Cheers to the Weekend 6.15.18
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Another week flew by somehow and TGIF! My husband was on a business trip this week and finally gets home tonight. Despite that, we had a great week, the highlight of which was a literary dinner party for This One Summer. Cut greenery in simple jars, lots of candlelight on a picnic table, the perfect warm summer evening, and roasting s'mores around a fire...it was a good one, friends. We can't wait for more summer dinner parties and are already making plans for the next two! We're also headed into the last week of school for some of our older kiddos and summer is really getting going here; we're in for a beautiful weekend. What are you guys up to?

 

Around the Web

Books to read when you're missing live theater! I need these in my life. 

When writing a stunt memoir shakes up author's lives for real. One of my favorites is on this list!

For when you just need to giggle at Harry Potter tweets!

Behind the scenes at real literary parties.

 

Instagram

Grace has a lovely cohesive feed with subtle tones and great books that draw you right in

I'm a sucker for artsy photos of cityscapes. Paired with the classics and a cup of tea, what more do you need?!

Apparently I'm on a roll with NYC, I love Ani's captions and old world feel of her photos

 

What We're Reading

Michaela - I sat down and read 3 books last night after mostly ignoring reading all week. Amulet was a little too straightforward for me while Lumberjanes basically read like an episode of Adventure Time, but with badass lady friends and had me laughing out loud. I also read Eeeee Eee Eeee at my brother's request and while I understood what it was doing, and it did it well, it was just not for me. I fully appreciate why my brother specifically loves it so much though, so it was worthwhile in that sense. 

Rikki - I finished Beartown again, having only skimmed through it before, because library due dates are unforgiving. It put me right into a book hangover I'm still attempting to crawl out of. I've been savoring reading Us Against You, you can see my self-proclamation of love for Backman's work right here. And you should, it's great! I also just finished The Wonder, which was a testament of my patience to get to the climax of the story (spoiler: it's at the verrrrry end), but it was good nonetheless. Lastly, I started Leigh Kramer's, A Storied Life, which has been a warm novel to sit with at the end of each day.

 

Literary Dinner | Platters & Boards
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*this book was gifted to us by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but we loved it so much we decided to dinner party it! Also, some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support.

We love our elaborate literary dinner parties, but sometimes the best evenings are spent with something we put together on a whim. We often decide to have dinner together on a weeknight where we throw together a casual meal and let the kids play while we watch TV, chat, and relax with a drink. Simple, effective, and fun for everyone. 

Recently, we were gifted a review copy of Platters and Boards by the publisher, and as I sifted through it at my kitchen table one afternoon, I was completely inspired by how effortlessly we could pull together a weeknight meal from it. We had already agreed to meet for dinner the next night, so we decided to give it a shot.

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Luckily, it ended up being a gorgeous evening, so we decided to soak up the nice weather and set up outside. My trusty white tablecloth was draped over my patio table, a summery table runner brought in some texture, and flowering succulents placed in colorful vases added interest. Some scattered candles, plants, and pretty objects pulled from various corners of my house, plus my favorite drink tray helped fill in our casual decor with minimal effort.

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Drinks are always on the menu for our weeknight dinners together, and a warm evening called for my all time favorite summer cocktail: Moscow Mules. Three ingredients mixed in pretty copper mugs yields the most simple and refreshing concoction. The trick is plenty of lime and a spicy brand of ginger beer, especially if you're going to mix it on the stiff side. Trust me, when it comes to this cocktail, there's nothing worse than a watery one.

 

Michaela's Moscow Mules

  • 2 oz vodka
  • half a lime
  • ginger beer 
  • ice

Fill copper mugs with ice. Add vodka, squeeze in lime, and top with ginger beer to taste. Give it a stir, and cheers!

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For dinner, we pulled together a few platters and boards (hah, get it!) to cover the major food groups and keep it interesting. We made the white bean hummus dip from the cookbook and paired it with tons of our favorite fresh veggies, topped the book's recipe for crostini with our beloved Trader Joe's bruschetta (find it in the fresh section!), and loaded a big cutting board with plenty of meats, cheeses, olives, fruits, caprese skewers, truffled potato chips, marinated artichoke hearts, and spicy pickled vegetables. Pretty much the tastiest motley of all our favorite things. 

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Table laden and fresh drinks in hand, we sat down to just relax, snack, and talk. We set the kids up on a picnic blanket on the deck and let them load up plates with whatever caught their eye. We could hear them giggling and playing games amongst themselves while we took turns entertaining the baby and flipping through the cookbook, earmarking recipes we'd like to try for future dinners this summer.

We've been friends for 7 years now, and our conversations winds and flows from what we've been reading, to that adorable thing our kids said the other day, to general life stuff. One of the best things about dinner parties remains that they bring us together in a real way. A pretty setting and good food to enjoy with your best friend and suddenly you forget your phone and your hard day, and just relax into the moment. There's just a particular brand of magic that comes with these literary dinners, whether they're on the simpler side or more elaborate, and that's why we love to do them. 

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Really though, this style of eating completely suits warmer weather when the idea of turning on the oven sounds like torture. It lets you pull whatever you have in your fridge and build a meal with minimal prep or effort, and the results are frankly just straight up fun to eat.

The book encourages riffing on their ideas with your own tastes and gives practical tips for how to build an attractive, balanced board, which was honestly the most useful section for me. It also does a wonderful job showcasing how easily boards can be adapted to any kind of meal, which I hadn't really considered before. Like a brunch board? Um, yes please. 

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As usual, we completely lost track of time, and before we knew it my strings of solar lights winked on, and the evening was growing darker. Our kids ran and chased in the gathering dusk, and our candles burned lower as we reluctantly cleared up and headed back inside to say our goodbyes. Dinners like this will probably become a staple around here; it was honestly just too easy and enjoyable to not repeat!

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Have you ever considered doing a dinner party in this style? Would you? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Deep Readers Club | May Unboxing
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*We were sent this box in exchange for an honest review, and of course, all opinions are wholly our own. You can see our policy right here
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There really isn't anything not to love about getting packages in the mail. In today's lightning-quick age of technology, snail mail has not lost its appeal; in fact, just the opposite. Wanna be pen pals? Hit me up! 

We were fortunate enough to try a complimentary 3-month subscription to the Deep Reader's Club this spring/summer. The unique concept for their bookish subscription box is that it's based on a different emotion each month. Fun right? My favorite part is getting to see how they played on the emotion with the items they choose. The book matches the theme too, of course, and is carefully chosen and with an emphasis on literary fiction (our favorite!).

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Unboxing is a ritual we both enjoy, as we unwrap all the fun surprises together and put them to good use. May's theme was contentment, and bookish paper goods, good tea, cute socks, and a pretty candle definitely work together to support that warm fuzzy feeling. Honestly, any excuse to sit down, sip tea, and talk to my best friend for a few minutes is a perfect afternoon in my book.

We really enjoy getting to explore new bookish things and making new friends, especially those who are following their dreams in the way of bookish goods. The world can never have too many! 

You can see our April box right here (that one was especially wonderful), and June's theme will be grief.

Thank you so much, Deep Readers Club for this fantastic gift! We were absolutely thrilled to explore the contents and see, first hand, the thoughtfulness and care put into it. 

If this looks like something you'd be interested in receiving for yourself, or maybe even gifting to a book loving mom (Father's Day is just around the corner!), Deep Readers Club is offering our readers 15% off any order with the code ARDENTBIBLIO15

What things bring you contentment?

Our Favorite Tote Bags to Carry Our Library Hauls
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We have four kids between us now, three of them are avid readers (and the littlest one will be in a couple years!) plus ourselves, so taking tote bags on library trips has become a necessity. We can easily fill a bag or two with everyone's picks each time we pop in to our local branch. Of course, if we're taking tote bags, we might as well choose cute ones, right? Check out some of our tried and true favorites as well as some pretty ones we have our eye on. 

 

Can't go wrong with a library card tote bag! On point, simple, and cute.

Representing our favorite local bookstore with this tote; go check out your local indies! 

My trusty favorite; I take this one on pretty much every library trip and it's held up magnificently.

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If you want something sleeker and more polished, try this one. That blush color is stunning.

Or go a little trendier with a modern straw tote or this beachy number.

From classics to recent bestsellers, these totes are gorgeous.

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Abstract and fun, we love this one! That accidentally rhymed, hah!

Are we obsessed with this tote after all this time? Always

Seriously in love the unique paneling on this tote.

Prefer to have a zipper? This one is my absolute favorite. Madewell can do no wrong. 

 

See anything you love? I think I'll be picking up this one for the summer to carry my library holds, take to the beach, and tote around my farmer's market finds. I kind of can't get enough totes lately, it's a problem!

Do you have a dedicated library tote? Where did you find yours??

 

 

 

How To Design A Summer Reading Program For Your Kids (Or Yourself) + Printables!

While we are huge fans of our library's summer reading program, and participate every year, designing your own summer reading program for your household gives you the flexibility to focus on your own reading priorities and to offer a truly motivating rewards system in order to meet goals. If it sounds daunting, keep in mind that there are really only two things you need to decide on in order to get going; a tracking system and a rewards system, which you can make as simple or as complex as you like.

Our goal was to design something easy to run that had a big enough payoff to keep our kids really engaged. Trust me, I am the least organized human being on the planet, if I can do this, I promise you can too.

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Set Priorities + A Time Frame

Are you aiming to get your kid to spend more time in the pages of a book? Or maybe you'd like them to branch out and explore different genres or you'd like them to interact more with the literary community around you. Whatever it is, make that the focus of your program.  Also set a time frame! We'll be doing ours between June-July, because that's what works for our schedules, but decide what makes sense for you.

 

A tracking system

To keep the playing field level with kids of multiple ages, we are planning to have our kids track time read rather than pages or number of books, because the 7 year old can read about a dozen little chapter books in the time it takes the 13 year old to read a chunky YA fantasy novel. Tracking by time keeps it fair. For my only child, the number of picture books we read would add up too quickly, so time is a better pacing system for us.

Some options for tracking by time: A lined 3x5 notecard used as a bookmark gives them a convenient way to jot down how many minutes they read. You could also use a simple progress chart and have each square count for 20 minutes and give a reward once it's completed. It'd be easy to design a basic one yourself, too (try Canva)! Let the kids color, bedazzle, sticker and otherwise adorn them to their heart's content to make it more fun and personal.

If you'd rather track by the book, or would like your kids to record what books they read in addition to time spent, here are some seriously great book tracking ideas to get you thinking about what makes sense for your family. It can be really gratifying and motivating for kids to physically see how many books they've read.

If you want your kids to branch out into different genres, you could design a bingo card with different genres to cross off. If you want your kids to explore the literary community, a  simple checklist of bookish activities and adventures to complete would be easy to do. If you suck at drawing as much as I do, here are some printable templates for a multi-purpose chart, a checklist and a simple generator for a bingo card. Put whatever system you use somewhere highly visible, like on the fridge!

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A Rewards System

1. Set a budget. If you want to splurge a little, that's wonderful, but there are a ton of free or inexpensive options to consider as well. 

2. Decide if there will be many small rewards or one big reward, and what they need to do to earn it. 

3. Think about what your child is actively into at the moment (my son is SUPER into legos), or think about an experience they'd love to have that would really motivate them. Some options for experiences that we've been considering:

  • A movie night at home complete with snacks of their choice. You could even take them on a special trip to the store to pick out the snacks themselves, or try out a fun new popcorn recipe.
  • A picnic lunch out somewhere awesome with the menu of their choice, or lunch out to their favorite restaurant.
  • A trip to the Zoo or Aquarium
  • Tickets to a play/concert/movie/theme park/museum whatever they're interested in. Check your library to see if you can rent passes to local attractions, or check free admission days for things like museums. 
  • Choosing a new decor item for their bedroom. New bedspread, wall decor, lamp, or rug, etc.
  • Sign them up for a class or a lesson they've been wanting to take, whether its violin or drawing, you know your child's interests!

Some smaller reward options:

  • Go out for ice cream, or make sundaes at home!          
  • A visit to the local bookstore to pick out a new read
  • A free pass for extra screen time, to skip chores, to stay up late, etc.
  • A small toy they've been coveting
  • Bake a treat together or try out a new popsicle recipe!
  • A new bookmark. You could even find some cute printable ones or design one yourself on Canva.
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Implementation

Whatever you've decided on, set aside some time to explain to your kids how the program will work, discuss rewards, and do something special to kick it off and build excitement. You can have them make bookmarks, personalize the materials you've designed or printed out, color their own library tote bag with inexpensive fabric markers, create their reading trackers, or whatever else makes sense for you. Adjust this to your kids' ages, of course; teens might just appreciate a library trip to stock up or some new stationary to track their reading. 

These concepts work for adults too. Set yourself a goal whether it's to read an hour a day, complete ten books, try a new genre, or go to some literary events. Hold yourself accountable and treat yourself to lunch at that new restaurant, those kick ass shoes, a self care day, a fancy bottle of wine, etc.

 

What We're Doing

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Because we wanted to focus on time read and engaging with a literary lifestyle we designed a simple game board that blends the two. The idea is to complete one square a day, and to mix smaller rewards in, while still having them work toward a bigger reward when they finish. 

We're planning on grabbing some fresh craft supplies like markers and stickers and hosting a little bookmark decorating party for our kids to kick this thing off. We love to celebrate the little things around here, especially when it's book related, and kids really respond when you make the effort! It's an easy way to get them psyched for summer reading.

 

Ideas + Free printables from other bloggers

Simple as That has a really great printable reading log set.

How Does She has an entire reading program system complete with printables.

Abundant Life has some great ideas and resources.

Another cute printable reading log from Balancing Home.

 

Are you planning on doing a summer reading program for yourself or for your kids? We'd love to hear about it!

 

Cheers to the Weekend 6.8.18
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support!

We had a busy week around here with normal life things, and we also had the privilege of styling and attending Browser's spring edition of their cookbook book club last night! As always the event was warm and happy and just a cozy evening, well spent. We'll have more on that later. It's going to be gloomy this weekend, and we don't have a lot planned, but are getting excited for all our kids to be out of school soon and for the real summer fun to start! What are you guys up to this weekend?

 

Around the web

Ready for a slew of June releases? Here are some of the most anticipated.

We couldn't agree more with this take on how to finally get to those books you've been meaning to get to!

A librarian's super practical tips for building your own home library

Been binge watching Younger lately? Try these books.

Our friend Leigh's book is coming out next week and we couldn't be more excited!

 

Instagram

Lots of plants and a pretty color palette, with a lifestyle bent. Nailed it, Ciara

Soft colors, real life vibes, and good books from Christine!

Megan does a wonderful job showing off her literary lifestyle, and her feed is colorful and lovely!

 

What We're Reading

Michaela - It's been a slow week around here, I'm still reading A Closed and Common Orbit (if you want the cover I have, it's the UK version and here's the link), I also picked up this year's Pulitzer Prize winner, Less!

Rikki - I read This One Summer this past week on M's recommendation, and thoroughly enjoyed reading outside of my usual wheelhouse. I also flew through Meet the Frugalwoods, and walked away with so much inspiration for simple living within your means. The author does a great job narrating and building in the story so it isn't dry. And lastly, I listened to my favorite The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, as I am beyond anxious to see the film!

 

The Highly Anticipated Sequel to Beartown, Us Against You
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I read A Man Called Ove a few years ago. I was down to the final hundred pages or so and couldn't put it down. I told my husband to take over dinner, I had to finish my book. Since then I've read all of Backman's novellas and a few of his other novels. Then, I read Beartown and did the exact same thing. I've never been so powerfully immersed in 400 pages in my life.

The thing with Backman, is that he has this magical, yet incredibly real way of writing stories that feel as if they're completely alive. I live for stories like this. Writing like his is the definition of "books that make you feel something." The atmosphere is less about place and more about the people, but it's beyond invoking. He writes sentences that start in one part the story and circle back around, and you'll find yourself re-reading them and just wondering how. How can all this come from one person? How did this story come to you? I find myself yearning to know everything, how it all came to be. Then I want to read it again!

For people who have read Ove and other Backman novels up to Beartown, I've heard don't like Beartown (you can read the description here). Spoiler alert: it's not like his other books. You can't finish Ove and have all these warm, fuzzy feelings, and expect that to carry into Beartown. But like all of his books, there's a heavy central theme or event and it navigates the power of working through that with those around you. Beartown and Us Against You are dynamically layered, passionate, and even though it's centered around hockey, don't let that fool you. We all love The Mighty Ducks!

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How exciting, then, that Beartown has a sequel. The highly anticipated Us Against You, is released today (you can read the description here)! The awesome perk of being obsessed with books and apart of the Bookstagram community, is getting to read books before they're officially released. We can't thank Atria Books enough for sending us a complimentary copy! And honestly, thanks for believing in Ove and picking up all of Backman's books over the years!

After Beartown and Us Against You, you can't help but carry the story... the characters... the atmosphere with you for a long while. It's powerful. Even if you feel the story is a little slow to start, maybe some redundancy even (none of which I personally felt afflicted by), you'll find yourself wanting to laugh and cry and root for the characters you love most. There's a slow build, but a huge pay off, as with most all of Backman's work. You'll be holding your breath, wondering what happens next. You get completely sucked in and don't even realize it until you come rushing out and gasping for breath. And unlike any book that's full of struggle and redemption, the endings are never what you expect.

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If you've never read any Fredrik Backman novels, start with A Man Called Ove and work your way through the others to Beartown, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here. I particularly loved And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. If you've read his novels, then you're in for a treat. I cannot wait to see what he writes next!

 

A List of Summer Reading Programs for 2018!
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It's finally June, which means our kids are either out of school, or about to be out of school, and summer reading program season is officially beginning! We've got four kids between us ranging in age from infant to thirteen, and they are all bookworms. Between buddy reading YA, checking out a million chapter books, and reading aloud, our kids' lives are full of books, and summer is the perfect time to encourage them even further. We updated our list of the summer reading programs we love for 2018, and can't wait to start!

1. Check Your Local Library- Many libraries participate in a common summer reading program, and the theme this year is "Libraries Rock!". This reading program is for all ages, ranging from babies to adults, and our local branch is offering things like zoo passes, library totes, free books, and free bowling just for completing a reading "Bingo" style card. Plus every bingo you get earns entries into a raffle for bigger prizes like restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, passes to local attractions, and more! 

2. Check Your Local Bookstore- Local bookstores are always a great space to check out for book clubs, summer reading programs, author events, and more fun stuff you and your child can get excited about! I'm planning to take my little one on a date to pick out some new books at our local favorite, and we plan to attend a couple events there this summer, too. Bookstore trips were always a favorite summer activity for me as a kid, and I hope I can build my son the same kinds of memories.

3. Barnes and Noble- Kids in grades 1-6 can earn a free book by reading any 8 books this summer, recording them in a reading journal, and writing about which part of the book was their favorite and why. Once they've completed their journal, they can choose any free book from the list on the back. This is a great way to add to their shelves for sure! This year they also put out some interesting summer reading lists for adults that are worth a look.

4. Half Price Books- This summer, Half Price Books is offering $5 in bookworm bucks to kids under 14 who complete 300 minutes of reading in a month (thats 15 minutes a day!). Download and fill out a reading log and bring it to the store when you've finished. Easy! They even have lists of great book recommendations for a range of ages, if you need some inspiration. For older teens, they're offering bookworm bucks for posting book reviews of selected titles, and it looks like they've wisely chosen mega popular books this year.

5. Books-A-Million- Mo Willems is their summer reading adventure ambassador this summer! Read and record any four titles from their summer reading adventure section and get a free Elephant and Piggie pencil case with pencils. If you have a little one as obsessed with Elephant and Piggie as mine is, this is a great option, plus I really love their selections this year!

6. Design Your Own- If you have the time and inclination, it might be worth it to design something simple for your household. Choose a reward system and a format, and away you go! This gives you the freedom to focus on your own reading priorities with your kids (or yourself!) and choose meaningful rewards. We'll have some ideas and inspiration for you, as well as sharing what we're doing with our own kids coming up soon.

Are you participating in any summer reading programs? Did we overlook some cool ones? Let us know!

Wrap Up | May 2018

Michaela

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Garlic and Sapphires | Ruth Reichl- Although the writing can lean a little cloying and self satisfied, even veering into trite when she describes the crafting of her various disguises, there's no way around the fact that Reichl truly excels at descriptions of food. I sincerely enjoyed every bit of her food and restaurant descriptions, and the life of a food critic is one I hadn't gotten a glimpse into before this, despite my food writing obsession. She is so clearly knowledgable about food (without being preachy), and combined with her obvious passion for it, her writing is infused with so much life that I could overlook the parts of the book I didn't care for as much. 

What Should Be Wild | Julia Fine- The best way I can describe this is that it reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s books and of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. It’s a gothic/dark fairytale/mystery/family novel mash up that plays with bloodlines, the nature of time, magic, control of female bodies, curses, and secrets. A little spooky, a little magical, and definitely interesting. I appreciated the twist on control of female bodies and the mystery in the story, as well as how dark it got. Thanks to the Harper Collins for sending us a free review copy!

The Smell of Other People's Houses | Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock- This was a good one! The prose was dripping in poetic sadness as it wove together the lives of four different characters as they meshed and overlapped. Each character had their own turmoil and voice, but the work as a whole felt cohesive and deeply true. This is YA, so the emotions in here border on the technicolor angst that the genre does so well, but it was tastefully done. Highly recommend if you want a quick read with some feels. 

My Friend Dahmer | Derf Backderf- This was a pretty fascinating look at an infamous serial killer before he was a killer, but the author's armchair psychology and overall tone can be a little off putting. If you're a little obsessed with serial killers, this graphic novel would be a good pick, because it is truly a great window into the life and mind of Jeffrey Dahmer before he truly descended into the darkness. Also the art is spot on and really enhances  the overall tone of the novel. 

Roller Girl | Victoria Jamieson- I picked this up for a nice light reprieve from some of the heavier stuff I was reading (I'm in the middle of like 5 books right now, ugh). I love fun graphic novels so much, especially memoirs, and this was was one of the better ones. The message in here is great, especially for kids and young teens, and I can absolutely see how it won the Newbery! Plus, how badass is it that there's a graphic novel about roller derby aimed at pre-tees? I love it. If you like Raina Telegemeier this is absolutely one you'll want to pick up. 

 

Rikki

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Elizabeth and Her German Garden | Elizabeth Von ArnimI started this book in preparation for The Enchanted April. I anticipated loving it, since all things garden related in books is pretty much my favorite thing to read about. And well, it was interesting and solidly written, but honestly, a bit of a slog to get through. Elizabeth is a less than desirable character throughout, and while I still loved the garden explorations, she was also a very unreliable narrator and this just didn't do it for me.

Hidden Figures | Margot Lee ShetterlyI ended up watching the movie I waited so long to watch, so I could finish the book first. This is one of the rare instances the movie is more enticing. As much as I enjoyed learning about the women computers behind the first space shuttle launch, the story seemed redundant as it crossed the lives of each of the four women. Overall, you hear these things over and over and over again: black women, smart, math, struggle, teacher, space. We get it. 

Americanah | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - By the time I passed 100 pages, I was fully invested in this story. While I think there were parts that unnecessarily went on, the life of Ifemelu was so interesting to follow. I'm constantly fascinated by descriptive cultural difference one experiences when living abroad, and there was so much of that in this book.

The Handmaid's Tale | Margaret Atwood - It wasn't until recently that my interest was peaked to read this. It's a dystopian future world that doesn't usually hold much interest for me. Yet, I had to know. Atwood is a master storyteller, with incredible detail and prose. This story isn't for the faint of heart, but it's immersive and unique.

Unaccustomed Earth | Jhumpa LahiriI first fell for Lahiri's writing in The Namesake, which we read for book club last year. I didn't realize at first that this was a collection of short stories, but interestingly, it's a series of characters interwoven in each other's lives, as told throughout the eight stories in the book. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. If short stories aren't quite your thing, this would be a good one to start with.

 

Guest Reviewer

Lori | @thenovelendeavor

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I am a wife, mom, adoption advocate, and book blogger who loves all bookish things (even the really nerdy ones - like tote bags - in fact, I especially like tote bags). Unfortunately, my passion for reading wasn't fully realized until after I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Mathematics; I have since spent the last ten years making up for all that wasted time on math! I am an INTJ who follows the rules I like and ignores the ones that just aren't for me. When I'm not racing around after a three year-old you can find me blogging about books, diversity, and the reading life at The Novel Endeavor

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For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Eenuf | Ntozake Shange- This famous choreopoem was recommended to me by a good friend and it did not disappoint. While for colored girls is meant to be experienced as a performance, there is still so much emotion, vitality, and tragedy that seeps through each and every poem. The title hints at the content, but it's difficult to describe the sense of foreboding and menace that followed the women throughout these pages. Even while they were living their best lives, darkness threatened to overshadow them at every turn. I don't often read poetry but found this collection to be extremely accessible and worthwhile; the introduction by the author helped me to understand the foundations of her work, as well as her goals in writing it.

All the Names They Used for God | Anjali Sachdeva- All the Names They Used for God was gifted to me in April from my Diverse Books Club teammates and I couldn't wait to dive in. First of all, that cover is simply amazing; secondly, when you remove the dust jacket, it is still absolutely beautiful! This short story collection absorbed me every time I picked it up. I love that about short stories - you can let yourself get sucked into stories knowing that they will end thirty minutes to an hour later. Sachdeva's stories were beautifully haunting and kept me meditating on them long after I finished.

Reading People | Anne BogelReading People was my in-real-life book club's May selection. Honestly, I've had it on my shelf since it came out (in fact, I pre-ordered it) but just haven't found the right time to dive in. I mainly read fiction so a non-fiction book has to be pretty captivating to keep me reading. I enjoyed Anne's book even though I was already pretty familiar with most of the personality frameworks she described. However, my mind is a bit blown by the Enneagram! Until Reading People, I had never encountered it and now I see it's implications throughout my everyday life. (I'm a 4 in case you're wondering.)

Half a World Away | Cynthia KadohataHalf a World Away brings together two of my greatest passions: middle grade fiction and adoption. My husband and I adopted our daughter over three years ago and are currently waiting for our second child through adoption as well. Adoption one of the messiest and most beautiful things I have ever experienced; as a reader, I am always on a quest to find books that accurately illustrate this beautiful mess for the world to read. In my last couple of years of searching, I have found that young adult and middle grade books showcase adoption and foster care most accurately. Half a World Away continues to prove this point with its complexities of emotion, relationships, and memories of the past. 

Other Notes

We will be styling and photographing the Spring edition of Browser's Cookbook Book Club this coming week, and we couldn't be more excited! This is one of the warmest, most enjoyable events we attend, and we always look forward to it.

We had some great dinner parties in May, kicking off the warmer season ahead of us including My Kitchen Year as well as another that you'll be seeing soon!

We have some collaborations in the works as well, so look out for more from us as the summer heats up.

What was the best book you read this month??

Cheers to the Weekend 5.25.18
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Summer is finally within reach and we have a long weekend ahead of us! The sun has been shining, the temperatures have been pleasantly warm, and our gardens are starting to take off. We're so looking forward to more dinner parties outside as well as some events within our community that we will be taking part in. I've had a cold all week, which has sucked, but I'm finally feeling 99% better and looking forward to our weekly Saturday morning girl date and some spring cleaning this weekend! What are you up to?

 

Around the web

A great list of some summer releases to look forward to!

This list of ways to improve your reading life really resonated with us.

Love a great book to film adaptation? All our favorites are on this list, plus we found a couple new ones.

Traveling this summer? Stop by one of these famous literary attractions. Send us a postcard! No seriously, do it!

These are great party hosting tips, and super down to earth. Taking notes. 

 

Instagram

We are loving the gorgeously photographed mix of books and the natural world over at starboard.books!

Books by the pool in some of the best, most interesting composed shots we've seen of their kind. 

Persephone books has a beautiful account, and is a small press who is doing something really unique; take a look!

 

What We're Reading

Michaela - I've been kind of jumping between books, but I'm really loving A Closed and Common Orbit and Swimmer Among the Stars right now! Hoping to finish both this week. 

Rikki - This week, I finished The Handmaid's Tale and Unaccustomed Earth. Solid unexpected reads for this month. Admittedly, I'm still trying to get through Spin the Golden Light Bulb, even though my son has read it plus its sequel. I just started Prodigal Summer and love its natural elements (right up my alley!) and I'm listening to Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and wow, what a powerful and beautiful book! Anyway, all of this is taking a backseat for the moment so I can reading Write Like this for a new class I just started. It's actually one of the most interesting books I've read for a class assignment.