Summer Bucket List (+ Playlist)

It's been approximately 78 years since I've created a seasonal bucket list. If I remember correctly, it was like last winter? Point is, I'm due for one. And I love listing things. And summer is like the perfect time to make and complete a bucket list because, hello, memories. 

Not all of them are "summer-themed" although most of them are, and I'm super excited to get started on completing them all. (If you scroll to the second part of this post, I've already checked one off!) I thought up so many items but only included 15 because limits and let's be real, sticking to bucket lists is kinda hard. Most times I get all excited about my list and then promptly forget about it until it's time to "check-in" and I've done nothing all season but stuff my face. I have a good feeling about this summer though. This summer feels like it's mine already. 

A lot of the items on this bucket list are things I wouldn't even think to do normally (draw on the sidewalk, ride a bike in the city), so I'm ready to be taken out of my comfort zone. And I'm already planning a trip to the museum and an afternoon in Central Park two things I haven't done in at least as many years. I say this time and time again, but I really want to experience this city I live in instead of just dwelling in it. It's strange because tons of people have been leaving Manhattan recently (seriously, it's like a mass exodus), and every time I hear about it I think "OMG, why would you ever leave this magical place?" But then when I'm brave enough to really consider my own life, I might as well leave the city if I'm not gonna use it, ya know? Like that whole "use it or lose it" saying? So, this summer above all, I aim to "use" New York City. 


Summer Belongs To U!

{my summer 2015 playlist}

Already checking something off the bucket list...

Music is king, especially during the summertime. I feel like summer inspires music and dancing and in the sunlight of longer days, we all love finding new songs to sing at the top of our lungs. When I think of summertime, I imagine driving fast down a winding road (or the Westside Highway!) with the volume up and the top down, so it's no surprise that making a playlist made my list. 

Usually I have a single song that signifies the season, a summer song if you will. But this year I've got a few, so I made a playlist. My favorites by far are: Tonight Belongs to U!, Lean On, One Last Time, and I Can Make You Feel Young Again.

You can also check out my past summer playlists here and here!

What are you listening to this summer?  

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Title: Every Last Word

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Publication: June 16, 2015

Main Plot: Samantha has been hiding her OCD from most of the people she knows for six years. Her disorder causes her to obsess over things that most "normal" girls wouldn't, and she wants nothing more than to shut it all off and continue her life as one of the most popular girls in school. In searching for ways to quiet her mind and calm her obsessive thoughts, she discovers not only a place that feels more like home than anywhere else, but a group of people who feel more like home than those she's known her entire life.   

You guys, I fell hard for this book. When I received the eARC from Disney Hyperion, I was a bit stunned. It was one of the first books I'd requested and I truly didn't expect to get it, so I hadn't even planned on it. So, when I did, I almost didn't know what to do with myself. I was about 70 pages into a book I was pretty excited to read and I had (and still have) so many novels on my shortened TBR. I told myself that I'd start it, just read the first chapter and see where things went from there. And it did more than spark my interest! The opening scene of Every Last Word is vivid and fast-paced, even a little uncomfortable, but most of all striking. I needed to know what this was all about, I needed to read more. And so I did. I sat on my sofa until the wee hours of the night and I devoured the entire book in a single sitting. And I adored it. 

                                                                              My Rating: 5 Coffee Cups = Up All Night!

                                                                              My Rating: 5 Coffee Cups = Up All Night!

Every Last Word takes the typical trope of the popular girl who hates her popular friends and makes it entirely realistic. Sam doesn't outright hate her friends, she's simply outgrown them. She's at a point where she realizes how different they are, how negative of an impact they've had on her life recently, how many terrible things she's done in the past, and how terribly she's allowed herself to be treated all for the sake of their friendship. As she tries and schemes desperately to hide her disorder, she begins to realize, with the help of a few others, that keeping her "Crazy Eights" friendship alive is more trouble than it's worth. So when Sam finds this new group of people and Poet's Corner, a place where it seems everyone is accepted even when they don't accept themselves, it makes sense that she feels this intense connection for this place she barely knows. I loved exploring this new "world" with Sam because it was clear with every word Stone wrote, that this place was slowly becoming home for Sam, that it was exactly what she needed. And the characters! I normally save my adoration for main characters because they are the ones we see the most of. But wow, I just loved and really admired Stone's supporting characters in Poet's Corner, especially Caroline and Sydney and Emily. Stone managed to create these incredibly full and dynamic secondary characters within only a few intermittent paragraphs. It was brilliant, and so well-written, and it speaks volumes about her writing style and her as writer in general. 

I also really appreciate Every Last Word for exposing me to OCD in a new and, most unexpectedly, entirely relatable way. At the beginning of the novel, Stone described the disorder in terms of an overwhelming thought, a thought you just can't seem to shake on your own, and then that thought becomes an impulse to act. This description brought the disorder into my realm of understanding rather easily. I'm always thinking, maybe not about the everyday things that someone experiencing obsessive thoughts might, but sometimes, when I'm considering bigger decisions or wondering what the hell I'm doing with my life, I get to repeating the same thing over and over and it burrows it's way into my brain affecting everything I do thereafter until I figure it out or expel it somehow. And later, somewhere towards the middle of the novel, Sam explains her obsessive thoughts in terms of a quest for answers or seeking some point where she feels full. Like a curiosity that she can't seem to shake despite knowing that she needs to give it up, or digging deeper into a topic or a person to satisfy the hunger to really know them. I'm definitely that kind of person, although not to that extent (I don't think). I have this hunger to just know things that can only really be satisfied by knowing more things which in turns creates more questions that need answering, that I'll eventually say "ok, that's enough" to and just shut off my brain. And it seemed to me that Sam just couldn't do that very well, couldn't shut it off. But I got it. It made sense to me, and at times when she'd jump down that rabbit hole of information, I understood why she did it. 

Because of how easy it was for me to relate to Sam as the main character, I felt incredibly invested in the story. Towards the end of the novel, my heart was pounding in anticipation of what was going to happen next. It was a perfect blend of finding yourself, finding love and finding the thing you love most. I laughed out loud, I cried (silently I hope) and I smiled my way through the final 30 pages of the book (and lots through the middle as well). 

Tamara, I need more of your novels.

All your novels.

Past and future.

Your novels today, 

your novels tomorrow,

your novels forever.

Every last novel.

You can buy Every Last Word here. Still not convinced? Get a free sample before you commit (and you will!). 

Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge

Oh just me, popping in on Sunday. Who am I? 

It's gonna be a short one (or at least short by my standards) because I'm only posting to say 1) the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge begins today!, and 2) here's all the books I'm planning on reading. 

Also, as these novels are basically my top 10 summer reads as well, I'm linking up (albeit days late) with Top Ten Tuesdays hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

preliminary book list

  • Read a Young Adult novel
    • Pssh! I have like all of my TBR to chose from because well, YA is my thaaang :) I'm leaning towards The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove or Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Read a novel written by a Non-US author.
  • Read a book recommended by a blogger (or instagrammer / you-tuber / goodreads-er).

  • Read a book that has been on your TBR list for a year or more.

  • Read a novel with a kickass female character.

    • Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas because, really, who's more kickass than Celaena Sardothien?

  • Read a book that is or will be a movie (or TV show)

  • Read a book written by a comedian or celebrity – or even a memoir if neither of those are your jam.

  • Read a novel with a one word title.

    • Emma by Jane Austen 

  • Read a suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge!

  • Read a book about summer, with summer in the title, or in any way related to summer (because this is a Summer challenge after all!)

I'm actually really excited about this challenge. Yeah sure it's the first challenge that I'm hosting. But I'm also looking forward to it being the first challenge I actually finish - because I mean I've gotta finish my own challenge, right?

Are you participating in the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge? If so, grab this button and then create your own preliminary list. Then link your list below, so we can check out what you're planning to read! 

*Note: If you don't blog, you can join in via Instagram or Twitter with #literaryladies or by filling out this form

Grab button for Literary Ladies

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Also, Happy Father's Day!

If you're wondering what a "normal" Father's Day is like for me, click here!

Dear Charlotte

I've always kept a journal. Even if I haven't always remained consistent - in fact I rarely have - there's always a journal on my bookshelf or hidden beneath the unmentionables in my drawer. A few months ago, I pulled my journal from my shelf and decided "I want to commemorate some shit." That's definitely legitimately what I said. But what I meant was: I've have all these memories over the years and I tell people about them, but I'm much better with written words and much better in the moment. And now, nearly 6 months after beginning, I'm so proud of my little book of memories and dreams and goals all written under the haze of the morning hours. 

What's kept me in the habit of journaling regularly? Well, first, I'm not perfect. I've missed days, and even a whole week, in some cases. But for the most part, I maintain some semblance of consistency by writing with purpose. Instead of writing these open-ended entries, I address them to my future daughter, which makes it all feel much more intimate and meaningful. Here's my first entry back in January:


Dear Charlotte,

    I really hope I called you that. I also hope you’re a little girl because otherwise, that’s an awkward introduction. Yet, in the grand scheme, it wouldn’t really matter much. What I have to say - it’d still be the same thing.

    I am writing to let you know that I am just like you. Lost and scared and a little unsure, but also excited and happy and full of so much passion. And I want to document who I am now, for myself. For you. So you can know this me. No matter what I’ve become (hopefully, that’s someone you are proud of), this is who I am now.

    Yesterday, my dad called me at two in the morning, as is normal for us, and he asked me to jot down a quote. “Sometimes people that have never imagined anything at all, can do things that no one can imagine.” He said that it was me. The thing that no one can imagine, the thing he never imagined at all. It made me smile. He said that even when he’s long gone, there’s me. My dad always says stuff like this. He’s a talker. And when he says things like that he never fails to make me feel so loved. It’s his thing, talking. And I thought - that’s what I’ll miss most about him - his voice. I asked him if he had a tape recorder, so he could record himself, so I’d always have his voice. Of course, he refused; said that I’ll hear him even clearer when he’s gone. If you’ve met him (& I really hope you have!), you know he’s the most stubborn man on earth.

     But it got me thinking about what I’ll leave behind. Dad has his voice. My expression is my words, my stories. But somehow that doesn’t seem like enough. Sure, I’ll have my accomplishments. Hopefully, I’ll have at least published one book, and perhaps I’ll have figured out what else I want to do. But it will all be filtered, edited, watered down. My characters are me, but they are also very much, not me. This is me. Without all the other things, the truest form of me. And I may not know you yet, but I know I want to be true with you.  


I hope this inspires you to begin journaling. If you need a little more of a push, check out this Skylights article I wrote last month about how I made journaling a habit!

Do you journal regularly? What techniques do you use to ensure that you keep up with it?

5 Things I Can't Live Without

Before I jump into this post (which I think was done by Kay a few months ago), I've gotta make good on a promise. Today, the Literary Ladies announce July's book. Usually the book of the month is announced with the previous book's review, but due to all this relaunch business, normal habits are thrown off. C'est la vie!

saintanything.jpg

So July's book is:

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Review & Link-up: August 4th;

Twitter chat: July 30th

When your shining older brother is the center of attention, its hard to know where you belong. Couple that with said brother making a few serious mistakes that affect the entire family, and you get Sydney, who's world's been turned upside down. But when Sydney encounters a place where she can feel accepted and visible, that's where the story really begins.

I've been reading Sarah Dessen's books since high school. That's like 10 years. So it's safe to say that Sarah Dessen is an auto-buy (if not an an auto-love) author for me. I can't wait to start reading!

More info on the newly relaunched book club, Literary Ladies, can be found here


That's a misleading title. Because I mean, I can. Live, I mean. A better title would've been "5 Things I'd Rather Not Live Without", but it just doesn't sound as good. Go ahead; test it out yourself. ... See what I mean?

I could go the expected route, listing things either most people do or things you'd expect me to choose. But come on, where's the fun in that? So of course, I need my pizza and my cellphone and writing and my bookksss. Given. But I'm going to switch it up a bit and choose some things that are still necessities yet more unexpected. Yup, that's what I'll do. And go!

5 THINGS I CAN'T ( / RATHER NOT) LIVE WITHOUT

(1) Stories

Did you think I wouldn't find a way to sneak books in there? Oh, you don't know me at all :) But truly, it's more than just books. It's what I love about books and how that goes well beyond them. I'm addicted to stories. Stories in books, of course, but also stories in television shows and films and spoken word. Give me a fantasy novel with strong, dynamic characters. Or a movie with a charismatic, hot male lead. Hell, tell me about that time you peed your pants in 3rd grade. I don't care. I just eat stories like the boogie man eats nightmares. That is all. 

Excuse my fat arms :)

Excuse my fat arms :)

(2) Michael Jackson's music catalog 

He's controversial for a lot of people. But he's never been so for me. I love MJ, and I miss him like crazy. And his music, goodness, I don't think there's a song of his that I don't know or haven't heard. As a child, I'd wet my hair, throw on penny loafers and moonwalk across my living room. I played his Bad album so much the newborn baby next door began to squirm whenever she heard his voice. It's doubtful I could live without hearing his music ever again. That man was my damn childhood. Have you seen my childhood? (See what I did there?)

(3) Floral print skirt from Milli

When I was about 14 or 15, I walked into a Milli store in Bronxville on a whim, and I walked out with what has been my favorite piece of clothing for over 10 years! That is such a huge thing for me, someone who legit gets tired of things the moment I purchase them. Anytime I think I want to feel my most beautiful, I reach for this skirt.

(4) Pen & paper

Despite loving my gadgets, I'm a pen and paper kind of girl. There is just something about the way it feels as my hand slides across the page, and the familiar ache of writing too long but not being quite done. The looping of letters provide the rhythm and flourish that you just can't get from the staccato typing on a keyboard. I love searching for the smoothest stationery and color coding with handy dry-safe pens. Yes, I'm that weirdo fondling notebooks and scribbling with every pen in the Staples aisle. That is I.   

(5) Kisses

Kisses are probably my favoritest thing in the whole wide world. It's just so intimate and special to me. And kisses can tell so much. They can expressing love and longing, appreciation and thanks, habit and comfort. I've always found it so interesting how, in movies, people know if they work together as soon as their lips touch. Kisses are electric, at least good ones are, and I'm all for contact that incites passion.  

 

Have you ever thought about this? What are a few things you can't live without? 

Literary Ladies

That's it right there. New news #1 of the relaunch of the book club.

Our new name is Literary Ladies

, because we liked the alliteration and well, it just sounds pretty. Plus, Kristen is a genius and suggested it. And there goes my next reveal :) New news #2 -

Kristen from See You At A Porridge is our new co-host!

Kristen and I have bonded over being book twins and our mutual love of Pride and Prejudice for months now, so bringing her in on the book club was a no-brainer. Had I met her earlier, she would've probably been included from the start!

LiteraryLadiesButton

With a new name and new co-host, naturally the next step is a new button, right? (Or in our case just a button in general as we didn't have an original one before.) So to round out the introductions >>

What is Literary Ladies Book Club and where can I learn more about it?

Literary Ladies is a book club for us blog gals who love to devour novels. As people who enjoy writing, it follows that our love of the literary must have sparked from somewhere and for most of us, that's reading. But Literary Ladies isn't just for bloggers or ladies only. It's open to literally anyone who wishes to read and discuss books. So if you're interested in joining a reading group or have something to say about our monthly book, welcome! 

At the bottom of my 'Bookshelf" page (linked in my navigation bar), you'll find a widget with information about the book club as well as the book we are currently reading. You can also check out our goodreads page for more information about past books, discussion questions and much more!

How can you join in?

Each month we will review the book we've selected, host a link-up for your reviews and announce the book for the following month. There will also be discussion boards up on Goodreads. All this is the same as before. But as of relaunch we are starting twitter chats using the hashtag "#literaryladies"! Kay and I always wanted to eventually branch into liveshows (which could still happen in the future), but we saw this as a middle ground. And we're really excited about it! 

Note: July's book will be announced on our blogs on June 17th. It will also be updated on the Goodreads page on that day as well. From then on, books will be announced within the review post for the previous book. 

Ok, so when's all this going down?

Well, our reviews and our link-up will post on the first Tuesday of each month. On the Thursday before reviews go up (ie. last Thursday of the month), we will be chatting about the book on twitter so we can talk all the spoilers and juicy details we can't include in our reviews! Of course, we'll remind you with exact dates each month :) 

Any other cool new things I should know about?

So glad you asked (even though you sorta didn't)! Along with this relaunch, Kristen, Kay and I have decided to launch a summer reading challenge!

literary ladies summer reading challenge!

All 3 of us have participated in a book challenge at least a few times and Kristen has won like a bagillion so we know both how fun and sometimes how difficult they can be. So we thought that running one during the course of the summer would up the fun factor and decrease the difficulty - hopefully :) I've listed all the rules and  categories below. 

RULES

  1. The Literary Ladies book challenge will run from June 21, 2015 until September 21, 2015. Only books read during that time will count. 
  2. There are 10 categories to be completed. Once you complete all 10, reading all of the books necessary to satisfy each category, you have won.
  3. You are allowed 2 rereads for this challenge in order to be considered the prizes. 
  4. Switching around books from your preliminary list is fine, but you can only use a book once to satisfy one category. 
  5. All books must be 200 pages in length. If you are listening to your books, be sure that it complies accordingly. 
  6. The first 3 categories are mandatory. But if you do not like one or two of the other 7 categories you can skip it and replace it with one of our book club picks! You can do this twice.

WINNING!

Yes, this isn't just for your reading pleasure (although yes, that too!). You can actually win something! The first 3 winners will receive a prize. Winners must prove they have successfully completed the challenge by sharing a brief commentary of each book on either a blog post or in a Google form we will provide. Here's what you can win!

  • First Place: $50 Amazon gift card + a surprise
  • Second Place: $25 Amazon gift card + a surprise
  • Third Place: $15 Amazon gift card + a surprise
  • Wildcard: Special Surprise! (This winner will not be chosen based on how quickly you finish. At the end of 3 months, anyone who has finished but has not placed, will be entered to win the wildcard prize. Around here, we celebrate just finishing the race!)

*Note: International readers are eligible to win prizes, however, prizes may be adjusted due to availability, convenience and shipping costs.

And now, finally, on to the categories!

Our preliminary lists will be up on June 21st with a link-up for your lists and "progress reports" will be posted on the 21st of July, August and September where you can link-up your progress of comment about it. 


Reminder, the book club annual giveaway is still happening! 


Are you going to join the Literary Ladies Summer Book Challenge? Regardless, what do you plan to read this summer?