My Reading List: August 2017

august 2017 reading list, final girls review, the hate u give review, the ice beneath her review, final girls review august 2017 reading list, final girls review, the hate u give review, the ice beneath her review, final girls review august 2017 reading list, final girls review, the hate u give review, the ice beneath her review, final girls review august 2017 reading list, final girls review, the hate u give review, the ice beneath her review, final girls review august 2017 reading list, final girls review, the hate u give review, the ice beneath her review, final girls review

Aside from one book, my August reading list was all about the thrillers. Maybe it was because of the early fall weather we were having? Regardless, there were two books that I thought were really great, and another two that were just good. Keep on reading for the reviews, and here’s the link to last month’s massive book review post, just in case you missed it!

The Hate U Give

My favorite read this month was The Hate U Give. You never know how it’s going to turn out with buzzy books, but I’m happy to report that I loved this one.

The book follows Starr Carter, who witnesses the murder of one of her good friends. Two black teenagers are driving around, minding their own business. A cop pulls them over and murders her friend, Khalil. As you can imagine, Starr is devastated and Khalil’s death causes her to reevaluate her life and the community she’s a part of.

Obviously, the book is timely, and on top of that, it’s so heartfelt. I connected with Starr’s character almost immediately, and was very invested in her entire emotional journey. Starr is just a kid and deals with a situation that is absolutely terrible, but not unimaginable in today’s world.

Starr attends an elite, private school in a different neighborhood than the one she lives in. Sometimes she feels like she has to be two different people. One version of Starr is one of four black kids in her grade, surrounded by white classmates and teachers all day. The second Starr acts differently with her family and the people in her neighborhood. I could identify with Starr’s struggles and the feelings that she was either “too black” or “not black enough.”

This book has humor, warmth, and strength, all while tackling a very difficult and sensitive subject. I cannot wait to see the movie version. I’ve been following the casting announcements and the list is pretty 100 right now.

The Girl Before

When I was looking through my Goodreads TBR and spotted this book, I noticed that there’s another thriller with the same title, by a different author (The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney). After a brief internal struggle, I chose the book by Rena Olsen because the synopsis sounded a lot more interesting to me.

At the beginning of this novel, police storm into Clara’s house, arrest her husband, and take her into protective custody. Her husband tells her one thing before he’s dragged off: “Say nothing.”

I hadn’t read a good psychological thriller in a while and I thought this was pretty great. The pacing is steady, slowly and carefully giving you pieces of the puzzle until you’re able to put together the big picture. Clara was a pretty fascinating character. The book is told from her first-person perspective, so we are really in her head as she tries to figure out how to handle her husband’s arrest. Also, the narrative moves back and forth between the present and the past so that we see how Clara ended up where she is today.

It’s a fascinating look at the human mind, and the ways in which we can convince ourselves that something is the truth, or is a lie. It’s a dark and thought-provoking read, which is just the way I like my thrillers.

The Ice Beneath Her

I forgot how much I like Nordic Noir. I picked up this book based on Abby’s (also known as Crime by the Book) recommendation, and she was right, it’s a great read. The book is told from three main perspectives. There’s Peter, the detective who’s investigating the murder of a young woman who is found beheaded in the home of a infamous CEO. Emma is the fiancé of that CEO, or at least she was, up until he disappears without a word. And finally, there’s Hanne, the psychologist who’s called in to consult on the case.

I think the characters are the best part of this book. The author does an excellent job of making them fully-realized, so that I understood who they are as people. For example, Peter is kind of a jerk and a coward, but he’s still a fascinating character, and I still wanted to root for him. The writing is atmospheric, and while I was reading it, I felt like I was there in Sweden, experiencing the cold, brutal winter.

It’s a story about love and betrayal. Sometimes the ones we love the most have the ability to damage us the most. If you’re looking for a thriller with depth and strong characters, I’d recommend this one.

Girl in Snow

Remember when I talked about the danger of buzzy books? Well I’d seen a quite a bit of buzz about this book, but it disappointed me. Not to say that it was bad, but my expectations didn’t match the reality. After reading two solid thrillers, I wanted to dive into another one. This book is described as a thriller, but really it’s an exploration of these characters that happens to include a mystery, which is not as central to the story as you might think.

Lucinda Hayes is the girl who was murdered. Cameron is the boy who was in love with her, Jade is the girl who grew up with her, and Russ is one of the cops handling her case. The story is really about these three characters and their ideas about who Lucinda was. It’s set in a small town in the mountains of Colorado, one of those towns that doesn’t have much going on.

The book explores how we become who we are as people. Are we shaped by our environment, or the people who raise us, or the way we are treated by others? The answer is all of these things, and more.

While the writing was lyrical, and often beautiful, I wished that the story was stronger. The characters were strong and it was interesting to be in their minds for a while, but I lacked a deeper connection to the narrative.

Final Girls

Final Girls is the most entertaining thriller I read this month and I can see why it’s popular. The media labels Quincy as a “Final Girl” after she is the lone survivor of a horrible massacre. The storyline flashes back and forth between the day it happened and the present. The flashbacks are pretty unnerving because you know that something really terrible is about to happen. Even though we know what the horrible thing is, we don’t know how it happened. The author does a great job of building up that suspense.

Just when you start to think that you have it all figured out, the author throws some curveballs at you. It’s also fascinating the way that the author starts to reveal the cracks in Quincy’s perfect facade.

I had a few small complaints (the ending and some of the dialogue felt off to me) and one major one that had me shaking my head incredulously. I won’t mention it here, because spoilers, but if you’ve read it, let’s chat in the comments below. Overall though, I thought this book was an easy and pretty compelling read.

A Day in London

london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget

Really though, where did this summer go? How has Labor Day weekend already come and gone? It feels like I was heading off to my cousin’s wedding in the UK not too long ago, but it’s already been a couple months.

During my quick trip to Europe, I had one full day to spend in London. I’m a planner, so the day was all mapped out (literally though, I love to create my own Google maps when I visit new places). I wanted to visit some London bookstores, do a bit of shopping, go to the park, and visit a museum. We never did make it to the museum because of timing, but I did manage to check off the rest of the list.

london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget

On that day, I woke up to beautiful, sunny weather. After a bit of breakfast, my mom and I took the train into town. London’s indie bookstore game is strong, and you know how I love books, so I try to visit as many bookstores as I can when I’m there. This time, I went to the London Review Bookshop, which was lovely. I remember that the main bookstore had a really eye-catching window display and there’s also a café attached on the side.

Afterwards, we walked along Charing Cross Road and popped into Waterstones. I browsed around for a bit and picked up a few books. When I went to the checkout, the cashier told me that they were having a sale on certain paperbacks (buy 2, get the 3rd for free). I hadn’t realized, so she recommended The Underground Railroad for my third book, which I’d wanted to read anyway. Even though it technically wasn’t part of the sale, she gave me the deal anyway. What a gem!

london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget

From there we headed to Foyles, which might be my favorite bookstore out of the ones that I’ve visited in London so far. I went for the first time in December, but it was only a brief visit, so I knew I had to go back. It’s absolutely massive and I think they have 4 or 5 floors filled with books, books, and more books. It reminds me of the Strand, which is my favorite bookstore here in NYC.

london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget

By then, my mom was tired from all the walking around, so she headed home. While I waited for my brother and cousin to meet me, I walked over to Oxford Street to do some shopping. My brother wanted to shoot some footage in Oxford Circle for a video project he was working on, which turned out pretty well.

london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget

After that, the plan was to take the tube to Hyde Park and rent a paddleboat. Silly us though, we accidentally went to Green Park, which does not have paddleboats. The afternoon rolled into early evening and we wouldn’t have made it to Hyde Park in time, so we took a raincheck and strolled around Green Park instead. I didn’t remember this, but Green Park is right next to Buckingham Palace. We walked over to the palace to pay our respects to the Queen and take a few photos.

london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget

We were pretty hungry by then, so we walked to the West End and found a Korean barbecue spot. The restaurant was a bit of a random choice, but the food ended up being delicious, so I would definitely go back there. Don’t you just love when you stumble onto a great spot like that?

Our final stop for the night was Chinatown so that my brother could capture some night footage. I didn’t even know there was a Chinatown in London, so it was cool to visit a new neighborhood.

london bookstores, exploring london, a day in london, london on a budget

This wasn’t my first or second trip to London, but I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what London has to offer. I’ve been to London mostly to visit family, but I’ve been thinking that I need to plan a dedicated trip to London to spend a few days exploring the city. London, hopefully we’ll see each other again soon!

Capsule 01.

black lives matter, resist, not my president

The morning after the election, when I saw the results confirming that he’d won, I was in shock. I called my dad in tears that morning because, when I don’t know what to do, I turn to my parents. I felt ill, drained, and afraid.

I felt the same way on Tuesday night when I came home from work and read about Trump’s press conference. I read about Trump doubling down on his statement about there being “many sides” to the violent white supremacist rallies that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend. I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, right, because we knew that Trump was racist. Yet, a small part of me still is. Maybe I’m more of an optimist than I thought. Or maybe it’s because he’s not even trying to hide it at this point, to deny that these horrible beliefs are his beliefs.

It’s hard not to lose all hope in these moments. If Trump’s remarks on Tuesday made you feel small, like you didn’t matter at all, you’re not the only one. But then I remembered what my dad told me on November 9th: “We have to keep going.”

I’m going to hold on to the good things. Actually, I’m going to seek out the things that bring me joy, because there is a lot of doubt, fear, and uncertainty in the world right now, and not enough joy.

When you were in grade school, did you ever have to make a time capsule? I did, and I remember taking great care when selecting the items that went into my collection. In that same vein, I’ve titled this post “Capsule” because it captures a few different things that are on my mind at this moment in time.

In the spirit of keeping on, I thought I’d share a few links that I’ve enjoyed recently. I hope you find the articles interesting and if you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for reading my ramblings (always, but especially today).

Food x Film

You’ve probably seen those short, food video tutorials with a bird’s-eye view (usually on Facebook, right?). Well, food stylist David Ma took that concept one step further and imagined what these food tutorials would be like if directed by famous directors. The results are absolutely delightful and spot on. I hope he adds more directors to his series!

All About the Stars of Insecure and Queen Sugar

I’m an avid watcher of both Queen Sugar and Insecure. There is so much heart in the Bordelon family in Queen Sugar and I see some of myself in the character played by Issa Rae in Insecure. Here are some really great profiles about the actors on these shows, including this article on Kofi Siriboe, this one on Yvonne Orji, who plays Molly on Insecure (did you know she was a comedian first??), and this one on Issa Rae.

LOLOLOL

This article about the various styles of online laughter is so interesting. It’s fascinating to consider how formatting really changes the meaning of the laughter. Now I’m wondering when I started using “lololol” instead of “lol.” What’s your preferred style of laughter online?

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS, TO HBO’S CONFEDERATE

Ta-nehisi Coates has done it again. His article on why we shouldn’t give HBO’s Confederate a chance, even though it hasn’t aired yet, is well worth a read. After the events of this past week, let’s just say that I’m less interested than ever in watching a show about an alternative history in which the South won the Civil War.

TARGET LOVE

Target is debuting a new clothing line and a new home decor line this fall, and the goods look good. I should probably just start setting aside a portion of my paycheck now… I’m excited about the home decor products in particular because I think I’ll soon be working on another round of decorating my apartment. I’ve been in my place for over a year and the main wall in my bedroom is still completely blank!

(image by Walid Berrazeg on Unsplash)

Noted 10.

Noted-10-Cover elizabeth and james nirvana, realisation par, rifle paper co keds, everlane, obvious state, sza ctrl, pink coasters, appointed stationery

Give a warm welcome back to “Noted,” a former series here on the blog. I decided to revive this series because I like sharing random, pretty products with you guys. The premise is simple: in each “Noted” post, I’ll share a selection of items that I think are noteworthy. Without further ado, let’s talk about the pieces that have recently caught my eye!

01. Elizabeth and James Nirvana

The white version of Nirvana has been my go-to perfume for the past few years. I also really like the black version, but at the time I was looking for a lighter scent. Now I recently found out that they’re releasing four new perfumes in the collection. The bottles are so beautiful. I can’t wait to go to Sephora and smell all of these.

02. Everlane’s $15 tees

I’m a fan of Everlane in general and I own a few of their tees. I bought them several years ago and they’ve held up really well. This summer, they released a limited edition set of tees that are $15. I love the super relaxed vibe of these tees. Plus, when it’s hot and humid in NYC, I want to wear as little clothing as possible and I certainly don’t want it to be fussy. I can picture throwing on one of these tees and a pair of jeans shorts, and being good to go.

03. Rifle Paper Co. x Keds

If I had enough money to buy every single product that Rifle Paper Co. makes, I would. I missed out on the first round of their limited edition sneaker collection with Keds, but they’re releasing a new collection next week! I saw a few of the sneak peek images on their Instagram page, and there’s a pair of golden sneakers that must be mine. Also, they’re running a giveaway for the new collection (enter here)

04. Realisation Par Dress

I think I first spotted this dress on another blogger and I had to know where it came from. It’s covered in dainty stars (so it’s practically made for me) and I love the flirty, feminine feel. Of course, this dress led me to start browsing through the Realisation Par site and pinning items left and right. I’m on a strict spending ban right now, but hopefully one day soon and I can save up enough for one of their pretty dresses.

05. Obvious State Literary Postcard Set

I still love snail mail, although I haven’t sent as much of it this year as I’d like to. Obvious State makes beautiful, literary-themed products and recently released new postcard collections. I have my eye on the ‘Literary Paris’ set (visiting Paris recently renewed my obsession with all things French). I think sending a few postcards just because could be a great way to ease back into sending snail mail.

06. SZA, Ctrl 

I’ve been obsessed with this album ever since it was released. I played it on repeat for the first two weeks and even now, I’m listening to the album at least once a day. I love how vulnerable and honest Sza is when she sings. It just seems like she gets me and I don’t think I’m the only one that feels that way.

07. West Elm Pink Coasters 

Ughhh, these coasters are too pretty! The girly girl in me is definitely squealing in delight over this pink and gold combo. I’ve lived in my current apartment for over a year, but still haven’t purchased coasters, so let’s say that these pink ones are now officially on my wish list.

08. Appointed Notebooks

This should be unsurprising if you know me or having been reading my blog for a while, but I love stationery. Like, a lot. A pretty notebook is my kryptonite. I was very grateful when the journaling habit I’d been trying to develop since I was a kid finally kicked in, because it meant that I got to dip into the stash of notebooks I’d collected over the years. Plus I have a frequently recurring excuse to buy new notebooks (score).

This time, I need a new notebook for work and I started to look at Appointed’s line of stationery. I love how simple their designs are, along with the colors that they offer. I plan to see if any local retailers stock their products so I can check them out in person.

(top image by Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash // Sza album cover image via)