the sparkly life

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My New Year, Old Books Challenge (Join Me?)

After a bit of a lull, I've made huge strides in my reading this year (as I write this on December 31st, I'm at 119 books read for the year--almost 100 more than last year...! (That said, the 119 number is kind of killing me, so I'm hoping to squeeze in one more today to make it an even 120.)

But one thing has frustrated me about my reading this year: I've been focused on new books. Brand new books--and pretty much exclusively. I get caught up in the #bookstagram culture, tempted by all the amazing new releases, and also feel obligated to read and review any e-books I (very generously!) get free from NetGalley, and there just never seems to be time for the older stuff. And that's so annoying! There are SO many good, existing books out there. So many great books I haven't read. So many books I've already purchased (ugh--sooo many) that are just sitting around collecting dust on my shelves or lurking in my Kindle app.

So, I've decided to do something about that this year, right off the bat.

For the month of January, I'm going to be reading backlist books. Only backlist books. Even if I'm tempted by a great sounding new release. Even when my January Book of the Month box arrives. Even if an ARC of American Dirt somehow magically arrives in my mailbox. I'm calling it my "New Year, Old Books" challenge. It's going to be a little tough, but I'm focused, I'm ready, and I'm excited! 

There are so many great books out there that I have long been dying to read, and just haven't gotten around to for whatever reason. I recently went through my existing TBR pile (both real and virtual) and there are already way too many older books that I already own, so I'm not even truly going to make a dent in the old books already in my possession. But I'm looking forward to seeing how far I get! 

A few books now on my January TBR list (i.e. books I've, embarrasingly, never read): Bel Canto, A Gentleman in Moscow, Dark Matter, Firefly Lane, The Poisonwood Bible, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, Sweetbitter, The Rules of Magic, The Dream Daughter, and--ugh--so many more!

My self-imposed rules for the challenge are pretty simple: The books I read this January must be from 2018 or earlier (but I'm going to aim for even older). And I can't buy any of the books I read. But the library is fair game! And I am actually going to allow myself to do new releases on audio though. (I don't know if this is "cheating," but I already own a million new releases on audio and pretty much zero old ones, so I'm just going to do it this way. Also, it takes me forever to get through audiobooks. So, if I don't keep at them, I will absolutely never catch up with those!) 

If you want to watch my progress (or, better yet, try the challenge yourself!), you can follow me on Instagram at @alyssaisbooked and via the hashtag #newyearoldbookswithalyssa. Let me know if you are going to participate, so we can motivate each other and exchange some great (old) book recs.

Happy reading--and happy new year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

How We Hacked Our Way to A Pretty Cute Christmas Card

I had thought I'd been super on top of it, scheduling a holiday-card photo shoot early this fall. But then it didn't go as planned. (Here's why.) Then, life got busy, and December rolled around and I realized I had no good photos to use for a card. I thought about skipping cards entirely, but then decided I'd throw my own impromptu shoot together, and hack my way to a decent Christmas card. And it worked!

I decided to nab my pictures on a weekend in early December when we went to get our Christmas tree at our local garden center. I posed my (relatively uncooperative) kids in a series of festive-ish shots including in front of wreath- and pointsettia-displays, and nestled among some cut trees so it almost looked like we were in a forest. Then, they had the idea to sit in front of a pinecone display, and take some shots!

I shot and edited all of the pics on my phone (two wreath shots and a pointsettia made the final cut), and ordered the cards online later that afternoon. And I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out! (The only thing I don't love is the fact that they're wearing their winter coats. But it was freezing that day, so what can you do?) Not bad for an hour and an iPhone, huh?

I hope you're having a great holiday, whatever you're celebrating. We're in my childhood home in Maryland for Christmas, then heading back home tomorrow, and then off to Stowe, Vermont for a few days after that. (Skiing for my husband and the kids; reading in the lodge for me.)

Merry everything to all!

Monday, December 9, 2019

That Time We Took A Wrecking Ball to Our Own Backyard (Plus, A Giveaway!)

Thank you to Abrams Books for sponsoring this post.

When my daughter recently picked up Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball, the latest book in the super popular Wimpy Kid series, I was reminded of our most recent home renovation project. As you may remember, last summer, we totally redid our backyard. And as part of that renovation, we built the treehouse you see here for our kids! (Well, we didn't build it--we have no talent in that area--a carpenter did!) All in all, we learned a ton during that backyard home improvement project, namely that...we hate home improvement projects!

I can't help it. Though we love the end result, the whole process definitely had its downsides. First, it started months after the proposed target start date--and then took months to complete. For that reason, my kids couldn't use our backyard (old version or new) at all for literally the entire summer. Then, there was the constant arguing with the contractors (when they randomly wouldn't show up or when they'd say things like "Oh? You didn't want to leave the tree house with just bare, unpainted plywood? Ok, then that's going to cost a lot extra.") And the money! Oh em gee, after our actual house, the entire backyard project was probably the most money we've ever spent at one time--and costs seemed to increase daily with every big and little decision we made. It was a rough time.  

But with all of that said, the expense and the constant headaches were ultimately worth it. We love our backyard! My kids have an awesome tree house--one that I would have killed for when I was a kid--and we have a great place to entertain. (And let me tell you: At every party we have, the adults always want to climb up and check out the treehouse, too!)

And now that my kids have seen a glimpse of what's possible, let's just say, they've got some big renovation dreams of their own these days. My daughter recently told me that she'd like to add a rock wall to her bedroom and a roller coaster to our backyard. (Lol.) Oh, and she wants to redo all of our floors so that they are "the same floors as roller rinks." Yeah, #notgoingtohappen. 

This new installment of Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid series (book #14!) tells the story of Greg Heffley and his family's attempts to do some renovations on their own home. They encounter even bigger issues than we did like mold and unwanted critters (!), but it's still a definite reminder that home improvement is never as easy as the TV shows may make it seem. 

My nine- year-old daughter--already a huge fan of the series--loved the book. She just finished her second reading of it and said it is "so funny!" And my six-year-old, early-reader son actually started it himself just the other day! He's going to be thrilled when I let him know that there are actually 13 other books in the series that he can now go back and read. :)

Now, as any mom knows, any book that holds both of my kids' interests, that they can't put down, and that they actually want to read more than once is a bit of a unicorn. For that reason, I really wanted to share the love, and I will be choosing one winner to win a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball courtesy of Abrams Books. To enter, please click here and follow the instructions in my Instagram post

Thank you, good luck, and happy reading (or renovating)!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

How To Get 3 Audiobooks for the Price of One!

Top two photos taken by Sadie Hertzig

I'm a big fan of audiobooks. But this definitely wasn't always the case! After spending basically my whole life thinking audiobooks were weird or "cheating" (why?!?), I've become their biggest fan this year. Not only are many audiobooks better than their print counterparts (yes, really), they've been absolutely key in helping me dramatically increase the number of books I've read this year. I now listen to them anytime I'm on-the-go--walking, commuting, or even grocery shopping--and I listen to them when I'm on-the-go at home, too (putting on my makeup, cooking dinner, cleaning, etc). 

If you love audiobooks, too, or have been thinking of trying them, I have an amazing deal for you: You can get THREE audiobooks for the price of one! (Click here to go straight to the deal now, or read on to learn more about it.) 

The 3-for-1 deal is through my absolute favorite way to listen to audiobooks, I discovered about two months ago after being pretty loyal to Audible before that since that's really all I knew about!. After checking out Libro, I switched over to them immediately, and truly haven't looked back. I love it so much! First, Libro has a huge selection of audiobooks. As far as I can tell, they have everything Audible has, and anything I've ever wanted has been there. Also, the prices are great, and the website and app are easy to use. 

But that's not even the best part! The absolute coolest part is that your purchases are credited to local, indie bookstores, not Amazon! You get to choose which store (my purchases go to Little City Books, my awesome local bookstore here in Hoboken, NJ), so you get to feel good about supporting small businesses, while still getting the same convenience of ordering audiobooks online and listening digitally.

I am totally hooked on, and highly recommend them. And the deal they are offering is incredible. If you join Libro today using this link (or by entering code ALYSSA), you will get THREE audiobooks for just $14.99

And if you're looking for recs for audiobooks for the three you get to start with, a few of my very favorites are: Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Rainbow Comes And Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps and Maid by Stephanie Land. I'm also about a third of the way through the audiobook of The Starless Sea right now, and absolutely loving it! 

If you have any Qs about or audiobooks in general, feel free to ask below. (Or DM me on Instagram!) But I'm truly a huge, genuine fan of (love the service, love the selection, and really love their mission!), and couldn't recommend them more. Now, run and get that crazy 3-for-the-price-of-1 deal, guys! ;)

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small portion of your purchase price at NO additional cost to you. Thank you for helping to support my blog!

Friday, November 29, 2019

20 Cool Things You Need to Click (Plus, The Best Black Friday Sales!)

J.Crew Chateau Parka (50% off with code FRIDAY!); Chloe Marcie Small Crossbody Bag ($50 off on Neiman Marcus!);  Such A Fun Age (preorder here), 

Did you guys have a good Thanksgiving? We're down in Raleigh, North Carolina, with my husband's side of the family. Our hotel is actually in a mall (!), so it inspired me to put together these links today. I'm not doing a crazy ton of Black Friday shopping, but I am planning on taking advantage of a few really great deals (sharing those below!). And of course, don't forget about books! I've listed some awesome ones I've read lately, below. Target is doing a 2 for 1 sale on books right now (check it out here), so it's the perfect time to stock up. And Amazon is doing Black Friday deals on select books, as well. Whatever you're up to this weekend--whether it's shopping, reading, or leftovers--here's a few fun links to check out in the meantime.

• Before we get to the clothing Black Friday sales, let's talk books! If you have been thinking of joining Book of the Month, now is definitely the time to start. December is, hands down, the best group of book choices I have seen so far! I have actually already read and loved three of the books: Long Bright River (suspenseful family drama/crime story--and one of my top, top books of the year), Dear Edward (beautiful story of a young boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash), and Red White and Royal Blue (fun, smart romance--more on it below). I also already have a copy of The Wives, which I've heard is an awesome thriller, and the fifth book--The Glittering Hour--is the only one I hadn't read/don't own, so that was my pick this month! I've heard great things about it, so I'm excited... If you would like to join BOTM, you can use this link, and we'll both get a free book!

• J.Crew's Black Friday sale is so good! 50% off (and 60% off sale!) with code FRIDAY. I want this pom pom sweater, this mockneck sweater in like five more colors (I already own the light gray), and these gold slippers. (I already own them in beige and they are so comfy and warm. The gold is way more fun though!) Also, the Chateau Parka is the BEST coat. I've had it in tan for a couple of years now and it has held up perfectly. (That's it in the photo above!) I kind of want it in another color now, too. Hmm...

• My hotel in Raleigh is right across from Anthropologie, so I stopped in this morning and found so much good stuff--all 30% off! Limited suitcase space though, so I took pictures of everything I wanted, and am ordering it online. :) Here's what I loved: this braided velvet headband (cuter and a little more unique and special than the knotted style that everyone is wearing), this green dress (love that it could be worn for three different seasons), and this amazing sequin sweater!! (I love it with jeans, but it would also be so good dressed up with a skirt for a cozy holiday-party outfit).

• There's always so much stuff I want at Madewell, but I feel like they rarely have sales. But the Madewell Black Friday sale is 30% off everything (!) with code GIFTWELL, so I think I'm ready to pull the trigger on this colorblock cardigan, this buffalo check sweater coat, and maybe a backup pair of my absolute favorite jeans: these 8" skinny jeans in the Ames Wash.

• This rainbow sweater is so cute. And it's on sale for $46!

• Christmas tree rings seem to be the cool new thing, and I really love the way they look. This gold tree ring is the one I have my eye on. It's so pretty, and on sale right now for $48!

These aren't on a Black Friday sale, but I love them so much and wanted to share them anyway. I bought these jeweled combat boots after one of my favorite bloggers Landyn recommended them, and I am obsessed. They are comfy and just so cool. They are my go-to boots for going out to dinner, etc now. They look amazing tucked into skinny jeans, and in person, the jewels are actually pretty subtle. They just add a little something extra. LOVE. 

• I unfortunately didn't get around to doing a "Everything I Read In October" post like I did with September, so here's a mini one. If you're looking for a good book, here are the eight books in October (spoiler: I liked all of them, and LOVED quite a few!): 

- Dominicana - This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year. It's a moving, beautiful story of a 15-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic who is married off to a 35-year-old man and then moves with him to 1960s New York City. It's moving and beautiful with wonderfully developed characters.

- The Institute - I LOVED this latest book from Stephen King about a young boy who is violently kidnapped and then taken to an "institute" where he meets other kidnapped children, all with mysterious powers. This book is heart-stopping, suspenseful, and SO good.

- Red White and Royal Blue - I am super picky about romance--they have to be SMART and non-cheesy--and I really enjoyed this one where the son of the first female president of the United States falls in love with the prince of England. And as I mentiond above, it also happens to be a December Book of the Month pick! (Reminder: If you want to join BOTM, use this link and you'll get a free book!) 

- Twice in a Blue Moon - Another romance that I actually really loved! In this new one by Christina Lauren, two teenagers meet, quickly fall in love, and then the boy breaks her heart in a terrible way. Many years later they meet unexpectedly on a movie set (the girl is now a famous, up-and-coming actress) and they are forced to come to terms with their past--and their future.

- The Other's Gold - This is a story of four female friends from college through adulthood. Each makes a mistake at some point and you learn about these four mistakes throughout the book. I thought the characters were very interesting, and though I had mixed feelings about the book, I did like it. It's not a super page turner, but not everything has to be.

- Toil & Trouble - Another fun memoir from Augustus Burroughs. In this one, he shares how he is actually a witch--!--with psychic abilities. I always love his writing, so I really enjoyed this.

- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - The true story of a black woman who had her tissue taken from her without consent prior to her death. The tissue happened to be very special though, and then went on to lead to countless medical breakthroughs. It's a compelling story and there are so many interesting questions about ethics and what rights we have or don't have over our own bodies.  I did the audio version of this and recommend it!

- The Tipping Point - I'm the last person to read this book, I know. It's interesting, though I'd probably be a little more into it if I worked in a business/marketing type job. Note: I did the audio and the audio version is very short, which was nice.

• In other news: My long-time friend Laney (we worked together at Lucky magazine about a million years ago) has big news. She launched a makeup line called Saie Beauty! And the best part? It's CLEAN!

• My friend Carrie always posts the best quick, EASY meals. I want to make this chicken stroganoff soon. It looks fantastic! 

• If you haven't read it yet, drop everything and read this incredible account of a day in the life of two homeless kids trying to get through a school day in New York City. It will absolutely break your heart, but it's a must-read. And then, after you finish, please visit this Twitter thread for ways that you can donate to help these kids and other's like them. I bought some items off the Amazon Wish List for Sandy's school...

• And in case you missed it, I did an unintentional mother/son photo shoot with my little guy. (And I'm obsessed with the resulting pics!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Accidental Mother/Son Photo Shoot--That I Couldn't Love More

Photos by Dorsett Photography

In recent years, I've tried to make it a goal to have professional pictures taken of my kids (and, ideally, of my whole family) once a year. It's an expense, yes, but I'm a firm believer that great photos of your kids is an expense that you're never going to regret.

That said, to cut down on costs, I almost always do "mini sessions" for my family photo shoots. I've talked about mini shoots before, but basically, they are 20-ish-minute blocks of time where you quickly bang out a bunch of shots in a single location. (Photographers make it worth their while by scheduling several minis back to back, and will often reserve a few weekend mornings for this throughout the year.) 

Mini sessions are perfect, because 1) 20 minutes is pretty much the maximum amount of time my kids (and, honestly, my husband) can focus, 2) it's more than enough time to get a great holiday card photo, which is typically the number one thing I'm after, and 3) they tend to be much less expensive than a full, private shoot, so they are a relatively affordable way to have professional portraits taken.

This year, I reserved a mini session with one of my favorite local photographers, Ady Dorsett, so that I could get some cute portraits of my kids and a family shot for holiday cards. I nabbed a Saturday morning spot in September, told my husband when I booked it, and then reminded him a week before the shoot. At that point, he reminded me that my daughter had her first soccer game the morning of the shoot--at the exact same time. He didn't want her to miss it. She didn't want to miss it. I panicked.

The deposit I had paid was non-refundable, but Ady was really understanding. She was going to let me use the money towards a future session, but I quickly realized there were no other fall mini-session spots left that would work for us. I thought about just skipping it and losing the deposit, but then it hit me: Maybe I'd just do the shoot anyway...with just me and my son.

After all, when else would I make the time and expense to get some beautiful mother/son shots? The scheduling snafu had yielded a great opportunity, so I decided to do it. We'd worry about the Christmas cards later. And I'm so glad we did it! My son was a champ that morning--patient, cooperative, and smiley--and I love how the photos turned out. 

And they came at the perfect time, because truth be told, this has been a difficult year for my son and I. He's had some behavioral issues, which has caused a lot of stress, but he has made huge strides and has come such a long way. He's the sweetest kid, and I love him so, so much. 

So I don't have an official holiday-card photo this year, but these are truly even better. I am so happy that my scheduling "mistake" allowed us to have these beautiful photos that document this time in our lives--that show that, as tough a year as 2019 has been, my son and I have an incredible bond.

I couldn't love these photos--or him--more.

Monday, September 30, 2019

All the Books I Read in September

As I've mentioned before, I have stepped up my reading big time this year. As of today, at the end of September, I've read 93 books so far in 2019 (woo!). I read 12 this past month (four audiobooks and seven "regular" books), and I've listed them below with short descriptions. If you're looking for something to read, there's lots to love here. And of course, to keep up with all of book recs, follow my bookstagram, @alyssaisbooked. Happy reading!

Loved/Highly Recommend/Read these immediately:

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag: This was hands-down my favorite book I read this month. It tells the story of an apocalyptic world where, thanks to climate change and epic storms and floods, the United States has been completely submerged under water. The world that remains is dangerous, lawless, and terrifying. The story centers on Myra, a mother whose five-year-old daughter, Row, is taken from her on the very first, gut-wrenching page. She spends the rest of the book searching for her (along with her other daughter, Pearl) and trying to survive. The book is heartbreaking, thrilling, hopeful, fascinating, terrifying, and surprisingly action-packed. The writing is absolutely beautiful as well. It was 400 pages, but I flew through them and honestly wish there were 400 more. I truly loved this book.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: This was just nominated for the National Book Award, and for good reason: It's absolutely incredible. It tells the story of Elwood, a young African American boy sent to a reform school for a crime he didn’t commit. We follow Elwood’s time at the Nickel school, which is truly hell on earth. The boys are forced to do hard labor. Schooling is essentially non-existent. The administration is corrupt. Horrendous abuse is rampant. And though no one who went to the school was unscathed, the story takes place in the 1960s, so the school was segregated and the black children got it much, much worse. But perhaps the scariest thing about this book is that it is closely based on a real reform school, the Dozier School for Boys, where real-life atrocities occurred, and around 70 (!) unmarked graves have since been recovered. (Those poor, poor boys.) The fact that this book is based on true events makes it even more powerful. But it’s also just a great story with incredible writing, strong characters, and a real emotional pull. The book feels timeless and destined to become a classic. I was so moved by it, and I know the story of Elwood and the rest of the Nickel boys will stay with me for a long, long time.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin: This book launched earlier this year, but I finally just got around to reading it once Laura Tremaine--who I recently recorded a podcast with--named it as one of her top reads of the summer. It was so good! It tells the tale of four siblings who visit a fortune teller as children. The fortune teller's power is that she can predict the date of your death, so each child learns the exact day he or she is supposedly going to die. We then follow each child as they grow up and live their lives, burdened with this incredible knowledge. We see how it affects every choice that they make--and we do see when and how they die. Fascinating, gripping, and very well-written.

Really liked/Recommend:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman: Nina is an introverted bookstore employee living a very solitary, simple life in Los Angeles, when she suddenly gets the news that her father (who she has never met) has died and left her with a huge extended family (and a potential fortune). We then follow as she navigates this new family--and life. This book was such a pleasant surprise! I think I was expecting something super light and chick-lit-y, but it was so much more than that. It's smart and funny, and a true love letter to the joy of reading.

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur: In the beginning of this memoir, the then 14-year-old author is woken by her mother who confides that she has just kissed a male family friend (who, uh, is not her father). And thus begins a disturbing and decades-long affair between her mother and the man, and an even more inappropriate mother-daughter relationship. The mom basically makes her daughter an accomplice in the affair, using her to help keep her secrets from everyone else. It's crazy, you won't be able to put it down, and you'll never be so thankful for your normal mother!

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: This book was unlike anything I've ever read before. Woodson's writing style is beautiful--and so different! It almost reads like poetry. It also reads like a long short story, rather than a traditional book, if that makes sense. (This is not a long book--I read it in a few hours in a single afternoon.) It covers race, teenage pregnancy, family, poverty, mistakes, and coming of age. It's really a beautiful story and I absolutely loved the ending.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen: Though I really love so much of Bruce Springsteen's music, I wouldn't call myself a hardcore fan. But I still really enjoyed this book! Some of it is very detailed (and might be better suited to that hardcore fan), but most of it was fascinating to me. Loved learning how he grew up, how he got started in music, how he was discovered, and the stories behind his biggest songs. (I found myself constantly stopping the book to look up and listen to the various songs after his stories!) Note: I listened to the audiobook version of this and I definitely can't imagine doing it any other way. Bruce reads it himself!

Liked/Worth reading:

Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern: I used to be a huge Howard Stern fan back in high school, and though I haven't listened to his radio show in years, I still love his interview style. (And I have a new appreciation for him now because of the work he does fostering cats with his wife Beth. We got our two cats from them!) This book is a collection of transcripts of his best celebrity interviews throughout the years, interspersed with thoughts and writings from Stern about his relationships, his struggles, his insecurities, his regrets, and more. His honestly and insight is remarkable, and the book is probably nothing like what you'd expect. Howard Stern is definitely all grown up now. 

The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey: I listened to the audiobook version of this; it's supershort. It's mostly interviews that Oprah has done with various people throughout the years, all focused on self-discovery and finding your calling. (These are all interspersed with Oprah's own thoughts, which were my favorite parts.) Some interviews/chapters were better than others, but some were incredibly powerful. (One line in one chapter even stopped me in my tracks on the street and brought me to tears.) If you love Oprah, you'll love this.

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza: This book tells the story of Charlotte Walsh, an accomplished wife, mother, and businesswoman who decides to leave the private sector to run for an open Senate seat in Pennsylvania. We follow her as she navigates balancing campaigning and family life, and dealing with sexist political attacks. It's a really fun read. Note: When I posted on my bookstagram that I was reading it, I had been told by a few people that the ending ruined the whole thing for them. (One person told me she threw the book across the room when she got to the last page!) I have to say, that I didn't love the ending, but when I read the author's explanation for it (which she does explain in the back of the book), I could see where she was coming from and I "got it." Fun, smart book, especially if you're at all into politics.


One More Thing by B.J. Novak: I did the audiobook version of this, which was fun because a lot of celebs like Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham guest on it, but at the end of the day, the book was just okay for me. It's a collection of short stories that are all super random and weird. Some of them are random and weird in a good way--and some of them are just weird. I found a handful of them great and really funny, but I wasn't that into most of them. Sorry, B.J.--I still love you!

Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler: I got this audiobook because I had just listened to Chelsea's most recent book (Life Will Be the Death of Me) back in August and I loved it. (So funny and really personal and moving, too!). I was hoping for something similar with this one, but oh my god--not the case. This book is from 2008, but it felt like it was written in the Stone Age. It was very uncomfortable to listen to because it's weirdly racist a lot, and honestly, just not funny. Handler has clearly matured a lot in the last 11 years. Thank god.

Have you guys read any of these books? (If so, what did you think?) And did you read anything else in September that you loved? Tell me! I'm always looking for recommendations.