Books · Movies & Television

The Roaring Swinging Fabulous Groovy Blog Collaboration

Hi ya! What a blog title, right? At the end of 2017 Alexandra from Simply Alexandra suggested we go in together on some kind of blog collaboration. I love Alexandra & her blog so I was 100% up for that. After brainstorming things we both love (which were endless, honestly), we settled on books/entertainment and 1900 eras.

the roaring blog collab

So here’s what we’re up to. On the first Tuesday of the month, February through November, we’re going to highlight books & films from/about specific eras that we recommend! (Television shows, too, sometimes!) There’s no commitment or link-up during those months on your end, but in December we will be hosting a recap/link-up for the entire year.

Essentially Alexandra and I are flooding our blogs with recommendations 🙂

So before we kick this off, here’s a super short Q&A just to introduce (or reintroduce) Alexandra & I!

What would readers typically find on your blog?
Alexandra: As a lifestyle blogger… anything is fair game! You can expect to see a lot of goal-setting, book review, and travel related posts… as well as posts about things I’ve been up to with KC and our mischievous kittens.
Audrey: Everything. I write about books and movies, my dogs and my life (like owning a house, being married, all that riveting stuff), a few travel posts or trip recaps. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a feisty political rant.

Have you always loved history or historical fiction?
Alexandra: Oh gosh yes. Do you remember The American Girl books? Or The Royal Diaries series? I was all about those. I read every. Single. American Girl book just so I could get a Felicity doll for my 10th birthday. BEST DAY EVER! I’ve always loved historical fiction and period dramas. 🙂
Audrey: Always. I love that history is a long, true, dramatic, romantic, adventurous story. I’m with Alexandra- I had the American Girl Dolls and read the books, too. (And Felicity was my fav!!) I think that history is fascinating and foretelling. I wanted to study it in college, but I didn’t want to teach so I chose a different major.

Which era is your favorite?
Alexandra: Oh gosh, this is tough. I love so many of them for so many different reasons. I think that I have to choose the 1930’s though. I find that a lot of my favorite time periods (or stories from them!) have to do with really really hard times, and strong people who made it through them!
Audrey: I enjoy the fashion and movies and cars from the 1940s and 1950s. Some of my favorite music comes from the 40s. I likes films from the 60s, too. If I had to pick one, though, it’d be the 1940s.

Which era is your least favorite?
Alexandra: The 80’s I think. There are just not as many things I can appreciate that came out of the ‘80’s. I don’t love the music, movies, etc. (Obviously this does NOT include the people born then!)
Audrey: Honestly, I dislike how certain things define eras…I don’t like anything Gatsby or poodle skirts or Woodstock-y or neon/leggings. Do you know what I mean? But to answer the question, I dislike the 70s.

Check back on February 6th for our first round of recommendations! We’re setting our sights on the 1910s for February!

Critters & Pets · Life

Best Christmas Gift EVER

We spend a lot of money on dogs throughout the year… between vet visits, food, new beds, medicine, noms, and toys these dogs want for nothing. As a special treat for ourselves this Christmas, we bought Lylee and Enzo dog DNA tests. NO REGRET, guys. We found Wisdom Panel 3.0 kits on Amazon (on sale!) and they’re 100% not sponsoring this. The results were both amazing and surprising.

The hardest part is swabbing your dogs cheek for 15 seconds twice. OOF. Enzo just laid there but Ly wasn’t a huge fan. We got the job done, though.

So we submitted our kits between Christmas and New Years and the results were emailed to us this past week. Not bad.

Ok… On to the results. Any guesses first??


Lylee

K and I pinpointed Ly as a husky-boxer mix and that’s usually what we tell people. Turns out she’s got quite a bit of dog in her… (but also we weren’t wrong).

The test goes back to her great-grandparents. There’s a potential for 8 different purebreds. Turns out Ly had seven purebred grandparents and one mutt.

She’s an equal part staffie, shepherd, boxer, husky, (American) bulldog, chow, & lab. And then a misc. mutt mixture.

Wisdom Panel

Lylee’s results weren’t too surprising. I think I was most surprised that there isn’t MORE husky and boxer in her. I assumed she had some pit (American Staffordshire Terrier & American Bulldog). I wasn’t expecting Chow Chow, but I totally see it now.

Appearance: In my opinion, Ly is built like a husky/shepherd. She has a square head and slight under-bite like a boxer/pit, though. Her fur is thick and she’s got endurance and strength for days. I imagine the yellow coloring come from the Labrador Retriever.

Personality: I could go on for weeks about canine personality. I think it’s fascinating. Lylee is probably one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met (holla’, German Shepherd) but she’s also incredibly headstrong (boxer, chow, husky). She’s not necessarily territorial, but she’s extremely bonded to us and Enzo, and she definitely only chooses to listen when she admires the human talking to her (chow). She’s energetic, hyper, talkative, an escape artist (husky), and a digger. She also loves to play fetch (lab) and she can sniff out any toy. Many of these breed descriptions said she might not be good with other dogs- especially those of the same sex. BINGO. They also said she is potentially great with children. Not so much… lol.

Overall, it’s kind of reassuring to know why Lylee is so bonded/protective of us and why she tends to dislike other dogs. I knew there was some boxer and husky in her, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that she’s got purebred pit, too. Obviously we love her regardless of the results, though.


Enzo

We thought Enzo was some kind of whippet/border collie/weimaraner mix. Or even a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever mix.

So. Wrong. I’m almost upset over Enzo’s results. I feel bamboozled.

I love all dog breeds the same- I’m just confused about E’s results. I mean, he’s more of a husky than Lylee is! I 100% see the beagle. The other two purebreds perplex me.

My best guess is that those mixed-breed ancestors have some small terrier in them (like a Russell) and some sighthound (like a whippet). Honestly… I just don’t know. Haha.

Appearance: After getting E’s results we googled beagle-husky mixes and beagle-shepherd mixes. I guess he looks similar to some of those dogs. I’d say his small size and floppy ears and face structure is pretty beagle-like. We think the husky ancestors had to be brown/tan huskies, not black/grey ones. Enzo has NO black fur or skin and we known black is a dominant color in dogs, so we’re fairly confident in our assumption. Enzo is muscular but I don’t know where that comes from. I guess the mixed-breed plays a large part in E’s appearance.

Personality: Enzo is the sweetest soul in the world. He has a laid back personality and he’s ridiculously good with other dogs and children and almost everyone. He’s the least aggressive dog in the world BUT he does love to give chase (husky?). Also, if we’re on a walk and a scary-looking unfamiliar stranger (hood up/baggy clothes/has a quick or aggressive walk) gets too close to us Enzo will keep his eyes glued to the person (typically male) and growl  at him. It’s super out of character for him but he’s done it multiple times so it’s not a fluke. E is extremely bonded to us (esp me). He was a dream to train and he still lives to please us. Whatever he is, I feel like he got all the best qualities of those dogs.


Kyle is obviously pumped. He’s been walking around the house calling the dogs “my two pretty huskies”, lol. I’m happy to know what the dogs are but it doesn’t matter one bit. Haha. Our dogs will always be mixed rescue dogs 🙂

If you’ve ever thought about doing a DNA kit for you pup, I say DO IT. Especially if you can get a kit while it’s on sale!

But also- did you guess right??

* It completely got past me that Wisdom Panel is a Mars Inc. company. Mars is not a cruelty-free company. If you decide to DNA test your dogs, do more research than I did and spend your money in a way that keeps your soul happy.

Relationships

What It All Means to Me

I haven’t written a heartfelt post in a while and Emelia inspired me to share my thoughts on this…

I started this blog in October of 2014. Prior to that I’d tried my hat at a few other forums and blogs but this one has been my biggest success. (I consider it a success because a) you’re here reading it and b) I very much enjoy writing it.) I’m not sure what I expected when I launched into this world, but I formed an online friendship with Chelsea pretty quickly and from there my internet friends really picked up and expanded.

I think there’s a somewhat popular opinion out there that traditional blogging is dead. Unless you pay $1,000 for good pictures or spend all your time pushing new skin care products (a.k.a. “influencing”), your place in this world is fading. Like Emelia, I 100% disagree with that.

I think that if you’ve been doing this for a few years you know that readership dips in the summer. You know that less people visit on holiday weekends and January is reserved for self-improvement and ‘goals’ posts. You pick up on the patterns of this world and you go with them or carve your own path. I love that this environment nurtures BOTH options.

Here are some other things I love about blogging:

Ohio is not a typical target for natural disasters or attacks (fingers crossed) so it’s hard to imagine the terror or devastation or hope that people feel when faced with wildfires or bombings or floods. Reading this post from Carolann about the Hawaii false missile alert or seeing IG stories from Ashten during the CA wildfires was so eye-opening. I cried real tears for these girls, even though I’ve never been in a situation like that or experienced these events first hand. Even on a smaller scale, reading about postpartum depression or flight anxiety or adoption or weight struggles is easier to understand and empathize with because of bloggers’ vulnerability. I’m more informed about city life and the struggles of homelessness, gerrymandering, and even commuting because people choose to write about it. When I was growing up our closest neighbors were cows so it’s a benefit to see the world through the eyes of people with different experiences.

I could go on and on about the friendships I’ve formed with other ladies in the blog world. I often catch myself telling local family and friends, “Well a friend of mine did xyz…” and I’m 100% talking about a blog friend. (K knows most of you all by name and he definitely knows your pets’ names.) I participate in snail-mail exchanges and book challenges and film challenges with my friends. I send and receive care packages. We collaborate on posts. We swap book recommendations and even physical books sometimes! If I stopped blogging I feel like the biggest loss I’d suffer would be the amount of friends I have. I really truly hope to meet some of them in person some day because I feel like we’ve fostered such a unique and special friendship through our writing.

While there’s always the risk of comparing lives or feeling jealous rage over perfectly edited IG photos, I think this community is a healthy place for inspiration. I constantly feel inspired to clean out my closet, cook a new dinner recipe for K, treat myself to a bubble bath and a glass of wine, or just take a walk on a pretty day. The ladies that I follow are constantly reminding me to enjoy life and be kind to myself (and others) and keep my environment healthy and productive and personal. That message gets lost or muddled in the fast-paced world outside our blogs. I honestly find that keeping close to and reading the words of other bloggers helps me to stay grounded and focused. They spread encouragement and acceptance and change, and in return I find myself doing the same.

It’s probably the most superficial reason for blogging, but I love the recommendations that come out of this environment. Speaking specifically about the bloggers I choose to follow, I think all the women are genuine and honest in their reviews. I find so many incredible books and movies, make-up products and shoes, clothing sales and Amazon steals from this community. It’s incredibly helpful come Christmas or birthdays or a treat yo’ self day.

I’m not an influencer. I made my very first sponsored post a few weeks ago and I didn’t get any money- they simply sent me a canvas to review. (It was awesome and I loved the whole experience, by the way.) I’m not a sales person so you’ll never see something here that I don’t love. I love to talk about my dogs and life and marriage and travel and books so that’s actually what you’ll see here 95% of the time.

So no, I don’t believe traditional blogging is dead and I’ll be around this space for as long as it’s fun and rewarding and therapeutic. I hate when blog-friends fade away, but I understand. I see my blog as a relationship with friends across the globe and I truly wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m grateful that you spend time here and I hope you get as much out of the blog world as I have and do. ❤︎

Movies & Television

2018 Movies I’m Excited About!

Let’s be real- I’ll never actually see these movies in the theater… *facepalm*

I try, guys. I really try! The last list I made (that I can find) was from 2016 and I did end up seeing Alice Through the Looking Glass, Bad Moms, Secret Life of Pets, The Founder, and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, but the only one I saw in theaters was Fantastic Beasts… (Maybe I saw Pets in theaters? I don’t remember.) Also, how I still haven’t seen X-Men is beyond me. UGH.

But I digress. Back to movies…

Molly’s Game R | Aaron Sorkin | January 5
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner
I avoid super serious movies and TV, but I love Sorkin too much to stay away. It’s rated R for language, drugs, and some violence, but I’m hoping it’s light on the latter.

Peter Rabbit | Will Gluck |February 9
Starring: James Corden, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Rose Byrne
The trailer for this had me cracking up. Corden’s voice lends itself beautifully to Peter’s mischievous character. I think it’s going to be a cute, funny kids movie.

A Wrinkle in Time PG | Ava DuVernay | March 9
Starring: Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Storm Reid
I read (listened to) this book this year and found it ok-ish. I really love all the actors in this film, though, so I’m hoping the movie is wonderful!

Isle of Dogs | Wes Anderson | March 23
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, all the W.A. usuals
This is my most anticipated film of 2018. Not kidding. I love Anderson, I love dogs, and I love stop-motion animation. Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my all time favorites. I hope the same dry and quirky comedy is tied in with this little gem.

Ready Player One | Steven Spielberg | March 30
Starring: Tye Sheridan, T.J. Miller, Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg
I won’t lie- I have no idea what this movie is about, but the trailer totally sucked me in. I should definitely read the book first, right?

Ocean’s Eight | Gary Ross | June 8
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Cate Blanchette, Matt Damon
I am a die-hard Ocean’s fan. They are some of my favorite movies and I love the all male cast. I’ve seen the original, too, so don’t challenge me on this. Keeping that in mind, I am not about to entertain the misogyny that will ensue with this female-studded Ocean’s cast. They’ve done three of these films- there is no standard for this franchise. And guys, SANDRA BULLOCK is playing CLOONEY’S sister. Could anything BE more perfect?! No. Well, yes… if you add in Olivia Munn, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, and Helena Bonham Carter. Seriously. As long as they keep the witty comedy coming, this will be a perfect addition to the Ocean family.

The Incredibles 2 | Brad Bird | June 15
Starring: Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Craig T. Nelson
The Incredibles is my favorite Pixar movie. Obviously I’m excited for its long overdue sequel. Hopefully it lives up to the first one.

Mary Queen of Scots | Josie Rourke | November 2
Starring: Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, David Tennant
This has the potential to be boring, but I like this era so I’m crossing my fingers that it ends up being really, really good. Lol

X-Men: Dark Phoenix | Simon Kinberg | November 2
Starring: Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Olivia Munn
I need to catch up on my X-Men, but I’m confident I will and I’ll eventually get around to seeing this film. None of the other actor/character changes have bugged me but I’m kind of sad to see Famke Janssen not playing Jean Grey. I get it, though.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas | Peter Candeland, Yarrow Cheney | November 9
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch
I know, I know… another Grinch remake. This one looks like it has Lorax-type animation. We shall see.

Holmes & Watson | Etan Cohen | November 9
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall
I’m a sucker and I will give any movie starring Will and John a try. Talladega Nights is one of my all time favorites so my expectations are high for this one.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald | David Yates | November 16
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller
I enjoyed the first one and I’m a sucker for anything HP. I’m not a fan of Dumbledore to begin with so Law can’t do anything to make me dislike his younger-version character. Ha.

Mary Poppins Returns | Rob Marshall | December 25
Starring: Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Emily Mortimer, Lin-Manuel Miranda
It’s essentially a sequel to the original (good thing P.L. Travers is dead). I’m usually skeptical of sequels, but I think this cast will do it justice.

On the Basis of Sex | Mimi Leder | 2018
Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux
A movie about the life and struggles of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Yes, please.

Movies K will want to see…

Super Troopers 2 | Jay Chandrasekhar | April 20
Starring: Rob Lowe, the original movie actors
Guys… the first one was SO dumb but my husband loves it. I guess this one will have Rob Lowe so maaaaybe I can sit through it once 😉 Also, don’t let it slip by you that its release date is 4/20 *eyeroll*

Bad Boys For Life | 2018
Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence
There’s pretty much nothing out about this one, but I know K will want to see it. Lol

As always, there are movies I’m not sure about:

Also, 2017 movies I still want to see include: Wonder Woman, Jumanji, Murder on the Orient Express, & Wonder

And 2019 movies that already look good are: How to Train Your Dragon 3, Captain Marvel, Toy Store 4 (still need to see #3…), Secret Life of Pets 2, The Lion King, & Frozen 2
*so essentially all the kids movies, lol

But enough about my movie picks. What are you looking forward to?

Holidays & Celebrations! · Shopping & Finances

Amazon-ing for the Holidays

Back in November I shared a post with my recent Amazon purchases. Compared to that one, this list is a monster. Ha. Many, many Christmas gifts came from the smiling box. Nothing here is an affiliated link and I have to give props to Rebecca Jo for the post idea.

Let’s do this…

B O O K S

The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners: A No-Stree Meal Plan with Easy Recipes to Heal the Immune System
Purchased for my sis-in-law because she suffers from a very limiting chronic illness.

Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
Purchased for my other sis-in-law because I thought she’d like the strange and interesting stories.

The Magic of Motherhood: The Good Stuff, the Hard Stuff, and Everything In Between
Purchased for my bff because she’s a momma who enjoys a good book.

So far the only feedback I’ve received has been from Erica who is loving The Magic of Motherhood!

The Sisters Brothers
Purchased for my husband’s grandfather because he loves westerns and I loved this book (& cover).

Q&A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal
Purchased for my 10 year old cousin.

The Girls’ Doodle Book
Also purchased for my 10 year old cousin (who enjoys art)!

C L O T H I N G

Sanuk Women’s Yoga Duet Sandal
Purchased for my mom because she liked mine and these don’t go through the toes.

Eddie Bauer Men’s Cloud Layer Pro 1/4-Zip Pullover, heather grey
Purchased for my dad-in-law because I thought he’d like it and most of his clothes get ruined at work. #welderlife

yige Women’s High Waisted A-line Skirt Skater Pleated Full Midi-Skirt, green
Purchased for me because I liked it… lol.

Large Trojan – Mascot Crystal Post Earrings
Purchased for my mom because she’s a school teacher at a school district with a Trojan mascot.

E L E C T R O N I C S

Pawbo Life Wi-Fi Pet Camera
Includes 720p HD video, 2-way audio, video recording, treat dispenser, & laser game…
Purchased for K (from Lylee and Enzo).

Oh my gosh, we love this thing. We haven’t used the treat dispenser or the laser game, but the video aspect is awesome.

Homeweeks 100ML Auto Off Ultrasonic diffuser LED Colorful Night-Lighting Aroma Mist Maker
Purchased for my 16 year old cousin because she’s a teen who could use some de-stressing scents in her life.

Pure Body Naturals Pure Therapeutic Grade Top 6 Essential Oil Basic Kit
Includes lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemongrass, orange, and peppermint…
I gave Allie the orange and lavender scents from this kit. I kept the other 4 🙂

G A M E S

TableTopics Couples: Questions to Start Great Conversations
My brother and sis-in-law like to talk to each other (weirdos) so I got them this.

Codenames
Purchased for our niece and nephews.

Sleeping Queens
Also purchased for our niece and nephews.

O F F I C E * S U P P L I E S

Blue Skyle 2018 Laminated Erasable Wall Calendar, Double Sided, 36×24
Purchased for me at work. Ha. Super exciting.

MyLifeUNIT Fineliner Coloe Pen Set, 10 assorted colors
I got this for Amber in our blogger swap!

Bloom Daily Planners Classic Planner Sticker Sheets
I also got this for Amber!

K I T C H E N

Masterbuilt 30″ Digital Electric Smoker
Purchased for K as his “big gift.” Hopefully this means I get a few more nights off where dinner is concerned…

Star Wars Lightsaber Salt and Pepper Shakers
Purchased for my bro-in-law who also has the R2-D2 cookie jar.

Ello Cole Vacuum-Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mugs
Purchased one for Kayla and one for Aubrey. I freakin’ love these mugs.

Fred MY TAI Unbrella Drink Markers
Purchased for Aub. (Kayla got the wiener dog ones but I didn’t buy them on Amazon.)

S U P E R * R A N D O M * G I F T S

Knock Knock Personal Library Kit
Purchased for my 19 year old college cousin because she is anal about people borrowing her books. She makes us sign them out. #perfect

Schwinn Air Center Plus Floor Pump with Gauge
My brother wanted a bike pump so I got him a bike pump.

Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit
…obviously purchased for Ly and Enzo. Turns out A LOT of people took advantage of this sale on Amazon. I’ll share the results when we get them 😉

Funko POP! Marvel: Dancing Groot Bobble Action Figure
My dad loves Groot and he’s a child so I figured he’d love this bobble head. I was right.

Seeing all the money I spent (through Amazon alone) is quite shocking. Maybe these recaps are a bad idea… hahaha. Fortunately, everyone seemed to really love their stuff (and truthfully I really love gifting people).

What’d you get from Amazon this holiday season??

home

Decorating Our House

I keep promising pictures of the house, then I show you the same areas with holiday decorations (like this Halloween post and this Christmas one). I’m sorry. I promise my intentions are pure. This post has more pics for ya 😉

Just before the new year I started chatting with the good folks at Photo Wall. They’re a Swedish company that specializes in canvas art and wall murals. I had been dying for a big canvas print of K & me at our wedding and it appeared as though my +4 year long procrastination paid off this time.

This post was sponsored by Photo Wall but all opinions, pictures, & decorating expertise is my own!

So without further ado, here are some new pics of the house! On January 2nd K and I went to town (literally) and returned with curtains, shelving, artwork, vases, and more!

View from the front door.

New coat rack. That table is not staying. Those books are staying. No upstairs pics today.

Enzo will appear in almost every picture. Camera hog.

We moved some stuff around. Added some decor. Hung some art and shelves.

The “library” space looked cluttered and random so we divided the shelves up and framed the TV with them.

We hung my favorite van Gogh and turned the former library area into a sitting/reading corner.

The next few photos show a house that’s 100% lived in. Just remember that…

The sitting area leads into the dining room which is connected to the kitchen.

Tiny laundry room off the kitchen. But a clothes chute!

When we moved in we knew we’d need a fence for the canines. Now our backyard damn near resembles a dog park. Lol. We plan to do a lot to it in the spring/summer.

The treeline behind the back fence follows a creek.

Now back inside where it’s warm… (Oops, I lied! You do get a pic of the upstairs…)

When I placed my order for a canvas from Photo Wall I did not expect to see it show up a mere 3 days later. But it did.

I also didn’t expect to see it show up like this:

*scissors & dog not included, lol

Stick with me, though. I fully intended to have K whip this thing together for me, but then we decided I should give it a try since I’d be the one blogging about it.

Guys. It took me 15 minutes to put the canvas together. Easy peasey (and the satisfaction I felt in the end was even better!). I made Kyle tighten the screws down & hang the picture as soon as I was done!

*hanging hardware included- I just forgot to photograph it
Our bedroom wall, directly across from the bed!

I was so pleased with the outcome! And honestly- probably the best part- Photo Wall gives back to the environment through Vi Agroforestry. I love celebrating companies that give back 😊

They wanted to give back to you guys, too. Use the code AudieLouCampaign2018 to get 20% off your order with them for the next 30 DAYS! Go treat yourself with some pretty artwork or get a jump start on a personal Valentine’s Day gift 💕

Thanks for being so patient on the home tour front, friends! Hopefully this satisfied your house-pics hunger for now!

P.S. After this post was done we got our new coffee table and the curtains for the living room (a.k.a. last night). K spent 2 hours putting the table together and insisted that I share a picture of it. Ha.

Books

What I Read…

It’s the very first Show Us Your Books link-up of 2018!

As I mentioned last year, I’m changing my reviewing process just a bit. Nothing to write home about. You’ll navigate the new waters just fine. Hopefully I’ve settled on this format.

I included my favorite quotes from some of the better books. I won’t do that all the time, but if the words truly speak to me I’ll probably pass them along here.

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
★★★★★/5
A somewhat quirky, sad but hopeful & unique story about Father Christmas.
I added this book to my TBR list at the beginning of 2017 and made a note in my planner to start it in December. Good call, past-Audrey. It was whimsical and cute, but it wasn’t all fluffy and unconditional happiness. I loved how Haig tied traditional Christmas elements into the storytelling. While I believe this book is aimed at middle schoolers and teenagers, there were so many applicable lessons for all ages.
Should you read it? Yes! Especially around the holidays!
*read in 2017

There was a gasp. ‘A human? Will he eat us?’
‘No.’
‘Should we run away?’
‘It’s perfectly safe, I’m sure. And even if it’s not, we must never let fear be our guide.’

. . .

‘That’s impossible.’
Little Noosh gasped as Father Topo covered her ears. ‘Elves never ever say that word.’ He shook his head. ‘An impossibility is just a possibility you don’t understand yet…’


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
★★★★★/5
Summoned to the grand apartment of living Hollywood legend Evelyn Hugo, Monique Grant is surprised to find that the once-private mega star is suddenly ready to talk and specifically requesting Monique to tell her story.
This was my first TJR and obviously it didn’t disappoint. I loved the old Hollywood drama and the complex characters and the spirit and drive and cruelty and fierceness of Evelyn. Man… she wasn’t a flawless heroine or a soft and gentle role model. She was just….. determined and human and calculating and smart. And that makes for an extremely interesting character. I picked this book up one night and devoured 100 pages, then came back for more the second evening, and sat down after work on the third night and knew I’d finish it. I felt like the story was easy to read and understand, but it kept me guess and craving more.
Should you read it? Yes, I believe that you should.
*read in 2017

“When you dig just the tiniest bit beneath the surface, everyone’s love life is original and interesting and nuanced and defies any easy definition.”


Finding Audrey by Sophia Kinsella
★★★★/5
Completely devastated and broken by an incident at school, 14 year old Audrey hides from the world behind her family, therapist, and black sunglasses, but then she meets Linus and her brain starts to change.
First, and totally unrelated, it’s fun to read about a character with your name. That’s rare for me. I loved when they called her Aud 🙂 That’s my nickname, too. Anyway… the story was cute and quick. Audrey’s family was SO frustrating but they meant well. I loved the way Kinsella tackled tough issues like bullying and depression and social anxiety. The focus of the story was never on the drama of Audrey’s past. Rather, it focused on her present situation and her healing and her different outlook on the world. I thought the story and characters were likeable and relatable. It ended a little neatly and the last half felt rushed, but I didn’t mind. The video camera moments were fun.
Should you read it? Yes, if you enjoy the occasional quick YA novel.


The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
★★★/5 
A cry for help summons Hercule Poirot and Cpt. Arthur Hastings to France but they arrive too late and are suddenly swept up into a murder with many suspects, clues, and victims.
I very much enjoy the mystery and pace of Christie’s novels. She/Poirot reveal most of the clues and details, but I have yet to solve any of her damn mysteries. Lol. The Hastings character makes me absolutely insane with his stupid naivety. He always so quick to judge or fall for a pretty girl or doubt Poirot. Seriously dude, just chill. But anyway, it was another solid mystery set in a quaint 1920s French seaside town.
Should you read it? Maybe. If you like English mysteries.


Right now I’m participating in the Book Challenge by Erin 8.0:

|5 points| Freebie: The Murder on the Links (Christie)
|10 points| Starts with the letter L: Last Christmas in Paris (Gaynor)
|10 points| Has a (mostly) red cover: Girl Waits With Gun (Stewart)
|15 points| A character’s name in the title: HP & the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
|20 points| From this list: Three Dark Crowns (Blake)
|20 points| “House” or “home” in the title: The House of New Beginnings (Diamond)
|25 points| Author’s first & last name begins w/ the same letter: Renegades (Meyer, M)
|30 points| Originally published in a different language: The Hangman’s Daughter (Potzsch)
|30 points| Most of the action takes place on a form of transportation: Dead Wake (Larson)
|35 points| A character suffers from a debilitating illness: Finding Audrey (Kinsella)

Kicking things off with 40 out of 200 points.

Linking up with Steph and Jana today!! Comment and tell me what you read this month!