Category Archives: Sincerely Reading

Strong Women: Know Them, Be Them

As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t use my blog or social media to be particularly outspoken on social or political issues. There are certainly times I feel compelled to share my opinions or thoughts on matters. But overall, I like to keep this little corner of the Internet as a happy place for me to use trivial topics to stay away from the headlines we’re plagued with daily. And of course, it’s not just headlines. It’s going into an autobody shop and having a man your age refer to you as “sweetie” and “honey” repeatedly with a smarmy grin. Or trying to educate your own husband about your uneasiness when faced with daily occurrences like being in an elevator alone with a man.

When these things happen, I try to find the good in the world – and despite how it might appear on the blog, not just burying my head in makeup or clothes. So today I thought I’d share some recent pop culture that inspired me and reminded me that there are strong women of all time periods and generations (both fictional and real) whose tenacity and wit made a difference in their own lives or the lives of thousands.

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Sincerely, Reading: Recommendations

book recommendationsAs you can see, I’ve always loved reading!

I really enjoyed seeing how other bloggers use Instagram Stories to crowd source and then share responses with their followers. I get most excited to see when they’ve compiled a list of book recommendations – I’m always looking for something new to add to my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads! The best part of IG Stories is that you can screenshot these lists, so even if I’m viewing the stories in passing, I’ll save lists for later.

Seeing how other people use Stories inspired me to share my own list of books that I read in 2017, and rank them by favorite to least liked. I also copied all of the books on my “for later” shelf and shared that list in case anyone else needs a good book. While you might have seen the list on my Instagram Stories (follow me if you don’t already), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share the book recommendations again on the blog. In case you didn’t screenshot that list on Instagram, here’s another one that won’t disappear in 24 hours. Click through to find your next great read!

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My Favorite Things 2017 – Entertainment

Best books of 2017While not officially on the list for 2017, The Radium Girls has been a great read the last few days over the holiday! I am so happy I got into reading again, and use the local library to find a good book. (Soap + candle from Mojo Spa)

Wow…2017 is coming to an end and this week I’m reflecting on some of my favorite things from the last 12 months. Some of which I thought you might be interested in to incorporate into the next year. Today I’ll start with a peek at my favorite books, TV shows and podcasts from the year. Please leave a comment with your favorites – I’d love to check them out come Jan. 1!

Books

  • The Couple Next Door – Wow, what a page turner! Each time I thought I had the “who done it” figured out, there was another twist…right down to the very end. Stop trying to guess and just enjoy the book! (Runner-up thriller: The Woman in Cabin 10)
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Maybe I’m biased as I’m from northeast Ohio, but I enjoyed that this book was set in suburban Cleveland and the kids’ experiences are relate-able to any 90s family. It was an interesting mix of a coming of age story and one that proves no one ever grows up to have all of the answers. I’d recommend this book with one caveat: the characters’ decisions might disappoint you at times. It’ll also force you to come to terms with what you might have done differently (or even the same) in their situations.
  • Crazy Rich Asians (trilogy) – I started this book because it was described as the Asian “Gossip Girl.” While the story wasn’t as salacious (probably a good thing), the characters’ wealth and the way in which it’s described kept me reading, as did the history lessons the author cleverly tucked in every few pages.
  • Down the Rabbit Hole – If you want to know what actually happened in the Playboy Mansion when Hugh was there, this book is juicy. It’s also relatively well-written (for what I might expect) and makes me really like Holly, who I first found charming on the E! reality show.
  • The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress – My friends on my college text chain turned each other on this book.When I started this book I didn’t think I’d like it. It’s set back in the 30s, an era I’m not particularly interested in. However, the characters held my attention as did all of the twists and unexpected connections. It’ll keep you entertained, and would be a great book club book.

TV

  • Broad Church (Seasons 1,2,3) – If you love crime dramas, this is for you. Just get ready to turn on the subtitles. It’s a BBC series that starts when an unexpected death (murder?) rocks a small community. An outsider detective comes in and starts upturning a lot of small town secrets. It doesn’t stop for three seasons, and three mysteries.
  • Younger – I mentioned this show two years ago, and I keep suggesting it to any Sex and the City or Lizzy McGuire fans. (They’re similar, right?) Sure, Hilary Duff stars in this TV Land series about 20-somethings in NYC, but that’s not even the best part. Her 40-something colleague is trying to keep her age a secret from the millennials and while doing that has amazing fashion moments. The fun 30-minute  episodes make it so easy to binge on a lazy weekend!
  • Big Little Lies – I would have happily included any of Liane Moriarty’s books in my best of list, having read them all and liked them. This HBO miniseries really does “Big Little Lies” justice. It’s a cast of fierce females, and amazing fashion. Be prepared to face some heavy issues though, such as domestic abuse and custody battles. But it’s definitely worth it to keep cheering on the women.
  • Floribama Shore – Perhaps the show to surprise me the most this year, the cast of Floribama Shore is just a fun and a lot more lovable that the similar Jersey Shore. They’re less characters of themselves, more just normal 20-somethings (with a pension for fist fights) trying to have fun on the Gulf Coast. Watch this with guys and girls, everyone will like it!

Podcasts

I already shared a list of my favorite podcasts, and have continued to add to it as I’ve listened to others.

Want more?

  • Check out all of the books I read this year by connecting with me on Goodreads.
  • If true crime shows and movies are your thing, then check out the list of top picks from Cosmopolitan.

Sincerely, Reading

Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week I’m sharing a Crimes Against a Book Club book review.

Crimes Against a Book Club book review

Title: Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman

Summary: Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.

Hilarious, intelligent, and warm, Crimes Against a Book Club is a delightful look at the lengths women will go to fend for their families and for one another. (via Amazon)

On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Pack it for a vacation!

Why? It was a cute book and an easy read. I started to get invested in the women’s lives and could easily see how one lie could lead to another. It is a pretty shallow novel, but that’s all you need next to a pool! It gets even better at the very end, when the author creatively imagines a resolution.

If someone likes ________, they’d like this book: Big Little Lies. This book wasn’t a dark as the HBO series, but the housewives in the books are similar and all have their own secrets. Also, both books take place in sunny California, and I couldn’t help but be envious of the lives the author described (despite their downfalls).

Drop me a note if you’d like to review a book in an upcoming post. You can find more of my book recommendations on my Goodreads page. Follow along!


My Favorite 2016 Recaps

2016 recap

You know all of those articles that come out right about now each year, recapping the previous 11 1/2 months? I LIVE for those recaps. By the end of every year I feel like everyone’s all “Thank God year 20xx is over.” Sometimes all you remember is the bad. But thankfully, a lot of these recaps remind you the year was pretty good, even if it was just in the form of makeup tutorials and hit singles. Here are a few of my favorite 2016 recap articles I’ve seen this year:

  1. United States of Pop 2016 – About mid-November I so, so excited in anticipation for DJ Earworm’s annual mashup of the year’s top hits. So excited to hear two of my fav Top 40 songs from the year (JBiebs and Chainsmokers) on one track together.
  2. 17 Of The Prettiest Hair Trends We Saw This Year – These trends might have been from 2016, but I bet you’ll want to continue them into the new year once you see them.
  3. Influenster Reviewers Choice Awards: Best in Beauty – “From drugstore favorites to splurge-worthy luxury buys — these products deliver real results and Influensters can’t get enough!” – Influenster
  4.  15 Spectacular Celebrity Feuds of 2016 – Whose side were you on in all of the 2016 celebrity feuds? So many snakes, so little time.
  5. 2016 in Focus (Getty Images) – Relive 2016 in photos. There are some heart wrenching ones, but visit the love gallery to begin 2017 with a smile on your face.

Let’s hope next year keeps giving us just as many great pieces!


Sincerely Reading

Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week I’m sharing a Dark Matter book review.

Dark Matter book review

Title: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Summary“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of. (via Amazon)

On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Couldn’t put it down – but had to because it was too scary for me!

Why? I’m such a jumpy person and anything with the extraordinary is especially scary for me. I ended up reading about half the book in a day, and then skipping through to the end. I had to know how it was all figured out, but couldn’t read anything more in the dark!

If someone likes ________, they’d like this bookStranger Things. My fiancé and I binge watched Stranger Things over the Labor Day weekend, the same time I picked up this book, and I couldn’t believe how similar they were. Both deal with alternative universes and worlds overlapping.

Drop me a note if you’d like to review a book in an upcoming post. You can find more of my book recommendations on my Goodreads page. Follow along!


Sincerely Reading

Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week I’m sharing a Here’s to Us book review.

Sincerely Reading Here's to Us Book Review

Title: Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

SummaryThree romantic rivals. One crowded house. Plenty of room for jealousy.

Laurel Thorpe, Belinda Rowe, and Scarlett Oliver share only two things; a love for the man they all married, Deacon Thorpe–a celebrity chef with an insatiable appetite for life–and a passionate dislike of one another. All three are remarkable, spirited women, but they couldn’t be more different. Laurel: Deacon’s high school sweetheart and an effortlessly beautiful social worker; Belinda: a high-maintenance Hollywood diva; and Scarlett: a sexy southern belle floating by on her family money and her fabulous looks. They’ve established a delicate understanding over the years–they avoid each other at all costs.

But their fragile detente threatens to come crashing down after Deacon’s tragic death on his favorite place on earth: a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage. Deacon’s final wish was for his makeshift family to assemble on his beloved Nantucket to say good-bye. Begrudgingly, Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett gather on the island as once again, as in each of their marriages, they’re left to pick up Deacon’s mess. Now they’re trapped in the crowded cottage where they all made their own memories–a house that they now share in more ways than one–along with the children they raised with Deacon, and his best friend. Laurel, Belinda, and Scarlett each had an unbreakable bond with Deacon–and they all have secrets to hide.

Before the weekend is over, there are enough accusations, lies, tears, and drama to turn even the best of friends–let alone three women who married the same man–into adversaries. As his unlikely family says good-bye to the man who brought them together–for better or worse–will they be able to put aside their differences long enough to raise a glass in Deacon’s honor? (via Amazon)

On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Pack it for vacation.

Why? This book is a quick read but will keep you entertained as you turn the pages. I had specific characters that I liked best and kept barreling through to try to get to their chapters again so I could check back in on their grieving process. (It might be a quick read, but it’s not exactly light! Everyone is battling their own inner demons.)

I also was interested in the story because the main character was a reality star before “reality TV was a thing.” Since I’m a reality TV-aholic, I enjoyed this fictional character and imagining what people knew about his real life through his TV shows, then getting a peak into his real life through the book.

If someone likes ________, they’d like this book:

  • Books told from multiple POVs. Each chapter is narrated by a different character and gives you a peak inside their grieving process and connection to the deceased main character.
  • Cooking. Being that the book is about a famous chef, there are multiple recipes scattered throughout the book that actually sound quite good! Bring this along on vacation and whip something up that’s reminiscent of Nantucket summers, as described in the book.

Drop me a note if you’d like to review a book in an upcoming post. You can find more of my book recommendations on my Goodreads page. Follow along!


Sincerely Reading

Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week Erin from Loop Looks is sharing “The Girl on the Train” book review. I’ve also read this book, and highly, highly recommend it! Read on to find out why.

The Girl on the Train Book Review

Title: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Summary: Rachel rides the train from the suburbs into downtown London every day. To keep herself entertained she makes up stories and creates imaginary lives for the occupants of the houses she can see out of the train window. One house, in particular, captivates her the most. She yearns for the life the couple in that house appear to live. But appearances can be deceiving. When Rachel learns that the woman who lives that house, Megan, is missing she decides that something she’s seen is of vital importance and that only she can help find Megan.

Meanwhile, Anna, who not only happens to be married to Rachel’s ex-husband but also lives down the street from Megan, is stressed out by Rachel’s continual appearances in their neighborhood. Why won’t Rachel just leave them alone?

And then there’s Megan. At loose ends after her art gallery closes, she’s struggling with what to do next. Can she be a good stay-at-home wife or does she need something more?

All three women’s lives will intersect in a surprising way that will either shock you when it’s revealed or make you cringe in horror if you figure it out in advance.

On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down”: Couldn’t Put It Down

Why?  This book is a mystery novel, pure and simple; a whodunit that does a great job of leaving a breadcrumb trail of clues. Following that trail is an enjoyable experience as you unravel the mystery of what happened to Megan. However, you’re also following Rachel as she discovers that her own past might not have been exactly what it seems, either. It’s like two mysteries in one.

If someone likes ________, they’d like this book: Gone Girl or any of Gillian Flynn’s novels. If you enjoy flawed main characters, mysteries and stories told from several points of view then this is the book for you. You will want to keep reading to find out what happens, and you may or may not be surprised at the end depending on how good of a detective you are!

Drop me a note if you’d like to review a book in an upcoming post. You can find more of my book recommendations on my Goodreads page. Follow along!


Sincerely Reading

Sincerely Reading is a reoccurring feature on the blog. When it’s not one of my book recommendations, it will be a friend’s. This week it’s a “Lessons from Madame Chic” book review by Leanne of ClassyYetTrendy.com.

Madame Chic Book Review

I’m Leanne B. from Alabama and have the fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, ClassyYetTrendy.com. Thank you Jennie for asking me to do a book review of Jennifer L. Scott’s, “Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris!” I had heard great reviews from a few other bloggers about this book so I decided I would read it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

Jennifer’s way of writing makes you think she is talking directly to you, telling you all about her observations of the family she stayed with while staying in France. She offers some great tips on staying fit, eating right and dressing well. She also shares the differences in how Parisian women and American women dress. Parisian women have fewer clothes because their closets are smaller than Americans’ closets. She explains how they make the most of their wardrobe by wearing everything, like a capsule wardrobe concept that I have in my own life and share with my readers on my blog, ClassyYetTrendy.com. I recommend this book. It is one of my favorites!

Title: Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris

Summary: Inspired by Paris, this lighthearted and deceptively wise contemporary memoir serves as a guidebook for women on the path to adulthood, sophistication, and style. Jennifer Scott’s self-published success is now a beautifully packaged and fully illustrated gift book, perfect for any woman looking to lead a more fulfilling, passionate, and artful life.

Paris may be the City of Light, but for many it is also the City of Transformation. When Jennifer Scott arrived in Paris as an exchange student from California, she had little idea she would become an avid fan of French fashion, lifestyle, and sophistication. Used to a casual life back home, in Paris she was hosted by a woman she calls “Madame Chic,” mistress of a grand apartment in the Sixteenth Arrondissement.

Madame Chic mentors Jennifer in the art of living, with elegance and an impeccably French less-is-more philosophy. Three-course meals prepared by the well-dressed Madame Chic (her neat clothes covered by an apron, of course) lure Jennifer from her usual habit of frequent snacks, junk food, sweatpants, and TV.

Additional time spent with “Madame Bohemienne,” a charming single mother who passionately embraces Parisian joie de vivre, introduces readers to another facet of behind-closed-doors Parisian life. (via Amazon.com)

On a Scale of “Don’t Bother” to “Couldn’t Put Down:” Couldn’t Put Down

Why? The way Jennifer writes makes you feel like you are there and she is talking with you. It’s easy to read and very enjoyable!

Who would like this book? If someone likes #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso, they’d like this book.

When would be the best time to read this book? The best time to read this book is relaxing in the evening with a cup of hot tea.

Drop me a note if you’d like to review a book in an upcoming post. You can find more of my book recommendations on my Goodreads page. Follow along!


Public Places

Sincerely Jennie Red Blazer

Does anyone else wear a pair of faux glasses just to feel smarter, and maybe a little edgier? Like, I’m daring to wear these wide frame glasses on my face that only the cool kids wear and now I’m one of them? I paired my glasses with an eye-catching red blazer and scuba leggings and I was feeling pretty good…all for my trip to the library.

Express – scuba legging, silky v-neck, red blazer (on sale – check stores) | Forever 21 – faux suede heels | Photos by Sarah

Sincerely Jennie Red Blazer

Speaking of libraries, lately I have been obsessed. First of all, I recently signed up to reserve books online through the Chicago Public Library system, so I’ve had a constant rotation going of all of the hottest reads. Sure, I might have to wait a few weeks to get to one I’m dying to devour, but I usually have another book in the meantime.

Sincerely Jennie Red Blazer

Second, I just went to the historic Harold Washington Library for the first time and could not even believe how beautiful it is. From the first floor to the top, it’s light and airy and magnificent. The winter garden was the perfect respite from the cold, and the sun streaming through the windows tricked me into believing for a moment that if I stepped outside I’d be warm. Ha. Maybe those glasses don’t make me that much smarter.  But seriously, you should sign up for your own library card and start reserving books of your own! If you need any recommendations, be sure to check out my Sincerely Reading feature.

Sincerely Jennie Red Blazer