Monthly Archives: August 2018

Friday 5 – Different Types of Books I’ve Been Reading!


I’ve got an interesting mix of books for you today! One about beauty, a fictional story set in early 20th century Moscow, fictional post WWII letters and the island of Guernsey, poetry for depressives and a cookbook using ingredients from Trader Joe’s.

I love how such a strange mix of books made it into my life at precisely the same time!


The French Beauty Solution
by Mathilde Thomas (nonfiction) – worth a read

Thomas is the co-founder of the French cult beauty product company Caudalíe. You can expect that she’ll mention her company’s products in the book, but she mentions those of other brands as well. And while I probably won’t be trying her grape-cleanse anytime soon, I did learn a few things like the best and worst ingredients that go into beauty products. And also that most beauty treatments (except for mani-pedis) are much less expensive in France. I’ve never really done a spa weekend, but I think France would be just the place to do it!

Another tip I learned to keep skin from losing its moisture: After showing, apply coconut oil to your skin. Then blot (instead of drying) with a towel to seal in moisture.


A Gentleman from Moscow
by Amor Towles 
(fiction) – worth a read

Even though I adored Towles’ Rules of Civilitythe sheer size of this book daunted me. I had it in my hands once and when it took me a week before I opened it, I realized there were hundreds of people on the waiting list, so I best just return it. I finally checked it out again and it kept me glued to my anti-gravity lounge chair on our deck on many summer afternoons. I was a bit confused by the ending; but as I found out, not in ways that other people were when I did a search online. I understood who the woman was in the final scene, but I guess I had too many questions about what happened next and why. While there was a conclusion, it wasn’t wrapped up neatly with a little bow. But maybe that was what Towles was looking for… he got us talking.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer (fiction, audiobook) – MUST READ/LISTEN

Just like the book The Help, I am behind the times with this work of art! Also published in 2009, many readers of the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy commented that they had trouble keeping all of the characters straight so they thought the audiobook was much better to do so.

And much like The Help, I don’t know how or what could make this book any more perfect than what it is!

It’s written (almost) entirely of letters to and from the protagonist Juliet, but still forms a complete and beautiful story situated just after WWII in London and on the island of Guernsey. While I was reading it, the movie adaptation was released on Netflix!

I watched it almost immediately after finishing the book because I had no idea how they could adapt these letters onto the screen. Truth be told, many of the details were changed… but they worked for their purposes without detracting too much from the heart of the book. (Plus you’ll see a few fave actors from Downton Abbey!) I still highly recommend reading the book or listening to it on audio.


Depression and Other Magic Tricks
by Sabrina Benaim (poetry) – worth a read

I don’t normally read poetry. It’s probably because it takes so much to understand and decipher it. I’m just not that good at it. Still, I can appreciate this little book of poems for what it is. Some of it is way over my head and sometimes it is a little much — like “Get over him already!” when reading about break-ups and heartache. But in the same vein, I know the power in releasing the emotion in the moment.

There is creativity in the style of poems as well, styles that may be well-known to the poetic world, but which were new to me, including:

  • Erasures – taking a song and then blacking out all the lines accept the few words that you want to form a poem with in the order they appear in the song
  • Taking a poem from earlier in the book and adding lines within it to create an entirely different poem with an entirely different meaning and feeling
  • Speaking about herself in the third person

While Benaim’s writing is beautifully thick and syrupy with lyrical meaning, much was over my head. Still, there were some great nuggets and lines from certain poems that I really enjoyed. For example:

We cannot control what we remember, but we can control how we remember. (~ How to Fold a Memory)

My favorite poems from this book:

  • explaining my depression to my mother: a conversation
  • seven small ways in which i loved myself this week
  • on releasing light
  • another plain truth
  • magic trick 004
  • follow-up: a prayer / a spell


The Eat Your Way Healthy at Trader Joe’s Cookbook
by Bonnie Matthews (cookbook) – worth a flip

I love Trader Joe’s, but it isn’t quite convenient enough to get there that often. I loved that the author was able to change her lifestyle by eating healthy all by using and adapting specific ingredients she shopped for at Trader Joe’s. While I loved her story, I found myself just flipping through this book more overwhelmed than inspired. I think there are some great recipes suggested here; they just didn’t arrive in the right season in my life.


What kind of books are you reading right now?
Do you read different kinds of books at different times during the year?


Friday 5 – Some of the Best Books I’ve Read Lately!


You guys, these are some of the best books that I’ve read in a long time! Sometimes it’s hard when there is such an abundance of books to read.. Which ones do you choose? You certainly don’t want to waste your time on a mediocre one. I found all five of these books to be absolutely worth my time!


The Island Beneath the Sea
by Isabel Allende (fiction, audio) – worth a read

I listened to this one on audio and this is one I think I would appreciated more if I were reading the physical book instead. The production could have been done much better, in my opinion. I also felt like the narrator was just reading facts at the beginning. I could picture myself immersed in this book if I were reading it myself and I might understand or get a better grasp of some of the French words if I had read them in print.

While the story is a bit long and slow in some parts, it really is a unique one from a different perspective than I have ever read. Assuming some of the historical aspects are true, I got a glimpse of life of Haiti and New Orleans in the 18th and 19th centuries when slavery was a “natural” part of society.


Confessions of a Paris Party Girl
by Vicki Lesage (nonfiction, audio) – MUST LISTEN

Okay, not everyone is going to love this book. I admit it. You may not even like it if you are a francophile or an American who has studied or lived in France.

But I loved it. Lesage’s voice is authentic and I loved to hear her struggles as a twenty-something in Paris – alone. While I studied in France way before the days of cell phones and Craig’s List and I was by no means alone, I felt like I could relate in a way. Plus, I have dined and drunk wine from baby bottles at her beloved Refuge des Fondues! Her tales are fun, light-hearted and something I just needed to hear right now.


The Girl with Seven Names
by Hyeonseo Lee (nonfiction) – MUST READ

I couldn’t stop reading nor could I stop telling everyone about this book. This is the true story of Lee’s life in and (unintentional?) escape from North Korea. She is just a bit younger than me, so it was crazy for me to picture what things were like while she grew up. I kept thinking, HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? I could only imagine what life was like for her through her stories and as she stated, she had it pretty good. I also liked that there was a map in the book showing her route and other defectors’ routes. The difficulty astounds me.

I couldn’t stop talking about this book after I read it and have since recommended it to so many friends… I’ve also been that annoying person who says, “DID YOU KNOW?” about apparently everything I now know about what North Korea was like in the 90s. I’m sure some people just want me to shut the hell up already.

Instead, just read this book. I felt so ignorant while reading it; but also realize how much I’ve taken for granted the lifestyle I was given at birth.


Girl, Wash Your Face
by Rachel Hollis 

YOU GUYS! THIS BOOK! It was recommended to me by my library audiobook app after I listened to You Are a Badass. I didn’t know anything about it. But it looked like a short enough listen.


I liked it so much that I could see myself buying a copy and then totally geeking out and highlighting passages. Despite the fact that there is a big section about parenting and motherhood in the book, I don’t believe that it detracted from the overall message. I have a friend, though, that disagrees. She wished she could skip over those parts.

Hollis talks about the Lies we tell ourselves, then gives personal accounts of how she overcame them in hopes that everyone can take something away. It helped me look at certain parts of myself in a whole new perspective.

The thing is, I’m nothing like Hollis. I’m not a mom of four. I’m not looking to build an empire. I’ve been through some dark moments, but nothing like those she’s been through. But I still found that I could relate.

I’ve since recommended it to so many people, one being my hairdresser who said she’s already listened to it three times! Her husband even listened to it once (though the book is geared more toward women, as you can tell in the title).

Since then, I’ve found out that Hollis has kind of a cult following! She has released a “movie” in theaters which I think is motivational piece? called Made for More. Maybe live? It’s hard to tell. It was one night only, but they are doing an encore on Monday, August 13, 2018.

In any case, I just felt like this book fell into my lap at the right time. READ OR LISTEN TO IT.


The Help
by Kathryn Stockett (fiction) – MUST LISTEN

Okay, so I know I am behind the times on this book. It was published in 2009 and was even adapted to the big screen. After seeing the movie Hidden Figures with my mother-in-law, she asked me if I saw this movie.  I have never read the book nor seen the movie; but it kept coming up on lists of “best audiobooks”, so I finally picked it up from my local library.

I would have to agree! The voices are superb and I don’t know how or what could make this book any better than it is. PERFECTION. I immediately looked up the author and her goodreads profile said that she is “currently working on her second novel”. I’m amazed she hasn’t put anything out since this one.


What is the best or most surprisingly good book you’ve read lately?