What I Read This Summer

posted on: Saturday, August 30, 2014

This last batch of books were my summertime picks. Ones I thought might be a little easier to get through, a bit of lighter reading compared to the type of books I typically choose. (I love a book that makes me cry!) So, these were some of the maybe "fluffier" books I had loaded onto my Kindle/audible app and I figured this was the perfect season to give them a whirl.

Obviously I started with this baby. I mean, does a title even get any fluffier than that? Nevertheless, this was pretty good one. And even though this book did maintain an overall air of lightheartedness, it wasn't pure fluff. It's actually set in the channel islands post WWII and it follows the lives of the citizens of Guernsey Island immediately following the end of the german occupation when everyone is just pulling themselves out of the post war haze. It's a book that makes you smile, but it also has it's moments of depth and tragedy too. And it was far more emotional than I thought it was going to be, which is always a good thing.  It's worth a read and I'd totally recommend it.

This was such a good one. I know they made it into a movie awhile back but I'd never seen it, so I didn't know much about this book going in. It was really, really well done. It's a novel, not a real memoir, but it seemed SO real. I mean up until the last few chapters (when things took a bit of a fairy tale ending twist) it was such a convincing description of Geisha life you'd have thought it was a true story. Albeit a true story told by someone who remembers an incredible amount of detail over many many years, but still. I was totally sold and totally engrossed in this book. Makes me wanna see the movie now.

Another one that's been made into a movie I've never seen. This one was just sort of eh for me. I KNOW it's about people who run off with the circus and everything but it just seemed way too far-fetched to get behind. The characters and how they immediately seem to fall into love and hate with not a whole lot of explanation as to why - was just not believable. I think if this book was maybe twice as long and and if the author would have fleshed out each character a lot more it would have done more for me, because the story is entertaining for sure. If the relationships in the book would have been given time unfold more naturally and with all the complexities they do in real life, I would have been way more into this whole thing. But as it stands, the book just felt really rushed. Has anyone seen the movie? I'd love to know how it compares.

This one was surprisingly interesting. It's a novel, so it's not a true story but it is about the life of former first lady, Laura Bush. Names have been changed and a lot has been added and imagined to create a cohesive story but it also does follow loosely the actual events of her true life, which I found really fascinating. It's clear that the author has done his homework and I think tried his best to get into her head and really see things from her point of view. To think about growing up in an average, middle class family and somehow ending up thrust into the spotlight as the wife of the president of the united states, it's messy and complicated and hard to imagine. You even start to empathize with her a bit by the end (even if you did vote for the other guy). So props to Sittenfeld for making a Bush seem likable, that's gotta be soooome talent ;)

This one was...not my favorite. It's about an adolescent girl who, after her mother (a bi-polar ex-beauty pageant queen, of course) tragically dies is sent down south to live with her wealthy and kind great aunt whom she hardly knows. It's so far fetched it's kind of ridiculous. This is the kind of story that could only be made up and is therefore completely un-relateable. And what's worse, it reminds me of "The Help" wherein which the characters of color are so blatantly and boringly stereotyped it's annoying. Hoffman literally describes one scene where the house cook (a black woman, obvs) is "cooking collard greens and singing a song about Jesus."  Really. I think I'll leave it at that. 

And at the completely other end of the spectrum, we have "Gulp". This was like reading a documentary! It's all about the fascinating inner workings of the human digestive system. Which might seem weird, but I promise is actually really interesting and totally engrossing. It's a hard one to explain, but the author basically gives you a tour of the entire digestive system from mouth to, well, you know. All the while citing interesting facts and studies and scientific experiments related to each stage of digestion. There are also fun little anecdotes thrown in about history and celebrities. Like, for instance, did you know Elvis did not actually die from a drug overdose but from complications of having a mega-colon? I'm telling you, this book is totally worth a read. You may never think of your the colon the same way after this. 

So what about you guys? Did you have any good summer reads? I'm stock piling titles for maternity leave now, so any recommendations are hugely welcomed (as always)!


A Lego Party!

posted on: Monday, August 25, 2014

This is the last of the birthday posts for August! (Are you as relieved as I am? Because I'm exhausted.) Sunday we had Wes's 6th birthday party and when I asked him what kind of party he wanted this year he said Legos! Which is fitting since he's been kiiiiinda obsessed lately. Legos underfoot everywhere at our house. So I got busy making decorations (with help of course). And a big thank you goes out to my brother Ben for pitching in at the final hour and doing all the climbing around on chairs and taping things in high places to save his pregnant sister from that task. You're the best, bro. Abby did so much for this party too - she made at least half of the food, tons of cupcakes and the salted brown butter Rice Krispie treats which we attempted to cut into Lego form :) I don't know how well we pulled that off but they sure were tasty. Oh, and my mama made her famous chocolate cherry cupcakes as well, because it wouldn't be a party with out them. 

And then there was this cake. Can you even get over this cake, though? I'd heard a friend of Josh's had just launched her own little bake shop so I sent her over a few inspiration photos for Lego cake ideas I'd found online and liked and THIS is what we got back. So incredible, and yummy too! I can't recommend Cheryl enough. If you're in the area and need a cake for an upcoming event give her a shout, you will not be disappointed. Check out her page here! Thank you, Cheryl!!!! 

 Lego cookies NOT made by me (lol...no.) they were purchased on Etsy here.

There was some cake smashing in faces...

and by special request from the birthday boy, an end of the night water balloon fight.

(which was really just an excuse for the adults to go crazy destroying each other.)

there was a bit of a hostage situation...

and things other than balloons were being filled with water and used in self defense. 

Buuuut, even though things may have gotten a little crazy, it was all in good fun. 

And there you have it folks! Another birthday party is in the books! Hard to believe that this time next year I'll have a SEVEN year old and I'll be gearing up for a first birthday party not so long after. EEEEEK!

Some (More) Photos from Yesterday

posted on: Thursday, August 21, 2014

So yeah, I know I'm on overdrive with the Wes posts lately, but this is a big week for him! (and me) Not to mention we still have the official birthday party this weekend, so there's even more coming - brace yourselves ;) But I wanted to record a few moments from yesterday here that I can remember this day by. These photos were taken before school (when we surprised him with a new two wheeler bike in his room when he woke up) and after school when we all went out for dinner at the restaurant of his choice (the one with all games of course). So these photos are in between those inevitable first day of school tears and I can't tell you how happy they make me to look at. We made it through yesterday and we are all still in tact... and someone is even a whole year older now.

Birthday breakfast was pancakes with chocolate chips, sprinkles AND red and blue food coloring swirled in --- by request, of course.

And after he got home from school and we confirmed that we all did, in fact, survive the day, it was nothing but smiles for the rest of the night. Abby brought over his annual birthday personal pie and we snacked on that before heading out to dinner with homemade cupcakes in tow and our pockets heavy with quarters.

More presents (including a new wallet with the cutest personalized id!) and a room full of people who absolutely adore this child.

(you'll be seeing more of this Lego theme after this weekend's party, believe me ;)

We even topped off the night with a pile of backyard sparklers courtesy of Jeff. So, as it turns out, it ended up being a pretty good day after all. And I'm so proud of my Weston for making the best of it. Here's to six my little one, you are so incredibly loved!

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