Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Show Us Your Books!! April 2017

Hi!!!  I am so excited to finally blog about some books!  I am joining a linkup and I'm not totally sure that I'm supposed to blog about a whole year+ of books, but I'm doing it.  I didn't read many books so I'm pretty sure that I won't be blogging about too many.  I read 10 books in 2016 and I've read 3 books (on my 4th) in 2017.  I'm so excited to join this linkup with Steph




I've been reading her reviews for months and am finally joining in.  For each book I'm giving: 

- my star rating (totally borrowing this idea from Kate!)
- my immediate reaction
- brief synopsis
- deeper thoughts


Zero Day by Jan Gansei
★★★  

-Really enjoyed this book!

I met the author at the NoVa Teen Book Festival and finished the book 3 days after I met her.  It's a YA novel but definitely caught my attention. The president's daughter surfaces after being kidnapped 8 years before but is their daughter who she says she is and if so, can she be trusted?  Her childhood friend agrees to find out.   The plot was a touch unrealistic (but not anymore so than a 24 or Dedicated Survivor episode) but I loved that the DC aspects were on pointe and I loved every second of this fast-paced book.


It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario


- Obviously this memoir kept my attention long enough to finish it, but I did not enjoy this book.

I really wanted to like it because I know she has produced some great photographs, but this left me more annoyed than anything.  It seems that I'm in the minority with my review, but this one really left a bad taste in my mouth.  It read like the self-aggrandizing ramblings of someone who didn't understand what she was actually observing. It felt like she preyed on the subjects of her photographs rather than telling their stories in an authentic way and I felt like she hindered the work of our troops by joining them on missions. Rather than being empathetic towards who she was photographing, the way she spoke of her experiences felt opportunistic to me.  I felt uncomfortable at best while reading this.


What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill


- No joke, one of the best and most heartbreaking memoirs I have ever read. 

Ahh, my heart.  Say what you will about the Real Housewives franchise, but Carole wrote this before she was on RHNY.   I admit that I picked this up because of who she is and because I love any glimpse into the Kennedy family, but I gained so much more than I expected by reading this memoir and I almost felt icky about my initial reasons for wanting to read the book.  It is not just a tale of love and loss, but everything in between.  It is a bit of a coming-of-age story, which I always love and I think is rarely achieved by a female narrator.  This book made my love my husband more than I already did and make me want to cling to my loved ones a little tighter.  The ties to DC also brought it home to me.  Highly recommend. 


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany


- Awful.

Ugh.  Just terrible.  I hated this book!  I read the whole thing in one day because obviously it was great to be reading about my favorite characters again but this read as nothing more than bad fan fiction to me.  It was written in play script form, which admittedly has never been my preferred genre, but it bothered me on more levels.  It was too simplistic, too predictable and too neat-and-clean.  I'm literally surprised that JK Rowling ok'd this production.  The only parts I enjoyed were when Snape made an appearance, but even those parts weren't realistic.  I do not recommend this book, even to serious HP fans. The only reason I can think of for suffering through this book is if you wanted to be able to talk about it to other fans. I'm giving it one star which is simply for the enjoyment of getting to read new material about my favorite characters, even if it sucked.  


The Girls: A Novel by Emma Cline


- Meh.

This book was fine, I guess.  It kept my interest, but kind of grossed me out, in a non-intriguing way.  It didn't seem super realistic.  For those who don't know, it's about a young teen girl who finds her way into a cult but she is very naive and trusting.  She finds herself obsessed with one of the older girls and it was a just a weird relationship.  The book culminates in the murder of a family.  I don't think it was worth the hype. 


The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
★★★  

- Loved.

Such a good thriller! A great whodunit.  I didn't figure it out until the very end! I hated how the narrator was supposed to be 'unpredictable' because she drank a lot, which is why I give this 3 instead of 4 stars. I must say that I also enjoyed the movie, but I don't think i would have liked the movie without having read the book. 


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware


- Ugh, nearly hated this book. 

I honestly don't know why I fought all the way to the end of this book.  This is the only review that has spoilers in it, so SPOILER ALERTS ahead.  Skip to the next book if you don't want to read spoilers. I'm not sure I have read a more unrealistic book in all of my days on this earth. I could get past someone borrowing mascara from a stranger, even though that's weird.  I could possibly get past the most easily-figured out 'twist' in eons. I  could get past someone being trapped in a creepy secret below-deck room, I could get past this same person surviving her way out of that situation and finally getting off of the boat, but I could not get past someone running away from a police officer with a broken ankle after being deprived of food, drink, light and a normal living situation for days.  This is not a thing.  Way.  Too. Unrealistic. #ByeFelicia


The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day by Mindy Weiss
★★★  

- My saving grace throughout wedding planning!

This is the guide to all things wedding.  Docking it a star because parts of it felt out-of-date and a bit too hoity toity.  It did, however, have all the answers to nearly all of my questions, even if I didn't agree with the answers! Great etiquette suggestions. 


The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook by Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman
★★★  

- BEST purchase for our honeymoon!

Such a great guidebook! Led us to some serious wonders of the world.  The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is really because I have never reviewed a travel guidebook before and I have nothing to compare it to.  I did sense a bit of snark/contention towards certain companies which bothered me a tad.  I am beyond grateful for the authors for sending us to see the Pu'u O Kila Lookout and for guiding us perfectly to Queen's Bath.  


Cinder by Marissa Meyer


- Blech.

I have never read a more predictable novel in the entirety of my life.  And half-robot people and Moon people?? Come'on.  I will not be reading the rest of this series.  


Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
★★★  

- SO Lorelai.

I loved this for the glimpses into Gilmore Girls and for the fact that apparently Lauren Graham writes in the same way that Lorelai Gilmore would if she was real.  I loved a letter she wrote as "Old Lady Jackson" in which she basically points out the absurdity of our modern technological/social media society.

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
★★  

- Good read.

I really enjoyed this one because it was a 'thriller,' but was actually pretty realistic.  I felt the narrator spoke in a realistic voice with thoughts that an actual person would have.  All in all, I liked it.  


Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
★★★ 

- LOVED.  One of the best fiction books I've read! 

AHHH.  So.  Good.  Truly the best book I've read in ages.  I was enthralled from the first chapter!  I loved all of the characters and wish I could spend more time with them.  Celeste, Madeleine, Jane, Renata, Ed, Abigail, Bonnie, ahhh I loved all of it! I had no idea who died or who did it.  There was one "shock" that I did figure out before the end, but I think it was meant to be that way so it didn't spoil anything.  I normally can't stand when books deal with people's kids but this one was epic.  LOVED.  I just finished the series and of course the book was better, but the series was pretty dope too.  More on this to come! 



Have you read any of these?  If so, what were your thoughts?  Did you hate any books that I liked or vice versa?  Do you like reading book reviews?







Friday, April 7, 2017

Five on Friday



It's been a long time since I've done one of these posts and the first time on the new blog!


1. I saw one of the food delivery robots yesterday! It was crossing 14th Street NW at P.  They've been popping up all over DC and more and more of my friends have been spotting them.  Here's more info on the robots.  Crazy to think that we've really reached the point in the "future" where robots are really doing things like this.



2.  We tried a new recipe this week -- "egg roll in a bowl."  I first saw it on Katie's instagram story and new we had to try it!  The recipe is on Tip Hero and was adapted from Mostly Homemade Mom.  I further adapted it a bit and it was delicious.  I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe -- I used half ground pork and half ground turkey to lower the cholesterol a bit.  We used only 1/4 cup soy sauce but I think I'd actually use the full amount next time around.    Both Katie and a lot of reviews online suggested using less soy sauce, but we tend to love salty things and I used low sodium soy sauce so that may have made a difference.  I think next time I'll add even more cabbage & carrots -- possible double.  It was so good and I can't wait to eat the rest of our leftovers!! Here's a picture of our leftovers.  I served it over rice and topped it with green onions.  We both added a tiny bit of sriracha to our bowls.




3. I have had the worst cold all week.  I worked from home Monday and Wednesday and took a half day of PTO Tuesday.  I went to the doctor because I thought I had strep, but it turns out I didn't.  I'm on antibiotics anyway and have been guzzling Mucinex like it's my job.  I'm finally feeling a little better, but I'm still so stuffy and now have a lovely cough.  Guzzling Mucinex, you say?  Isn't that a pill, you say?  Bill decided to buy me the liquid version and it's awful.  It tastes like pureed menthol cough drops.  I do not recommend it.


4. We finally set up Pumpkin's new litter box.  It's hard to find a good place for a little box in a small one-bedroom apartment and I have wanted furniture to disguise his litter box for years and we bought this with some of our wedding money.  I think it looks so much nicer and hopefully we'll be about to make use out of the rest of it.


5.  We have a busy weekend ahead of us.  We have two birthday parties to go to tomorrow.  One is a cookout during the day for our friend and then in the evening we are going to a bar for another friend's 40th birthday.  We hope to get up early tomorrow to finally start getting our apartment organized and in order.  On Sunday, our only plans are to clean, organize and decorate our place. It's gotten so out-of-hand with clutter because we never fully unpacked/organized after the move that I'm embarrassed to even take 'before' pictures!


Visit Smidge of This for this week's linkup!