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Books I've Been Reading

Books I've Been Reading Lately


I'm a huge reader – I always am in the middle of a book! It wasn’t always that way though: growing up my mom would sit me down every night while I was learning to read and make me read a story to her. One night I got fed up with the tradition and explained that I did NOT like reading and had no desire to read a story that night. My mother swiftly explained that “Everyone in our family loves to read and you are going to too!” Hah! I’m actually kind of grateful for the tough love and how she forced me to keep reading even when I didn’t want to because I just LOVE to read now. It’s so relaxing! One of my favorite ways to enjoy a good book is while eating breakfast and sipping on my coffee – it’s just such a nice way to start my day.  Occasionally I post pictures of my coffee/breakfast/kindle combo on my Instagram and I always get SO many people asking me what I’m reading! I figured I would start sharing some of the books I’ve been reading to let you know what I’ve liked, what I haven’t, and hopefully get some ideas from you all of future reads to add to my list! Here is a list of the last five books I’ve read: I’ve posted amazon affiliate links to each story, a synopsis of the story, and my thoughts on each book!

The Handmaiden's Tale

By Margaret Atwood. Synopsis From Amazon:
"The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best."

I read this book for two reasons only: the kindle version was free on Amazon and I've seen all the previews for the new show based on this story coming out on Hulu. I'm a firm believer in always reading the book before seeing the movie or show - I personally always think they are better but I am excited about this new show because it has two of my favorite actresses in it: Elizabeth Moss (from Mad Men) and Alexis Bledel (from Gilmore Girls). After reading this book though...I feel like the show might ACTUALLY be better.  I enjoyed reading the book because I love a good dystopian fiction...but I was very frustrated with the ending.  I feel like there was so much mystery throughout the story: there were so many unknowns and only hints of what was actually going on in this strange new society and we never really got to find out exactly what was happening.  I still enjoyed reading it: the story-line is so strange that you want to keep on reading to find out more but overall was just a little disappointed at the ending.

The Secret Wife


Synopsis From Amazon:
"Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.
1914
Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .
2016
Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .
Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience."

This was a book I was surprised that I liked so much. I used to read some historical fiction years ago by Philippa Gregory but lately have been more into suspense or chick lit.  The book was amazing though: it alternates between telling the historical fiction story from the past with another story from the present and you learn the mystery of what happens to the love affair between Dmitri and Tatiana through their own story in the past and Kitty learning about their story from the present; all while Kitty is on her own journey in the present.  I started this book at the beginning of a three hour plane ride and it kept me entertained the whole three hours: I did not want to put it down! I would highly recommend it.

The Matchmaker


By Elin Hilderbrand Synopsis from Amazon: 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.

I’ve read a few books by Elin Hilderbrand: they are always guaranteed to be a good beachy read and I totally want to visit Nantucket one day now (most of her books take place in Nantucket where Elin now lives).  The plot of the story is fun: main character Dabney has a knack for fixing couples up but conflict occurs when her ex-lover (and father of her child!) arrives back to Nantucket after years away…but there’s only one problem. Dabney has been married for years now.  I was curious how the plot would play out with extramarital affairs and a protagonist who was liked…but not quite as likeable as some of the protagonists in Hilderbrand’s stories. That is…until ¾ of the way through the book when something unexpected happens and truly makes you fall in love with Dabney and feel for her love triangle struggle.  I rented this book for free on my kindle and think it was well worth the read but I’m glad I didn’t shell out the $$$ to buy it as while I still enjoyed the book I think some of Hilderbrand’s stories were a little more entertaining than this one. 

My Not So Perfect Life


By Sophia Kinsella. Synopsis from Amazon:Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

 I think Sophia Kinsella is a hilarious author and I absolutely loved her Confessions of a Shopaholic series and this was a funny read but the storyline was only ok.  I was excited to read the book because of the social media aspect in the book (um hello I'm obsessed with instagram so any book that talks about getting the perfect insta shot is sure to peak my interest hah) but I felt like so many parts of the story were predictable.  The office drama, the romance, the family problems...you could basically figure out generally how things were going to end up halfway through the book and granted that's not always a bad thing: I don't read Sophia Kinsella (or any chick-lit for that matter) to really stimulate my brain, but rather as an easy fun read and that's exactly what this was.  Katie was a cute and funny protagonist and following along her story was enjoyable...just don't go into the book expecting another slam dunk story like Confessions of a Shopaholic was.

Beach Lawyer 

By Avery Duff. Synopsis from Amazon:
After five grueling years, Robert Worth is just days away from making partner at a powerful Santa Monica law firm. When a client confides in him that senior partner Jack Pierce sexually assaulted her, Robert breaks two of his mentor’s cardinal rules: Never let yourself get emotional about clients. And never make an enemy of Jack Pierce.
Robert crosses Pierce and is fired on the spot, losing not only his job but also his reputation. Advised to go quietly, Robert vows revenge against the ruthless man who betrayed him. But his investigation uncovers a twisted shadow world of sex, infidelity, and deception, where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. Only one thing is clear: Pierce will go the limit to keep his secrets.
This straight shooter will need to use every angle if he hopes to win. But could victory come at too high a price?

I got this book for free as part of my Kindle Prime membership and really enjoyed it.  The lawyer story line was fun - I don't read a lot of books with that kind of story line although I was obsessed with watching The Good Wife so I do like lawyer mysteries, just haven't read many books based on it. I liked the prose in this book - the author's writing style was fun and a little face paced - I feel like you had to keep up with the writing but in a good way.  There was a decent amount of mystery in the book and it really kept me guessing - nothing was overly obvious and I really kept second guessing all the characters and their motives until the last chapter but was really happy and felt satisfied by the ending.

Have you read any of the same books? What were your thoughts on them? And of course PLEASE share in the comments if you have any good recommendations for what I should read next!

Your Whims Wednesday #307 {And Features}

Time for another Your Whims Wednesday Party!

Your Whims Wednesday

Here are some of my favorites from last weeks party!

Tattooed Flower Pots by Living La Vida Holoka


Brownie Dulche De Leche Smores by Bombshell Bling
Brownie Dulce de Leche S'mores

Colorful Tassel Bracelets by Duct Tape and Denim

 Glass Trays with Wine Bottles by The Real Thing with the Coake Family
Wow! DIY Glass trays made from wine bottles. They are so pretty and are perfect for wall art or gift ideas as well as for serving trays. Love it!
Unicorn Milkshake by The Country Chic Cottage
Make this unicorn drink for your kids! It is the ultimate milkshake!

Thanks to all who linked up! Grab a button if you were featured :)
Featured on My Girlish Whims
 
Now... onto this weeks party!
 

Cauliflower Crust Pizza Recipe

Sometimes in life all you need is a plate full of PIZZA, am I right?!? Traditionally a plate full of pizza is also a plate full of calories of carbs and fats and nothing good for your diet though!!! I finally have tried a few different recipes though and am happy to report that this cauliflower crust pizza still tastes delicious (as pizza should), you can still pick it up and shove it in your face like a traditional slice of pizza ;) but is a heck of a lot more healthy than regular pizza!


My recipe is for a single serving of pizza and is the perfect portion for a large and satisfying dinner but you can easily double it to make a larger pie to share with the family.

I went the traditional route for this pie and topped it with tomato sauce, mozzarella and turkey pepperoni but you could make tons of other flavor combos. I really like white pizza so think the next version I make I'll use some light Alfredo sauce and maybe top it with some veggies and chicken!
I have a full recipe listed below but here are a few steps of the process:

Your Whims Wednesday #306 {And Features}

Time for another Your Whims Wednesday Party!

Your Whims Wednesday

Here are some of my favorites from last weeks party!

Coconut Pineapple Frozen Margarita by Unusually Lovely

DIY Pom Pom Sandals by Erica Valentin
DIY Pom Pom Sandals

Collar Necklace by Everyday Bijoux 


Leather Chevron Necklace by The Crafty Blog Stalker 
Leather Chevron Necklace | DIY Jewelry | Handmade Jewelry | Cricut Explore | Deep Cut Blade

Cake Batter Popsicles by The Simple Sweet Life


Thanks to all who linked up! Grab a button if you were featured :)
Featured on My Girlish Whims
 
Now... onto this weeks party!
 

Your Whims Wednesday #305 {And Features}

Time for another Your Whims Wednesday Party!

Your Whims Wednesday

Here are some of my favorites from last weeks party!
 
Turkey Apple Brie Flatbread by My Suburban Kitchen
Turkey Apple Brie Flatbread
 
Strawberry Kiwi Lemonade Margarita by Simply Darrling
Strawberry Kiwi Lemonade Margarita - A Cocktail Recipe

DIY Farmhouse Style Indoor Planters by Paisley and Pugs
finished galvanized farmhouse style herb planters

Goat Cheese, Rosemary Honey Prosciutto Toasts by The Kittchen


Chocolate Cherry Granola Frozen Yogurt Bites by Hello Nature
This simple Chocolate Cherry Granola Frozen Yogurt Bites Recipe is a must-have for dessert AND breakfast! It's too good not to be used for both!

Thanks to all who linked up! Grab a button if you were featured :)
Featured on My Girlish Whims
 
Now... onto this weeks party!