Thursday, August 30, 2018

There's Still Pizza In The Box!

I was doing my weekly session with my life coach this week, and I had a huge realization.

Time Out: Yes, I have a life coach. It's a way I'm investing in myself, and it's been really valuble. I'll write about it more soon-ish.

Anyway, back to the pizza.

“ a pizza.
(via MTV)

I was talking with my coach about goal-setting. As I was processing some "stuff" as I do each week, she said, "We still have a third of the year left."

Y'all, that blew my mind. I'll be real that prior to our call this week, I was ready to look towards 2019, and I guess in many regards closing the books on 2018.

But then I stopped.

If 2018 were a pizza, there would still be one-third of the pizza left. Y'all THAT'S A LOT OF PIZZA. I certainly wouldn't throw out a box with one-third of the pizza left. And if I wouldn't do this with pizza, I shouldn't do it with my year.

retro home alone 2 GIF

There are four full months left to go, y'all. I was so busy focusing on all that 2019 could be that I was going to leave so much of 2018 unfinished. I was busy thinking about my next planner (literally, I was in the planner selection process, I'm serious about that stuff), ready to forget about the goals I set, and I'd convinced myself to go all "Better luck next year!"

Ummm, what?

One of the greatest pieces of coaching is when I arrive at truth bombs like this one. I mean, it was almost laughable as I considered how much of the year there was left to go. THERE IS SO MUCH PIZZA LEFT, Y'ALL!

the little mermaid pizza GIF 
(via GIPHY)

I'm taking the time to this week to revisit the goals I'd had for this year. I was really stoked about them once upon a time, and I've still got plenty of time to put some work into making things happen. I mean, after all, some pizza is better than no pizza.

pizza is life GIF by Pusheen
Now (as in the literal right now), I'm really focusing on takings things one day at a time. I'm chipping away at my plans one slice at a time. . . 

snow white love GIF

I know, I know, the pizza analogy was there, and I just had to take a bite out it.

pizza GIF by Cheezburger


Focus. (That's a note for me more than anything, ha!)

Many of the posts I write here are aspirational. I want to do more of what I love. I want to live in space where I get to explore and expand on my passions. I own what holds me back. I will say I've made definite progress in some of these areas. However, there is work to be done. The next four months can be so much, and that only happens with way more doing. It's taking intentional steps towards where I want to go. It's saying no to some things, and saying yes to others. When the opportunity I want/need isn't totally there, it's figuring out how to still make things happen.

Until 11:59 PM CST on December 31st, 2018, there is so much I can do. There is so much I will do. There's still pizza in this box, and I'm hoping to not leave many crumbs behind.

teenage mutant ninja turtles pizza GIF

Here's to making the last third of 2018 the best third of all!

Oh, and also I'm now craving pizza.

one direction lol GIF
(via GiPHY)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Books to Give You All the Feels

I'm back (as I always am) with another quartet of reviews! While this was quite a mixed bag of content with a fictional letter collection, historical fiction, a graphic memoir and a YA love story, they also had a common thread of packing lots of emotion, particularly around relationships. 

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher is a fictional collection of a faculty member's recommendation letters for students. Through his letters, you are able to learn about the author's relationships, teaching/life frustrations, and even where he's formed connections. At the core of the letters is his relentless push of one particular student who he believes deserves to get into a program. As someone who has written and read many a recommendation letter, this one was an intriguing read that unexpectedly included a variety of emotions. There was the humor of the writer's letters for students who didn't know. There was the inappropriately included vengeance of his own life as he wrote to people he knew. Then, there was the frustration laced with care for one specific student. The book ended sadder than I expected. However, my unexpected takeaway from this one was considering how often we write rave reviews of humans in these letters, but don't say them IRL.

Read this book if - You want a uniquely emotional look at the life of a faculty member. You want to read something centered around the idea of saying what we'd really like to say sometimes.

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman was a read that was different than I expected. I received it as an ARC from St. Martin's Press. I wish the back of the book hadn't compared this one to The Lilac Girls (a book I adored) because I went in thinking this book would be more about the war given the comparison. That was definitely not what this one focused on at all. Looking at the title, this book is significantly more sisters than wartime. It just happens that the timing of the story is during World War II. Ruth and Millie are sisters, but struggle with their relationship. The book waffles between the sisters reconnecting at an armory in Springfield, Massachusetts and the time before in Brooklyn, New York. When they reconnect, one sister has found a comfortable life while the other has encountered significant struggle. As the story progresses, you realize this struggle involves both sisters in a way that is a bit of a bombshell. The revelations of this story made it an emotional read. I don't have a sister, so I don't know the ups and downs of that connection, but this one told the story in a way that made me really feel the pain and hurt these two shared.

Read this book if - You want a book about the rocky relationship of sisters. You enjoy historical fiction and want a book set more on the homefront than overseas.

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosockzka was outstanding. I received this graphic novel as an ARC, and I'm telling y'all now that this is a memoir you need to check out. This is the true story of the author's life and all its complexity. Much of the complexity is that his mother is a drug addict. Through his pictures and stories, he recounts the downs and ups of his life with (and without) his mother. Due to his mom's addiction, Jarrett is primarily raised by his grandparents. He talks about his relationship with such beauty. Their relationship is unique in many ways, and he does a brilliant job of capturing this loving dynamic. Through all his stories, Jarrett also shares how he found his way to art. It's a beautiful thing that he was able to use his art to then tell his story. This one was an emotional one, y'all, but so, so great. I found myself in tears near the end as I read letters from his grandparents and the included author's note about the truth of his story. While a painful topic, this story brilliantly shares the realities of how addiction can impact a family.

Read this book if - You want to read a unique graphic novel. You want to see the depths of impact addiction can have. You want to see someone masterfully using their art to share their truth.

To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han was a book I decided to read after I watched the movie on Netflix. I just didn't feel right not reading the source material. Also, I LOVED the premise of the movie, so wanted to spend some more time with Lara Jean and crew. This book's plot focuses on Lara Jean and the love letters she writes to her crushes. She doesn't ever send them, but it's the way she gets her feelings out. True Story: I used to write letters like these as a crushing teenager. I'm beyond happy I never, ever, ever sent these and then had the good sense to destroy them, so they could never see the light of day. ANYWAY. Lara Jean's letters are accidentally sent setting a whole bunch of unexpected things in motion as those she once loved receive these letters. Y'all, this one is so my jam. I absolutely loved reading (and watching) this story. In addition to the story of Lara Jean, there are her sisters (and the complexities of their relationship), her dad (who is raising three daughters solo after her mother's death) and all the angst and such that high school brings. This story had me captivated, and I'm going to have to keep going with this series because I need to know what happens next!

Read this book if - You watched the movie, and you haven't yet read the book. You plan on watching the movie and want to read the book first. You love a good story about unrequited love and what could happen when a crush finds out your feelings.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

All The ARCs

In the past few weeks, I've gotten SEVEN advanced copies. While I will never not love having free books show up on my doorstep, this has also meant my book queue has gotten a little out of control. Again, this is not a problem, but rather an observation. For this round, I wanted to pare down my ARC queue specifically, so here are four books from my "sneak preview" reads.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain was amazing and incredible and all related adjectives. This was one of those rare books you think about constantly when you're not reading because you've become emotionally attached and need to know what happens next. This is also one of those books that I'm still thinking about days later and wish I could be back in its clutches. At its core, this book is about a mother's love for her daughter. In her quest to keep her healthy and safe, an unknown possibility is opened up to her. I cannot tell you what this is here, but please trust me that it will captivate you. I have come to love, love, LOVE the stories that Diane Chamberlain tells in her novels. This one, however, was another level. Even as I type, I'm simultaneously smiling and getting a bit weepy (I'm all feels, all the time y'all) as I think back to the journey this book took me on. I realize I'm not giving you much "teeth" to the plot, and that's actually intentional. You need to read this one with fresh eyes and a clear mind, so that you can feel all the emotions the developments in this one bring. Put this one on your book queue now y'all, read it, and then please let me know at any point in life after October 2nd (release date) how very much you loved this story.

Oh, and unrelated to the plot, this book had a shout out to As The World Turns. ATWT is the soap opera of my youth (via my mom's love), and I miss it terribly. It was an unexpected surprise as I read, and I'd be remiss to not share that little moment of bliss here.

Read this book if - You want a story that is unlike any other. You want a story built on the choices we make for love. You want characters that you cannot stop think about as you read and even days after. You want a book that will make you feel all the feels - in the best of ways. 

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen was an ARC I was legit pumped to receive. Their first joint venture (The Wife Between Us) was such a captivating read, and I was excited to have a chance to jump back into the thrilling world they create. One of the challenges with authors who write something incredible is following that up, and despite not wanting to compare, well, you do. That said, I liked The Wife Between Us better. Others may rate them in reserve order because we each like what we like. Regardless, both are 1000% worth the read. Anyway. . .

This book was intriguing. It starts with a psychology experiment. Needing cash, Jessica signs up for a study. Seems like easy, quick money, however it quickly becomes more than that. Dr. Shields truly wants to test Jessica's limits. It's hard for to Jessica to say no as each of these additional layers has a financial component. The experiment becomes more complex as Dr Shields' own emotions and wants become wrapped in what she's asking Jessica to do under the guise of her work. I actually read this in one sitting on a long flight, and it kept me captivated throughout. I will also say the ending was one that was so wild I had to re-read to make sure I truly understood the twist. Overall, I'm really digging this duo, and I'm looking to forward the discussion this one brings when it's released next year (yup, it's not out until 2019) as well as what's next.

Read this book if - You love a good pageturner of a thriller. You like a book that raises ethical questions written in a fast-paced thriller environment. You like a book that has a good twist or two or seven up its sleeve.

Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone was a book I snagged at Library Night at the K. It's actually already out on shelves, but still a new-ish release. This one was classic YA. Emory and Hannah are lifelong next door neighbors and former BFFs, but now aren't talking, and you don't know why. Through alternating chapters, they share their story of their final days of high school as well as elude to where things have been with their friendship. Things get more complex when Emory intervenes as she finds Hannah's boyfriend Luke passed out in a car outsider her house. This book is a story about friendship, romance and faith told in a unique and different way. I can't say that I've read many books that talk about all three of these like this one did. I will say I figured out the reason Emory and Hannah weren't talking fairly early on, but it didn't ruin my reading of the book. There are also some other complexities in the story that I'm still processing through, but overall I thought this one did what YA generally does for me.

Read this book if - You are looking for a YA story about friendship with an added dimension of faith development. You are looking for a YA story that takes on a different tone than others. 

Sheets by Brenna Thummler was a graphic novel I wanted to love, and there were moments I did. This one is a story of a girl who feels like a ghost and a boy who is. Marjorie is trying to navigate life after her mother's death. Due to his own grief, her father isn't at a place where he can run the family laundromat, so this falls on her shoulders. Wendell is a ghost trying to figure out just what it means to be a ghost and how he interacts with the rest of the world. The two intersect as they figure out life after/the afterlife. There were moments I was all about the feels in this one, and there were many others where I just wanted more. Honestly, I wanted more Marjorie than anything. I thought her story and emotions were so real. The ghost thing had its moments, but the humans in this are what made me enjoy the read. 

Read this book if - You want a graphic novel with some heart. You are looking for a quick read that will make you feel some feels.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Summer of Self-Care - Sort Of. Not Really. And That's Okay.

Y'all, where the heck did summer go? How is it August practically September?!?!

While I have no idea how this summer flew, I do have some reflections of the last three months that were.

In my field, we often talk about the relaxation and slower pace of summer. It's a time where we can breathe, where we can plan, and where we can do all the stuff we just can't do during the academic year.

Well, I'm here to tell you that the idea of summer as relaxing is a lie.

Although the truth is that some of that non-relaxation is on me. Because for all I do and say around self-care and stress management as an educator, sometimes I just don't get right. 

I had the opportunity to have a piece published this summer about self-care - Refilling Your Tank: Simple Steps for Self Care. It was a neat chance to write about something I'm passionate about and to get some positive feedback on it.

That said, it's also important to tell you I haven't always followed my own advice. I tell you this as the only way it gets better for me - or anyone else. Self-care isn't about always getting it right. Self-care is about acknowledging our limitations. Self-care is sometimes reflecting on those times where we do a sh*t job of putting ourselves first. Self-care is coming to terms with the times we exhaust ourselves and identifying how we can do better. Self-care is an imperfect and often cyclical process, but it's a necessary one.

This summer, I had some self-care wins - and I took some major L's. 

Let's start with the good. Prior to a long and potentially stressful trip, I "charged" up my batteries. Knowing I was going away, I took the time in the week before I left to do things that brought me joy, relaxation and/or happiness. While on the trip, I actively monitored how I was doing, steered clear of things that might deplete my energy, and found people/places/activities during my down-time to give myself a quick surge as I needed it. I've been going to conferences and taking work trips for 13 years now, and I can honestly say this is the first time I thought about travel in this way. Game-changer, y'all. I've had three trips since then, and using this mindset has been powerful. 

For all the prep I've done, I've also depleted the reserves. You see, I have a problem with the word Yes. It's my default setting. I overcommit. If I can do more, I will. And then more after that. And then just a little bit more. It's something I've written about on a few occasions here, and I'm back writing about it again because overcoming the default is a tricky battle, y'all. It's especially tricky when you play both hero and villain in said battle. 

I had the amazing opportunity to facilitate an emerging leaders program for my sorority this summer. One of the pieces of that curriculum involved the oft-used idea of "What would you do if you were not afraid?" As I prepared to facilitate that session, I had an epiphany that I then shared with the group. I'm going to now share that here. This isn't about doing without fear, rather it's about this - What would you do if you were afraid, but then did it anyway?

Take a moment and let that sink in.

Here's my fear y'all - I care what other people think. I care a whole lot. I care at a dangerous level. Another one of my default settings is that I craft stories around this. I speculate and predict how people are going to feel about my choices, particularly when I say No. Even when I'm saying No for a perfectly legit reason, things aren't totally perfect and/or I'm just accepting my human limits, I am worried about how others will perceive this. This results in a lot of tears, stress and/or other unpleasant emotions in life.

For me, I have to move beyond that fear. I can't be the person I aspire to be when I let this default setting take control. The reality is I need to take back control. Even more than that, I have to do this for my own well-being. Sacrificing myself on behalf of these fictitious stories I've built just isn't doing anything for me in life. 

Learning to prioritize me and truly care for myself will always be an ongoing process. I do feel like I'm more aware than ever of what I need, and this is now one of those #cannotunsee moments. As I reflect on all those times this summer that I actively leaned into the stuff I truly loved, took on what I could realistically do and/or intentionally crafted how I spent my time and energy, I realize that this is the story I must write more and more.

This summer, I didn't always get things right. Far, far faaaaar from it. However, I'm here at the end still living and learning. I'm here committed more than ever. I'm pulling out that "Andrea's Life" cartridge, giving it a good puff of air, and I'm going to put it back in hoping it works better this time.

I'm writing this today mostly for me. I need to put words to the good and the bad. 

I also hope if you find yourself in this similar funk you might know you're not alone.

And if you're me reading this in the future, here's something I wrote just for you. . . 

Hey, you're going to be okay. Try again. Take a deep breath. Say no when you need to, and take a moment before you say yes to make sure it's the right call. Don't worry about what others think, especially if you don't actually know. You do you. Seriously. Do you hear me? Read this again until you believe it. Okay, bye.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Books for All the Feels

Another day, another mixed bag of reads. So let's do this.

Girl On A Wire was a memoir about the author's time in a church known for its extreme hate, primarily through their picketing. I grew up in Topeka where they are based, and I can remember seeing them a variety of places. It's really, really difficult to understand and comprehend such hateful messaging as a kid, as well as an adult. The memoir included the author talking about the development of the church, the evolution of her relationship with the church, and her life after being expelled from it. It's a tough read given all the hate this group puts into the world under the guise of faith. It does provide that window into the church if that's something you are curious about exploring, but it also means you have to visit much of the pain they've caused in communities.

Read this book if - You want a firsthand account of this complex topic.

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones is a thriller to be released soon. Thanks to NetGalley for the hook-up on this one.  Emily follows in love with Adam. Everything is great, except for one major issue - His mother. No matter what she does, his mother is hostile and seems set on sabotaging the relationship. This one was intense y'all. Eventually, Emily and Adam get engaged, and his mother pulls out all the stops in the wedding planning process like WHOA. I will say that this one had a twist at the end that I did not see coming at all. It was legit one of those "WAIT WHAT?!?" moments that is precisely why I love a good thriller. Oh, and I would not recommend reading this if you are in any sort of wedding planning process. Even if your future mother-in-law is amazing, there were an endless array of stressful situations presented that you just don't need to consider.

Read this book if - You love a thriller that keeps you on edge to the very end. You love a thriller that is riddled with stress and suspense about what the heck might happen next.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman was amazing. It's a book unlike any other. I can't remember a book that made me laugh out loud and feel so many feels in its pages. I was immediately captivated by this one on the first page, and that continued throughout. The unique dimension of this book is that the narrator is a seven year old. There's humor in the way she sees the world. There is also sadness in that the book is about her navigating life after her
grandmother's death. As the title indicates, part of this is that she's working to atone on behalf of her grandmother while also feeling the feels of life after someone she loved. This book was just straight up beautiful. It was unlike anything I'd read before, and I absolutely loved it. 

Read this book if - You love a book that is unique and well-written. You want a book that will make you feel all the feels. You want a book that will suck you in from the first page and not let go until the very last moment.

Mac B. Kid Spy: Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett was a book I didn't expect to love as much as I did. It's the (allegedly) true story of how the author was a spy as a kid that I received as an advanced copy. Mac receives notice from the Queen of England that she needs his help. Something has been stolen, and it's on Mac to help her find it. I think part of the reason I loved this one is that it takes place in the late 80s. It's talking about my childhood times for kid's today. The other really cool dimension (at least for a nerd like me) is that there are lots of subtle nudges for kids to explore the facts/history in the book. Because the book is so fun and laidback, you don't even realize all the stuff you're learning. Again, I didn't expect to love this one as much as I did. However, the solid illustrations and the humor throughout made this one a gem of a read even for someone outside the target demographic.

Read this book if - You want a book that will just make you smile. You want something that looks at history and geography and humor in a really enjoyable way. You just love references to the eighties.

Until my next round!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Books I Love The Most

There is no better day than International Book Lovers Day to share the books I love the most. These books give a great window into who I am as a reader and more importantly in life.

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer

Here's the thing. I'm moody. I always have been, I always will be. You should especially ask anyone who has to deal with me in the morning. My family's nickname for me as a child was Andrea Crabtree because there are just times I'm "in a mood" and everyone around me will know it. This book speaks to me on that level. I read (and re-read) lots of Little Critter as a kiddo. However, this one is timeless for me. It's a great representation of those moments where you're just having that kind of day and need a minute.

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

Ramona will always and forever be my favorite. When I was in Portland in January, I even went to Beverly Cleary's neighborhood and got my picture with Ramona.

This book to me is the core of who Ramona is. Even as a kindergartner, she is so wise. I mean, y'all, I still wonder where Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom. All these years later, it remains one of life's biggest mysteries.

Speaking of bathrooms, I even repurposed a well-loved used copy of this book into some art for mine. 

Of all of these, this book is my most favorite of the favorites. I just can't get enough of it. I love Ramona's zeal for life and how she's in a hurry to have all the answers. In this way, she reminds me of me, and I love following along as she tries to figure it all out to learn and do all she can.

"'I'm not pestering,' protested Ramona, who never meant to pester.
She was not a slowpoke grown-up. She was a girl who could not wait.
Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next."

Middlemarch by George Eliot

This is a classic that mesmerized me when I first read it for a class in college. It is the story of the residents in the town of Middlemarch, and it is just so beautifully told in its nearly 800 pages. Yes, that's right, it's almost 800 pages, but the undertaking is worth it. It also doesn't feel like it's that long as you read - well, unless you're reading a paper copy, in which case the book is quite heavy. Y'all, it's just got so many compelling characters and stories. This one is due for a re-read from me, and I'm really looking forward to stepping back in time with this one soon.

"Failure after much perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving to be good enough to be called a failure."

Girls In Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares

I love all the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. I love this book the most. This is the book I go to when I just need a heavy dose of literally all the feels. It captures Tibby, Bridget, Lena and Carmen so perfectly. Of the five books, this is one that is just perfection in its stories. Even in its heartbreak and sadness, it's exactly as it should be. I sometimes wish the was the end of the series as it's so well-told. I also first read this one at a particularly rocky time in life, so I think the places it emotionally takes me are connected at a deeper level that most other books. Also, of all the books I own, this one is easily the one where I have marked the most quotes I love.

"Her mother told her once that when you feel someone's pain and joy as
powerfully as if it were your own, the you knew you really loved them."

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This a story told by a dog. Honestly, that sentence should tell you everything you need to know about this one. You should also know you'll fall in love with this dog and the way he loves his owner and tells their story. If I'm going to gift a book, this one is usually my go-to. It's just such a beautiful story of friendship through the eyes of the dog. That sounds odd as I write it, and I promise you it's not. Instead, it's the perfect way to tell the story about this relationship as it covers all the emotions in all of the best ways.

"'There is no dishonor in losing the race,' Don said.
'There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.'"

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

This book is hauntingly beautiful. I've actually only read it once because I'm slightly worried if I go back it won't be as amazing as I remember. The book is told from the point of view of a boy's imaginary friend. It is incredible to read how he sees the world. His creator (I'm not sure what the proper term is) finds himself in trouble, and it's so captivating to read about that experience from his imaginary friend. The way he is able to create his perception of reality is just awesome. I'm using all the adjectives I can hear because it is just that good.

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

This book was a book that resonated with me in my twenties like no other book did. I re-read it in the last few years, and I could see how the twentysomething me was so drawn to this. It was almost like a weird emotional time machine experience. This book at its core is about unrequited love and the love stories we try to will to happen. It's about a girl who wants to find love as she works through her past and current "stuff" to figure out what is. It follows her over years as relationships ebb and flow, and she tries to figure out what they all mean. I can remember reading this in my younger years and just feeling all the feels because the story was just too real. 

"I don't think that I'm wasting my time.
Perhaps this is how you know you're doing the thing you're intended to do.
No matter how slight or slow your progress, you never feel that it's a waste of time."

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

If I had to pick the book that is going to define thirtysomething me, this one would be it. This book is full of the words I need to hear. It's the messages I need to listen to, and it's the life I'm trying to create. I've written about the concept of taking down chairs before, and while I'm still working it, I think of it often. Even as I skimmed the bookmarks I had tonight, I was inspired by this one. There's such beauty in the message here. This is a book that grounds me, and it reminds me to keep pushing to build the life I want and need.

"When you say, This is what I can do; this is what I can't, you'll find such freedom in that. You'll be free to love your work, because you're not using it as a sneaky way to be loved or approved of. You'll be free to love the things you give to people, because you're giving them freely, untangled from resentments and anger."

Y'all, writing about these books make me want to go and read these all over again!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Introducing A Book Club For All Seasons

When I decided to get more serious about book blogging, I always planned that this endeavor would include some kind of book club element. After all, I love sharing the books I read with others. You know what's even better? Collectively sharing and discussing a read with others! 

With that, I'm excited to unveil Club Book Mobile's latest adventure - A Book Club For All Seasons! For each season, I've intentionally picked a book to complement that time of the year. With each read, I'll then be hosting an online discussion. No matter where you're at, you now have the chance to live that book club life. Also, I'll be sure to provide plenty of instructions on how to engage, so if this is your rookie club and/or you're not sure how an online club might work, I will help y'all out.

It took me some time to land on my first four picks. However, I'm really, really stoked for the quartet I ultimately chose. So with that *drumroll*

Fall Selection - You May Now Kill The Bride by R.L. Stine

With Halloween in this season, it was a given the fall selection was going to be a thriller. In searching for a book, I was so, so, SO excited to see that R.L. Stine had rebooted Fear Street. The chance to revisit an author who first cultivated my love of a twisty thriller was just perfect for my kickoff selection. 

According to the publisher, Two sisters, divided by time. Each with a terrible resentment she can barely contain. Two Fear family weddings, decades apart. Each bride will find that the ancient curse that haunts the Fears LIVES ON. It feeds off the evil that courses through their blood. It takes its toll in unexpected ways, and allows dark history to repeat itself. In this all-new Fear Street story, family ties bind sisters together—till DEATH do they part." 

I'm so here for this reboot, and I hope y'all will be, too!

Discussion for this book will occur in October 2018.

Winter Selection - This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Phillips

The start of a new year seems like the best time to take on a book for a little advice or inspiration. I often find that in a memoir. I researched ones that were due to come out soon-ish. When I saw this one, it was a no-brainer. I was first introduced to Busy Phillips as Audrey (#dawsonscreekforever), and I've become increasingly appreciative of her humor (I mean, have y'all seen her stories, especially her Elf On The Shelf game, on Instagram?) and perspective on life. I'm looking forward to learning even more via this book.

According to the publisher, "Busy’s memoir offers the same unfiltered and candid storytelling that we’ve come to know and love on Instagram stories, from growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona and her painful and painfully funny teen years, to her life as a working actress, mother, and famous best friend. Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all."

Discussion to occur in January 2019.

Spring Selection - Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Spring is the time of year where there is a great opportunity to refresh and recharge. For this season, I just wanted to pick an all-around good book. I've been wanting to read this book for some time. There's something about it that just sounds so compelling and captivating. Given I was in charge of book club picks, this one had to make the cut.

The description on Goodreads says, "Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more. But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between? This is almost a love story. But it's not as simple as that."

Discussion to occur in April 2019.

Summer Selection - The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan

Summer is obviously going to be something that falls into the beach read genre. I'll admit that this one is not as "light-hearted" as I initially wanted to go. However, it has summer in the name, and the description and reviews were just too good to not make it the summer selection.

Here's what Goodreads says, "Laura and Casey were once inseparable: as they floated on their backs in the sunlit lake, as they dreamed about the future under starry skies, and as they teamed up for the wild scavenger hunts in their small California lakeside town. Until one summer night, when a shocking betrayal sent Laura running through the pines, down the dock, and into a new life, leaving Casey and a first love in her wake. But the past is impossible to escape, and now, after seventeen years away, Laura is pulled home and into a reunion with Casey she can’t resist—one last scavenger hunt. With a twist: this time, the list of clues leads to the settings of their most cherished summer memories. From glistening Jade Cove to the vintage skating rink, each step they take becomes a bittersweet reminder of the friendship they once shared. But just as the game brings Laura and Casey back together, the clues unravel a stunning secret that threatens to tear them apart. Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is about losing and recapturing the person who understands you best—and the unbreakable bonds of girlhood."

Discussion to occur in July 2019.

More details to come. Looking forward to reading with y'all!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Here's To Eighty Books!

Y'all with this post, I'm at eighty books on the year. While that sounds somewhat of a #humblebrag, it's more just a note that I've had the chance to check out some amazing stuff. I love reading and even more than that I really dig the chance to share good books with y'all. Here's the next round.

Landfall by Ellen Urbani was a book I was excited to find at this summer's used book sale. I mean, y'all, I literally walked in, and there this book was on a table waiting for me. I know about Ellen from my sorority's online book club. She's also a member, and she joined us a few years back for a live discussion of her other book When I Was Elena. Wow, y'all, this book was an emotional read. It is the story of two women - Rose and Rosy - whose stories intersect due to a car accident. As it turns out, their stories are far more connected than this moment, and you learn more and more about this as the book goes between their pasts and presents. The other dimension of this story is the connection to Hurricane Katrina. The realities of that situation are well-told with such realness, but it's quite heavy content. Oh, and then, there's the emotional dimension that both women's stories also involve navigating a relationship with their mother and trying to find their own way. Even though this one is more drama when thriller, there is also a twist at the end that got a jaw drop from me. 

Read this book if - You're looking for something that covers the complexity of relationships. You want something that does a deep dive into your feels.

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser was this month's selection for my in-person book club. This one is about a neighborhood woman who disappears. A few nights before she'd been chilling around a bonfire with her neighbors, and now, she's just vanished in the night with her kids. The neighbors knew she was going through a divorce, but they realize they knew little else. They each try to piece together what happened while also navigating through their own "stuff" that clouds their interpretation and reactions. In addition to focusing on the missing woman, this book walks through the secrets and stories of others in the neighborhood. It really makes you think about how much you really know the people you live next to. This is one that kept me reading as I had to know just what happened. I'm really glad I read it with a group, so I have some people to process through it with soon!

Read this book if - You're looking for a thriller that will keep you guessing. You enjoy thrillers that waffle between perception and reality.

Blue Whistler by Mickey Cobb was a book I picked up at Library Night At The K. It's the story of the Kansas City Royals' infamous pine tar game from someone who was there as Mickey was formerly the Royals head trainer. For those who don't know about this game, in 1983 George Brett hit a homerun at Yankee Stadium. Awesome, right? Welllllll, let's roll the tape.

This book is really just a thorough review of what happened before and after. If not for George's emotional outburst, I'm not sure this one lives in history like it does. However, given the intensity with which George played the game, this one is the stuff of legends. Mickey does a great job of talking through each and every piece. I mean, y'all, he even talks about what pine tar is. I love a baseball book that is full of detail and storytelling, and this one was so much of that. I also got to meet the author at the Royals game last week, and it made me appreciate his connection to the organization and love of the game even more. 

Read this book if - You are a Royals fan and remember the pine tar game, don't remember the pine tar game and/or want to know more about the pine tar game. You are a fan of baseball stories and legends. You just love baseball.

Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison was sadly not the book adaptation of this classic jam from The Verve Pipe released during my own freshman year of high school.


You're welcome for sharing this throwback.


This one is about two students in their freshman year of college. Phoebe has had a huge crush on Luke for years and now they're at the same college. As Phoebe's dreams become somewhat reality, she and Luke start to interact. The story is told from both of their perspectives as they navigate college and their (sort of) relationship. I liked this one, but I also was left wanting more. One of the subplots of this one is about a group text that the soccer team has. There was so much more than could and should have been covered around the problematic nature of this, the repercussions and the missteps. I felt like this was kind of skimmed over, and that was a lost moment. I did appreciate the reality of the relationship between Phoebe and Luke outside of this part of the story. This wasn't a sweet, romantic happy ending type book, rather it was more about the complexities of figuring out what two people might be and all that this can entail. 

Read this book if - You want some YA that takes place in the college environment. You want a book that explores what happens when unrequited love turns to real-ish feels.