew Factory and picked up this adorable headband (similar J. Crew version).

Ever since we got back to Logan I have been super busy with work. I finished teaching but I have some big projects that really need to get done by the end of this semester. There have also been a ton of holiday parties and other social engagements. The week we got back I also hosted our Ecology Center speaker (every month we invite a professor/professional from somewhere else to come speak and share their research) which was amazing but ended up being a lot of time and logistics.

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It snowed in Logan while we were gone so we also came back to around five inches! I definitely had to quickly transition into dressing both professionally and warmly.

This weekend has been much more chill but we do have lots to do before leaving for winter break. On Saturday we did end up going over to a friends house for a bit so Hazel could meet their little daughter. We also watched The Christmas Chronicles which I missed out on last year and am glad I took the time to watch this year. Other than that we have spent a lot of time playing with Hazel. I also got some reading in!

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Reading this morning while Hazel slept some more.

On a side note I went down a bit of a rabbit hole with mormon mommy bloggers this weekend (you will see why when I talk about the podcast I have been listening to). That whole world is just fascinating and gives an interesting take on social media and blogging. I just wanted to preface since several of my links are related to this topic.

Articles/videos:

Emma Watson’s Bag. I hadn’t been on YouTube in a while and went on last week to this amazing video in my recommended. I just love her so this was incredible.

An ex mormon mommy blogger’s take on Instagram vs reality. So first I would say listen to Be There in Five’s mormon mommy blogger deep dive (I talk about it in my Listening mention), then read this article.

A scientific article on mormon mommy bloggers. This whole world is for some reason incredibly fascinating.

FIT museum exhibit on powerful clothing. I just love this little journey through the ages.

Maximalism and the power of taking up space. This is a great article on the power of maximalism.

Holiday from Trader Joe’s. Um yes… always.

Watching: We are on the final season of Parks and Rec. It is the best show and I am so sad that it is almost over.

Reading: Right now I am reading Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Yep it is another book about royals. I am really on a role right now. I am about halfway through and I just want to keep reading!

Listening: Okay so I am definitely late to the game on this but Kate Kennedy’s podcast Be There in Five is amazing. I found her through Bad on Paper’s interview. I went back and listened to her Mommy Mormon Blogger’s deep dive which was so fascinating. I live in Utah which is very mormon so it was really interesting to here this take on the culture and learn about why blogging is such a big thing for mormon mom’s.

Wearing: My current clothing obsession is by KJP moose socks. They are so perfect for winter! I also do have to add my J. Crew fleece lined boots since I worn them a ton with all the snow. They are so warm and have great traction.

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One last pic of the pup… also I got her a matching moose bandana!

Thanks for stopping by and I apologize for the long and very puppy-filled post!

Erin

Finding the Time to Read

While I love to read finding the time to do so can be a real challenge. In college I really only read during breaks because I was reading so much for classes that I never had the time. It was also just a busy time in general with endless homework and socializing (don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved college). Since graduating I have made a big effort to get back into reading and wanted to share some of the ways that I allot time for reading.

I am definitely a believer that if you really want to do something you can make the time for it. There are definitely ways to bring reading into your day despite a very busy schedule. I am in graduate school and it is honestly if anything even more crazy than undergrad. There is still lots of reading involved and I always could be doing something else. Here are some ways I try to make reading a daily habit:

  1. Getting an hour in before bed and/or just after waking up. This has been the easiest way for me to get some reading in every day. Just by waking up an hour earlier or choosing to read instead of watch TV before by has really helped.
  2. Spending the occasional weekend half day. I say occasional because I know that it is not practical for many people to have even half a day every weekend to dedicate to reading. I usually do this when I really just need some time for myself. It also usually happens when I am reading a book that I just can’t put down. Giving this kind of time does allow me to actually finish multiple books.
  3. Audiobooks. If you really don’t have time this is probably the best option. Audiobooks are a great way to kind of multitask. I usually have an audiobook going for transportation and even sometimes at work. I can usually listen to an easy novel and follow the plot while still doing basic things.
  4. Choosing the right book. This is a really hard one to articulate but I am way more likely to finish a book quickly if I am really excited about it. For me this means mixing genres and reading books that I just can’t put down.
  5. Rereading your favorites. I find that rereading Harry Potter is so therapeutic and is often easy because I don’t need to be fully present (although I love it so often end up fully immersed). This is a good strategy if you have not been inspired to read recently and need something familiar (and that you know you will love).

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Have a great Friday!

Erin

Books to Get in the Halloween Mood

This time of year is the best! I just love everything and probably talk about it way too much. Halloween is such a fun holiday and I love embracing October as that season. Give me all the pumpkins, corn mazes, costumes, witches, etc… A big part of what influences my mood are books. I love theming my books to get me excited and even more into that season. So here I am listing books that give me all the fall/Halloween feels. Most are mysteries but my criteria are just books I either love to read at this time of year or books that I always pictured set during October. I have not read a lot that would probably be on this list so I am just giving a disclaimer that I am only including books I have read or am reading now.

The Seven and a Half Death’s of Evelyn Hardcastle: I am reading this now and am really enjoying it so far. I can just feel the crunchy leaves, forest paths and cool air. It is the perfect choice to get me in the mood right now.

Harry Potter (any but especially the first book): It is true that I could read Harry Potter any time of year but the best time to read it is October through December. I just love all the holiday scenes and it goes perfectly with a cozy blanket and cup of tea.

Murder on the Orient Express: Agatha Christie is a fantastic writing and this classic story lives up to the hype. I first read it for a project in eight grade and it has been a favorite ever since.

Sherlock Holmes: I have loved every Sherlock Holmes mystery that I read. They are relatively short, interesting and great for October evenings. I also enjoy great detective stories in general!

Magpie Murders: A great murder mystery (involving a editor) that has great twists and is perfect for Halloween.

A few books I am looking forward to reading: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, The Women in the Window by A.J. Finn and Serpant and Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

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I would really love to hear about any books you love for this time of year!!!

Erin

Week in My Life: No. 2

Sunday and Monday were work at home days. I am in the middle of some big projects so I really needed some time to focus and get some things finished. I love being in the lab but it can be very distracting and I always end up doing a bunch of other things. I was also able to spend time planning out blog posts and brainstorming for the holiday months.

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Taking a break from work to watch some Friends.

Tuesday’s are always busy with teaching and this one was no different. I will say despite arriving at 8:00am and not leaving until almost 6:00pm I did enjoy talking with all of my students. Aiden and I also went to Morty’s for lunch which was a great break in a busy day and they have some gorgeous views. They also have one of the most delicious veggie breakfast burritos! We also picked a ton of apples since our trees are loaded right now and the apples taste delicious.

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We have two apple trees in our backyard and they are so full of apples right now. I have been make lots of crips/crumbles and eating lots of apples. They are at their prime right now!

Wednesday and Thursday were just busy work days. Since I am leaving for Vermont next week I am trying to get a lot done before I go. I did go to the SACNAS social and  went to my professor’s presentation. We also started house sitting on Wednesday… hence the cat Instagram stories. Her cats are so cuddle and adorable and I am loving it. I stayed up way too late working on Thursday night yet the craziness was just beginning. I went to yoga in the morning with a friend who is in town for the weekend (from Seattle). I then worked until 12:30pm before heading down to Salt Lake City to pick up a friend who is visiting from Austin. We got coffee at this cute little place called Blue Copper Coffee Room. Then we made a Target and Trader Joe’s run before heading back to Logan. The leaves are changing color in Sardine Canyon and it is so beautiful! Our roommate is moving to Oregon so we stopped at her cookie farewell party before calling it a day.

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One of the cats joined our game of Forbidden Island on Friday night.

It rained almost all Saturday (and it is continuing today and Monday). Since my friend is visiting we still wanting to show her around a bit so we went to the farmer’s market (yes it was still open despite the rain and cold). We got coffees and berries and then headed to Lucky Slice for a pizza lunch (great vegan pizza if you are ever in the area). It was so nice to spend the afternoon under warm blankets. We just read, napped and watched the rain/hail. To end the day we made a bread run and cooked  some delicious food.

A few interesting articles:

NY Times Article How To Buy Clothes That Are Built To Last. Such a great article on skipping fast fashion and buying quality clothing.

A great article on climate change and sea level rise. Definitely worth a read right now.

Vox article on Reese’s Bookclub. A reader suggested this article and it is a great look at the power of celebrity book clubs (particularly Reese’s). I highly recommend this article, especially if you follow her book club. It gives insight into how books are chosen and to how integral books are to Reese Witherspoon’s brand.

Mattel’s gender neutral dolls. I am so an board with this! It is such a great way to teach kids that is ok to be yourself (whoever that may be) and to accept others for who they are.

Bookbub article on Three Women. Bookbub featured my favorite book of the year, Three Women, in article! Read it, it is so so good!

A video on Kate Middleton as a royal. I have never been that into the current British monarchy, aside for Kate and Megan’s outfits because they are always amazing, but I clicked on this video and was definitely intrigued by their influence and presence.

Ambient Worlds Youtube channel. This channel has amazing playlists for background music. They have lots of Harry Potter so of course I was into it.

Instagram: @chloeiscrazy is hilarious and I definitely went down a bit of a rabbit hole watching her posts.

Clothing obsession: Mark and Graham sweater coat. I posted about it in my Favorite Fall Outerwear post and have worn it four out of the five weekdays this week. Also I do want to say that I actually bought this on Poshmark a few weeks ago (first Poshmark purchase!).

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This was the coat repeat offender this week. It was the perfect weight for the cold mornings we have had.

Reading: I am attempting to finish Thunderhead (the second book in the Scythe series). I loved the first one and still like this one but I am just having a hard time to get into it.

Podcast: I mentioned last week that I was looking forward to Bad on Politics with Grace and Becca and it did not disappoint. I can’t recommend it enough. They had Alyssa Mastromonaco on and she had amazing information to share about how the primaries work and about how to get involved in politics. I also tried hard to keep up with current events this week via NPR’s Up First.

I also can’t finish this post without mentioning some of my Trader Joe’s favorites. I am a huge fan and kind of go crazy every time we go since the closest one is in Salt Lake.

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Above are some of the things from the Trader Joe’s trip… the Black Pepper Tuscano Cheese is my #1 favorite ever. I am excited to try the tempura cauliflower, pumpkin bisque, fall zuchette pasta and the halloween cookies. I also love their pumpkin butter, veggie gyoza and hash brown patties. Also the tea is new to me but I love it so much already, delicious and perfect for fall.

Things I am looking forward to next week:

I am not sure if any more info will be out this week but the next Atlantic-Pacific x Halogen collection is suppose to come out in October and I am beyond excited. Blair is one of my style icons and I have loved her collections so far.

Going to Vermont this week is definitely my number one. I can’t wait to see my family and I just found out that I get to see one of my best friends from college as well. I also am hoping for some gorgeous colors.

My friend from Seattle is actually visiting to defend her dissertation and I am so excited for her. Her presentation is Monday morning and we are going to celebrate afterwards, I can’t wait for both!

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Campus life gave out pumpkin donuts this week and I could not resist. It didn’t help that Trader Joe’s had apple cider donuts which are my favorite. I have not seen them in Utah yet so I could not resist that either.

I hope you had a great week! Thanks for reading.

Erin

Best Recent YA Reads

Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share my favorite YA (young adult) reads from the last couple of months. I am a big YA fan so I am hoping to get around to an all time favorites post. For now though, here are the best YA novels that I read in the past six or so months.

The Hate U Give: I am convinced that this book should be required reading in high schools right now. There is so much to learn from this account of a black teenager’s experience watching her friend get shot by the police. It is a perspective that is hard for me, as a privileged white-girl, to fully grasp and this book really helped. It is heart-braking, eye-opening and incredibly well written. If you read anything on this list, this book is definitely the one.

American Royals: On an entirely different note this is a very light hearted novel about the romances of American royalty. It spins the current state of our government in that instead making George Washington a president he was made king and the United States became a monarchy. The historical changes are fascinating and I highly enjoyed both the setting and the story lines. It centers around the royal children coming of age and their experiences with love. I was absolutely sucked into this one from the very beginning. If you want an easy but fun read, this is a great pick!

Scythe: So the Scythe trilogy has quickly become a favorite of mine as well. I found it when Aiden took me to Barnes and Noble for my birthday and I am a huge dystopian fiction fan so this series quickly caught my eye. It is set in a future where the government is largely artificial intelligence. The only thing humans still really control is who dies since the population is still out of control. Scythe’s choose who die and are the ones to kill them. This story follows Citra and Rowen through their journey as scythe’s apprentices. I am currently in the middle of the second book, Thunderhead and am still loving it.

Caraval: The other series that I have been very into in the last few months is the Caraval series. It is so magical and the author does an incredible job bringing the characters to life. I find myself so able to see and feel what the characters experience. I listened to both the first and second books as audiobooks and really enjoyed it. The series centers around two sisters and their relationship with a fantastical performance/game called Caraval. It is a fascinating story that had me hooked from the beginning.

As a kind of bonus I wanted to include some YA that I am excited to read in the next few months. I chose the top three on my list and tried to mix up genres a bit.

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First is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I have always been a John Green fan and was just excited for this one when it was released. I am honestly not sure when I have not finished it yet. I got about 50 pages in a few months ago and then had to leave for fieldwork so it just kind of fell to the wayside. I am still psyched about it and hope to finish soon.

Next is The Royal Runaway by Lindsey Emory. After reading American Royals I really was feeling something similar so I took a deep dive into books (specifically romance) that center around royalty. I am also really wanting to read Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Yep anything with royals and a forbidden romance.

Last on todays list of to read YA is Endgame by James Frey. I am not sure I would have picked this out myself but I found it in my grandmother’s books and was intrigued. I read the back cover and am now dying for some time to read it!

That is all for today! I hope that you are having a great week and that you enjoyed today’s book list.

Erin

Week in My Life: No. 1

In all honesty the past couple of months have been absolutely insane. Our two roommates are both moving to Oregon so we are in the middle of trying to fill the basement apartment. Aiden has had some health stuff so that has also been at the top of my mind. Work is totally crazy as well. My to-do list is very long and only keeps growing. To say the least I have been incredibly overwhelmed! We do have a lot of thing planned for the next few months, some of which should be very fun. This past week has mostly been work with a few fun things thrown in.

Last weekend my uncle and cousin visited! It was absolutely amazing and I could not have asked for a better time with them. I did not take a single picture because I was just in the present and not really thinking about it! They came so that my cousin could check out USU and they also brought some vintage furniture of my grandmother’s. My cousin and I explored campus for a while and then picked up some bread from Crumb Brother’s. We took them to Le Nonne’s (on of the best restaurants in Logan) for dinner and then made an apple crisp with apples from our tree for dessert.

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Sitting in one of my grandmother’s vintage chairs (I have always loved this living room set and am so grateful to have inherited it).

I always dedicate Monday and Tuesday to teaching so I spent lots of time prepping the lab, writing out the protocol and then teaching. In general it is the most stressful time of the week but it went pretty smoothly. Aiden came into work with me a couple times throughout the week and we got lunch at the Skyroom (on USU’s campus and Morty’s (both are delicious and reasonably priced). We ended the day on Tuesday my watching Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang (a classic favorite).

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I usually dress up during the first couple days of the week (for teaching) and then wearing comfier clothing. This was probably my favorite outfit of the week. Leggings are Lululemon align pant in dark olive, sneakers are Superga and cardigan is BP (similar).

I honestly don’t have a ton to say about the rest of the week. Lots of stuff came up with work so I ended up spending way more time that expected working. Friday was my favorite. I stopped working early and we had a great night making food and watching The Ugly Truth (such a funny rom-com, Aiden loved it too!). Yesterday (Saturday) I spent pretty much the whole day working but we did go on a nice walk and watched Friends while we ate dinner.

A few interesting articles:

12-year old singing ventriloquist. Aiden showed me the champions America’s Got Talent final this morning and we went down a rabbit hole watching this girl. She is absolutely amazing and I can’t get over it!

Meghan Markle fall outfit inspiration. Um yes please. I love every single piece she has worn recently and can’t wait to try some similar combinations!

Fall uniform by Zodiac sign. I just loved every one of these looks for fall.

On life-long readers. This article is really worth reading. I have always been a reader but there are a ton of factors that go into making a child into a big reader.

Christmas Hallmark movies. I usually would not talk about Christmas this early but I found a schedule for this year’s Hallmark movies and I am hoping for some gems.

Natalie Beach article on Caroline Calloway. So I have no idea why I found this story so fascinating but I did.

Great recipes for fall. Excited to try some of these in the next few weeks!

Clothing obsession: white sweater from Everlane. It is freaking amazing and I am obsessed.

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This is the Everlane sweater (taken from my wearing white post) and I have worn it so much this week. It goes with everything, plus Everlane is a really great sustainable brand (I am going to be featuring them in a post in early October).

I also gave Trunk Club a try this week. I thought it might get me out of my comfort zone but it kind of made me realize that I really just like shopping for myself (also I think I can find way better deals on things). Don’t get me wrong they did have some really cute things and I did keep 4 of the 15 items they sent. I just decided I probably won’t do a whole post on the experience so I wanted to mention it here.

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One outfit from Trunk Club. I kept the shoes (I have been debating getting Stan Smith’s for a while anyway). The skirt was so cute but the fit was kind of weird and I did not love the top enough to keep it. The Baublebar LOVE hair clip is so cute but I felt like it was kind of overpriced.

Reading: 100% obsessed with the book Bringing Down the Duke right now. The romance definitely just sucked my in and it helped a ton that it is set around the movement to allow women to vote in the 1800’s in England. I highly recommend it!

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I tried to read for 30 minutes to an hour every morning. It is such a great way to start the day!

Skin care: I am not that big into make up and skin product but my friend recommended Drunk Elephant a few months ago and I have been trying it out (I started with the littles kit). So far I really love it but I am not sure which products I will be repurchasing.

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My night time Drunk Elephant skin care routine. I start with the jelly cleanser and end with the night serum and eye cream.

Things I am looking forward to this week:

The last season of The Goodplace (one of my favorite shows ever!) is starting on September 26th.

Oh also I am super psyched for Grace and Becca’s new podcast mini series, Bad on Politics! They host Bad on Paper podcast which is one of my favorite book podcasts. They are going to be discussing the 2020 election and they will be bringing on some great guests.

Other things on my schedule include lots of work things, shooting some really exciting posts and I have a friend coming to visit at the end of the week!

Happy Sunday!

Erin

Reading Inspiration

I am a big reader (as you might have noticed) and I really love getting recommendations from lots of places so I thought it would be fun to share my top places to find reading inspiration. I find books from all over the place. One example is The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth Cline, a book I found in a magazine list of recommended reads. I also get a ton of great recommendations from friends and family so a big shout out to all my fellow reading buddies! This is a list of places or people that I consistently go to for great books to read. I don’t always love everything they recommend but I would say I like 90% of the things I choose to read from the following people/places.

1. The first on my list is here because for me it is without a doubt the most fun and interactive… browsing bookstores. It is one of my favorite thing to do and I could definitely browse for hours. While I will always go to Barnes and Nobles I do find that local bookstores are the most interesting and it is always good to support them! My favorites from the past couple of months have been Boulder Bookstore (always), Back of Beyond Books (Moab, Utah) and Rizzoli Books (NYC). I just loving spending any spare time (even if it is just a couple of minutes) exploring local bookstores when I travel. They can give great insight into the area and I always find a book to bring home with me! There is also something about being in a bookstore and feeling the actually books.

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2. My next place for great books is Book of the Month. It is a really great way to stay current in your reading. They often have options in lots of genres and they are almost always new releases. I just finished Bringing Down the Duke, which was my September pick, and despite not being a big historical romance type I really loved this book. I also got my copy of Three Women from BOTM (although I learned about it from @nycbookgirl).

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3. Podcasts and blogs are also places to find good books. My favorite right now (for book recs) is Bad on Paper Podcast (BOP) with Grace and Becca. I new from the announcement of their podcast that I would love listening since they started with The Selection which is def a YA fav. I have loved almost all of the books they recommend (lol I really did not like 99 Percent Mine so I can say ALL). My recent fav was hands down American Royals. Other great ones from the past year included Verity by Colleen Hoover and The Idea of You by Robin Lee. I also just love listening to their podcast and def just want to be friends with them both. They are so fun and real and have fantastic guests (sometimes even the authors of the books they read)! Grace also has a blog called The Stripe and she has lots of great book lists!

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4. Book clubs are another great way to find fun books. Reese’s Book Club has reliably good picks. I read The Rules of Magic, One Day in December (a fun holiday read) and The Proposal all because of this book club and I loved them all. Daisy Jones and the Six has been one of my favorite books this year and it was the March book club pick. Another great follow is @carlysbookclub. She has definitely inspired be to read some Brené Brown. I also highly recommend creating a book club with friends who have similar tastes in books. Right now my friend and I have been sharing book recs all summer and we are going to start a YA book club (for now just us two!). Our first book is going to be Finale by Stephanie Garber (the third installment of the Caraval series).

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5. NYC Book Girl is someone I love following on Instagram. She is so sweet and has such great reading recommendations. She also works at Avid Reader Press which is how I found out about Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (another fav of this year). I also really love her blog series, Girls Who Read. She was also a big fan of American Royals (this along with BOP really convinced me).

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6. I have been using Goodreads this year to stick to my reading goal (52 books for 2019). In using it I have found a ton more books I want to read. There are so many ways to find great books on this site. First I can see what friends and others who I follow are reading. Two, the nominees and winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards are a great way to find really good books. Three is through Goodreads Giveaways. First of all entering their giveaways is so easy and for some (especially Kindle) you actually have a decent chance of winning. I actually got an ARC of Finding Mrs. Ford earlier this year from a Goodreads giveaway. I really have found some great titles through the giveways that are on the top of my to read list! The final way that I find books through Goodreads is through their Explore tab. They have updated New Releases lists for every genre!

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7. This one is definitely in the book club category but since I actually get books from them I wanted to give it its own place on this list, and that is Life’s Library. This is a book club started by John Green and Rosianna Halse Rojas and it really gets me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to books that I would not normally find/pick on my own. They are always incredible books and I feel way smarter for reading them and following along in their discussions. I am currently reading the current book, Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains!

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8. Finally is Amazon’s Best Books of the Month. I will 100% admit that I actually found this while writing this post. I was make a reading list on Amazon to link all the books and I found the tab for Best Books of the Month. I included it because I am very intrigued and really liked their recommendations. I will definitely be checking this one out in the coming months!

That is it for my current go-to’s for good books to read! I hope you enjoyed it and got some ideas for where to go for your next read. I would also love to hear if you have any people or places you go for books. Have a great weekend!

Erin