what I’m reading: the bookish life of nina hill by abbi waxman.

Nina Hill lives an organized and scheduled life. She works in a bookstore, plays on a trivia team, runs her book clubs, and has a cat named Phil. Every second of her day is scheduled and even her time where she has nothing to do is actually earmarked for reading. When the father that she never knew dies and leaves her an inheritance, her life is invaded by a gaggle of relatives – none of which fit into her agenda. Add in the cute guy that plays on an opposing trivia team, and Nina’s carefully scheduled life starts to fall apart.

I loved this book. I loved the character of Nina. I loved her organization. I loved that she talks to her cat. I loved spending time with Nina and I felt like she was a kindred spirit. She is a huge bookworm and is always thinking about books, talking about books, or spouting off random knowledge. She is a bit quirky but I found her, most of the time, to be charming.

This book was super fun to read and I think I had a smile on my face the entire time. There are plenty of pop culture references (maybe too many?) and scenes of Nina working in the bookstore. Her imagination runs rampant, probably because she spends so much time reading. I loved that, at its heart, this book is about Nina coming to terms with the fact that she may be missing out on enjoying things because she is in her book bubble.

The majority of the chapters are broken up with pages of Nina’s day planner. I enjoyed seeing the way her priorities and life changed as the novel went on. I think I might have to get a planner like her’s.

I will say that Nina’s new family was a bit confusing. There were so many people and it was a bit challenging to try to keep everyone and their relationships with Nina straight. I also felt like the ending of the book was a bit rushed.  I would have liked to have another chapter or two.

I liked this book a lot. It was a delightful read and one that I’m sure book lovers and introverts will adore.

To check out other reviews, find this book on goodreads or amazon. Please note, all links are affiliate which gives a small portion of profit to Rainy Days and Clichés. Thank you so much for your continuous kindness!

books I will probably never read.

There are so many books out there in the literary world to be read. If you are anything like me, your to be read list is pages and pages long. And just as there are so many books that I want to read, there are also many books that I probably will never read for one reason or another. Whether I’ve changed my mind or the book doesn’t sound interesting to me, there are some books that I just can’t entice myself to read.

Here are 10 books that I will probably never read:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – I’ve wanted to read this book for so long. I’m pretty sure it’s about a love affair and there is a train involved somewhere. I’ve tried to read it but I just end up falling asleep so I think I’ll have to take this one off my to be read list.

Emma by Jane Austen – I love all the Jane Austen movies and miniseries adaptations and I’ve tried to read this book so many times but again, I always find myself falling asleep. I think Jane Austen is fun to watch but maybe not so fun to read.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – I know this book is one of the most popular books but I’ve seen the movie and have no desire to read 1,000 pages of racism.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – There was a class at my high school who were required to read this book. Luckily, I was not in that class. This book just seems like a book that teachers make you read and then analyze, which takes all the fun out of reading and is why I will probably never read this book.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I thought this book sounded interesting when it came out but I never read it. It’s over 700 pages and I realized that I’m just not interested in reading it anymore.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – I just won’t read this book. I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school but I didn’t love it. I’m not interested enough to read this sequel.

It by Stephen King – I definitely went through a Stephen King phase in high school and college but I never got around to reading It, probably because I thought it would be too scary. I absolutely still have this opinion.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – I confess that I don’t think I’ll ever read this book because even though so many people love it, the plotline of a girl left alone in a swamp to fend for herself reminds me too much of the book Swamplandia! which I hated. I know my reasoning is a bit irrational because I suspect the plots of the two books are nothing alike, but I can’t help how I feel.

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon – I really, really, really want to read this series but it is so long! It is so many books and so many pages. Maybe I will read this series sometime in the future but, right now in 2020, I can’t see myself investing in all the time needed to read these books anytime soon.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan – I’ve had this book on my to be read list for at least 10 years. I like food and I thought this book would be compelling. But I haven’t read it in all these years and I think I gave away my copy of the book so I must not be interested in reading this book.

As always, these are just my opinions. If you’d like to make a case for a book or if there are books you will probably never read, let me know in the comments!

what I’m reading: the secret she keeps by helenkay dimon.

Connor Rye was just looking to relax when he arrived on Whitaker Island. When he is attacked on his first night there, he doesn’t see much relaxing in his future. Maddie Rhine is hiding from her past and after receiving threatening letters from an unknown person, she doesn’t know who to trust, especially the new stranger on the island who she may have just hit over the head. But when Connor finds out that Maddie is in real danger, he vows to help her

This was an enjoyable romantic suspense. It is the second book in a series (the first book is about Connor’s brother) but I had no trouble following the story. I don’t know how many characters in the first book showed up in this second book but everyone was adequately introduced and explained so I didn’t feel like I was missing any information.

The mystery revolves around who is sending Maddie the mysterious notes. I did think it a little odd that Connor, who is a businessman/engineer and doesn’t know Maddie, volunteered to protect her but I guess I could get behind the idea that he was intrigued by her and that’s why he got involved. It is clear that Maddie is in hiding, but from whom and why is not clear. Her story slowly comes out over the course of the book although I wasn’t sure why she was so reluctant to tell the chief of police and Connor, the two people keeping her safe, why she was in hiding.

I loved the setting of Whitaker Island. It’s a privately owned island located somewhere off the coast of Washington. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out where this island would be located if it were real – apparently, there is an abandoned prison on one side of the island, it snows, and the ferry from Seattle makes two weekly runs. It seems like a small community – Connor even mentions there are 219 people on the island – but yet it’s also big enough to have a yacht club.

I liked this book and will probably check out more by this author.

To check out other reviews, find this book on goodreads or amazon. Please note, all links are affiliate which gives a small portion of profit to Rainy Days and Clichés. Thank you so much for your continuous kindness!

all the questions I have about the great british baking show.

One of the shows that I’ve watched on repeat during the pandemic is The Great British Baking Show. I love baking so this show is right up my alley.

I’ve watched all the seasons available on Netflix, including the holiday specials and the Masterclasses. I love the bad puns by the hosts, I love when a contestant gets a handshake from Paul, and I love all the baking disasters.

And even though I’ve watched all the available episodes many times, I still have some lingering questions:

What is up with the crazy weather?

I looked it up online and found out that, from seasons 5-10 (which are the seasons available on Netflix), the show was filmed at a home called Welford Park in Newbury, Berkshire. For the most recent 2020 season (season 11), the filming location was moved to Down Hall Hotel in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. Now, I’ve never been to southern England (where according to a map both of these locations are) but from what I can tell from the show, the weather is extremely inclement there. In one episode, it will be pouring rain and everyone is wearing jackets and scarves and then the next week will be the hottest day of the year. I find this bizarre. I understand that the weather can change, but it seems like it fluctuates so much on this show.

What is the point of having the contestants wear the same clothes over the course of an episode?

I think everyone knows that each episode covers a span of two days. The contestants clearly discuss how they did yesterday or what they are going to do tomorrow. I guess I just don’t understand the reasoning behind wearing the same clothes (and the same hairstyle and jewelry) on both days. It’s not a secret that each episode consists of two days. Plus, I’ve always wondered if everyone is allowed to wash their clothes in between wearing them. What if one of the contestants spills food all over what they are wearing?

How big is the electricity bill and how do they get so much electricity out to the tent?

There must be so many generators and extension cords that are going to that tent to be able to keep everyone’s appliances going. You figure each contestant has their own stove, multiple mixers, and bread warmers. There are refrigerator/freezes along the sides of the tent, as well as microwaves in the back. Plus, all of the crew has to be able to run their equipment. I just can’t imagine what the electricity bill looks like.

What happens to the leftovers?

I love the challenges where each baker has to make 24 cinnamon rolls and then Paul and Prue (or Paul and Mary depending on which season you are watching) come by and eat one. What happens to the leftover food? Do the contestants get to eat it? Does the crew get to eat it? What if it is not great (as some are)? Does it get thrown out? Does the production even provide catering since everyone can just eat what the contestants make that day? What if someone just happens to be a visitor on the day they are filming – can they eat the leftover food (asking for a friend)?

How do the bakers know so much about all the different bakes they are asked to create?

Look, I know about bread. And I know about brownies and cake and cookies. But some of these bakes the contestants are asked to bake I’ve never even heard of, such as steamed pudding, choux buns, tarte Tatin, Battenberg cake, and mille-feuille. Do the contestants already know what these things are or do they have to look them up? I’m just curious because every contestant seems as if they are so knowledgeable.

And what exactly is sponge?

Even though I’ve watched all the episodes more than once, I still don’t know what sponge is. Is it just a British way of saying cake? Is it cake but made with different ingredients? All I know is that they keep saying sponge and I keep thinking of that squishy thing you use to clean your dishes.

How many pairs of glasses does Prue have?

If only I had as many pairs of glasses as Prue.

what I’m reading: fitness junkie by lucy sykes and jo piazza.

Janey Sweet is the CEO of a couture wedding design firm that she runs with her childhood best friend Beau. After being photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a pastry and looking a bit thick, Beau forces Janey on a sabbatical until she loses 30 pounds. Janey spends the next few months trying all kinds of diets and exercise to lose weight, save her job, and get her best friend back.

I didn’t think I would like this book as much as I did. It took me a bit to get into it because I couldn’t figure out if the story was meant to be taken seriously or not. Was I was supposed to laugh at the characters eating clay as part of a diet or going to naked yoga? But once I got a few chapters in I started to like this book a lot.

The story mocks the ridiculous lengths people will go to get and stay thin. It’s absurd and relatable all at the same time.

I found Janey to be a likable character. She was a bit naive (even I could see that Beau was the villain within the first ten pages) but she persists. She knows all these fitness workouts and diets are a bit out there but she does them anyway because she loves her job and wants to get back to work. I don’t think I ever heard her make fun of anyone and she wasn’t one of those characters who mocked or sneered at people who were thinner than her.

I really liked, what I thought, what this book was about. In the end, the story is not about losing weight at all. In fact, we never find out how much Janey weighs or how much weight she gained or lost. Rather, the book is more self-introspective and about Janey figuring out who she is and what she want’s to do with her life. It’s also about friendships and how friendships can evolve for better or worse over time.

Although I wouldn’t try any of the diets or workouts in this book, I enjoyed reading about them and about Janey’s journey.

To check out other reviews, find this book on goodreads or amazon. Please note, all links are affiliate which gives a small portion of profit to Rainy Days and Clichés. Thank you so much for your continuous kindness!

5 book rules it’s okay to break.

Let’s face it. I bet if you ask any reader they can tell you about an unwritten book rule that they cannot break. It might be never lending out books (because you never get them back!) or never folding down the top of a page (who would do something like that!) or only reading physical books (because of the smell!). But some book rules are made to be broken.

Here are 5 book rules that I think are ok to break:

1. Book series should be read in order.

It’s not always necessary to read a book series in order. In fact, some books can work as a stand-alone, and sometimes it’s even easier to read books out of order. I’ve found that if a book is a romance and each book in the series has different lead characters, you don’t have to read these books in order. Series where each book has a driving plot that is resolved, or where character arcs are resolved by the end of the book, are okay to be read out of order because the books in the series don’t necessarily depend on each other.

2. You should finish every book you begin reading.

It took me a long time to let go of this rule and it’s one I still find hard to break. But if a book is not entertaining you or grabbing your attention, stop reading! Life is too short and there are too many good books out there to waste time reading something that is boring you. Sometimes I make a rule that if I am not into a book by a specific page or chapter, then I’ll put it down. There’s nothing worse than reading a book because you feel like you have to.

3. Books should be read from beginning to end.

I’m one of those people that skips around in books and if I am dying to find out what happens in a book, I will read the end before I’ve finished the book. As long as you are okay with knowing what happens, it’s perfectly fine to read the ending. For so many people it’s not about the conclusion of a book but getting to the conclusion. For example, we know that almost all romance novels are going to end in happily ever after but the real joy is getting to that happy ending. So go ahead and skip around and read the ending first.

4. You should only read one book at a time.

There are many different ways to read and if you can focus on multiple things, it might be good to read more than one book at a time. This is especially handy if you are reading more than one genre. Reading more than one book at a time can give you the chance to balance out emotional reads with light-hearted ones. You can read a non-fiction novel and a fiction novel at the same time. If you are finding one book to be a bit of a slog, you can take a break and focus on something more enjoyable. You can listen to one book on audio when you’re out for a walk, click through a book on your e-reader when running errands, and read a physical book when you’re laying in bed at night.

5. Teen fiction is only for teens.

Just because you are not a teen anymore doesn’t mean you can’t read teen novels. Where would we be if only teenagers read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games or any of the other great young adult novels out there? Some of the best books are written by young adult authors. I would even consider Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird to be teen books that are beloved by everyone. There are a lot of young adult novels that are truly good with good writing. Just because they are intended for young adults doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyable for people of all ages.

Q: What are some book rules you think are okay to break?

what I’m reading: radio silence by alyssa cole.

When the power goes out and stays out, Arden and her best friend John decide to leave their apartment in New York and travel to his parents’ cabin near the Canadian border. When they are attacked by vagrants on their way, they are saved by John’s older brother Gabriel. At the cabin, Arden learns that John’s parents are missing and while they have a stockpile of food, no one knows what is happening or if the power will ever come back on. They have no contact with the outside world and Arden has no way to get in touch with her parents, who are in California, to see if they are even alive. Plus there is the added diversion of Gabriel who although comes across as a controlling jerk, Arden starts to see him in a different light and realizes there is a thin line between love and hate.

I really enjoyed the first chapter of this book. There is suspense and action as Arden and John are attacked by the vagrants and Gabriel comes to save them. But that’s about it. We are just thrown into the middle of the story, which I was not expecting and found a bit jarring. We don’t know why Arden and John have been attacked or why they are on foot in the middle of the woods.

The rest of the book was a bit of a disappointment. First off, the book is less than 300 pages which in my opinion, is a bit short. If there were 100 more pages that contained more plot, I would have loved that. Because honestly, I felt that there wasn’t much plot here. The book starts when Arden and John had already made the trek and are almost at John’s parents’ cabin. I would have liked to read about what happened in New York when the power went out and everything leading up to them leaving their apartment. Instead, we only get a couple of sentences here and there about how there was looting and there was no food. I felt like we missed the bulk of the action.

And I guess that’s what I was expecting with an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic book – action. There was not a lot of action. This book is mainly about four people in a cabin, which I guess is a different kind of action? It is more about the relationships of people who are hiding out in a cabin rather than what is going on in the outside world. We see Arden, John, Gabriel, and Maggie (John and Gabriel’s younger sister) figuring out what to eat and how to occupy their time while they are waiting at the cabin. If that is what you want to read about, then you will love this book!

This book is the first in a trilogy. The other two books follow John and Maggie as they try to find their own way in this post-apocalyptic world. I think you do find out what caused the power outage in John’s book so if you want to find out the cause you might want to read the next book in the series.

To check out other reviews, find this book on goodreads or amazon. Please note, all links are affiliate which gives a small portion of profit to Rainy Days and Clichés. Thank you so much for your continuous kindness!

october wrap up: voting and adventures in babysitting.

Well, we made it through another month. I feel like I’ve been saying that phrase at the end of every month this year. It feels like 2020 is in competition for the longest year ever, right?  Here is my monthly wrap up of some of the things I’ve watched, eaten or drank, or just loved for the month of October.

What I’m watching:
I was looking for something to watch when I came across one of my favorite 80’s movies – Adventures in Babysitting. I love this movie. This movie stars Elisabeth Shue and has one of the best opening sequences ever when she is lipsyncing to “Then He Kissed Me”. There are so many great scenes including when they sing at the blues club, the gang fight on the L-train, the fraternity house party, and everything that happens to Brenda at the bus station. It is a must-watch for me!

What I’m eating:
October means Halloween which means I’m eating Halloween candy. Look, I’m one of those people that loves candy corn. Yes, it is just sugar but I love it all the same. And Halloween seems to be the only time it is acceptable to eat this sugary treat. I also love the Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins. There is some debate as to whether the pumpkins or the Christmas trees taste better and for me, it is the pumpkins. I’ve got about a bag and a half of the pumpkins in my refrigerator and you bet I will be rationing those out over the next couple of weeks!

What I’m loving:
If you are in the U.S., please get out and vote! We are so lucky to live in a democracy where we can exercise our right to choose our leaders. It’s so important that everyone gets their ballots in and has their voice heard. I don’t care who you’re voting for, just please vote! I live in Washington state so we have mail-in voting here. I dropped my ballot off at the ballot box a couple of weeks ago to make sure there was time to get my ballot counted. Your vote matters so let’s all get out and vote!!

See you next month!

custard apple squares.

I had a bunch of apples that I brought back from my apple picking excursion at The Farm at Swan’s Trail. I knew I wanted to use them to make some sort of apple-themed bake but I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to make.

Then, I found this recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Custardy Apple Squares. It sounded delicious so I gathered my tools and ingredients and set out to make these custard squares.

Dorie Greenspan is an American cookbook author. She has published numerous cookbooks with a number that focus on just desserts. Her website is a great read.

This particular recipe for custardy apple squares can also be found on Dorie’s website here. The recipe is fairly simple and does not use a lot of ingredients. I was actually quite perplexed how the squares would actually bake up, considering that only 1/2 cup of flour is called for. But then I realized that this recipe is not supposed to be a cake or brownie texture, but rather apple slices with little layers of custard in between.

It is a quick recipe to mix up. What took me the longest was actually slicing my apples on the mandoline. But even that didn’t take too long and soon I was pulling these apple squares out of the oven.

The tops of my custard apple squares browned a lot more than the example picture in the recipe showed. I left them in the oven for 40 minutes (the recipe calls for them to bake from 40-50 minutes) so I’m not sure if my oven runs hot or that’s just how mine turned out. These squares are definitely all apple. They were a little tough to cut because I was trying to cut through the apple slices but I just sawed away with my knife.

I was a bit disappointed after eating these because I thought the squares had very little flavor. I had left the squares cool for a bit before I ate them so I’m not sure if these are meant to be eaten warm (would that bring out the flavor of the apples more?) however the recipe does state they can be eaten hot or cold. Maybe my apples were not very favorable? I guess I was expecting these to taste more like apple pie filling. Maybe if I make them again I’ll add some cinnamon to the mix.

I will say that the smells from my oven were mouth-watering!

what I’m reading: home before dark by riley sager.

When Maggie Holt was 5 years old, she and her family lived at Baneberry Hall. They only lived there for 3 weeks until they were forced to leave by the supernatural spirits in the house, at least according to Maggie’s father and the best-selling book he wrote of their time in the home. When her dad dies, she discovers that not only did he never sell Baneberry Hall but that he still returns there once a year and now Maggie has inherited the property. Maggie was too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book; she has never believed his stories about the haunted house and her mother has never spoken about it. It’s been 25 years since she last stepped foot in the house but now Maggie will return to Baneberry Hall to figure out what happened there all those years ago.

I really liked this story. I was not intending to read something scary during October, but this book came up on my library holds so I went ahead and checked it out. I’m glad I did because I found it to be an enjoyable read.

This is a ghost story. It’s also a book within a book. The chapters alternate between the present – Maggie returning to Baneberry Hall – and chapters from the novel that Maggie’s father wrote about the three weeks or so that the family lived in the haunted house. I definitely found her father’s book to be highly entertaining and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out if any of it was true. It was frightening and this might be a spoiler, but there was a part in the book with snakes that I found to be truly horrific. If I were Maggie, I would not have stayed in Baneberry Hall alone, haunted or not!

The book does have a bit of a slow start. But after Maggie’s been at Baneberry Hall for a few days and starts noticing things happening around her, it starts to pick up.

I thought this book had just the right amount of creepy in it. There were definitely times when I was wondering, “Should I be reading this at night in the dark?” I told myself that if I got too scared then I would put the book down. Luckily it never got too spooky for me, which is a surprise because I do not like scary movies about haunted houses. There is some paranormal in this book but a lot of it is more on the psychological thriller side.

I thought this was a fun book with lots of twists and a good read for the Halloween season.

To check out other reviews, find this book on goodreads or amazon. Please note, all links are affiliate which gives a small portion of profit to Rainy Days and Clichés. Thank you so much for your continuous kindness!