August: Books Plus

Glimpses of fall weather, a sense of somewhat inexplicable busyness, heartbreak and fury over needing people to wake up, powerful reads and reads for escapism, and a now 2 year old who had the yellow birthday of the century ; ).
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My Reads

➕ Poppy Green’s The Adventures of Sophie Mouse series
We are Sophie Mouse superfans over here. The four we read this month were so charming and evocative of the idyllic cozy world I think many of us would be happy to live in.  Feel free to message me if you’re thinking about starting and wondering where to begin!
➕  Emma Lord’s You Have a Match
Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for my advanced e-copy! I needed a pick-me-up and this book delivered.  Parent Trap vibes plus Emma Lord’s winning teenager snark plus the unraveling of the mystery all combined to make me not able to put the book down. Do your future self a favor and pre-order.

➕  James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time

Bringing. the. heat. If you haven’t already picked this one up and you’re feeling burnt out in your fight for racial justice, let this letter re-light a fire under you. I’m sounding too flippant with these painful puns. Truly…this one is full of wisdom. Thinking I’ll have to pick up this one next.
➕ Renee Watson’s Ways to Make Sunshine
Watson is brilliant at taking all aspects of life’s realities and looking at them through the lens of a child.  Ryan is a wonderfully nuanced character and this book, with Ryan looking to make sunshine, certainly made me smile.
➕ Robin Steven’s Poison is Not Polite
This is the second in a series in which the author was very much inspired by Golden Age mysteries and the food and atmosphere of Enid Blyton’s books, so naturally you can expect it to be a fun escape.

➕  Jason Reynold’s and Ibram X. Kendis’ Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix

The young adult version of this was available, so I picked it up, figuring I will read Stamped once I can. Brilliant voice, as is expected with Reynolds, and the information for re-learning American history was so powerful and amazingly done.

➕  R. Eric Thomas’s Here For It

Books rarely make me LOL.  Thomas had me LOLing in the introduction alone.  I subscribe to his awesome newsletter, which I highly recommend, so I was familiar with his voice and this book just cemented my appreciation for his talents as a writer and observer.

➕ Maxine Rose Schur’s Samantha’s Surprise

This book reads like a my best friend’s rich check, but, don’t worry, Samantha’s going to make your gift by hand.

➕ Valerie Tripp’s Happy Birthday, Samantha!

This book is wild.  In 60 pages, there is the most bland suffragette speech ever delivered that convinces an old Victorian lady stuck in her ways to suddenly become cool with feminism, there are diabolical twins that appear from nowhere, an evil child is left near salt and ice cream, and yes I still covet that birthday party with pink lemonade and petit fours.
➕  Valerie Tripps’s Samantha Saves the Day
Grandmary apparently owns what is essentially a private five star, lakeside resort that’s never been mentioned before.  You know what’s also never been mentioned before?? Her gentleman caller every summer! Wowza. Aside from my discomfort re the ridiculously wealth (WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?) and, you know, the whole reliving the trauma of her parents’ death, I have to admit that I quite enjoyed the idyllic woodsy, Victorian fun because I kind of just want to play at roughing it, too.
➕ Valerie Tripp’s Changes for Samantha
Actual thoughts after first 10 pages: WHAT? THIS BOOK IS INSANE. I shouldn’t say insane. Valerie Tripp, what are you doing? What are you doing?? A few pages later: Really, you named the orphanage Coldrock?

➕  Ibi Zoboi’s Pride

This Pride and Prejudice re-telling is one of the better ones with Zuri serving as our Elizabeth, who is proud of her Bed-Stuy neighborhood, writes poetry, and dreams of going to Howard.

➕  Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute

A re-read to see if I still adored this one, even though I read it not that long ago. I do, in fact, still love it. Actually I think it’s my favorite contemporary YA ever. Look at me, coming on strong.

➕  Zeno Alexander’s The Library of Evers

“How convenient, thought Lenora.” That sums up this book for me.  I was so excited when Brandi mentioned this book on her stories because MAGIC LIBRARY, but this book made me realize my tolerance for “nonsense” is very low.  I need the characters to be a little less ho hum of course I’m time traveling; ho hum yep, ant talking to me. That’s a me problem, though. If you like books like Alice in Wonderland, I think you’ll be able to happily enjoy this one.
➕  Mary Laura Philpott’s I Miss You When I Blink
These essays might as well be a list of my ideal conversations.  who were you when you weren’t wondering who you were.  Another contender for a favorite of the year.
➕  Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age
I was OMGing through this. This book is a piercing look at racism and classism and is such a complete page-turner.  This is one that’s going to stick with me and is definitely a contender to be a favorite of the year.
A great read for any Office fan.

New To Us Toddler Reads

➕ Please see this post.
Writing reviews, as many of you know, takes a long time, so, in the interest of my time, there are lots of books we’ve been loving towards the bottom of that post.  We continue to be Sophie Mouse, Chirri&Chirra, and Bunny’s Book Club obsessed, too!


Hey, nerds interested in getting away from whitewashing, this one is so interesting! Topics from museum curation to police.
➕ American Girl Podcast’s Summer of Samantha episodes
These women are hilarious and smart and anyone who loves history or grew up with American Girls should absolutely check this out- one of my favorites.  I’ve been particularly enjoying them covering the Samantha books, since you can tell those struck a chord, hah.
I always love their chats, but this one felt particularly fun, even though I’ve never read Tolkien (should I?).  Their exploration of what works for them in fantasy was something fun to think about, too.
➕ First Name Basis’s Cancel Culture Part 3: Removing Statues
This is a topic on which I wasn’t sure quite where my thoughts landed and I thought this episode was so helpful for some sorting out of ideas.


➕ Oh Wonder’s “Hallelujah”
Adore this song and how cool is this one-shot video?
➕ The Oh Hello’s “Trees”
My husband and I recently identified that a lot of my favorite music is indie and one you can picture in a happy montage in a movie.  This certainly fits that bill.
➕ Beyonce’s Keys to the Kingdom
So good.

TV and Movies

➕ Top Chef season 16
Great cast. Great show I’ve been sleeping on since college, but that we will probably now just keep catching up on.
➕ City Bakes season 2, Amazing Hotels season 3
If you haven’t already checked out these shows and you like baking or hotels or travel, do. They’re a lovely way to relax and casually learn about new places.
➕ Palm Springs
I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Aspects felt so gratuitous and gross, which always annoys me, but I thought other parts were wonderful and the leads have great chemistry.

What’s Not Working For Me

(This section is officially for nonsense only.)
➕ Responsibilities
Please respect me on this, life.
➕ Work It on Netflix
I wanted to like this one.  Bad dance movies. Here for it.  Jordan Fisher. (JORDAN FISHER!). Here for it. Cheesy music. Often here for it. This movie. Nah.

Working For Me

Grateful for people using their energy to make resources like this and highly recommend this one.

➕ Naming things.

Who knew that just giving a name to things would help so much? (Probably you.)  Having a specific name for something that consistently fills me up, which is…looking up into trees (yep, that simple), has been very helpful. Whenever I’m feeling out of sorts, I just say “tree therapy” to myself and try to make looking up at those trees happen.   It’s been the same with calling certain nights “date night”. We try to watch something new, maybe make a special treat, surprise each other with something small.  I’d always felt sheepish about the term, but naming it that designates an ordinary night into something fresh.  Name it. Make it work.

➕ Remembering to use music as a mood booster.

This feels obvious, too, but yet I forget it.  Happy music drifting through the house…working for me.
➕ Kendall Jenner’s house tour.
I watched this twice and, while I wouldn’t say that her house is #goals for me personally, it was a very good springboard of that game in my head of “what would I buy if I was rich?”. Anyone else play this game? Mine used to take the form of flipping through American Girl catalogs…
➕ Watching this.
I don’t have any particular feelings towards Alanis Morisette, but seeing her singing this song while holding her daughter totally got me. And these lyrics in the second chorus, gah, I am such a cliche mom, but how sweet:
To my girl, all your innocence and fire
When you reach out, I am here hell or high water
This nest is never going away
My mission is to keep the light in your eyes ablaze
➕ This panda video.
You might have already seen this one if you subscribe to Erin H. Moon’s newsletter, but if you haven’t…
➕ These teens reacting to older hits they’ve never heard.
I am so amused seeing these young men reacting while listening to songs like “In the Air Tonight”and “I Will Always Love You” and clearly I am not alone.
➕ This pasta Instagram account.
Beautiful pictures of pasta. Need I say more?

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  • Laura Bray says:

    My husband and I were just talking about how we forget to use music as a mood booster. We’ve been trying to have better transitions between work/school & relaxation time (tough when it all happens at home!) and we’ve been thinking of ways we can use tunes to help us move between these parts of our days.

    • Erin says:

      I think I remember Tsh Oxenreider talking about using music to transition her kids. It’s such a smart idea! I’ll be curious to hear how it works for you.

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