The Immortalists

From GoodreadsIf you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

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I firmly believe that some books find us at just the right time. And while literary fiction can be hit or miss for me, I absolutely adored this book. It's less about the prophecy and more about what choices these four uniquely different siblings make. 

The book is divided into sections, each focusing specifically on one sibling. I found myself crying in public after the first section and knew I was hooked. There were a few scenes throughout that were a BIT much for me (hello, sensitive reader) but overall I adored this book. I think Benjamin does a fantastic job bringing Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon to life and I truly savored my time with them. There were so many lines I found myself reading and re-reading, including the closing lines. I finished a few days ago and I'm still thinking about this story and the final pages. 

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Overall, I found The Immortalists to be remarkable and absolutely captivating. It forced me to slow down to really soak in the beauty of the Gold family. I'm so glad I held onto this book for  a few weeks before reading as it was the perfect way to kick off my reading in 2018. Already, it's found a spot on my favorite books list. This book is out in the world TODAY so do yourself and snag a copy. I hope you love it as much as I did. 

 

 

Thank you so much to Putnam Books for gifting me this early finished copy. All opinions my own. 

The Great Alone

From Amazon: Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

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Hannah does an incredible job of creating characters in such a way that they truly come alive in your mind while reading. I'm not sure that I've loved a character like Large Marge in such a long time. As much I hated so many of the choices the characters made at times, I felt like I knew them in such a way that I understood what they were doing, even if I loathed it. She took me to another world - Alaska in the 1970's. Beautiful, tragic, remote, and breathtaking. There's a significant story here but if domestic abuse and violence are triggers, this might not be for you. Hannah broaches a tough subject and handles it beautifully. My only complaint was something in the ending but I won't spoil that one for you.

Overall, I really loved The Great Alone. It is so very different from The Nightingale so try not to compare - I won't lie, that was hard for me. I wasn't exactly satisfied with the ending but I still thought the book was incredibly well written. I was completely sucked into the story and stayed up late to keep reading. Bonus points for both making me laugh out loud AND tear up. 

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The Great Alone is out 2/6/2018. Pre-order your copy here. Thank you so much to St. Martin's Press for a free copy in exchange for a review. All opinions my own. 

 

Books of 2017

What a year! I feel like I've heard the phrase, "The more things change, the more things stay the same" so often but it's never felt as true as it has this year. As much as things feel the same, I feel like 2017 has been a big year.

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I created an Instagram account for books (best decision ever) and started listening to audiobooks. I made space for more creative things - specifically sewing and it is changing my perspective and teaching me to slow down.  And of course, I read some incredible books. I read more than I ever have in a year and finished at 67 books (!!!)

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Regardless of how many books you read, I just really value READING. And one book is better than no books! Here's what I read (in order) in 2017:

1. Kira-Kira
2. The Mothers
3. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
4. We Should All Be Feminists
5. Commonwealth
6. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress
7. The One-in-a-Million Boy
8. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
9. Small Great Things
10. Brown Girl Dreaming (Audio)
11. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
12. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
13. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book
14. The Last Days of Night
15. Big Little Lies
16. Columbine
17. Pachinko
18. Divergent
19. Feathers
20. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (Audio)
21. I Found You
22. Insurgent
23. Exit West
24. Allegiant
25. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
26. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between (Audio)
27. The Hate U Give
28. The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
29. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
30. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
31. In the Woods
32. Crazy Rich Asians
33. Goodbye, Vitamin
34. This Is How It Always Is
35. Behind Her Eyes
36. The History of Bees
37. Live from Cairo
38. Dreamland Burning
39. Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything
40. Stella by Starlight
41. Castle of Water
42. The Address
43. Between the World and Me (Audio)
44. The Graybar Hotel: Stories
45. Hum If You Don't Know the Words
46. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Audio)
47. The Captain's Daughter
48. Sing, Unburied, Sing
49. White Bodies
50. Stuart Little (Audio)
51. Little Fires Everywhere
52. I Was Anastasia
53. The Alice Network
54. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
55. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
56. Seven Days of Us
57. The Magician's Nephew
58. Oliver Loving
59. The Horse and His Boy
60. A Short History of the Girl Next Door
61. The Room on Rue Amelie
62. Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood (Audio)
63. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
64. The Great Alone
65. Bonfire
66. Delicious!
67. Wild in the Hollow

While I read so many good books, the favorites truly were standouts. My favorites were Castle of Water, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. These books gave me ALL of the feelings. And when I say all, I mean all. I sat outside Whole Foods sobbing while finishing one of these and it was truly the best. I have had the most fun reading this year and am already eyeing my bookshelves to see what I want to get 2018 started with. I've loved connecting with so many people over a shared love of reading. It's been a hard but beautiful year and I think those are some of the very best kind. 

What was the best book you read this year?!


 

 

#BUJOFORBOOKLOVERS

Maybe it's a millennial thing but I feel like I've been hearing about bullet journals (or #bujos if you're on the internet) for so long now. The idea (in my own words) is that it's a place for all of your lists, goals, and ideas to be in one place. I have friends who are far more artsy than I who use it as a bit of a catch-all. Theirs are full of lists but also memories, photos, and quotes. I loved it but didn't think it was for me - it seemed like a lot to keep up with. 

I started tracking what books I was reading in 2013 and have kept a notebook specifically for my lists since. I knew that I loved tracking bookish things and figured that would be something I could actually keep up with. I followed my friends' lead and bought a leughtturm1917. This is the one I have - I love how bright the yellow is! Now, I had space to track not just what I'd actually read but keep lists and organizers of other things - books I wanted to get through, how many fiction vs. non I've read in a year, etc. I don't feel like there's a ton out there in relation to bookish spreads specifically, so I'm hoping that as more people start using a bullet journal for books, we can all share ideas. 

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I absolutely love it! All of my bookish things are in one place and it's an excuse for my washi tape addiction. I personally love using felt tip pens. These are my favorite - I love the size small! And the mildliners come in the very best colors. 

I'm learning as I go but I've loved having another creative outlet for all things books. Can't wait to see what you come up with and make sure to use #bujoforbooklovers so we can see! Happy reading and bullet journaling.