Tag Archives: reading

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

Standard
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:

948E3D4F-2522-46CB-8233-1BD64CA5C027

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

Standard
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

Standard
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:

C3E9B57D-3428-428D-88E6-A7D4E8B42539

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

Standard
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:

9EB5F352-712C-4EDE-A7C8-8CB7F5F75025

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

Standard
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

Lil Red’s Book Club: The Best Of Friends By Lucinda Berry Edition

Standard
Lil Red’s Book Club: The Best Of Friends By Lucinda Berry Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! After finishing the extremely wordy and fairly lengthy The Sleeping Nymph, I was ready for something short and sweet and I definitely got that with the two hundred and seventy page The Best Of Friends. While Johnny played his video games, I devoured this book in a handful of days and, although it wasn’t my absolute favorite thing I’ve read, I still enjoyed it and would happily read more by the author, Lucinda Berry. So, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:

B3E2B96E-CC69-44F3-B19B-69EC895E2239

Kendra, Lindsey, and Dani spent their childhood imagining the fairy tale adult life. Great husbands, children who could play together, and their best friendships flourishing into old age. Lucky for them, they all got exactly what they wanted. However, picture perfect families and friendships tend to be anything but that in a psychological thriller and The Best Of Friends is a true testament to that. And, when an alcohol and drug fueled incident between Kendra, Lindsey, and Dani’s teenage sons leaves one of them dead, the other comatose, and the last one too traumatized to speak, their picture perfect world begins to disintegrate around them.

The Best Of Friends is written in alternating chapters between the three mothers who are each handling their grief in their own ways on top of the stress of a police investigation of what happened to their boys. Not to mention that some of their relationships with their husbands are hanging on by a thread. Dark secrets from their past and present comes to life as each mother tries to do what they can to make sense of what they thought was a horrible accident. Or was it murder? Read The Best Of Friends to find out!

I can guarantee you that if you read this book, you will fly through it just as quickly as I did. I love books with alternating narrators and, with each chapter being roughly four pages or less, I would knock out forty to fifty pages in one sitting and not even notice it. In fact, I wish it was longer! The Best Of Friends was a riveting whodoneit and, despite being able to work out some of the plot twists on my own, I still did not see the grand reveal coming.

This story line felt like something out of Law & Order and I was so there for it. I will be the first to admit that The Best Of Friends was not the most well written book – or maybe it just felt that way after the highly detailed Sleeping Nymph that I finished previously. Regardless, it was the palette cleanser I needed and I am going to rate it with: seven out of ten stars for the exciting story line, shocking grand reveal, and the fact that I couldn’t put it down if you paid me. I would definitely recommend The Best Of Friends.

What was the last book that you finished? 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 Sleeping Nymph By Ilaria Tuti Edition

Standard
Lil Red’s Book Club: The Sleeping Nymph By Ilaria Tuti Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Without giving any spoilers away, we are going to be discussing the sequel to Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti called The Sleeping Nymph. Ever since finishing Flowers Over The Inferno in August, I was eagerly awaiting to get my hands on the sequel to see what happens next to Italian police superintendent, Teresa Battaglia, and her team. Despite The Sleeping Nymph not being as good as its predecessor, I still enjoyed it well enough so let’s get to the review:

book1

In Flowers Over The Inferno, we learned that aging Teresa Battaglia has began suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s and the disease has done nothing but progress. Teresa wears a bracelet reminding her of her name, religiously writes notes in her diary so she doesn’t forget, and has a hard time recognizing people as well as coming up with the names of common objects. Somehow, she still manages to get up every day to help crack cases that are twisted, dark, and to some “unsolvable”. And, in the case of The Sleeping Nymph, Teresa is going to need all of her wits about her more so than ever before.

Our story begins with the discovery of a “missing” portrait in an art gallery painted by Alessio Andrian seventy years ago. The painting it called The Sleeping Nymph and it showcases the great beauty of a young woman – enchanting all who merely glimpse at it. Despite the portrait being so beautiful, it holds a dark secret because, upon testing the red paint that was used, we learn that it is actually blood. What’s more, the tests showed traces of cardiac tissue, meaning it came straight from the heart.

Since painting The Sleeping Nymph, Alessio Andrian never spoke a single word again. He is still alive but, clearly, will be of no help to the case so it is up to Teresa and her partner, Massimo Marini, to find out about the origins of the painting on their own. Through their diligent work, they wind up in the Resian Valley where The Sleeping Nymph originated. However, they get a lot more than they bargained for in the Valley when a human heart is found nailed to a tree, thus fast forwarding their case into the present.

Could the killer of the Nymph still be alive and has come back to tie up loose ends? Or is there foul play going on in the Valley? There is even an inkling that these murders might be tied to occult practices. Who murdered The Sleeping Nymph and who is killing now? Read the book to find out!

Now, I didn’t love The Sleeping Nymph but I also didn’t hate it, either. Despite the portrait painted in blood being an “oh my gosh” discovery, it also happened seventy years ago making the immediate sense of urgency you feel about the present day crimes in Flowers Over The Inferno nonexistent. The Sleeping Nymph kind of dragged on while the focus was in the past but promptly picked up about halfway through when they discovered the heart on the tree in modern time.

My other qualm with this book is just how wordy it is. Flowers Over The Inferno was like that too but I suppose I didn’t notice because it was one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. Because The Sleeping Nymph didn’t immediately captivate me, the vivid and highly detailed descriptions came off as boring and I felt ready for the book to be done about fifty pages in. I have never not finished a book that I started, though, and the four hundred and forty page read felt more like a chore than something I really wanted to do.

The Teresa Battaglia novels are meant to be a trilogy and my only hope is that the third book will be better than the second. I genuinely have no idea how Teresa will be able to solve another case with the progression of her Alzheimer’s but I am very ready to find out!

Overall, I am going to rate The Sleeping Nymph with six out of ten stars. I think it paled in comparison to Flowers Over The Inferno but I still enjoyed portions of the story line as well as the grand reveal. I would still recommend reading the Teresa Battaglia novels and I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends.

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

Feeling Down? Treat Yoself!

Standard
Feeling Down? Treat Yoself!

Hellooo!! The coronavirus pandemic can induce a plethora of feelings like exhaustion, stress, depression, and anxiety. I have definitely experienced all of these and if you’re taking the virus seriously, then I’m sure you have too. It is hard to get yourself back to baseline when you are feeling so down but there is nothing like a little treat to lift yourself up. How about brushing off the blues with some of the following?

Your favorite drink:

Nothing perks me up literally and metaphorically like my favorite coffee drinks from Starbucks. I live for the holiday season when I can get my Peppermint Mocha fix and the warm fuzzies I feel with a steaming, fragrant cup in my hands. For even more feel good power, pay it forward for the person behind you and see if you can get a chain started. Then, you can make someone else’s day too!

Pizza party:

This past weekend, Johnny and I ordered a pizza and watched Christmas movies together and it was a blast! Our food was delicious and it was so nice to just settle in for the afternoon without worrying about what to make for dinner. It was also a relief to have some entertainment that wasn’t stress inducing with violence or triggering story lines. I highly recommend a viewing of Elf, Jingle All The Way, or The Muppets Christmas Carol to get yourself in the holiday spirit as well as to put a smile on your face. 🙂

Smell goods:

There is nothing better than sinking into a nice, warm bath filled with lush bubbles in your favorite scent. Have a shopping trip online to your favorite bath and body care supplier and order some pampering treats for yourself. How about some bath bombs from Lush? Or some uber lathering body wash and a few candles from Bath & Body Works? My favorite scents of vanilla, orange, and apple always help to relax me – combine that with a long soak in the tub and it is heaven!

A new book:

Take a step away from the craziness of the real world and tuck into a good book. Grab something from the library or Barnes & Noble and settle in for the afternoon in a totally different world. I love to read and I always feel infinitely more relaxed after I knock back a couple of chapters in whatever book I am working on finishing. If you’re not the biggest fan of reading, try a subscription to Audible for some book tapes that you can play while driving or cooking. My Johnny loves having Audible and I definitely recommend it too.

New home decor:

This is not to say to remodel your living room entirely but you could always purchase some new wall art or a cute knick knack that you can’t live without. Seeing something daily that you find visually appealing is a sure fire way to make you smile. You could also always skip the purchasing process and DIY some decor with your bestie. Every time you see it, you will think of the sweet memory of a craft night – no matter how your art work turns out. 😀

Treating yoself doesn’t have to break your bank. Use the tips above and get the spring back in your step!

How do you like to treat yoself? What makes you smile? 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 Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes By Suzanne Collins Edition

Standard
Lil Red’s Book Club: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes By Suzanne Collins Edition

Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! This post has been a long time coming because The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes by Suzanne Collins was five hundred and fifteen pages. It took me a while to finish this prequel to The Hunger Games series but it was worth every single page and then some. As always, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:

76ACCBD5-A427-4908-A07D-25E69D504A74

For those of you who don’t know, I am a HUGE fan of The Hunger Games. From the books to the movies, I love it all and Katniss is one of my heroes. I am also #teampeta till the day I die, in case you were wondering! ANYWHO, The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes was pre-Katniss times and focuses solely on the future president of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, and his ultimate rise to power.

Young eighteen year old Coriolanus (Coryo to his loved ones) is a Capitol sweetheart despite secretly barely having a penny to his name. He covers his lack of cash with the gift of gab and excels at school. In fact, he excels so much that for the first time in Hunger Games history, students at the Academy are going to be mentors to the tributes and he is chosen to coach none other than Lucy Grey of District 12.

Originally, Coryo was disgusted by his fate because surely a scrawny girl from 12 couldn’t be the victor amid her extremely tough competition. What’s more, sadistic Dr. Gaul who is one of the head scientists of the games is watching his every move and she has plenty of surprises up her sleeves with her genetically mutated animals and love of war.

Despite Coryo’s obvious setbacks for the games, he lives by the motto “Snow lands on top” and he will do anything to win. And, as Lucy Grey proves herself to be a formidable opponent and a huge prize for the winning coach is announced – a full ride to the University, Coryo becomes even more intent on reigning victorious.

The Hunger Games are just the beginning of this wild ride and, sadly, I really can’t give any more away without spoiling a MAJOR plot twist that left me with my chin touching the floor. So, I will say this, The Hunger Games fans will absolutely love this book because it was easily one of my favorite ones of the series.

It was so interesting to read The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes because it tied in beautifully to the other three books. From beloved songs like “The Hanging Tree” and characters like the introduction of Lucky Flickerman, this prequel answers a lot of unanswered questions and it paints a very clear picture of how The Hunger Games began and why they are still happening decades later once Katniss volunteers as tribute.

Jam packed with action, twists, and turns on every page, it was impossible to put this book down. It also leaves you feeling conflicted about Coriolanus Snow who can almost be viewed as a tragic hero in his younger years. Don’t let this fool you, though, because if you have read the series or watched the movies, you will know that he ends up as a president who runs things more like a dictatorship.

Yes, Snow lands on top. But at what cost? Read The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes and find out!

Who else is a fan of The Hunger Games? Are you #teampeta or #teamgale? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

What Have I Been Up To?

Standard
What Have I Been Up To?

Howdy! I will always be the first to say how much I miss pre-COVID life. I miss going on dates with Johnny, seeing all of our friends, and not worrying my head off every time I’m in public. And, as someone who works with very high risk families, nonessential outings just seem unimportant to me. So what in the heck have I been up to, then, if I don’t do much of anything in public any more? A whole lot of the following:

Reading:

I love, love, love to read and always have so ample at home time has meant finishing beaucoup books. I try to read at least two chapters or thirty or so pages depending on the book daily. Right now, I am finishing up the prequel to The Hunger Games called The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes and it is excellent! I have such a hankering now to go back and read the entire series and watch all of the movies, of course. 😀

The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti is what’s on deck after my Hunger Games book. I am also always open to suggestions of your favorite books so be sure to let me know in the comments!

Duolingo:

Like reading, I try to practice all five of the languages I’m learning daily on Duolingo. I am currently on a twenty day streak of studying French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Czech and that is huge for me. The last time I had a streak that long was when I was recovering for a month from my oral surgery gone wrong.

I am very motivated to keep that streak going and I am so excited for Johnny to get me Duolingo Plus for Christmas so I no longer have to worry about having enough hearts to complete each practice session. I also plan on adding Swedish, Latin, or Greek into the mix next!

Video Chats:

My ultimate BFF, Lea, and I still see each other about once a month to have a social distanced drink at either one of our homesteads. Other than that, I do a lot of FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom to “see” all of the rest of my pals in my friend group. I love setting aside an hour block or so on the weekend to catch up with friends both near and far and it definitely helps keep me sane to chat even if it isn’t face to face.

Video Games:

Johnny and I are both in love with our Nintendo Switch and when I have some free time, I enjoy playing Animal Crossing. It is so relaxing and fun and I am always excited when the game updates so that you can catch new fish and bugs and participate in different activities like growing pumpkins or foraging mushrooms. I cannot wait to see what our island looks like for Christmas!

I also just beat Paper Mario: The Origami King last week and it was an absolute blast. Johnny got it for me for our one year anniversary and it felt so good to finally beat it. The game was insanely entertaining, visually beautiful, and it was challenging without ever being too too hard. I plan on buying a new Mario game for the Switch soon so if anyone has any favorites, please let me know. 🙂

Online Shopping:

Finally, there is nothing like a little bit of online shopping to help perk me up. I have so enjoyed all of my early Christmas shopping and I am very pleased to say that I am almost done buying for everyone on my gift list. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t pick out a little something something for myself too – especially since I haven’t gone shopping in person since February.

I love ordering small pick me ups like face masks to pamper myself with and, when I really feel like splurging, I never say no to a new pair of shoes!

Are the activities I listed above the most exciting? Not by a long shot. But I value my safety and those around me much more than needing to be out and about right now. So, in the end, it’s not all that bad. ❤

What are your favorite at home activities? What do you miss the most from pre-COVID times? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah