Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

Long time no see! Things have been crazy, but really who isn’t busy?? I’d love to say I’m climbing back on the blogging train, but I start two summer classes today and life is crazy so all I’m going to say is that I will try my best and posts are planned for the rest of this week!

Since yesterday was Memorial Day in the US it seems fitting that today’s topics is beach reads. I live right by the beach (for another three months or so!) and I love sitting on the beach and reading. It’s a major cure for my beach ADD and it’s just nice to read with the sound of crashing waves. I have some catching up to do on books this summer so my list is a combo of already release and not yet released titles.

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1. Happiness For Beginners by Katherine Center: Estelle keeps talking this one up and I’ve had it on hold at the library for a few weeks now. I can’t wait to give it a read.

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2. Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates: I can blame Estelle for this one, too. She sent me a copy of Part Time Cowboy, the first book in this series, and I loved it. I am so excited to revisit the Oregon coast and the brooding brother in this romance.

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3. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll: I have this to read from NetGalley and I feel like the mystery of it will make it a great book to read while camped out on the beach.

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4. Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford: Another one I have to read from NetGalley so I might even get it it before its August release date. I feel like the beach + the Hamptons  setting will really help me get in the mood for this story.

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5. Bounce by Noelle August: After not loving Boomerang Noelle August redeemed herself (their self?) with Rebound. Now my expectations are high and I’m hoping Bounce satisfies.

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6. Faking Perfect by Rebecca Phillips: This just sounds like a solid young adult contemporary that will be entertaining and also make my think while enjoying the sunshine.

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7. The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig: Historical novels aren’t my first choice of beach reads, but I hope the intrigue in this will keep my turning the pages and not staring at the waves.

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8. All Played Out by Cora Carmack: Another book where I didn’t love the first one in the series, but the second book sold me and I’m looking forward to seeing where on the spectrum the third one falls.

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9. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West: If Kasie West’s contemporaries don’t scream beach reads I don’t know what does! Sadly my library doesn’t have this in print or ebook, but fingers crossed they get their act together before the summer is over.

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10. Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maziel: Another young adult book that doesn’t sound mind-blowing, but does sound like a great, solid summer read.

(Previous Top 10 Tuesday beach-themed posts: 2013 & 2014)

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Book That Stayed With Me
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday Freebie: Worst Covers


Pub Date: Travel/Road Trip

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By far my favorite beer city to travel to is Portland, OR. The Pacific Northwest is amazing overall, but for this hop-lover their beers are meant for me. A few years ago I did a brewery tour of Portland (more on that below) and just fell in love with their beers. When my friends came out to Portland (I have family there so I go there once a year or so) I took them to a bunch of breweries and they loved it, too.

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I’ve always enjoyed Amnesia, I’ve been there twice and it’s kind of the most unassuming for the three breweries I’m mentioning here.

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I’ve also been to Hopworks twice, once to the main brewery and then once to their bike bar. They have the biggest variety of beers on this list and also have lots of food and more generally more like a traditional bar.

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Of all of the three I’m talking about here Hair of the Dog had my favorite beers. I wish I could remember what these ones were, but it was a long time ago and I was very drunk.

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Finally if you find yourself in Portland you MUST go on the Brew Bus tour. My aunt discovered it and went on it with me and it was seriously one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. You literally ride that school bus around to a bunch of breweries while this amazing older stoner gentleman gives you a tour of Portland and teaches you about heer. It was me, my aunt, an older retired woman who enjoyed traveling on her own and a bunch of 20-something guys, mostly from bachelor parties. Needless to say after four (maybe three? no, I think four) brewery stops and lots of samples we were pretty wasted. There was definitely a lot of discussion about a vegan strip club. (It’s Portland.) I tried to take my friends on the same tour when they came out a few summers later but the guy who runs it had a family emergency.

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That’s the tour guide. I’m pretty sure he said he used to be a speech writer for Jimmy Carter.

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Seriously, what other book was I going to pick here?! I was so happy that no one else chose it (perils of going last) because it’s one of my favorites. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is the road trip and travel book for me. I loved the book so much that I did my own version of Amy and Roger’s trip (wish I posted about here and here). It’s a great road trip book and travel book and just book all around in terms of story and characters.

I also tried to think of books that take place in Portland. I came up with A Death-Struck Year, the Burying Water Series, and the Stage Dive series (my reviews of the first three books and the last book).

And other good road trip books: Where Sea Meets Sky, The Other Way Around, and Saving June.

And other good travel books: Wanderlust, When You Were Here, The Geography of You and Me, and Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Make sure you check out my other Pub Dates:
Brittany
Estelle
Andi

One Year Ago: Maggie’s I-Hate-BEA Guide to BEA
Two Years AgoBook Review: Going Vintage


April 2015: In Review

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I was doing so good with posting three times a week and then I fell of the wagon this week. I went to a work conference last Thursday-Sunday and had the stomach flu and jury duty on Monday and life just got away from me, oh well. And my April was no less crazier.

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The first weekend of April was Easter, then the second weekend I took a whirlwind trip to Minnesota to see if I wanted to go to the University of Minnesota for grad school and, good news, I do! So in September I will officially be starting grad school to be a registered dietitian! It’s been a crazy journey, but I am so happy. Now I just need to find a place to live and make some friends. Anyone?

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I literally remember nothing else about the month of April until last weekend when I went to a yoga conference for work. My company had a booth there and I was there to answer questions. I like yoga, but I’m not really into yoga, but the conference was still amazing. I took four yoga classes and just came away feeling relaxed and with renewed perspective. One of the instructors said something like the times you feel stressed are the times you’re living in the past or the future instead of the now and that really resonated with me. Also, during on class Michael Franti stopped by and took a picture with everyone. He looked at me and then walked over and put his arm around me (I’m to his left in the picture). (Also the anal retentive part of me loved that they taped down places to put your yoga mat.)

After four-12-hour days working I came home to a stomach bug and jury duty. The case was actually pretty crazy, it’s against the two nurses and two aides mentioned here and they projected it would go five weeks and I don’t get paid for jury duty so I was excused for financial hardship.

Things From the Internet That Caught My Eye
- Yosemite’s Half Dome on March 19, 2011 through 2015 http://t.co/K6e3zxS712 @KQEDnews @YoseConservancy pic.twitter.com/9F6SpwyVqF

— NPR News (@nprnews) April 28, 2015
Simple Rules for Healthy Eating
– Airplane Seat Swapping Turns Rough-and-Tumble (this sums up my trip to MN)
– How Modern Life Depletes Our Gut Microbes
– They’re Not Afraid to Say It: ‘Fat Yoga’
– How saying sorry is changing my life
Lawn Garden
The Twisted History of Your Favorite Board Game
A Very Naughty Little Girl
– Eating To Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips From The Blue Zones
Hero Price Is Right model begins the revolution by just giving away a car
John Oliver-Edward Snowden Interview

On the Blog:

Reviews:

5 stars:
The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

4 stars:
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
Where Sea Meets Sky by Karina Halle

3 stars:
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

2 stars:
Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren

Top 10 Tuesday posts:
Characters You’d Like to Check in With
Inspiring Quotes from Books
Favorite Authors (of the last 3 years)

Other:
Pub Date: Earth Day/Nature
Maggie’s BEA Part of It BEA 2015 Recs
Romance Wrap-Up

Things to Look Forward to in April:

Life:
– Turning 30 (ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!)
– Warmer weather (hopefully, finally, god willing!)
– Vegetable gardening
– Starting summer classes (ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!)

Books:
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross
The Forget-Me-Not Summer by Leila Howland
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
A Matter of the Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy
Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu
How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz
All Played Out by Cora Carmack
Never, Never Part Two by Colleen Hoover
Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Flirting with Scandal by Chanel Cleeton
A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Previous 2015 Monthly Recaps
- February
- March

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Chapel Wars
Two Years AgoBook Review: The Reece Malcolm List


Book Reviews: Romance Wrap-Up

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In the last few months I’ve read a bunch of new adult and adult romances that I never ended up reviewing. I thought it might be a good idea to do some short reviews for them because some of them I really liked, but sadly I know I’ll never get around to actually writing real reviews for them, I was going to do them all in one post, but after writing these reviews I thought this post was long enough so look for a few more in a week or two.

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Title: Trade Me (Cyclone #1)
Author: Coutney Milan
Release Date: 1/19/15
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed Courtney Milan’s historical romances, even when I haven’t loved the story I’ve thought they were smart and fun, so I figured if any adult romance author could cross over and write a respectable new adult novel she had a really good chance of not disappointing. And she didn’t! Not only was this a fun, smart, realistic new adult novel, it also gets major points for diversity. The main female character is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and the book taught me a ton about Falun Gong, something I had never heard of before, but was completely fascinated by.

The story is about Tina, a very poor, but smart, spunky (I kind of hate that word but it sums her up) college student. Tina has a class with Blake, the son of a Steve Jobs-like guy who, because of his father, has pretty much everything. After Tina uncharacteristically argues with Blake in class Blake is intrigued and, feeling kind of disillusioned with his own life, convinces Tina to switch lives (residences, cars, jobs) with him for a couple of months.

Yes, the premise is kind of wacky, but the story really worked. Tina’s personality made her one of my favorite new adult heroines and Blake, who could have been a whiney rich boy, was a down-to-earth and raw character. Making the sexy billionaire a college student on Tina’s level was a smart and welcome switch from so many other billionaire romances and there was sex in this story, but nothing like erotica. The story did get kind of wacky towards the end, but I would still highly recommend it and I can’t wait for the companion books.

I received an electronic review copy of Trade Me from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

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Title: Becoming Rain (Burying Water #2)
Author: K.A. Tucker
Release Date: 3/3/15
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After being very pleasantly surprised by Burying Water I was both excited and nervous to read Becoming Rain. However, K.A. Tucker came through again and I once again loved her storytelling and characters. Luke was one of the secondary characters in Burying Water and after starting out as kind of a jerk he redeemed himself by the end of the story so I was excited to catch up with him.

The story starts out with Luke slowly being exposed to more and more of his uncle Rust’s car theft ring. Luke is the heir apparent and at first he’s lured in by the money, nice toys, and women, but as the story goes on he starts to wonder if people are actually getting hurt and not just losing their expensive cars. Clara is an FBI agent tasked with taking down Rust’s crime syndicate and to do so she goes undercover as Rain, a sexy socialite who is supposed to cozy up to Luke. At first Clara thinks Luke is a monster like his uncle and wants to take him down, but as the story goes on she sees a different side of him and ends up having real feelings for him.

There was something about Becoming Rain, that, despite being about a serious subject, seemed lighter than Burying Water. Maybe because no one was almost beaten to death and lost their memory? I absolutely loved Luke and Clara and the two of them together. There was some suspending of disbelief to picture an FBI agent seriously falling for a criminal, but Luke’s personality made it much easier to buy. My only criticisms would be that certain parts dragged (like with Rust’s business associates) and that the end was a little too convenient, but really I enjoyed this quite a bit and I would recommend it even if you haven’t read Burying Water.

I received an electronic review copy of Becoming Rain from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

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Title: Better When He’s Bold (Welcome to the Point #2)
Author: Jay Crownover
Release Date: 2/3/15
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I liked Better When He’s Bold better than the first book in this series, Better When He’s Bad, if only because Race, the male lead here, was just more of my type than Bax. Brysen, the female lead, was also an easier character for me to like and relate to than Dovey. Race is the criminal mastermind we met in Better When He’s Bad and now he’s running the Point along with Bax, but Race is the brains of the operation. Brysen is the nice girl from the suburbs who, after her terrible parents go broke, has to work in a diner in the Point (she’s friends with Dovey) and try to keep her younger sister out of trouble.

Race and Brysen have kind of known each other, but after Brysen starts to be threatened by an anonymous attacker Race steps in to protect her and their chemistry leads to more than just friendship. Like Better When He’s Bad this one had a level of drama that was a little much for me, but it was still a good read that I would suggest checking out if it interests you. The worst thing about the story was that it ended with a cliffhanger, something I totally didn’t expect, and I guess everything will work out in the third book in the series, Better When He’s Brave.

One Year Ago: Sarah Dessen and Kristan Higgins: Secretly the Same Person?
Two Years AgoBook Review: Eleanor and Park


Book Review: Beautiful Secret

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Title: Beautiful Secret
Author: Christina Lauren
Release Date: 4/14/15
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Sad news: I didn’t love Beautiful Secret. I have been a big fan of all of Christina Lauren’s previous books and novellas (minus their weird YA book I didn’t finish), but, even though it’s not a bad book, Beautiful Secret just didn’t do it for me.

Going into the story I was really excited. Max and Sara are my favorite couple of the Beautiful series so I was excited to get a look at Max’s bother, Niall. Maybe I wanted Niall to be too much like Max, but there was just never a connection for me with Niall. The thing that really excited me going in though was the whole established career guy and the up-and-coming girl having a relationship and the scandal that was advertised. Maybe it’s cliche of me, but I like that setup as a story (and it worked in Beautiful Bastard), but mostly it just seemed inappropriate and really there was no scandal.

Both of the main characters were extremely awkward and not really in a charming way. Niall is recently divorced and his ex-wife is the only woman he’s really had any experience with and he’s kind of clueless and hopeless with women. That could have been adorable (kind of like The Rosie Project), but combined with Ruby’s backstory and personality it was just weird. Ruby is from California (she’s friends with Lola and the girls from the Wild Seasons series) and she’s a newly-graduated engineer living in London doing an internship at the firm where Niall is an urban planner while she applies to grad school. Ruby has had kind of a schoolgirl crush on Niall for months, but then they end up traveling to NY for business she finally gets to act on it.

Maybe it’s my age or the places I’ve worked, but Niall and Ruby’s relationship was just one big HR red flag that made me so uncomfortable. Their age difference seemed larger than the seven or eight years that it was and in many cases Niall’s descriptions of Ruby made him seem like a leering older man. Ruby also went after Niall very directly, which I wanted to applaud her for, but when I thought of their professional relationship and what it would be like if Ruby was a guy going after a female colleague it just didn’t sit right. So not only were they both kind of really awkward people, there was also this sexual harrassment lawsuit lingering in the background and that just made the chemistry between them, which did exist, kind of weird. This book probably has the least amount of sex of any of Christina Lauren’s books and while I don’t read them for the sex, and sometimes I wish there was less sex in books like this, it wasn’t really a good thing here.

There were also weird things about the timeline. Niall and Ruby were supposed to be in NY for a month or so, but it felt like they were there for three days. There would also be moments where one of them would talk about the time they spent together or how their relationship was going and it would be like the story skipped a week or two into the future, but then it would only be a few days.

PLUS, and this isn’t something I took off points for or anything, but I missed the earlier characters from the series. Bennett, Max, and Will were in the story a few times, but otherwise, no one! There were mentions of some of the ladies (although I don’t think Hanna was mentioned at all) and even some of the characters from the Wild Seasons series, but I would have loved a cameo or two by Chloe or Sara or even a phone call to Lola (there were phone calls to London, whose story will be the fourth book in the Wild Seasons series).

Bottom Line: It pains me to say it, but I just didn’t really care for Beautiful Secret. It’s not a terrible book and maybe if I hadn’t loved Christina Lauren’s other books so much my expectations wouldn’t have been so high and this could have been a three-star read for me, but that wasn’t the case. Niall and Ruby never came together for me as characters or as a couple and most of the time I just found their relationship kind of creepy. Enjoy the other books in this series, but don’t expect much from this one.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Tease
Two Years AgoWaiting on Wednesday: All Our Yesterdays


Top 10 Tuesday: Favrite Authors (of the last 3 years)

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

I hate posts without pictures, but my computer was being a major a-hole yesterday and taking five minutes to type one word so this is what you get. Grr. Rather than trying to do all-time favorite authors I thought I would do my favorite authors of the last 3-or-so years, who, to be honest, probably take up a big section on my all-time favorite list, too. Here they are in no particular order (books listed are the ones I’ve reviewed, in most cases I’ve read more of their books than I’ve reviewed).

1. Gayle Forman: I Was Here // Just One Day // Just One Year // Sisters in Sanity

2. Sara Zarr: How to Save a Life // The Lucy Variations // Roomies

3. Carrie Mesrobian: Perfectly Good White Boy // Sex & Violence

4. Rainbow Rowell: Attachments // Eleanor and Park // Fangirl

5. Allie Larkin: Stay // Why Can’t I Be You

6. Nina LaCour: Everything Leads to You // Hold Still

7. Jandy Nelson: I’ll Give You the Sun

8. Taylor Jenkins Reid: After I Do

9. Melina Marchetta: Looking for Alibrandi // The Piper’s Son // Saving Francesca

10. Jessica Martinez: Kiss Kill Vanish // Virtuosity // The Vow

And some honorable mentions (either they only have one book out or I’ve only read one of their books or I loved one or two of their books and was iffy about a second or third one or something like that):

– Hannah Harrington: Saving June
– Elana K. Arnold: Burning // Infandous // Sacred // Splendor
– Amy Spalding: Ink is Thicker Than Water // Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) // The Reece Malcolm List
– Jamie Kain: The Good Sister
– M. Molly Backes: The Princesses of Iowa
– Katie Cotugno: How to Love

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Characters Who Drove Me Nuts But I Still Loved the Book
Two Years Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Thought I’d Like More/Less Than I Did


Maggie’s BEA Part of It BEA 2015 Recs

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I have a love hate relationship with New York City. I loved it as a child, loved Brooklyn but hated Manhattan when I lived there for six years, and now it’s kind of a nice place for me to go visit. That said, I do love sharing my recommendations with people so I was delighted when Estelle asked me to participate in her BEA Part of It series for BEA! Thanks, Estelle! Sorry I was my normal insane self and couldn’t get the whole author part together. My brain is so filled with biochemistry and moving to Minneapolis I don’t think I could name a NYC author right now :(

If you didn’t read it last year I would recommend checking on my I-Hate-BEA Guide to BEA. There I talk about why I hate BEA (I think everyone who’s worked/works in publishing kind of loathes it) and give some recommendations on actually attending the trade show part of BEA.

What to do in New York City? My recommendations are kind of all over the place, but here are some things I would do during my ideal weekend in New York City…

Food:
– For breakfast I say you have to have a New York City bagel. I would go for Murray’s which has amazing bagels and a special place in my heart since they don’t toast bagels (seriously, when you toast a fresh NYC bagel an angel loses its wings). If you’re looking for something  little fancier try the Clinton Street Baking Company (get there early). Their pancakes are out of this world.

– For lunch I still say there is some good food and deals to be found in the Javits. I know it’s crazy, but the burger place on the south-side of upper-level entrance area (if you’ve been to the Javits this should make sense) is good. Down in the food court I would recommend the Mexican place or the salad place. If you want to venture out of the Javits Center, but not too far I would give Shorty’s (a Philly bar with a good selection of beer) or Barebuger (organic burgers with a big selection of meats, excellent fries, and gluten free/vegan/vegetarian options) a try.

– For dinner you’re getting all suggestions in the East Village/on the Lower East Side because that’s where my favorite restaurants are. Motorino has phenomenal brick oven pizza and I’m always surprisingly blown away by their sides. Caracas has fabulous arepas and also good sides. And Michaledas. Any of the Indian restaurants on E. 6th St. between 1st and 2nd Avenues are good bets. I’m partial to Calcutta, but this New York Times article from 1981 explains how cool the block is. If you feel like going one stop over into Brooklyn I would take the L to Williamsburg to Mug’s Alehouse for a great beer selection and pretty good food. You could also consider Fette Sau for barbeque or DuMont Burger for burgers or mac and cheese.

Bookstores:
– I also recommend of Books of Wonder and powerHouse Arena. I realize powerHouse is one F stop into Brooklyn, but it is a great store and a block from the store you can see gorgeous views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and Manhattan.

Other Things to Do:
– Museums: The MoMA has free Friday nights which is a great deal because it’s a really freaking expensive museum to go to. With the free nights I find the lines always look scary, but move quickly. My favorite museum is the Tenement Museum (best to book a tour in advance). The Museum of the Moving Image is currently having a Mad Men exhibit that I’m dying to go see. Plus if you go there you get to go to Queens!

Governors Island is one of my all-time favorite places anywhere. It’s so unique and beautiful and maybe I appreciate it more because I loved in NYC for so long, but I still think it’s a great place to visit.

– The Union Square Greenmarket is also another unique NYC place. It’s open Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday and it’s amazing to see all of the produce, flowers, etc. brought into NYC from the surrounding area. I’ve purchased way too many feta and herb scones from Bread Alone.

Those are my NYC musts. If anyone else has anything to add/opinions I’d love to hear them!


Pub Date: Earth Day/Nature

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I did it again, I somehow confused the topic for this month’s Pub Date and formulated brilliant ideas in my head around the idea of it being “spring” and “nature” and therefore new beginnings. I wasn’t terribly far off, the theme itself is “Earth Day” and nature, but I’m going to focus on the Earth Day part rather than the new beginnings. BUT my new beginnings idea was to talk about how the beer is a spring beer from the city of Minneapolis where I will be having my own new beginning this fall when, breaking news, I go to the University of Minnesota for grad school! Does anyone reading this live in the Twin Cities? I need friends.

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While I was in Minnesota I had dinner at the Blue Door Pub. (While it was snowing. On April 9th. Let’s not talk about that.) When I got seated at the bar (literally the hostess seats people at the bar) I saw a flyer on the bar for Indeed Brewing Company’s Let It Ride IPA with Eldorado and Lemon Hops and I thought, “I like IPAs.” I’d never heard of Eldorado and Lemon Drop hops, but I love hops so how could I go wrong? And I did not go wrong. This is a special edition (I think just at Blue Door that night) for their IPA (I had the regular Let it Ride IPA, too, which, while good, I wouldn’t go out of my way to have again), but it’s probably up there with my all-time favorite IPAs. The balance of citrus and hops was perfection. It reminded me a lot of some of my favorite beers from Portland, OR.

Other good things about the beer? Since this was a special event that night I got a free pink glass and beer cozy and some guy named Patrick, who works for Indeed, bought it for me. Sadly I didn’t know Patrick got me the beer so I couldn’t thank him, but thank you Patrick and Indeed! (Literally after about two hours of my being there the guy who was sitting next to me, who I had been chatting with all night, mentioned to the bartender that I was visiting from out of town and so the bartender asked how I knew Patrick and I said I had no idea how I know Patrick because I don’t know who he is. Then he said Patrick is the guy who bought me the drink and I said, nope doesn’t ring a bell.)

And I still haven’t written about why I picked this beer. First, it’s a local (not to me now, but will be for me in a few months) brewery and local businesses, in general, in my opinion, tend to be better for the environment and the community. Second, they package their beer in cans because cans are more environmentally friendly. Third, they have a program to give back to the community and while that isn’t directly related to the environment, I bet they’ve done some earth-friendly charity things.

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Now the depressing part of this post. When I think of Earth Day and nature I think of how terribly we’re screwing over the planet and how there is going to be nothing left of the planet soon and we’re all fucked (excuse my language). So what better book to pick than Mindy McGinnis’s Not a Drop to Drink which is about modern day California a post-apocalyptic world where water is incredibly scarce and people kill over protecting a small pond and die of dehydration and/or hunger (no water=no food). Not only is this a fascinating, terrifying story about a future that could very well be our own, it’s also a wonderful character study of Lynn, a young girl trying to make her way in this screwed up world.

And, PS, I think most people who have read my blog know I have a little NPR obsession and yesterday morning there were two fascinating stories on Morning Edition about the water situation in California: one on desalination and one on water usage at golf courses.

And that’s my weird Pub Date post for this month! Make sure you check out my other Pub Dates:
Brittany
Estelle
Andi

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Break-Up Artist
Two Years Ago: Book Review: Going Too Far


Book Review: The Royal We

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Title: The Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Release Date: 4/7/15
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I really wish it was five months from now and my stuff wasn’t all in storage in my parents’ garage because I would show you my Will and Kate flag, Will and Kate magnet, and Will and Kate teabags (yes, teabags). You see, four so years ago I was maybe a little obsessed with a certain royal wedding. I also may or may not have hosted five co-workers (three whom slept over) for a 4am royal wedding breakfast before work. I also may or may not have made cupcakes for an office bake off based on a certain future duchess’s engagement ring.

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Oops, guess it turns out I actually did all of those things (and I found a picture of the teabags). Didn’t know I was so crazy, did you?

Anyway, I was so excited when I heard that the Fug Girls had turned Will and Kate’s story into a novel because if there’s one thing that’s better than real life, it’s fiction. Yes, details have been changed, Kate’s name is now Bex and she’s an American and Will’s name is Nick and his mom isn’t dead, but essentially we all know this story. After meeting in college, Bex and Nick first hit it off as friends living in the same dorm, but their friendship grows into something more, something that eventually turns into a very long courtship while Nick gets his act together and Bex decides if she’s really built for the royal life.

I realize this is not a true-to-life story and that none of us know what Will and Kate’s relationships was/is like, but this was still such a fun read. Like The Wrong Side of Right, which I reviewed yesterday, it’s always fun to have a look behind-the-scenes of a public person’s life. In this case the fact that Bex was an American made it easy for me to put myself in her shoes (I’ll take Harry over William though, thank you very much). Bex grew up in a relatively normal family, like Kate’s family her father started his own business and made a considerable amount of money, but she’s still a pretty normal girl. When she decides to spend a year in England it’s something pretty out of character for her. Bex and her twin sister Lacey have been attached at the hip their entire lives, even though Lacey is way more of a party girl. At first the separation isn’t easy on Bex, but she adjusts and quickly integrates herself into Nick’s circle of friends.

Rather than being a love story or romance The Royal We was much more of a character-driven novel about Bex. There are actually very few scenes with Bex and Nick together and, if anything, Nick was kind of annoying. Yes, he has a lot of responsibility and some growing up to do, but he did neglect Bex and there were times when I wanted to hit her over the head and get her to leave him. Yes, I wanted Nick and Bex to end up together, but I wanted Nick to be a different person (more like William (haha)) and really be there for Bex.

Luckily, even though the story definitely lost points for the romance Bex was a great character. All she did was fall in love, and their love story was really sweet, but by falling in love and being with the man she loves she’s pretty much the most famous woman in the world. To go from the normal girl to this superstar, where everything she says and does picked apart ad nauseam is unbelievable. Her journey to coming to terms was it was rocky at times, maybe at most times, but the path seemed so genuine.

The secondary characters, on the other hand, could grate. At the beginning there’s a large group of friends around Nick and it was often difficult to keep them straight. Nick’s brother, Freddy, was pretty outrageous and in your face and could be annoying. As was Bex’s sister Lacey, who literally made everything about her. When you think of it in the big picture, that Bex and Lacey have been best friends since they were born, it’s easy to see why Bex stood by her, but Lacey’s personality in this book was awful and that made some of her scenes pretty unbearable. There was also some zaniness, mostly thanks to Freddy and Lacey, towards the end of the story that was kind of over the top.

If anything many of the problems in the book came because it was just too long. The total self-indulgent side of me loved it, but overall a shorter book would have made a higher percentage of the story about the romance and allowed for less of a focus on the crazier parts of the book. My excitement when I first picked up the book waned over the course of the story and ultimately it ended up feeling like an 800 page book rather than a 464 page book (still pretty long).

(Also, I hated the equivalent of Queen Elizabeth. I LOVE Queen Elizabeth and really admire her and think she’s very misunderstood. If you have any interest in her I would highly recommend reading Elizabeth the Queen.)

Bottom Line: If you love Will and Kate as much as I do (I call girl for baby #2) than you must read this fictional take on their romance. It’s certainly not without its issues, Nick is no Will and there were times (ok, half the story) that it dragged, but Bex is a stand-out character and overall the behind-the-scenes look at royal life is so fun.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Don’t Call Me Baby
Two Years Ago: Book Review: Unremembered


Book Review: The Wrong Side of Right

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Title: The Wrong Side of Right
Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Release Date: 3/17/15
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I used to love politics. The intrigue, the scheming, the personalities. But as I get older I just can’t stand it. The intrigue, the scheming, the personalities. However, one of the things that still interests me, about politics and people in the public eye for whatever reason, is what it’s like for the bystanders. The politician or celebrity makes the choice to put themselves out there, but the spouse/kids/friends are sometimes thrust into the spotlight, for good or bad, through no choice of their own.

Kate is the ultimate bystander. Until a year ago she was just a normal girl, daughter of a middle-class single mom living in southern California. Then her mom passes away suddenly and Kate is forced to move to South Carolina to live with her mom’s brother and his wife. Then, at the end of junior year, just as Kate is kind of sort of starting to settle into her new school, news breaks that she’s the daughter of the most-likely Republican nominee for president and all hell breaks loose. Literally before that point she had no idea who her father was and her father had no idea about her.

Rather than spending a quiet summer in South Carolina Kate is swept up by her father’s campaign and trotted out into the limelight. Not only is she dealing with a new father and new found fame (with lots of rules, opinions, and a makeover along with it), she also has a step-mom (who is the victim of her mother and father’s affair) and twin eight-year-old siblings. The great thing about Kate is that while she’s certainly concerned with how she appears to the entire country (she obsesses about the initial picture of her the press has and about the article that broke her true identity), she’s also really concerned about what her new family thinks of her. She’s incredibly nervous to meet her step-mom, but Meg ends up being great and Kate trusts her more than she trusts her father. Her half-siblings are both incredibly different, Gracie is very percousious and loves the spotlight while Gabe is shy and hates all the attention that comes with their father’s position.

One of the amazing parts about this book (and there are lots of amazing parts) is how normal Kate is and how normal her reactions are. At first there’s disbelief, confusion, and even some anger at her mother for never telling her the truth and for being the type of woman to sleep with a married man. Then there’s the wanting to know her father (even though he sometimes seems like kind of an idiot) so she goes along with things that really aren’t her (but also stands up for herself when she really feels strongly about something). At the NYCTAF back in March there was a discussion about strong characters and whether a strong character is someone who makes things happen and a weak character is someone who things happen to. For much of The Wrong Side of Right Kate is a character that things happen to, but her reactions, even when I just wanted her to stand up for herself, were never weak. Maybe they weren’t strong in the traditional sense, but she certainly had a sense of self that helped carry her through a lot of crazy things happening to her.

Since this is a book about a presidential campaign it also touches on politics. Kate was raised in a liberal household and she’s firmly pro-choice and in favor of things like immigration reform (something that is particularly near and dear to her). Her republican father, on the other hand, takes a hardline about things like immigration and Kate has to reconcile who her father is as a person with his political beliefs. Even though Kate is more liberal there was never a demonizing of conservatives and, if anything, Wright did a great job of showing both sides of issues and that there is no right or wrong in many cases.

There’s also a romance in the book, with the son of the current president, aka Kate’s dad’s opponent. If the story had a weak point it would probably be the romance. Kate and Andy cross paths fairly often, but their romance is still very much on the back burner. They text each other, but Kate is never quite sure she can trust him and obviously they both have a lot going on. The fact that the romance got pushed to the back of the story ended up being great because it let Kate really shine on her own. Yet there were times I either wanted more romance or no romance rather than kind of a half romance. However, for a half romance it was still pretty good.

Bottom Line The Wrong Side of Right was on my list of most anticipated books of 2015 and I am so pleased to say it completely lived up to my expectations. The character of Kate is a dynamic, interesting, flawed protagonist who I couldn’t help by stand behind. Throne’s take on politics and what it’s like to be behind the scenes of a campaign were realistic and fascinating. A must-read book of 2015.

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Two Years Ago: Waiting on Wednesday: Leap of Faith