10 November 2022

What I Read in October

October was a slower reading month for me this year. Even audiobooks didn't keep me up to finishing more than four books. It was a random assortment of books this month from a thriller to a few romance books. Here's what I read. 

The Bodyguard

Description: She’s got his back.

Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka "bodyguard"), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.

Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.

When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???

Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

My thoughts: I love Katherine Center's books and while sweet, I wasn't as impacted as some of her other novels. I thought it was sweet and as usual Center's books have something hard to work through. This was very focused on people's expectations of others and the protection of others at the cost of their own image.


All Good People Here

Description: Everyone from Wakarusa, Indiana, remembers the case of January Jacobs, who was found dead in a ditch hours after her family awoke to find her gone. Margot Davies was six at the time, the same age as January—and they were next-door neighbors. In the twenty years since, Margot has grown up, moved away, and become a big-city journalist, but she’s always been haunted by the fear that it could’ve been her. And the worst part is, January’s killer has never been brought to justice.

When Margot returns home to help care for her sick uncle, it feels like walking into a time capsule. Wakarusa is exactly how she remembered: genial, stifled, secretive. Then news breaks about five-year-old Natalie Clark from the next town over, who’s gone missing under eerily similar circumstances. With all the old feelings rushing back, Margot vows to find Natalie and solve January’s murder once and for all.

But the police, the family, the townspeople—they all seem to be hiding something. And the deeper Margot digs into Natalie’s disappearance, the more resistance she encounters, and the colder January’s case feels. Could the killer still be out there? Could it be the same person who kidnapped Natalie? And what will it cost to finally discover what truly happened that night?

My thoughts: I’m a true crime fan and love a good suspense novel but All Good People Here felt lacking.

This was Enchanted on Main’s books and bubbly book club pick for the month and while I like a good suspense novel, there were a lot of red herrings and the ending was unresolved. This book was very influenced by JonBenét Ramsey’s case which was unexpected and felt a little unimaginative.


The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

Description: As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don't mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she's used to being alone and she follows the rules...with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and...Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he's concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn't the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn't know she was looking for....

My thoughts: If you need a spooky vibe book with House of the Cerulean Sea vibes, check out the Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches. It was this month's book club pick for the Between the Tropes romance book club and follows a witch called to help tutor and guide three children witches who are card for by a team of humans. It was a sweet story of found family but similar to other books lately, the romance was secondary to the story and kind of distracting at parts. I also wanted more resolution in the end about the future of the children and the world of witches.


The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels

Description: Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She's also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it's a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he's under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her--hopefully proving, once and for all, that she's as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.

My thoughts: My book club pick for the year turned out to be just okay. I selected The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels for my selection and it surprised me a lot with the amount of magic, literary references, and my lack of loving the love story. I wanted more world-building - how are we selecting homes to fly, how are the ladies in normal society, how long has this been going on, pirates 🏴‍☠️ rules for the ladies. It was sweet but I wish it was more about Cecelia’s family/background, the society, and you could have cut out the romance with Ned (or whatever his real name is).

What are you reading lately?

08 November 2022

10 Things to Do Before the Holiday Madness

Hey y'all,

It is crazy to think that in two weeks I will be packing up my car to head to my parent's house to spend Thanksgiving with my siblings and family. Before the holidays really go crazy, Kristin posed a question in her IG live yesterday - What are you doing over the next two weeks to prepare for the busy season? 

Here are my things:

  1. Drinking at least 75 oz of water a day. With the weather oscillating between the 50s and 80s here in NC my skin doesn't know what to do so staying hydrated is a must.
  2. Eat a veggie at 2/3 meals. I can get into a busy season and forget to add a healthy side to my meals so making sure I make a green smoothie or add cut-up veggies and ranch to the side.
  3. Book last-minute health appointments. I just finished booking therapy through the rest of the year and an imaging appointment recommended by my doctor. If I can find an eye doctor between now and December I will book that appointment as well. 
  4. Deep clean my apartment. I don't know about you but I like a few weeks of clean space before the holiday decor takes over. I have some kitchen and bathroom deep cleaning on my to-do list over the weekend before the tree goes up on November 19th.
  5. Sunday strolls. Calling a friend and going on a greenway or local trail here for a long walk on Sundays. This is so great for my mental health heading into the work week and a fun way to see friends that isn't over dinner.
  6. Book rest and hobby time. For me, I have some stitching (needlepoint and cross stitch) as well as library books on my bedside to read booked over the next few weeks. I might have also added some Hallmark movie premieres to my calendar so I know of a few nights where I will be home resting.
  7. Sleep. With Daylights Savings Time, I need to get back into a routine of going to bed on time and waking up so I can have more time to slowly get ready instead of rushing around.
  8. Finalize my Christmas list. With Christmas and my birthday almost a month apart this is my gifting season. Since gifts are one of my love languages I might start on my list pretty early usually but I just finished the first draft and sent it to my family so they can take part in some November sales.
  9. Car Wash. I don't know about you but I love a clean car. I just made a reminder to take my car to be washed and vacuumed the weekend before I head out of town. Any audiobook suggestions are welcome for my Thanksgiving drive in the freshly washed car.
  10. Listen to more financial podcasts. I have been very spendy this summer into fall and I want to reign in my spending so I have been listening to The Rachel Cruze Show, Smart Money Happy Hour, and the Contentment Challenge episodes of Nancy Ray's Work and Play so I am focusing on being more content, generous, and intentional with my money in a season with all the marketing for sales and stuff.

What are some of the things you are doing over the next few weeks to prepare for the holiday season?

31 October 2022

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! 

I hope you have a great night trick or treating or like me going to dinner with friends and then watching Hocus Pocus 2. 

Here's my pumpkin for the year I carved with friends last week and then our trunk-or-treating photo from yesterday.

What are you dressing up as tonight?

27 October 2022

Basketball, Baseball, Football, and More.

Hey y'all,
I am slowly getting back to blogging so I am trying to recap what has been going on since my hiatus in February. You can check out my travels, weddings, and showers I attended in Tuesday's post here. Today I thought I would share all the other events including a fair amount of sporting events. If you know me in real life you know I love attending Carolina Football games but I wasn't a big basketball fan until I went to college. I will watch all the swim meets and figure skating (and I did this summer on TV) but other live sports are not always my go-to choice. Here's what I have been up to during the last eight months.

Sporting Events.

If you know me in real life you know I love attending Carolina Football games but I wasn't a big basketball fan until I went to college. I will watch all the swim meets and figure skating (and I did this summer on TV) but other live sports are not always my go-to choice.
UNC Basketball. This past spring was a lot for Carolina basketball fans. I attended Senior Night at Dean Dome. Then we can talk about the craziness of March Madness and the Final Four! I can't believe we are almost at basketball season again.

UNC Football. I love football in the Fall and I have attended the UNC vs FAMU and the UNC vs VT games this fall. I hope I can attend another game this fall but we shall see with my schedule.

Durham Bulls Baseball. The summer means it's time to grab some friends and cheer on our local team, the Durham Bulls. I always love the fun themes of the nights and our bible study attended a Bark at the Park night so we got to see some sweet pups in the stadium.

Fayetteville Woodpeckers Baseball. My parents and I attended the Woodpecker's non-profit night when the non-profit was the Cumberland Country library. It was my first time at the Woodpecker's and it happened to be a Christmas in July theme. Watching fireworks to Christmas music at the end was a hoot.

Other Events.

Easter at Walnut Creek. Our church is multi-campused but this year, we all gathered at the Walnut Creek Amphitheater for Easter morning's service. It was a moving message and I of course cried watching baptisms that morning. 

Vacation Bible School. I had not served in VBS since 2019 so it was time to help out with our kid's ministry in June. I ended up serving with one of my friends and we were leaders for a rising 2nd-grade class, very different than our usual Pre-K kids. The theme was making waves and connecting with the choices and words we say having an impact on our lives and those around us. I grabbed lei's from the Dollar Tree for the three nights we served.

Needlepoint Tour. I talked a bit yesterday that I have gotten back into needlepoint. I am luckly close to two local needlepoint stores - Needlepoint.com in Raleigh and Chapel Hill Needlepoint in Chapel Hill. However, this summer, eight needlepoint stores in NC, SC, and GA teamed up to create a passport and a needlepoint tour. It was a fun way to check out new stores and a chance to win fun prizes. While I didn't win, I have a few more stores on my list to visit when I am close by.

S'Morrisville. The sweet town of Morrisville became S'Morrisville during August for National S'mores Day. I went with a few friends to eat s'mores and this dog dressed up was the highlight.

Haircut.  I finally found a local hairdresser. I originally had an appointment in February that was scheduled last fall but it was canceled and left a bad taste in my mouth I finally found a new person and got my hair cut and went back to the dark side in August.

Taylor Swift quartet. I went to a Taylor Swift-themed string quartet concert. I love pop music turned classical and I went with two friends that love Taylor Swift. It was at the beautiful Merrimon-Wynne House in downtown Raleigh.

Birthday tea party. With my friend Jordan, we planned a tea party for our bestie Traci's little girl's 4th birthday. I will tell you that Sugar Magnolia Cafe in Wake Forest does the best little tea for adults and mini's. We have already talked about planning little S' 5th birthday there for another tea with the big girls.

Oreo Day/Bas' Birthday. Jordan's pup's birthday is the same day as National Oreo Day and Michael Jordan's birthday so of course, we did a Bas/Oreo/MJ party.

Animals. I had some fun hanging out with friends' pups while they were out of town. Let's say though, every time I hang out with pups I am reminded that I am happy to be a cat owner when I don't want to go out in poor weather. 

Moving. I moved apartments in September after a summer of finding a roommate and a new place to live. I think I am finally all settled into my new place.

And I think that is about it. I hope this reminds you to celebrate all the things even little ones like Oreo Day and to take photos to remember!

What is one thing you have loved over the last few months?

26 October 2022

What's Up Wednesday {October}


I cannot believe that we are at the end of October. While I am loving that Fall weather has made it's way to NC and the leaves are gorgeous, I am not quiet ready to jump into the holiday season. I think that is one reason I am an after-Thanksgiving decorator. Also, don't get me started on Christmas music before December 1st. Since it is the final Wednesday of the month, I am going to do a little monthly recap with Shay and Shaeffer. 

What I'm Eating This Week:

This week I got back into my cooking on Sunday game (last week was filled with dinners out with friends and the NC State Fair).

I made this taco soup in the crockpot (I sub in frozen chicken breast and throw everything in the crockpot). I also made this Chicken Hibachi dish. 

What I'm Reminiscing About

The bestie trip I took with Jordan and Traci last year. We went to Asheville and Weaverville and had the best time. This year we are staying close to home waiting on Traci's little boy to make an appearance in the next few weeks.

What I'm Loving

A Sunday stroll. I have been loving going on long walks on Sunday afternoons with friends at local trails and greenways.

What I've Been Up To

This month has been packed with events from going to the UNC vs. Virgina Tech game, visiting my parents for a weekend, having a friend in town, attending a wedding, hosting a baby shower, attending the NC State Fair, dinners with friends, and this weekend will be very full as well.
One of three book club meeting this month
When a fellow UNC grad is in town for the first time in 5 years and there is an away game, you head to TOPO for drinks and cheering with fellow UNC fans.
Surviving but not always thriving.

What I'm Dreading

The end of the year is always jam-packed at work. YAY for the end of the fiscal year and prepping for W-2 season. 

What I'm Working On

Needlepoint. I got back into needlepoint this April. I hadn't done it since I was a child since my mom is more of a cross-stitcher and I take after her. Well, let's just say I am now part of the group and have a nice stash of canvases to work on this Fall and Winter including a fun 12 days of Christmas set and a 'Twas the Night Before Christmas set.

What I'm Excited About

Thanksgiving. I am excited to see my siblings (all four of us have not been together since Christmas of 2020). 

The whole family in San Diego in 2019. We are a very serious bunch. lol.

What I'm Watching/Reading

Watching: Elementary has been my comfort re-watch lately. I am also watching the Junior Great British Baking Show and Love is Blind season 3 with friends.

Reading: I am finishing up my book club pick of the year - The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels. I plan to share my October reads next week.

What I'm Listening To

I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks over the last few months. However, on walks, I often listen to podcasts like the Popcast, The Rachel Cruze Show, The Lazy Genius, and Smart Money Happy Hour. I have also really enjoyed listening to worship music and I am excited about my church's new worship album release on Friday. 

What I'm Wearing

Recent favorites have been my Sanderson sweatshirts - I have the Sanderson Museum and Broom one from Pink Lily. I have also been living in my Old Navy leggings.

What I'm Doing This Weekend

This weekend includes going to a worship and prayer night on Friday at church.  Then Saturday includes early voting, an aqua fitness class, reading, and resting. Sunday will be serving in the PreK classroom, church, a trunk or treat with my bible study (we are dressing up as crayons), book club, and hopefully a walk.

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month

Thanksgiving dinner, Friendsgiving dinners, decorating for Christmas, Hallmark movies, and Carolina basketball.

What Else is New

A lot is new! I did a mini recap on yesterday's post and will continue with an update on Thursday's post.

Linking up with Shay and Sheaffer.


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