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    Life Lately, Recent Reads

    What I Read: April

    April was not so much the month of reading. We spent many a weekends hanging out with friends, having people over, family in town, and reading just didn’t take the front seat this past month like it normally does. Nevertheless, I still got to read a solid set of great books that I’m excited to share with you guys today!

    The Mother’s Promise

    5 out of 5

    I love love love Sally Hepworth. She is one of my favorite author’s and each of her books has left me with tears in my eyes and I typically read her books in no time. This book is about a mother and daughter who’s bond is very strong. The mother is diagnosed with stage IV cancer and her daughter who struggles with social anxiety disorder must cope with her mom’s illness while they both learn to live in the world without each other. It’s heartbreaking but oh so good.

    The Perfect Girl

    5 out of 5

    This book was woah. Very good- so good that I’m going to use part of the back of the cover to show what this book was about: Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding that Zoe do the same. Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of Zoe’s life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead. How did she die? What happened? Read it to find out!

    I Let You Go

    4 out of 5

    This book just made me a little annoyed but it was still really good. It’s got a slow start after the intro where a little boy runs out in front of a car on a rainy day and is hit and killed while the driver of the vehicle drives away. Without giving anything away, I was fairly certain I knew what was happening until a LARGE twist came into the book that totally changed the perspective of what was going on.

    Along the Infinite Sea

    5 out of 5

    Beatriz Williams is one of my favorite authors. Although this book wasn’t as good as her A Hundred Summers book (literally one of my top 5 favorite books in 2016) it was still super good. This book jumps back and forth between two women and their present and past. To help you understand just how good this book is- here’s the Amazon synopsis: In the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler’s problems are in a class of their own. To find a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries—the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician—she fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction.  But the car’s new owner, the glamorous Annabelle Dommerich, has her own secrets: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle’s life before the Second World War stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.

    What are you reading lately?

    Life Lately

    Podcasts to Listen to

    Recently, I’ve been back on the podcast train. I finished a few over the last few days and have a few ready in the docket I’m about to start listening to as well. I’ve been on a kick lately on listening while I cook dinner after work, while I do laundry, etc. It helps pass the time and also keeps me entertained. I’m basically at the point where I’m like “Matt, let’s talk at lunch about all the things so that in the car we can listen to this podcast I’m listening to you’ll love it.” He always indulges me.

     

    Up and Vanished: I started this podcast about a month or so ago and got hooked on it pretty quickly. I actually haven’t finished this podcast and stopped listening to it for awhile but have picked it back up. The story is about a young beauty queen teacher who suddenly goes missing out of the blue. The story follows her and what was going on right up until she disappeared and the theories that go into her disappearance.

    Criminal: This podcast is one of my favorites. It’s essentially a series of short podcasts with different criminal stories for each podcast. The episodes are generally 30 minutes or so and each episode focuses on something in the past that happened and the story behind the crime. This podcast also has many stories taking place in the rural areas of North Carolina (which like woah that’s close to home) but I’ve only had one or two episodes that I thought were boring, everything else was super interesting!

    Serial: At this time if you’ve ever even heard of podcasts you probably know about Serial. I listened to Serial each week that the episodes would publish and could not get enough. This is all about the death of a young teenage girl and an accused ex boyfriend who has been in jail since the murder back in the 90s. This is a wonderful podcast that literally had me on the edge of my seat always wanting more episodes to listen to the entire time. I changed my mind on who did it 100x and still don’t know if I have a solid opinion to this day.

    S-Town: I just finished this podcast yesterday. It was so so good but let me just say that I was sorely disappointed in the ending. Just saying. S-Town is not a true crime podcast like Serial was but it was made by the same producers of Serial. This podcast is all about a man named John B. McLemore who reaches out to Brian about what he thinks is a covered up murder in his town (which he calls Shit town, hence the name). We find out about this “murder” but also the story takes a turn and focuses solely on John and his life after something unexpected happens.

    Getting ready to listen to:

    Missing Richard Simmons: Descriptions: On February 15th, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him- and no one knows why he left. 

    True Crime Garage: Description: Each week Nic and the Captain fire up the true crime garage flying ship fueled with beer, great discussion, and listening participation. The garage covers a new case each week from headline news to local real life horror stories. Discussions about Serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Deahmer and BTX, cold cases like Jonbenet Ramsy, OJ Simpson and the Zodiac, disappearances, missing persons and unsolved mysteries are all on the tap along with craft beers from all over the world. If you like to kick back and have a little fun with your true crime than this show is for you and your friends. 

    Undisclosed: Description: This podcast investigates wrongful convictions and the U.S. Criminal Justice system, by taking a closer look at the perpetration of a crime, its investigation, the trail, and ultimate verdict… and finding new evidence that never made it to court Side note: I actually listened to this first season of this podcast when they were focusing on the follow up of Serial- they had episodes on the follow up and what is going on with the case now and it was so good. I’ll probably pick up the next season shortly.

    I Do Declare!: Description: Two sisters catch up on current events, what they’re watching, and whatever else is on their mind. 

    Notice a trend here? I’m really intrigued by the interesting story lines and the keep you on your toes never know what’s going to happen kinda creeps you out a bit sort of podcasts. Weird? Probably. But oh well.

    What are some of your favorite podcasts?

    Life Lately

    24th birthday wish list

    If you know me, you know I love me some birthdays. And by “some birthdays” I mean my birthday. I love my birthday. Selfish? Yes.

    When I lived at home with my family once March 29th hit I would continuously go around saying things like “DAD ONE MONTH FROM TODAY DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING?!” And then once April hit it would be “X AMOUNT OF DAYS UNTIL MY BIRTHDAY!”

    It’s a miracle I had/have friends.

    This year I’m keeping it fairly simple. Some new clothes and a few random things here and there and really any of the below things.

    Apple Watch: I don’t actually think I’ll actually get one of these (because even now I think I really want one but the thought of accidentally banging it on the wall because I’m super clumsy makes me wonder if I should really get one) until after my birthday but it’s still on my wish list because that rose gold is the best eva.

    Barnes and Noble gift card: Just give me all the books. I haven’t bought a new book in 2017 and have only been using the library (go me) but ya girl is ready to keep filling her bookshelves with some good books.

    Kendra Scott necklace: I’ve been wanting one of these for awhile and haven’t pulled the trigger (their a little pricey am I right?).

    Black pumps: These are specifically from target and they are SO cute. I actually don’t have any good black shoes because I’m more inclined to brown or nude shoes but these black shoes are so so cute and SO reasonably priced.

    New headphones: After Matt and I got our new phone plan with AT&T I upgraded to the iphone 7. As you probably know, they don’t have a headphone jack. They do give you headphones in the package with the new phone but they only give you one pair (rude). I just want another pair so I can keep one pair at home and one pair in my purse or at the office as well.

    So there you have it. If you’re looking at what to get me for my birthday there’s a vast array of different items above.

    T-minues 12 days until my birrrffddaayyyyyyy! 

    Life Lately, Recent Reads

    What I read: March

    My favorite (and one of the few loyal posts I still write) post of the month is up!! If you love to read and you are looking for a new book definitely check out what I read below. If you’re just looking for the newest house project that I’m working on or waiting to see more pictures of Tank you’ll have to come back another day.

    First to die

    4 out of 5

    This was my first (and probably my last) James Patterson novel. Listen, this was an incredibly good book and James Patterson is a fantastic writer but this book just scared the bajeesies out of me. I know I live with my super strong, 6 foot, 200lb husband who would protect the heck out of me but this book made me not be able to fall asleep some nights while reading it (and hello, that big man sleeps right next to me!) Anyways, this book is the first (of 9 whhhhat) in the women’s murder club series. This book centers on the main character, Lindsay who has just gotten word of a newlywed couple who’s murdered on their wedding night. This murder though is the first of many newleywed’s getting killed on their wedding night. We bounce back and forth between the killer’s perspective and the inspector’s perspective over the entire book. And the end was SHOCKING. Literally my mouth was open like WHAT THE ?!@?!@$ This book was very very good but just way too much for me.

    It ends with us

    5 out of 5

    This is the second Colleen Hoover book I read and it did not disappoint. The book focuses on a young girl, 23, named Lily. The book starts off shortly after the death of her abusive father. We learn about Lily’s past and about a young homeless boy she falls in love with when she’s 16. Fast forward to today, she’s living in a new city, embarking on a new life and she meets Ryle. Ryle seems perfect until one night when everything seems to go terribly wrong. This book will break your heart and make you want to scream at Lily in the face 100 different ways. To be honest, I liked November 9 much better than this book- also by Colleen Hoover. Just saying.

    The Sun is also a Star

    3.5 out of 5

    This is a YA book centered on two high school seniors Natasha and Daniel. Natasha is a senior in high school being deported back to Jamaica at 10:00PM that night when her and Daniel meet in the middle of New York City. Daniel is a senior in high school headed to an important interview for his hopeful acceptance to Yale. The two find each other in New York City and fall in love under their circumstances. I probably wouldn’t read this one again but it wasn’t horrible. The point of view is mainly in Daniel and Natasha’s perspective and what they are feeling toward their life circumstances and each other.

    Daddy’s gone a hunting

    4 out of 5

    This was my first Mary Higgins Clark book. This book was not what I was expecting. This book focused on many different people but mainly two sisters whose father owns an antique museum and furniture store inherited from his father; a young lawyer who’s sister went missing and has never been found for over 30 years; a war veteran experiencing extreme PTSD; and one explosion that brings all of their pasts together. I never saw this one coming at the very end the story is revealed. Who set fire to the museum? Read it to find out!!

    The Secret Place

    5 out of 5

    This book is pretty long (almost 450 pages) but it was so good. The book focuses on a year old murder investigation that has gone cold. A high school boy is found murdered one morning on the campus of an all girl boarding school. The perspective is from one of the lead detectives and the girls being questioned. I never saw this ending coming and it was truly a page turner that grabbed me right at the beginning. Definitely pick this book up if you have a long, rainy weekend coming up with no plans of leaving your house.

    Small Great Things

    5 out of 5

    Impeccable. Jodi Picoult is one of my absolute favorite authors ever and this book did not disappoint at all. This book centers on an African American nurse accused of murdering a baby of a white supremacist family. The nurse, Ruth, faces her life being turned upside down as she faces jail, trial, and the inevitable outcome of her future. This book was so so good. So heart wrenching, so eye opening, and truly one of the best books I’ve read to date.

    The Life We Bury

    5 out of 5

    I ended the month off with another good one. This book is about a young college student coming from a broken home embarking on a new beginning at college. He enrolls in an english class that required a project on interviewing someone and writing about their life. He decides to head to a nearby nursing home to see if he can catch anyone willing to chat about their life to him. He then meets Carl a war veteran recently released from cancer due to a serious illness. Carl was in jail for being accused and tried for raping and killing a young girl. This story was crazy, incredible, and definitely something I did not see coming. Joe faces trying to determine in his mind if Carl is guilty or not.

    Now please go pick up one of these books (or don’t it’s cool either way) and tell me what you think about them because I’d love to know. Also, while you’re at it, just go ahead and drop a few book suggestions my way- happy reading!

    Life Lately

    Meal Planning Monday

    There was a span of a few weeks where I wasn’t doing any sort of meal planning. I was going to the store and buying some chicken, some ground beef, and just kinda winging it. I ended up shooting myself in the foot big time as we’d get home from work and I “wouldn’t feel like cooking” because I didn’t really have a plan.

    I started taking all of 10 minutes before going to the grocery and planning out the next week of dinner’s just to be prepared. Now I’m not saying that these meals are going to be anything gourmet or crazy but at least it will help me in planning out our meals.

    In our house I have to cook quite a bit of food. Matt’s a big guy and he also loves leftovers so I try to have leftovers for lunches whenever I can.

    Here’s our weekly meal plan from Sunday-Thursday because Friday is date night and Saturdays are always up in the air if we are hanging out with friends or just playing it by ear.

    Sunday: Steak and Baked Potato’s

    Matt makes dinner on Sunday nights and we typically always grill steak’s. Recently I’ve been making loaded baked potato’s with them and it is so so good. We’ve also had salad’s with steak

    Monday: Chicken Burrito Bowls

    via

    I found this recipe this weekend and holy moly it’s going down at our house Monday night with  this deliciousness. This is the best kind of leftover meal and much better than my fav (chipotle) but also something that isn’t going to take me 25 hours to make.

    Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken Wraps

    I make my buffalo chicken in the crockpot because it’s so easy and then I don’t even have to worry about it. Throw 3 chicken breasts in the crockpot with Red’s Hot sauce, a little bit of garlic and boom. Deliciousness. I typically make mine of low for 6-8 hours (while I’m at work) and then come home, shred it and put it in either lettuce wraps or an actual wrap. Delicious- seriously, so good.

    Wednesday: Burgers

    We typically just get ground turkey and grill them on the grill. I always like to have sweet potato fries or my favorite rosemary fries on the side. We are fans of bunless burgers so we typically just have the burger and the side but don’t have buns with ours (#lowcarblife #jk #ijustalwaysforgettobuybuns).

    Thursday: Frozen Pizza

    I mean we can’t all be perfect. Thursday nights are typically about when I just get tired of cooking so we typically will have a frozen pizza because we know the next day is Friday and frozen pizza is life.

    Friday: Date night!

    Thats the plan for this week. Of course there is the off chance we’ll get home from work a tad late and will end up having breakfast for dinner or will pick something up on the way home but for now, that’s the game plan!

    Happy Monday, friends!