Yes Please

Yes PleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler
Published by Dey St. on October 28th 2014
Genres: Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction
Pages: 329
Format: Hardcover
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In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

“Good for you, not for me” is a tidbit of advice Poehler gives throughout her delightfully funny memoir.

This advice strikes a chord with me, as it helps me to realize that not everything is good for everyone.

I was sucked into Yes Please immediately and finished reading it in a single day.

Poehler’s book is a collection of memorable essays regarding her experiences.

Poehler goes into detail about personal anecdotes from her SNL and Upright Citizens Brigade days, as well as a number of other hilarious tales collected throughout her lifetime.

I laughed out loud more than once while reading Yes Please.

Poehler’s comic flair comes across incredibly in her writing and her memoir is entertaining from start to finish.

Poehler keeps her story light, even when discussing her darker times.

I really enjoyed reading about her comic comrades, including Tina Fey and Seth Meyers.

I also loved her tales about a handful of SNL hosts.

Poehler also includes a chapter regarding her adoration for her Parks and Recreation cast-mates.

Judging from not only her acting but also her writing, Poehler is incredibly witty and talented.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Poehler or needs a hearty laugh.

Love, Maggie

A Collection

I absolutely cannot believe it’s almost April, which means it’s almost time for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z Challenge! This will be my third year participating; unfortunately, I neglected to save my challenge posts from 2015 and 2016. However, I’m excited about and inspired by the theme I chose this year!

Luckily, I chose a loose theme, which will enable me to write posts for all 26 letters of the alphabet, whereas last year, I missed a few letters, as my topic wasn’t broad at all. I’ve found that after two years of challenging myself to post throughout April for Blogging from A to Z, that a theme encompassing a wide array of personal experiences is right for me, at least this year!

For the 2017 edition of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I have decided to shape essays recounting personal memories, observations, and loves around each letter. Therefore, A Collection of Essays came to be.

I can tell I’m really excited about my theme choice because I’m typing posts ahead of time like a banshee! Writing A to Z challenge posts has never come quite so easily to me; I think the reason is that I’m picking my own brain, as opposed to doing crazy research, for my posts.

All of the posts I have thus far scheduled evoked strong emotions within me as I wrote them, which tells me my material will be interesting, at least to me! 😀 I hope my readers, new and old, will enjoy journeying with me through my brain and will laugh, cry, and maybe learn a tidbit or two while reading my posts.

To all of the A to Z Challenge participants this year: GOOD LUCK and I hope to visit as many of you, and there are a bunch, as possible! Please leave me a link to your blog or theme reveal post if you’re also challenging yourself to write from A to Z; I’d love to drop by your nook! 😀

Love, Maggie

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-In BoyfriendThe Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 343
Format: ebook
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When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I am totally not a girl who runs to see romantic comedies – I avoid them at all costs – let alone someone who reads romance-based novels. I felt as though I was being haunted by Kasie West and her books. Seemingly everywhere I looked in the bookish blogging world were rave reviews of West’s writing.

The Fill-In Boyfriend beckoned me to crack open its cover for a long time before I gave in to my intense urge to read it, despite my prejudices regarding romance. Now, I’m also not that into reading about romance of any sort in any book of any genre, which helps illustrate my reluctance to read West’s work, which I’ve seen referred to as ‘fluffy’.

The Fill-In Boyfriend is full of fluff and I loved every minute of it! The book’s synopsis and title make it obvious enough that a girl basically uses a guy to pose as her boyfriend. What I didn’t expect was the roller coaster ride of emotions that I experienced while reading this book.

Gia, the protagonist, meets a stranger after being unceremoniously dumped right before her senior prom and, you guessed it, the stranger becomes her prom date and is introduced to her clique of gal pals as her questionable boyfriend.

Gia weaves a tight web of lies to cover up the facade of having a real boyfriend, even keeping the truth from her dearest friend, Claire. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the book is Gia’s newfound friendship with someone whom she normally would have overlooked, being the perfect popular student council president that she is.

The reader is taken on a journey of evolution for not only Gia, but for supporting characters as well. Cracks in Gia’s home life become evident; Gia’s friends slowly grow suspicious of her shenanigans; Gia’s ultimate frenemy is out to ruin her, but no one believes her, which clouds Gia’s judgment and intuition.

A caterpillar at the beginning of the book, Gia transforms into an illustrious, independent butterfly toward the end, gaining serious introspection along the way. I loved reading about Gia’s personal growth and the changes she inspires in both herself and those closest to her.

As I was taken on Gia’s road trip of lies, I was constantly swerving and weaving through emotions ranging from anger, to joy, to sadness, to empathy, to anger again, and finally to a terrific resolution.

The Fill-In Boyfriend has definitely changed my viewpoint regarding romantic, fun novels and I very much look forward to reading the rest of West’s work. Kasie West has made me an auto-buyer of her books with this single story.

Love, Maggie

A Series of Circuses

Happy hump day! With today arrives the weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, WWW Wednesday! The meme has a simple format, asking the three W’s:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently

I finally picked up The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. So far – and I’m about 30 pages in – I adore this book! I’d really like to curl up and read it in one sitting, but, you know, life!

I started listening to Carolyn Keene’s The Message in the Hollow Oak on Audible. I don’t think I need to mention again just how much I love Nancy Drew! 😀

My goal this week is to finish listening to the final seven hours of the Audible edition of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval. I’ve been struggling with this book for a few weeks now – I don’t think I’d pass a pop quiz on what I’ve listened to thus far!

I hope to complete it by the weekend, as my co-bloggers at The Bookkeepers’ Secrets and I want to do a group Caraval review! I’m really looking forward to putting our review together; it’s going to be interesting to see our differing, and similar, opinions!

Just Finished

I have been recently inspired to return to my goal of finishing A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, especially because I’m in love with the Netflix series based upon the books.

Luckily for me, only the first four books have been made into shows thus far, meaning I’m free to watch the whole series! A few days ago, I completed the fourth Snicket book, The Miserable Mill, and I really enjoyed it. I think it’s my favorite unfortunate book so far.

Next

Being the mood reader I am, if I had to choose right now what I want to read next, I’d pick A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas or Saga, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan. Both are books I want to read before their sequels debut this spring!

That wraps up my reading plans for the week! If you drop by, be a dear and leave me a link to your WWW Wednesday post so I can visit you back! 😀

Love, Maggie

February’s Fairy Loot

In February, I had the good fortune of getting to order a single box from Fairy Loot! Let’s just say that I am totally NOT disappointed with the surprises offered in February’s Emperors and Fugitives themed box!

I look forward to the day, which will hopefully arrive soon, that I can purchase a full out subscription to Fairy Loot – and pretty much every bookish box in existence! 😀

There truly isn’t much like getting bookmail and the loot fairy made me giddy!

Following are the individual prizes I got! 😀

  • The full size Kalusian Sunset candle by Happy Piranha smells delish!
  • I adore the hand lettered Rebel of the Sands quote pouch by Alisse Courter!
  • I am obsessed with Funko, so I am in love with the Baby Groot Guardians of the Galaxy keychain! This little dear will fit perfectly into my Pop collection!
  • I neglected to get a photo, but a Celestial Gunpowder bath bomb, created by Bathing Beauties, was included and has an amazing scent!
  • The Illuminae coaster by Read At Midnight is precious and features a beautiful quote from the book!
  • I love the Space Girl bookmark created by Till and Dill!
  • A double-sided Manon and Dorian art print, made exclusively by Taratjah, is breathtaking!
  • Last, but certainly not least, is the month’s featured book – Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza, as well as an autographed bookplate!

Love, Maggie

Illuminae

IlluminaeIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Pages: 599
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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Goodreads

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.
BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

As I am bad to avoid perusing summaries of books prior to reading them, I had no clue what to expect when I began Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Little did I know, I was in for a treat.

Illuminae, told through pieces from a dossier compiled regarding the incident at the heart of the story, is at once science fiction, romance, and extreme excitement.

I finished reading the book in less than one day; I could not step away from the story or the characters.

Kady and Ezra are each part of a former couple who find themselves thrust together as the world they know, Kerenza, is destroyed.

Communicating through cyberspace, each aboard a different rescue ship, Kady and Ezra struggle to hack into the truth surrounding the decimation of their homeland and that of a third savior ship.

The duo slowly come back together amidst the chaos surrounding them and enlist others in their fight to find answers and save the innocent from impending doom.

With the number of enemies they face growing larger, Ezra and Kady must decipher who and what they can in fact trust.

Illuminae is an incredibly fast-paced novel, despite its number of pages.

Outfitted with illustrations, charts, and correspondence, the book is not only a fantastic read, but it is very visually appealing.

Illuminae is the first installment in The Illuminae Files trilogy by Kaufman and Kristoff.

I am already incredibly excited to read the second and third books in the series! Gemina, companion book to Illuminae, was released in 2016.

Love, Maggie

The Secret History

The Secret HistoryThe Secret History by Donna Tartt
Published by Vintage on April 13th 2004
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 559
Format: Hardcover
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Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last - inexorably - into evil.

I delved into The Secret History with high expectations, perhaps too high, and was sorely disappointed.

I should have taken a cue from my boredom with Tartt’s The Goldfinch and understood that the author’s writing style does not vary from book to book.

As with The Goldfinch, The Secret History is filled with description and dialogue, but with little plot advancement or character development.

I found myself growing tired of the story after the first chapter, anxious for some excitement. That desired excitement never came to fruition.

I anticipated learning a lot while reading Tartt’s debut novel.

The story centers around a secretive group of a handful of studiers of Greek under the tutelage of a single teacher.

Instead of exploring ancient undertones, the tale seems to revolve around the main college-age characters imbibing in alcohol and cigarettes and having dinner parties.

“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”

To its credit, The Secret History does have some beautiful quotes, but I’ve learned my lesson to stop reading Donna Tartt’s work, unfortunately.

Love, Maggie

The Caraval Conundrum

Happy hump day! With today arrives the weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, WWW Wednesday! The meme has a simple format, asking the three W’s:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently

I started The Miserable Mill, the fourth in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events the other day. I think this is my favorite installment in the series thus far. I really want to hurry up and get the whole series read so I can watch the Netflix show – which I really hope is still on by the time I finish!

I haven’t listened to my audio book of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval in seemingly forever. I just haven’t gotten excited about it, which I hope will change soon. I’m almost two hours into the Audible edition, but I don’t feel like anything is happening – nothing exciting to me anyway. I’m going to give it another go shortly, but the jury is still out…

I feel like I SHOULD love Caraval, if only because of the hype and the outstanding reviews I’ve read. However, I did notice on Twitter that there are brutal scenes between the sisters at the heart of the tale and their father. I’m still waiting to be shocked!

Just Finished

I blew through my ARC of Ensnared by Rita Stradling. Let’s just say that I highly enjoyed this book – I can’t believe it won’t be released until December! I’m looking forward to finding out what other readers think of it.

A futuristic take on the beloved Beauty and the Beast, Ensnared is really creative and exciting, yet predictable, because, hey – retelling! Nevertheless, I love that the romance is set in the future!

Next

Okay, I know I said last week that I was planning to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, but Lemony Snicket ruined my plans. But, I am for certain reading The Night Circus next! I’ll be ready for it after my light reading of The Miserable Mill.

I also want to read a classic soon, alas, I am undecided on which to pick up. I figure I’ll see where my reading mood leads me following Morgenstern’s sure to be beautiful tale – I have high expectations.

Love, Maggie

P.S. If you stop by, leave me a link to your WWW Wednesday post – I’d love to visit you back! 😀

February = Heart Reading

Sporadic Update was inspired by The Sunday Post meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 😀

Sweet Reads

February began slowly for me, reading-wise; however, I sprinted toward the end of the month by starting and finishing five books over the course of two weeks, which for me is a lot! I am an admittedly slow reader, plus I’m a parent, making it difficult to carve out reading time.

I’m still ahead of my Goodreads challenge goal of 40 by five books, with a grand total of 11 read. I hope to maintain my pace and stay ahead of my goal until I reach it. I’ve toyed with the idea of upping my 2017 reading goal, but I’m torn as to whether or not to simply leave my goal as is and let extra books tick up my percentage. I’ve got time to ponder this, thankfully! 😀

As for February’s sweet reads, three books made the cut! I didn’t intend for it to be, but The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West turned into the perfect read during the month of love. I hadn’t planned to read anything romantic in February, but I couldn’t resist, as I’ve been incredibly curious about West’s work for a while now.

I also really enjoyed Rick Riordan’s The Throne of Fire, second in the Kane Chronicles trilogy. I may have mentioned that I love to learn as I read, especially while perusing fiction. Long story short, Riordan never disappoints when it comes to melding entertainment with education.

My favorite book of the month was the debut novel in the cozy mystery series, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, Elementary, She Read, by Vicki Delany. I’m really looking forward to writing my review for this one. Let’s just say that I recently stepped out of my genre comfort zone by trying a cozy mystery – Delany’s book is only the second cozy I’ve read! It didn’t take long for me to realize that I adore cozies!

Sour Reads

My not-so-favorite, so so reads of the month both received a mediocre three stars from me, meaning I liked them okay, just meh. More often than not, I adore Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. Sadly, the Audible edition of The Sign of the Twisted Candles didn’t grab me.

Figment, the second book in Cameron Jace’s Insanity series, didn’t grab me either. I understand that it has a plot more focused on character building rather than action, but I’m looking forward to the third installment, Circus, which I hear is action packed and exciting, as was the series opener, Insanity.

Welcome to My Library!

I’m proud to have been approved for some great ARCs on NetGalley this month! I was so lucky to receive my first ever invite to read a popular upcoming book, Roshani Chokshi’s follow-up to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes! I got the invitation because I was approved much earlier to read an ARC of Chokshi’s debut. 😀

I requested and was approved for Noteworthy by Riley Redgate and Ensnared by Rita Stradling, which I’m reading at the time of this typing and enjoying! I really liked Redgate’s debut novel, Seven Ways We Lie, so I hope to feel the same about Noteworthy!

I also bought a few books this month, mostly Kindle editions. I thought The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani looked cute, so I snatched it up. I also got Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, about which I’ve been curious for a while, on special.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest finally found its way onto my Kindle, as did Carolyn Keene’s The Clue of the Dancing Puppet. With my Audible credit for the month, I got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and narrated by Jim Dale. This will be my first reread ever and I’m really looking forward to hearing Harry’s saga.

Speaking of sagas, I went nuts and bought volumes four, five, and six of Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, rounding out my collection, in preparation for volume seven’s release this spring.

Finally, I ended my book spree by purchasing three books for my two-year-old, My Very First Book of Colors by Eric Carle, Curious George Tool Time by H.A. Rey, and Dinosaur Dance! by Sandra Boynton.

Near the end of the month, I received the ultimate book mail – my first ever Fairy Loot box! I’ll be showing off the entire contents of the February box later, but I do want to mention that the chosen book was the enticing Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza.

Challenging

In my Pulling the Plug post, I explain why I decided to abandon the year-long reading challenges for which I had signed up so early in the year. I decided to alleviate the reading pressure I was already feeling by solely keeping up with my reading through the Goodreads challenge.

As for short and mini reading challenges, bring them on!

In Real Life

In last month’s Sporadic Update, I mentioned applying for a job as an in-school therapist. I had an interview scheduled, but ultimately decided to cancel the day before. I dwelled on whether or not to take the job for a couple of weeks prior to my set interview.

I finally came to the conclusion that I’d rather continue with my role as a housewife and full-time mother. I adore every moment that I’m with my children and ever since I applied for the job I have tried even more to avoid taking any minute with my boys for granted.

My mother, who didn’t have the luxury of staying home with my brother and I full-time, implored me to let go of feeling the urge to have a full-time job. She re-instilled in me how important my job as a mother is – I am charged with raising two beautiful, spirited, happy boys.

Basically having little lives in my hands is definitely overwhelming at times, but it is so rewarding. I sometimes feel like what I do – raise my children and maintain our family’s household – isn’t worthy of admiration. But, I realize now that my boys will ultimately be the best they can be at least partially because of my love and the sacrifices I make for them.

March Madness

I am a humongous college basketball fan and, quite naturally, my [second] favorite time of year is March Madness, the technically 64-team tournament that serves as the season’s grand finale.

I say technically 64 teams because there is a play-in round these days known as the First Four. Anyway, Selection Sunday is coming up I believe next week for the men’s tournament and then Selection Monday will follow to announce the women’s tournament contenders.

I always root for the SEC, excluding Vanderbilt, as I am from the South. However, every year features at least a few Cinderella teams with whom I fall in love. I could ramble on about basketball forever, alas, I shall return to the subject at hand – books!

I’m not totally sure as to what I want to read this month, aside from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Since I ditched my reading challenges, I don’t have any particular books that I need to get to; I’m free to mood read!

On the other hand, I would like to finally read my ARC of Gilded Cage by Vic James – I’m really looking forward to it. So I figure I do have a bit of planned reading after all! I would also like to get on with reading Noteworthy.

In Closing

I hope all of y’all have a fantastic March and happy reading! 😀

Love, Maggie

Elementary, She Read

Elementary, She ReadElementary, She Read by Vicki Delany
Published by Crooked Lane Books on March 14th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
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Goodreads

Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.
The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will delight in the sleuthing duo of Gemma and Jayne in Elementary, She Read, the clever and captivating series debut by nationally bestselling author Vicki Delany.

Vicki Delany’s Elementary, She Read is quite possibly the coziest mystery I’ve ever read. Cozy mysteries aren’t my go-to genre; however, Delany’s tale has helped open up a whole new world of books for me. I’m highly anticipating the follow-up to this, the first in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series!

I mean, seriously, what’s not to love about a protagonist who owns a cozy bookstore focused on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as books and items related to Sherlock Holmes in general? I had so much fun reading Delany’s story that I completed in less than two days.

The characters are so lovable, yet flawed, and very well-developed. I adore the main character, Gemma Doyle, who lives in the sleepy Cape Cod tourist town of West London. Gemma is lovably snarky, absentminded, smart, witty, and superbly observant, making her the perfect amateur detective.

Gemma’s best friend and owner of the tea shop adjoining the Sherlock Holmes Bookstore and Emporium, Jayne, is an excellent foil for Gemma. Put together, organized, and gorgeous, Jayne fits the role of Gemma’s best friend perfectly.

I really like that Delany’s book focuses on the mystery at hand and character development more than romance. While there are a few dates scattered throughout the story, as well as some teasers regarding Gemma’s romantic past, I love that the mystery doesn’t get bogged down by the minutiae of attraction between the sexes.

Furthermore, I enjoyed the easy, playful dialogue between the characters and the flow of Delany’s writing style. The mystery at the center of the book is intriguing and I didn’t come close to guessing which character is the culprit.

I have never delved into Sir Doyle’s work or into the world of Sherlock Holmes, but after reading Elementary, She Read, I am incredibly looking forward to doing so.

Love, Maggie