Monday, February 28, 2022

February Round-Up!


My February in numbers:

  • I read a total of 13 books. 
  • Eight of those books were books I already owned! (I wanted to read seven of my own books!)
  • One of my February goals was to: Read at least three leadership books (already owned or not), which I didn't do. I only read one.

Best book I read this month: 
  • The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb

March Goals:
  • Read at least seven of my own books
  • Read at least two leadership books. 

What are your reading goals for March?

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Bookish Thoughts: New Shelves, Who This?

 If you're a book lover, you probably have the same issue I do where bookshelf space is at a premium always, always, always. We've had a wall in our living room absolutely BEGGING for some shelves around our comfy chair. We finally got up these gorgeous open-style shelves and oh my are they lovely (thanks, husband!). I'm still working on styling them but even empty, the shelves fill out this space oh so well!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Review: From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

 Title: From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

Author: Tembi Locke

Format: Audiobook

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio

Publish Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Audiobook

What's the Story?:

From "It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams."

My Two Cents:

"From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home" is the story of actress Tembi Locke who falls in love with an Italian chef named Saro. Their story starts out like something out of a romance novel but they unfortunately don't get their happily ever after. Tembi and Saro's relationship is thrown sideways by Saro's cancer diagnosis. This book explores the devastating debris of lives torn apart but also the sheer force of will that can allow us to pick up the pieces and create a new way forward. 

This book was hard to listen to at some points. You are wishing so hard that things will suddenly turn for Saro and that his wife and young daughter will be able to continue to have him in their lives. I loved all of the author's rumination on love and loss. I also love how committed she is to building a new life after Saro's passing that still honors the wonderful life she had with him. This was a great book and I really enjoyed it. 

I listened to this book as an audiobook, which made for a great experience. The author is the narrator and having Tembi Locke narrate her own story really made for a powerful book. Locke brings a lot of life to the book and also made an already good book even more meaningful. 

This pick would be perfect for when you're looking for a story to pull on your heart strings and perhaps let you shed a few tears.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Bookish Thoughts: Recent Loves


Happy Monday and happy Valentine's Day! I was in training almost all last week and my brain is jelly. Here are a few bookish things I've loved over the past week:

  • This NYT opinion piece on the importance of not banning books by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Key Quote: "But those who seek to ban books are wrong no matter how dangerous books can be. Books are inseparable from ideas, and this is really what is at stake: the struggle over what a child, a reader and a society are allowed to think, to know and to question. A book can open doors and show the possibility of new experiences, even new identities and futures." Isn't that gorgeous?
  • On book bans, I also liked this Book Riot look at book banning and censorship outside of the United States (link)
  • How cute is this Books are Magic sweatshirt from Phenomenal? 
  • Story time: once upon a time, I randomly picked up a book from the library called Chocolate Chocolate, a memoir of two sisters who had a chocolate shop in Washington, D.C. I LOVED the book and had to go find the chocolate store and while I found really good chocolate, I also found some good friends in Frances and Ginger Park. I am SUPER excited that both of them have book releases this year and I loved this story about Ginger's latest The Hundred Choices Department Store.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

On the Radar: February 2022

 Here's to hoping that this blog post finds you warm and cozied up with a good book and a warm drink! February is bringing a few more books that I'm excited about! 

The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull
February 8, 2022
(My local B&N had early copies out this weekend, lucky me!)

The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman
February 8, 2022

The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb
February 8, 2022
(I also got an early copy this weekend from B&N - woot!)

Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake
February 22, 2022

What books are you looking forward to this month?

Monday, February 7, 2022

Review: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

 Title: The Comfort Book

Author: Matt Haig

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Penguin

Publish Date: July 6, 2021

Source: Library originally but I got my own copy!

What's the Story?:

From "The Comfort Book is Haig’s life raft: it’s a collection of notes, lists, and stories written over a span of several years that originally served as gentle reminders to Haig’s future self that things are not always as dark as they may seem. Incorporating a diverse array of sources from across the world, history, science, and his own experiences, Haig offers warmth and reassurance, reminding us to slow down and appreciate the beauty and unpredictability of existence."

My Two Cents:

Keeping it short and sweet for this fine Monday! Hope you all had a good weekend!

Did any of you have a multi-functional notebook that was part journal/ collection of stories and memories/ beloved quotes? If you're like me and you did have this kind of book (or still do), Matt Haig's "The Comfort Book" is going to feel comfortingly familiar. 

This is a beautiful collection for when you're going through rough times. Drawing from famous people, less famous people, and his own thoughts, Haig pulls together a book that feels somewhat like someone giving you a big hug, a huge cup of tea, and some reaffirming words. I liked it so much that although I originally got this book from the library, I decided to get my own copy. This is a book that you can read in one fell swoop (this is what I did!) or you can read it little-by-little when you need a pick me up (this is how I will probably read this book in the future). 

Friday, February 4, 2022

Review: Maeve's Times by Maeve Binchy

Title:  Maeve's Times

Author: Maeve Binchy

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Knopf

Publish Date: October 28, 2014

Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "Maeve Binchy once confessed: "As someone who fell off a chair not long ago trying to hear what they were saying at the next table in a restaurant, I suppose I am obsessively interested in what some might consider the trivia of other people's lives." She was an accidental journalist, yet from the beginning, her writings reflected the warmth, wit, and keen human interest that readers would come to love in her fiction. From the royal wedding to boring airplane companions, Samuel Beckett to Margaret Thatcher, "senior moments" to life as a waitress, Maeve's Times gives us wonderful insight into a changing Ireland as it celebrates the work of one of our best-loved writers in all its diversity-revealing her characteristic directness, laugh-out-loud humor, and unswerving gaze into the true heart of a matter."

My Two Cents:

Maeve Binchy's writing for me is the equivalent of a warm hug or a warm cup of tea. It is comforting and fills you up with sweetness. Losing her almost ten years ago now was a hard loss for the literary world but fortunately, she left behind a wealth of writing to go back to. This particular book is a collection of her writing for The Irish Times. It covers every decade from the 1960s until the 2000s. Within the pages, you can see the changing times all through her witty, warm lens. 

A keen observer of the world around her, these articles are at their best when they are recounting the ordinary everyday and turning it into the extraordinary universal. I loved the article about her striking up conversations on the airplane with strangers (whether or not she wanted to). Being a fellow royal watcher, I also really liked reading her observations as some of the big events in the British Royal Family happened (imagining Fergie trying to put on her best behavior before another showing, royal weddings, etc.). 

I also loved that this book covered such a wide swath of time. You can see how Binchy's writing changed and progressed as well as how the times and things around her changed. This is a great book for both those who already know and love Binchy's writing as well as those who are new to her. This could be the beginning of a beautiful reading relationship!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story by Andrew Neiderman

Title: The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story

Author: Andrew Neiderman

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publish Date: February 1, 2022 (Yesterday!)

Source: PR

What's the Story?:

From "Best known for her internationally, multi-million-copy bestselling novel Flowers in the Attic, Cleo Virginia Andrews lived a fascinating life. Born to modest means, she came of age in the American South during the Great Depression and faced a series of increasingly challenging health issues. Yet, once she rose to international literary fame, she prided herself on her intense privacy.

Now, The Woman Beyond the Attic aims to connect her personal life with the public novels for which she was famous. Based on Virginia’s own letters, and interviews with her dearest family members, her long-term ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman tells Virginia’s full story for the first time."

My Two Cents:

I have distinct memories of sneaking through the door between the kids and young adult section of my local library and finding V.C. Andrews' books. In middle school, I devoured so many of her books and fortunately had very tolerant parents that were just happy that I liked to read so much. So many of those stories stuck with me into adulthood but I really didn't know much about V.C. Andrews as a person and so I was really excited to get a chance to read this book, which I hoped would shed some light on this person whose work left such a big mark on the literary world and pop culture. This book gives you a peek behind the curtain.

The book is written by V.C. Andrews long-term ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, which is a unique perspective and I wished that more of his opinion of everything would have been pulled into the story. Ghostwriting is fascinating to me but aside from a bit at the beginning, the book is truly focused on V.C. Andrews herself. The high points of the book are the places where Virginia's (as she was known by her family) words are included. Virginia was a fantastic letter writer who would frequently write huge, voluminous letters to her family members where her feelings and accounting of current events were laid bare. I loved getting to know her through the letters.

Because I didn't know much about V.C. Andrews herself before I read this book, I did not know that she faced a horrendous case of arthritis that made it incredibly difficult to get around and forced her to either her bed or a complex wheelchair that was hard to use. The book really gets at how much writing meant to her and the doors that it opened for her in spite of all of the hardship that she faced. 

The book does end quite abruptly and I wish it would have covered the aftermath of Virginia's death. For V.C. Andrews' fans, the book does include an unfinished manuscript for "The Obsessed" and it's an interesting inclusion that left me thinking of what could have been. This book whet my appetite to learn about V.C. Andrews but didn't satiate it and left me wanting more.

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