Now that I’m back to being a working woman, I’ve had considerably less time to read. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve still read 1.75 books since last Wednesday, but my pace has slowed a bit. Fair trade-off for gainful employment, don’t you think? In any case, here are some more I devoured during my free week:
- “The Rosie Project” – Graeme Simsion: This book has been on my Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf since I joined the site on Jan. 1, 2016. I finally checked a digital copy out from the library and raced through it in record time. Don Tillman is a particularly enjoyable narrator, and you can guess how smoothly his quest to find the perfect wife through a questionnaire goes. 4 /5 stars for some superfluous parts — though that could be my speed-reading bias speaking.
- “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” – Mary Ann Shaffer: Can you say that title five times fast? I’ve yet to see the hit Netflix adaptation of this fictional World War II story, but the book was quite captivating. It’s structured unlike anything I’ve read before, entirely from letters between characters. An extra-special touch: Before Shaffer died in 2008, she worked with her niece, Annie Barrows, to piece this together. The result is nothing short of stunning. 4 / 5 stars because I predicted a few of the twists, but I enjoyed it immensely.
- “Into the Water” – Paula Hawkins: Author of “The Girl on the Train” is at it again with another twisty-turny tale. At least, that’s how it’s billed. While I love a good thriller, I didn’t find this one particularly thrilling. There are countless references to the water women are found dead in — so many, I literally said aloud, “We get it. There’s water.” I expected every turn and didn’t find this nearly as well done as Train. It’s one I felt I had to read, though, and I’m glad I could judge the hype for myself. It gets 3 / 5 stars.
- “The Death of Mrs. Westaway” – Ruth Ware: My peers rave about Ruth Ware, and this one (they claim) is some of her best work yet. It’s no wonder I took a break from the genre after this novel — I didn’t anticipate every single twist, but I also didn’t enjoy the core story nearly as much as I expected. An inheritance and big secret are usually enough to hook me, but I remained unimpressed. Again, so many references to the cold, I wondered if the editor ever read the story all at once. Chill, cold, freezing, icy… thank you, Thesaurus! At the risk of sounding bitter, this one gets 3 /5 stars because I wanted to read it and didn’t hate myself afterward.
I’m in between jobs this week and have zero FOMO about using it to read, relax and recharge locally before I throw myself into my next gig. I could have escaped to the beach or mountains, but I think my body and brain needed more of a staycation vibe. It’s no surprise, then, I’ve got some recommended reading this week:
“China Rich Girlfriend” – Kevin Kwan: The second book in the “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy gives us a deeper look at the characters introduced in book one. I preferred this plot, probably because it didn’t have to spend so much time explaining familial connections, and Kwan really shines in his detailed descriptions of the ultra-lavish lifestyles. 4/5 stars, because I still crave more realistic dialogue (less “Har-har!”) between Rachel and Nick.
“The Woman in the Window” – A.J. Finn: This one has been all over my Goodreads suggestions and friends’ lists, and I’m a sucker for all of these “girl,” “woman,” “lies,” etc. titles. The main character is a recluse who witnesses a terrible crime nearby… or does she? I anticipated most of the twists but still enjoyed the storyline and characters, so it also gets a 4/5 stars.
“Fates and Furies” – Lauren Groff: Another one feverishly favored all over reading lists, this book is one I actually don’t recommend. I found the two main characters extremely unlikable and the writing so contrived, I couldn’t wait to be done with it. The Florida and New York connections were somewhat redeeming, as was the final third of the novel. Still, not enough to redeem it, so it’s a 2/5 stars from me.
“The Best Way to Save Someone from Suicide”: And finally, the holiday season is no stranger to suicide, particularly as the conversation around mental health continues to grow. But how do you help someone? This piece is heartbreaking, enlightening and well worth the read. As always, there are resources available (including me!) for anyone suffering.
It’s only fitting on Thanksgiving Eve to share a few things I’m thankful for — I know it’s cliche but I have to do it.
The last few weeks have been quite the whirlwind. From traveling to Kenya and experiencing another world to the devastating fires in our backyard, it’s only natural to count your blessings and pray for those who are still fighting their battles.
We don’t always see it from smoke or impoverished communities. We don’t always hear it on the news. We aren’t even always listening.
But I’m grateful for the privilege bestowed upon me to help those in need, the values my parents instilled to put others first, and the opportunities granted to donate my time and money to worthy causes.
However you’re spending the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you find peace, joy and comfort in the days ahead. And if you’re on the Island of Lost Children like I am this weekend, don’t hesitate to reach out.
By now, you’ve no doubt heard about the wildfires devastating both northern and southern California. We watched the news from Nairobi to Frankfurt and the smoke is still far from cleared.
As of this morning, The Camp Fire in Butte County has destroyed 135,000 acres and is 35% contained. The Woolsey Fire in LA and Ventura Counties has decimated 97,620 acres and is 47% contained.
While area businesses and organizations are scrambling to provide relief, I’ve pulled this list of reputable resources you can donate to, thanks to Inside SF:
- “The North Valley Community Foundation in Chico is raising money for shelters. Donate here.
- The Enloe Medical Center, which is also based in Chico, is raising money for caregivers and patients who have lost their homes. Donate here, and see its ongoing list of other area foundations raising money for victims here.
- The California Fire Foundation is providing short-term financial assistance for those who suffered “catastrophic losses.” Donate here.
- The California Community Foundation has an ongoing wildfire relief fund you can donate to here.
In addition, Curbed SF has enlisted San Francisco disabled rights activist Alice Wong to focus attention on the plight of the mobility impaired, many of whom are left behind in disasters like the Camp Fire. Scroll down to see her list of agencies focused on helping marginalized groups affected by the disaster.”
I can’t imagine the turmoil these thousands of people are experiencing, whether it’s losing their homes or not knowing where their loved ones are. Anything you can spare will surely help these people in need — particularly as we head into the holiday season.
This week’s obsessions are brought to you from a faraway place — the Masai Mara in Kenya!
During a very deep lunchtime conversation in July, a co-worker reminded me how important it is to use PTO for things besides weddings and babies and birthdays and funerals. Another co-worker chimed in about her friends’ upcoming safari trip in Kenya and shared the info with me to consider.
I literally came home that night to yet another wedding invitation — and while I am truly honored to be thought of by so many for their life milestones, I considered my own life milestones and what I’d like to achieve for myself.
Africa has been on my travel bucket list for some time, but I didn’t ever think a trip like this would fall into my lap. But thanks to some luck and a fabulous family-owned company called Safari Spots, I’m here!
I left Thursday and will return to the US on Monday. It’s been a whirlwind in every aspect of the word and I can’t wait to share more upon my return.
For now, I’ll simply say: Don’t wait. Life is truly what happens when you’re making other plans. So go on that adventure, take that leap of faith, do whatever it is you’ve been itching to do — because you never know if the chance will come again.
If you’re new around here, you may not know Halloween is my favorite holiday (besides my birthday, which is an actual holiday, not just a holiday because I say it’s one). But, I digress.
- Halloween!: Duh duh duh. The 31st of October will forever be one of my favorite days of the year. I’m not into horror or zombies or any of the gross stuff, but the costumes and candy and festivities give me liiife. If anyone tries to fight me and say Christmas starts now, I will throat punch you.
- The Notorious RBG: This year’s costume for funsies was none other than the Supreme Queen herself, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was inspired by these memes and the record year she’s having, plus I already had a few of the pieces. If nothing else, I hope I did her justice.
- The T-Birds: My genius SF team dreamed up this nostalgic costume, complete with inflatable tires and cling wrap and a soundtrack. While we placed 3rd in the office costume contest, I know we’re No. 1 in reality. #BitterPartyOfOne In all seriousness, though, I live for the office hi-jinx and today’s party was no different.
- “Thriller” – Michael Jackson: I had to look through the archives to confirm I hadn’t already covered this creepy classic. You don’t need to know the moves to know this is an all-time, year-round hit. I usually skip before it gets to the chilling laugh at the end, but once a year, I allow it to play all the way through.
OK, people: I don’t know what it is with my immune system, but I’m (once again) fighting a head cold and idk, maybe I’m allergic to San Francisco?
It’s very possible, since I find myself sneezing and coughing more than ever here — and that’s counting rainy Florida seasons and winters in New York.
Maybe it’s age? Maybe it’s allergies? Maybe she’s born with it?
You can see my loopiness setting in already.
And since Pete + Ariana are over, Halloween is still A WEEK away and I already binged all of “Making a Murderer” Part 2, here’s a compilation you’ll have to use in place of my regularly entertaining, witty commentary: