books

Spring Reading List

Happy Hump Day!

The weather is so perfect today and I feel like Spring has finally arrived in New Jersey.

If I’m being honest, I’ve been slacking when it comes to reading this year; I’ve been so busy with work, house planning, and Matron of Honor Duties, but I need to get back into reading on a regular basis.

To help motivate me, I’m giving myself a Spring reading list.

These are all books that I currently own and have been meaning to read for a while, so now I can push myself to finally get to them!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I actually just started this book and already like it a lot. I’d never heard of it until the Netflix series came out, but it’s well-written and interesting so far. Once I finish it, I’m definitely going to check out the TV adaptation, as well as some of the other books by this author.

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Stephen King is my all-time favorite author, so I try to fit in at least one of his books every year. He wrote this one with his son, which makes me even more excited to read it. There’s also a rumor that this is being developed into a TV series, so I want to read it now and be ready to watch the show once it comes out.

The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

I haven’t looked into what this book is about, but judging by the sinister-looking cover I think I’m going to like it. I read a book called Pretty Girls by this same author a few years ago, and I loved it, so I’m hoping to enjoy this one just as much.

The Enchanted Hour by Megan Cox Gurden

My husband’s aunt was nice enough to get me a signed copy of this book when she went to the author’s reading a few months ago. I’ve never read anything by this author or about this particular topic before, which makes it extra exciting! I’m interested to find out more about the benefits of reading aloud and potential ways to stay focused while reading.

Small great Things by Jodi Picoult

I used to read a LOT of Jodi Picoult around the time that My Sister’s Keeper came out, but then took a break because I felt like a lot of the story lines in her books were the same. Last year, I started reading her again and was reminded of how much I enjoy her writing. I got Small Great Things as a Christmas gift last year, and I can’t wait to dive into the story!

Comment below to let me know what’s on your current list of books to read, or ones that you think I should add to my future lists!

My goal is to get through all of these before the Summer starts, but once I’m finished with this list I’ll surely be making another one.

I’m hoping that having this list will help me keep myself accountable and make sure I’m taking the time to read (when I have the time, that is).

It’s always a challenge to be able to do the things we love, but it’s so rewarding when we’re able to successfully make the time.

That’s my goal with these next few books, and I promise to share some details about them and how they are as I’m reading.

❤ 🙂



books

The Best Feel-Good Literary Quotes

Happy Friday!

I’m back with another bookish post today.

Today’s challenge prompt was my favorite quotes, but it’s so hard to pick just a few quotes to highlight, so I’m going to get a little more specific.

I have a notebook that I’ve used over the years to write down any good quotes I come across while reading, and as I was just flipping through it I noticed that a lot of the excerpts were really positive and inspiring.

Since it’s the start of the weekend and I’m in such a good mood, I want to celebrate by sharing some wonderful feel-good quotes from literature with you all.

  1. “It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four A.M. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went , we saw, we laughed, we felt.” – The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
  2. “The key to happiness is to forget what folks look like. Just find the nice, kind, supportive people and bring them into your circle.” – Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down by Ida Keeling
  3. “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” – Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
  4. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  5. “Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” – Bossypants by Tina Fey
  6. “Leonard asks me if there’s anything I need to know before he dies, I think about it for a minute, turn to him, say what’s the meaning of life, Leonard? He laughs, says that’s an easy one, my son, it’s whatever you want it to be.” – My Friend Leonard by James Frey
  7. “Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”  – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  8. “There’s nothing like deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  9. “To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life…To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to.” – The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  10. “If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.” – Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I hope these quotes put you in a happy place on this Friday night.

A lot of these quotes are from my favorite books, and I’d certainly recommend any of them if you’re looking for something good to read.

Comment below with some of your own favorite feel-good quotes, or a feel-good book! ❤ 🙂

books, tips

How I Read 50+ Books in One Year

Hey everyone,

Today I want to talk about a big goal that I accomplished recently.

Last year i set out to read 50 books in 365 days, and I was able to do it!

I read as often as I have time to, but this was still far more books than I’d previously read in one year.

Now, by some readers’ standards 50 books in one year isn’t a lot, but I was impressed with myself being able to read this many books while training for a marathon, planning a wedding, and working full time.

Here are a few ways I was able to maximize my reading time, and make progress towards my goal even with a hectic schedule.

Bring a book everywhere you go

We’ve all had to endure unexpected delays or wait times for things.

Luckily, with modern technology most of us are able to stay amused or pass the time on the Internet or playing around on our phones, but having a book on you during that time can make a big difference when it comes to reaching your reading goals.

I usually try to keep a book with me when I know I’ll have downtime, like when I’m getting on a plane or going to be waiting at the dentist’s office.

While trying to meet my reading goal last year, I started to become very aware of times that I could’ve been reading, but wasn’t able to because I didn’t have a hard copy book or one loaded onto my phone.

It was at that point that I started to carry a book with me wherever I went, even if I didn’t think I’d have time to pull it out.

I ended up having a lot more additional reading opportunities than I expected, so always having the book there allowed me to capitalize on those moments and, therefore, get further ahead in my goal

Use audiobooks and e-readers

So, I’m very much one of those people who doesn’t like to read books on electronic devices.

However, I decided to make an exception to help me meet my goal last year, and it did prove to be very effective.

For some reason it is actually socially acceptable these days to ignore others to stare at your phone, but if you pull out a book in a public setting you get a lot of weird looks and are deemed antisocial.

I don’t understand this, but there are a lot of other social “norms” that baffle me, so I decided to get a couple of books on my phone and in those very situations I was able to read quietly to myself without “disturbing” others by whipping out a few-hundred-page book and slapping it on top of a table.

I also made good use of my two hour round-trip commute by listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work.

Not only did my drive go by much faster those days, but I was able to get through even more books.

I was worried my attention span or retention level wouldn’t be as great when listening to a book rather than actually seeing the words, but I got really into the stories and, especially when there were talented narrators, the book stuck in my mind just as it would if I had read a hard copy

Set aside time to read each day – and stick to it

Saying you are going to read every day is one thing, but actually following through with that is another.

At the end of my workdays my brain tends to be exhausted, as do my eyes after staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

I often find myself getting lazy when it comes to reading, but because I had a goal to work towards last year I really made myself commit to nightly reading before bed.

Promising myself I was going to do so, and then actually pushing myself to do it, really helped me stick to reading on a regular basis.

Replace screen time (and other activities) with reading

Like I mentioned, I’m very tired when I get home from work.

A lot of times all I want to do, and all that I end up doing, is binging mindless TV series.

It’s much easier to stare at a screen and not have to think much, especially when you’re mentally overexerted, but it’s not nearly as rewarding as sitting down and reading a book after a long day.

In order to make time for reading in my busy schedule, I had to swap out a few other things.

Late night TV watching was one of those things, but I didn’t miss it much once I got into reading at night before bed.

I was actually much more relaxed on nights when I skipped my teen dramas for a novel, and found that my mind was a lot calmer, as well.

Share your goals and progress with others

This is a common method for trying to stick to goals; when you share your aspirations with others, not only are you holding yourself accountable, you have an outside source that’s holding you accountable as well.

By sharing my reading goal with friends and family, I was even more motivated to make it happen.

Whenever I was asked how the reading was going, it was a friendly reminder to me that I had to keep going.

In a way, my telling others that I would read 50 books in one year was me speaking it into reality, and after that it was up to me to keep that statement honest.

The bottom line is that, even though we all have so much going on in our lives, there is always time to do what we love or what we truly want to accomplish.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read so much last year, and I learned a few new ways to make reading more present in my life.

If you really want to make something happen, like reading a certain number of books in a year, all you have to do is take that plunge and fully commit to it.

Make the time to read, and then stick to it. Always have some form of a book with you, and use all of the extra time you have to read that book. And, of course, make sure you are enjoying what you’re reading.

There’s no shame in closing a book that just isn’t doing anything for you after 50-100 pages.

Reading is a way for us to gain knowledge but it’s also a form of escape for a lot of us.

If it starts to feel like a chore or if you find yourself dreading opening up a certain book, it’s time to cut your losses and move on to the next one.

I discovered so many wonderful and touching stories last year, and I can’t wait to discover more this year.

Happy reading, and I hope these tips help you maximize your book-devouring potential

Comment below to let me know some other ways you’re able to meet your reading goals. ❤ 🙂

books, lifestyle, wedding planning

Literary Wedding Ideas for Book Lovers

Hello and happy Monday!

We just got the rest of our wedding pictures this week, so I wanted to write another post about it!

I have loved books for my whole life, so it was important to me that our wedding have some literary elements.

I love the way everything turned out because there were little reminders of books everywhere, but they were subtle enough not to create a theme (which I didn’t want).

Here are some cool ways we incorporated my love of books into our special day!

Picture courtesy of The Palace at Somerset Park

Bookshelves at the venue

My husband and I knew our venue was the one before we even visited it, so when I saw the old-fashioned bookshelves and classics in the cocktail hour room, it reinforced that we’d found the perfect place.

Sitting next to a massive bookcase that held some of my favorites made our tasting an even more special experience.

Taking pictures in the purple lighting of a bar called Gatsby’s connected my best day with one of the best stories of all time.

Including books was not something on my original venue must-haves list, but it was such an amazing bonus to have.

Book flower bouquets

I knew I was going to have book bouquets in my wedding before I was even engaged.

I think it’s such a beautiful way to have your favorite words with you during a special time.

I also made it more personal by surprising each of my bridesmaids with flowers made from pages of their favorite books.

For those who weren’t avid readers I used quotes from their favorite movies, and for my one friend I used the lyrics of her wedding song.

Making the flowers myself was a bit tedious after a while, but it was so worth it! I was proud of how they turned out and we saved a lot of money on flowers!

I found a few different tutorials for making the flowers and kind of created my own method.

I’ll do a post on that soon. 😊

Books as decoration

I picked out a few of my favorite books, plus a few that had sentimental meaning to my husband and I.

We gave them to our maître d’ and asked that he put them out with the rest of our decorations.

He did a beautiful job displaying them among our pictures, candles, and signs.

Literary gifts

Along with their book bouquets, my bridesmaids got a framed, hand-written design of a quote from their favorite book/movie.

My husband and I also wrote love letters for each other to read before the ceremony that day.

Shots of us reading them out loud brought our wedding video to a whole new level.

There are a lot of ways to incorporate your own personal interests in your wedding—I know there are plenty more ways people have added books to their own.

These were little things that added up to make my wedding day really feel like my own.

I’m so glad we were able to make them happen, and that my husband was supportive of me carrying out each one.

Do you like these ideas, or are there some others you’ve used/heard of that are awesome? Share in the comments below. 😊♥️

books, lifestyle

Best Psychological Thriller Novels

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far into my blogging without doing a post about books.

Aside from having a very large collection of clothing items and shoes, I also own 200+ books and most of my free time is spent reading. 

My interests span across many different genres and topics, but my favorite genre is horror/thriller.

I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to this stuff, so I rarely ever get scared, but I love anything that can get my heart beating faster or keep my mind whirling long after I’ve finished the last page.

I also love the grotesque and gory, but we’ll save that for another post. This one is about psychological thrillers.

Coincidentally, all of these stories are told from an unlikely point of view.

It does make sense that a psychological thriller is most effective when it explores the mind of a character who is psychologically disturbed, and I guess that was a common draw for me with all of these books.

It’s also a happy coincidence that all of these books were written by women!

I typically don’t pay much attention to the author when I’m reading a book, until I get to a really good scene or line and then I just have to find out more about the master it was crafted by, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that every book I initially listed out for this post was written by a fellow female. 

SO, here we go. These are my (current) top 5 favorite psychological thrillers, all written by talented, badass women.

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
This was probably the best book I read in 2018.

Without giving too much away, it’s about a teenage girl who grew up with a serial killer as a mom, and is now trying to figure out how to adjust to being a “regular” high school student in a foster home.

This girl is our narrator, and her point of view is so enthralling and different than that of any narrator in books I’ve read before.

As you can tell by the title, she struggles with what she feels, deep down, is morally right versus the example she grew up witnessing.

She fights guilt that her mother is now behind bars, even though she knows that her mother deserves to be locked up.

We get to witness all of the typical high school girl problems through the eyes of someone with a very twisted mind, the whole time wondering which version of her inner self will prevail, the good or the bad.

You by Caroline Kepnes
You’ve probably heard about this book or its Netflix adaptation by now.

At its core, the book is about a guy who gets a little too obsessive about a girl and lets his passion fuel his, sometimes very scary, actions.

For me, what sets this book apart is how interesting each of the characters is, and how different from one another they are.

Rather than just using stereotypical character types, Kepnes creates multi-dimensional people, each with their own likable (and hateable) qualities. 

Since this is told from the perspective of the “stalker,” Joe, we get to see his internal rationalization of his actions as well as the progression of his feelings and mindset throughout the book.

As usual, I would definitely recommend reading this book before you stream the series.

Not only do I prefer some of the original scenes to the changes they made for the show, but you also get a lot more insight into what the characters are thinking, which adds more suspense.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
If you still haven’t read this book, you need to stop what you’re doing and immediately get started on it.

Ok, you can finish this post first, but then you need to go and get this book. It continues to be one of my all-time favorites no matter how many new and exciting books I read.

There is a great twist in this book that hopefully has not been spoiled for you by now, with all the publicity that the movie adaptation got at one point.

When I got to this point in the book my mouth literally dropped open, and then spread into a huge grin.

This book had several “wow, she really did that” moments for me, and when an author has the courage to go there, I have to show my respect and admiration.

Gone Girl may be a bit of an acquired taste—I know a few people who weren’t crazy about it when they read it—but I loved every word of it and would definitely recommend it to others.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
This was my first time reading Sarah Pinborough but it will certainly not be my last.

The braided narrative of this story works really well—revealing bits of the past and present little by little until they ultimately connect.

Huge bonus points for an ending that I didn’t figure out until I was almost finished with the book.

Since I’ve had a lot of exposure to different thriller storylines, I can usually figure out where they’re going early on, but this one took me by surprise and I was happy with the surprise ending that the author came up with.

Room by Emma Donoghue
I read this book years ago but it is still at the top of my list in terms of thrillers.

I have never forgotten how much this book consumed me during and immediately after my time reading it.

It is fairly simple—the majority of the story takes place in a single small room and there are only 3 main characters—but it is an emotional powerhouse and incredibly disturbing from start to finish. 

Our main character, Jack, has only known the inside of this room for his entire life.

He and his mom live there together, with occasional visits from the man who is keeping them there.

The most unsettling part of this book is the simple and innocent way that Jack interprets everything, while we as readers can tell how completely corrupt and disgusting these events truly are. 

There is also a movie version of this book that I haven’t brought myself to watch yet because I just don’t feel emotionally prepared to see it come to life visually.

Yes, the book is that intense and effective. Give it a read and you’ll see what I mean.

Those are my top 5 psychological thrillers (at the moment). My list of favorite books is constantly changing, especially since I’m always trying to find more good reads to add to my list.

If you have any really good thrillers that aren’t on this list, please share them in the comments below!

Or if you have read the ones I did list, I’d love to hear what you have to say about them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and happy reading! 😊♥️