My February Books – Simple and Honest Book Reviews: 5 Books

Hello there!

I hope everyone is doing well!

Today I’m posting my February book review. In February, I read five books.

One

Book Title: The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

Number of pages: 354

Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Summary: By Goodreads

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

Dates: January 30th to February 4th

My Rating: 3 Stars

My Review: I quite liked this book, especially because I love books where you can follow the characters over a long period of time. I fell in love with Shan’s character as a child and particularly liked how he was able to maintain his integrity and true self as an adult man.

Two

Book Title: The Little Book of Cottagecore: Traditional Skills for a Simpler Life by Emily Kent

Number of pages: 241

Genre: Non Fiction; Arts and Crafts;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Unplug, relax, and return to the simpler life with these easy, step-by-step ideas for your favorite cottagecore activities including baking from scratch and easy container gardening.

Returning to the simpler life has never been easier. If you’re craving the aroma of freshly baked bread, spending more time in nature, or seeing the sunlight filtering through homemade curtains, then cottagecore is for you!

The Little Book of Cottagecore helps you make simple living a reality with delightful cottagecore activities you can enjoy no matter where you live. Whether you’re interested in baking pies from scratch, basic sewing and cross stitch, gardening, beekeeping, or making candles and soaps, this book is full of fun, hands-on activities that make it easy and enjoyable to unplug from modern life.

Full of step-by-step instructions and homegrown inspiration, you’ll find fun, practical ways to enjoy rustic and relaxing cottagecore activities in your everyday life.

Dates: February 5th to February 13th

My Rating: 3 Stars

My Review: This is a cute little book where you can learn many useful things.

I had absolutely no idea there was an actual science behind tea making and that some people actually take the time to choose the best water, to filter it, to measure temperature and so on.

I was tempted to try making some bread from scratch (I didn’t get suck into it during lockdown) but I still have the scar from the second degree burn I got while attempting to make bread back in 2015.

I love the idea of making candles and soap from scratch but decided I’m way to clumsy and prone to domestic accidents to be handling hot paraffin and lye.

Three

Book Title: Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Number of pages: 570

Genre: Romance; Contemporary Romance;

Book Summary: (By Goodreads)

Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.

Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.

Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.

There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.

At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.

Dates: February 6th to February 16th

My Rating: 1 Star

My Review: BAD! RUN!

I simply cannot understand how this book is loved by so many and rated 4.49 on Goodreads.

The story is predictable and boring, full of cliches.

The writing is horrible.

These are actual quote from the book:

“He was too much. Too skilled. Expert-level. Professional ruiner of vaginas. And I didn’t know if I could keep up.”

“A thick, purple-headed leader in the world of erect penises. I got a little dizzy when Knox fisted it.”

Now, I’m no prude and I can appreciate a well written erotic novel or sex scene but this just sounds like cheap porn to me.

Plus, the book went on and on for 570 very long pages and I kept begging someone to put me out of my misery.

Four

Book Title: The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Number of Pages: 420

Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;

Book Summary:

A deeply moving and masterfully written story of human resilience and enduring love, The Plum Tree follows a young German woman through the chaos of World War II and its aftermath.”Bloom where you’re planted,” is the advice Christine Bölz receives from her beloved Oma. But seventeen-year-old domestic Christine knows there is a whole world waiting beyond her small German village. It’s a world she’s begun to glimpse through music, books–and through Isaac Bauerman, the cultured son of the wealthy Jewish family she works for.
Yet the future she and Isaac dream of sharing faces greater challenges than their difference in stations. In the fall of 1938, Germany is changing rapidly under Hitler’s regime. Anti-Jewish posters are everywhere, dissenting talk is silenced, and a new law forbids Christine from returning to her job–and from having any relationship with Isaac. In the months and years that follow, Christine will confront the Gestapo’s wrath and the horrors of Dachau, desperate to be with the man she loves, to survive–and finally, to speak out.
Set against the backdrop of the German Homefront, this is an unforgettable novel of courage and resolve, of the inhumanity of war, and the heartbreak and hope left in its wake.

Dates: February 16th to February 22nd

My Rating: 5 Stars

My Review: My favorite book this month.

Gosh, this book left me a wreck. Christine’s life is not an easy one and you get to experience her fear, her hunger, her desperation, her grief. I felt this book deeply and loved every minute of it.

Five

Book Title: When Never Comes by Barbara Davis

Number of pages: 363

Genre: Fiction; Romance;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Author Barbara Davis deftly explores an emotionally charged landscape of pain, loss, and despair—and the risk one woman will take in the hope of loving again.

As a teenage runaway and child of an addict, Christy-Lynn learned the hard way that no address was permanent, and no promise sacred. For a while, she found a safe haven in her marriage to bestselling crime novelist Stephen Ludlow—until his car skidded into Echo Bay. But Stephen’s wasn’t the only body pulled from the icy waters that night. When details about a mysterious violet-eyed blonde become public, a media circus ensues, and Christy-Lynn runs again.

Desperate for answers, she’s shattered to learn that Stephen and his mistress had a child—a little girl named Iris, who now lives in poverty with her ailing great-grandmother. The thought of Iris abandoned to the foster care system—as Christy-Lynn once was—is unbearable. But she’s spent her whole life running—determined never to be hurt again. Will she finally stand still long enough to open herself up to forgiveness and love?

Dates: February 22nd to February 27th

My Rating: 3 Stars

My Review: To be very honest, I neither loved nor hated this book. It was pretty much just meh for me. I can feel for Christy-Lynn as a young girl, teenager and adult woman but was unable to fall in love with the character. I hated that there had to be a male savior and that she even needed a random guy to take care of her. I think she could have gone on her journey all by herself and do just fine. The ending was predictable too.

Conclusions

Favorite Book of February: The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman.

Main Mood: Emotional.

Main Genre: Both Historical and Contemporary Romance.

Total of Pages Read: 1,921

Average Rating: 3.0

March Reading List

The Lobotomist’s Wife by Samantha Greene Woodruff

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

That’s it for February!

What have you been reading? What was your favorite book of the month?

Love,

Cheila

My 2021 Reading Stats – 90 Books

In 2021, I finished reading 90 books, a total of 22,564 pages!

My First book of 2021:

To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn

My last book of 2021:

Second Survivor by Leah Moyes
Number of books and pages per month.
I’m definitely into romance but I’ve recently gotten into memoirs and health related books.

The longest book I read in 2021:

Hardacre by C.L. Skelton – 509 Pages

The shortest book I read in 2021:

If the Fate Allow by Rainbow Rowell
– 39 Pages

The average length of the books I read was 306 pages!

Guess I wasn’t super impressed in general, huh?
It seems that I enjoy crying my eyes out while reading…
…and that I mostly go for medium paced books.
I like big books and I cannot like.
I read mostly fiction…
… and I have a thing for Portia Macintosh.

Number of books and average rating by month:

January: 9 – 3.3

February: 4 – 3.25

March: 9 – 3.75

April: 12 – 2.85

May: 6 – 3.33

June: 4 – 3.0

July: 4 – 3.0

August: 8 – 4.0

September: 4 – 3.25

October: 4 – 3.75

November: 15 – 3.33 (WOW!)

December: 11 – 3.0

Books I rated 5 stars/My favorite books of 2021

Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself by Dr. Jill Biden

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

When Things Go Wrong: Diseases: from The Body by Bill Bryson

Ramblers in Cornwall: Slow Travels Through a Salt-Licked Country by Arundhati Basu

Compendium Pandemica: A Guide to Horrible Infectious Diseases by A.D. Gray

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Moonlight Child by Karen McQuestion

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek, T.J. Mitchell

2021 was definitely my best reading year yet. I don’t think I’ll reading that much in the near future, since I’m becoming a mom in May, but I know I’ll always be a reader.

Love,

Cheila

My January Books – Simple and Honest Book Reviews + Reading Plans for February

Hey there!

Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.

I cannot tell you how long I’ve been wanting to post monthly book reviews. However, I’m a lazy writer and it seems I never manage to actually get it done. Until now! Today I’m posting my January book review. I’ve read 8 books in January, 6 being fiction and 2 non-fiction, pregnancy related. I’m quite happy with this number and I’m hoping to read another 8 books in February.

Now, onto the reviews.

One

Book Title: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Number of pages: 289

Genre: Fiction; Fantasy;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Dates: December 30th to January 2nd

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: Definitely an unusual choice for me as I’m not into fantasy at all. Alternative realities and parallel universes make very tired. Still, I’m SO glad I decided to read this book. Honest and relatable depiction of depression and mental illness. You can feel Nora’s pain and find yourself rooting for her and wanting her to live and to find happiness. As an avid reader I love the idea of life being a library full of books.

Two

Book Title: Pregnancy Hacks: 350+ Easy Hacks for a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy! by Amanda Shapin Michelson

Number of pages: 224

Genre: Non Fiction; Pregnancy;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Make your pregnancy feel easier than ever with these 350 simple hacks to keep you comfortable and happy for nine months straight!

Congratulations—you’re pregnant! There’s no doubt you’re thrilled to meet your little bundle of joy…but you also might be feeling some stress and discomfort as you navigate your rapidly changing body. But why not make things a little easier for yourself with these simple hacks to get you through every step of the next nine months!

With Pregnancy Hacks, you’ll find tricks to simplify your daily routine so that everything seems just a bit more manageable. Feeling nauseous throughout the day? Stock up on ginger candles or make electrolyte popsicles for a quick, delicious fix. Dealing with tired, swollen feet? Try soaking them in tonic water to reduce the swelling. Or maybe you’re struggling to reach things on the floor. Kitchen tongs can help!

These are just a few of the tips and tricks that will make your pregnancy experience so much better! Pregnancy Hacks is here to help your expanding family (and belly) stay happy and healthy.

Dates: January 6th to January 6th

My Rating: 1 star

My Review: I honestly didn’t feel I was learning any useful hacks, just the same tips repeated over and over again. Hated the “I’m pregnant and a martyr so my husband has to do absolutely everything for me” vibe. Wouldn’t recommend it.

Three

Book Title: The Stewardess’s Journey: Part 3 of The Windsor Street Family Saga by VL McBeath

Number of pages: 411

Genre: Historical Fiction;

Book Summary: (By Amazon)

Liverpool 1882
In a man’s world, can a woman survive?

Nell’s dream of travelling on a transatlantic steamship is about to come true. Although not in the way she expected.

Life is hard, and with only three women working amongst a crew of eighty, there are challenges Nell had not foreseen.

While she struggles to cope with the constant attention of her colleagues, not to mention their criticisms, there are some who will do whatever they can to support her.

Will their efforts be enough to settle her into life on board? Or will her first trip be her last?

Inspired by a true story, The Stewardess’s Journey is Part 3 of The Windsor Street Family Saga.
A story of love, loss and hope set in Victorian-era Liverpool and beyond.

Dates: January 8th to January 12th

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: A bit boring and slow-paced but still enjoyable. The difficult choices women have to make are hard to witness as is the way a woman is treated in a men’s world while she’s just trying to do her job and provide for her family.

Four

Book Title: No Ex Before Marriage by Portia Macintosh

Number of Pages: 293

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance

Book Summary:

While her friends join the “Wife Club” one by one, Poppy feels like that part of her life is done and dusted. Already married and divorced she’s not desperate to go through all that again.

But what if her divorce never actually went through…?

After a shock revelation Poppy not only discovers she is still married, but that Zac is about to have his second wedding!

Coming face to face with her (almost) ex-husband after six years apart is never going to be easy. And when Zac panics and tells his new wife-to-be that Poppy is family, things can’t get much worse as she is welcomed with open arms as part of the wedding party!

As the memories flood back, can Poppy really leave the past where it is? And can she watch the first love of her life walk down the aisle to say ‘I do’ once again?

Dates: January 12th to January 15th

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: I’m a HUGE Portia Macintosh fan and have been devouring her books as soon as they come out. As a 30-year-old woman, I feel seen by Portia’s novels. They’re light, easy to read, relatable and very funny. This one was no exception so I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something fun and enjoyable.

Five

Book Title: What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel

Number of pages: 704

Genre: Nonfiction; Parenting;

Book Summary: (by Goodreads)

Some things about babies, happily, will never change. They still arrive warm, cuddly, soft, and smelling impossibly sweet. But how moms and dads care for their brand-new bundles of baby joy has changed—and now, so has the new-baby bible.

Announcing the completely revised third edition of What to Expect the First Year. With over 10.5 million copies in print, First Year is the world’s best-selling, best-loved guide to the instructions that babies don’t come with, but should. And now, it’s better than ever. Every parent’s must-have/go-to is completely updated.

Keeping the trademark month-by-month format that allows parents to take the potentially overwhelming first year one step at a time, First Year is easier-to-read, faster-to-flip-through, and new-family-friendlier than ever—packed with even more practical tips, realistic advice, and relatable, accessible information than before. Illustrations are new, too.

Among the changes: Baby care fundamentals—crib and sleep safety, feeding, vitamin supplements—are revised to reflect the most recent guidelines. Breastfeeding gets more coverage, too, from getting started to keeping it going. Hot-button topics and trends are tackled: attachment parenting, sleep training, early potty learning (elimination communication), baby-led weaning, and green parenting (from cloth diapers to non-toxic furniture). An all-new chapter on buying for baby helps parents navigate through today’s dizzying gamut of baby products, nursery items, and gear. Also new: tips on preparing homemade baby food, the latest recommendations on starting solids, research on the impact of screen time (TVs, tablets, apps, computers), and “For Parents” boxes that focus on mom’s and dad’s needs. Throughout, topics are organized more intuitively than ever, for the best user experience possible.

Dates: December 19th to January 16th

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: This book is very helpful, informative and easy to read. As a mom to be, I DEFINITELY need to know what to expect the first year so I was happy to be able to find such a thorough book.

Six

Book Title: The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Number of pages: 304

Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;

Book Summary: (By Goodreads)

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead in the streets and desperate survivors wear white masks to ward off illness. When food runs out in the cramped tenement she calls home, Pia must venture alone into the quarantined city in search of supplies, leaving her baby brothers behind.

Bernice Groves has become lost in grief and bitterness since her baby died from the Spanish flu. Watching Pia leave her brothers alone, Bernice makes a shocking, life-altering decision. It becomes her sinister mission to tear families apart when they’re at their most vulnerable, planning to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

Waking in a makeshift hospital days after collapsing in the street, Pia is frantic to return home. Instead, she is taken to St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum – the first step in a long and arduous journey. As Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost in the months and years that follow, Pia must confront her own shame and fear, risking everything to see justice – and love – triumph at last. Powerful, harrowing, and ultimately exultant, The Orphan Collector is a story of love, resilience, and the lengths we will go to protect those who need us most.

Dates: January 16th to January 20th

My Rating: 5 stars

My Review: Why did I think it was a good idea to read a book about the Spanish Influenza while we’re going through an actual pandemic? It wasn’t. It hits too close to home. The masks, the not leaving the house, the fear, the unknown… I mean, it could be either set in 1918 or 2020 which is very scary. Still, I feel like it shows that we could be having it much worse. Also, why did I decide to read a book about orphans and suffering children while pregnant? Not a very clever idea either. I felt so much for the children, it was hard to get through. An eye opener though, so I definitely recommend it.

Seven

Book Title: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;

Book Summary:

2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.

Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers across the nation, this touching novel explores the tale within the frame and behind the lens—a journey of ambition, love, and the far-reaching effects of our actions. (less)

Dates: January 20th to January 24th

My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: Heartbreaking to know that this is not just a work of fiction but inspired by an actual photograph. I cannot imagine how desperate someone would have to be to even consider selling their children. Very painful descriptions of the suffering caused by the Great Depression. Again, not the best book to read while pregnant as it deals with children.

Eight

Book Title: The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis

Number of pages: 415

Genre: Fiction; Historical Fiction;

Book Summary: (By Goodreads)

Soline Roussel is well schooled in the business of happy endings. For generations her family has kept an exclusive bridal salon in Paris, where magic is worked with needle and thread. It’s said that the bride who wears a Roussel gown is guaranteed a lifetime of joy. But devastating losses during World War II leave Soline’s world and heart in ruins and her faith in love shaken. She boxes up her memories, stowing them away, along with her broken dreams, determined to forget.

Decades later, while coping with her own tragic loss, aspiring gallery owner Rory Grant leases Soline’s old property and discovers a box containing letters and a vintage wedding dress, never worn. When Rory returns the mementos, an unlikely friendship develops, and eerie parallels in Rory’s and Soline’s lives begin to surface. It’s clear that they were destined to meet—and that Rory may hold the key to righting a forty-year wrong and opening the door to shared healing and, perhaps, a little magic.

Dates: January 27th to January 29th

My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: Definitely enjoyable and heartwarming but a bit on the predictable side which is quite a turnoff for me. I’d say most readers were able to guess exactly how it would end. The descriptions of war time are very distressing.

Conclusions

Favorite Book of January: The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

*Main Mood: Emotional

*Main Genre: Historical

*Total of Pages Read: 2.666

*Average Rating: 3.5 stars

February Reading List

The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

The Little Book of Cottagecore: Traditional Skills for a Simpler Life by Emily Kent

The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

When Never Comes by Barbara Davis

The Jewels of Halstead Manor (Ladies of Devon Book 1) by Kasey Stockton

The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Work-from-Home Hacks by Aja Frost

*According to my The StoryGraph App which I found through my friend Pamela.

What about you? What have you been reading?

What’s the best book you read in January?

Love,

Cheila

What’s Up Wednesday – 26.01.22 (a day late)

1: What we’re eating this week:

I’ve only started meal planning this year, and so this has been the first month where I’ve been actively planning all our meals and doing all the cooking. My husband used to be the cook but I’ve now taken it over for the time being, since I have more free time. Also, I’ve been excited to try some new recipes.

We’re both home (he’s working from home, I’m on medical leave) so we always have dinner together. For lunch, which is always leftovers, we each grab our lunch and eat it separately.

A simple meal of sautéed veggies with tuna.
Salmon Wellington – a new recipe. It was very yummy but a bit too salty.
What we call a Russian salad. Not sure it’s even Russian, though.

2: What I’m reminiscing about:

The time before Christmas. I miss our blue Christmas tree (husband’s idea), the Christmas atmosphere and the planning. It was a special Christmas because it was our first time as hosts. Both our families came and we had a really great time.

3: What I’m loving:

Buying all the baby things and getting ready for our baby girl. I need to be as organized as possible and to plan everything in detail, at least the things I can control. I spent a few days researching baby products and coming up with a list and budget and I’m now in the process of buying everything we need. I’m also planning the nursery (which is actually half a room, as I need to keep the other half as my office) and trying to come up with something cute and affordable.

The glorious weather we’ve been having for the past few weeks. It feels like spring.

4: What we’ve been up to:

Besides all the baby planning, we’ve been trying to decide if we’ll be going on a babymoon or if we’ll just skip it or postpone it.

Rui has been training for a half marathon while I prepare to go and walk a 5k. I’ll be 7 months pregnant so fingers crossed I’ll be able to make it.

5: What I’m dreading:

My driving lesson this afternoon. I always get super nervous before each one.

My glucose challenge test in a couple of days.

6: What I’m working on:

I’m taking a new course, which is hard to explain what it is really about because it’s something super specific to my country. It basically means I’ll be a certified trainer and able to provide certified professional/corporate training.

We’ll be starting our birth preparation course next week.

7: What I’m excited about:

Blogging again.

Dinner with two of my best friends this evening. One of my friends is visiting from Ireland and I’m super excited because I haven’t seen her since September.

8: What I’m watching/reading:

I’ve just finished reading Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris, which was a really good read. I gave it 4 stars. I’m starting The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis tonight.

Rui and I are currently watching season 6 of This is Us and season 1 of And Just Like That, while patiently waiting for season 6 of Outlander. By myself, I’ve been watching season 11 of Call the Midwife.

9: What I’m listening to:

True crime podcasts as usual.

10: What I’m wearing:

At home, I wear mostly pijamas, leggings, sports bras, large t-shirts and sweaters.

If I’m going out, I’ll wear the one pair of jeans that still fits or a dress.

11: What I’m doing this weekend:

Boring stuff like house cleaning and laundry. Maybe going for a couple of walks.

12: What I’m looking forward to next month:

Valentine’s Day!

Being in my third trimester.

My next doctor’s appointment/ultrasound where I’ll get to see my baby.

Love,

Cheila

Life Update – 8 Months Later. Pregnancy and more! 26.01.2022

It’s been the longest time! I haven’t blogged since May 2021 and I’ve even made my blog private at some point. As always, I’ve missed it terribly and decided today was the day I’d get some blogging done. I feel super rusty so please bear with me.

One

I’m pregnant! We’re expecting our first child, a baby girl, in May. I’m currently 24 weeks and can’t wait to meet her. I feel very lucky because I’ve had the easiest pregnancy so far. I think I might post a general pregnancy update soon.

Two

I’ve finally finished my Bachelor’s degree! Back in June 2021, actually. I had been putting it off for YEARS and kept telling myself I didn’t even need it. I almost decided not to finish it at all but it didn’t seem like a very wise decision after wasting so much time and money and having only TWO credits left to complete. So I did the only thing I could do which was enrolling back in school, studying hard and finishing those two credits. Let me tell you, it’s a huge relief and it feels wonderful.

Three

I’m FINALLY getting my driver’s license. After over TEN years of sort of putting it off – not actually intentionally, but still – It had to be done. It was one of my husband’s “conditions” for us to start trying for a baby because, obviously, he can’t be the only parent who’s able to drive, and so I’m trying very hard to be done by the time our baby girl is born.

It hasn’t been super easy because driving schools are not very reliable and they keep cancelling lessons, which is not very nice in general but especially if you’re on a “deadline”. Still, I’m trying to be chill about it. Worst case scenario daddy will be watching a newborn by himself while mommy goes to a few driving lessons, which is obviously fine because he’s her father and quite capable of taking care of his own daughter by himself.

I need to add that the whole thing – driving, I mean – has not been very gentle on my nerves because I’m somewhat afraid of driving or being in a car in general, which means I get VERY anxious before each lesson. So far I haven’t killed anybody so I guess I’m not doing so bad.

Four

I got teeth aligners. I’ve been wanting (and needing) to get braces for many, many years but, as you probably know, it’s NOT cheap. Turns out, it’s no longer super expensive either so, in a way, I’m glad I waited as it cost about half of what it would have cost a few years ago.

Best surprise ever: I will have to wear them for only 5-7 months. I always thought I’d have to wear them for over two years but, apparently, that would be the case for regular braces and not the clear aligners I got. They’re just like invisalign but a much cheaper brand.

I’ve been wearing them for about 2 months now and it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. They’re not exactly painful or uncomfortable and I’ve gotten to a point where I actually forget I’m wearing them. They’re a bit of nuisance, though, as I have to take them off every time I want to eat or drink something that’s not plain water. Still, definitely worth it.

Five

I’m on pregnancy leave. I have been off work since September as my doctor thinks I shouldn’t be working while pregnant, mostly due to my line of work, which involves round the clock shifts and dealing with brutal/traumatic videos as a content moderator for a social media platform.

I’ll be on medical leave until my baby is born and then I’ll have 5 months of paid maternity leave, so I don’t expect to be back to work until late 2022, early 2023.

Six

I’m now a Certified Nursing Assistant! Or I will be, once I’m done with my internship, which I had to postpone due to being pregnant. I’ve been wanting to change my career path to healthcare for many years and so last year I finally decided I should just start working on it. I enrolled in this course/program back in April 2021 and was finished by late Summer.

Being a working student meant I had to work the night shift for about 5 months, which was not easy at all. Working 10 p.m to 7 a.m and going to bed at 8 a.m is not the best for your body or mind. Plus, I absolutely hated going to bed after my husband had to be up for work and working the night away while he was sleeping.

Seven

I’ve just realized today is my Blog Anniversary! WHAT ARE THE ODDS? I woke up feeling this huge need to blog and it turns out my blog is 5 years old today! HALF A DECADE! Unfortunately, I’m not the best blogger and I have neglected this little space for most of those years but I still love everything about it.

Eight

I read a total of 91 books in 2021! This is not an actual update, just something I need to brag about somewhere. I’m still bummed I didn’t meet my goal of 100 books but 91 is a pretty good number and I’m very proud of myself for it.

Nine

My husband and I met 9 years ago today! (I swear I didn’t make this update number 9 on purpose, though). It’s always fun to remember how we met and how far we’ve come since then. We were 21 and 22 which sounds like we were barely out of diapers now that we’re 30 and 31.

That’s it, that’s the update. This is pretty much all that has been going on for the past 8 months. I’m sure there’s more that I can’t recall because I’m pregnant and pregnancy brain is a very real thing.

I wish I could say I’ll be blogging more regularly now but that’s definitely not something I can promise myself. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon.

Wishing you all a very happy, very safe 2022.

Love,

Cheila

My 8 Reading Resolutions for 2020

Dear friends,

First of all, I wish you all a Happy New Year!

I know I’m late but I hope 2020 is wonderful for you and that we’re all entering our best decade yet.

I feel that I’ve never blogged that much about books which is rather strange since I spend a good portion of my time reading.

My goal for 2019 was 100 books. That was probably too ambitious as I was planning a whole church wedding and reception for 100 guests. I managed to read 71 books and I’m very proud of my literary accomplishments, even though I would have liked to meet my goal.

My second goal was to get out of my comfort zone of classics and historical novels. I wanted to explore different genres, and so I did. I read contemporary novels, fantasy and fell in love with thrillers, something I didn’t care for at all. I learned that a book doesn’t have to be the greatest piece of literature ever made for me to enjoy it. A silly romance is okay, and I can allow my literature major Cheila to like it.

All in all, it’s been my best reading year in a very long time. I was a former avid reader who didn’t read that much anymore and now I’m back to my bookworm ways. It feels like home.

I definitely want to keep it up in 2020 so I’ve come up with a list of reading goals:

1. I want to read some non-fiction. I find it mostly boring, to be honest, even if I’m interested in the subject. I understand that there are some great non-fiction books out there and I’d like to read a couple.

2. I’d like to finally finish the Grapes of Wrath. It’s my third attempt and I’m not loving it this time either. I don’t usually finish a book I don’t like (I don’t mind reading a few chapters and deciding it is not for me) but I’d like to finish this one for some reason. I think this is an old quarrel with a university professor I hated.

3. I wish I could finally stop being too lazy to write book reviews. I love following my reading on Goodreads but I never write any reviews, even when the book is perfect. I’m not sure I’ll ever become the kind of reader who writes reviews but I might as well put it out there.

4. Write a monthly reading list on the blog. I mean, I used to envy those bloggers who actually do this, simply because I was not reading enough to post a list myself. But now I am, so there’s nothing stopping me from posting my own monthly list. Maybe I can share great books with you guys and get great recommendations as well.

5. Highlight my favorite passages or quotes. It often happens that I read something that leaves me thinking “wow, this is beautifully written” or “this is definitely true”. Do I think to highlight this? No. Because I’m LAZY. I mean, it’s a Kindle. All I have to do is press and drag.

6. Read 5 classics. I absolutely love classics. There was a time it was all I would read. Then I decided I needed to be more adventurous and now I read just about anything. However, I seem to have forgotten how much I love a good classic. Which is a shame as there is so many I want to read. Sure, I do look at my copy of War and Peace and feel like crying because it is thicker than the Bible but I would like to devour the story at some point. I’d also like to eventually finish Vanity Fair and The Portrait of a Lady. I’ve recently taken them off my bookshelf and placed them on a side table, hoping I’ll look at them more often and remember I want to read them.

7. Read 5 paper books. Okay, please don’t murder me. If you’re one of those people who think a kindle is something from the devil and that I should be punished for using one, I used to be just like you. For a very long time I was personally offended by people who used this horrible devices to substitute a book. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes all the way back every time I encountered one of these “readers”. Then, I personally met Kindle. And Kindle unlimited. And I read about 100 more books than I had in many years. Now I’m now longer a book snob and I’m fine with whatever, as long as people are reading. On the other hand, if you’re one of those “people” who don’t like to read, you should choke on your coffee. Joking. Maybe. Still, I still love real books above all and want to keep reading them. I’m aiming for 5 this year.

8. Read 100 books. This was my goal for 2019 but I ended up at 71. I do want to try for 100 again, now that I’m no longer planning a wedding. I want to be able to say “I read 100 books this year”. It sounds like the perfect number. Besides, reading makes me very happy. Is there a better reason?

Do you have any reading goals for 2020? How many books did you manage in 2019?

Do share!

Love,

Chey

 

Things I Don’t Buy or Spend Money On – Part I

Good morning everyone,

I hope you’re all doing well and ready for Easter, if you celebrate it. If not, I hope you’re ready for the weekend, after all, it’s Friday eve.

I’ve been seeing this topic a lot, both on blogs and YouTube channels and I thought I’d write about myself. I thought long and hard about the things I don’t spend money on (for different reasons) and I think I came up with a decent list.

Paper Towels

They’re too convenient, meaning I’d use them too much. They’re extremely wasteful and so I stopped buying them years ago because I’d never use something like a kitchen towel or cloth because the paper towels were right there and I could just toss them after using them.

Bottled Water

We drink tap water. I only buy bottled water if I’m out and about and forgot to bring water with me, which is stupid and wasteful. We do buy bottled water when we have guests because my mom and sister don’t like tap water. We also buy sparkling water because I drink it every day and you can’t get that from the tap, unfortunately.

Books

I own a few books, I’d say about 50, which isn’t much at all. I used to buy books all the time when I was younger but I don’t anymore. I’d love to have a huge library and I might someday but for now, I try not to spend money on something I can borrow from the library. Also, books take space and need to be dusted and I’m trying to keep less stuff. I used to be one of those “e-books are a crime” people but not anymore. I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription for which I pay about 10 dollars a month and I do use it a lot. I’ve read 42 books in less than 5 months, meaning about 9 books a month which makes those 10 bucks worth it for me.

TV Subscriptions/Movies/TV Shows

We don’t pay for Netflix or Hulu or HBO or whatever is out there these days. We download stuff illegally, like we’ve been doing for the past 10/12 years. We know it’s not the most ethical thing to do but we would end up doing it anyway. Those subscriptions are extremely limited and you may not find anything you like or the one show you want to watch and which you proceed to download anyway. Don’t call the cops on us, please. We do have cable, which is quite cheap in our country and we only have it because your internet is cheaper if you have cable and because Rui does watch TV.

 Music*

We don’t buy CD’s or anything on iTunes or any music at all. *Instead, we have a Spotify family subscription.

Pre cut fruit or veggies

No way. Not even a bag of chopped lettuce or salad mix.

Gym Clothes

Rui does because he runs and so he needs a few specific things. As for me, on the rare occasions I move my ass, I wear old leggings and an old T-shirt. I only buy gym bras and swimming gear.

Magazines

I used to by a Cosmopolitan every month but I haven’t for years. We don’t buy newspapers either. I get a few free magazines with my Kindle Unlimited subscription and we can always read news online. I do feel guilty because I don’t support paper publications but it’s either that or the environment. And my wallet, let’s not be hypocrites.

What about you? Would you care to share your list?

Even better if you write your own post and link it back here.

I’m sure we can learn a lot from each other so…

What don’t you buy or spend money on?

 Love, Chey

If We Were Having Coffee – Part I

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If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you that I wear glasses now. Not always, but I need them to watch TV, go to the movies, drive (I don’t drive but if I did), etc. I’m short sighted and it’s not that bad but the glasses make a huge difference. First couple of times I wore them I keep taking them off and putting them on to see the difference. Literally. I think I began to see there was an issue, again literally, about 6 months ago. I could have been before that. I was at the movies and kept asking Rui if the screen was blurry or unfocused. It looked fine to him. Then it started to get worse while watching a movie or a TV show at home. Everything was blurry, even faces. And God help me if any letters or signs came on the screen. Then I was at work and it was hard to focus someone’s face at a distance. I could see them but their face was a blur. Same for street signs. I could go on. A couple of weeks ago I finally got tested and they confirmed I needed glasses. What a HUGE difference it makes. Do I think I look good wearing glasses? I mean, I don’t know yet. It’s weird. They keep getting dirty and I’m kind of obsessed with them being spotless. Rui thinks I’m crazy and that I’m going to end up scratching them from cleaning them too much.

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Yes, I’m wearing pajamas. Don’t judge

If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you that I quit sugar. I won’t eat anything with added sugar or add sugar to my coffee or tea. I do eat sweeteners because I’m not that good. I have a major sweet tooth. I’ve had a slip up or two but one of them was accidental. I had no idea my stevia had added sugar. WTF? It’s very hard to be sugar free, honestly. Not in the sense that I’m constantly craving it because it has been easier than I thought but it’s definitely harder to find food you can eat. Your options get pretty limited. EVERYTHING has sugar. Why does BREAD need sugar? We are lucky that our bread, Portuguese bread, is not that sweet so we can find a few varieties with no sugar added but in general, most bread contains sugar. I’ve been getting creative and trying to come up with sweets and desserts with no sugar, using vanilla extract, applesauce, ripe bananas, coconut milk and cinnamon to add flavor. Sometimes I do use some sweetener as a substitute for sugar because again, most recipes ask for sugar. I’ve actually been trying to cook a lot more lately. Would you like a list of recipes? Some of them I find online and adapt, others I kind of make up myself. I’ve discovered this very easy 2 ingredient pizza dough: Flour and plain Greek yogurt. The pizza (I made the sauce too) turned out pretty yummy.

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If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you that I began having my eyebrows threaded and I’m never going back! It’s the perfect method for me. It’s relatively painless (definitely less painful than wax or tweezers), natural and they look so perfect and well defined. The lady I go to is awesome! She has being doing this for 10 years and she only charges 8€. I had never tried it before because I thought it would be too expensive but I’m so glad I did.

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Awkward photo so I can show you my eyebrows…

If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you I’ve been getting gel nails and it’s great. I bite my nails to the bone and they look so miserable all the time. Even when I paint them they still end up in my mouth. It’s a horrible habit and this seems to be the perfect solution for me. They last 3-4 weeks, they’re not terribly expensive and my hands look so much better. I instantly feel like a lady and more put together. I feel way more confident if my nails are done. It’s the third time I’ve got them done and they look more natural each time because my nails can grow freely since I’m not munching on them.

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First time – I may or may not be sitting on the toilet here.
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Second time – Looks kind of black but it is dark blue
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Now – That’s my driver’s hand. I’m marrying him.
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Now – The red is slightly sparkly but my shitty iPhone SE didn’t pick that up

If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you that we got our wedding bands last week. I absolutely love them!! I can’t wait to marry the love of my life so we can wear them together, even tough Rui has this phobia of getting a ring stuck on his finger and having to get his whole arm amputated. Or both arms. I’m serious, the guy can’t even try on a ring without asking “what if it doesn’t come off????” Now he’s gonna kill me because I’m sharing too much. Or maybe he won’t because if he tries I’ll put a very tight ring on each one of his fingers and watch him cry and call emergency services. Phobias are weird, aren’t they? I’m always afraid I’m gonna fall in the shower and die. I’m not 80 years old, but still. Don’t like to shower when I’m home alone.

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I won’t show you our wedding rings yet so here, take a photo of our pupper begging for the hamburgers I was making for dinner.

If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you that between November 27th and today, I’ve read 41 books. I’m currently reading book 42 and 43 (yes, at the same time). I’m so in love with reading right now. My goal for 2019 is 100 books and I’ve only read 24 so far. Better hurry. Do you follow me on Goodreads? https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/25856029-cheila-cruz 

A few favorites from the past couple of weeks:

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My Sister's Intended SMALL

MagnoliaInn

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If we were having coffee…

I’d tell you about the movies I’ve watched lately and ask if  you’d seen any of them. If you’d like to check how I rated them you can follow me on Letterboxd: Chey23

Finally,

If we were having coffee…

I’d ask you to tell me all about you. What’s happening, what you’ve been doing, how’s life, what’s making you happy or sad. I’d ask all the things. I’d love it if you’d share what you’ve been up to in the comments.

This post is now longer than I intended. Anyways, if you do get to finish it, thank you for coming by and putting up with my randomness.

Love,

Chey

***All book and movie covers were stolen from google images***

***Spelling mistakes may be present because I don’t have glasses for my brain***

 

The longest Time

It has been 84 years…

Joking, but almost.

My last blog post was almost 4 months ago, which is insane.

I’ve even made my blog private for a while for reasons I won’t go over now but it’s back to being public.

I miss blogging and I miss you all.

This is just a general checking in post to let you know that I’m alive and well and that I miss you all.

I’ve changed jobs again, but it’s all good. I work for a startup now.

Our wedding is in 7 months away (October 5) and pretty much planned. I even have a dress.

I deleted all my social media 4 months ago and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

On Deleting Social Media

I’ve read about 30 books in the meantime, which is more than I read in the past 2 years combined. Some of my favorites include:

Paper Wife

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The Little Orphan Girl

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The Lost Letter

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All She Left Behind

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My Heart Remembers

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Yellow Crocus

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Mustard Seed

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Say Goodbye for Now

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Waiting for Summer’s Return

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The Widow of Larkspur Inn

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The Wedding Dress

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Some of them have been really cheesy regency novels. Would you like a full list and reviews? That could be fun.

And that is it for my little update.

Hope to talk to you all soon.

Love, Chey.