Jun 16

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Mystery 11

Howdy Bookworms!

Wow, you guys! Four posts this week?! I AM ON FIRE! BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS! Reviewathon, FTW! Today we’re talking about another one of the books I got at BEA. I was wandering aimlessly by myself (for what purpose I can’t remember) when I saw Florinda standing in line to get a book signed. I hopped in the line to chat up Florinda and got a book signed for myself with no idea who the author was or what the book was about. Turns out, I make pretty solid decisions when I’m oblivious, because the book I picked up was Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.

beforethefallWhen I went to start this book, I read a smidge of the “about the author” segment which informed me that Noah Hawley is a successful television writer and totally writes for Fargo, which Hubs and I watched obsessively last season. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know this beforehand or I’d likely have asked something weird and embarrassing about Kirsten Dunst or The Mother from How I Met Your Mother. Yep. Case in point of how much I suck at life. I don’t know the name of the actress who played “The Mother.” (I just looked it up. Her name is Cristin Milioti. Maybe I’ll remember that now.) Do TV writers even get to meet the cast? I honestly have no idea. But I’d have said something dumb, that’s for darn sure.

I was supposed to be discussing a book, wasn’t I? Alright, Before the FallOne summer night, a down on his luck painter finds himself riding in a private plane from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City. The plane belongs to a television mogul and his family, and they’re accompanied by some friends and the crew. Unfortunately, the plane goes down en route shortly after takeoff. The only two survivors are the painter and the four year old son of the television mogul. The book artfully weaves between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew. In the present, a series of odd coincidences cause media speculation to spiral out of control while the two survivors grapple with notoriety and loss.

I’m not usually huge on the whole mystery-suspense-thriller front, but I’ve got to admit I was fully engrossed in this read from page one. I was invested in the characters and MAN did I want to punch Bill Cunningham in his smug horrible face. (Bill Cunningham is a controversial TV pundit who works for the late mogul’s news network and his is absolutely THE WORST.) This is a good one, folks, give it a read!

Talk to me, Bookworms! Who was the last fictional character you wanted to pummel?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receives a small commission.*

 

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Jun 15

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Audio Books 8

Happy Wednesday, Bookworms!

I’m still playing catch up with reviews (thank heaven for Andi’s Reviewathon!) I’m a little nervous about tackling this next review because the book left me gobsmacked, but I’m going to try anyway. Y’all ready to hear my take on Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Let’s do this.

americanahIfemelu and Obinze are teenagers living in Nigeria when they fall in love. They are separated when an unstable government makes their educational aspirations difficult to achieve in Nigeria. Ifemelu soon leaves for America while Obinze stays behind, hoping they’ll soon be reunited and begin a life together.

Unfortunately, life had other plans for the pair. Ifemelu’s introduction into American life wasn’t the seamless transition she’d hoped it would be. Obinze found it impossible to emigrate to the US. Instead he embarks on a dangerous journey into an undocumented life in London. Their lives have taken them very different places, and when they each eventually return to Nigeria, they face a new set of challenges.

Holy crap, you guys. This book was so flipping good. It was smart and humorous and beautiful and eye opening. I listened to it and I cannot recommend the audio version highly enough. The narrator was spectacular. If it bothers you to not know the correct pronunciation of names while reading, audio is definitely the way to go. I am not at all familiar with the pronunciation of Nigerian names, nor do I know enough about the language to play the sound-it-out game. Being able to hear the names pronounced with the correct accent added so much to my reading experience. (Admit it. If you read Harry Potter before you saw the movies, you mentally read “HERMY-OWN.” And now you feel silly about it.)

Seriously, y’all, you do NOT need to be a Nigerian expat to dig this book (although if you ARE a Nigerian expat, I’d LOVE to hear your take on it!) Reading books written by and about people of other cultures and backgrounds is important to me. I feel like it makes me a more empathetic, well-rounded human being. And, isn’t that kind of the point of life? I think what I”m trying to say here is that reading = life. I’m not at all prone to hyperbole. And you should read Americanah.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Have you read anything awesome lately set in Africa? I’m just adding to the TBR pile with reckless abandon these days. YOLO. 

*I just said YOLO. WHO AM I EVEN? But also, if you buy something through a link on this site, I might make a few cents. My slang will still be pathetic though.*

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Jun 14

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

Historical Fiction 17

How Goes It, Bookworms?

There’s no set formula that’s going to guarantee I pick up a book, but pitching me a book that’s historical fiction about a troupe of sisters performing a Vaudeville acrobatic act is about as close as you can get. Needless to say, when I was approached about The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay, I couldn’t say “YES PLEASE” fast enough. (I always say “please” and “thank you”, despite my self-proclaimed bad manners.) *I received a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher for review consideration. You’ll get my honest opinion whether you want it or not.*

thetumblingturnersisters1919 marks the beginning of some tough times for the Turner family. The patriarch is a low paid boot-stitcher in Johnson City, New York, until he is injured and unable to work. The four Turner daughters and their parents have always lived on the edge of disaster, but this loss of income devastates their precarious balance. Their mother decides that Vaudeville is the answer and sets about grooming her daughters for the stage in a hurry.

The girls cobble together an acrobatic act that lands them enough paying gigs on the Vaudeville circuit to keep the family from being evicted. Traveling from town to town on the train also affords Gert, Winnie, Kit, and the recently widowed Nell a sense of freedom they’d never known at home. They meet a host of fascinating characters and performers along the way, as well as being exposed to the seedy underbelly of show business.

Gaaaaah there is almost nothing I love more than tales of old-timey show business! I positively gobbled this novel up. Fay did a fantastic job of incorporating real-life events into the narrative and made the story sparkle with life and energy. I loved every little bit of this book, from the painfully cheesy jokes the performers would tell to the characters’ romantic entanglements. Heartbreak and hilarity abound.

I did, however, have one beef. I live in Peoria, IL. The phrase “Will it play in Peoria?” (it’s a famous expression, I swear) comes directly out of the Vaudeville era and references the fact that the town in which I live is a big ol’ bag of middle America. An act could play well in NYC, but that didn’t mean it would work everywhere. Peoria, however, represented the median sensibility of all the folk in the land. The Turner sisters were mentioned visiting two other Central Illinois towns (Galesburg and Champaign) but neither my town nor our little catch phrase got a mention! I’m not going to lie, I feel kind of slighted, you guys.

All that nonsense aside, I loved the book. If you are in the mood for historical fiction and are even half as fascinated as I am by Vaudeville, you should check out The Tumbling Turner Sisters.

Talk to me Bookworms! Does your hometown (or the town you live in, I guess, seeing as I’m not originally from Peoria) have a claim to fame? I want to hear about them! The weirder the better!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jun 13

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Contemporary Fiction 12

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

I have been terrible about reviewing books lately. I don’t mean that what I’ve been posting is terrible (because I obviously think that what I’m saying is very important and interesting all the time) buuuut I’ve been reading a whole lot more than I have been posting. I’m going to try break out of the cycle this week, folks. Andi at Estella’s Revenge is hosting a week long Reviewathon and I am all in. First on the agenda is one of my BEA acquisitions, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.

curiouscharmsArthur Pepper is a 69 year old widower who is merely going through the motions in life. He’s spent the year since his wife passed away engaged in the most mundane of activities, his most rewarding relationship being with his houseplant, Frederica. On the one-year anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death, however, things begin to change. Arthur finally brings himself to clear out some of Miriam’s things when he stumbles across a piece of jewelry he’s never seen before. Arthur is completely perplexed by the bracelet and its unusual collection charms. Arthur’s curiosity is piqued for the first time since Miriam’s death. The former homebody embarks on an adventure that leads him to encounter locations, people, and trousers he never would have expected.

I hate to play the comparison game, but I’m going to anyway. Raise your hand if you’ve seen Up! Yes, the Pixar movie. The one where the widower goes on a journey and finds purpose and joy in life in spite of his grief? The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a little like that. With fewer balloons and more ferns named Frederica, of course. But the general vibe? Totally there. I couldn’t help but love Arthur and all the misfits and oddballs he meets along the way. This is a feel good book of the first degree, and utterly charming. If you need a few warm fuzzies, this is your read, folks!

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your favorite feel-good read?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jun 09

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: June 9, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts 20

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on all the goings on, so let’s catch up today, cool? We’re going to play my favorite game, Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts hosted, as always, by Christine of Bookishly Boisterous. So. What have I been up to?

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ONE: I have been planting flowers and playing in the dirt as I do every year around this time. Subtlety is not on the agenda, folks, this year everything is BRIGHT and SHOWY. Also, I have a lot of blue flower pots. I love all of it, I tell you. ALL OF IT!

TWO: A couple of weeks ago, Hubs and I went to a small town fair. We have watched more than our fair share of episodes of Deep Fried Masters, so when we saw that deep fried butter was an option at one of the food carts? You bet your bottom dollar we tried it. It was fine, I guess, it didn’t seem quite like what the “masters” made on TV. It tasted like a hollow buttery funnel cake. So, if bragging rights aren’t important to you? Just go with a traditional funnel cake and call it a day.

THREE: We held a yard sale in an attempt to clear out some of the accumulated detritus of life. At one point, a woman showed interest in a desktop trinket but left without buying it or trying to bargain a lower price. I assumed she just changed her mind. Until she showed up about 20 minutes later, asking if I would be willing to barter said trinket for a set of fancy padded hangers and several packages of stickers. I passed on the hangers, but I totally accepted stickers as payment. Because OF COURSE I DID. They were Goosebumps stickers and Christmas stickers, I mean OBVIOUSLY I will have uses for them. An excellent deal if I do say so myself.

These are my flowers. FLOWERS!

These are my flowers. FLOWERS!

FOUR: Last year when we held our garage sale, I managed to give myself a really weird sunburn thanks to poorly applied spray on sunscreen. This year I was diligent about sunscreen application and I used the lotion variety which is harder to miss spots with. All was well. Except. I forgot that I have bangs now. And that even when my hair is in a ponytail, I have a part. I sunburned the crap out of my scalp. Just another reason I should make a move on this life goal of mine to wear jaunty hats on the regular. You know who doesn’t sunburn her scalp? The lady in the jaunty hat, that’s who!

FIVE: It’s no secret that I’ve been running way behind schedule with book reviews these days, so I’m SUPER STOKED that the Andi of Estella’s Revenge is running a REVIEWATHON next week. This is the motivation I’ve been missing, you guys. I’m highly susceptible to peer pressure.

SIX: Have y’all been watching Game of Thrones? How much are you LOVING little Lady Mormont? That pint sized potentate stole my heart. LYANNA MORMONT FOR THE IRON THRONE!

There we are Bookworms! You’re now up to date with all the goings on in the land of Katie. What have y’all been up to?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jun 07

I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around by Ann Garvin: Review and GIVEAWAY!

Contemporary Fiction, Lady Fiction 13

Happy Tuesday Bookworms,

Whew! Summer, man! I’ve been reading plenty of books but I’ve been terrible about getting reviews written. It’s tough to buckle down and computer it up when the sun stays out so late and the weather is so delicious. I’m full of excuses. The point to all of this is that YES! Today I’m talking about a book! I was recently contacted by Ann Garvin and offered a complimentary copy of her latest book, I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around for review consideration. As per usual, I shall remind you that my integrity shan’t be compromised by the free book because I have truly terrible manners.

ilikeyoujustfinewhenyourenotaroundTig Monahan is has always been the steady, responsible type who helps everyone else out with their problems. She’s been taking care of her mother, who has been suffering from dementia. She’s always provided a soft landing for her flighty older sister. She’s a therapist, for heaven’s sake! Tig’s refusal to put herself (or more aptly, her boyfriend) first has caused immeasurable friction within her relationship. And all the glorious stability that Tig has worked so hard to build? It crashes down around her piece by piece. In the aftermath, Tig is forced into a new job, a new outlook on life, new roles, and unexpected challenges.

Dang. That little synopsis I just wrote doesn’t do it justice. This book was such a great exploration of messy feelings and complicated emotion. I love a feel-good novel, but I often find that they’re kind of one dimensional and obvious, you know? When I read a book in the self discovery vein, it often feels like there’s a sign blinking with “THIS IS THE CORRECT OPTION” when it comes to what choices the protagonist should be making, particularly in terms of her romantic life. I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around took a much more realistic approach to a set of improbable circumstances. It’s a hopeful book, on the whole, but it’s not one of those “follow your dreams and it’ll all work out perfectly” or “find your one true SOUL MATE and everything will fall into place” sort of narratives. It’s a little sad. A bit of a bumpy road. The choices aren’t always clear. Just like actual life. And you know what? I LOVED IT.

Want to know if you’ll love it too? Ann Garvin was generous enough to offer a GIVEAWAY of the novel (US entrants only, please.) Enter below, my little Bookworms!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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May 31

Rich People Behaving Badly: Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction 15

Happy Tuesday, Bookworms!

The day after a Monday holiday is always the most insane of days, particularly for us working stiffs. I can’t say it wasn’t worth it though. I got some flowers planted and books read and lots of delicious grilled things in my belly. I’m still trying to catch up on reviews for books I’ve read. I’m waaaaay behind schedule. Whatever. Today we’re going to be discussing an audio book I listened to a while back called Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford.

everybodyriseI won a copy of this audio book through Armchair BEA last year (I think?) It took me forever to get around to importing the words into my brain, but I blame that on the fact that it was an audio book on CD which isn’t the most convenient format for listening on the go. I ended up listening to it in my car (and totally got the first CD stuck in the player, thank you very much. Eventually the issue resolved itself. I think it may have been the first time the CD player was ever used in my car.)

Evelyn Beegan is the 26 year old product of prep school and a social climbing mother, but she’s determined to create a life for herself in Manhattan on her own terms. That is, until she takes a job with the world’s snobbiest website, People Like Us. Evelyn is put in charge of recruitment, where she’s paid to rub elbows with the ultra privileged elite she once avoided. During the course of her work, Evelyn finds herself summering at the vacation homes of New York’s old money- Newport, the Adirondacks, and the Hamptons become her stomping grounds. She is able to blend in with the people she’s recruiting and finds their world intoxicating. Evelyn soon begins to pass herself off as old money, and sweeps her wealthy-by-normal-standards family history under the rug. I think you can guess where this is heading.

I don’t know how to properly explain this audio book’s narration. The narrator used the most over-the-top fancy East Coast upper crust voice you can imagine. Does anyone anywhere REALLY talk like that? It was like Richard and Emily Gilmore on steroids. My husband came in from moving my car one day and felt told me in his own version of the hoity toity accent just how well Camilla’s croquet game was progressing. While the accent was kind of hilarious, the book was maddening. THESE PEOPLE.

Everybody Rise introduced me to a brand of human beings I didn’t think actually existed. This East Coast old money thing is NUTS. The amount of money casually thrown around in this book is staggering, and just wow. Everyone was so unapologetically snobby! Evelyn and her mother are DESPERATE to be in the club and it’s just SO SAD. Honestly, I can’t tell for sure how I feel about this book. I found this world so gross and upsetting. It’s eye opening, but I’m not sure I really wanted to see the world from this particular perspective. Yikes.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Did any of you attend Ivy League schools? Or Prep schools? Is this whole social scene ACTUALLY a thing? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Those of us without trust funds don’t object when a few spare cents find their way into our Amazon accounts.*

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May 26

Thursday, 1:17 pm by Michael Landweber

Coming of Age, Science Fiction 9

Greetings Bookworms!

Have you ever had one of those moments where time just seems to freeze? Poetic types are wont to attribute the sensation to meeting their one true love, but in my world, this feeling typically precedes disaster. Still, the whole “time freezing” thing is usually a short-lived moment, things don’t just stay frozen. Unless you’re the main character in Michael Landweber’s new novel, Thursday, 1:17 p.m. *I received a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher for review consideration, thanks to Monika’s insatiable book pushing (I love her for it.) I am too ill mannered to be polite for politeness’s sake, so you can trust I’ll tell you exactly what I think.*

Thursday117

Time stopped on a lovely Thursday afternoon at 1:17 pm. Duck, our 17 year old protagonist, is the only person, animal, or thing still moving in Washington DC. As far as he can tell, he’s the only, um, noun? on the planet Earth not in a state of suspended animation. Which is just freaking great. It’s not like he’s already got enough to deal with, what with his mother having succumbed to cancer that very morning and his father having been in a mental hospital for years. Not that having parents would be of much help in the current situation, since they’d be frozen. Fortunately, Duck is a smart kid and a good egg. He takes his new reality in stride and tries to do the right thing in the face of some seriously weird circumstances. He’s got all the time in the world (apparently) to face his demons, and with any luck he’ll figure out how to get time moving again.

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If you’re thinking “this sounds like a Twilight Zone episode” then you and I are on the same wavelength. I went into the book expecting some cool descriptions of the frozen world and I was NOT disappointed. Remember that scene in Big Fish where the circus freezes? It’s kind of like that. But cooler. This book blended sci-fi, humor, and a heaping helping of emotion into one neat little package. It’s a great book and a fast read. If you’re even the slightest bit intrigued by my rambling, you should DEFINITELY check out Thursday, 1:17 p.m.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If your world froze, what would you do with all your spare time? (I’m asking this even though I know the vast majority of us are going to answer “READ ALL THE THINGS!” I just want to encourage the mania.) 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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May 24

Bite Size Reviews: May 2016

Bite Size Reviews 19

Well Hello Bookworms,

It’s been a while since I just told y’all about some books! Let’s fix that right now, shall we? I’ve got some tasty little reviewlettes for you today because my brain simply won’t come up with all the words in the land. I blame this on Maggie Stiefvater, actually, because of REASONS.

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater- I told you this was all her fault! You’ll recall my folly when I read what I thought was a trilogy a while back? The final installment of The Raven Cycle was released and I put it right into my earholes. I just finished this bad boy like 4 hours ago. I can’t write a whole review because that’s nigh on impossible when you’re talking about a series, but suffice it to say my guts were wrenched and I found the conclusion emotional and satisfying. Big love to my tweeps with whom I was able to share all the feels!

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney- If you’re in the mood to read about fraught family dynamics, this is the book for you. The four Plumb siblings have lived their whole lives knowing they’ve got a large inheritance on the horizon and have made some questionable decisions as a result. Leo, worst of the bunch, does something super horrible that depletes the family’s nest egg on the eve of the siblings finally getting their share. It’s marketed as a bittersweet comedy, but if it was meant to be funny, it was too cerebral for me. The Plumb family members were each painted with compassion, though their foibles were maddening. Not really my cup of tea.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer- A group of teenage camp friends stick together for life. Their lives, predictably, don’t go necessarily go according to plan. Following the characters from their youthful hopes and dreams to their adult problems is by turns fascinating and melancholy. I don’t want to get into spoilers or anything, but to those who have read it: WTF with Jonah and the gum?! I seriously cannot even. Also, Goodman. Ugh. Worst. I liked the book fine, but I really wanted to punch some characters. Pummel, actually. RAWR.

Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much by Faith Salie- This is the first BEA book I finished! Yay me! I listen to NPR all the time, so when I heard that a regular guest on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me was doing a signing, I figured I ought to get in that line. Faith Salie is good people. The book gets into the deep nitty gritty emotional bits of her life while still keeping a sense of humor about things. I’ll admit it wasn’t as gut busting as some other memoirs I’ve read, but I think the emotion and sincerity made the moments of wry humor all the more enjoyable. Plus she made a Game Of Thrones joke that made me guffaw in an unladylike manner. (Are you on Litsy? You may have seen the quote. I’m WordsForWorms. Say hi!)

Whew! That was a whirlwind, wasn’t it? I’m still not caught up on all my reviews, but it’s a start, right? What have you been reading, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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May 20

BEA 2016: Random Crap I Forgot To Mention

BEA 2016 12

Howdy Bookworms,

It’s Friday and I’m going to wrap up my BEA 2016 coverage because you’re probably sick of hearing about it by now. I thought I’d finish things up with some of the random factoids I wanted to tell you about that didn’t really fit into the other posts (which are HERE and HERE). Cool? Let’s do this.

ONE: There were a number of publishers who brought in the world’s plushest carpet for their booths. It was really nice and probably awesome for the feet of the people standing up in those booths all day, but it never failed to trip me up. Not actually trip, but like, “WHOA I AM ON A CLOUD” moments abounded.

TWO: On day 2 I saw a girl on the expo floor wearing tons of Ravenclaw swag. I was wearing my Ravenclaw shirt and told her I thought we were kindred spirits and that we should take a selfie. Thanks again, Ravenclaw Girl!

Thanks for humoring me, Ravenclaw girl! #HousePride

Thanks for humoring me, Ravenclaw girl! #HousePride

THREE: On my way back to the burbs from the second day of the convention I got on the wrong train. I accidentally got on an express train that blew right past the stop I was trying to get to, so I had to text my dad to pick me up in Aurora instead of Naperville. He was SUCH a good sport about the whole thing. (My actual hometown of Bolingbrook is apparently not cool enough to merit a train station of its own. Nor is Peoria, for that matter. Why do I always end up living in trainless towns? It’s terribly inconvenient for a person who enjoys the occasional trip to Chicago but also has a crippling fear of driving in the city.)

FOUR: I had a picture of myself taken with my head in a dinosaur’s mouth. It pairs well with my current Facebook profile photo, which features my head in an alligator’s mouth. Did I mention that I behaved with the utmost professionalism?

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You can’t take me anywhere.

FIVE: When you’re at BEA, you wear a name tag. My name was commented upon multiple times. First, Jennifer Close’s helper person was all “oh your name is like in You’ve Got Mail!” And I was like “Oh yeah, I didn’t realize that!” Because I saw that movie before I married into the name (even though I’m Kathryn not Kathleen.) I know I totally could have kept my maiden name (hyphenation was NOT an option because my maiden name ALSO started with a K. The initials. Not cool) but I liked my husband’s last name better. It’s half the letters and nobody ever mispronounces it. I make important decisions based on solid logical reasoning. AS YOU CAN TELL.

There we are. BEA 2016 is in the books and I have a lot of friggin books to read. Thanks for putting up with the craziness here. Hopefully we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming next week. If I don’t lose my ever loving mind planing ALL THE FLOWERS this weekend. Because that’s what I’m doing this weekend. What’s your favorite color flower? I’m still wishy washy on this year’s color scheme and I’m open to ideas.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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