Good Reads for Spring

I have been on a serious reading kick this past month. In fact, I’m pretty impressed with the number of books I’ve actually finished {I have a bad habit of starting a book and not finishing it…}

While visiting Marblehead during our road trip adventures during spring break, I stumbled upon the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore and Card Shop while wandering around town.

What a treat! This indie bookstore is what book nerds dream about. I wished so badly that my sister were there with me – she loves to read and no doubt would have spent hours with me browsing the selections.

My favorite part of the shop (there were many!) were the rows-and-rows of books with handwritten descriptions sticking out of the top at the front of the store.

bookstore 1

It was like listening to a friend describe a book she’d just read that she just knew you’d enjoy!

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I loved reading the staff’s response to the books.

In addition to the whimsical handwritten reviews from staff, the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore also had a “Blind Date with a Book” section which totally hooked me.

book blind date

Between the surprise of not knowing what may be wrapped inside to the fact that the payment for the book would be gifted to a charity to purchase new book had me so smitten!

book blind date 2

I browsed the table full of wrapped books trusting only the handwritten description and settled on two: a Southern American/Mystery/Romance fiction novel for my sister and this one for myself:

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I’ve been completely engrossed with the current political scene. I’m certainly more interested in the stories of the democratic candidates so I reasoned that I’d be happy with a biography of either of the two.

As soon as I got back to my sister-in-law’s apartment after leaving the bookstore, I unwrapped mine and was quite delighted. hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can by Cynthia Levinson

Inside the brown paper was a preview copy of Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can.

I started reading the book while we were still in Marblehead and finished it as we drove home. In just 3 days I’d read it cover-to-cover.

Watching Hillary (we’re on a first-name-basis) run as the first likely female presidential nominee has been fascinating. As a woman in any field or on any platform there’s a tricky dance to balance power and being “like-able.” The struggle in politics really magnifies that pressure. It’s hard not to admire her.

If you like an inspiring story about an empowered female, this book’s for you.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I’ve had my eye on Where’d You Go, Bernadette for a while. I love supporting locally owned shops so I jumped at the chance to treat myself to a copy after reading the staff’s review at the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.

“To her Microsoft guru husband, Bernadette’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to her 15-year-old, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears.” – Review via Lauren of Spirit of ’76 Bookstore

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GUYS. This is the best book I’ve read in a while {and it had been a while…}.

For a week it completely consumed me. I carried it everywhere. When I got to the last few pages, I considered abandoning it because I just didn’t want it to end!

I found myself relating to both Bernadette (the Mom) and Bee (the daughter) in ways that surprised me. I felt like the wildly eccentric recluse Bernadette was my soul sister. She represents the extreme of what I could probably become if I 1) didn’t allow myself to create, 2) allowed my introvertedness to run wild, 3) hadn’t found a therapist I love.

Bernadette is so bazaar and yet I think we can all relate to her on some level.

If you’re looking for a story that will consume you, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a winner. You can purchase a copy of Where’d You Go, Bernadette here from the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Visiting the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore reignited my love of reading and set me off on a whirlwind of reading adventures.

After returning from our road trip, I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. My mother-in-law bought it for me for Christmas and I couldn’t wait to read it.

big magic

This is a must-read for creative people. I felt so reassured while reading Elizabeth’s stories about her creative struggles. In a world where it always feels like everyone else is succeeding in all of their creative adventures, it was comforting to hear that despite what I see on social media, we’re all struggling. Sometimes it’s hard to hear the creative spark and if you miss the opportunity to fan the flame, the fire may just die. And on that note, I’m trying really hard to recognize when Big Magic is coming my way, toss my ego to the side and PLAY with the magic.

Read this book with a highlighter in hand if you’re feeling creatively defeated – Elizabeth will have you feeling better about your pursuits in no time (use your highlighter for some of those one-liner gems she sprinkles throughout so you can quickly refer back as needed for inspiration 😉 )

Current Reading: Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

My sister is an avid reader {she is, after all, a Reading Coach..}. Lucky for me, she keeps my bookshelves stocked with hand-me-downs. I was looking for another capturing story to get lost in when I pulled her copy of Sea Creatures from my stash. So far it’s really good!

sea creatures

What are you reading? I’d love to hear your recommendations for what I should read next!

Saucy Summer Reads

You may have seen my recommendation for The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell in my What I’m Lovin’ in August post, but I’ve got two saucier (and much lighter) recommendations to share with you below!

Earlier this summer I did what I’d been saying I was going to do for a while now: I went to my local library with the sole purpose of finding a book to rent and read! I wasn’t going to be intimidated by the 2 week window (I’m a slow reader) because there is a such thing as renewing online (yay for the internet!).

As it turns out, my library card was so old that I’d been erased from the system.

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But isn’t my old card so cute?!

No worries, I had a new “Where the Wild Things Are” themed card in no time!

new card

Equally as cute new card.

You see, my local library has many branches which make it super convenient where ever you happen to find yourself around town. They even let you return your book to any branch – regardless of where you rented it. They’re thoughtful like that.

Well, I’m happy to report I’ve been putting some miles on my card and I have some great summer reading recommendations for you!

To start, I’m on a saucy-summer-stories kick. That being said, when I read the back of Stephanie Evanovich’s debut novel I knew it’d be enjoyable!

big girl

Big Girl Panties was a light love story with some juicy scenes for summer.

I hinted how lovely this book was in a previous post about pillows – which by the way, you should totally sew up a pillow to go with these great reading recommendations 😉

As soon as I finished it, I started scouting out her next book which just so happened to release the Tuesday after I finished Big Girl Panties. I ran to my local library that Thursday in search of the book so I’d have it in time for my trip to Baltimore (hello airport sitting…and plane sitting..).

Well dear Stephanie didn’t let me down!

sweet spot

The Sweet Spot was just as delightful!

Although The Sweet Spot is a prequel to Big Girl Panties, you could read these books in any order and still enjoy them. There are connections made between the two stories, but they’re independent so you can easily follow without obligation of reading the other (though I do recommend it!).

These stories were so good, I didn’t even have to renew online! I finished each within the allotted two weeks and happily returned them on time.

These are just two of the saucier books I read this summer. I’m happy to report, I’m still on my “reading kick” so I’ll be sharing more book recommendations soon.

{Read my tiny collection of Book Club recommendations here.}

What did you read this summer? I’m looking for recommendations to get me through the winter 🙂

What I’m Lovin’ in August

We’re enjoying a super hot August here in the South so I’ve gladly been spending my weekends in the comfort of the air conditioning (and working on becoming a little more pasty).

But on the bright side (pun intended): I’m actually posting this What I’m Lovin’ blog during August! So cheers to being on time this month!

resliced by Jordan

 

So here we go friends! The short list of what I’m lovin’ this month:

1. April Rhodes‘ Arizona Fabric Collection

From the moment I saw the collection, I’ve been dreaming up what I wanted to make with it. I’ve tossed around every idea I could muster up and finally decided I love the collection SO much I’m willing to give quilt-making a try! Yep, you read that right: I’m working on my very first quilt! And don’t worry – I’ll definitely be posting about this! Be sure to follow me on Instagram – I’m going to start posting progress pictures soon! 🙂

[insert heart-eyed Emojis!]

[insert heart-eyed Emojis!]

2. My [first] rotary cutter

I have read over and over how great rotary cutters are, but being the cheapskate that I am I couldn’t bring myself to splurge on one…until I decided I wanted to make a quilt.

The Hubs subscribed for a free trial of Amazon Prime (what are you thoughts on this? Should we keep it?) so I used that to my advantage and ordered a rotary cutter + self-healing mat + quilting ruler kit (all for under $30!) with free shipping and it arrived in 2 days – Win!

rotary

This kit is the bomb!

Ripped it open Saturday morning and realized investing in a rotary cutter was totally worth it!

3. Racing season is upon us!

In February I conquered my very first half marathon and went on to finish a second one in March. Since then I’ve been trying to convince myself to do it again, but the summer humidity has put a damper on my training so I’ve been doing short intervals indoors (which is beyond boring…I’m the kind of runner who likes to sight see while running – I run slow enough that this is an option).

But – cool weather is just around the corner!

My original plan was to run the Governor’s Cup half marathon in November, but if this weather doesn’t cool down just a smidge, I might be doing the 8k instead. The Governor’s Cup 8k last year was my first long race (ever)! My running coach and friend, Randy, convinced me I could do it. The race showed me that I really like running (who knew?!) – and I didn’t hate training! Randy knew the bug was planted and graciously offered to train me for the half marathons. Haven’t I told you – human kindness is the best thing ever?!

race

Me & Randy at the Palmetto Half Marathon finish line in March

Now that you see the picture above, you see exactly how generous it was for Randy to offer to run with me! I’m short and slow…he is neither!

4. The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Despres

I’m still on my summer reading kick and I recently saw this book while plundering the shelves of my local library.

belle

I usually avoid books that involve historical references because there seems to be no way to do that without becoming incredibly boring (call me shallow), but this book sure proved me wrong!

While it’s chock full of historical references to the women’s movement, Loraine has a way of keeping the storyline light, romantic and suspenseful. The story completely engulfed me and I couldn’t put it down. My favorite part about the book were the one-liners that Belle (the main character) comes up with throughout the book as rules to live by – she calls her collection The Southern Girls’ Guide to Men and Other Perils of Modern Life.

ch16

Chapter 16 contained my favorite 🙂

I can’t recommend this book enough! I’m planning to read all of Loraine Despres’ collection now. Have you read any of those? What are your favorite summer reading books?

5. Watching the Hubs play lacrosse

It’s summer – which means one thing: the Hubs is looking for every men’s league lacrosse tournament within driving distance to play in. I can’t lie: I don’t make all of them (nor do I really try that hard…there are just so many!), but the annual Blue Ridge Classic held in Asheville is one I haven’t missed in years. I love Asheville – it’s a vegetarian’s food heaven so it’s worth the hours spent sweating on the sidelines for an evening of amazing food and chocolate in a thriving downtown with a serious appreciation of locally sourced food and handmade goods. I promise to blog soon about all my favorites!

This year, the Hubs played in 9 games with 2 different team that weekend. After all these years, I still don’t have a great understanding (ok…any understanding) of the game, but the most amazing thing happened – and I saw it!! The Hubs scored the game winning goal in overtime during the game he played with his old teammates from Presbyterian College (where he played for 2 years before we transferred to USC). It was amazing!!

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That’s the Hubs hidden behind #4, throwing a shot – not the game-winning-in-overtime-shot, but still a nice picture! [photo not taken by me btw]

I can’t lie, I love to shamelessly brag on the Hubs’ athletic ability mainly because I am so uncoordinated it’s a miracle I can run without injuring others (yes, others).

#ProudWifeMoment

6. My best friend is getting married! 

I’ve been friends with Caroline since what feels like the dawn of time. We’ve gone from awkward middle school girls who hung out at the school over summer break (true story…we volunteered. Total nerds) to college suite-mates and now adults with “real jobs.”

I remember when I met her fiance for the first time and I just knew. The way he looked at her and the way she talked about him, I just knew my bestie had met her soul mate. It was only a matter of time until I got that special call. Well – I got that call a few weeks ago!

Icing on the top of this whole scenario is that she adorably sent me my “invitation” to be her MOH in the cutest way. She knows my snail mail snobbery and the fact that any card not made my friend MaryAnn of MASW Designs just isn’t good enough.

So, she had MaryAnn custom make the invitations and promise not to post about it until I’d received mine. (Seriously, my friends are the cutest).

card1

Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but fingers crossed for coral dresses! {But seriously it doesn’t matter because Caroline has timeless style!}

How precious is the inside?!

How precious is the inside?!

Seriously I’m over the moon about being asked to be Caroline’s MOH. It’s such an honor and I’m SO excited for all that’s to come! I teared up thinking about my MOH speech while vacuuming the other day…I’m such a nerd!

I hope you enjoyed my list of what I’m lovin’ in August! What did you love (or are lovin’) about August?

{Catch up on all What I’m Lovin’ monthly posts here.}

Bossypants Book Review

One bossy chicks review of Tina Fey's Bossypants.

One bossy chicks review of Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

As a girl who’s been called bossy more times than I care to count, I knew just by the title that Bossypants was the book for me!

It’s very rare that I actually finish a book (anyone else have this issue? I think it’s related to my undiagnosed ADHD). I’m very proud to say that I read Bossypants cover-to-cover and couldn’t get enough!

As always, Tina Fey is hilarious and real. There are so many parts of the book where she just “lays it all out” in a way that makes her seem so…human.

The book is such an easy read. The paperback version is light and small enough to stash in your purse in case you get stuck in a waiting room and don’t want to touch those germ-infested magazines.

I do warn you though: be careful where you’re reading (especially if it’s in the bed while your husband is sleeping) because you WILL burst out in random fits of laughter.

See! Bossy isn't so bad! ;)

See! Bossy isn’t so bad! 😉

I’m also in the midst of reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and I really appreciated reading the two alongside (although I did get the two story lines twisted a few times and ultimately decided to finish Bossypants as it was the shorter/easier-to-carry-in-my-purse option).

Whether your office is on the set of a hit TV show, the corner office at Facebook’s headquarters, the cubicle down the hall or behind the counter of a coffee shop, being a woman in society is a tough gig. Tina Fey’s ability to turn the work/life balance into a comical journey is sure to help give any female a new perspective: no matter how tough carving your path may be, there’s always room for humor!

In the end, remember that it’s always worth taking the leap because the journey makes for a great story!

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So friends: pick up a copy of Bossypants and get your laugh on!

What’s on your reading list this summer?