7.30.2014

Recent Reads, 21/40: Roomies

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Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando was on my to-read list for a little while, and something finally pulled me to check the library to see if they had it. There’s a funny story surrounding that trip to the library,
but that can wait for another day.

This book is (probably very obviously, from the cover) a YA novel told from two different perspectives.
Elizabeth and Lauren are both attending UC Berkeley in the fall, and each receives their roommate assignments. Elizabeth, who is from New Jersey, immediately decides to email Lauren and establish a bond. Lauren, however, is less than thrilled to discover that her request for a single has been denied. (Elizabeth is an only child, while Lauren is surrounded in a house with younger siblings.) Still, they find themselves turning to each other’s emails as they face their changing relationships with friends and growing relationships with boys.

This is one of those YA books I probably really would’ve liked if I were 16 or 17, college still ahead of me.
The switch between characters from chapter to chapter kept it interesting, but ultimately, it was just a fluff read.

VA Vacay

Since Maria moved out to Virginia in April, I’ve been excited about bringing Brad to see her and their new home.
Personally, I would go to Virginia every week if I could. This trip was, as they always are, super quick.
Still, it was so much fun (even though there were some setbacks)…

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Brad and I left Friday evening. As expected, we hit traffic and got there about an hour and a half later than expected. The trip should be just shy of 6 hours, but with traffic and food/bathroom breaks, it always gets extended.

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Artie had this bowtie on when we arrived. SO CUTE.

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So, I took this photo on Saturday, as we headed to the beach. We were in the car for four hours without ever actually getting to the beach (that damn traffic) and I went MAD. If you follow me on IG, I had this up and deleted it. I never do stuff like that, but I was that angry. Also, it was a lie because we never ended up at the beach that day.

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Saturday night got better. After naps and showers, we went to Norfolk to check out Field Guide for food and cocktails, and then The Birch for a variety of foreign beers. It definitely made up for the failure earlier in the day. Despite the fact that I wanted to go to the beach, I was also really nervous about the fact that we wouldn’t make it out to places like these, to see new things and try new restaurants. So it totally worked out.

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On Sunday, it was a little rainy off and on, so we headed to Richmond instead of VA beach, and I love Carytown so much!
It’s such a fun place to shop. We started the day with Dixie Donuts and amazing Lamplighter coffee.
One of my favorite moments was at a book store called BBGB, a new shop that wasn’t there when I went last month.
It focuses on children’s books, but I saw some John Green in the window and had to stop and check out any YA.|
The woman who was working was amazing. She was helping a customer pick out another YA read (they were both older than me, proving yet again how important YA is to everyone!) and I fell in love. The customer had finished
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and wanted something new! Brad ended up buying me a signed copy of
Grasshopper Jungle, which has been on my list since it came out. Honestly, guys. I would be so happy to just be surrounded by books all the gosh darn time. Books forever, right?

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On Monday, we FINALLY MADE IT! We started at Zeke’s Bowls and Beans and had an awesome experience with great coffee. Then we headed to Virginia Beach and I read in the sand and swam in the ocean so much. Oh, to always be by the beach. I truly hope that, one day, I can spend a whole summer at a beach house. Or every summer for the rest of my gosh darn life. The dream, guys.

I can’t wait to go back. It probably won’t be for quite a while, but I’m sure it’ll be awesome whenever we do.

7.25.2014

Greatest Hits of July (so far)

Tonight, Brad and I are hitting the road for Virginia. I am soooo excited to spend some more time down south with my favoritest people! My sister, Josh, and my boyfriend all in one place. UGH IT’S GONNA BE AWESOME!
We come back before the month is over, but I just know it’s going to fly, and that I’ll have tons of pictures to share from the trip in their own posts. So for now, here are some photos of things from this month that have been pretty great!

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Awesome new mug alert! When I visited Catie last month, we stopped at the cutest shop and I grabbed some awesome items, this being one of them. I love when mugs have little surprises inside! Also, M. For Me! Michal Lynn!

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So we only did this one night this month, but Brad and I are working on a joint 6x8 Project Life album. I’m excited about it because we are using the Plus One Mini Kit (which is amazing) plus my Studio Calico kits. The whole thing is going to be free-flowing, unlike my fairly structured 2014 book.I can’t wait until we have more time to work on it.

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I’ve been doing this challenge on Instagram, #30DaysofBookstagram . It’s a lot of fun and more creative than you might think. One of the prompts was “Book Spine Poetry” and the pic above is my poem. I know it’s geeky, but I’m proud of it!

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As you may know, I read Landline by Rainbow Rowell in less than 48 hours. I adore Rainbow Rowell.
I did some nail art inspired by the amazing colors of the cover and gave a shout out to the author, just for fun. SHE TWEETED AT ME AND FAVORITED IT. FANGIRL moment! (And yes, Fangirl is also one of her books!) I also got a little comment from one of my favorite bloggers. I love social media.

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These ridiculous dogs! Mia has joined the crew at Lou and Brad’s and she is like 0 pounds and the funniest little thing.
I love that I caught both of them with their tongues out.

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Jenna has been in PA for a while, but we only just got to hang out this past week.
I had to do a Party Party .gif with her! Which, by the way, Party Party is the best.
If you check out my IG feed, you will see a lot of #partypartyapp on there!

It’s been a fast month with lots going on. I can’t wait to enjoy some more summer fun!

7.22.2014

Recent Reads, 20/40: All the Summer Girls

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I’ve made it to the halfway mark! I am super proud of myself.
Last year, I was beyond 20 books at this point, but it was around this time that I really started to slow down and get frustrated with work stuff, allowing myself little time to do anything but be moody.

Book 20 is the 5th book Katie and I decided to read in our book club (ya know, our two person book club).
This book is definitely not something that will give us tons to mull over and to talk about, but it’s nice to read something that isn’t cumbersome, like Life After Life, that month-sucking book.

All the Summer Girls, by Meg Donahue, is that your typical beach read fluff. It has the romantic drama and the friendship drama and all other kinds of drama. But Donahue added a mix a bit of intrigue and trauma as well. Our three characters, Kate, Vanessa, and Dani, haven’t been the same since the death of Colin, Kate’s twin brother, several summers earlier at Avalon beach in NJ. Suddenly, the place they spent long vacations at every year is tainted with the terrible memory. We learn that everyone has guilt towards the death, feeling responsible in their own ways, but we don’t know why or what they did until the characters slowly start to tell each other.

One thing that bummed me out about the book is that, since every character is struggling through some sort of personal issue along with their issues towards Colin, the beach is like a backdrop that doesn’t shine. From the cover of the book to the title, it screams “READ ME WHILE YOU’RE SUNBATHING ON THE SHORE!” But the summer home they spent so much time in, the beach and boardwalk they lived on, don’t shine. I was definitely bummed, especially after being transported so well in We Were Liars. I want to mentally see that beach house, and it just wasn’t there.

I did like the fact that each chapter focused on a different character (The order is Kate, Vanessa, Dani). The book is written in a third-person POV, so it’s interesting to separate the chapters without them actually narrating the story.
I think it was smart to write the alternating chapters so that we could see just what these girls are going through.

To sum it up, it was a quick read that would definitely fly by if you have time on the beach.
Still, I feel like there are more summer-y summer reads.

7.16.2014

Recent Reads, Book 19/40: Landline

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So, at this point, Rainbow Rowell has a fan base that would willingly read a brochure on how to plunge toilets. Four books into her work, I think I can say I’m on that bandwagon. What I adore about her, really, is how Rainbow Rowell-y her writing is. It’s charming, it’s different, it’s real.

Landline was just released this past week and I read it in a little more than 48 hours…a new record for me lately, for sure. Instead of sleeping, I read and read, dying to know what would happen next. I was worried that, in a sleepy haze the next morning, I would forget what I had read. It didn’t happen.

Landline is the story of Georgie McCool, a TV writer who’s marriage to Neal has always been tough, despite their deep love for each other. When the career opportunity of a lifetime keeps Georgie from spending Christmas in Omaha with her husband and kids, their relationship is strained more than ever before. He won’t answer her calls or communicate with her in any way…until she goes to her mom’s house, plugs in the old landline, and calls his house, only to find 1998 Neal, just before he proposed, on the other line. Georgie is left to wonder if she is meant to prevent their marriage from happening or if it can be saved from the absolutely strange and impossible phone calls.

Each book of Rowell’s has this sort of strange magic to it, whether it’s intentional (in this case) or not.
It’s intoxicating and wonderful. Since the book takes place around Christmastime, I seriously thought I would see snow outside when I finally looked out the window after finishing. That’s how transported I got.
And I love the way she writes about love. It’s not the typical story. Some of the romantic moments are the strangest (a particular non-kiss scene in this book stands out), unlike anything you’d read in an Emily Giffin book.
That’s what’s so wonderful about her. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

7.15.2014

Tracy & Steve: A Wedding

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This past Saturday, one of my dearest friends  (I’ve known her since elementary school!) got married. It’s been a while since I’ve attended a friend’s wedding (as opposed to family, which is still fun, but not the same kind of fun) and it was truly a blast. What’s better than watching your friend marry their best friend, then follow it up with drinks and dancing?
Not many things.

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Friends waiting for the big moment!

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We all agreed she looked stunning. Everything was flattering…the dress, the hair (she wore this awesome headband under the veil), the makeup. Absolutely gorgeous.

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MARRIED! And sneaking a peek at us.

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The lot of us at cocktail hour, waiting not-so-patiently for the bar to open (I rarely get group photos, so I cherish this one immensely! Everyone is visible and looks amazing!!).

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Why yes, I will post an obligatory cute photo of me and my love.

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The lovely table setting.

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Welcome the newlyweds!

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Crazy boys.

It was such a great time! I love celebrating love, especially with people I love.

7.14.2014

Recent Reads, 18/40: How to Love

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I just keep chuggin’ along with the books.
I’m 3 books behind schedule, still, but this is the rate I typically read books at, about one per week.
Last year, I got so stressed because I made the goal so high (a book a week, not considering social life or work situations) and eventually gave up. I might not make the goal, exactly, but I’m not far behind and I’m allowing myself to enjoy the books. Either way, I’ll give myself a pat on the back. A couple of set-backs and I’m still doing okay.

How to Love by Katie Cotugno has been on my Amazon Wish List since it was released last fall, thanks to this good review from Entertainment Weekly. I pretty much trust my life with EW. My parents got me a couple of Amazon gift cards that I used for tons of Kindle books, but decided it was time to start buying some physical copies again.

How to Love is the story of Reena (Serena) Montero, a smart teenager who became pregnant at 16 and was abandoned by the father, and great love of her life, Sawyer LeGrande, who has suddenly come back into her life. Though he disappeared without knowing about the baby, the abandonment and the teen pregnancy caused tension in her life both towards him and with her family. The story is told in alternating chapters, BEFORE he left and AFTER he came back.
Reena has known Sawyer forever, and loved him about that long, but he isn’t all he’s cracked up to be when they finally come together. Their relationship is strained with secrets and fears. Can they overcome all of that?

I had high expectations for this book. I don’t want to say it let me down, but it didn’t become a favorite. Still, I consider a book good and read-worthy when it gives me something to think about and carry with me. I know this story won’t become a forgotten book in the library of my mind. While checking some spoiler-free reviews on Goodreads, I came across many people hating the character of Sawyer LeGrande. I, of course, ended up disliking him, too. I wondered if it was influenced by the reviews or if I would’ve felt that way regardless. He’s not particularly likeable, and Reena is a repressed and angry soul, so she’s hard to like sometimes,too. I think there’s something smart about that, though, especially in terms of a book geared towards Young Adults. It’s not the perfect love story. 

I think Cotugno handled Reena’s motherhood really well, too. It wasn’t the focus of the story. Reena’s a teen mom, and she’s dealing with it as best she can while living a normal life, but it’s not used to overdramatize the story in my opinion. It is the cause for family tension, but it’s not trying to send a message.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s more of a drama, unlike cutesy love stories you might find in YA romances,
but that doesn’t make it any harder to read or enjoy. It’s a refreshing change.