Sunday, November 22, 2020

11.21.18 - A Glimpse Inside Our Wedding Day

November 21st, 2018

I can hardly believe that two years have passed since our wedding day! I meant to post this yesterday, but was enjoying the day offline celebrating and spending time with Adam.  

I've never shared many photos or details about our big day, so I thought now would be a great time to do so. After our wedding, I did an interview with my wedding dress designer, David Peck, that he featured on his blog. Our wedding was also featured in a spread in Modern Luxury, and the two interviews covered everything from my dress, to the menu, event planning and all about the venue. I figured sharing the Q & A's with you would be a great way to tell you the story of our big day. 

Everything was truly perfect, and thinking about it puts the biggest smile on my face. My only regret is that I can't relive this day over and over again!


Where did you get married?

We got married at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco in their Penthouse Suite. 

What did you like about your venue?

The Penthouse Suite is known for its expansive 6,000 square foot space, stunning terrace overlooking downtown San Francisco, and most importantly, its notable guest. Some of the guests have included President Obama, President Truman, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Mick Jagger, Elton John, Prince Charles, and King Hussein to name a few. John F. Kennedy also frequented the suite, and it is rumored that the trap door located on the second floor of the two story library was where he would whisk Marilyn Monroe in and out of while he was there. The location helped set the scene for what I wanted for our wedding - glamorous, picturesque, over-the-top, and very timeless - in a modern sense of the word! 

Adam and I met in San Francisco (where we both lived at the time), before we moved to Houston five (now seven) years ago. For this reason, it was important to us to return to the City by the Bay for our wedding. No only had we meet at the Fairmont, but the hotel also holds many personal, lifelong memories for both of us.

Bride’s Gown 

My dress was custom-made by a local atelier/designer, David Peck. From the moment we started sketching out ideas for my gown, I knew it was going to be a one-of-a-kind beauty that I would cherish forever. I also knew that I didn't want my wedding dress to be the traditional white, but instead blush pale pink. Having always been my favorite color, it was not only fitting of my personality, but also our relationship. 

 The cap sleeves on the dress were originally part of my mother's wedding dress, and had to be dip-dyed the perfect shade of blush over 10 times. Creating movement, a statement piece, and something that could be worn again and again, was an important part of my wedding dress "design story." Creating something that is made to measure that truly no one else on earth has, was only the beginning of our unique wedding. The feathers and beading added an effortless whimsical touch.

What did you like about your wedding planner?

I planned everything myself, with the help of the Caterings Sale/Event Manager at the Fairmont. Any of the decor used - napkins, tablecloths, candles, place settings, etc. I ordered and designed. I also orchestrated and planned the wedding in its entirety in less than two months. That being said, the gown had been being made for nearly a year, we just didn't have a date picked yet!!

Although they weren’t my wedding planner per se, I loved working with the Fairmont. They were incredibly responsive, and met all my expectations and exceeded them. Being an out of town bride (although I was familiar with the venue), I had lots of major and minor requests, and questions. They made me feel confident and at ease, and did everything they could to make our day extra special. 

 Describe your vision/inspiration for your wedding day. Did you have a specific theme? 

I wanted something that was old-Hollywood glam. Very classy, timeless, but also with flair. I wanted to make sure we added to our space in the Penthouse Suite, and compliment it in the best way possible. I knew pink had to play a big part, and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting and day. 

 What was your favorite part of your wedding day? 

I loved that our day was truly about us – from start to finish. After the ceremony, we had a little break before dinner/’the reception’ and we went into the billiard room, and I kicked off my wedding shoes and traded them for slippers. I watched shoot Adam and I attempted and failed multiple times, but we laughed - it was really fun and special. We got to truly enjoy and take in that special moment after saying “I do” in an incredibly unique way. 

What was your color scheme? 

Pale pinks, cream and gold. 

Were there any new trends that you incorporated, or did you decide to go more traditional? 

I think we kept it very traditional. When I describe our wedding to others, I say that it was a full blown wedding, just without the people! From start to finish, it was important to us to not overlook any details. For example, documenting us getting ready, cards to one another we read before the wedding, first look, music, first dance, cake cutting – we didn’t miss a beat. What made it “trendy” if you will, was that we did all this just for the two of us. I have heard countless brides and friends tell me that their biggest regret of their wedding was not getting to spend more time with their husband – I can’t imagine having had it any other way. 

How would you describe your personal style and fashion (wedding dress/tux)? 

Being a self-proclaimed fashionista and fashion lover, having my personal style shine through on my big day was undoubtedly a priority for me. For this reason, that is why I chose to costume make my dress and be involved every step of the way. Clothing not only is a form of self-expression, but it also tells a story. I wanted my wedding dress to be something that was outside the box and extra special, but also something that I could wear again in the future. While the silhouette was traditional, all the details, including the color were more fun and edgy. Glam, classy with a touch of trendy is how I’d describe my everyday style, which I think shone through in my dress, as well. Adam’s tuxedo was timeless, and I loved getting to add a little silliness to it by giving him a pair of fun socks to wear down the aisle (be sure to check them out in the pictures)! 

What kind of flowers did you pick for your centerpieces and bouquet?

I loved being able to work with Ornamento – not only are their creations stunning, but they are incredibly unique. When I was planning the wedding, I told them the color scheme I was working with and said I wanted arrangements to be bold, beautiful, over the top, and one-of-a-kind. Since we were in the Penthouse Suite, I really wanted the flowers to be as glamourous (if not more so), as our venue. Surprisingly enough, the flowers were the one thing I didn’t have a hand in – yes, I told them my color scheme and showed them inspiration pieces and that I wanted to have peonies, but besides that, I let Ornamento take full creative control. 

What kind of food did you serve?

We had a delicious five course dinner. Since it was just the two of us, we were able to pick some of our very favorite foods, which was really fun. Our first course was caprese salad, followed by French onion soup, gnocchi, filet mignon and then wedding cake for dessert. 

What flavor(s) did you pick for your cake? 

We had a beautiful two-tier cake with his/her’s flavors. The bottom tier was “his” – and was chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling and buttercream frosting, and “her” tier was lemon cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting. 

What was the most memorable moment of your reception? 

We had a pianist perform during our dinner/”reception,” and in between courses, we loved going to talk to the pianist and requesting some of our favorite songs. 

Where did you go for your honeymoon?

We went to India and Nepal for three weeks. In Nepal, we had the opportunity in Kathmandu to base camp at Mt. Everest which is over 17,000 feet.

I loved creating the most memorable day of our lives, and being involved in the entire process every step of the way. The day uniquely ours – from my pink wedding dress, to our 6,000 square foot venue for two, it was a traditional wedding in the most untraditional sense, which is just like us. If you have any specific questions, let me know!

Bride’s Shoes Jimmy Choo

Groom's Shoes | Ferragamo

Rings | Custom made by Kaira

Music & Entertainment | Entire Productions

Flowers | Ornamento

Cake | Kelly Zubal of Inticing Creations

Food and Drink | The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco 

Photographer | Jean-Baptiste Jacqout of JBJ Pictures

Videographer | Brittany Jacquot of JBJ Pictures 

Officiant | Tom Wolfe

Custom Made Isle Runner |  The Original Runner Co

Stationary | Minted 

Beauty | Adelina Eidelman 

His Fashion |Custom Made Tux by J.Hilburn; Shirt from Hamilton Shirts; Custom cufflinks by Kaira

Friday, November 6, 2020

Gender Reveal - It's a .....


Since we found out I was pregnant, we knew right away that we wanted to find out the gender of the baby. I love it when I see people wait until the baby is born to find out the sex, but I'm just not one of those people. Even though we've known, we've kept it a secret and only told our family and very close friends. 

Like our pregnancy, we really wanted to soak everything in before sharing the good news. So, without further ado....little baby is a.....


We are so thrilled to be having a baby boy. I'm so excited, and definitely a bit nervous for all that comes with being a 'boy mom.' Since I only grew up with a sister, this will be unchartered territory for me. From everything I hear though, mama's boys are the sweetest. 

We snapped these pictures a few weeks ago when we took our announcement photos. We already knew what we were having at the time, but I thought it would be fun and memorable to do a 'reveal.' I love any excuse for balloons or props, and had so much fun with these blue confetti cannons. 

The amusement rides made for the perfect backdrop too. It certainly made us feel nostalgic and like kids again (go figure). I can’t wait to put them up in baby boy's nursery. Speaking of nursery, we're working swiftly on putting his special space together. I really can't wait to share more with you! :)

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Pregnancy Q & A

How far along are you? 

I will be 28 weeks on Tuesday, which means I'll officially be in my third trimester! 

When is your due date?

January 26th. Baby may arrive right before my birthday, which is January 28th.

Do you what you're having?

Yes eeek! We will be sharing soon.

Do you have a name picked out?

Not yet. Choosing a name is hard. We do have a list of about a dozen names that we love, but we probably won't decide until their arrival. 

How many kids do you want?

Maybe two. I'm just looking forward to one, and we'll do whatever feels right and makes us happy down the road. 

How much weight have you put on?

I debated answering this question, but thought it was important to be transparent for a few reasons. Prior to getting pregnant or even trying to for that matter, I would read pregnancy Q & A's, as well as birth stories online. One of the reasons I did was so that I could mentally prepare myself (ha), but also so I could compare and contrast other's experiences to make my own educated decision. Majority of the time I would see bloggers opt not to discuss how much weight they gained, which I completely support and understand. That being said, I feel like prior to getting pregnant, I would have liked to know/see this discussed more - mainly just for a point of reference/out of curiosity. I preface my answer by saying that everybody and every body is completely different. As of last week at my 27th week visit, I'd gained 14 pounds, 11 ounces. 

 Were you trying or was it a surprise? If you had been trying, how long did it take?

This pregnancy was definitely planned. We'd been trying for about 8 months. 

How has it been being pregnant with Covid? 

Like life for everyone else right now, it hasn't been ideal. It is tough not being able to see anyone and not having family near us right now. To be honest, it's also been a challenge to wonder if I'll get a baby shower, and if Adam will be able to go to XYZ with me. He has been able to go to the 'big appointments,' which has been really nice and I am thankful for that. I continue to try to put everything in perspective. We're healthy and so is our family, and we have a roof over our head and food on the table. We've been given this special gift, and we're getting extra time together that we wouldn't have had otherwise. Adam used to travel weekly for work, so it's been nice to have him by my side every step of the way. Personally for us, Covid/quarantine has strengthened our relationship, which I feel like has prepared us even more for the journey to come. 

What pregnancy symptoms did you/have you had?

Honestly I basically had zero symptoms. I know I am one of the rare women who faired well in the first trimester, and even the second for that matter, and I don't take it for granted. I had no nausea, etc., unless you count mood swings, but I always have those. HA! The only symptom I've really dealt with is tiredness. The exhaustion is real. Some days when I'd wake up all I'd literally want to do is go back to sleep. I lose a lot of 'speed' after 3pm and typically 'schedule' a 20 min to an hour nap in the late afternoon. 

Have you had any cravings/aversions? Have you changed your diet?

I've been craving sweets. Lots of them. I am a big salt over sweet person, but literally MUST have dessert every night now. Besides that, I've been eating a ton of oranges and peanut butter (not together, but I wouldn't be opposed)! As far as aversions, there aren't any I can think of besides the typical food that I avoid all the time. 

My diet has remained pretty much the same. I try to eat a healthy balanced diet, and although I've added in some cake and candy here and there, I really am trying to be as mindful as possible not to get carried away. I've read that the baby's taste buds are formed based off things you eat, and I consciously want those to be {mainly} good things. 

Favorite and least favorite thing(s) about being pregnant?

I feel like my least favorite and favorite thing are kind of intertwined. It has been incredible to see how my body is changing during this special time and is adapting to 'creating' a human. On the flip side, its also been hard to see my body change and look different than what I'm used to. 

Another thing I have loved is feeling the baby kick. It really puts things in perspective and is a really fun thing to experience with Adam. 

How has your arthritis affected your pregnancy?

My arthritic condition primarily affects my hips and lower back, so I'm not sure what the third trimester will hold, but up until now my symptoms have basically stayed the same. I haven't experienced any flare-ups, which has been a godsend. I also have been able to continue on my medication, which I know has helped. I've also stayed as active as possible, even on days I didn't want to. 

What's your current fitness routine?

I've stuck with the workouts I did prior to becoming pregnant. I've been walking, doing barre classes at home (highly recommend), as well as biking and Peloton. I've been working out anywhere from 4-6 days a week, sometimes twice a day if I'm up for it (usually combining barre class and a walk). I'm trying to stay as active as possible during this time because I've heard it not only aids you during labor, but also postpartum. I also know from having arthritis that even if I don't want to move and am hurting, I always feel better if I do a little something, even if its 10-20 minutes. 

Why did you keep your pregnancy a secret so long?

I talked a little bit about this in my pregnancy announcement post, but for those of you that didn't catch it, here's the answer. This is about us. Neither of us felt the need to scream it from the rooftops and share with everyone immediately. We really wanted to savor and soak in this sacred and special moment in our lives. It isn't everyday that you have a baby, nor is it everyday that you're officially starting a new incredible, albeit scary, chapter in your life. Keeping it to ourselves not only felt like 'our little secret' but has been intimate moment in time that has brought us closer together. Also, Adam, and the baby for that matter, didn't "sign up" to share their lives online, and it is important for me to be mindful of that, as well. I am a big proponent of "to each their own" and feel like everyone's decision and opinion should be respected.

How do you not look pregnant in any of your photos/how did you hide the bump?

I can't say I was trying to hide the bump, but I also wasn't showcasing it either. It's fairly easy to not show your belly/bump in photos if you don't want to - it's all about the angles. Facing the camera, consciously holding your purse/coffee/etc. in front of your stomach, as well as sitting down, or taking photos with your back turned can easily help you 'not show' as much. 

Personally I felt as though I really didn't start to show until week 22-23. Prior to that, I feel like if I saw someone that they'd figure I may have just put on a few pounds during Covid.....or ate a burrito for lunch;) My stomach really hadn't popped, so I wasn't trying to hide it as much as it wasn't really there.

Have you purchased any maternity clothes?

With Covid going on, I really haven't had a ton of places to go or needed maternity wear. My wardrobe nowadays consists of workout clothes and comfy t-shirt dresses (I miss my high heels and cocktail dresses). For now, I have stayed the same size in those items, or have sized up if necessary. I basically have been wearing stretchy pieces to accommodate growth/weight gain, so it goes without saying that most, if not all, my form fitting clothes don't fit. Last week when the temps dropped I did order my first item of  'maternity wear' - a pair of maternity jeans. 

Will this change the blog?

I mean hasn't it already?! Here we are talking about babies! Joking aside, I would expect to see some changes around here. Motherhood is now going to be a big part of my life, and I hope you stick around and join me on this new journey. I will still be doing fashion, lifestyle and hopefully travel again (if that ever returns), but like all of us, the blog will be changing and evolving. In my opinion for the better;) 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Oh, Baby - We're Pregnant!

And so the adventure begins....

I'm so excited to finally share with you that we're pregnant! 

We're literally over the moon, and filled with so many different emotions. I'm currently 26 weeks along, which means I'm 65% of the way through my pregnancy. So crazy. I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that we'll be welcoming a little one into our lives in late January.

Adam and I have been wanting to become parents for a while now, and we cannot believe that the roller coaster that's been 2020 has brought us one step closer to fulfilling our dream. Not only am I looking forward to meeting our baby, but I truly cannot wait to see Adam step into the role of 'father.' I know he's going to be an incredible dad.

Some of you might be wondering why we waited so long to share this news with you (I mean, I am almost in my third trimester). The answer is simple - this is about us. Neither of us felt the need to scream it from the rooftops and share with everyone immediately. We really wanted to savor and soak in this sacred and special moment in our lives. It isn't everyday that you have a baby, nor is it everyday that you're officially starting a new incredible, albeit scary, chapter in your life. Keeping it to ourselves not only felt like 'our little secret' but has been intimate moment in time that has brought us closer together. I really wouldn't trade these last few months for the world. 

We met up with our photographer, Jessica Frey, last weekend for this photoshoot, and when I got these sneak peek photos back (more to come!!), they literally brought tears to my eyes. We're so thankful for all the love and support from our family and friends.  I cannot wait to start this journey into motherhood and continue sharing with you. I'll be following up on this post with a pregnancy Q&A, so if you have any questions, send them my way! Stay tuned for our gender reveal too! 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Book Review - Volume Seven

I am happy to report that on the 'official' last day of summer (9/22), I finished my 17th book! 

Over the past five months I've averaged just about 3-4 books a month, which is a happy change from my usual one....maybe two. With everything going on in the world, not to mention being "stuck" at home, reading has been a great escape mechanism for me.

It's been nice to read some NYT best sellers, but to also read lesser known books, as well. Several of the books I've enjoyed this summer have been exchanged between my mother and I, including two on this list. You know you've read a good book when you force someone else to read it too! 

Here's a look at what I've recently read. Like usual, I've included a summary of the book, as well as my rating (1 to 5).

The Silent Wife

Lara's life looks perfect on the surface -- gorgeous doting husband, Massimo; sweet little son, Sandro; and the perfect home. But Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can't tell anyone else, or everything he has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.

Maggie is married to Massimo's brother, Nico, and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico's darkest secrets -- or so she thinks. Then one day she discovers a letter in the attic that reveals a shocking secret about Nico's first wife. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

Rating: 4/5. This was a really fun page turner. It definitely brought family dynamics and secrets into play, and had a lot of fun twist and turns. It had you asking yourself what you would do if you were put n that same situation (which I love). It was a quick, easy weekend read! Highly recommend. 

The Last Flight

Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear.

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he's not above using his staff to track Claire's every move, making sure she's living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn't know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets―Claire taking Eva's flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it's no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva's identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

Rating: 5/5. As soon as I started this book, I couldn't put it down. I kept guessing until {close} to the end exactly what was going to happen. I love how the two stories were so polar opposite, but still had similarities that intertwined effortlessly near the end. After I finished this book I gave it to my mom, and she really enjoyed it, as well! 


This is how you find yourself.

There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves.

For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.

Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get.

Rating: 0/5. I don't know if a 0 rating is even allowed with book reviews, but if you read the summery above, I would tell you to leave it at that and walk away. I absolutely hated this book. It has been a long time since I've stuck with a book that I didn't like and continued to read it,but I was hoping this would get better (especially based on all the accolades it received). Lets just say, it fell painfully short for me. I don't want to come off harsh due to the fact that this is a memoir, but I found it to be a rambling mess. I didn't fine a clear objective to the story line, and found most parts to be completely unrelatable and egotistical. Just not my cup of tea. 

The Lost Girls of Paris 

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

Rating: 5/5. Ahhh another beautiful work of historical fiction (my fave). This is the first book I've read by this author, and it certainly won't be the last. Not only was the story captivating, but she also intertwines the lives of three women seamlessly. I loved learning more about the real, undercover work these women did during WW2 - it was incredibly powerful, and showcased what a difference they made and how often they're overlooked. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Book Review - Volume Six

As the end of August nears, I’m sharing with you some of my final reads of the summer (although I’m sure I’ll squeeze in one more in the next week and a half)! Even though summer hasn’t gone as planned, or 2020 for that matter, I’ve certainly read my share of books. 

This installment features five books, including historical fiction, a psychological thriller, and a memoir. I'm sure you'll find something that strikes your fancy. 

As before, I've included the summary of the book, as well as my rating (1 to 5). Let’s get started. 

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia―trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Rating: 1/5. I had heard a lot of great things about this book, and to be honest, I thought it was OK at best. There were large gaps in the story line, and parts were unrealistic - the head of the cartel sparing your life because he was in love with you? I doubt it. I also thought the sporadic use of Spanish felt forced, and the story marginalized/romanticized crossing the Mexican American boarder. 

The Guest List

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner  – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Rating: 4/5. I devoured this book, and loved all the twists and turns. Each chapter showcased different characters and seamlessly intertwined them together. I loved the premise of a "who done it" at a wedding - it kept me on my toes until the very end.  

The Only Woman in the Room

Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich's plans while at her husband's side and understood more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis and revolutionize modern communication...if anyone would listen to her.

Rating: 5/5. This book was absolutely wonderful. I was not familiar with the background of screen siren Hedy Lamarr, and how she was an absolute genius. To this day, her inventions literally are part of our everyday life. This book only skimmed the surface of this multi-faceted woman and definitely made me want to learn more. A must read for anyone that loves historical fiction, WW2, and old Hollywood. 

The Giver of Stars

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England.  But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice's greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who's never asked a man's permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. 

What happens to them--and to the men they love--becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic--a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond. 

Rating: 5/5. This book may possibly be one of the best books I've ever read. The story was phenomenal and introduced me to the Packhorse Library, which I had never heard of before. The characters are beautiful, courageous, and had so much depth. It really showcased the strength of women during a time when women were just expected to be housewives. I recently saw that the book is going to be made into a movie, and I can't wait for it!

Open Book 

This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie. 

Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her listeners if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first. 

Now, America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality TV pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites listeners on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.

First celebrated for her voice, she became one of the most talked-about women in the world, whether for music and fashion, her relationship struggles, or as a walking blonde joke. But now, instead of being talked about, Jessica is doing the talking. Her audiobook shares the wisdom and inspirations she’s learned and shows the real woman behind all the pop-culture clichés - "chicken or fish", "Daisy Duke", "football jinx", "mom jeans", "sexual napalm..." and more. Open Book is an opportunity to laugh and cry with a close friend, one that will inspire you to live your best, most authentic life, now that she is finally living hers.

Rating: 4/5. I just finished listening to this on audio book, and really enjoyed it. I was shocked by how vulnerable Jessica Simpson was in her memoir (she narrated), and just how much depth there is beneath the surface. She shared some of the traumas and heartaches she's been through in life, as well as opening up about her alcoholism. She discusses how she finally dealt with her demons and is now living a sober, happy life. This is the perfect book to listen to while you're taking a road trip or driving to work (it would also be a good book to read too)!


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