Tag Archives: reading

Let’s Find You A Nice, Relaxing Hobby

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Let’s Find You A Nice, Relaxing Hobby

If you are in need of a new hobby, then you might want to try something that is relaxing after a long day. In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the nice, chill hobbies that you can take up, so keep reading if you would like to find out more:

Arts And Crafts:

The first thing that we are going to look at is arts and crafts. There is nothing stressful about this hobby, except when things start to go wrong! But, you might find that this is actually extremely therapeutic for you as it gives you something to do with your hands. You are creating brand new things and, the best part, is that there are so many different types of arts and crafts that you’re not just stuck with one. For example, if you find that painting isn’t for you, then you can move onto crochet or scrapbooking until you find your favorite.

Arts and crafts provides you with a creative outlet that helps you to convey how you are feeling. It could be exactly what you need to get rid of the stress of the day.

Reading:

Another thing that you can think about is reading. People don’t really see reading as a hobby, but it is and it is a fantastic one. You can get yourself lost in a range of different worlds, become someone else for a little while, and escape your own reality. The best books are the ones that you can’t put down no matter how hard you try and we suggest you try out an assortment of books to find what you like the most. There is a list of books for emergent readers if you are looking for ideas. Just prepare yourself, because the feelings that you experience when you read are real.

Swimming:

Finally, if you want to do something that keeps you active but that can be relaxing, swimming is your best option. This is a great option as you can just leisurely swim up and down until you feel as though you have had enough. The water relaxes your body and there is nothing but you and the water out in front of you in these moments. It’s a lovely feeling and you can feel your stresses melt away as you glide up and down the pool.

Trial and error is always going to be the best way forward when it comes to a new hobby. If none of the above examples are speaking to you – there are countless more activities to try! We wish you the best of luck finding what you’re looking for.

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Before She Disappeared By Lisa Gardner Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Before She Disappeared By Lisa Gardner Edition

Hi! This past month has been so busy, I feel like I barely had any time to read. However, after an afternoon reading marathon over the weekend, I finally finished the book I had been working on called Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner. I can’t say that I was overly impressed with the way the book ended but I really liked it as a whole due to the strong female lead, Frankie Elken. So, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:

Frankie Elken is a middle aged former alcoholic who drifts from place to place trying to solve missing person cases that have gone cold. She is not a professional and does her investigating without getting paid, so she picks up odd jobs in whatever city she ends up in. Due to Frankie’s own demons, she is highly passionate about what she does. But, unfortunately, she has never brought anyone home alive in the fourteen missing person cases she has worked on. This time, she desperately wants to get it right and heads to Mattapan in Boston to search for teen aged Angelique Badeau.

Angelique and her family are Haitian immigrants who came to America during the earthquakes. She is described as an incredibly gifted student with dreams of being a doctor and has a deep love for her family and Haiti. According to everyone who knows her, the last thing Angelique could be described as is a troublemaker and has never acted rashly before.

Eleven months ago, quiet and determined Angelique disappeared after school without a trace. After months of tracking evidence and following leads, the Boston Police Department came up with nothing and the case eventually goes cold. Cue Frankie Elken.

In a handful of days, Frankie uncovers secrets that the police weren’t even close to discovering on their own. As you can imagine, this leads to much tension between her and the professionals. In a missing person case, every minute is crucial and newly found intel leads Frankie to believe that Angelique is running out of time and fast. Can Frankie bring Angelique home? And just what in the heck happened to her? Read Before She Disappeared to find out!

Although I wasn’t particularly blown away with the way Before She Disappeared ended, I had a good time reading it. The entire book had such a sense of urgency to it and as I read, I felt like I was a detective right alongside Frankie. She is an unlikely heroine and her tenacity and street smarts blew the case wide open when she arrived in Boston. I found myself liking and rooting for her even more with every page.

The entire book felt like waiting for a bomb to blow because time was of the essence and, although the finale was a bit of a dud, I still recommend reading this book. I am going to rate it with a six out of ten star rating and it actually would have been a seven if there weren’t So. Many. Typos. in the book. It’s me being nit-picky, but it drove me nuts! Lisa Gardner has written a plethora of other books and I wouldn’t mind reading more of her work in the future.

What are you currently reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

 

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Night Swim By Megan Goldin Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Night Swim By Megan Goldin Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today we will be discussing a true crime thriller called The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – without giving any spoilers away, of course. It took me a while to get started on reading this book because these past few weeks have been super busy for yours truly. However, once I finally cracked it open I devoured it in less than one week and it was excellent. In fact, it has easily been one of the best books that I’ve read in a good long while.

Before proceeding with the review of The Night Swim, I will be placing a trigger warning on this book as the true crime aspects include rape and murder. Here we go:

Rachel Krall is the creator of the hugely popular true crime podcast called Guilty or Not Guilty. Love her or hate her, she is a household name who reached overnight celebrity status when she uncovered new information that lead to a man falsely convicted of murder to get out of jail in one of her seasons. Between investigating, writing, and recording for her podcast, Rachel is an extremely busy woman and is in crunch mode because the highly anticipated third season of Guilty or Not Guilty is about to begin.

While previous seasons of her podcast reviewed crimes and trials that had already happened, season three will be completely different as Rachel will be reporting in real time at the trial of Scott Blair – a teenage swimming champion accused of rape. Rachel travels to the sleepy, small town called Neapolis in coastal North Carolina, which is already incredibly divided about the case before the trial has even began.

Before reaching town, Rachel stops at a roadside diner for some caffeine and returns to her car to find a letter tucked under her windshield. Despite Rachel’s celebrity status, she has maintained anonymity and her fans don’t know what she looks like, making this delivery alarming. Even more shocking, however, are the contents of the letter from a fan named Hannah who grew up in Neapolis.

Hannah explains that she believes her older sister, Jenny, was murdered twenty-five years ago and wants Rachel’s help to uncover the truth. As previously mentioned, Rachel is a busy woman and her time in Neapolis is spent between investigating a current rape trial and a cold case from a quarter of a century ago. Will her skill and instinct lead her to new information to give closure to Hannah? What will be the outcome of season three of Guilty or Not Guilty? Read The Night Swim to find out!

Despite downright disturbing subject matter, The Night Swim was a captivating read and it really felt like I was investigating the cases right along with Rachel. The book went back and forth each chapter between Rachel’s detective work, letters from Hannah, transcripts from her podcast, and a play by play of the rape trial. It made The Night Swim completely unputdownable because it felt like I was Rachel’s partner and I was urgent for more information to try and solve the cases. While I didn’t get the grand reveal right, I was damn close and was pleased with how much I was able to piece together.

What I enjoyed the most about The Night Swim was how seamlessly it weaved together the past and present cases that Rachel was investigating. In Neapolis, everyone knows everyone and having information from twenty-five years past about current characters provided insight that you rarely get in psychological thrillers. And, of course, Rachel was an amazing heroine who you will find yourself rooting for the entire book.

If the subject matter of The Night Swim isn’t triggering for you, then I cannot recommend this book enough. To further confirm this, I will be awarding it with the prestigious ten out of ten star rating. I have never read a book like this before and I honestly wouldn’t mind reading it again. Megan Goldin is definitely an author to look out for!

What are you reading? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: Every Vow You Break By Peter Swanson Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Every Vow You Break By Peter Swanson Edition

Hi everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing a thriller by Peter Swanson called Every Vow You Break – without giving any spoilers away, of course. It took me a while to finish this book as I have been pretty busy lately but I really enjoyed it and I did not see the grand reveal coming at all. Every Vow You Break was suspenseful and downright scary at times and I am looking forward to reading more from Peter Swanson. Now, let’s get to it:

After several failed relationships, Abigail has seemingly hit the jackpot with Bruce. He is kind, handsome, and filthy rich. However, despite all of the good times that they have shared, Abigail often feels the overwhelming sensation that she is marrying a complete stranger. During her bachelorette party at a vineyard, Abigail’s reservations skyrocket while she chats with a handsome man on the patio and ends up having a one night stand days before her wedding.

What could possibly be worse than that? Literally everything that follows. Despite the infidelity, Abigail gets married to Bruce anyways and plans on taking her secret to the grave. Unfortunately for her, that is going to be a lot easier said than done when the man she cheated on Bruce with ends up at the exclusive resort that they are honeymooning at called Camp Passamaquoddy or the “Quoddy” for short.

The Quoddy is located on Heart Pond Island and is designed for people who work with technology to take a break from the screens and enjoy nature. There is no cell phone reception or internet, rather, lots of alcohol, lush furnishings, and gourmet meals. And, oh yeah, Bruce just happens to be a partial owner. Abigail can deal with the lack of communication to the outside world but what really creeps her out is the fact that she is the only other woman staying at the resort. Needless to say, Bruce’s choice for the honeymoon wasn’t exactly what she expected but she tries to make the best of it.

The Quoddy is, essentially, a boy’s club so of course Abigail seeks out the company of the woman from the other couple honeymooning on the island named Jill. Over drinks, Jill tells Abigail that her ex-fiance is on the island as well and shakes it off as a strange coincidence. But is it really? Because the man who Abigail had an affair with is on the island too.

Abigail decides to tell her new friend her story the following day for a lunch date but Jill never shows up. She does see Jill later that night, however, running frenzied through the woods and bleeding. What is going on at the Quoddy? And is Abigail next? Read Every Vow You Break to find out!

Despite it taking me longer than usual to finish this book, I was kind of glad to stretch it out because it was that good. I, truly, had no idea what was going to happen with the turn of each page and felt disappointed every time I had to wrap up my reading sesh. Every Vow You Break is basically everyone’s nightmare and the eerie Quoddy resort provided the perfect backdrop for that awful moment when you realize the person you thought you loved is not who they said they were at all.

I cannot give any hints about the grand reveal because it would completely ruin it. Just know, that my stomach dropped when I read it and that doesn’t happen very often. The situation also felt even more desperate because I really liked Abigail. I thought she was such a strong, resourceful heroine and, like me, you will find yourself rooting for her the entire time.

I highly recommend Every Vow You Break and, although it is not quite a ten star rank book to me, it comes damn close. I am going to reward it with eight out of ten stars for its gripping plot, jaw dropping grand reveal, and characters that draw you in. Honestly, my only regret is that it wasn’t longer and I would have really liked to have read more about the aftermath of the honeymoon from hell.

What are you currently reading? Which book should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Midnight Library By Matt Haig Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Midnight Library By Matt Haig Edition

Hi everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, without giving any spoilers away, we are going to be talking about the super popular The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. A month or so ago, I felt like I was constantly getting recommendations to read this book and, obviously, I caved since we are discussing it now! Multiple people told me it was “one of the best books” they have ever read and I was definitely interested in seeing if it lived up to the hype.

While I can certainly understand why people really enjoyed this book, I didn’t think it was the best thing I have read by any means. I was into it for the first two hundred pages or so but it dragged out quite a bit and I was ready for it to be over. Let’s discuss further but before doing so I will put a trigger warning in place as The Midnight Library deals with suicide.

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Nora has had a bad day and, according to her, an all around bad life filled with regrets and what ifs. She had the potential to be an Olympic athlete or a rock star but now she lives alone in a shabby apartment and just got fired from her job at a music shop. Broken family relationships and friendships leave her feeling even more alone and her cat died. Her life feels unaccomplished and meaningless and she wants it to end. So she takes an overdose.

But, just when Nora thinks her life is over, she wakes up in a library that is filled with an infinite number of books and is overseen by the librarian at Nora’s high school twenty years ago, Mrs. Elm. This place is called The Midnight Library and it is where people who are hovering between life and death might find themselves. It looks different to everyone but the idea is the same: You can try out any kind of life you would like and if you find one that makes you especially happy, you can stay there.

Before Nora gets to take a different life for a test spin, she must face her own personal Book Of Regrets. As you can guess, its pages are filled with all of the things Nora wanted to do but didn’t. By confronting these regrets, she is able to narrow down the lives she might like to try, like if she really did become an Olympian or a glaciologist. However, despite all of these different lives, Nora always ends up back in the library because something about it didn’t make her completely happy.

Nora can’t stay in The Midnight Library forever and she is quickly running out of time but none of the lives have fully restored her will to live. She is in a place where people are either born or die so what will she end up choosing? Read The Midnight Library to find out!

Now, let me start off by saying that I absolutely LOVED the idea of The Midnight Library and the possibility to live a multitude of different choices, careers, and lifestyles all around the world. I also deeply appreciated the resounding theme of the book that true happiness can be found within yourself and your perspective. Happiness doesn’t come from what you did or failed to do but how you are best living in this one moment because each one opens up a new universe. Like Nora, I struggle with mental health issues and and this was a powerful and inspiring message to me.

Overall, I liked The Midnight Library a lot but it lost a lot of its initial momentum at the halfway mark. The first few times Nora was transported to a new life it was exciting but then there was another, and another, and another… And it just felt like it was never going to end. There was so much build up for an ending that was very easy to be predicted and all of the extra life hopping and parallel universe theories seemed unnecessary and, frankly, it got to be a little boring.

Despite being too drawn out for my taste, this book kind of had a Mitch Albom The Five People You Meet In Heaven vibe and it was a good read. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve read recently but it wasn’t the worst, either. I am going to rate it with a seven out of ten stars. I enjoyed the story line and the hopeful message. It is also a great reminder to always be kind because you never know what someone is going through. I recommend giving it a read!

What are you currently reading? What did you think about The Midnight Library? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Authenticity Project By Clare Pooley Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Authenticity Project By Clare Pooley Edition

Hello and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, without giving any spoilers away, we will be discussing a charming feel good book by Clare Pooley called The Authenticity Project. Typically, I tend to shy away from “feel good” books because I like the sense of adventure that comes with a thriller and I enjoy being shocked as well as trying to guess the grand reveal. However, after reading my last book club choice of The Wrong Family, I definitely needed a palette cleanser!

I really did love the last feel good book that I read called Miss Benson’s Beetle and wanted another story about ordinary people. From the pile of books that my mom got me from the library (Angel!), The Authenticity Project caught my eye. Just the title alone intrigued me and I wanted to know more. In its brief synopsis on the jacket, I learned that The Authenticity Project is a notebook that encourages people to share their truth honestly in its pages if they happen to find it.

This nice, light story line based around a simple but exciting concept sounded like just what I needed and I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did! The Authenticity Project was a delightful read so let’s get to it:

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Julian is a former famed artist who was very prominent in the social scene. Now, as a seventy-nine year old widower, he lives the life of a recluse and is incredibly lonely. Starved for connection, he decides to start The Authenticity Project in which he shares his story and shortcomings and encourages everyone who comes across it to do the same, pass it on, and live a more honest life. Julian thinks that the stories that each page holds has the potential to help someone but, little does he know, his project is about to turn his own world upside down.

The Authenticity Project ends up being found by Monica, an uptight cafe owner who yearns for the picture perfect life of marriage and a baby. After reading Julian’s story, she feels inclined to help him break free from his lonely life and begins advertising for someone to teach a weekly art class at her cafe with Julian in mind. To her own surprise, Monica wrote frankly about herself in the book too and passed it on to be found by the next person.

The next person? Hazard. The person after? Riley. Then Alice. And so on and so forth until The Authenticity Project’s “magic” creates a group of complete strangers who come together thanks to the stories on the pages with Julian right in the middle. The book worked in favor for Julian but how are the lives of the other characters in this interweaving tale benefiting from it? Read The Authenticity Project and find out!

As you all know, I love a book with multiple narrators and The Authenticity Project has six so, obviously, I was in heaven. I was excited to see how each character developed once they found the notebook and how they would show up among the existing characters. Despite having six narrators, The Authenticity Project balanced all of them beautifully and I felt a connection in some way to each of them. I also never felt like I was lacking in information about any of them because their highly personal notebook entry is shared when the character is introduced.

The idea of six lives melding together because of something as simple as writing in a notebook is such a lovely one and it was hard to read The Authenticity Project without smiling. I am also sure that many of you will be just as obsessed with the sassy high fashion senior citizen, Julian, as I was. He was fabulous and I aspire to be just as fierce as him when I’m almost eighty. 🙂

ANYWHO, my only qualm with this book is that it was a bit too obvious for my taste. It, honestly, felt like a more modern and grown up Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants. Sorry lol, I’ve been waiting this entire post to say that!! But there is some truth to that. Not only could you see each new development happen from a mile away but some of the character choices were a bit tired. See: Influencer whose life isn’t as perfect as she posts online as your starring example!

This seems like harsh criticism for a book that I just said was a delight but it really was and I enjoyed reading it a lot. It just had some of the classic feel good flaws and I wish that there was a little more depth to it. Overall, I am going to rate The Authenticity Project with a 6.25 out of ten stars. It was the perfect palette cleanser after just finishing a really intense book and if you are in that situation too, then I highly recommend it. However, if you’re looking for a more groundbreaking feel good read, then you could definitely take or leave this one.

What was the last book you read? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

My Lock Down Entertainment

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My Lock Down Entertainment

Hi! My lock down entertainment has mostly consisted of watching movies and TV and playing video games with Johnny as well as practicing Duolingo and reading at my leisure. Prior to the pandemic, Johnny and I already had a majority of the available streaming services and I was thankful for all of them then and I’m even more thankful for them now because we will never hurt for something to watch! Here is the latest of what we have been enjoying lately:

TV Shows:

Johnny has currently been making his way through a couple of Ken Burns documentaries and if I don’t feel like watching, then I might pop on an anime on my computer. Johnny and I recently watched Castlevania on Netflix and, despite season three not being the best, it was overall really good. My brother recommended Parasyte and Demon Slayer to me and I absolutely loved Parasyte and finished it in a matter of days! I am now working my way through Demon Slayer and plan on giving Death Note a try next.

When we are not watching our shows separately, Johnny and I love tuning into the new episodes of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Superstore, and Saturday Night Live every week. We also just binged The Mandalorian in a week! I am absolutely obsessed with The Child and already can’t wait for season three. Since The Office has been taken off of Netflix, we are watching King Of The Hill as our comedy and I am absolutely obsessed with Bobby too, lol. I am also very much looking forward to Netflix’s Sandman series which should be coming out at the end of 2021!

PS: For my fellow French speakers, La Mante on Netflix was excellent. 🙂

Movies:

Johnny and I really haven’t been watching too many movies lately. We watched Mad Max: Fury Road on Valentine’s Day at Johnny’s request and it was whatever, haha. It was just a two hour long car chase! Other than that, we watched Casablanca a few weeks ago which was fun because I had never seen it and Johnny has only saw it once. Trust and believe we said “we’ll always have Paris” like five hundred times while Johnny built his LEGO Paris skyline set. Obviously, we thought it was pretty funny lol!

Other than that, I watched a couple of French movies on Netflix in the past few months and both of them were awesome! If you like foreign films, then definitely check out Mon Frere and The Most Assassinated Woman In The World.

Reading:

The last book that I read was The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher which was not only crazy AF but fairly disturbing. I definitely needed a palette cleanser after that so I am just in the process of finishing The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. It is a charming, weaving tale of how one little book ended up bringing together a group of unlikely friends. I only have a little over one hundred pages left so be on the lookout for a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club soon.

Duolingo:

On my last Duolingo update, I had just reached my one hundred day streak and I am currently past one twenty-five. I am so proud of my commitment to learning French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Czech as well as all of the progress that I have been making because I can definitely tell a difference. I also still can’t recommend Duolingo Plus enough. It is so nice to have unlimited hearts during a difficult lesson and also ad free which speeds up the process immensely.

Video Games:

For Valentine’s Day, Johnny got me Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door for the GameCube and I have been having so much fun playing it! I have been on a huge Mario kick during the pandemic and beat Paper Mario: The Origami King and Super Mario Galaxy which were both a blast. I have basically dropped off of Animal Crossing but will pop back on once they do an update for spring. You can only catch the same fish and bugs so much, ya know? Johnny and I play a lot of Diablo III together and we are also about to inherit our friend’s Nintendo 64 so we are really looking forward to that!

While going out would be nice, it’s just not safe right now. But you know what is nice for me? Ample time to watch all of the shows I never had time for, read all the books, and improve on my favorite hobbies – all while helping slow the spread of COVID-19. Enjoy your time in and make the most of it!

What has been your lock down entertainment? Which streaming service do you use the most? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wrong Family By Tarryn Fisher Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: The Wrong Family By Tarryn Fisher Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing the latest psychological thriller by Tarryn Fisher called The Wrong Family. Without giving any spoilers away, of course! I absolutely devoured this book in a matter of days and my only qualm with The Wrong Family is that it wasn’t longer because three hundred pages just wasn’t enough!

Now, this book is rather difficult to describe without giving a major part of one of the reveals away. I also want to give The Wrong Family a trigger warning as it deals with a lot of disturbing subject matter. Let’s get to it:

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Winnie and Nigel Crouch are the doting parents to thirteen year old Samuel. They live in Winnie’s dream house in a posh neighborhood in Seattle, Washington and, from the outside, their lives are picture perfect. But, we all know that in a psychological thriller, that is rarely the case as Winnie and Nigel have been harboring an extremely dark secret for the past decade and change.

Juno is an aged and sickly former therapist who has definitely seen better days. Now, out of work Juno spends her time just surviving and playing therapist in her head to complete strangers. She loves secrets and finding out what makes people tick and once she has her sights set on someone, it takes a lot to make her let go.

Winnie has absolutely no clue who Juno is other than seeing her briefly at the local park but Juno sure knows a lot about Winnie. In fact, it’s almost as if Juno is a fly on the wall of the Crouch residence as her knowledge of the family is very intimate. And, with all of the intel that she has gathered on her new “patients”, the Crouch’s lives will never be the same again.

How are these seemingly perfect strangers connected? What have the Crouches been covering up for over ten years of their lives? Read The Wrong Family and find out!

The Wrong Family was a whirlwind of a read and it was so unique in the fact that one of the most major grand reveals I have ever read was disclosed about eighty pages into the book and not at the end. Once you know this HUGE plot twist, The Wrong Family becomes even creepier and it will continue to shock you until the very last page.

This book was so different than any other psychological thriller I’ve read because, at the end of the day, Winnie and Juno (who take turns narrating) never formally meet. This is such an interesting take because most thrillers out there revolve around close friend groups or family problems. Both of these women are not particularly likeable. Actually, none of the people in the book are other than teenage Samuel, yet I couldn’t stop reading The Wrong Family if you paid me.

Tarryn Fisher flipped the psychological thriller game on its head and I am so eager to read more from her. I also feel like I am going to be holding what I read to a much higher standard now because The Wrong Family was excellent and I will be rating it with the prestigious ten out of ten stars. I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it too!

What are you currently reading? What is your favorite psychological thriller? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Lil Red’s Book Club: Miss Benson’s Beetle By Rachel Joyce Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Miss Benson’s Beetle By Rachel Joyce Edition

Hi everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing the newest book by Rachel Joyce called Miss Benson’s Beetle. I am a huge fan of Rachel Joyce, as she authored one of my favorite books, The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, so I was very excited to read Miss Benson’s Beetle. Like Harold Fry, it was nothing short of delightful and told the tale of an unlikely duo going on a big adventure. So, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:

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Marjory Benson is a homely woman living in 1950s Britain with a large stature, no remaining family, or any meaningful relationships. She is a teacher of domestic sciences and, more often than not, is the subject of cruel jokes from her students. One day, after a particularly nasty cartoon rendition of her was passed throughout her class, she had enough and marched (Rather, limped) right out of the school. It was a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment and she was ready for an adventure.

As a child and young adult, Marjory had a fascination with collecting beetles, which sprang from looking through a book of undiscovered creatures with her father. This book included the Golden Beetle that is supposedly found in New Caledonia and it has never left the back of her mind since. Now unemployed, Marjory decides that this is her time to travel across the world, find the beetle, and name it after her father.

Of course, this will be no easy feat and Marjory decided that she needed an assistant to accompany her on her search. Her interviews with potential candidates left a lot to be desired and, in the end, Marjory was stuck with the last option she wanted to go with – a young, flashy woman by the name of Enid Pretty. Enid is everything that Marjory isn’t. She’s talkative, outgoing, fashion forward, and an instant annoyance to Marjory. Despite their differences, Marjory needs an assistant and Enid joins her on the extensive traveling from Britain all the way to the Pacific island of New Caledonia.

Little does Marjory know, her assistant is bringing a lot of baggage along with her and I’m not talking about the traveling kind. Well, that too, actually, considering Enid brought countless suitcases with her! Enid is a woman on the run and a trip across the world is her perfect getaway. Later, in their journey, Enid is named one of Britain’s Most Wanted Criminals with Marjory wanted for association. Can the women continue to evade the law, find the beetle, and salvage some form of friendship? Read Miss Benson’s Beetle and find out!

It has been a long while since I read a book that I would consider “light” as I am drawn to mysteries and psychological thrillers and Miss Benson’s Beetle was like a breath of fresh air. It was such fun to join the odd couple of Marjory and Enid on their adventure and I felt eager to read it every day. From their travels on boats, trains, and a stolen Jeep to them trekking through the New Caledonia rain forests for an undiscovered beetle, I felt like I was with them every step of the way. I laughed when Enid said something silly, cried for their hardships, and felt my heart pounding every time they came in contact with the police.

I loved this book because, at the end of the day, it was a testament to the power of friendship no matter how unlikely. It also gave Marjory Benson, a woman who spent her life wishing she was invisible, a chance in the spotlight. All she needed was the help of Enid to coax her shine out of her. Watching Marjory transform into a confident woman while Enid matured through Marjory’s guidance was a joy. I was rooting for their success the whole time and I just know that you will too.

Miss Benson’s Beetle was one of the best feel good books I’ve read in years and I can’t recommend it enough. I am going to rate it with the prestigious ten out of ten stars for brilliant characters, a unique story line, and the wonderfully descriptive writing of Rachel Joyce. I enjoyed it so much that I wouldn’t mind reading it again and I literally just finished it!

What are you currently reading? Which book should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

3 Things That Keep Me Sane

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3 Things That Keep Me Sane

Hello! Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnny and I have essentially just been in our apartment other than work and groceries. No one is saying that it is not monotonous AF but it is for the best and we will continue doing our part in keeping ourselves and loved ones safe. With continuous days at home, it can be hard to work up the motivation to do much of anything. But, setting goals has always helped me move forward with what I want to accomplish and completing these three tasks every day has kept me from going totally stir crazy:

Writing Every Morning:

Whether it be on a work day or the weekend, as soon as I take my morning shower and ready myself for the day, I sit at the computer and prepare a scheduled post to publish. I never thought that I would be able to keep daily content coming when there is literally nothing to do. I have surprised myself and think that I am even better at my craft now because I have learned to draw inspiration from all of the little things that now make up my day.

I feel a great sense of accomplishment every time I complete a post during this pandemic because it really can be difficult. However, lifewithlilred has been dedicated to creating daily content for the past several years and not even COVID-19 can stop that! Starting my morning off with a goal already checked off of my to do list makes me feel ready to take on the rest of the day and keeps me motivated to do it again tomorrow.

Practice Languages:

One of my favorite hobbies is learning new languages and every day I practice French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Czech on Duolingo. In fact, I am on an over eighty day streak of daily practicing and I have never even come close to that before. This Christmas, Johnny got me Duolingo Plus to help me continue practicing my languages in a more efficient way and it has been awesome. No adds and unlimited hearts, baby!

I like to set aside at least an hour every day to work on learning new languages and I feel proud of the huge steps that I have taken in each one that I practice. I definitely feel like I have gotten better in all of them – particularly German and Czech and I never thought that would happen! I feel excited to learn more each day and I can’t wait to get to a one hundred day streak!

Read:

The last thing that I like to do every day is read. I have always been an avid reader and I enjoy it even more now because I feel like I can escape my apartment and join the characters from the book in their world. I try to read at least thirty to forty pages plus in whatever book I am working on each day. I love the feeling of excitement I get every time I crack a book open because I know I am going to be transported on an adventure. However, I love the sense of accomplishment I feel after finishing a book and starting a new one even more. 😀

I am currently reading a delightful book called Miss Benson’s Beetle by one of my favorite authors, Rachel Joyce. It has been a nice palette cleanser from the psychological thrillers that I have been reading so definitely be on the lookout for a Lil Red’s Book Club review of it soon!

Once I complete these three tasks every day, I give myself permission to play all of the video games or watch all of the Netflix that I want. Hey, everyone deserves a treat after accomplishing their daily goals, right? 🙂

Do you set daily goals for yourself? Have you improved on one of your hobbies during the pandemic? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah