Blog Archives

BBC: ‘Some Kind of Happiness’.

Hello, hello! I hope you guys have had a great week – it’s been pretty good on my end. I don’t know about you, but… I’m starting to feel ready for fall. Living in Texas, I’ve got a little while before any sort of chill hits the air, but it rained all night a few nights ago and in the morning it felt soooo nice out!

The feeling disappeared by lunch and we were back to nasty, humid, heat. Of course, I spend most of my days in the office, so it’s whatever – but I find myself longingly staring at my flannel shirts in the closet, and waiting for the day when it’s acceptable to make chili. Le sigh…

But, let’s talk about the activity I’m doing ALL YEAR: reading for Blanche’s Book Club! Great transition, I know. So, this week we’re talking about “Some Kind of Happiness” by Claire Legrand. Here’s the official description from Amazon.com:

Reality and fantasy collide in this “beautiful and reflective tale” (Booklist, starred review) for fans of Counting by 7s and Bridge to Terabithia, about a girl who must save a magical make-believe world in order to save herself.

Things Finley Hart doesn’t want to talk about:
-Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
-Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
-Never having met said grandparents.
-Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)

Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real—and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.

…I added this book to my reading list after seeing a post about it on Instagram (I get lots of book recommendations from Instagram). The post said it was a YA novel about a girl with a mental illness.

Now, if I hadn’t read that prior, I never really would have thought she had a mental illness. Of course, I don’t do lots of digging into subtext when I read (guilty). It is obvious, however, that she’s going through a pretty tough time and she’s looking for an escape – an escape she’s made up in her mind. Don’t kids do that?

Anyway, this was different than other YA novels I’ve read – it wasn’t lite and fluffy, and definitely wasn’t based around love. However, it was relatable and I enjoyed the fresh take. I’m recommending this book to YA lovers, especially in the fantasy genre.

The next book we’ll be discussing is “This is Just My Face” by Gabourey Sidibe. Feel free to read it with us and join the discussion, right here on the blog or on social media @OrangeJulius7!

This weekend, I’m really trying to be productive – finally going to drop off some bags of clothes to donate in hopes of making my closet look neater! I’m also going to do some cooking, take a dance class, of course do some reading, and I am going to a boat party Saturday night. Should be a fun time! Have a good one, y’all!

BBC: ‘The Arrangement’.

Hello, hello! I’ve had a pretty good week over here – hope you all can say the same! I DID take three dance classes last night though, so I’m definitely sore today. However, I needed it!

But let’s jump right into the book review, because this one is a GOODIE. Here’s the official description from Amazon for “The Arrangement” by Sarah Dunn:

Lucy and Owen, ambitious, thoroughly-therapized New Yorkers, have taken the plunge, trading in their crazy life in a cramped apartment for Beekman, a bucolic Hudson Valley exurb. They’ve got a two hundred year-old house, an autistic son obsessed with the Titanic, and 17 chickens, at last count. It’s the kind of paradise where stay-at-home moms team up to cook the school’s “hot lunch,” dads grill grass-fed burgers, and, as Lucy observes, “chopping kale has become a certain kind of American housewife’s version of chopping wood.”

When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they’ve made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There’s a part of her, though-the part that worries she’s become too comfortable being invisible-that’s intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she’s known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy-“real life,” or the “experiment?”

I saw this on a Pinterest list (ugh, guilty) and I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to pick it up. I’m really sensitive to any entertainment/pop culture that doesn’t respect women, or even discusses ideas that would degrade a woman.

But, it says the woman makes the decision to have an open marriage! So, I read it and I’m so glad I did. This book really takes a look at modern relationships, and how they might really turn out.

This was a quick, easy read, and it had just the right bit of sex appeal, while still highlighting some good writing. I’m recommending this book to anyone who loves a good romance novel – with a twist, of course.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Some Kind of Happiness“, a YA novel by Claire Legrand.

I have got an entire weekend of NOTHING planned – although I do need to work on my queso skills. You might recall I entered myself in a queso contest and it’s officially two weeks away and I have done nothing to prepare. Yikes!

Other than that, it might just be me, in bed, watching made-for-Hallmark Channel movies. I am not ashamed! I hope you guys have some fun out there; I’ll be right back here on Monday!

BBC: ‘The Sun is Also a Star’.

TGIF! This week has been so WEIRD – Texas is in its special legislation session (basically meaning they didn’t get the work done the first time), so a lot of my work has been at the Capitol. I’m always up for a change of scenery during the week, but it definitely throws me off.

Not to mention, my Jeep is back in the shop (agaaaaain), and they had no rental cars, so I’ve already taken four Lyft rides and I’ll have some interesting stories to report back. I should be getting an update today on how long they’ll need my car – I’m hoping not too long, since day one = $60 in ride shares (even using the line).

But anyway, I’ve still been reading a ton! The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon. Here’s the description from Amazon:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? 

“The Sun is Also a Star” is a YA novel about Natasha and Daniel – two different people at very different points in their lives, and they cross paths one day. Most of their story takes place in that single day, and it’s pretty awesome.

It’s funny how Natasha and Daniel have opposing views of life, and how the world works, yet they meet and instantly have a connection. Is it fate? And because of their situations, will they cross paths again?

I read this book in two sittings – it was so good! I wrote down a few of my favorite lines:

  • Even if we can’t see it, the light is still there.
  • But time and distance are love’s natural enemies.

I would definitely recommend this book to those of you who love YA novels, or to anyone just looking for a fun summer romance read.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Arrangement” by Sarah Dunn. Let me know if you’re reading it, or have already checked it out!

This weekend, I have tickets to a concert Saturday night (featuring drag queens), and am going to see “Legally Blonde” at the Drafthouse for brunch (creme brulee French toast + mimosas = YES!), so I’m looking forward to that!

It took me awhile to figure out what show I wanted to review next, and I think I’m gonna go for it: “Siesta Key”, which premiers on MTV Monday night. I know, it’s like, for high schoolers, but I just cannot wait. It’s said to be the next “The Hills”, so obviously I’m already hooked. We’ll see!

Have a great weekend everyone!

BBC: ‘Ready Player One’.

I have been reading SO much lately, and the book we’re talking about today is seriously so good! I have to say that the week before I picked up this book, I spent an afternoon scouring the library shelves for a book that would give me an escape.

Sure, I’ve been reading books this year that are good, but nothing that really pulls me so much that I can’t put it down, or can’t WAIT to pick it back up. And then I got the text that “Ready Player One” was waiting for me to pick up.

When I checked it out at the library, the librarian kindly informed me that the author, Ernest Cline, actually lives in Austin, and that they were turning the book into a movie. Uh, cool! Here’s the book’s official description from Amazon.com:

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines–puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win–and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. I’m not really into futuristic-type things, and although I do love a good session of video games, I don’t know much about them, especially newer ones.

But color me wrong, because this book was freaking AWESOME! It was so visual, which I love, and had enough action to keep things rolling. Don’t know video games? Totally doesn’t matter. There are even loads of 80’s references in there (including “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Some of my favorite lines from the book are:

  • “It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a video game.”
  • “But I fell forward instead of down, and the stars seemed to fall with me.”
  • “We’re going to have the world’s top five gunters together in one chat room. Who’s gonna sit that out?”
  • “I would abandon the real world altogether until I found the egg.”
  • “Like any classic video game, the Hunt had simply reached a new, more difficult level.”

If you’re following me on Twitter (@OrangeJulius7), you may have seen some of these lines, as I love to live Tweet my reading. As I was doing so, a podcast reached out to me because yes, it’s a podcast about “Ready Player One”! It’s called Get to the Good Part, and although I haven’t listened to it yet, I’m pretty sure they’re reading and discussing the book, chapter by chapter.

As for the movie, all I know so far (according to IMDb) is that it’s coming out next year, is being directed by Steven Spielberg, and TJ Miller is in it. Can’t wait!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Hungry Heart” by Jennifer Weiner.

It’s supposed to rain all weekend in Austin, so I’m looking forward to hunkering down inside and getting some quality cooking and reading done. I hope y’all have a good one!

BBC: “On Turpentine Lane’.

Congrats – you made it! I feel like I always go into a short week thinking it’s going to be so awesome, but then it ends up being more difficult than a regular week. I don’t know about you, but between getting things back to “normal” after time off, paired with a weird work week and basically NO regular programming on TV, this week was rough!

I don’t know why, but after my trip to Indiana, I was seriously on the struggle bus, until possibly yesterday. I drank everything, ate everything, and barely slept – I can’t believe I stayed up until at least 3 am everyyyyy night on vacation! It’s no wonder I slept for 12 hours a night once I returned.

I went to dance a few times this week, and although it kicked my butt, I definitely think it has helped my brain and body get back on track. I’ll admit, it also encouraged me to walk the rest of my birthday cake right on out to the dumpster. Only clean eating for this girl!

Anyway, it’s another Friday, which means another book to review! I actually saw this one on a Pinterest list and thought it sounded interesting. I ended up seeing it on the audio shelf at the library and listened to it during my road trip to Baton Rouge.

What book? It’s “On Turpentine Lane” by Elinor Lipman. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon.com:

At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It’s a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiancé is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state). And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he’s Chagall. 

When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence . . . 

Elinor Lipman may well have invented the screwball romantic comedy for our era, and here she is at her sharpest and best. On Turpentine Lane is funny, poignant, and a little bit outrageous. 

I’ll admit, the part about her troubled dating life had me hooked when I picked up this book. But once I got into reading it, her fiance became VERY annoying, very quickly. There is nothing at stake if the reader doesn’t have sympathy for its main character… and I definitely don’t have sympathy for someone who puts up with this dude’s shenanigans.
However, there’s a B plot working its way through the book that’s creepy as hell, and keeps this book rolling until the end. Don’t worry, no spoilers! But, if you’re into lite-mysteries, I’d say this one is worth checking out.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is, “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline (yeah, get REALLY excited for this one).
I hope you all have a great weekend – I honestly don’t have too much planned aside from taking a dance class, probably doing some reading, and watching my way through my DVR… shameless, chill weekend! See you right back here on Monday!

BBC: ‘The Night We Said Yes’.

Hellooooo – I’m back! I apologize for being gone this week – I was on a little vacation and didn’t have my life together enough to schedule posts or really even *think* about the blog. But I haven’t forgotten you!

While I have a ton of things on my mind to discuss, I’ll have to save it because we’re REAL behind on the book club updates! The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “The Night We Said Yes” by Lauren Gibaldi. Here’s the official book description from Amazon.com:

What happens when Matt and Ella reunite one year after their breakup? Are second chances really possible?

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over her ex-boyfriend and graduate high school—simple as that. But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player—was never part of that plan. And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

But then Matt leaves town, breaking Ella’s heart. And when he shows up a year later—wanting to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

I love reading YA novels in the summer! This one had an interesting layout in that one chapter would take place in the now, while the next chapter would be from the past. The entire book also takes place in a single night – particularly, the night they decided to say yes.

That’s right, they said yes to everything someone suggested, provided it wasn’t too outrageous. This story reminded me of a night over the summer I had in high school, and it was really fun. This book brought me back in the best way. Plus, it was a breeze to read and sometimes you just need that.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “On Turpentine Lane” by Elinor Lipman.

I know we’re coming up on a holiday weekend – but I definitely have to work on Monday, so there’s that. I’m celebrating my 32nd birthday this weekend, even though I feel like I’ve been 32 for possibly two years already.

I’ll plan on posting Monday, skipping Tuesday, and then we’ll be back to normal around here. After all, I still have to fill you in on the season finale of “Southern Charm” (which, yes, I’ve already watched) and my trip to Indiana!

Have a safe and fun weekend!

BBC: ‘Head for the Edge, Keep Walking’.

Happy Friday! It has been a busy week on my end, and I’m sort of in a race to the finish – the finish being my flight to Indianapolis a week from today. Before then, I’ve got a lot on my plate and I feel like I’m running on some serious adrenaline, but hey, it’s all good!

I still had some time to read this week, and finished my book sale find ($1) “Head for the Edge, Keep Walking” by Kate Tough. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Jill Beech’s nine-year relationship is over. She covers the sadness with madness, going dancing with her off-beat friends and attempting a series of hilariously bad internet dates. Then life is flipped on its head again by some shocking news. Adrift in her mid-thirties, no-one does lost quite like Jill. Wry, witty, resilient but bewildered, she is left asking, what does it take to stay sane in this life? And why does it look easier for everyone else? While her friends are preoccupied with pregnancy, Jill looks elsewhere for meaning. Will she find happiness with a kitten called Cyril? A job she can finally believe in? Or a charming ex-snowboard champion who wants to settle down? Events force Jill to head for the edge—will she fall headlong or turn things around and keep walking?

When I read the back of the book, I felt like “Omigosh, this sounds exactly like me” – minus that whole 9-year relationship thing. But when I read the book, her problems weren’t exactly as the book jacket described.

Yes, she was trying to find her life again, trying to find little bits of joy in her job, and see some sort of meaning in the endless cycle of going out each night. But she was also faced with some semi-serious health issues, on top of attempting to date and find love.

It was a good read – just a little bit different than I expected, and I’ll admit, I often don’t understand British humor.

The next book I’ll be reading is “The Night We Said Yes” by Lauren Gibaldi.

I hope you all have a great weekend – I’ll be doing some baking tonight, so if you want to see it you can catch it on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7. Tomorrow, I’m road-tripping it to Louisiana, and I’ve got a Dispatch album in my console, along with an audio book!

See y’all on Monday!

BBC: ‘Bittersweet’.

Happy Friday/Holiday-weekend Eve! Don’t you love that Friday feeling – knowing that you’re about to do whatever the heck you want for three whole days? Yep, that’s a great feeling. I always look forward to Memorial Day weekend – it’s festive in a no-pressure kind of way, and it’s the true sign that summer is coming.

Speaking of summer, the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club – “Bittersweet” by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore – is perfect for the season! Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.

But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact–and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.

This book randomly grabbed my attention – I found it on Pinterest about a month ago. I have always liked this idea of elite families, especially the ones with old money and Vermont estates. This book has that, plus a few very dark twists that I didn’t expect. I found this book to be very visual while reading it, which is one of my favorite things about reading.

Mabel’s character is easily relatable, while Ev is that girl we all know – very slender, fashion-forward, money-rich, and looking for love in all the wrong places. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a little bit of a mysterious escape.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah, from “The Daily Show”. Should be an interesting one!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m hoping to scoot out of the office a little early and get this weekend started! My original plans of lounging by the pool all weekend have been squashed by the prediction of less than stellar weather. Instead, I made a list of indoor activities to keep me busy, including: seeing “Baywatch”, shopping, two dance classes (one is for charity and I cannot wait!), hair appointment, and of course, cooking up some new recipes! And okay… maybe I’ll add in some TV time, too.

I hope you all have a fun, safe weekend! I’m going to give myself Monday off from blogging, but I’ll be right back here on Tuesday!

BBC: ‘Why We Broke Up’.

Hello, hello! My sincere apologies for not posting this on Friday – I had some internet issues on Thursday night, and was simply too tired to stay up and resolve them. But alas! I finished reading another book last week and wanted to share it with you.

Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read is “Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler. Here’s the description from Amazon.com: I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

…Sounds like the leftover from many of the relationships I’ve had!

I got this book from the library and what I noticed off the bat was that it weighed a TON. It wasn’t that big of a book, but upon further inspection I saw that it was printed on thick, glossy paper and was filled with colorful illustrations of the items inside the box. After reading it, I can’t help but wonder if the weight of the book was also supposed to resemble the weight of the box from Min.

This book is very different. The voice is very raw and honest, and although there are stories upon stories about this relationship, the reader is still given lots of room to imagine the course of this couple. Sure, it’s a little dramatic, but Min and Ed are teenagers, and nothing hurts quite like your first broken heart.

While most of the things inside the box represented milestones in their relationship, some of the tokens were proof that we all assign meaning to even the smallest of things – especially if there were very few of them. I can recall not wanting to go to Blockbuster after my first relationship because we would go there to rent movies… us and the entire world! It’s funny how much we invest in the physical parts of a relationship, possibly when there’s not much to feast on emotionally.

The way this book is written – one really long letter to Ed – is different and a bit artsy. If that’s you, I say GO for this one! It was fun and refreshing.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Bittersweet” by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. We hope you’ll read it along with us!

I hope you all had a great weekend – I went to dance, lounged at the pool with a book and some wine, did some shopping, and did a little cooking. It was fantastic! I’ve got a busy week ahead between work and travel, and I’ve got my Steps for Crohn’s on Saturday. It should be a good one – but I’m ready for a brand new episode of “Southern Charm” tonight, which I’ll be recapping right here tomorrow. Hope to see you then!

BBC: ’13 Reasons Why’.

Eeeek! I am so, so excited to share my latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you! I know this plot is a popular subject (or at least it seems to be in my world), so let’s get to it.

The book is “13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. I had this book on my reserve list for at least two months at the library, and just got it about a week ago. The odd thing is, as soon as I picked it up, I started hearing lots of people talk about it – at the dance studio, on the radio – because it’s also a series on Netflix.

Anyway, here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
               
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Sounds a little creepy, right? I’ll admit, it was a little eery to read, but I whipped right through it. I’ll be honest, when the reasons for Hannah’s suicide start cropping up – I was a little skeptical – really? I know, it sounds terrible. But, I also remember high school was like, and it ain’t easy. And as the book progressed, her reasons grew darker – and it was sadly relatable.

One thing that was really interesting is the way this book is set up. It moves quickly, tape-by-tape, and although you almost don’t want to know what Hannah is going to say next, you DO at the same time.

At the end of the book, the author included a Q&A where he talks a lot about the inspiration for the book, and he said he got the idea for the cassette tapes after visiting a museum and visiting an exhibit that had an audio component (complete with headphones). He said that although cassettes are dated, he didn’t want to include technology/social media because it was too fast-paced and we wouldn’t necessarily be able to live in the past.

Fascinating, right?! It really works in this story. I am DEFINITELY recommending this book to anyone and everyone – I loved it, and I hope you do, too.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Morgan Mastson. Read it with us!

As you read this, I’m already in Vegas, so I hope you’re having an equally wild, fun, and free weekend – catch you later!

Season Review: ‘Big Little Lies’.

I finally watched HBO’s ‘Big Little Lies’.

Well, I F-IIIII-nally watched HBO’s limited series, “Big Little Lies” this weekend! I was in such a hurry to read the book (check out my review, here) before the series came out, and then week after week, I simply recorded it and just now got around to watching it.

After the finale, everyone was talking about it so much, I felt like I had to stay on alert to avoid the spoilers. However, after reading the book – there really weren’t any spoilers, as it was almost exactly like the book (in a good way!).

Here’s the scoop from HBO.com: In the tranquil seaside town of Monterey, California, nothing is quite as it seems. Doting moms, successful husbands, adorable children, beautiful homes: What lies will be told to keep their perfect worlds from unraveling?

Told through the eyes of three mothers – Madeline, Celeste and Jane – Big Little Lies paints a picture of a town fueled by rumors and divided into the haves and have-nots, exposing the conflicts, secrets and betrayals that compromise relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, and friends and neighbors.

Based on the New York Times number-one bestseller of the same name by Liane Moriarty, this seven-part limited series is a subversive, darkly comedic drama that weaves a tale of murder and mischief as it explores society’s myth of perfection and the contradictions that exist beneath our idealized façade of marriage, sex, parenting and friendship.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, for which he received an editing Oscar nomination; Wild; Demolition), Big Little Lies is written for television and created by David E. Kelley (seven-time Emmy winner for Picket Fences, LA Law, The Practice and Ally McBeal; Goliath).

The stellar cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, James Tupper, Jeffrey Nordling, Santiago Cabrera, P.J. Byrne and Virginia Kull.

Executive produced by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, David E. Kelley, Bruna Papandrea (Gone Girl; Wild; the Oscar nominee Milk), Per Saari (Rabbit Hole, The Family Fang, Monte Carlo), Jean-Marc Vallée, Nathan Ross (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, Demolition) and Gregg Fienberg (four-time Emmy-nominee; HBO’s True Blood and Deadwood), and produced by Barbara A. Hall (Ray, Milk) and Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies is a Pacific Standard/Blossom Films/David E. Kelley Productions production for HBO Films.

…First thing’s first, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley SHINE in this series! I would watch the two of them for days.

The other thing I’ll note is that, while the book had some scenes including domestic violence, seeing it in the series is very difficult – wow. I enjoyed seeing the book come to life, but it’s not something I’d ever watch again because of these tough scenes.

The cool thing about the series – much like the book – is that it offers you a taste of the ending right at the beginning, so you’re sort of aware of what’s to come.

What’s surprising to me about the book and the series is that, minus the murder, this is a story that I’d bet many, many people can relate to; but it hasn’t really been told.

I enjoyed it, but I’m also really glad I waited until I had all of the episodes recorded so I could watch them all at once.

This weekend, I also got my butt in gear – sort of – and cleaned out my car (I vacuumed it and even washed the floor mats), did my laundry, cooked, cleaned my apartment, read, went to the library, and in-general, just tried to get my life in order pre-vacation.

But, I hope today is treating you well! Don’t be shocked if the blog is full of TV talk this week; my DVR is full and I’ve got lots to say about it.

BBC: ‘The Unexpected Everything’.

Hey, hey! We made it to the end of the week! I still have a busy day ahead, but I’m a big fan of the Friday energy, so I’ll take it. I’m excited to tell you about this book I read, so I’ll jump right in.

It’s a YA novel called, “The Unexpected Everything” by Morgan Matson. Here’s the book’s description from Amazon.com:

Andie must learn to embrace the beauty in chaos in this New York Times bestselling novel about friendship, finding yourself, and all the joys in life that happen while you’re busy making other plans.

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie has her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

Dun, dun dun! I’ll be honest, I didn’t even read the description before I put myself on the reserve list at the library for this one. I stumbled across it on a reading list from Lauren Conrad, and since I L O V E her, I wanted to read it right away.

What the book ended up being was a fun, breezy ride through a summer romance amidst clouds of teenage chaos. I’ve been running down memory lane a lot lately, and this book catered to my homesick self. It was a fun read, with a well-crafted plot.

Morgan Matson is also the author of “Since You’ve Been Gone“, and I’m adding this one to my list of books that will be acceptable to read while at the pool. I certainly enjoyed “The Unexpected Everything” so much, that I think her other book would be good, too.

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves YA novels, and especially if you liked John Green’s “Paper Towns”.

The next book the Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin“. I just started reading this book last night, and wow am I excited to get INTO it! I hope you’ll read it along with me this week.

And that’s that! I have a busy weekend planned, but I’m looking forward to some fun. I hope you’ve got some good stuff lined up, and I’ll catch you on the flip side.

BBC: ‘Two by Two’.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I almost ran out and bought a box of Lucky Charms last night so I could eat it today for good luck – but I know I legit just wanted anything sugary because sometimes you just have to treat yourself. I didn’t (I had egg whites and spinach instead), but the day isn’t over.

In other news, my latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks! This book came out in October of last year, and I’ve pretty much been on a waiting list at the library ever since – that’s how much everyone loves Nicholas Sparks. Here’s the scoop:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards.

At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding-one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.

…Sounds basically like every other Nicholas Sparks’ book, right? Kinda. I’m being serious when I say I love Nicholas Sparks. He’s obviously found a formula that works, as he has published what – 20 books – or so? And I also like that I pretty much know what I’m going to get when I settle in with one of his stories.

The chances are likely that it will be the story of a man and a woman, and will involve a third-party of some sort. The main characters will be too good to be true – nice, gorgeous, hard-working, etc. The third-party will be an asshole, a drunk, a gold digger, or an abusive prick. The story will be punctuated with homemade dinners, wine, and late nights, and yes, there will be a sad part.

“Two by Two” meets this mold to a degree. But I’ll be honest, at first, the lead male was really ticking me off. He was definitely not perfect, and he painted his wife out to be a whiny, superficial B. But why?!???!

I present to you, Exhibit A: an excerpt from a People magazine article, dated January 6, 2015:

There will be no storybook ending for Nicholas Sparks and his wife Cathy – the woman who inspired so many of the best-selling author’s novels.

The king of the love story, who has penned 17 romantic novels – nine of which, including The Notebook, have been made into movies – is splitting from his wife of 25 years.

So, bitter much?! Now that Sparks is single (or, no longer married), he’s going to paint the women in his books to be greedy whores!

In all honesty, this was probably the lengthiest book in Sparks’ collection, and I read 95% of it one day. So, it still makes for a laid-back, easy read that moves quickly. And yes, it would make a great movie.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Settle for More” by Megyn Kelly (oohhh ahhhhh…). I hope you’ll read it with us!

And to all, I hope you have a happy and safe weekend. I’ll be… trying not to eat an entire box of Lucky Charms in a single sitting.

BBC: ‘Truly Madly Guilty’.

Helllooo! Whew! This week has been such a blur – I think it’s safe to say that staying up really late on a Sunday night is just a bad idea. I feel like I started the week off on the wrong foot and I had a bit of a crazy work schedule this week, and I’m basically dead tired. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to sleeping in some this weekend.

But reading is relaxing, right? There’s not much I love more than escaping with a good book for awhile, and the weekend is my only real chance to do that. So, let me tell you about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t mean to schedule two book from the Moriarty so close together, but it was the roulette of the library reserve list that made it happen – don’t blame me! I know it’s not a huge issue, but the last book of hers that I read, “Big Little Lies” was written in a similar pattern as this one. Even the titles are a bit similar, no?

Anyway, here’s the scoop on “Truly Madly Guilty”:

The new novel from Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot, about how sometimes we don’t appreciate how extraordinary our ordinary lives are until it’s too late.

“What a wonderful writer―smart, wise, funny.” ―Anne Lamott

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

The book is written from the viewpoints of Clementine and Erika, and it moves views between chapters, which was a little difficult for me to grasp. The characters are very similar, so I think I just kept confusing them.

However, Moriarty has a talent for taking otherwise small plots and twisting them up into something big, with details, and the story is quite riveting. Similar to “Big Little Lies”, the book is counting down to an “incident”, only we have very few clues what that incident is – until it actually happens. This is what makes it so hard to put down. I’d love to know if you’ve read it!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Lost Girls” by Heather Young. I’m really excited about this one!

As I said, this weekend I’ll be trying to rest, but am also planning to get some writing in. I have a dance audition on Sunday, and am hoping to get some quality TV time in as well. I hope you all are doing great, and have a fun, fabulous weekend! XOXO.

BBC: ‘Superficial’.

Whoop – it’s Friiidaaaaay! I’m excited for the weekend because my dance studio is hosting it’s semi-annual showcase on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to the performance, and seeing all of my other friends rock their dances, too.

Each weekend I’ve been spending some quality time reading, and I hope to get a few hours in this weekend, too, because I’m just loving all of the books flying off my reserve list at the library lately. So, let’s talk about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries” by Andy Cohen. Here’s the scoop from Amazon.com:

The megapopular host of Watch What Happens: Live and executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise is back, better than ever, and telling stories that will keep his publicist up at night.

Since the publication of his last book, Andy has toured the country with his sidekick Anderson Cooper, hit the radio waves with his own Sirius station, Radio Andy, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher despite his mother’s conviction he was not intellectually prepared, hosted NBC’s Primetime New Year’s Eve special, guest edited Entertainment Weekly, starred in Bravo’s Then & Now with Andy Cohen, offended celebrities with his ongoing case of foot-in-mouth disease, and welcomed home Teresa “Namaste” Giudice, from a brief stint in jail. Hopping from the Hamptons to the Manhattan dating world, the dog park to the red carpet, Cardinals superfan and mama’s boy Andy Cohen, with Wacha in tow, is the kind of star that fans are dying to be friends with. This book gives them that chance.

If The Andy Cohen Diaries was deemed “the literary equivalent of a Fresca and tequila” by Jimmy Fallon, Superficial is a double: dishier, juicier, and friskier. In this account of his escapades―personal, professional, and behind-the-scenes―Andy tells us not only what goes down, but exactly what he thinks of it.

So, basically after writing “The Andy Cohen Diaries”, Andy said he just kept writing about his life, daily, and pitched it to his publisher, even though they said they didn’t want it. But of course, they published it and that’s how this book came to be.

On the one hand, if you’re an Andy Cohen fan, or really just a fan of pop culture in general, this book is punctuated by a lot of events you already know about – Joan Rivers’ funeral, Sarah Jessica Parker’s look for the Met Ball, and the outcome of the World Series.

But of course, Andy gives us a look into the parts of his life that we wouldn’t otherwise know: the extensive renovation of his New York City apartment, the start of his relationship with #BrazilianAndySamberg, how his XM radio channel was born, the idea for touring the country with Anderson Cooper, and his summer adventures following The Grateful Dead with John Mayer.

Per usual, there were a few scenes in the book that had me laughing out loud – a la, Andy making the hugest deal ever out of Sean Avery and his “overbuttered” pancakes.

This book was a little slow to start for me, but I soon was hooked. However, I will admit that I love Andy. I’m not sure this book would translate to the non-fans, but check it out – especially if you love Bravo!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is, “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty. I think this one was on my reserve list for at least three months – until now!

Aside from dancing all weekend, I’ll be doing lots of cooking/meal prep. Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see what’s on my stove. Have a great weekend y’all!