5 Stars, Reviews, Uncategorized

Review- Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

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I don’t know if I’ve ever read a series where the books just get better and better, but here it is. I absolutely loved this 3rd installment of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and I felt grief when I finished, knowing I wouldn’t learn what happens to these characters next. However, I do like being able to imagine that and make it up, because there are so many options and they all seem good!

In this third book, Lara Jean is applying to colleges and working at a nursing home, her dad is dating, her older sister is acting like an adult, and her younger sister is continuing to exemplify her spunky independence. I don’t usually love character driven books over plot driven books, but once you meet these characters, you’ll have a hard time loving any others more. I love that Lara Jean stays true to who she is despite peer pressure and what everyone else seems to be doing.

Some relationships in this book aren’t new, but we get to see them develop and change and mature. Some relationships ARE new and we get to see how they effect the characters and how they effect their other relationships. Personally, Lara Jean’s relationship with Stormy was the one that stood out to me the most in this book. Stormy is an elderly woman who lives at the nursing home where Lara Jean works, and she connects with Stormy in a way that most 17 year olds just can’t. It shows Lara Jean’s maturity and respect, and it speaks so much to who she is and who I think she’ll become.

I recommend this book to contemporary YA lovers, romance lovers, “chick lit” lovers, and general contemporary fiction lovers. I want to read everything Jenny Han has ever written now. It’s such a quick read, just do it!! You won’t regret it, and you’ll definitely end up reading all 3.

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3 Stars, Reviews, Uncategorized

Review- Start with Why by Simon Sinek (audiobook)

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This was my first venture into Simon Sinek other than his small book “Together is Better” (which spoke to me, and so I had to learn more about him). I have never listened to his TED Talks or any podcasts, honestly I didn’t really even know who he was. I am trying to work on my professional development and turn to experts and literature to coach myself into being better at; encouraging and motivating others, being an effective leader, receiving feedback, and being more efficient in my work.

 

I talked to my brother briefly about how I was listening to this book. He was familiar with Sinek’s TED Talks from his work in higher education, and while he found it to be good and helpful information, he had heard that this book was basically just repetitive of the TED Talk and went over the same information throughout. I did find that the same information was repeated frequently, but I liked that! Maybe it was because it was an audiobook and I find it harder to absorb information that way, but the more I heard the points of the Golden Circle and what happens when you start with WHY, the more I had “AH-HA!” moments of inspiration and hope of growth.

 

It all made perfect sense, that customers/employees don’t engage with a company because of WHAT they do or HOW they do it, they first engage because they believe in the same thing as the company. This is why companies have mission statements and lists of values, because when your mission and values match theirs, you want to do business with them. It’s similar to how we find a church. I can like a church because they have shorter services and more contemporary music, but if I don’t believe in what they believe, I won’t stay engaged or become a part of the community. If you’re supervising people in a job, but your motivation for your work is the pay, the people you supervise are not going to follow you enthusiastically. You aren’t creating an environment that matches their why, because your why doesn’t match theirs.

 

Basically I found this book really instrumental in thinking not only about professional “why” but the personal “why” as well. They go hand in hand, because ultimately you want to be working for something that you believe in your heart all the time. You can apply the concepts of this book to most situations, whether they are independent or transactional. It’s especially helpful if you have a goal to better engage a group of people.

 

I’d recommend this as a good step into the literary world of professional development. It’s a great basis for any person in any role, and as you move forward in your research and coaching, this is an ideal thing to keep at the center.

5 Stars, Reviews, Uncategorized

Review- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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I don’t know how I went through high school and never read Pride and Prejudice. Actually, reflecting on the books I was assigned to read, there are SO MANY amazing classics that never made it into my classes. I know the AP kids read a bunch of them, but maybe they thought the beauty of Georgian Era writing would be lost the level 2 kids. I swear I’m not holding onto any bitterness…

 

This book is amazing. I usually prefer plot driven books, and this is most definitely character driven, but these characters are so well done. I feel like I’m not actually equipped to write a review of one of the most loved classics of all time but I’ll do my best. I loved Elizabeth and Jane, and I loved Mr. Bennet and his relationship with Elizabeth. Obviously, loved Mr. Darcy, but I didn’t totally believe that he was a prideful person who decided to change the one time he was called out on it by Elizabeth. Most people can’t retract and revise a lifetime of behavior off of what one person, a stranger, says. Whatever, that’s beside the point. Mrs. Bennet drove me nuts as did Kitty and Lydia. Mary, she’s cool, all book nerds are little like her.

 

So what I think is most powerful about this book in today’s age is the feminism. Elizabeth was not out to find a husband like many (most) of the other women and girls of the time. She spoke her mind but was thoughtful of her opinions before voicing them. She seemed to have such clear boundaries of what parts of her others are entitled to, especially in her famous confrontation with Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She is called an “obstinate, headstrong girl!” like it’s a bad thing, which is nuts because it made her pretty much the only independent thinking, clear minded young woman of the time. I would imagine Jane Austen was a lot like Elizabeth, otherwise she wouldn’t have intentionally been the most loved character.

 

Before reading this book, everyone told me how much they loved Mr. Darcy and I see that all over the place in the world of book nerds. It wasn’t until about halfway through the book that Mr. Darcy stopped looking like a complete jerk. He “violently” loves Elizabeth (like, passionately, not abusively) and “ardently” admires her which is romantic and hopeless and beautiful. And she wasn’t even trying!!! While all the other girls (cough*Lydia*cough) were falling all over the single men trying to get one to marry her, Elizabeth was like “nah, I’m good” and just lived her life. What an inspiration for young women!! If/when I have children, they are totally getting the Baby Lit version of this book, it is such an important statement for our culture.

 

All in all, I LOVED these characters and the story was so artistic and beautiful. It was wordy and long, and oftentimes difficult to read since I didn’t grow up with 1800’s English. However, these exact obstacles are what make reading this book feel like such an enjoyable accomplishment. I do wish I had the chance to dissect it and discuss it in a class like many others did, but it is fun reading it as an adult and being able to form my own literary opinions.

 

If you haven’t read it yet and are intimidated, divide it up. I aimed to read 14% (66 pages in my version) each day to finish it within a week. I finished it just under, in 6 days, and I’m glad I paced it so I could take the time to understand it to the best of my ability.

Lists, Uncategorized

My January TBR

I don’t usually do TBR lists because I think I’m an impulsive reader and I like to just pick up whatever I feel like, SO these books may change. I did set a couple of more specific reading goals for 2019 though, so the TBR might help me in that respect. This will help me stay on track with my goals of reading 1 classic a month and reading 1 nonfiction book a month. Here’s what’s on my list;

  1. CLASSIC–> Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. NONFICTION–> Start With Why by Simon Sinek (audiobook)
  3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
  4. Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas
  5. Wait for You by J. Lynn
  6. BONUS (if I get to it)–> Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

There are also 4 books on my most anticipated list for January 2019, so I might try to get through more than my goal of 4 physical books total. I’m feeling especially excited about “The Secret to Dating Your Best Friend’s Sister” by Megan Quinn and “We Shouldn’t” by Vi Keeland. If I read anything like I did in December, I should be able to get a couple more in!!

Do you make TBR lists or do you read impulsively? What are your best tips for getting through more books in a month?

5 Stars, Reviews, Uncategorized

Review- P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

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I don’t think I’ve ever loved characters in a book more than I love the characters in this series. Lara Jean is not considered the most popular girl at school and she doesn’t follow trends because she doesn’t care! This girl is a role model even when you’re 29. She loves vintage fashion, spending time with her family (especially her sisters), volunteering at a nursing home, and being totally true to who she is. She surrounds herself with people who are loyal and loving through thick and thin.

I didn’t think I could love a sequel more than the original, and I’m not sure I love one more than the other, but I definitely love both books in this series so far equally. This book follows the same main characters, but a couple are less prevalent than in the first book. It’s a great representation of how we change in the high school stage of our lives and therefore how people around us come and go, but the most important ones remain. Lara Jean, having never dated at all in the first book, is still facing the repercussions of her little sister sending out her love letters to boys she loved in the past. She handles these situations with class and grace, and never runs away crying like I think I would.

This book is not a shocking out of left field love story, it’s a relateable account of young crushes, friendships (with people who aren’t always like us), family, and self discovery mixed with a lot of humor and such endearing characters. Lara Jean is outgoing, brave, independent, unique, and fun, and any story about her is bound to keep me in my seat until the book is done. I can’t wait to read the 3rd book in this series but I am stalling because I don’t want my relationship with these characters to end!!

Lists, Uncategorized

Most Anticipated Books Each Month of 2019

If you don’t religiously follow Megan on Reading Books Like a Boss, you’re missing out big time. She lists pretty much every anticipated book release for the entire year in advance and I make “to-read” lists on Goodreads based off of her website. She includes descriptions of each book and links to pre-order or add to your Goodreads lists. It is so incredibly convenient. So I decided to go through her 2019 releases and make a list of my most anticipated reads by month (as of now, they only really go to August). This is tough because some months there are like 15 that I can’t wait for, but here it goes…

 

January 2019-

The Secret to Dating Your Best Friend’s Sister by Meghan Quinn

We Shouldn’t by Vi Keeland

Catastrophe Queen by Emma Hart

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely

 

February 2019-

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Car Crash (Collision #2) by T. Gephart

The Risk by Elle Kennedy

 

March 2019-

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Call Me Evie by JP Pomare

Boyfriend for Hire by Kendall Ryan

All the Wrong Places by Joy Fielding

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

 

April 2019

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

The Hookup Handbook by Kendall Ryan

Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Under the Northern Lights by SC Stephens

 

May 2019

Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee

Unbroken (A Loveless novella) by Jay Crownover

Dangerous Beauty by J.T. Geissinger

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Unsuitable by Lavinia Kent

 

June 2019

The Two Week Arrangement by Kendall Ryan

Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered #1) by Tessa Bailey

I’ll Never Tell by Abigail Haas

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

 

July 2019

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) by Alisha Rai

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

 

August 2019

The Retreat by Sherri Smith
Ok what books am I missing that I absolutely have to add to this list?? I think I need to increase my yearly goal to get through all of this though…

Lists, Uncategorized

2019 Reading Goals

In 2018, the only goal I set was to read 24 books by the end of the year. I proudly surpassed that goal to reach 39 books in 2018 and I’m so flipping excited about that. So for 2019, I decided to set a numeric goal but also set a few others, so here they are!

 

  • Read 48 books in 2019, averaging 4 books per month
  • Read 1 classic each month, including re reads
    • The classics on my list for 2019 are;
      • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
      • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
      • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
      • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
      • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
      • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
      • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
      • Animal Farm by George Orwell
      • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (reread)
      • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (reread)
      • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (reread)
      • 1984 by George Orwell (reread)
  • Read a nonfiction book each month (I’m allowing myself to do audiobooks for these, they won’t count towards by 48 but I am aiming for this goal to develop myself professionally)
  • Participate in at least 1 reading challenge
  • Do a buddy read
  • Participate in a book club discussion (virtual book clubs count)

 

I’m sure my goals will grow and develop as the year gets going, but this is where I’m starting! I’d love to know everyone else’s goals too, I think it’s inspiring to share and encourage each other.