BOOK REVIEW: The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry

*SPOILER ALERT – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

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The Best of Friends – by Lucinda Berry is one of THE BEST books I have read in a long time. I had never read anything by Lucinda Berry before, but this was amazing and I will definitely be checking out more of her books.

Again, THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.

This story revolves around three best friends – Dani, Kendra, and Lindsey – and their families. Each woman is experiencing something different in their marriages, and each one is a secret. These secrets eventually come out after one night, when their three teenage sons – Caleb, Sawyer, and Jacob, respectively, are hanging out together at Dani’s house when they get their hands on a gun.

The story takes you through the parents’ woes of trying to piece together what happened that dreaded evening and who shot who. The gun belonged to Bryan and Dani, the parents of Caleb, who swear their son would never shoot or use their gun irresponsibly or recklessly.

BIGGEST SPOILER – The boys were very drunk and high when it occurred. Caleb (Dani’s son) shot Sawyer (Kendra’s son) in the abdomen, killing him. Jacob (Lindsey’s son) took the gun and shot himself in the head, which ultimately made him braindead and killed him by the end of the book.

Throughout trying to figure out how this all happened, Dani experiences domestic violence in her home and finally calls it quits and tells once her husband Bryan physically hurts their daughter, Luna. Lindsey experiences her “perfect husband” emotionally cheating online with a woman he’s never met when they have two children at home and one in the hospital in a coma. Kendra ends up having to admit to her husband after many years that she has been giving her son Reese prescription Adderall for his ADHD even though Paul forbade it due to being against medicating children. This infuriates him as they find out their son Reese has been selling Adderall and possibly taking it on top of the secret dose his mother has been giving him all these years.

Also – who would’ve thought that two of the boys were gay and in love with each other?

A lot of reviewers say the parents seem super clueless in this book, but I find it to be pretty accurate with today’s times! There are plenty of kids that lie to their parents about where they are and what they’re doing and plenty of parents that are unaware. I thought it was perfect. I was on my toes the entire book WITH these characters trying to get down to the bottom of what happened that evening their lives changed forever.

There are so many more spoilers I could give – such as why the other children of the women (Reese and Luna) feel involved in the incident with the boys or what happens to Dani in her escape from Bryan and Lindsey in her battle of learning to let go of both her son and her husband. BUT I am SO not doing that because I want you to READ IT! I read it on my Kindle Paperwhite and I loved every second of it. I could not put it down.

I can’t wait to read more by Lucinda Berry and share my thoughts with you!

2 Years Since I Last Blogged?! How’s Everyone Doing During the Pandemic?!

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WOW! It feels like yesterday I started my little mini-blog, but it’s actually been four years and it’s been two years since I’ve been on. HOW?!

I guess I lost desire and motivation to continue because I didn’t gain a huge following – but hey, that’s the joy of it being a blog, right? You can write for no one, even just for yourself, and if people happen to stumble upon your content and like it too, that’s even better!

SOOOO what have I been up to for 2 years, one might ask (other than trying to survive this pandemic with the rest of the world)?! In January of 2020, I finally graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. Although I finished my last two years of school online and my “graduation” consisted of me hitting ‘submit’ on a screen in the loneliness of my tiny apartment kitchen in the middle of the day on a Thursday, it was still, by far, one of the happiest moments of my entire life. I felt so accomplished and I proceeded to dance around my apartment with my dog.

I worked in long-term care both while I was in school and after I graduated and, of course, continued through the throes of COVID-19. In late April of 2020, I tested positive for COVID-19 and, although I was very ill, I am blessed to say I never had to go to the hospital and I survived. I will never forget the day I just KNEW I had the virus and I was filled with total dread… So here’s that story: It was Friday, April 24th (sad I didn’t even have to look at a calendar for that, it’s just that memorable) and we found out our first employee and first resident at the facility I was working in were positive for the virus. Now, mind you, this was AMAZING at the time because most facilities around us were absolutely drowning in COVID by mid March – but here we were, almost in May, thinking we were really going to keep this thing out, but this dreadful day came. We were donned in full PPE, going about our day, trying to keep our residents isolated and safe, and with it being Friday, we were preparing for another week ahead – a new one, with COVID. I was changing out the employee masks (we all received one mask per week and I had the awesome privileges of changing everyone’s nasty mask out for a shiny new one) and I remember telling my coworker I didn’t feel right. She told me I was probably overtired and that whatever I was feeling was probably psychosomatic since we knew we had likely been exposed. My heart was racing, I was sweating (it was 30 something degrees out and I was in a basement that wasn’t too warm), and my head was pounding. I drank some water and continued my day as there was about an hour left. As I was leaving work, I said to my coworker, “see you in 10 to 14 days” just knowing. She laughed and told me I was nuts. That night, I made a lovely meal for my boyfriend (now fiance, we’ll get there) and I from a new cookbook I had. Man, no matter how much garlic I put in there, I couldn’t smell it. Now I really started panicking. It was time to eat – couldn’t taste it. FULL panic and feelings of impending doom set in. The next morning when I woke up – I could feel my heartbeat through my whole body, my lungs were absolutely FILLED with phlegm, and I had a high fever. Off I went for a COVID test, already knowing what my fate would be, and the following day I got the call saying I was positive for the COVID-19 virus and that my local board of health would be contacting me. It took 9 days for my heart rate to reduce from the 130/140s… I thought I was going to stroke out at 26 years old. It took me approximately 10 days to feel well enough to return to work and normal life, although it took 3 months to regain my taste and smell. I think that was the worst part of my experience, if you ask me, because I love food, especially my daily coffee. I was a sad, sad camper. I became very fond of Tabasco sauce during this time as it was the ONLY thing I could taste – only because it left a zing on the tongue! LOL

After my own COVID experience, I returned to work and, let me tell you, it was the worst experience of my entire life. Working in long-term care pulls at your heartstrings on a daily basis as it is, but when your residents can’t see their loved ones, are taking their last breaths alone with just you by their side, are dying by the day, it only sets you up for heartbreak. All I have to say is – to anyone out there that lost a loved one to COVID-19, my heart is with you. This virus was nothing we expected or were ready to handle.

My heart aches just seeing this and remembering how I felt.
Can I just say… those plastic face shields HURT.

In July of 2020, I finally completed the last of my 11 operations for my skin graft removal. It was a painful two years of medical treatments, but so worth it. I am so happy with the results and can’t wait to put my new body to use when I am pregnant someday… which will hopefully be within the next couple of years because……..

In July of 2020, I said yes to being Mrs. Cousineau! Photo by: @stephanieberensonphotography

Then, in February, 2021, we decided to pack up our little life in the tiny apartment we had dwelled in for 3 years and we moved down the east coast to Florida to join my family! We couldn’t be happier. While it was quite an adjustment period when we first came down, we are thriving and can’t wait to soon buy our first home and finally tie the knot!

What a whirlwind of a couple years it has been! And yes, I am still a total bibliophile – I read the entire Harry Potter series (yes, finally as an adult, yes) and it was amazing! I was gifted a Kindle Paperwhite (https://amzn.to/3lxvVJp) for my birthday and I have been LOVING it! For Amazon Prime members, Prime Reading is amazing! There are a slew of free books offered monthly for prime members and it’s great for bibliophiles like me who either don’t know what to read and don’t want to spend money on a “maybe,” or if you simply can’t afford a book.

I can’t wait to continue blogging and doing some book reviews! Follow me on GoodReads to see what I’m reading now šŸ™‚

Tidying Up for Spring!

I’ve been on this roll lately where all I want to do is clean! I used to be really lackadaisical about certain things that my mom was always super uptight about – a dish in the sink, random things on the table/counter, miscellaneous clutter…

NOW…Ā I DON’T KNOW WHY… all I do is clean. I wake up and I’m itching to wipe things down, clean my sink and counters, clean the bathroom, vacuum, do laundry… and I feel like it never ends.

I’m not dirty, nor have I ever been dirty. I’m more… messy, if you will.

I recently stumbled uponĀ Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix after I saw her appear on The Ellen Show. First of all – Marie Kondo is the most adorable little thing on the planet. If I were as tiny as her, some small clutter would probably overwhelm me too… nonetheless, she has great tips for everyone!

I’ve always been sort of a clothing hoarder… I never was able to really go shopping when I was growing up. I had the same clothes forever and IĀ lived off hand-me-downs. I guess I’ve always had some sort of attachment to clothing with an underlying thought that if I get rid of an item, I’ll never have anything like it again.

Wrong-o. I don’t need them all. I don’t need 15 white tank tops, half that look like I’ve had them since I was 15 myself (which is very likely…). I don’t need knit sweaters from 2007 that have more holes in them that were originally there. I don’t need combat boots from 2009 with a zipper that barely works anymore. I can get a new pair. I don’t need t-shirts from events and concerts from 2004. Those take up a whole drawer…

So… let the purge begin! Out go the clothes.. in go the… drawer and closet fresheners? I can’t afford a new wardrobe right now, let’s be real. But I can live with what I’ve got.

I’m also obsessed with mopping my floors. I feel like they can never be clean enough. Is this a new found OCD I have?

What are your organization hacks? What kind of purging are you doing in your house this season? Talk to me!

Happy Tuesday!

Been Awhile…

Well… hello!

It’s been a bit since I’ve blogged, which is sad, if I do say so myself. I guess I got caught up with my surgeries, the holidays, school, etc… but here I am.

I honestly can’t even say I’ve been reading too much on this blogging hiatus either! I can’t even say I’ve read at all… I’m currently readingĀ Accidental Heroes by Danielle Steel and am loving it. I purchased it right before flying on a plane… that was a bad idea, but nonetheless, it’s a great read so far. I’ll let you know how I feel about it in the end.

I am about to start my next round of surgery, but my goal is toĀ not go on a hiatus from blogging, but rather use blogging as an outlet and a way to fill my free time. I promise to read too. I can’t remember the last time I went this long without reading a book… yikes.

Instead of reading, I’ve turned into a couch potato and have become a total Hulu and Netflix junkie.

I’veĀ binged:

Grey’s Anatomy (of course, not for the first time)

Friends (probably for the 19th time)

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (yup, I know)

Real Housewives of New York (…this one too, yup)

The Fosters

Switched at Birth

I’veĀ started to watch:

Say Yes to the Dress

90 Day Fiance (that sh*t is crazy!)

Good Trouble

My 600-lb Life (yeah, those TLC shows are racking up here)

Movies I’ve watched recently (whether for the first time or the 90th time):

Ted/Ted 2

Bad Moms

Girls Trip

Forrest Gump

Saving Private Ryan

Dunkirk

I Feel Pretty

The Proposal

Princess Diaries 1&2

The Town

The Departed (I’m from Boston… 2 Boston movies in a row is acceptable)

The 40 Year Old Virgin

 

….That’s not even all of them… and it was a lot… I think I should hit the books…

What’s everyone reading??? I want to hear!

Happy Saturday!

Long Time, No Post! (Ft. Review of The Identicals)

HELLO!

I am sincerely sorry for my absence. No one likes a blogger who’s inconsistent and doesn’t post… but when depression strikes, everything is left behind.

SO… what have I been up to?Ā Well…

Last week I readĀ The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand… in approximately… 8 hours total?

AWESOME read. Honestly, probably one of her best ones. I am an avid Elin Hilderbrand fan – the only books of hers I haven’t read are her winter short stories andĀ Silver Girl, which I just picked up at my library today! Oh andĀ Winter in Paradise, but it’s new enough that it’s acceptable that I haven’t read it yet… and the library didn’t have it so… boooooo šŸ˜¦

Here is my Goodreads review!

The IdenticalsThe Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Physically identical, but polar opposite personalities.

Hilderbrand depicts a story of identical twins Tabitha and Harper Frost who were separated from each other when their parents decided to divorce as they went to college. Before they left, the two played a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who was going with their father Billy and who was staying with their high-strung, money hungry, designer mother Eleanor Roxie-Frost.

That game of rock-paper-scissors changed their lives forever.

Separated by 11 miles of ocean, Harper resides on Martha’s Vineyard with her father while Tabitha resides on Nantucket with her mother and her 16 year old daughter Ansley. When tragedy strikes the family, it’s time to reconnect and work together as a family to get through their hardship.

After 14 years apart (with a small meet-up in the middle when Tabitha had struggles with a premature baby), Tabitha and Harper are forced to reckon with their past and have each other’s backs. Will they reconcile or will it all blow up in shambles?

Hilderbrand writes, yet again, another novel that pulls your heartstrings and keeps you turning the pages. As a long-time fan of Hilderbrand, I have to say this was one of my favorites. One of my favorite things about Hilderbrand is that she knows Nantucket and the state of Massachusetts so well that when she writes a setting in her story, it is so ecclecticly vibrant in description that you feel like you’re right there in the story.

View all my reviews

 

I recently decided to obtain a library card because I am currently unemployed due to medical reasons and I can no longer afford my book obsession. Today, I had myself a little library mini-haul.

What did I pick up?

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Silver GirlĀ by Elin Hilderbrand

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Finding Emotional Balance: A Guide for Women by Merry Noel Miller

 

Some may think – that last one seems a little out of place considering the genre of the other three. I decided to pick it up becuase I am currently experiencing one of the worst bouts of depression in all my years of life. Sometimes, not even a book can take me away from the reality of it all like it usually does for me. I had to do something… So I’ve decided to start with that one. So far, so good. I’ve only read 42 pages and I’m completely enlightened about the woman’s body and mind. I don’t feel out of place or alone; so many others are going through exactly what I am.

I was readingĀ All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner… I did not finish (although I probably will at some point because one of my pet peeves is leaving a book unfinished regardless of whether or not I enjoyed it). I ordinarily adore and admireĀ Weiner’s writing, but this one seemed redundant more than anything.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you, especially during this tough time.

Happy Friday! TGIF

xo – liv

Reviews of A Spark of Light and How To Walk Away

Wow, it’s been about a week since I’ve posted. I’ve been recovering from my surgery and busy with school and honestly hadn’t truly noticed how much time was passing.

Also, during this busy time, I’ve been reading, reading, and reading.

In the past 6 days I read Jodi Picoult’s A Spark of Light and Katherine Center’s How to Walk Away.

Both were complete life-sucking pageturners, so, clearly I’ve been occupied.

Here are my Goodreads reviews!

A Spark of Light

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a longtime fan of Jodi Picoult, I was pretty excited to pick up this one. Picoult writes a thrilling story that attacks a very controversial issue: abortion. I loved every character in this story. Wren, a 16 year old girl who’s just exploring the world of sexual activity and adulthood… Bex, Wren’s aunt who steps in as a motherly figure, only to find herself thrown into the woes of a gunman in the clinic where Wren asked to go. Olive, the 60 year old lesbian who is sweeter than apple pie along with Izzy the young nurse, Dr. Ward, the abortion doctor, Janine the activist and Joy who has just received her abortion and of course, Hugh McElroy. I love that each individual character was completely different, but all connected due to the subject of pregnancy, abortion, or and the clinic. This nailbiting story, I’m sure, hit hearts of many readers.
My only reason for 4 stars was due to the fact the novel was written in reverse order. I never quite understood the main reason as to why it was written backwards. But, nonetheless, great read!

How to Walk Away

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can I give it 6 stars?
This novel made me laugh, cry, smile, and feel raw emotions that I’ve never felt.

Margaret Jacobsen is a 28 year old, hard-working MBA grad who has just (about) landed a dream job. Totally in love with her long-time boyfriend Chip, she envisions a beautiful life with him. Until tragedy strikes. After a lifetime fear of flying, Margaret is convinced by Chip to go up for a special ride in a Cessna, as he is just about to become an official pilot. As their life together is truly about to begin, they approach a storm and their new story begins.

Throughout the novel, Center provides readers with stories of healing, family drama, falling out of love and back in again, and my favorite, a sisterly love that recreates itself from shambles to an inseparable bond.

A story of love, heartbreak, tragedy, and family, this page-turner is worth every minute.

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Today I’ll be delving into my schoolwork like a ravenous beast because it’s the end of the term and all my final papers are due! After that I will continue reading The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand, which I’m sure I’ll be hooked on as well.

Happy Thursday!

xo – liv

Three Bookish Things Tag!

I haven’t posted in a couple days – I had a funeral to attend, then I had food poisoning, and I’m having complications from surgery so I have to go back into the operating room on Tuesday. (Bleh, please send healing vibes)

I wanted to post today, but really have no energy for thinking up an entire post and typing it out… SO…

I saw this post onĀ Kris’ Boston Book BloggerĀ site and it looked super fun and I figured I can do that today!

SO here it goes…

THREE READ ONCE AND LOVED AUTHORS
  • Dorothy Garlock
  • Kristin Hannah
  • Jennifer Weiner
THREE TITLES Iā€™VE WATCHED BUT HAVENā€™T READ
THREE CHARACTERS YOU LOVE
  • Olivia Marsten (Take Me Home)
  • Oskar Schell (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
  • Blue (Blue)

 

THREE SERIESā€™ BINGED
THREE UNPOPULAR BOOKISH OPINIONS
  • I’m not a fan of book series, like I just mentioned
  • I actually hate when books become movies, especially if I have already read it.
  • I am not a Kindle fan. At all. I’ve had a NOOK for 8 years. Not sorry!

THREE CURRENT FAVOURITE BOOK COVERS
  • Plan out my blog posts rather than trying to attempt at random
  • Don’t bite off more than I can chew
  • Meet some fellow bloggers/gain more followers!

 

I am not tagging anyone because I have a feeling most of the people I would tag have already done this book tag! Feel free to take it, just mention me so I can see! šŸ™‚

Happy Friday! TGIF!

xo – liv

New Week, New Month, New Post!

October 1st… already?!

Anyone else feel like we were just ringing in the New Year?

Time flies. With that being said, we are entering my favorite month of the year because I love the weather here in New England. The leaves begin to turn their rustic reds and oranges, the air starts to cool down, perfect weather for apple picking, football games, and walks or hikes in the woods!

So, to start this month off, I am going to finish reading the 3 books I recently began and then place a list I want to check off from my TBR by the end of the month! I am a full-time student, so as much as I want to finish all of these books, I know that might end up being really hard and impossible.

Currently Reading

Heron’s Landing – A Honemoon Harbor Novel – By JoAnn Ross

Paperback – Amazon

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As of a week ago, I mentioned in my post that I wasn’t thoroughly enjoying the story and that it wasn’t drawing me in. I take that back. I actually love the story. The only problem I have is that there are way too many characters right off the bat. I felt like I had to write them down in order to keep them all straight. I’m just about halfway through the novel and I’ve probably met or met the idea of over 10-12 characters. Many of them are accessory and don’t matter to the true, raw story. Otherwise, yes, love the story, her writing is very descriptive and gives you some of those feels, and I cannot wait to hear how it ends!

Two By Two – By Nicholas Sparks

Audiobook – Google Play (I have provided the link for Amazon’s audiobook)

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 1.51.44 PM.png

Currently loving this story, but the audiobook narrator is a little cut and dry. I have a feeling I would have finished it quicker had I read it on paper. I find myself rewinding sometimes because his voice drowned me out. BUT… the story a heart-pulling story of tough love, family struggles, and the strife of raising a child in a troubled marriage. I look foward to finishing the story, not the audiobook itself.

I also just started a novel by Jill Sanders Return to Me that I downloaded from NetGalley. It is #7 of a series, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the understanding of the story. I downloaded the ebook just to read the prologue before I went on to something else in my day and before I realized it was 25 minutes later and I was chapters in. Completely immersed into the story. DEFINITELY looking forward to swimming further to that painful story.

Once I finish those three… my goal is to dive head first into these three that were in my GoodReads recs.

To Be Read

Please, Daddy, No – By Stuart Howarth – this novel stuck out to me with its cover alone, making me click on the title and read the description. A story of overcoming the depths of child abuse, this is one I’m sure to be hooked on. I couldn’t put David Peltzer’s A Child Called It down for a second, so if this is any similar, which the description (click the link) provides it to be, I’m in trouble!

How to Walk Away – By Katherine Center – this one was not only on my GoodReads recs, but it’s EVERYWHERE. I’ve seen it on umpteen vlogs, blogs, and GoodReads profiles, so safe to say, it’s just on my list for sake of following suit of a good read (I hope). It has almost 5 stars, so let’s give it a go.

The Mother-In-Law – By Sally Hepworth – I always love a good murder mystery, especially when it involves a family twist. Rated on GoodReads with 4.7 stars and described as “A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…” it sounds like a juicy one for my TBR!

Update: I’m a moron. Hepworth’s book isn’t even out till 2019 so looks like I’ll be searching for another read for my October TBR!

What are you reading? Has anyone read any of these? Let me know! I’d love to hear your opinions!

Happy Monday and Happy October!

xo – liv

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Featured photo credit thanks to unsplash.com

Time Management… Any Planner Tips?

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BOY am I HORRIBLE at time management.

Mostly attirbuting to my laziness or carelessness, but also greatly due to lack of motivation.

I’ve been obsessed with planners/agendas my entire life. My go-to planner for years has been theĀ Day Designer for Blue Sky. I find it affordable for a planner (they can be upwards of, like, $70! I love planners, but I kinda love my bank account a little more). Not only affordable, but definitely has a lot to offer! There are sections for yearly goals, achievements, monthly plans and reviews, contacts, birthdays, and more. There are monthly calendar layouts and also weekly layouts. I’ve been using this planner since the beginning of college (circa, 2012) and love it!

If I weren’t a broke college student, I wouldĀ definitelyĀ purchase theĀ Erin Condren LifePlanner. They can be purchased on Amazon or you can personalize one online on her websiteĀ ErinCondren.com.

Now… some people might be thinking, “what about bullet journals?”

LOVE the idea of bullet journals, but my artistic skill level is subpar to that of a preschooler’s. I’m constantly scrollingĀ PinterestĀ and looking at/re-pinning bullet journal pins and I’ll sit there and drool over them. Then I will make up this idea in my head that I will start one! The minute I begin to come up with an idea and put the pen to the paper, it’s game over. I can’t draw. I’m not creative. I may be creative and eloquent with words, but not artistically with drawing, painting, crocheting, none of that.

Physically, I was an artist my entire life. I was a dancer – I attended college for dance. So yes, I’m creative, but not when it comes to creating images on paper.

How many of you out there make and follow bullet journals? I’d love to see your ideas and hear your inspiration!

When it comes to my planner, I’m always really excited to fill it out, but I’m really bad at actually following what I wrote down. Any tips?

I sometimes become lazy and recently, since my surgery, I’ve become very isolated and lonely and my depression has kicked in. My motivation and time-management are totally depleted. Any advice?

I’d love to hear from some of you and see your ideas!

Happy Sunday!

xo – liv