After nearly two weeks off from work – I’ve officially survived the first four days back (it was not without struggle)! We’re here and I’ve got a really great book to share with you all: “Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances” by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.
This book has been on my list for at least a year as part of my mission to read all things John Green, and ta-da! Just like that, I have.
“Let it Snow” is a compilation of three short stories (each about 100 pages or so) that are all slightly connected. The connection? A massive blizzard! Here’s the official description from Amazon.com:
A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.
Now, I definitely wanted to read this book before the holidays, but such is life, and I read it this week instead. But hello, Bomb Cyclone or whatever the heck it’s called – it’s timely without even planning for it! If you’re snowed in currently, go ahead and download this little gem today, because it’s got all the Waffle House references (i.e. scattered and smothered hash browns), holiday references (the collectible Christmas village), and the nostalgia of teenage, holiday romance. It’s really quite perfect.
Of course, I really enjoyed John Green’s story, but this book also introduced me to two authors I hadn’t heard of.
Maureen Johnson has written a ton of books, including three series sets: The Shades of London Series, The Scarlett Series, and The Blue Envelope Series. She’s also written several stand-alone books such as “Girl at Sea” and “Devilish“, among many others. I am adding some of these to my library list!
Lauren Myracle has also written a good array of books, including some for middle school readers and some young adult novels. She’s written “The Infinite Moment of Us” and “Kissing Kate“, and has also authored a four-book series completely made of text messages!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club is “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith – sure to be a goodie if you’re reading the Cormoran Strike series!
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – stay warm if you’re in the path of the bomb cyclone thing… I am not, but i may as well be, because I’m not planning on leaving the house. I’ve got waaayyy too much TV to catch up on and my bed is just too comfortable. See you next week!
So, the holidays are officially over (I think now is the appropriate time to stop saying ‘Happy New Year!’ to everyone, right?), but it’s Friday and I’m sure this week was a struuuuggggle for everyone involved. I actually didn’t hate my life too much on Tuesday morning, but as each morning passed, I hit the snooze button more and more. Ugh.
But, Blanche’s Book Club has been on a roll (read: I’ve been taking many hot baths and enjoy reading while doing so), and we just finished a book that was on my library reserve list for about four months, “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman.
I heard about this book on “What Should I Read Next?” (a podcast), and it got mixed reviews – some people really loved it, while others said it took them awhile to get through it (although those readers said it was better in the audio version). So, I took the risk and added it to my list – considering the waiting time was so long I feel like a lot of people enjoyed this book. Here’s the description from Amazon:
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).
I don’t know if I would call this a “feel good story” by any means, as Ove is pretty cranky, and he is very sad – considering we meet him on the day he is planning to kill himself.
But Ove’s story is a deep one – he acts the way he does because of the life that’s behind him, although the story that lies ahead is a little brighter.
I enjoyed this book, but I’m definitely not running out and looking for more reads from Backman, but that’s just me. Afterall, it got 4.5 stars on GoodReads, AND its being made into a movie! Here’s the trailer:
Looks pretty good!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Still Life” by Louise Penny, a murder mystery! I’ve been so excited to read this one – if you’d like to read along with us, simply comment on the blog, or hit me up on social media @OrangeJulius7.
What is everyone up to this weekend? I am definitely going to be cooking something from Chrissy’s cookbook, as I mentioned yesterday. And I’ve got a season of “Orange is the New Black” that I need to watch before it’s due back at the library (story of my life), and I’m planning to watch the Golden Globes on Sunday.
I hope you have a great weekend – stay warm – and I’ll see you right back here on Monday!
I mentioned a few weeks ago that my latest celebrity crush is Charlie Puth – and he still is. I borrowed his debut album, “Nine Track Mind” from the library and listened to it for a solid month before purchasing it on my own. It’s delightful, in a traditional pop music way, and there are a few songs I cannot get enough of.
The album features the hits we’ve heard from Charlie such as, “One Call Away” and “We Don’t Talk Anymore”. But there are also some others that I like – “Left Right Left” being an upbeat, cheery tune that’s good to listen to on the way to work.
My favorite is “Suffer”, which is shockingly suggestive… and catchy. I have never seen Mr. Puth live in concert, but I hope he brings a girl on stage for this song, because I would D-I-E if it was me. Here’s the tune:
I also borrowed some other albums from the library when I had to rent a car while my Jeep was in the shop (finally), and I’d love to share them with you, just in case you’re looking for new music.
I got James Bay’s album, “Chaos and the Calm“…wow. I really liked the single off the album, “Let it Go”, and I didn’t expect to like the rest of it. I was wrong. Every single song is good, and it’s one of those albums you can listen to in its entirety.
This is Bay’s debut album, which came out in March of 2015. He co-wrote all of the songs, and I cannot wait to see what’s next for this guy.
I also got “Attack and Release” by the Black Keys. I had the HONOR of seeing them several years ago at Hangout Fest, and it was really the first time I’d listeened to them… and they rocked the joint.
“Attack and Release” is the 5th studio album from the Keys, and was released in 2008 – so hey, I’m pretty behind on the game here, but this is some good stuff!
I’ll be honest here, I am not well-versed in rock music, but the Keys’ sound is perfection in the way it sounds gravelly and cool all at once. I have really enjoyed cranking this one up in the car and crusing through Austin.
Finally, I also got “The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac” – a 2 CD set, which was quite well-loved (the case was broken), but obviously the CDs weren’t affected. I hadn’t heard many of the songs – I’m a recent Fleetwood Mac fan, but I enjoyed hearing the new-to-me stuff, and of course, blasting “Gyspy” as loud as I possibly could.
So, there you have it! I’d love to know what you’ve been listening to lately – I’m always on the hunt for new music!
A few weeks ago, I took a 10-hour road trip (that’s 10-hours each way, which ended up being a good bit longer, but whatevs). I had to rent a car for my trip, because, well Jeep sucks (a story for another day), and about five minutes after I picked up the rental SUV, I realized just how spoiled my every day car has me – I love my Sirius XM!
I couldn’t figure out how to change the station in the rental car for the life of me – and anything I could find was definitely in Spanish. Not going to fly for 20 hours in the car. So, I drove right on over to my favorite place – the library – and checked out some audiobooks and some CDs. Here’s what I found:
“Hozier” by Hozier
This album includes the hits “Take Me to Church” and “Someone New”, so I was excited to listen to it. I absolutely love “Someone New”, but I was pleasantly surprised by the entirety of this album – it’s one of those you can listen to from beginning to end and enjoy it as a whole.
The album is a bit dark, lyrically and in sound, and it’s a bit gritty – but if you’re into soul, I think you’ll love it. One of my favorite songs is called “From Eden”.
This album really makes me want to see Hozier in concert – I can already imagine how much he would jam out!
Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?
-Hozier, “From Eden”
“I Am Not a Human Being II” by Lil Wayne
A long-time Weezy fan, I was really looking forward to hearing this album. However, I am not quite sure if there is any piece of work from Mr. Carter that can compete with “The Carter III”. Sorry, not sorry.
“I Am Not a Human Being II” however, brought us “Rich as Fuck” (with a killer beat) and “No Worries”, which is a song that will definitely put you in a good mood, if you’re not already:
What I love most about Lil Wayne is his ability to go bold and not give AF; and okay, he also spilled some clever, witty lyrics on previous albums that I’m straight up jealous I didn’t write. But, I have to say I rarely heard that on this album. It’s more about sex, and sex, and well, just lots of sex. Sorry, Weezy, can’t relate!
However, I did really like a track called “I Ain’t Nervous”, where you can hear a littttle bit of the Wayne we know and love:
Have my pants saggin like fuck it
I’m still on my business, spent my birthday in jail
I was making bad decisions, saw my enemy at the light
“Bangarang” by Skrillex
I had the pleasure of seeing Skrillex live last year at Hangout Fest and was blown away by how fun he was! Plus, I love his SnapChats. While I’m a little obsessed with his work in JackU, I admit I’d never listened to an entire Skrillex album – until I was driving across Texas around 6:30 am.
Holy craaaaap! If you need a wakeup call, just pop in a lil “Bangarang”! I’ll be honest here, this wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but it was fun to listen to while on the road. Here’s the first track on the EP, “Right In”, and it will give you a good taste of what you can expect from the rest of the album:
“Nothing Was the Same” by Drake
Yes, I have a few random Drake songs on my phone, but I’ve never really paid tooooo much attention to the dude until this summer. I have a special attachment with “Hotline Bling”, and absolutely love “Too Good”. So, when I saw a few of his older albums at the library, I snatched them right up.
“Nothing Was the Same” was released in 2013 and brought us “Started From the Bottom” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – both songs I love, and they both give us a taste of Drake as a lyricist. I’m obsessed with the line “I’ma worry ’bout me, give a fuck about you” – cause that’s just where I am right now.
The song I kept replaying had to be “Worst Behavior” – as its thick beat is perfect for in-car dancing and general bad ass swag.
“Thank Me Later” by Drake
This album came out in 2010 and served as Drake’s debut – and damn, this one blew me away. The album starts with “Fireworks”, featuring the one and only Alicia Keys, and has some fantastic lines in it:
I missed them before but won’t miss them again
I keep having the same dream
And I think that I just realized what it means.
This album also brought us “Fancy”, along with its title track. But, the song I kept bumpin’, kept repeating, and ultimately the reason I ended up buying the album, was “Show Me a Good Time”. The beat, the words – I cannot help but dance to this one, and I really would love to see a performance of this, because it’s just so damn fun!
So yeah, I’m looking forward to continuing listening to Drake – the old and the new; and now I’m just dying to seem him live. I know, I’m basic, but if it means dancing to Drake and finding some lines to live by, I’m all about it.
Fuck a fake friend, where your real friends at?
We don’t like to do too much explainin’
Story stay the same I never changed it
-Drake, “Started From the Bottom”
This was my first book I put on reserve at the library! I felt like it was cheating to do that, so I refrained, but week after week, this book was checked out and it was starting to do two things: 1. Make me think the book was really good, and 2. piss me off.
So I put it on reserve, and got it two weeks later. I also now have the MAX number of reserves: 5, and I try to keep it at five… it kind of feels like a gamble, since I never know what book is going to be ready next. I know, I’m really living on the edge here.
I originally saw this book, “If I Forget You” by Thomas Christopher Greene, on a reading list and thought it sounded so good. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:
Twenty-one years after they were driven apart by circumstances beyond their control, two former lovers have a chance encounter on a Manhattan street. What follows is a tense, suspenseful exploration of the many facets of enduring love. Told from altering points of view through time, If I Forget You tells the story of Henry Gold, a poet whose rise from poverty embodies the American dream, and Margot Fuller, the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family, and their unlikely, star-crossed love affair, complete with the secrets they carry when they find each other for the second time.
Written in lyrical prose, If I Forget You is at once a great love story, a novel of marriage, manners, and family, a meditation on the nature of art, a moving elegy to what it means to love and to lose, and how the choices we make can change our lives forever.
This book is set in New York, and provides a beautiful background for a rather interesting story. The characters, Henry and Margot, are very likable, and their story is unique. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I’ll say that their story is told by both of them, and sometimes it overlaps, but it moves pretty quickly, and it’s unexpected. But I wouldn’t recommend it for the non-romantics.
I checked out GoodReads to see what the reviewers were saying about it, and it was completly mixed because of the romance factor. I warned you!
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Admissions” by Meg Mitchell Moore. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the blog comments, email (email@example.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.
I am leaving for vacation this weekend; a real vacation without my computer. But, I’ve got blogs in store for you, still, and they’re a pretty special treat! So, see you here on Monday; have a great weekend!
Whoop! Blanche’s Book Club runs a tight ship! …Just kidding, the book club run by my cat is full of watermelon wine spritzers and requires pajama pants. After reading such a fun memoir by Andy Cohen, I was ready to continue down a path of simple, summer reading.
So, I was really excited to pull “Girls In White Dresses” by Jennifer Close off my shelf – because it’s been there for awhile, admittedly! A description of the book from Amazon.com:
Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working a dead-end job, Mary is dating a nice guy with an awful mother, and Lauren is waitressing at a midtown bar and wondering why she’s attracted to the sleazy bartender.
With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering years of early adulthood as she pulls us inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a wedding, but there was a section of my life where it seemed like I was either in, or going to, a lot of marital-related events – I’m sure many of us have been there! Weddings, I’m sure at any age, bring about a mix of emotions: of course there’s happiness for the couple of the day, and there’s all the people there to celebrate (new friends and old), and then there’s the introspection. For me, I am always at a wedding wondering if that is ever going to happen to me – so if you see me crying at a wedding, you know why!
But all of these reasons made me really excited to read this book, as it seemed to touch on that interesting point in all our lives when we’re celebrating the future of our friends, while feeling the pressure to sort out our own.
I liked the fact that this book didn’t have too many characters, and they were all different enough to keep the story entertaining. I could relate the most to Isabella with her job woes, and also Lauren, as I’ve dated many a sleazy bartender. Yuck.
After I read a book, I’ve started getting into the habit of checking it out on Good Reads to see what other people thought of it. This book had VERY mixed reviews – the people that hated it said it had no plot, and it shined a light on everything women “today” do to sabotage relationships.
In a way, I can see how these readers felt this way – but, I also think that’s why the book is so relatable. We’ve all messed up in dating, or made mistakes as we learned the way, or hell, dated the wrong person for years.
One thing many of the reviewers on Good Reads could agree on, was that Jennifer Close has a voice that’s very readable. And I will say, YES – I read this book quickly – it seemed to fly by without much of a notice.
While I’d hate to recommend a book with such mixed reviews, I will say this may not be the book you fall in love with, but it’s full of these little moments that are very illustrated, and I just love that.
One of those moments is with Lauren and her friend Shannon, and she’s dating a man who is very, very into politics. In fact, he’s so into politics that he quits his job and volunteers to help the current presidential candidate and his campaign (which is never named, but it seems blatantly to be President Obama).
Anyway, Close creates a fantastic dialogue and scene when Lauren is out walking with Shannon one night, and a boy with a clipboard stops them and asks them if they have a minute for the candidate:
“I have given the Candidate weeks-no, months-of my life. No, I don’t have a minute for him. You want to know why? My boyfriend has left to travel around with him. He quit his job to work for the campaign, and I haven’t seen him in a month. A month! I’m not sure if he’s ever coming back, and the thing is, he doesn’t even care! He doesn’t care because all he wants is to work on this godforsaken campaign that is just so important. More important than anything else, including me!”
…The rant continues for nearly two pages, and it’s equally sad and hilarious, and it was one of my favorite parts of the book. The cool thing is, when I looked up other books by Close, I found that her other one has a premise that seems to be based off this very idea! The book is “The Hopefuls“:
A brilliantly funny novel about ambition and marriage from the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses, The Hopefuls tells the story of a young wife who follows her husband and his political dreams to Washington, DC, a city of idealism, gossip, and complicated friendships among the young aspiring elite.
When Beth arrives in DC, she hates everything about it: the confusing traffic circles, the ubiquitous Ann Taylor suits, the humidity that descends each summer. At dinner parties, guests compare their security clearance levels. They leave their BlackBerrys on the table. They speak in acronyms. And once they realize Beth doesn’t work in politics, they smile blandly and turn away. Soon Beth and her husband, Matt, meet a charismatic White House staffer named Jimmy, and his wife, Ashleigh, and the four become inseparable, coordinating brunches, birthdays, and long weekends away. But as Jimmy’s star rises higher and higher, the couples’ friendship—and Beth’s relationship with Matt—is threatened by jealousy, competition, and rumors. A glorious send-up of young DC and a blazingly honest portrait of a marriage, this is the finest work yet by one of our most beloved writers.
I am definitely adding that book to my list! However, the next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs, which is my first check-out from my local library! Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the blog comments, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.
Love Blanche’s Book Club? Me too! You can keep up with all of our past reads right here, or by clicking on Blanche’s selfie in the right-hand column of the screen. Happy reading!
Over the weekend, I was in search of simple – and cheap, if not free – joys. I’m sure I’ll talk more about this at some point, but I’m currently in a personal budgeting crisis. At the same time I lost two of my good freelance gigs, I owe a massive tax bill, like now.
Money stresses me out more than anything, and every extra penny I’ve got must go to paying off this bill. So, I needed to have a weekend full of free stuff (I see a lot of weekends like these in my near future).
On Friday night, I hit up the laundromat, which didn’t cost me anything since I had money loaded up on my Washatopia card. Score! I did go to the grocery store afterward, as I needed eggs and something to drink at the pool on Saturday. I found this organic cucumber-lime and chile Italian soda that I figured would go perfect with some tequila I had in my freezer. I escaped the store in $7.
On Saturday, I spent a little time looking for freelance work, and then I hit the pool. I packed a small cooler with some snacks – chips, hummus, cheese, and grapes – and enough tequila and Italian soda for three large drinks.
For two hours, I was the only one there. I sat, and I read – finishing one book and starting another. I stayed out there for almost five hours. Cost: $0 and I even improved my tan.
I came home and tended to my plants, replanting some grass for Blanche, watering all the other plants, and sweeping the patio. I also made dinner instead of going out – I made brats and fries – and had a few beers that were already stashed away in my fridge. I watched a few episodes of “Dexter” before I was sufficiently freaked out (I only have a few more episodes before I’ve watched the entire series twice) and had to switch to “The Vanilla Ice Project”.
On Sunday, I slept in, enjoyed some coffee, searched for more writing jobs, and then I went to a library that’s pretty close to my house. I’d been there once before to tutor someone, and it’s really nice. I decided to get a library card and spend a few hours hunting for more good reads for Blanche’s Book Club.
The library is really nice, but I will say they checked my address twice to make sure I actually lived within the district. I had no clue libraries were so exclusive. After about an hour of searching, I got “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs and “The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating” by Carole Radziwill.
I spent the remainder of Sunday reading, looking for writing gigs, cooking, and I baked these paleo lemon chia seed muffins to eat for breakfast during the week. I found the recipe on The Iron You, and I’ll say that even though he calls them Coconut Lemon Chia Seed muffins, there is no coconut flavor in them.
They were pretty easy to make, and for paleo muffins, they turned out delicious – better than anything I tried to bake when I was actually on the paleo diet. The only other thing I’ll say is that my batch didn’t rise that much, so they look like “half muffins”. I will probably make another batch, and I think I’ll use the mini muffin tin to make them look more muffin-y.
The good news? One muffin is 92 calories, with only 3g carbs and 3g of protein! Yes!
- 1/2 cup of coconut flour
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- Pinch of fine grain sea salt
- Zest of two lemons
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of milk of your choice (I used coconut)
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 4 eggs
- 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, chia seeds, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, milk, honey, coconut oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix very well until fully incorporated, the mixture has thickened, and there are no clumps of coconut flour left. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, 3/4 the way to the top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Carefully remove from muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.
Let me know if you make these muffins, or have any other great healthy recipes!