Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Currently: June

Long time, no see! I figured I'd do an update the easiest way possible, in currently/list format.

Watching: Since I'm writing this Monday night, the Bachelorette, duh. Is it just me or are a lot of these guys blah? I honestly don't even know who I want to win. I hated Chad but since he's been gone it's more boring and the guys are so annoying! Stop tattling on each other, it never turns out well for you! I also watch/record Unreal and Mistresses on Monday nights, both are so good! And tonight is Pretty Little Liars, of course. I like my tv shows, ok? #noshame

Eating: So much watermelon. I just love it! And donuts, I can't get enough of them lately.

Drinking: Mostly water, but also Simply Lemonade. That is seriously the best lemonade ever.

Feeling: Like I better lose weight because I've been being so good with food and exercise lately. Not that'd you'd know by my donut comment above haha

Buying: Tarte makeup, of course. Plus I bought 3 Yankee Candles when they were $11 each and free shipping last weekend and OMG, Berry Colada smells so good I can't even handle it. Another scent I got was Carrot Cake to use in the fall and oh gosh, I need it to be fall now!

Reading: All the summery/Nantucket books. Can't stop, won't stop. I need to get my butt to Nantucket.

Missing: Not sweating all the time because its 80 degrees outside.

Going: To the movies with my brother to see The Shallows tomorrow. It looks so creepy, I hope it's good!

Anticipating: Our lake weekend! Yay for the 4th of July! I probably won't be back here before then so have a great holiday guys!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lots of Books

So compared to last month's reading drought, I went reading crazy this month. 10 books! I pretty much enjoyed them all too, which is kind of surprising- I didn't rate any below 3 stars. I also was on like a summer/Nantucket book kick too, so yea, half of the books are summer themed.

Unveiled: Tamar
4 stars

From the author's website:

In the first of five novels on the women of the Bible, Rivers draws on the Bible’s brief mention of Tamar to create a tribute to  hope. Tamar is sold as a child to be the bride of Judah’s oldest son, Er. When  Er dies, Tamar believes that he was struck down by God for pride and arrogance.  According to custom, she is given Onan, one of Er’s brothers, as husband to  beget a son in Er’s memory. When Onan refuses her rights, he too falls dead. The  third brother, Shelah, is deemed too young to be a husband, but when Judah  promises Tamar a child when the boy grows up, she lives on hope for years. When  she realizes that Judah has no intention of keeping his promise, she dresses as  a temple prostitute and seduces him. After being threatened with death because  of her disgraceful pregnancy, Tamar forces Judah to honor his promise. In  return, she bears twin sons, Zerah and Perez, a forefather of Jesus. The  different mores and customs of Tamar’s time take some adjustment for a modern  mindset, but a glimpse into what might have happened is worth the effort. 

What I thought: I thought it was super interesting to learn more about what Tamar's, a briefly mentioned woman in the Bible, life may have been like. I feel so blessed to have grown up in the time period we live in now, versus back when Tamar was alive- how awful it must have been to be married off so young to such an awful person!

Nancy Thayer's Island Girls
3.5 stars

From the author's website:

Charming ladies’ man Rory Randall dies with one last trick up his sleeve: His will includes a calculating clause mandating a summer-long reunion for his daughters, all from different marriages—that is, if they hope to inherit his posh Nantucket house. Relations among the three sisters are sour thanks to long-festering jealousies, resentments, and misunderstandings. Arden, a successful television host in Boston, hasn’t been back to the island since her teenage years, when accusations of serious misbehavior led to her banishment. College professor Meg hopes to use her summer to finish a literary biography and avoid an amorous colleague. And secretive Jenny, an IT specialist, faces troubling questions about her identity while longing for her sisters’ acceptance.

To their surprise, the three young women find their newfound sisterhood easier to trust than the men who show up to complicate their lives. And if that weren’t problematic enough, their mothers descend on the island. When yet another visitor drops by the house with shocking news, the past comes screaming back with a vengeance. Having all the women from his life under his seaside roof—and overseeing the subsequent drama of that perfect storm—Rory Randall might just be enjoying a hearty laugh from above.

What I thought: This was a cute, easy summer read, like a lot of Nancy Thayer's books. The affection the women show for Rory is a bit ridiculous I think, because he sounds like a major jerk and philanderer to me, so that was kind of weird, and so was how immature the sisters often acted. Plus the characters aren't super well-developed, but what else can you expect from a summery beach read? 

3 stars

From the author's website:

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

What I thought: This book was definitely a page-turner, but it was so super creepy and seemingly unrealistic that if you have a sensitive stomach I'd tell you to avoid it. The grisly descriptions are a bit much, and it's just hard for me to believe that so many people could be involved in something so awful (I'm trying hard here not to give anything away). So... read at your own risk. 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
3 stars

From the publisher's website:

Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible tackles gender, class, courtship, and family as Curtis Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . 

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

What I thought: This was a kind of cute book but it's really hard to compare it to the real Pride & Prejudice. The writing cannot even be compared to Jane Austen's but I'm not even sure that's what the author was aiming at. The last chapter of the book was just so.. weird? wrong? that I wanted to throw it across the room. And the spiders, why did that even need to be a thing? I read the book quickly and it was somewhat enjoyable but if you are an Austen purist I'd say skip it. 

Nantucket Sisters
4 stars

From the author's website:

When they meet as girls on a beach in Nantucket, Maggie Drew and Emma Hudson become fast friends—though Emma’s well-heeled mother would prefer that she associate with the upscale daughters of bankers and statesmen rather than the child of a local seamstress. But the two lively, imaginative girls nevertheless spend many golden summers together building castles in the sand, creating magical worlds of their own, and forging grand plans for their future.

Even as Emma falls for Maggie’s brother, Ben, and the young women’s paths diverge, the duo remain close friends. Then the unthinkable happens: a lifelong friendship is pushed to its breaking point with the appearance of the handsome, charismatic, charming, and incredibly sexy Wall Street trader Cameron Chadwick—upending both of their lives.

Struggling with the difficult choices they have made and the secrets they have kept, Maggie and Emma find the road to love and fulfillment is full of bumps and twists, as well as entirely unexpected and quite wonderful turns of the heart. They also learn that while true love may be rare, a true friendship is rarer still.

What I thought: I really enjoyed this book that trailed the girls through childhood and into adulthood. The twist with Chadwick is kind of silly, but this is just a cute summer read, plain and simple as that. 

4.5 stars

From the author's website:

Three women arrive at the local airport, observed by Josh, a Nantucket native home from college for the summer.

Burdened with small children, unwieldy straw hats, and some obvious emotional issues, the women--two sisters and one friend--make their way to the sisters' tiny cottage, inherited from an aunt. They're all trying to escape from something: Melanie, after seven failed in-vitro attempts, learned her husband was having an affair, and then discovered she's pregnant; Brenda embarked on a passionate affair with an older student that got her fired from her prestigious job as a professor in New York; and her sister Vicki, mother to two small boys, has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Soon Josh is part of the chaotic household, acting as babysitter, confidant, and, eventually, lover.

What I thought: I loved this book. It was a super easy read but it kept my interest and I really think that Elin Hilderbrand is the superior of the "Nantucket genre" authors- her characters are more developed and her writing is just better than Nancy Thayer's, though I do like them both, 

5 stars

From the author's website:

Claire Danner Crispin, mother of four young children and nationally renowned glassblower, bites off more than she can chew when she agrees to co-chair the Nantucket's Children Summer Gala.

Claire is asked to chair the benefit, in part, because she is the former high school sweetheart of rock star Max West. Max agrees to play the gala and it looks like smooth sailing for Claire-until she promises a "museum-quality" piece of glass for the auction, offers her best friend the catering job, goes nose-to-nose with her Manhattan socialite co-chair, and begins a "good-hearted" affair with the charity's Executive Director, Lockhart Dixon.

Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this riveting story of one woman's attempt to deal with loves past and present, family, business, and high-powered social pressures. Elin Hilderbrand's unique understanding of the joys and longings that animate women's lives will make this her newest summer bestseller.

What I thought: Oh I couldn't put this book down! Elin Hilderbrand did a great job of putting you in Claire's shoes and it actually made me anxious at times! Definitely recommend. 

4.5 stars

From the author's website:

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end…

What I thought: I would have given this book 5 stars too if there wasn't just a small part of the ending that I didn't like/thought was unnecessary. Either way, it was really good and I highly recommend it. I read the entire book on a Sunday afternoon- I couldn't put it down!

After I Do
5 stars

From the publisher's website:

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

What I thought: I highly, highly recommend this book. It was awesome. I felt connected to Lauren and I loved the ending and I really don't have any complaints about this book at all!

3 stars

From the author's website:

48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others - like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man - call it meddlesome, but there's no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance. 

Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive. 

But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she's made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it's too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most. The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking story about losing and finding love, even as you're running out of time.

What I thought: This was my least favorite Elin Hilderbrand book that I've read. I don't really think Dabney had as many redeeming qualities as all the other characters thought she had, and I really didn't like Clen at all. The characters just weren't likeable enough for me, but that still didn't keep me from flying through the book in less than two days. 

Life According to Steph
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