Monthly Reading Wrap Up: July

July was another amazing reading month with a nice array of genres. From a psychological thriller to an over 750 page fantasy read, I successfully knocked a few reads off my forever growing TBR list. Summer is one of my favorite times of year to read because I can get outdoors & still soak up some sun while I escape to these fictional stories. And I hope August will be just as productive.

Be sure to also check out what I read in June if you haven’t already: June Reading Wrap Up

Here’s what I managed to read in the month of July…

Layla by Colleen Hoover

I was craving a psychological thriller ( my comfort genre) although it’s the height of summer. This is characterized as a haunted romance & I was really excited to read this as I loved CH’s other thriller, Verity. Layla isn’t quite on the level of Verity, but I enjoyed it none the less. I especially was hooked for the first third of the book with the present & past POV’s. The writing style kept me on my toes wondering what would unfold next. I did find the character development to be a bit lack luster. But Colleen Hoover’s imagination is incredible. Such a creative author! Overall, I give this one 3.5 stars.

Synopsis: “When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her – until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed and breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences. Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow – another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.”

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Now, this is how you write a friends to lovers trope! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 we must protect Alex at all costs. Poppy & Alex’s friendship is top tier. This Emily Henry read has a special place in my heart for the main character being a blogger / columnist travel writer. I can live vicariously through Poppy & envy all their bucket list travels. I loved the past vs. present POV’s through multiple summers of their friendship. This is one of the first friendships I felt was very realistic. Not only this, but overall it was such a cute, light summer read. I’m so glad I enjoyed this one because unfortunately her other book, Beach Read just missed the mark for me. I give this book 3.5 or almost 4 stars.

Synopsis: Poppy & Alex. Alex & Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best friends. For most of the year they live far apart – she’s in New York City and he’s in their small hometown – but every summer for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she as last truly happy, she knows without a doubt that it was on that ill-fated final trip with Alex. And so she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together – lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees. Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Heartbones by Colleen Hoover

I feel like this is an underrated Colleen Hoover read & I absolutely loved it! I give this a solid 4 stars. At first, I thought this was a lighthearted summer fling story, but like so many CH books, it’s so much more than that. I loved Beyah’s character development & redemption of growing through proverty & a rough home life. I enjoyed the opposites attract story of Beyah [ poverty stricken / alcoholic parent ] & Samson [ very wealthy / troubled past ]. But they connect through sadness. Quite honestly, I found the story to be kind of slow in the beginning but once it hit past chapter 12 or so, it really got interesting. The twist was a little bit predictable which is why I didn’t give it 5 stars. Come to think of it, Heartbones feels like a darker version of The Summer I Turned Pretty series [ especially the volleyball scene]. What I loved most about this book & a reason I wish I owned the paperback, are the quotes. This is a perfect read for annotations. “Damaged people recognize other damaged people. It’s like a club you don’t want a membership to.”

Synopsis: Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself. With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan. Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface. She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. 

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

751 pages of pure magic. I absolutely loved this book of the series. It is filled with growth, friendship, battles & romance. In general, the thing I love most of this entire series are the characters and their banter. I personally, love Nesta’s character & the way we came to understand the reasons for her personality. I also really loved the bond between women & the strength of overcoming their pasts. The first 4 books mostly focuses on Nesta’s sister, Feyre, so to read about another character’s POV was really interesting. But SJM still managed to tie in subplots from Feyre & the rest of the Inner Circle. The thing that really ties me to loving this series is how developed each character is & their own personal stories. This book had me in tears, especially the last 100 pages. I annotated the shit out of so many quotes. If you have yet read this series, please add it to your TBR.

Synopsis: Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it. The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other. Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts. Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

If this book wasn’t so hyped up all over the internet, I’m not sure if I would have ever picked this up on my own. On some level I feared this book would give off the “forced to read in high school” type of vibe. And the Greek mythology theme was definitely outside my comfort zone. But if you push aside the dryness of the story & war, it was a beautiful story of a lifelong friendship between Patroclus & Achilles. It is a story about growth & how success can drive us either into a selfish direction or the latter. I kind of pose the question, “who was the true hero?” Also, a few characters I just couldn’t stand for their rudeness [ if you know, you know]. I found the writing to be extremely beautiful & highlighted so many quotes as I went along. It was such a heartbreaking tale & a bit of a twist at the end. The last few chapters did make my eyes blurry with tears. Overall, I give this a solid 4 stars for now. I feel like I need to read a few reviews to better understand some of the story. I’m glad I finally decided to read this though & it has encouraged me to read more books out of my comfort zone.

Synopsis: Achilles, the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful – irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath. They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in their name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The hubs recommended I start this series & I knew how much he raved about it so I finally decided to give it a go. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone – a dystopian sci-fi style read that gave off a mix of Hunger Games, GOT & Lord of the Flies. I was so surprised. I couldn’t put it down! I finished this within a day. And I can’t wait to read the rest of the series next month.

Synopsis: “His wife taken. His people enslaved. Driven by a longing for justice and the memory of lost love, Darrow will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies…even if he has to become one of them to do so.

Overall, i feel like I crushed my monthly goal & read quite a few books. Let’s see if I can read even more in August! A few reads I’m looking forward to read next month include Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover, the rest of the Red Rising series, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Book Lovers by Emily Henry & The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pakksten.

wanna know how i read so much? Check out my previous blog post: Why Replacing Screen Time With Reading Is Good For You

what are you currently reading?

– B

Why Replacing Your Screen Time With Reading Is Good For You

One of my new found rediscovered hobbies is reading. I’ve always been a bookworm to some extent, but as I got older social media became the new thing & I felt like I didn’t have time for it anymore. I wanted to start this detox series with the topic of reading because I’ve discovered, you CAN make time for it – you just have to switch up your priorities. Reading has become my escape & way to find peace within this chaotic world. I read over five books a month now, share my reading wrap ups monthly [ here’s last’s months ] & even share amateur reviews on Instagram. Here’s Why Replacing Your Screen Time With Reading is Good For You:

You Stop The Habit of Mindless Scrolling

So many days wasted scrolling for hours on TikTok or Instagram – for what? To see a photo of someone’s sandwich? Another group photo of an event you weren’t invited to? Or better yet, just comparing someone else’s “perfect” feed to your own life. Instead, I make the conscious effort to put down the phone during those leisure moments & pick up a book [ or Kindle] instead. Stop getting so caught up in other people’s lives & escape to those fantasy stories or learn something new during that time. Even I discovered how much time you really have within a day. Now, instead of saying I scrolled through my news feed for four hours, I can say I read half a book.

You Become Smarter

It’s a scientific fact, reading makes you smarter. You can better comprehend your surroundings, you improve your interpersonal skills, you gain a sense of imagination, make better decisions both emotionally & rationally, improves your vocabulary, & even helps you reflect. I personally, love to read both fiction & nonfiction novels for this very reason. Although I love escaping to imaginary worlds, I also like improving myself with self help or learning a new task. There is endless knowledge within a bookshelf.

You Become More Creative

Tying in the imagination aspect to reading, this also helps those creative juices flow. Anytime I’m in a creative slump or having writers block – I’ll pick up a book to read. And most of the time, reading just a few chapters helps ignite that creativity for my own work once again. Reading books encourages inspiration & sometimes we need a little help within that department.

You Stop Comparing Your Life To Others

There are so many ways to distract the mind from comparing yourself to other people. Reading has been my favorite hobby to halt those bad habits. Who has time to worry about what other people are doing when you have beautiful stories to read about?

You Find Yourself Through The Stories

A bit cheesy but so true [ especially if you are one to annotate your books ]. I’ve found quotes to be so relatable to my personal struggles or experiences & sometimes other people’s words just explain your feelings far better than you ever could. Not only do certain lines resonate with me, but certain genres & storylines become a sense of my personality. We all have likes & dislikes when it comes to our TBR choices. I find myself leaning towards psychological thrillers, ghost stories & fantasies. But I also find comfort in the occasional romance. I had someone tell me, “you can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to read.” And I guess there is truth to that – unless you are like me & pick a lot of hyped bookstagram ones. But I think it’s a vulnerable thing to see what words people find beautiful.

You Become Happier

Rediscovering reading has made childhood Bee quite happy. It’s like a long lost love return to your life – at least for me. In this phase of healing, I try & find little moments & hobbies that bring a sense of joy to my days. And reading has been that saving grace. Even my husband notices this change in me & actually loves hearing me talk about books I’ve read & entices me with date nights to Barnes & Noble some. We even find ourselves reading on the couch together in pure silence just basking in the comfort of one another.

I shall leave you with my favorite quote by George R.R. Martin that pretty much sums up my feelings of books & it’s “I have lived a thousand lives and I’ve loved a thousand loves. I’ve walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time. Because I read.”

-B

15 Ways To Boost Your Mood

We all have bad days once in a while – & point blank, they kind of suck! Lately – I’ve been feeling unmotivated & just in a bit of a funk. But instead of wallowing in such pity, I wanted to take this opportunity to write a blog post for you all that could help you in you too are having a bad day. I wanted to take the positive way out & share a few things I do to help boost my mood when I’m feeling down. Here are 15 Ways To Boost Your Mood On Those Bad Days…

Treat Yourself To Your Favorite Food or Beverage

On bad days, I love getting into the car & driving to Starbucks or Dunkin & purchasing a hot chocolate, chai tea latte or a iced tea. I know, most days I should just make this drink at home – & I do. But on days like today, I like to get out of the house for a second & treat myself to something different. This can also be a favorite take out meal. I’m not condoning unhealthy eating on bad days, but I’m going to be real with you all – sometimes you just need some McDonald’s nuggets & fries to mend that mood.

Stretch It Out

Moving your body & doing a light workout or yoga practice is a definite mood booster for me. This practice really helps me recenter & calm down.

Put on Some Cozy Socks

It’s such a little pleasure – but I love putting on a pair of fuzzy socks when I’m at home. We have hardwood floors & it can feel so cold especially in the mornings. This little accessory really boosts my mood.

Listen To a Podcast or Music

Whether its creating a playlist off Spotify or listening to a mood boosting podcast, these activities really brighten my day. Here’s my favorite podcast at the moment >>> MOOD by Lauren Elizabeth.

Vitamins

Anytime I’m feeling down, I always ask myself, “have I taken my vitamins lately?” I usually take a multivitamin daily as well as vitamin B when I feel like I need it. Also, get that natural Vitamin D as much as possible by getting outside regularly.

Good Talks

I think having conversations with loved ones or close friends really can help put your bad days into perspective. I love having these talks with my mom, brother & my husband. These people especially always bring me back to Earth & make me feel better about any situation.

Random Strolls Around Target

I’m not trying to condone retail therapy – but sometimes walking through stores like Target really boost my mood. Sometimes I don’t buy a single thing. Just window shopping & having a look around aimlessly is enough.

Light Some Candles

My mood always changes with the ambiance. In the evenings especially, I love dimming the lights & lighting a few scented candles throughout the house. In October, I love embracing the dark & fall like weather & just get extra cozy.

Write Those Grievances Down

Sometimes you have to simply voice or write down those problems you are having that are causing you to have a bad day. Get them off your chest & don’t let them fester.

Grievance GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Channel That Frustration

Once those thoughts are out & in the open, run those frustrations out! Or channel those feelings into something else so those thoughts don’t control you. I personally love to run when I’m angry. But you can always create something, listen to music & dance around or just scream at the top of your lungs for a second. Whatever works for you.

Exercise

Running, yoga, biking, hiking or lifting weights are other ways to channel that bad day & boost that mood of yours. Breaking a little sweat will do you some good – trust me.

Shower

If you are having a bad day, feeling sick or just extra tired – take a shower. Seriously, showers fix all the problems. And getting fresh & clean always feels better.

Drying My Hair

Nothing pisses me off more than going to bed with wet hair & waking up with a hot mess of a mane. So, do yourself a favor & dry that hair.

Comfy Clothes

My go to comfy attire includes flowy soft pants or joggers paired with an oversized t-shirt or sweatshirt.

A Mini Getaway

Experiences always enrich the soul. Whenever I am having a bad day or need to get away from my normal routine, I plan a weekend getaway to someplace I love or want to explore. For me some favorites include the mountains but I would also love to visit Salem as it is currently spooky season.

-B