Category Archives: Books/Novels

Fashionistas Read Too: Top 5 Books I Read in 2014

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I read quite a bit in 2014…During that time I discovered some new authors and genres that I’d like to share with you all. Here are my top 5 books of 2014:

  1. Saga (Graphic Novel, Volumes 1-4) by Brian K.Vaughn and Fiona Staples – This was the first graphic novel series I’ve ever read and it is AMAZING! Not only is the storyline intriguing, but the art work is incredible. Simply put, Saga is about a family that is on the run. Alana and Marko come from different sides of warring planets. They decide to abandon the war effort and focus their energies on their child, Hazel. Their daughter, the narrator of the entire series, is considered to be an abomination. Therefore, the entire family is being hunted. Saga is often referred to as a sci-fi Romeo and Juliet sort of story…I know, I know, it sounds crazy but trust me, it is well worth the hype.
  2. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – I read this book in a day…Although she is the daughter of a single mother, Cadence Sinclair has everything she could ever want. Every summer she and her mother escape to her grandparents’ private island where she spends most of her time with her cousins. She typically looks forward to summers, until something strange happens and changes the way Cadence views herself, her family, and their fortune. I am being a bit ambiguous because anymore information than that will ruin the book for you…Just trust me, it’s worth the read.
  3. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas – This fast-paced YA thriller is a must read. Basically, it is a story about a group of friends/teens who go on vacation together to Aruba for Spring Break. They are having an amazing time until their friend Elise is murdered. The crazy thing is that the police are convinced that Anna, Elise’s best friend, is the murderer although they have very little evidence. Of course, drama ensues as Anna struggles to clear her name, and finds which friends are really on her side.
  4. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – This book was crazy! It starts off a little slow, but is amazing nonetheless. The main character, Libby Day, was seven years old when her brother murdered her entire family. The narrative picks up with Libby’s life as an adult. Her trust fund is running low, and she needs to find a way to make money. When she is contacted by a group called the Kill Club, a group of people who are obsessed with murders and murderers, she figures out that she can get paid to simply talk about her family’s tragedy. However, the Kill Club begins to convince Libby that perhaps her brother didn’t actually kill her family. She begins to question what she always thought she knew for certain and begins to do some research. You’d be amazed by what she finds.
  5. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – This was an incredibly endearing story about an interracial Chinese-American family and their struggles with race, acceptance and guilt. Early on in the narrative you find out that the middle daughter (Lydia) is dead, and both her parents and her siblings struggle to deal with such a disastrous reality. Lydia was her parents’ pride and joy, she was the child that was supposed to live out the American Dream. Lydia’s death pretty much shatters the already teetering family, and many of their secrets quickly rise to the surface. A must read!

I’ve linked these titles to Amazon, but you can also find them in Target, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. Please let me know if you decide to read any. Also keep in mind that if you aren’t sure you want to commit to buying a particular book, remember that you can download a sample to see if you like it before purchasing.

My goal for this year is to read 75 books…Wish me luck! Lol…I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! xx

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Fashionistas Read Too: Recent Reads…

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I really would like to start a book club…I read and listen to books so much it is a serious addiction. So last week I finished Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, which was a pretty good read. I tried to solicit some friends to read it with me but, as far as I know, only my sister (shout out to Keisha!) finished it.

Kidd is a feminist to the core, so naturally her narrative focused on two female protagonists, Sarah Grimke and Handful. Sarah was the slaveholder’s daughter and Handful was her personal slave. What I found most interesting about Kidd’s story is that it is told from both perspectives. Each chapter alternates from Handful to Sarah revealing how both women felt trapped in the antebellum South in the last 1800s. Rarely are we able to hear the perspective of a Caucasian woman from that era who was against slavery. I don’t want to reveal too much of the story just in case you plan to read it, but it was an interesting read…Not quite as good as The Secret Life of Bees, but very close…

I also just finished John Grisham’s Sycamore Row the other day, which is much more fast paced than The Invention of Wings. Sycamore Row is a narrative about Seth Hubbard, a rich old man who commits suicide, and leaves the majority of his estate to his maid in a handwritten will. It takes place in a small Mississippi town in the 1980s, and no one can understand why he would do such a thing. Basically, the debate is whether or not Hubbard was in his right mind at the time that he wrote the will, and whether or not his maid influenced him to do so. What I loved about this book was that it was packed with suspense. I could not stop listening…Loved it!

I know I am such a NERD, but I embrace it! I hope that you all are having a blessed week. Don’t let the snow and gloomy skies bog you down too much! If you find yourself idle or super bored, pick up a book and escape reality for a little while! xx

Image: Pinterest

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Fall Favorites

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These are a few of my favorites things…

Michael Kors Selena Satchel: I bought this bag during the Bloomingdale’s family and friends discount sale, and I have been wearing it every since. I love that it is structured and can stand alone no matter how you pack your items into it. I also love the gold hardware since I have been wearing gold a lot lately.

Alice and Olivia Starbucks Mug/Lipton Green Teas: Who doesn’t want to drink their tea out of an adorable cup?! I purchased this cup at Starbucks not too long ago and I am so in love with it. I am also addicted to these Lipton green teas, which I have been drinking out of my mug. I drink green tea EVERY SINGLE DAY now! Every since I went to Teavana and tasted their amazing tea blends, I had to find something comparable. Red Goji Raspberry (Wegmans) and Purple Acai Blueberry (Wegmans/Walmart) are my favorites.

Victoria’s Secret Bombshell Body Mist: This body mist is so light and fresh. I smelled the perfume and instantly fell in love, but I didn’t want to pay $55 for it. So I bought the smaller size to see how it worked with my body chemistry. Now I carry it in my bag and spray it whenever I feel  the urge to…Go smell it when you have some free time…

Favorite Nail Polishes at the Moment: Orly’s Pretty Ugly, Zoya’s Raven, and Formula X’s Zing. The clear nail polish is my new base coat…Rejuvacote is a nail strengthener that I had heard a lot of great things about. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I definitely like the results. Even though my nails still have the tendency to break, its only a chip here and there. They are much stronger than they have been.

The Art of War for Writers and Bird by Bird: I’ve had these books forever, but I have recently been rereading them to get some literary inspiration. I am working on developing a book idea I have and these books are helping me quite a bit. One thing I have learned from them is that you must write every day and at the same time every day. It’s also helpful if you to pretend that there is an imaginary gun to your head so that you don’t get up before you’re supposed to (only other writers/inspiring writings will understand that). LOL…Anne Lamott talks a lot about how you must quiet all the distractions (internally and externally) so that you can get to magic…the writing! I know this all sounds crazy, but I am learning that writing has to become a habit. I’m still working on that…

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Fashionistas Read Too: Orange Is The New Black

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I know that most of you have seen Orange Is the New Black (OITNB ) on Netflix. If you haven’t then you must be living under a rock! I watched the entire series in 2 days. I wanted to read the book before watching the show, but from looking at the trailers, I just couldn’t wait. And yes, I am def that annoying person who must read the book before I see the movie (or series) they are based on. And I always feel compelled to judge whether or not the movies are as good as the books…They never are…

Normally, I like to listen to a lot of books on audio (www.audible.com) but the narrator for OITNB didn’t sound very entertaining. So, I decided to actually read the book. I read the first three chapters yesterday and I am all in. On Wednesday morning I am leaving for a business trip so I will be learning all about Piper Chapman Kerman and her experience in the women’s prison. 

Have any of you read this book yet? Have you at least watched the show on Netflix? Practically everyone I know has seen it, and really enjoyed it. It’s simultaneously sad and funny. It also demonstrates that not everyone who finds herself in prison is as guilty as they appear to be (if at all). Let me know if you want to read this book with me and I hope everyone has a blessed week!!! xx

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Fashionistas Read Too: Inferno

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The other day I was sitting outside on my lunch break enjoying the sunshine, and I decided to post this picture on Instagram (follow me @Alwayzkel). The caption read: Some of My Favorite Things: Fashion, Fiction and Fantasy…Outside of flipping through fashion magazines and reading other blogs, I really enjoy reading and writing.  Both are such a relaxing pass time for me.

I wanted to tell you all about a book I am reading right now, which is Dan Brown’s Inferno. The main thing that I love about it is that it keeps me on the edge of my seat, and every time I complete a chapter I am PRESSED to get to the next one. Every chapter drives the plot forward. The other thing that I love about this book is that the chapters are super short. Kudos to Dan Brown for that!

Basically, the protagonist, Robert Langdon, wakes up in a hospital and has no recollection of the previous day. He quickly learns that an organizations/group of people are after him and he is forced to go on a wild goose chase of sorts in order to preserve his life while, simultaneously, cracking a secret code. On his journey through Florence, Italy, he finds clues that help him to figure out what’s really going on. He also has a side kick, Sienna, who adds an interesting twist to things.

Although the book is sometimes daunting because of all the Italian words, it is definitely a page turner, ladies! I’ll be sure to let you all know what I think about it once I am done reading it, but for now I am just enjoying this fictional ride.

Have you all read any of Dan Brown’s books before? If so, I am curious to know what you think about Robert Langdon’s character? Are you reading any other books? Please share! I am always looking for books to read or listen to…

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend! xx

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The Desk

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For some reason, both at work and at home, I have to have cute accessories on my desk. I mean, having a desk job is boring enough with being forced to use blue and black ink pens and square yellow post-its all day every day. Inserting a bit of you and your personality to your work space, whether at home or at work, is one key to getting things done. I know what you all are thinking…I am too old for pink heart post-its and Hello Kitty journals, right? What about no! Girly things make me happy. I like writing with mint green pens, customizing my stationary, and buying girly-looking journals…Although you may not be into that sort of thing, you should find your own way to insert who you are into your office space.

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Sometime ago, my mother bought me this paperweight by Annie Lee and I am still in love with it.  This is sooooo me! Passed out on the couch amongst shopping bags (Maxed Out is what it’s called). How appropriate?! Lol…Trust, that I don’t max out my credit cards (anymore…Lol), but I used to have the tendency to shop until I dropped back in the day.

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As you all know I have an inspiration board sitting on my desk as well (although I need to update it with my spring/summer inspiration). I even find that displaying my Pinterest boards while I am blogging, or trying to come up with ideas, is very helpful. Organization is also a large part of being successful. Keeping a calendar and developing a plan, month by month, of what you need to get done is incredibly helpful. I have recently started keeping a blogging calendar on my desk so that I know which days I am supposed to be writing, scheduling posts, and publishing (my current goal is at least two posts per week). But I can’t take all the credit for this idea. LaToya from Something Blue Weddings DC actually inspired me to keep this sort of calendar.

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As I mentioned in my book post here, I am obsessed with books! Whether they are spiritually motivating or just fashionably fun, I always have books on my desk. I have books on any and every topic that interests me sitting on my desk so that I can quickly access them. The books below are ones that I reach for often.

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One last thing that isn’t normally on my desk, but is currently fun to look at are my graduation announcements. Graduating from Georgetown with my Masters degree is one of my greatest accomplishments, and basking in the notion that I did it (with God’s help, of course) has made me realize that the things that are worth having in life aren’t always easy to obtain. Sometimes, you have to want things so badly that you just refuse to give up…So go after what you want because you may be very surprised at the outcome.

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How do you keep your desk organized/interesting? Am I the only one who likes post-its that are made into various shapes?

I hope you all enjoyed this post. Talk to you soon!

xx…Kel

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Fashionable Girls Read Too

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One thing that I absolutely love to do is read! I can spend hours and hours in a bookstore, getting lost amongst all the plots and stories. And I love all sorts of books, non-fiction, fiction, science fiction and fantasy, etc. I love it all.

I just finished reading The Shack by William P. Young and it was such an amazing book. Taught me quite a bit about all the assumptions people tend to make about God and why bad things happen to good people. Basically, it’s about a man who has gone through some really rough times in his life and God writes him a note, telling him that they should meet at a shack (the place where the worse tragedy of his life happened). He goes there and actually meets God. Whoa, I mean, I don’t want to give too much away in case you want to read it but it is definitely a great read…be sure to check it out.

As I already mentioned in a previous post, I wrote my thesis on some science fiction novels written by Octavia Butler (Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents), but my favorite sci-fi series is the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (I’ve read them ALL). I also love books like The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks, House Rules by Jodi Picoult, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Racketeer by John Grisham, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, White Girl Problems by Babe Walker, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (loved the entire series) by Stieg Larsson, Starters by Lissa Price, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and I could go on for another paragraph but I will stop there. Lol…

I dibble and dabble in a bit of non-fiction as well. Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening is one of my favorite non-fiction daily reads. This is my third year reading it. I try to read other books (i.e. I’ve been reading Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Begins Each Morning, which is a good one as well), but I always go back to the Book of Awakening. I can’t tell you how many copies I’ve given away to people who I thought would really like it (not to mention that I own the ebook and the actual book as well). Please go check that book out ASAP! It really helps you to appreciate all that you have instead of focusing your attention on what you don’t have in life.

As you all know I am the queen of creating wishlists, and yes, I do create book wishlists. I actually have a book journal (available for purchase on Amazon here) where I write down all the books I want to read and I cross them off the list as I read them. Crazy? Not so much…It’s just something I enjoy! Here are some books that I would like to read this year. You should join me in reading some of these titles:

  • My Soul To Keep (currently reading), The Living Blood, Blood Colony and My Soul To Take (Tanarive Due)
  • Home Front (Kristin Hannah)
  • Fashion 2.0: Blogging Your Way To The Front Row (Yuli Ziv)
  • Half The Sky (Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn)
  • Starting Your Day Right (Joyce Meyers)
  • Lilith’s Brood & Seed To Harvest (Octavia Butler)
  • I Declare: 31 Promises To Speak Over Your Life (Joel Osteen)
  • Devil’s Wake & Domino Falls (Steven Barnes & Tanarive Due)
  • You Lost Me (David Kinnaman)
  • Heaven Is For Real (Todd Burpo & Lynn Vincent)

Okay that is everything…Whew…Lol…There are a few other books on my wishlist but they aren’t out yet. To make life easier on myself, I sometimes listen to audiobooks. This makes reading go by a lot faster, especially if you have several books you want to get through simultaneously. I use www.Audible.com to download my audiobooks. Their membership is much more afforable than buying the audiobooks outright or from iTunes. Audiobooks usually go for about $20-$40 depending on the narrator and the popularity of the book, so $14.95 per month on Audible is a steal.

Okay, I hope I didn’t overload you all with too much information, but definitely let me know what books you’re reading right now. I am always looking to broaden my horizons. Be blessed! xx

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Pieces of Me

I’ve been in my new apartment for about 5 months now and it is finally starting to look like I actually live there! I can’t show you everything but here are some tid bits of my living room you may enjoy…

My fav wine (Bug Juice...Moscato D'Asti) and my fav vase

Ms. Quest Artwork on my Mantel

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My Bookshelf...This is not all of my books though...Lol

Close Up of Ms. Quest's Painting

More Books/Mags and Journals

Loves this Table...

More Vases

The Best Seat in the House...

My walls are still pretty bare (kind of depressing) but I am working on getting some more art work together. I’ve actually been playing with the idea of doing my own art on canvas…I might be the next Dali! Lol…You never know!

Anywhoo, Smooches until next time….XO

B&N Nook/The Frugalista Files

I recently purchased the Barnes and Noble touchscreen Nook and I am so excited about it. Although I am a huge fan of www.amazon.com I decided not to get the Kindle. I’ve found that Barnes and Noble is much more accessible if you need any help with your device. The Nook is tiny, very light weight and extremely easy to read and navigate. They also have some of the most adorable covers to go with it…Check mine out below:

The first book I am reading on my Nook is The Frugalista Files by Natalie McNeal. I stumbled upon this book and her blog in the midst of checking out one of my favorite bloggers who listed McNeal’s site on her daily reads list. When I found out what it was all about, I downloaded a sample of it and since I couldn’t stop laughing, I went ahead and purchased it.

The Frugalista Files is a book on how McNeal was able to get out of debt while still maintaining her fabulous lifestyle. McNeal let’s us in on her saving secrets as well as makes us laugh about her past struggles with spending. The book is written in the form of journal entries so you feel like you’re reading her diary, which is very blunt, genuine and honest. Loves it!!

Check out her blog: http://www.thefrugalista.com/

What Novel is in Your Handbag?!

While it’s great to look pretty and dress to impress, it is also important to keep your intellectual wheels turning. Now that technology has advanced we no longer have to be bothered with carrying actual books in our handbags. Books can be read on a multitude of devices now (i.e. Barnes and Noble Nook, Amazon Kindle, Android, Blackberry, Sony Ereader, and Apple’s iPad, iPod and iPhone).  Because I love Amazon so much, I am tempted to buy a Kindle, but the new color Nook has me intrigued as well. I’ve also been obsessing over whether or not I should buy an iPad, on which I could download both the Kindle and Nook applications. Because I have yet to make up my mind, I have refrained from impulsively purchasing anything. 

Let me also confess that I do cheat when it comes to reading. I am in graduate school and it’s a little challenging to read a novel while maintaining my weekly reading assignments for class. Therefore, I listen to audiobooks, which are one of the greatest inventions ever! I like to get them from www.Audible.com, which is an Amazon company that sells audiobooks at a discounted price to its members. However, please beware of those boring, unenthusiastic, monotone narrators that will put you to sleep.  Only phenominal narrators like Johanna Parker and Jenna Lamia have the ability to make the characters come alive on audio. Luckily Audible has a preview  function so that you can listen to the book before you purchase it.

I said all of that to say that technology has made it ridiculously easy for one to read books so let’s take full advantage of all of these high tech devices we own. While I realize that everyone isn’t quite as nerdy as I am, I know a lot of people that love to read. Therefore, I feel compelled to share some of my favorites books with you all:

A book that I must pick up at least once a day is Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening. When I tell you that this man never ceases to amaze and teach me a powerful lesson each and everyday, I am so serious! Once stricken with cancer, Nepo shares his inspirational thoughts with the world in the hope of helping others survive life’s many trials and tribulations. This book is a must read!!

I won’t go into too much more detail about the rest of these books, I will simply mention the title and author of each. I’ve also separated them by type. The following books are ones that I have read again and again:

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Fiction:
  1. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  2. The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
  3. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
  4. My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult)
  5. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
  6. House Rules (Jodi Picoult)
  7. The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
  9. The Great Gatsby(F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Science Fiction:

  1. Kindred (Octavia Butler)
  2. The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries: Books 1-10 (Charlaine Harris)

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris to be released on May 3rd

Short Stories (Fiction):

  1. Interpreter of Maladies (Jhumpa Lahiri)
  2. The Thing Around Your Neck (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
  3. Unaccustomed Earth (Jhumpa Lahiri)

Poetry:

  1. The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours (Jill Scott)
  2. 100 Love Sonnets (Pablo Neruda)
  3. The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Maya Angelou)

Other Favorites:

  1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (Ann Lamott)
  2. The 48 Laws of Power (Robert Greene)
  3. The Art of Seduction (Robert Greene)
  4. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (Sue Monk Kidd)

If you’d like to let me know what some of your favorite books are, please leave a comment or email me at Clutchez@Gmail.Com. Smooches!! XOXO…