The Late Bloomer’s Club by Louise Miller

ACS_0289.JPG

Hello, World!

I recently got a notification from Goodreads that I met my year-long reading goal, which was to read 12 books. So far this summer, I’ve read nine books. That’s more than I’ve ever read during summer and more than I’ve read for fun in a long time. When I realized Louise Miller had a new book coming out so soon after her first book, I was so excited. I read The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living last December and fell in love with it. I loved Guthrie, Vermont, the cast of characters, and the writing. It felt cozy and warm and happy.

So, when her new book came out I went and bought it immediately and added it to my August TBR. I was not disappointed. While I like her first novel a little better, I still really enjoyed this story. Following Nora Huckleberry, the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, this is a book about sisters, finding yourself late in life, and loving again after a failed marriage. It was hard for me to fully relate to Nora, as we don’t have similar experiences, but I still really loved her character and wanted her to succeed. I loved that she was strong and independent and compassionate and loving. What I liked about this story was it had themes of starting over and loss, but also loving again and not being afraid to venture out into the world again. So many of us get comfortable being alone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t lonely.

Bon Appetit said that Miller’s first novel was, essentially, Gilmore Girls. This may explain my deep appreciation and love for her stories. As my longtime readers know, Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all time. I adore Guthrie, with its cozy vibes and eccentric but deeply connected community. I love Miller’s metaphors and similes. The way she compares experiences is so honest and accurate. When reading her stories, I find I have trouble putting them down. Her novels are, in my opinion, more character driven. There is always a plot and a good plot that works itself out in an authentic way, but its the characters that keep me turning the page. I’m desperate to know what happens to them and where their stories are going.

If you want the coziest summer read, I highly recommend this book! I also will, once again, recommend Miller’s first novel. Both are seriously the coziest reads I’ve ever read. It’s almost like a Hallmark holiday movie but one thousand times less cheesy and more real. Until now, I’ve read books where I liked the setting, but the way Miller describes Guthrie makes you feel like you’re there, enjoying the beauty of rural Vermont. It makes you crave a slower, calmer life that is simple but so full.

What are you reading?

Truly,

Callie leigh

Advertisements

July TBR

 

ACS_0025.JPG

Hello, World.

I’m here to share my July to-be-read list! Below are the three novels I hope to tackle this month.

She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop | What happens when you’re at a relatives funeral and family members you’ve never heard of, much less met, show up? Dazzled by the glittering relatives hailing from NYC and the intrigue associated with them, Laila Lawrence goes to NYC to uncover the world she’s never known in the wealthy family she’s been deprived of throughout her life. A story of family dynamics, long-held secrets, and self-discovery, this book is Gossip Girl for the early twenties woman.

I’m so excited to read this! I actually won my copy of this in a Giveaway from @sweptawaybybooks Instagram account. So, thank you to Alyssa, who runs the account, and Dunlop, who sent me my signed copy! This book seems to have all the elements that usually make me reach for a book, so I’m so ready to start it. Also, I’ve read a lot of heavy books this summer, so this one seems like the light, dramatic one I need.

Euphoria by Lily King | Recommended by Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter, I wasn’t sure I would pick this up immediately but made a mental note to read it. I originally planned to read Harvard Square by Andre Aciman this month, but because I have no mailing address this summer, I must rely on bookstores to purchase books. There is an Amazon Books in Georgetown (so cool!), so I popped in to pick up Harvard Square and The Lost Vintage. However, I could only find one. I then spotted Euphoria, which seemed like a fairly quick read. So, I added it to my July TBR. Set in 1933, it follows a love triangle among three anthropologists studying together in New Guinea. I’m very curious to read this, as I know Danler thoroughly enjoyed it!

The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah | After seeing this on the Instagram account @butthechildrenlovebooks, I was intrigued. I’ve been on this wanderlust kick lately where I watch all my favorite movies about American abroad (Under the Tuscan SunThe HolidayEat Pray Love, etc.). I love any story about family, coming-of-age, wine, and Tuscany. So, this sounds like the perfect blend (pun intended). Sweetbitter is one of my favorite novels, so when I saw it compared to that novel, I knew I had to pick it up, The Goodreads blurb describes the book as:

Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turning novel about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy and unexpectedly uncovers a lost diary, an unknown relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since World War II.”

For those who remember I promised not to buy new books, I received an Amazon gift card that I used to purchase Euphoria and The Lost Vintage! I’m so looking forward to reading some more “fun” reads! I’ve been on a reading kick and loving all the books I chose this summer, so I’m hoping to continue that.

I’m currently a bit behind on my June TBR, so I hope to finish An American Marriage this weekend and then start the next slate of reads! My second to last week in June was a marathon, which hindered my ability to read as much as previous weeks, which is why I’m behind on An American Marriage, but from what I can tell, if I have a few hours, I’ll blow through it.

Looking forward, I will probably try to get through four to five books in August, as I’ll be done working and home with my family. I tend to read a ton when home because my family goes to bed early and there are days by the pool! For July, the month already looks a bit hectic, so I know I’ll want to be realistic about how much time I will have to read. I also want to soak up my time in D.C.

What’re you reading?

Truly,

Callie leigh

Educated by Tara Westover

ACS_0024.JPG

Hello, World.

My reading for June is going well. I have one week left and one book left on my June TBR. So, I’m hoping that because the book is a bit shorter, I’ll be able to zip through it this week. Today, however, I wanted to share my review of Educated by Tara Westover. I don’t typically reach for nonfiction and have rarely finished a memoir, but I ripped through this memoir and couldn’t stop thinking about it between reading sessions. This book highly recommended by people who read it. I first hear about this book from Ali Edwards, who shared her praise for this book on Instagram.

What appealed to me about this book was the educational journey that Westover experienced, her desire to learn, what her learning about the world meant for her relationship with her family, and how the family dynamics at play. As I said, I often have trouble getting into nonfiction. I put down Hilbilly Elegy a few months ago and haven’t picked it back up. While interesting, it wasn’t a book I yearned to keep reading. So, I was nervous this book would cause me to hit a reading snag. However, I was sucked in from pretty much the first page.

This book focuses on Westover’s childhood, which was riddled with religious fanaticism, oppression, paranoia, danger, and abuse. I was rooting for Tara throughout the whole novel, and at times wanted to shake her. I wanted to shout, “but you’re so much better than that!” or “ask for help!” and I appreciate the self-awareness this memoir has. Westover repeatedly explains that her actions were not rational and that she had an utter inability to ask for help. Honestly, this book made me feel appreciative of the incredible support system I have while seeking education and made me want to reach out to mentors who pushed me to improve and challenge myself and believe in myself, as I watched Westover gain some really strong mentors.

While some parts of the story are really hard to read (super abusive brother and delusion of her parents), I just couldn’t stop reading and rooting for Tara to overcome the terribleness of her family structure and the oppression they attempted to impose on anyone who challenged her father or older brother. Honestly, the whole time I wasn’t sure why her father was so defensive of her abusive brother. I get not wanting to face hard issues, but it seemed like his relationship with Tara was, initially, much stronger than with the brother. I found his defense of the brother a bit confusing, but it also made sense given the delusion and paranoia documented earlier in the story.

The story has a satisfying ending, and it’s so interesting to watch Westover’s personal growth. I love her writing style, and I love that she’s honest about where she is with her family relationships and where she hopes they go. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I think it’s so beneficial to accept that we can love people but sometimes it’s better to not have them in our lives. I was so intrigued by this story from start to finish. I may or may not have entered a rabbit hole of interviews with the author on YouTube upon finishing it. Some critics say this book isn’t inspiring. I think it is insofar as accepting that it’s perfectly okay to put yourself first and pursue an education with everything you have.

I highly, highly recommend this read. I think if you want a hard but strong story, this is for you!

Truly,
Callie leigh

June To-Be-Read (TBR) (and why there’s overlap with May)

Add heading (3).png

Hello, World.

May was not the best reading month. What I read was great, but how much I read was less than I wanted or expected. I think in the chaos of ending finals and trying to move to DC and then start working I just wasn’t in the mood to read all the time. I also, admittedly, was spending a lot of time binge-watching Riverdale, which is so addicting. So, I only got through Little Fires Everywhere and The Great Alone. Had I chosen a smaller second book I may have gotten further on my list, but I wanted to tackle the clunkier books first, so as to get them out of the way early. I don’t mean to imply they are lesser or not as good. The Great Alone was a great read (review is here), but at 430-ish pages, it’s a bit heftier than the other books. Right now I’m working through The Female Persuasion and it’s addicting. I find myself needing to read as much as possible because I love everything in it and I’m enjoying the style of writing. This is another monster book, however, at 450-ish pages. Still, I’m 100 pages in after about 2 days of reading, so hopefully, I find some good reading time soon.

Because my June TBR is more realistic than my May TBR, the list is essentially the books I didn’t get to in May. July and August will hopefully have 3-4 books each. I figure if I can get through a book a week, then it’s manageable. I want to read more and I’m loving the reading I chose for myself. Last summer I tackled a very long novel that was a slow read, so I didn’t read as many books as I would have liked. I want reading novels to be an active part of my life and so I’m trying to watch less TV and read more. I figure binge-watching shows are easier when I’m in school, so I should use the summer downtime to read rather than watch shows.

So, in case you missed my May TBR, June will consist of the leftovers:
The Female Persuasion
An American Marriage
Educated

Truly,
Callie leigh