Posts Tagged ‘Reading Pretty’

Reading Pretty: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop

Growing up I was always the child with a book in her hand. I’m now the grown up with a book, Kindle or iPad in my hand. I can’t get enough of books. I always carry something to read and I still love bookstores. Although bookstores here in the U.S. don’t have that cramped and stuffed feeling like they do in Europe, I still love them. Deeply.

My case for bookstores started when I was a young girl. My dad and I had a weekly routine of visiting our local Waldenbooks. He would limit me to two books because I was such a fast reader. It was the most magical time. Uninterrupted father-daughter bonding time. We would leave the bookstore and head to Prince’s for burgers and fries. Now, as an adult it’s hard for me to walk into a bookstore and not think of my father.

Bookstores center me, make me smile, and inspire me to continue a legacy of reading. Although I buy books online, I always buy a book from a brick-and-mortar bookstore each month. There isn’t anything better than walking into one of my favorite independent bookstores, flipping through the stacks, reading the book jackets, and deciding on a purchase. Bookstores connect me with my deceased father. Always and forever, daddy’s little girl.

Disclosure: This post was inspired by the novel The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, where Monsieur Perdu–a literary apothecary–finally searches for the woman who left him many years ago.. Join From Left to Write on October 8th as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Reading Pretty: My Paris Dream by Kate Betts


I simply devoured Kate Betts memoir My Paris Dream. You may know Kate as the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style, but to me I feel a kindred soul. In My Paris Dream, Kate reflects on her time spent in Paris and the learning experience of a young woman who followed a dream. The book resonated with me because it’s coming on my 14-year anniversary of studying in Paris and all I can think of is: “what if Jamie never encouraged me to go?”

Before I graduated from college I had two choices – walk a stage or board a Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) flight to Paris. Guess which one I chose? Paris. I didn’t need a cap and gown ceremony. I needed baguettes, cheese, wine, and coming into my own. The previous few years had been a nightmare.

I lost my dad in 1999 and I remember my brother Jamie stepping in when I needed him. When my French teacher suggested I study abroad in Paris immediately fear crept in. I confided in my best friend Cassaundra, but I also confided in Jamie who I thought would discourage me. He didn’t. He immediately said “Move in with me and my family, save all your money, and go study in a place you dreamed about.” Well, alrighty then.

I took Jamie and his family up on their offer. On May 11, 2001 I stepped on a plane to go study, solo and prayed that all the money I paid for an apartment (before Air B&B) would result in me having an apartment. Cell phones? Not so much. My entire family went to the airport with me. This was when you could sit with your families before you flew and they could literally see you off. I remember sitting in CDG (Charles de Gaulle) after landing crying and writing in my journal. I was here. The place of Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, Laduree, Eartha Kitt, James Baldwin, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and oh yes, Sisley Cosmetics.

The year was magical. Unlike anything, I had ever experienced growing up in the South. It was literally my personal Paris dream. The dream would have never happened without Jamie. I miss him every day and especially now as I reminisce on my time in Paris. I had a dream and I was thankful for a brother who stepped in and helped make it happen. How many people are not living their dream and just existing? I hope you my fellow readers are not one of them. Life is too short to find your own Paris dream.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” ~ Rumi

Reading Pretty: Spinster by Kate Bolick


There are things in life that are not for everyone. Marriage and kids as it relates to this review. I wish we lived in a world where people respected others decisions on what works and doesn’t work for them instead of being judgemental. Kate Bolick’s Spinster gives a detailed look on one person’s journey of discovery and choices.

Choices. That’s a word we rarely use when it comes to our own lives. Years ago during a church service I remember my pastor saying “Life is choice driven. We live and die by the choices we make.” To this day, I still use this statement. To everyone I consult, family, friends, and people wanting my opinion on certain things. Everyone makes different choices. Those choices work for them or may not. The judgment, jealousy, and bitterness to others choices shouldn’t faze you in the least. The book gives one woman’s choice, how she came to the choice, and how she continues to live with it.

The book resonated with me because of her decision to own her choice. I wish people who read the book, especially women, come away with understanding how important choices are in their lives. In every single aspect. Personal and professional. I have traveled the world and visited countries where women don’t have choices and to be a woman in this country, be able to make my own choices, and live my life on my terms is well – priceless.

Reading Pretty: Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

yoga girl

If you practice yoga regularly and don’t know who Rachel Brathen (“Yoga Girl“) well you must be living under a rock, not on Instagram, and definitely not one of her 1.2 million followers. I have been following Rachel and her adventures on her home island of Aruba, traveling the world teaching classes, and dealing with major life heartaches for a long time. It’s one of my favorite Instagram yoga accounts.

What I love about her page is not only is it inspirational, but she says what we all think. Sometimes life sucks. In one year she lost her best friend and grandmother (lows). It was a year of getting married (high), writing her book (another high), and much more. As a follower you see all the good, bad, and ugly. It’s still hard for me to be so open how every morning I want to scream since Jamie died and yes my life is good, but it sucks not to hear his voice every single day.

Rachel’s book is a mixture of memoir, yoga, and cookbook. I missed Rachel and Dennis (her husband) when they came to D.C. last year and I was bummed. She’s on book tour and I’m bummed again that I can’t make any of the dates. I am pushing for them to come back to D.C. because they have a lot of fans. My husband tells me I should go to her Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga Teacher Training in Aruba. That sounds like it’s up my alley. Water, yoga, sand, and get bronzed.

Yoga Girl comes out today. I received a copy to preview, but I love it so much I ordered a copy for my Kindle. I spent my Saturday afternoon savoring the book and a matcha tea latte. It’s on my nightstand where I keep most of my yoga books and I still can’t get enough.

Reading Pretty: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Magic copy

I’m sure you have heard of this little book that has become a juggernaut about clearing clutter for EVER. Like ever, ever? The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is not only a best seller, but really a game changer. I’m serious. No joke. The book makes you think of everything you own, desire, and love as either joyful or not. It’s really simple. Every item you touch a piece of clothing, paper, or book you ask yourself “does this bring me joy?” If it doesn’t it goes. I am a big believer in donating, so after a few hours of using this method I had four large garbage bags ready to go to Goodwill and a shelter. I got rid of all the yoga clothes I don’t wear anymore, coats, shoes, bags, and much more. Also, Marie doesn’t recommend using old clothes as “lounge” clothes so you don’t “save” them. I look forward to the beautiful boudoir pieces I’ve acquired by not recycling them. I honored them for their purpose and let them go.

It not only helped me in what I have, but what I buy. Totally crazy for me. I don’t hoard clothes, but beauty products? Yep. I had lotions I bought in Greece from 2006. Yes, girl. I went through and tossed them because most only had a fourth of product left. This allowed me to really see my favorite winter lotion is the Mario Badescu Olive Lotion. All those half used bottles of watery lotions gone. Now my beauty closet is clean and organized. I didn’t have to KonMari (the term used in this endeavor) my perfume because I am so selective about fragrance that I don’t buy anything I don’t love. All my scents have a meaning and a story behind them.

I did a huge cleaning out and donating of books last year so I only buy books I really love like the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Everything else I read through the library which also helps my wallet. If you want to know what all the fuss is about, read this article from The New York Times. I seriously suggest you read this book. If your new year’s resolution of clutter has gone by the wayside try this method. It’s hard. Be prepared to spend most of the day doing it.

“As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life . . . focus instead on choosing the things that inspire joy.” ~ Marie Kondo

Penguin Randomhouse National Readathon: Saturday, January 24


You guys know I love me some books. Yes, I like big books and I cannot lie. I’m so excited the Penguin Randomhouse National Readathon Day is tomorrow. The goal is to read for four hours and document your reading using the hashtag #TimeToRead. I’m still in Louisiana and plan to join in on the fun during the hours of 12:00pm-4:00pm EST.

Join me on Instagram where I will be using my own personal hashtag #JCbookshelf. I am reading books that take my mind off the fact it’s been two weeks since I lost Jamie and nothing feels right. Absolutely nothing.

Here’s a list of the books I plan to read during this time. Instead of reading one book for four hours I’m breaking it up with four different books each hour. Please join me and let’s celebrate reading together. What are you planning on reading during the readathon?

The Assassin’s Blade: The Throne of Glass Novella by Sarah J. Maas. If Amerie told me to read it then I’m reading it.

Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva. I can’t get enough of Silva’s series about an Israeli spy named Gabriel Allon. It’s intriguing, fast paced, and set in some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Plus, the main character is an art restorer. Go read it.

Tempting Fate by Jane Green. This will be my first Jane Green novel and I am super stoked. A few of my friends love her writing so I’m happy to finally explore her work.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman. I fell in love with The Magicians a few weeks back and let me tell you I can’t get enough. The is the second in a trilogy and I’m plowing through this one as well.

A few of my favorite Penguin/Randomhouse authors are gathered in this video talking about making time to read. I have a few of them on my reading list and on my bookshelves.

Reading Pretty: It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

Andie Mitchell

My book reading as of late is all over the place. I go back and forth from fiction to non-fiction and lots memoirs. The latest joy is reading It was Me Along by Andie Mitchell and the writer behind the blog Can You Stay for Dinner. It’s the story of Andie’s struggles with food. It’s fascinating that now she writes a blog about food. I didn’t want this book to end and felt that if I met Andie in real life we would be friends.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Net Galley. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty.

Reading Pretty: Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose. by Lara Casey



I devoured Lara Casey’s book Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose in two day. It was a particular gloomy Saturday and I wanted something to break the fiction books I was reading. I received a preview copy of the e-book, but I enjoyed the book so much I wanted to support her and purchased a “real” book.

Lara is a major proponent of looking at your life and making the necessary changes you need to make without blaming someone else for your happiness. She goes deep into her unhappy marriage and work and how she turned it around without making any excuses. I know there are a lot of self-help books out there, but what makes Laura’s book great is her desire to discuss the art of not “being perfect.” I’m still trying to figure out when perfect became the ideal. Life is messy, thank goodness. We need stories to tell and perfect doesn’t make good story telling.

I always say Instagram is the highlight real of your life and not the real dirty work. Yes, I consider what a photo will look like before I post, but actually my bed isn’t made, my office is a hot mess, I’m tired, and the past few days made me realize I need to make some shifts. She has a yearly conference and I’m seriously considering going.

Lara thanks for a great book. Keep making it happen.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Net Galley. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty. 

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