Category: books

What I read- December 2016

January 5
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copy-of-weekly-planning-spouse-2Another month has past and I read a few more books.  December was a slow month book wise as I do most of my reading via audiobooks during my commute. In December I took a week off to visit Chicago and had several days off for the holidays.


White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

If you’ve ever wanted to dig deeper into the story of class relations in the US then this book is for you. As the title suggests, it goes all the way back to colonial times to explain where, how, and why the class division between whites came about. Although this book is quite deep and long I felt that it was a great piece to really get to understand our world, especially after the most recent election.

 


The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I love David Levithan so when this book came out I knew it would be a perfect Christmas read. This is a sequel to Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. Looking for something cute, christmasy with some romance? These are for you.

 

The Whistler by John Grisham

When I was in college I read The Pelican Brief.  Then I read every other John Grisham book I could get my hands on. One of the few super popular authors that I enjoy, Grisham does a great job of writing an exciting book with a great story, mystery, and not too much mushy stuff. This newest title takes place in my home state of Florida which was fun as well.  Check it out if you’re a fan.


Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

After hearing of the passing of Carrie Fisher on December 27th I grabbed this on audiobook. This latest book which just came out back in November came about after she found her old diaries from when she was filming A New Hope. She shares many of her entries as well s finally comes out with the details about her affair with Harrison Ford. It was bittersweet to listen to the audiobook as she narrates a large portion of the book; however it was a great way to remember her. A must read (or listen) for the female Star Wars fan.

 

And that was December. I am actually surprised I was able to finish this many titles but am happy it happened. Check out this post about my reading goals for 2017.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

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What I read: November 2016

December 1
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November was a busy reading month for me. With a couple holidays in the month and lots of driving  I had time to complete several books. I also met my Goodreads goal for the year this month.

15181417_10105835031971002_995180526767701722_nIn 2016 I challenged myself to read 50 books. I am happy to say that by the end of the month I was at 53.  :)

Anyways I was able to read three non-fiction this month which is about on par. I like to alternate fiction and non-fiction to kinda keep things fun and informative.  I am working on a non-fiction now so that will help even things out.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This was a fun young adult book that takes place during the holiday season in New York City. If you enjoy light teen romances and John Green style characters then you will enjoy this book. I am a huge John Levithan fan so I knew this would be a fun way to kickstart the holiday season. I also have The Twelve Days of Lily and Dash to read next month. (yay!)


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret) has been pretty popular as of late.  I had never read her, but figured i’d give her a try with her newest novel.  I enjoyed the sense of mystery in this novel as well as how real the characters felt.  I am looking forward to reading some of her other titles to see if the are also this good.  Bonus: The author is Australian and this title takes place in Sydney which was a fun almost cultural experience.


All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I know, I know, I know. I am the LAST person to finally finish this book. I started it all the way back in September! I love how this book took the lives of two people during World War II and shares how their lives intertwine.  It is a long book, but if you have the time I strongly recommend you read it, if anything just for the social aspect of knowing the story. I know some people said it was the best book they have ever read, and while I cannot go that far, I do feel that it is a solid read and a modern classic.


The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

This book came to me as a recommendation from a colleague and I am glad I gave it a read.  Although it was not my favorite this month it was a great bit of insight into a sport I knew nothing about.  Wether you enjoy crew or not this book will be informative as well as insightful into the collegiate system, the 1930’s and the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.


Buffering by Hannah Hart

Have you ever watched My Drunk Kitchen on YouTube? If so you are probably familiar With Hannah. Buffering is her autobiography about her life so far. Hannah grew up in poverty with a mother who struggled with mental illness. The book explains how she recovered from her childhood, made it into college, understood her sexuality, and created My Drunk Kitchen. I love how open and honest Hannah is about her struggles with family and mental illness and how life isn’t always fun.

Paris for one by Jojo Moyes

Paris for One is a short story about a girl who plans an trip to Paris for her and her boyfriend and surprise, he doesn’t go.  (I’m sure you didn’t see that coming.) Anyways, she decides to live life on the edge an enjoy the trip herself and ends up meeting a  great French man in the city. Looking for something you can start and finish on a flight? This is the perfect length.  Many copies of this title include other short stories however I did not read those this time around.


#Girlboss by Sophia Amrouso

As someone who considers herself a girl boss it was surprising that it took me this long to read this book.  I guess it is because i never shopped her store, NastyGal so i wasn’t a fan or anything. One thing I will say about this book is that is is more of a memoir then tips on being a great power female.  However, sofia has a great rags to riches story that is quite inspiring, so read it for that. I enjoyed learning about her time selling on eBay as I was doing a bit of selling back in the lat 00s as well.  Anyways, read it if you enjoy her company or want to hear about its origins.

Well, that is is for November. Look for a best of 2016/gift ideas post coming up in the near future.  Have a great week! -Amber Downs

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!

Book Review- Grace, not Perfection

October 8
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Grace, not Perfection by Emily Ley- book review. How to have a happy organized home without all the pressure.

As a blogger and a librarian one of the few perks I receive is access to early review copies of books. Thomas Nelson Speciality Division was awesome and let me review an ebook copy of Grace, Not Perfection, a new book by Emily Ley.

I have been following Emily Ley on social media for a few years now. She is an adorable designer and mother and the owner of the company named after her which makes the Simplified Planner. I have been using this planner at for work about 8 months now and love it. Emily is a great lady who really cares about women and how they make the most out of their days. In her new book she talks about her struggle trying to obtain perfection and how that is in fact not the end goal. She also shares tips on how to make the most of our days while still enjoying the small joys of life.

I am one of the millions of women who try to lead a perfect life. I am you type A first born. I want everything correct and how I think it should be. Often times this leads to overextending myself trying to be everything for everyone and keeping a perfect home at the same time. You can only go 110% full steam ahead for so long before you fall apart. I try to help everyone and do all the things, but in doing so ignore myself both physically and emotionally.

One of the quotes that really hit me was this one:

Have you ever wondered why flight attendants tell travelers that if oxygen masks deploy, you should secure yours before helping your kids or anyone else? They give this instruction because if you can’t breathe there is no way you can help anyone else. 

Grace, not Perfection by Emily Ley 

Emily shares her own personal story of trying to do it all and how it took a serious health scare to make her realize she can’t aim for perfection and must instead look for grace.  She shares both the reasoning for the suggestions she makes as well as real steps you can take to make these changes in your life and home.

Emily is a great christian woman and this book is from a christian perspective.  It is not preachy, however if mention of God is not something you are comfortable with then this book might not be for you.  As a christian this was not an issue for me, but I want my readers to be aware before they purchase.

This book is mostly geared at parents however I feel that I got just as much out of it as a non-parent.  In all reality anyone who feels over-extended like they are doing too much will enjoy this book. It is a quick read and is full of discussion questions so that you can really think about what you’ve read and write down what you can do in your own life to make these changes.

 

Grace, not Perfection comes out October 11th. You can preorder it on Amazon.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

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What I read- September 2016

October 7
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As in the prior months, I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks recently.  They just work for me and I can listen to them during my commute or at home while doing stuff around the house.  Want to try audiobooks? Click here for a free trial to Audible.com


Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
This book came out two years ago and I actually checked it out back then for my husband but of course neither of us got around to reading it. I saw it available on Overdrive through my library and I figured now was a good time to listen to it.  I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting when I got the book, but I was pleasantly surprised that this actually had some meat to it. Yes, of course the book had numerous stories of encounters with other clebs and SNL legends and the obligatory story of working hard and the dark parts of life.  It was awesome to finish the the book and have some great nuggets of advice afterwards. Here are a few.


Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This book has been popular in bookish circles and was an Oprah’s book club selection.  When I saw it at the library I figured it would be an interesting and worth-while read. I was right.  This is a novel that follows the life of a southern plantation slave and her journey via the underground railroad to freedom. What is awesome bout this book is in it the “railroad” is a real functioning railroad.  The book does a great job conveying the true horrors of slavery and the south as well as life as a fugitive slave.


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
If you liked The Girl on the Train or The Passenger then you will also enjoy The Woman in Cabin 10. This is another suspense novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering who did it and how. What I liked about this is that it wasn’t as depressing at The Girl on the Train, but still entertaining.  A great fall read and perfect for snuggling next to a fire. Avoid if you’re going on a cruise. 😉


First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
By suggestion of a friend I read The Eyre Affair in July and really enjoyed it. I went to see what was next in they series and for some reason I came up with this one. Of course it is actually the last in the series so several of the references were lost on me due to lack of back story, but I did enjoy it. I will go back and read the books in the middle, so you may want to try the series, especially if you like literary references in a more modern setting.

 

So thats it for September. As always I wish I would have read more, but hey, you can only do what you can do.  Check out these titles and always feel free to suggest something to me! I am always looking for new titles. (Want to know how to contact me? Check the social media buttons on the top right of the site.)

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

 
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June Favorites

July 1
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I can’t believe June is over already. It seriously flew by! Anyways, we are in the thick of summer now and I want to go ahead and share with you a few of my current favorites.

App: Anylist
This nifty little app has been very useful for us.  It allows users to have both personal and shared lists.  I use it for our grocery list.  I am the worst about remembering the items my husband requests I purchase at the store and when I am in the store often times he is unreachable by phone for his requests.  With the app I just have him (and myself) add items as we find we need them and then whoever is in the store can pick them up.  I also have an personal shopping list in there for items I want to remember to purchase when at the store. Right now AnyList is only available on iOS devices. Oh, did I mention the best part?  Its free!

Avocado

📚My happy stack📚. #happyplanner #thehappyplanner #plannercommunity #plannerlife #plannerlove #planneraddict

A post shared by 📒 Amberdowns.net 📒 (@_amberdowns) on

Just like the rest of America, I am currently OBSESSED with avocados.  I put them in my smoothies, on my quinoa, on toast, and in just about whatever else I am making.  For Father’s day I tried out a new recipe that was delicious on chips.


My Planner Life blog
A week ago I ran across a new blog, My Planner Life, and I fell in love!  Nicola has beautiful free printables for planners and she includes Silhouette files.  Anyways, check her out and don’t forget to add her on Instagram.

 
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What I read: May 2016

June 13
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Copy of March Favorites (3)

This year is my second year participating in the Goodreads reading challenge.  I love using the site to make a goal and then see and follow my progress.  They keep me on track and let me know when I am ahead and behind in my goals.  My goal for 2016 is to read 50 full-length books.

 

goodreads may 2016

As I transitioned into new employment I have been listening to a lot of audio books this last month.  This allows me to be use my commute time as reading time.  With this I was able to get a few books read in May, but not as many as I would have liked to.  Below is the list of books I read along with short reviews.

The War that Saved my Life– Kimberly Brubaker Bradley:  This children’s book (middle grades) is a great piece  historical fiction on World War II.  The story follows a brother and sister from London and their experience being evacuated to the countryside to escape bombing.  The main character Ava, was born with a club foot.  The author did a great job giving readers an understanding of how life was like for a child born with this defect and how her mother dealt with it.  Although this book was written for children is is a deep read and a tear jerker for adults.


Lucky You– Carl Hiaasen:  I love this author; his books are hilarious but also a great reminder of the environmental issues that Florida has, and continues to deal with on a daily basis.  Lucky You is about greedy lotto winners who were not content with  a 14 million dollar win and instead do whatever it take to try and get the rest of the winnings.  I love Hiaasen for vacation reads as they are not too deep and always good for some laughs.

 


Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: David Sedaris- This is the first book by Sedaris that I have read, but I enjoyed it.  His books are collections of essays about his life and experiences.  They are laugh out loud funny and great to read or listen to in short bursts.  I listened to this on audio and it is narrated by the author which is always fun.

After You: Jojo Moyes- No I haven’t seen the movie for Me Before You yet,  ( My husband would go with me if I asked, but I know he doesn’t want to.) Anyways, I did get a chance to listen to After You which was a great way to continue the Story of Luisa after Me Before You, especially if you have interest in, or are dealing with loss of a loved one.

 

I have several half finished books to report on next month.  Keep your eyes out for a long list!

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page.

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What I read April 2016

May 14
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I want to try and share more books here so I figured the best way to start would be by just telling y’all about the books I read each month.  This is the second year I have participated in the Goodreads Challenge.   Last year I challenged myself to read 35 books and I ended up reading 56.  This year I am challenging myself to 50 books.  So far I have completed 16.

I read a variety of books and genres so what you see here one month could be totally different from the next.  This month I read a lot of popular adult fiction, but next month I have a few self-help type books and teen books lined up.  Have a book you think  I’d like?  Let me know. Comment below or email me.  (Amberdownsblog@gmail.com)

Anyways, on to the books!

The passenger by Lisa Lutz

The suggestion for this book came from a Facebook group I’m in.  It was suggested for those who enjoyed The Girl on the Train.  Although it wasn’t as good as The Girl on the Train, it was still a very good read.  I enjoyed the story as well as the twists and turns.  This is a fast paced read with enough action to keep you interested and only a little romance.

This book is about a girl who finds herself running from a crime she did not commit and finding herself in a constant struggle to become someone new while also dealing with a checkered past.

 


Me before You by Mojo Moyes

Me before you has been a popular title for a few months now and will be released as a movie on June 3rd.  (I am still on the fence about it.)  This story follows a girl who lands a job as a caregiver for a quadriplegic  who has lost the will to live. This is romance, tear jerker, and a great piece of insight into life as or with a quadriplegic.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve been a Rainbow Rowell fan ever since I read Eleanor & Park in early 2013.  Although she writes both Adult and YA titles I generally have enjoyed her YA titles better.  Although this isn’t my favorite book by her, i still enjoyed it. The novel is about a woman who is a writer for television and has lost the connection with her husband.  The couple find themselves staying at their respective parents’ homes for the holidays and only communicate via the phones they used as young adults.  Although this book is a little slow, the surprising twists keep me interested until the end.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

After hearing about her books from multiple people I read my first Colleen Hoover book (Confess) in April. Although her books are a little more on the romance side than what I usually read, I really do like her books.  Colleen Hoover (CoHo) is what they call a New Adult author.  Her books are geared at twenty-somethings, or those of us who wish we were.  They. deal with life and relationships in the real world.  November 9 is the story of a girl who is trying to do what she can to get away from the event that changed her life only to find it is still very close to her.

I loved this book.  It, along with Confess, are are type of books you don’t put down until you are finished.  I read them on my Kindle and only stopped to charge the tablet.  (First world problems.)  The book was emotional, and intense but was a great way to step away and get completely wrapped up in a book.

Anyhoo, I hope at least one of these sounds good to you.  What did you read in April?  Share below!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from the sale of items purchased via the links on this page. This helps to cover the cost of hosting and running this page. All opinions and reviews are my own.

Hamilton: The Revolution

April 13
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Hey guys, I just wanted to take a second to tell you about a book we just purchased.  My husband has been a huge fan of the new musical Hamilton.  We haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but we have listened to the album on Amazon Prime. (Free to stream and download for prime members!)  Anyways, when we heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda had written a book with an annotated libretto (lyrics), the history of the musical and cast, and photographs; we had to have it.  Due to our Amazon Prime account we were able to have it delivered Tuesday (the day it came out.)  I was super surprised to see how big the book was!  It is the size of a college textbook. Anyways, I just wanted to share about it for a second in case anyone was on the fence about this title.  Although I haven’t had a chance to totally dig into it, I really think we are going to enjoy going through this book together.

Here are a few shots from the book.  When we pre-ordered the item I wasn’t sure what all it entailed so I figured a few images would help you get the idea.

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My husband’s favorite part?  The rough-cut pages.

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Are you a Hamilton fan?  Have you seen the musical?  What did you think?  Have you tried Amazon Prime?  If not, try a free 30 day trial today.

 

Disclosure:  The post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from any purchases made via these links. This does not affect the price. I use these links to help offset the costs of hosting this site.  Thank you for your understanding.

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