“Amanda Wakes Up” book response and September selection!

Virtual Book Club
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It’s the last Wednesday Thursday of the month and you know what that means… my monthly book review! We read a new release called Amanda Wakes Up, Alysin Camerota’s newly released debut novel.

Plenty of people hate on e-readers like the Amazon kindle, but personally I like the convenience of tossing the durable device in my purse each day and not worrying about the page corners getting all messed up (I take book condition very seriously). Anyway, I do miss seeing and feeling the cover of a book, reading the blurbs on the back and reading the “about the author” on the flap of the dust jacket. For this book in particular I was feeling very resentful toward the protagonist and the subject matter. I was venting to Libby and she sent back a photo of the “about the author.”

Everything clicked into place.

This book has drawn lots of comparisons to The Devil Wears Prada. On the surface, I can see it: a semi-autobiographical account of working on the “inside” of big media. The books are pretty different, though. In Devil Wears Prada the author clearly has an ax to grind and writes with the intention of exposing her cold, cruel boss (Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue). The protagonist is extremely unlikable and does nothing but complain and victimize herself throughout (I am excluding the movie version which I love). Here in Amanda Wakes Up, we see actual character development as Amanda’s dream job puts her on a collision course from naive green journalist to the harsh reality of big dollar broadcast. She learns several lessons ranging from putting oneself in another’s shoes to standing up for what is right even if the risk is losing something important.

So, in the novel, Amanda gets her dream gig of morning anchor for a fictional cable news company called FAIR News. The company starts out as a noble attempt to be a station which covers each side of topics, but the producers quickly discover that repeatedly inviting a certain blowhard businessman-turned-politician onto their morning show brings outstanding viewership. Camerota is clearly indicting cable news, with FOX at the forefront, in giving a megaphone to certain people who really ought not to be running for office in the first place. That much is clear.

The lesson I learned was more about trying to get inside the minds of those who have different opinions than I do, even (especially?) if I believe those opinions to be wrong. Let me restate that: there are such things as wrong opinions, but telling someone they are wrong is not helpful unless we dig deeper. With the internet as our main news source followed by sensationalized 24-hour coverage on cable news, it’s kind of like a non-stop fire-hose of opinions curated to line up with our own. Sometimes opposing opinions are instilled and shaped by off-base nutjobs, but more often that not it stems from a real, heart-of-hearts concern or conviction. It’s important to find out why people believe what they do, especially if you want to change their mind.

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take! 


Last night we held our monthly discussion group on Facebook. We actually got a lot more in depth but I’m having a difficult time organizing my thoughts into a post today. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on Facebook to be added.

For September, nobody in our group floated any particularly grabbing titles, so we are each reading or own thing and we’ll still get together at the end of the month to check in. I will be reading The Girl Who Came Home (currently just 1.99 on Kindle) so I can return it to my coworker who lent it to me in the Spring. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we continue turning off the TV (or internet) to spend more time reading.

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Progress in our Living Room

I was shocked that last April Doug and I celebrated 3 years in our condo. Shocked! Where does the time go? We haven’t really tackled any major projects in our home since we painted our bathroom jungle green right after moving in (and then failed to post a final reveal here—fail).

Everything is changing, though.

Even though we own our space (every time I say that it sounds misleading—we like most “homeowners” are paying it off to the bank), it has always felt really “apartmenty” to me. I’m sure it’s because of the beige walls and carpet… when we bought the place, we were looking for a fixer upper, but this place was much larger, closer to my work, had new carpet and new drywall, and was the same price as many fixers. As first-time home buyers we decided to play it safe and choose something move-in ready. So, after 3 years of beige, it is finally time to take matters into my own hands. Paint all of the things!! 

Living Room
This was right after we moved in, almost 3 years ago.
Now, new paint color, new bookcase, new couch. Still very similar, though.

The first step in getting this room “right” was to paint over the builder beige. We used the same color and sheen that we did in our dining room: Benjamin Moore (Aura) in Simply White. Definitely the most expensive paint I’ve ever bought, but the coverage, richness of the white, and eggshell sheen is just perfect. Going from beige to white might seem like a lateral move, and is not that exciting in photos, but trust me when I say that our vintage and collected home furnishings pop so much better now than they did against light tan. Every color stands out and the light in the room is more pleasant. People don’t understand how much light that flat, beige paint soaks up instead of reflecting.

Since I work for a Christian school, I had the Thursday and Friday before Easter off of work! My dad came down with his power tools and he helped me panel an accent wall in the living room. Shiplap is so buzzy right now, but my condo was built in 1965: I was originally thinking to go with straight up wood paneling. After hemming and hawing, I decided to go with a more modern look and do horizontal paneling with 1/8″ spacing.

We followed this tutorial closely and the project went smoothly.

Putting up the paneling was my first time using a nail gun with pneumatic air compressor, and it ruled! The project went by so fast. Nailing each panel up by hand would have been way more tiring, way noisier, and not as precise. If you ever want to do a project like this, definitely borrow, rent, or buy a nailer. The other tool that was necessary for this was a saw. Luckily my dad brought one over for us to use (similar), but now I know what I’m putting on my Christmas wishlist.

Which black paint?

I shared the following photo on facebook and instagram, and interestingly the votes leaned heavily one way on FB and heavily the other way on IG. I chalk it up to the fact that device screens have different color profiles and nothing is quite true to life. Even more interestingly, in the month that the swatches were up, I selected neither of the crowd-preferred options. Haha!

living room inspiration

In a recent post I shared a little vision board for this room and I’ve posted it again here. I’ve got some thinking to do on the art in here– leave it as is or do a little shake up? We finally finished painting the paneling in June and I am working on another post on that, filled with glamour shots ;)

“Three Wishes” book response and July selection!

Virtual Book Club
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It’s the last Wednesday of the month and you know what that means… my monthly book review! After heavy and lengthy books, the Virtual Book Club wanted something light and summery to read for June. I was grateful because although reading hard, important books, magazines, and the news is something we should all do for our own self-enrichment, sometimes an escape is necessary as well, and isn’t that what summer reads are for?

Not that Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty is all sunshine and roses. It’s actually kind of dark tempered with lots of light moments. There is a ton of slapstick humor running through the book; it lightens up the continually awful events happening to one or more characters at a time. The book contains overarching themes about sisterhood, secrets, hardships (relationships and childbearing), and what success really looks like.

The premise of the book centers around three triplet sisters in Sydney who are at different stages in their lives, despite being the same age. It takes place at Christmas, which can be a very stressful time of the year for those with complicated families. Twist: Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer; this still qualified as our summer beach read!

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The Kettle family is complicated, but not in that way that families in books and movies always hate each other. The family was unique in that all three sisters, plus mother and father (divorced decades ago) and grandma all lived in the same city and generally all like one another. Unheard of in movies these days! The sisters are very close—a recurring theme in the book is that some characters think they are too close. When you’re a triplet, where do you draw the line between yourself and your family? Who comes first: sister or spouse/significant other?

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One of my favorite things in Three Wishes was that Moriarty included these little asides narrated by bystanders observing the Kettle family and then relaying the vignette to someone else. It reminded me of the asides interspersed throughout When Harry Met Sally. Although to us our families may seem screwed up, to others they seem sweet and normal. To me they served a dual purpose: One, don’t underestimate the struggles someone is going through just because they seem okay; and two, something that seems huge and all encompassing at the moment could blow over and isn’t really worth getting so worked up about. Perspective!

[Possible spoilers here but I’m being pretty vague] I feel that the book never really answered the “who is more important, sisters or husbands” question, but it did push each triplet sister to grow in their own way. The one with an apparently perfect life learned to ask others for help. The freespirit matured in a visible way (although, maybe she was secretly mature the whole time?) and the codependent one learned independence and self-discovery.

I wonder what I’ll learn next year? I am (gulp) creeping up on 30 this September, after all.

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take! 


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Last night we held our monthly discussion group on Facebook. I ran it (!) and we had the BEST time posting celebrities who we’d like to cast in the movie version of this book. It’s great to hear other perspectives on themes and events in a book while it’s fresh in our minds. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on Facebook to be added.

For July, our group voted on runner-up books from the past few months. We will be reading One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul, who is a feature writer for Buzzfeed. Some reviews draw positive comparisons to Mindy Kaling (which we did as a group last September) so I am really looking forward to this collection of short stories. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we read together.