Sunday, March 19, 2017

What's Saving My Life Right Now

Recently, my friend Meg said I had to start listening to the Modern Mrs. Darcy aka the wonderful Anne Bogel. In Anne's Groundhog's Day post, she wrote about a borrowed sentiment of "what is saving my life right now". I like the drama of it over the previous trend of gratitude journals. With the highs and lows of life lately, I love this idea.

So, what is saving my life right now?

1. Liane Moriarty books: Seriously on my fourth book of hers in a few weeks. I've needed the distraction, and the Australian narrators are fantastic. If you've never read her books, start with "What Alice Forgot". It's excellent.

2. Audible subscription: Best $22 I spend each month.

3. Minimalism game: The Minimalists have a game where you get rid of the amount of items that match the date for a month. You can donate, sell, or trash the items. I have already finished all the March dates both at home and at school(let's be honest - it was mostly paper items for school). It helps that we're moving. I pick up almost everything and say, "do I want to pack this and carry this into a new home?" Works wonders. I'm hoping to do a major purge when I'm moving in too.

4. Candles: They really do make any space feel more cozy. I can't get enough.

5. Caffeinated beverages: So, so many of these.

6. Random check-ins: Friends and family randomly texting, calling, or stopping me to ask how things are going. Talking through some of the madness is helpful.

7. Green hills and warm sunshine: I love being on the edge of spring, even if rain is in the forecast for the next few days.

8. My parents: They really do go out of their way to still make sure I am being taken care of.

9. No grading: As in, I actually am 100% caught up. That won't be true tomorrow, but it's so rarely true ever that it's a miracle.

10. Videos of Jewels' kids and group texts/snaps with my sisters: They really do make every day better.

11. Seth: He's been working like a crazy person the past five plus weeks, but when I wake up next to him, I know that everything will be okay. We really are so blessed.

After pondering my list, I can't wait to ask people what they would put on theirs. Happy living and happy almost spring!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Husband's Secret

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seriously though - I start Moriarty's books, and I cannot stop. I was so into this one, I almost forgot what I was doing while listening. "What Alice Forgot" is still my favorite, but this is my third of Moriarty's books in the last couple months, and I already have started my fourth.

This one was different than "What Alice Forgot" and "Big Little Lies" in that Moriarty doesn't wait until the last 10% to reveal the main twist, but still a really powerful story. Just like her others, she really makes you wonder what you would do and challenges the roles and patterns we so naturally fall into without question. This story is saucier than her others, so not for everyone, but I can't help myself.

Happy reading--

ps. I really want to hang out in Sydney after all these stories. Field trip anyone?

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a little while to understand why everyone was so in love with Ove. He's cranky and seemingly unyielding, but when you see him through his sweet Sonja's eyes, you can't help but fall in love. This isn't my usual genre, but I am so happy to have met Ove and the crazy cast of characters that live in his neighborhood. Perfectly delightful-

Happy reading--

Big Little Lies

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really like Liane Moriarty. She weaves a web so deep that I can't see my way out to actually work on things that I am supposed be doing. I love that Moriarty doesn't give everything away up front. Her characters are interesting and the twists surprising. I had actually stayed away from this one because of the hype, and can't believe I did. So good. Really loved falling in to Celeste, Jane, and Madeline's world.

ps. This is probably only a 4 or 4.5, but it gets a bump because I could not stop listening. Audible and Caroline Lee's Australian accent for the win.
pps. Can't wait to see HBO's miniseries production of this. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Leave Me

Leave MeLeave Me by Gayle Forman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's something about Gayle Forman's writing style that grabs me every time. It's the type of book where I think I should put it down and get back to real life, and I just can't. What I also love about Forman's writing is how her characters are so engaging. I don't have to understand the characters' background or condone their choices (which I definitely don't in this one), but the I would follow their stories wherever they go. Forman makes flawed characters relatable and likable. She does ask you to suspend reality sometimes, but I'm always willing to do that for a Forman novel.

Is this book for everyone? No. Most people will get too hung up on the premise of Maribeth Klein backing a bag and leaving her family. But I loved how authentic the characters' emotions and motivations were, especially Maribeth's and her husband's. Will I read Forman's next novel, be it another foray into adult writing or another YA book? Of course. Already counting down the days.

Happy reading-

"I imagine it's like most things in life. You sacrifice something for the knowledge, be it peace of mind, a sense of invincibility, or something less quantifiable."

Monday, January 30, 2017

What Alice Forgot

What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think sometimes we underestimate how much we change from year to year, let alone what happens to us over the span of a decade. After all, ten years ago I was 23 and in my first year of teaching at a rural high school in Utah. I had been in two recent car accidents and was struggling to deal with the constant pain I was in. My younger sister was about to get married, and I was distracted by memories of a boy that I'd been involved with moving on so completely. I was happy overall but felt like I didn't belong where I was and was unsure where to go. Fast forward ten years - I'm 33, living in California, and I'm in my ninth year of teaching having taken a couple years in the middle off for grad school. After another car accident five years after the first two, I found someone who helped alleviate pain from all three accidents. Now, there are whole days and weeks that I don't think about my neck and back hurting. My sister has been married for ten years next week and has had four beautiful babies. I have now been married for a year and a half to my own sweetheart and am undergoing fertility treatments in hopes of babies of my own. All of those things are just the beginning of what happened in the last decade. They hardly cover all the day-to-day experiences, the people I've met, and the people I no longer talk to, the changes that technology has made, the election of our first black president, and the election of a horrible reality tv star...not to mention the people who have died or the lessons I have learned. Where would I even begin if I had a chance to chat with my 23-year-old self?

"What Alice Forgot" is like that conversation for Alice Love - only she is is 39 with three kids and living in Australia but thinks she's 29 and pregnant with her first baby. I don't know if I would have loved this book so much if the epilogue hadn't been so fulfilling, but I was literally holding my breath waiting to know how everything would turn out. I thought Moriarty's characters were clever and well spoken without being inauthentic. The world she created was relatable, and I wouldn't be surprised if she had spent time in the community I teach in.

Like Niffenegger's "The Time Traveler's Wife" and Asher's "The Future of Us", I will think of this book over and over again because of how much it has made me wonder at the passage of time and how life can be both so predictable and unpredictable at the same time. I also will keep thinking about my 43-year-old self and whether she would be happy with the way her younger self is living. I wouldn't want her to be disappointed.

Happy reading and happy remembering--

The Storyteller

The StorytellerThe Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is it too early to say that this is my favorite book of 2017? You're probably right that it's too soon, but man, I want to say it. This book was captivating and well written. I fell into this story and had the hardest time stepping away from it to do normal life. I can't do justice to why I liked it so much without gushing or using ridiculous amount of hyperbole. The short version is that I loved the character development, and frankly loved the characters. I appreciated that people weren't clear cut villains or heroes and that the smell of baking bread was woven all throughout the story. I loved that there was a fictional tale told alongside the character's narratives. So, so good - already, I'm wondering if it's too soon to read it again. And I'm really hoping this book gets optioned for a movie. It has all the makings of a great one. Better stop now, the hyperbole is creeping in....

Happy reading and happy January--