It’s officially FALL, Y’ALL!
Cue the pumpkin patch pictures (say that 5 times fast), pumpkin spice lattes, flannel and plaid everything… I’ll admit I have always loved fall, but mostly because of the crisp air and, in a way, it’s the start of the holiday season.
Speaking of holidays, today I’m spending the day working on Halloween masks to stock in my Etsy store. I made these masks last year and sold almost 20 of them! I made the mistake of making them to order, which meant I was up until 4 am one Monday morning sewing, gluing, and packing handmade masks to ship.
It was stressful (although lucrative), so this year I’ve decided to make all of the masks at once and once they’re sold out, they’re sold out! I have enough supplies to make about 15 masks, so I’ve got a busy day ahead!
Anyway, Blanche’s Book Club breezed right through another book this week: “Ghosted” by Rosie Walsh – a title from our Summer Reading Guide. Here is the official description from Amazon.com:
Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.
When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.
Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.
Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.
I was really excited to read this book because… let’s face facts: I’ve been “Ghosted” in the dating world many, many times. If you’re not familiar (then, lucky you), being ghosted is when the person you’re talking to just completely falls off the face off the earth. They ignore your attempts to connect, and it’s absolutely maddening!
This book talks about exactly that, but it’s much more, and loads more creepy. I read this book in a single sitting – I just had to know how the mystery would end! I’m recommending this book to anyone who loves a romance-mystery combo.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Blood, Bones, and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton. If you follow me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 – you can see real-time updates on the books I’m reading, and today, updates on my Etsy Halloween masks!
Have a great Sunday!
Hey there! I’m heading to the beach tomorrow, and I have noticed a very strong pattern in myself over the last few years. Whenever I’m getting ready for a trip, the days (and usually the entire week) before I leave is completely INSANE.
That’s the thing when you work freelance, have a digital job, and manage a blog – you have to do ALL the work that was originally going to be done while you’re sitting on the beach! So, this week I’ve basically been doing double the work, telling all (11!) of my freelance clients that I’m heading out of town and cramming in last-minute projects, and writing blogs to publish next week while I’m laying in the sand.
Don’t get me wrong – no complaints here – it just seems like no matter how much I prep, part of me is always running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Amidst all of the craziness this week, I had books to read as they were due back at the library. I had no problem getting through this latest one quickly, so let’s hop to it. I’m talking about “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America” by Beth Macy.
In this masterful work, Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America’s twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.
Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother’s question-why her only son died-and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.
Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope-and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families.
This book was outstanding! I’ve read many addiction memoirs, so I was really looking forward to seeing things from a more holistic view, and this book DELIVERED. Macy’s reporting is flawless, and I cannot imagine how long it took her to research, conduct interviews, and then cull everything down into this book.
The book is told through the stories of families who’ve lost a loved one from opioids. There’s information from every angle, from addicts, dealers, doctors, drug companies, and pharmacies… and frankly, the whole thing was quite creepy. It made me scared to trust prescription meds – although I’m already skeptical and rarely even take Tylenol.
It’s interesting, because there’s definitely fault on doctors and drug companies, but I also feel a certain way about how we (society) have responded to opioid addicts. This book made me want to judge less and learn how to administer narcan.
I’m recommending this book to anyone who’s interested in the opioid crisis in our country, but also to anyone who’s known an addict, and for anyone who loves reading true crime and investigative pieces. This is a must read!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “All We Ever Wanted” by Emily Giffin. Have a great weekend!
So, perhaps I’m a little late in creating Blanche’s Book Club’s Beach Reading Guide, but I’m heading to the beach on Saturday, and juuuust in case there’s anyone out there that hasn’t ended their summer yet, I thought I’d round up some quality beach reads for your vacation tote.
I’ve spoken, or written, about many times some of the best moments of my life. One of those moments was in Pensacola, Florida, sitting in a lounge chair on the beach with all of my toes stuck in the white sand, sipping on a beer while reading a Nicholas Sparks’ novel. I will never forget it
A beach read is different than a “summer read” for me – it’s got to be fitting for a vacation… a complete getaway. And it’s got to be something without a complicated plot, because I am very much a beach boozer. So here goes…
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
I love an office scandal! Sounds lighthearted but interesting enough for a beach read, and I’m excited to see what else Thorne writes in the future.
SERIES: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Thanks to Netflix, I’ve heard so much about this book series, and I want to read it SO bad! Here’s the books (listed in order) in the series and their descriptions:
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Given the way love turned her heart in the New York Times bestselling To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which School Library Journal called a “lovely, lighthearted romance,” it’s no surprise that Laura Jean still has letters to write.
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.
Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.
Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.
But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.
When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?
…Don’t these books sound delightful? I feel like I could read these all in one sitting… with a nice crisp wine spritzer!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’ve read one of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books before and it was SO good! I was relieved to see that she’s published several, and it looks like this one will be just as riveting as her others. Here’s the official description from Amazon:
In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
“Heartbreaking, yet beautiful” (Jamie Blynn, Us Weekly), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is “Tinseltown drama at its finest” (Redbook): a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it costs—to face the truth.
Nantucket Series by Elin Hilderbrand
I read somewhere that Elin Hilderbrand is the Queen of Summer Reading, so there’s no way I can craft a list of beach reads without including her on it! I’ve read two of her books so far (she has so many) and look forward to reading many more. Here are the books in the Nantucket series (listed in order) with their descriptions from Amazon:
Claire has a problem with setting limits. All her life she has taken on every responsibility, assumed every burden, granted every request. Claire wants it all–and in the eyes of her friends, she has it: a devoted husband, four beautiful children, even a successful career as an artist. So when she agrees to chair the committe for Nantucket’s social event of the year, she knows she can handle it. Claire can handle anything.
But when planning the gala propels her into the orbit of billionaire Lock Dixon, unexpected sparks begin to fly. Lock insists on working closely with Claire–often over a bottle of wine–and before long she can’t ignore the subtle touches and lingering looks. To her surprise, she can’t ignore how they make her feel, either. Claire finds the gala, her life, and herself spinning out of control.
A Summer Affair captures the love, loss, and limbo of an illicit romance and unchecked passion as it takes us on a brave and breathless journey into the heart of one modern woman.
Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy’s closest friends for what will be revealed.
It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer-the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.
Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon
This is the first time I’ve heard of Hannah McKinnon, but she seems like an author I would really enjoy. Here’s the description for “Mystic Summer” from Amazon:
A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.
Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.
But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.
There you have it; my beach picks for this year! Did you read any that would make good beach books? Let me know in the comments!
Happy Labor Day! It’s gloomy here in Austin, so I don’t feel a BIT guilty for planning a day indoors – I’ve got blogs to write and some freelance to do… and I need to make some jewelry for my Etsy store – so, cya summer. Just kidding, that won’t happen until… October?
I skipped over to the library on Saturday to pickup some reserves (two from my summer reading list) and I realized that I definitely have 3 books due back by Friday, soo… #libraryproblems
So, let’s get to Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones. Here is the official description from Amazon:
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.
This book was an Oprah Book Club selection and was also one of President Obama’s summer reads!
I was sort of wondering where this book was going to go, given that the description reveals a lot… but there’s plenty of twists and turns. I found myself gasping in shock throughout a majority of the first half.
A good chunk of the book is letters back and forth from prison, which are interesting to read – and a unique idea from the author.
This was a good book – uplifting? No. But I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys Southern literature, and/or to anyone who has an interest in black culture.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America” by Beth Macy.
I hope you all enjoy your Monday off (at least, I hope you have it off)!
Hey there! Last week, my boss instructed me to pick a day to work from home this week because I’ve been “doing too much” – so, today is my day!
I am always so jealous of anyone who has a job that lets them regularly work from home (even if it’s just one day a week) or work a flex schedule, because you can get so much done! Some days, my office is busy and can be distracting, but at home I feel like I can get so much done – but I do have to deal with Blanche!
I mean even right now, it’s 7:15 and I’ve already started a load of laundry and am catching up on the season finale of “Very Cavallari”. Work doesn’t technically start until 9! It’s amazing.
Anyway, Blanche’s Book Club has got a new read under its belt that we’ve got to share with you: “The President is Missing” by James Patterson and Bill Clinton. Here is the description from Amazon:
The President Is Missing confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view . . .
Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years.
I am 99% certain this was my first James Patterson book, if not, only my second and obviously the first wasn’t very memorable. The “James Patterson Reader” is a certain type of person – and that person DEVOURS his books, and well, he churns them out.
And I’m not judging here – I’m just fully admitting that I’m not entirely sure James Patterson is for me and I read this book because of Bill Clinton. There. I said it.
The plot in this book moves very quickly (and is easy to read) and honestly, it would make for a great movie. It’s very visual and suspenseful. I will say, though, that even though much of the plot COULD happen, there’s several things in the plot that absolutely would never happen.
I’m completely fine with suspending reality, I’m just saying!
If you’re a James Patterson fan, of course, you should read this. But if you’ve never dipped your toe into the Patterson pond, then read it if you’re into political thrillers, and possibly if you’re interested in cyber terror and data security.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will read is, “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones (which was recently revealed as one of President Obama’s summer reads, and was also an Oprah Book Club pick).
You can get real-time updates of the book on my Instagram Stories @OrangeJulius7 – also, keep your eyes open this week, because I may or may not be planning a jewelry giveaway… Happy Tuesday!
Hey there! I am going to jump right into the subject matter today because I waited SO long to get this book in my grubby little paws. Today, I’m talking about “Leah on the Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli. As soon as I read “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda“, I put myself on the library waiting list for the sequel, and well, here we are.
Here is the book’s official description from Amazon:
In this sequel to the acclaimed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—now a major motion picture, Love, Simon—we follow Simon’s BFF Leah as she grapples with changing friendships, first love, and senior year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.
She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.
It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
So… you might have already guessed it, but this book isn’t really about drumming. It’s about high school and all of the twists and turns it brings – especially when you toss love in there.
The characters in this book are in high school, but they are preparing to head to college, so it definitely brought me back to that time in my life. I still remember very vividly my first college visit, and also attending my first frat party while still in high school (complete with lemonade + raspberry vodka – yuuuuck).
Anyway, although the characters in this book are familiar (from reading “Simon), getting to know Leah’s character was fun – she had a different train of thought that is refreshingly funny.
I also really admire Albertalli’s ability to bring to light the experiences of characters who aren’t heterosexual. I don’t know if this was her mission in writing these books, but it’s a nice change, and I’m sure high school students appreciate reading about someone who has experiences more similar to theirs.
I’m recommending this book to anyone who’s read (and liked) “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda”, and also to fans of YA novels, and/or to anyone looking to relive (temporarily) the high school experience.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The President is Missing” by James Patterson and Bill Clinton.
Hey there! I had a fun little Saturday yesterday – I got my hair done (a slightly new cut and a bold red color), went on my weekly “Food Adventure”, where I try a new restaurant (I went to Modern Market for a Blueberry Pesto sandwich), and did some shopping at Trader Joe’s (picked up some cold brew coffee concentrate)!
Today, I’ve been working on some freelance projects while catching up on “Pose” (I think I have three episodes left). I am going to yoga later and am still debating if I should make a trip to Michael’s today – I have a coupon that I might not be able to pass up!
But the real reason I’m writing today is to share with you the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Before I dive in, here is the official book description from Amazon:
“A must read for anyone hoping to live a creative life… I dare you not to be inspired to be brave, to be free, and to be curious.” —PopSugar
From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration.
She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us.
Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
If you know me, even if only through this blog, you probably can already guess that I LOVED this book! It felt like it was written from the things swirling around in my brain. I have always valued creativity, and I talk extensively about it in my blog class – that we must nurture our brains to be creative, and act upon it when it happens.
I wrote down SO many lines from this book that spoke to me and I’ll share them with you here:
- Without bravery…they would never be able to realize the vaulting scope of their own capacities. Without bravery, they would never know the world as richly as it longs to be known. Without bravery, their lives would remain small – far smaller than they probably wanted their lives to be.
- Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
- The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.
- The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.
- I am talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
- …When courage dies, creativity dies with it.
- Keep your eyes open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ask questions. Sniff around. Remain open. Trust in the miraculous truth that new ideas are looking for human collaborators every single day.
- Let inspiration lead you wherever it wants to lead you.
- I don’t want to be afraid of bright colors or new sounds, or big love, or risky decisions, or strange experiences, or weird endeavors, or sudden changes, or even failure.
- Your own reasons to create are reason enough.
- I have dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of creativity, and I spend a lot of time encouraging other people to do the same, because I think a creative life is the most marvelous life there is.
- You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living.
- I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.
- Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes – but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work.
- Perhaps creativity’s greatest mercy is this: By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are.
- Following the scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing, unexpected places.
That about sums up the book, right? I feel so lame that I haven’t read any of Gilbert’s any other books – but I’ll be adding them to my list! I’m recommending this book to anyone looking for a push to live their dreams, whether that be making a career change or picking up a new hobby or even taking a trip off the beaten path.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Leah on the Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Hey there! I feel like I haven’t blogged in forever – I’ve been in a bit of a creative slump and I’ve been so busy with work that I have barely been reading. It’s just all-around lame!
But, yesterday I finished reading a book, so let’s jump right in! Today, I’m talking about “The Island” by Elin Hilderbrand. Here is the official description from Amazon:
A summertime story only Elin Hilderbrand can tell: a family in upheaval after a cancelled wedding fill an island summer with heartache, laughter, and surprises.
Birdie Cousins has thrown herself into the details of her daughter Chess’s lavish wedding, from the floating dance floor in her Connecticut back yard to the color of the cocktail napkins. Like any mother of a bride-to-be, she is weathering the storms of excitement and chaos, tears and joy. But Birdie, a woman who prides herself on preparing for every possibility, could never have predicted the late-night phone call from Chess, abruptly announcing that she’s cancelled her engagement.
It’s only the first hint of what will be a summer of upheavals and revelations. Before the dust has even begun to settle, far worse news arrives, sending Chess into a tailspin of despair. Reluctantly taking a break from the first new romance she’s embarked on since the recent end of her 30-year marriage, Birdie circles the wagons and enlists the help of her younger daughter Tate and her own sister India. Soon all four are headed for beautiful, rustic Tuckernuck Island, off the coast of Nantucket, where their family has summered for generations. No phones, no television, no grocery store – a place without distractions where they can escape their troubles.
But throw sisters, daughters, ex-lovers, and long-kept secrets onto a remote island, and what might sound like a peaceful getaway becomes much more. Before summer has ended, dramatic truths are uncovered, old loves are rekindled, and new loves make themselves known.
This is the second book by Elin Hilderbrand I’ve read. I really enjoyed her book, “The Identicals” last August (almost exactly a year ago to-the-day) as Hurricane Harvey was pounding against Texas (read my full review of the book here). I hadn’t heard of Hilderbrand prior, but looked her up and happily discovered she’s written TONS of books!
I randomly selected “The Island” to be my next book from her, and then I wondered if I mistakenly picked a book from one of her mini series’. Thankfully, no, but if you’re looking for a summer trilogy, she’s got one (she also has a winter series) and this awesome website lists the order in which you should read them.
Okay, so let me get into “The Island”! I really liked the premise of this book, and I loved picturing the old house bringing a family back together. I will always admit that books with several characters (especially complex ones) are sometimes a struggle for me – and at times I found myself getting these characters mixed up. Their names were a bit TOO unique for me.
But, about halfway through I was finally getting everyone straight and it was fine. This was generally a smooth read and it had just the right amount of romance, beach life imagery, and a touch of sadness. A good read!
Perfect happiness existed, but perhaps only in small increments.
– The Island
I’m recommending this book to anyone interested in family drama, particularly sisters. And also to anyone looking for a summer read, especially if you like the New England/Nantucket type of beach life.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Also, just an FYI, if you’re an Amazon Kindle user, you can get up to 80% off top-rated Kindle books this month! The deal ends on August 31, but there’s some goodies for just $1.99!
Happy Sunday! I took off Friday and Monday from work because… I needed to get my life together. I have been so busy with work (work, work, work, work) that I was feeling really scatter-brained, exhausted, and even little, daily tasks were starting to pile up.
So, I spent Friday running errands – getting my laundry done, getting groceries, going to yoga, I met a friend for coffee, and treated myself to lunch at a new restaurant, and I went to bed early after cleaning my living room.
On Saturday, I did a few hours of writing work and client calls before I cleaned out what I’ve come to call, “The craft closet”. There’s this hallway from my kitchen to my bathroom that has a small coat closet and a bigger “closet” where a washer and dryer would go. I don’t have either of those, so I have been using the closet to house a craft table and all of my supplies.
When I moved to Austin into this apartment that didn’t come with a washer/dryer, I told myself I’d go to a laundromat until I hated doing it. Well, that time has come, my friends. I find myself getting so annoyed that I have to “plan” to do laundry, I hate packing up my car, and I really hate how loud the laundromat is – there’s kids running around, TVs blaring, and a few weeks ago, I almost had a psychotic episode when a grown man was whistling, singing, and performing air guitar at the washer next to me.
I knew the universe was speaking to me when a coworker told me she would sell me her dryer for a small fee. I agreed, and I’m looking for a used washer – but in the meantime, I needed to make space for both!
I made some really great progress yesterday, and I was even able to cook some dinner and finish reading a book (which I’m getting to). I still have plenty of things to do tomorrow – more cleaning and I’m going to post some stuff for sale on Poshmark and eBay. And I’ve got a few boxes of donations to take to Goodwill. There’s something so satisfying about getting rid of stuff, you know?
Okay, let’s get to the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, because it took me LONG enough to read it! I have been such a zombie lately, that all of my usual “reading” time has been spent laying on my couch mindlessly watching TV.
Today, I’m discussing “How to Party With an Infant” by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Here is the description from Amazon:
“Mommyhood gets hilariously tricky in this novel from the author of The Descendents” (Cosmopolitan). How to Party With an Infant follows a quirky single mom who finds friendship and love in this “smart, funny send-up of modern motherhood, San Francisco-style” (San Francisco Chronicle).
When Mele Bart told her boyfriend Bobby she was pregnant with his child, he stunned her with an announcement of his own: he was engaged to someone else.
Fast forward two years, Mele’s daughter Ellie is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want Ellie to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele, who also has agreed to attend the nuptials, knows she can’t continue obsessing about Bobby and his cheese making, Napa-residing, fiancée. She needs something to do. So she answers a questionnaire provided by the San Francisco Mommy Club in elaborate and shocking detail and decides to enter their cookbook writing contest. Even though she joined the group out of desperation, Mele has found her people: Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry (a stay-at-home dad). As the wedding date approaches, Mele uses her friends’ stories to inspire recipes and find comfort, both.
I was pretty excited to jump into this book, but I’m going to be honest, it was much different than I pictured. I thought it was going to be funny and more about cooking and life in San Fran – but it was really not about that at all. It was more of a “mom’s book” and I just can’t relate to that. At all.
So, if that sounds up your alley, go for it! But this was just not my cup of tea.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Island” by Elin Hilderbrand.
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Happy Saturday! I am so, so happy it’s the weekend (I hate being that person) – this week was so crazy at work and, even though I have lots of things on my to-do list this weekend, I’m happy just to be out of the office.
I actually read the latest pick from Blanche’s Book Club in one sitting last Sunday, but it’s taken me all week to gather my thoughts on it for you. So let’s get into it! Today, I’m talking about, “Amy, My Daughter” by Mitch Winehouse. Here is the description from Amazon:
The intimate, inside story of the ultimately tragic life of multiple Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse (“Rehab,” “Back to Black”) is told by the one person most able to tell it—Amy’s closest advisor, her inspiration, and best friend: her father, Mitch. Amy, My Daughter includes exclusive, never-before-seen photos and paints an open and honest portrait of one of the greatest musical talents of our time.
Before I get into the heart of the book, I want to say that it took me a really long time to read it. Amy Winehouse’s album “Back to Black” changed my life – sounds super cheesy, but I loved that album (still do).
I listened to it on repeat, and when she got her first “Rolling Stone” cover, I was quick to buy it and read the feature. But it was then I realized all of the drug references in her album were…actually true. And I cried. I remember calling my mom and saying that Amy Winehouse was going to die and why was she living like that?
But still, I loved her and her music, and I framed that cover and hung it in my apartment. Today, it’s hanging in my kitchen. When I learned about Amy’s death, I was heartbroken. I can’t say I was surprised, but I felt she was gone way too soon.
Since then, however, I’ve lived a little more. I’ve dated an addict. And I’ve seen just how bad things can get. I know what it’s like to be with someone that’s possibly the worst person in the world for you. I know what it’s like to hang around a bad crowd. And I know what it’s like to not give a shit about yourself to the point of danger.
When I finally picked this book up from the library and posted about it on social media – I got messages immediately. I was quickly reminded just how controversial Amy was/is and how many questions still surround her short life, and the way she died.
I’ll admit that I didn’t read much press about Amy, even when she was alive. I knew about her husband, Blake, and I knew she was battling addiction and was very close to being thrown in jail. I saw clips of her drunken performances. But, that’s about it.
I still haven’t watched the documentary, and I didn’t know much about her family before reading this book. What I did know, though, is that you cannot force an addict to get help. An addict has to want to get the help for themselves.
I also knew that myself, nor any of the people spouting off opinions, have ever been famous to the point that Amy Winehouse was. Photographers basically lived in her yard, waiting for her to step outside. None of us know what that’s like.
Her music came from a place of pain. In a way, that’s why it was so good. But it was also a part of her downfall.
So, let’s get into the book.
For starters, it’s written by Amy’s dad, Mitch – an important consideration when he talks about his opinion of Amy’s music, and her hair and makeup (heh). He basically is telling Amy’s life story, but most of it does focus on the years when she was in the spotlight while battling addiction. Here are some of the lines I made note of:
- It was precisely because her songs were dragged up out of her soul that they were so powerful and passionate. The ones that went into Back to Black were about the deepest of emotions. And she went through hell to make it.
- While the album’s success altered Amy’s career in every way imaginable, it came with a high price tag. The nature of the songs made it hard for her to feel as excited as you might expect about the album’s reception and success. Whereas people might walk along the street humming “Love is a Losing Game”, to Amy it was like a knife in her heart, a reminder of the worst of times.
- I didn’t think Amy would die, but I just couldn’t see a way out of this. You don’t become an expert in anything overnight, and I was still learning how best to deal with an addict.
- Perhaps the most difficult thing about loving and helping an addict, which most people who haven’t been through it don’t understand, is this: every day the cycle continues is your new worst day. When looked at from the outside it seems endless, the same thing over and over again, but when you’re living it, it’s like being a hamster on a wheel.
I want to touch on that last point. Amy went to rehab more than a dozen times. Honestly, reading about all of her incidents in the book became a bit exhausting. Each page was starting to sound the same – in the morning she’d say she wanted to get clean, and by lunch there were drug dealers bringing her crack and by nightfall, she was high. The next day, the same thing.
Even with a nurse by her side, waiting for the 12-hour sobriety mark so she could start a proper detox, Amy could not stay sober. She often had drugs brought to her in rehab – stuffed inside teddy bears or hidden in flower bouquets.
As much as I loved her, she lived probably longer than a similar addict would have. Her family did everything they could to help her – kicking people out of her house, supporting her music, hiring guards to keep drug dealers out of rehab, etc.
I cried while reading this book, as it truly is just a tragic story. A talent gone too soon. Some of the most beautiful things come from the darkest of places – but there is often a price to pay, and she suffered the ultimate one.
My heart breaks for her family, particularly her dad, but I know there are fans across the world that will never forget the gift she left all of us, and the path she created for a new kind of woman in music.
I wish I could say no regrets
And no emotional debts
Cause as we kiss goodbye the sun sets
So we are history
The shadow covers me
The sky above ablaze that only lovers see
-Amy Winehouse, “Tears Dry On Their Own”
I’m recommending this book to Amy Winehouse fans – especially those that were not jaded from the (apparently) subjective view of the documentary.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “How to Party With an Infant” by Kaui Hart Hemmings.
Another week is upon us, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. I realized that I go into every weekend hoping to relax and get things done around my apartment or for the blog, as most of my weekdays are filled with work and dance classes… but you know what? It’s really hard for me to truly relax.
This has been an issue for me as long as I can remember, but why not just embrace it? I still allow myself to sleep in on the weekends, and the “work” is different – this weekend, I cleaned and posted things on eBay while watching episodes of “The OC” (I’m almost done with season 4). It’s still kind of relaxing, right?
Anyway, I also read a ton this weekend as I’m trying to work through my stack of summer reading. So, let’s get into the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “Limelight” by Amy Poeppel.
I follow a few bookstore owners on Instagram, and that’s where I heard about this book. But before I get into what she said (and why I ultimately put it on my list), here is the description from Amazon:
Allison Brinkley—wife, mother, and former unflappable optimist—discovers that a carefully weighed decision to pack up and move her family from suburban Dallas to the glittery chaos of Manhattan may have been more complicated than she and her husband initially thought.
Allison learns that New York is unruly and bewildering, defying the notions she developed from romantic movies and a memorable childhood visit. After a humiliating call from the principal’s office and the loss of the job she was counting on, Allison begins to accept that New York may not suit her after all.
When Allison has a fender-bender, witnessed by a flock of mothers at her son’s new school, she is led to the penthouse apartment of a luxurious Central Park West building and encounters a spoiled, hungover, unsupervised teenager who looks familiar. It doesn’t take long to recognize him as Carter Reid—a famous pop star who has been cast in a new Broadway musical. Through this brush with stardom, Allison embraces a unique and unexpected opportunity that helps her find her way in the heart of Manhattan.
In a book that delivers laughs, warmth, and delightful wish fulfillment, Poeppel dives into celebrity culture and modern motherhood with her trademark “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Maybe in Another Life) style.
Okay, so the bookstore owner said this book included a “Justin Bieber-esque character” and naturally, I added it to my list. However, I’m hoping this character, Carter Reid, isn’t modeled after Justin Bieber, because he’s a massive prick. Author Poeppel also put in her own two cents about Bieber putting a line like, “Does anyone take Justin Bieber seriously anymore?” – not appreciated.
In a broad sense, I really enjoyed reading this book. I am always in awe of New York City (I am embarrassed to say I’ve never been there), and I like fantasizing about it. This was sort of everyone’s dream they didn’t know they had – stumbling upon celeb life and getting to see the grit and glam of it all. It’s a fun take on a world most of us can only imagine.
However, there were some character flaws in Allison that kept bothering me – like, she didn’t recognize Carter Reid, but she was a regular reader of gossip tabloids, and also knew designer clothes (and how much they cost) upon first glance. She was also very clueless has to any celeb lifestyle and kept wondering where Reid’s parents were – I think most people are aware of the child star story, right?
Other than that, though, this was a fun one, and I am interested in Poeppel’s other book, “Small Admissions“, which revolves around school admissions and getting over a breakup.
I’m recommending “Limelight” to fans of Broadway, and celeb culture. The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Amy, My Daughter” by Mitch Winehouse. Read along with me by following me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 – see you there!
Hey, hey! I am slowly, but surely making it through my stack of library books – work and my freelance clients have kept me busy lately, but I’m reading when I can. If you’re a fan of YA novels, I think you’ll love the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, so let’s get into it!
It’s “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell. Here is the description from Amazon.com:
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.
This one seemed like a popular choice, and I’m never one to shy away from a YA romance.
Eleanor and Park seem to come from opposite backgrounds, and while in one way it seems to pull them together, it’s also the reason they can’t have a smooth relationship.
The book doesn’t give everything away in the beginning; instead, the backgrounds of these characters slowly unfolds over the course of the book, as they are learning about each other.
Overall, it’s a bittersweet story, and was very easy to read (I read it in a single day). I really did enjoy these characters and it was fun getting to know them.
I’m recommending this book to fans of YA novels and young love, especially if you’re in the mood for a bit of a hardship twist.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club is reading is “Limelight” by Amy Poeppel.
Follow along with me on Instagram (I’m trying to post more real-time book reviews on Instagram stories) @OrangeJulius7 – talk to you guys soon!
Happy Sunday! I had the best day yesterday – I had a gift certificate to a spa, so I got a 90-minute facial that included a massage, eye and lip treatments, and a detox peel – my skin feels amazing! It was in an area of town that I haven’t explored much, so I took that time to eat lunch and walk around. It was fun, relaxing, and I did a little shopping. Very nice!
Then I came home, took a nap, and started in on season four of “The OC”. I made dinner and then settled in determined to finish the latest read in Blanche’s Book Club: “The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer. Here is the official description from Amazon.com:
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Interestings, an electric novel not just about who we want to be with, but who we want to be.
To be admired by someone we admire – we all yearn for this: the private, electrifying pleasure of being singled out by someone of esteem. But sometimes it can also mean entry to a new kind of life, a bigger world.
Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer- madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can’t quite place- feels her inner world light up. And then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she’d always imagined.
Charming and wise, knowing and witty, Meg Wolitzer delivers a novel about power and influence, ego and loyalty, womanhood and ambition. At its heart, The Female Persuasion is about the flame we all believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right person at the right time. It’s a story about the people who guide and the people who follow (and how those roles evolve over time), and the desire within all of us to be pulled into the light.
I’ve read Meg Wolitzer before, and loved it, so I was excited to see she had a new book coming out. When it was ready for pickup at the library, I was shocked to see it was thick – hmm!
Within the first 50 pages of the book, we meet Greer, and I could immediately identify with her college struggle – and she quickly finds a group of friends and a cause to fight about. But as we follow Greer, the story takes different turns, focusing on different characters in the book.
At times, I felt it was slow, and I wasn’t sure things were going, but then it would pick up again. I am normally not a fan of books like this – I want books that really grip me from page one and through the end. But, the low points in this book were short-lived, and the good parts were really good, so I’m sticking with it.
This book takes place in the late 90’s and spans into 2010. It covers political issues, particularly women’s issues, including abortion rights. But there are other storylines as well – romance, included. Some of these other storylines I felt could have been entire books on their own.
However, in the end – I’m really glad I read this book. I’m recommending it to fans of Wolitzer’s other work, political activists, and to anyone who’s felt a little lost in their career.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell. I hope you all have a great rest of your weekend!
I’m feeling the PRESSURE – I have several library books at home that need to be read and there’s more reserves waiting to be picked up! What’s a girl to do… lay around and read? Sounds like a plan.
I stayed up until almost midnight last night to finish Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “The High Season” by Judy Blundell. Here is the official description from Amazon:
No matter what the world throws her way, at least Ruthie Beamish has the house. Lovingly renovated, located by the sea in a quiet Long Island village, the house is her nest egg—the retirement account shared with her ex-husband, Mike, and the college fund for their teenage daughter, Jem. The catch? To afford the house, Ruthie must let it go during the best part of the year.
It’s Memorial Day weekend and Ruthie has packed up their belongings for what Jem calls “the summer bummer”: the family’s annual exodus to make way for renters. This year, the Hamptons set has arrived. The widow of a blue-chip artist, Adeline Clay is elegant, connected, and accompanied by a “gorgeous satellite” stepson. But soon Adeline demonstrates an uncanny ability to help herself to Ruthie’s life—her house, her friends, even her husband (okay, ex-husband, but still). And after her job as the director of a local museum is threatened, Ruthie finally decides to fight back.
Meanwhile, away from the watchful eyes of her parents, Jem is tasting independence at her first summer job, but soon finds herself growing up too fast. One of Ruthie’s employees, a master of self-invention named Doe, infiltrates the inner circle of an eccentric billionaire and his wayward daughter. With a coterie of social climbers and Ruthie’s old flame thrown into the mix, the entire town finds itself on the verge of tumultuous change. By the end of one unhinged, unforgettable summer, nothing will be the same.
In a novel packed with indelible characters, crackling wit, and upstairs/downstairs drama, Judy Blundell emerges as a voice for all seasons—a wry and original storyteller who knows how the most disruptive events in our lives can twist endings into new beginnings.
This book starts off beautifully – and it comes across as if Ruthie is getting things figured out for her, her family, and her home. But then… all of these twists come out of nowhere, and frankly, Ruthie comes out of the woodwork and gets a little crazy (in a good way)!
I really enjoyed the unexpected parts of this book, and I found myself chuckling through several chapters. I also enjoyed the imagery and the descriptions of summer foods (because of course I did)!
I’m recommending this to anyone looking for a good summer/beach read, or to anyone who enjoys vacation-type reading with a twist. There’s hints of romance, but would still be enjoyable if you’re not into romance novels.
Blundell also wrote a YA novel, “What I Saw and How I Lied” about a family in the aftermath of World War II.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer.
Follow me on Instagram and SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 for real-time book reviews, and like The Bitter Lemon Facebook page to keep in touch!