What’s Making Me Happy This Week

I’m still on a high from finally announcing my new book deal, but it’s also been a pretty good week ’round these parts. So here it goes!

Macbook Pro

I treated myself BIG TIME this week when I ordered a new laptop. But my 6 year old Macbook Air was slowly dying (it held about a 6 minute charge by the time my new laptop arrived) and also … y’all I’m getting old, and I needed a bigger screen. It’s sad, but it’s true. So now I’m typing up this week’s What’s Making Me Happy This Week from my pretty space gray laptop with a very clicky clacky keyboard (which apparently some people don’t like, but what do they know?).

My Shiny New Book Idea

And thanks to the arrival of my snazzy new computer, I got a burst of inspiration and am now 5 chapters into the outline for my shiny new book idea. This would be book 6 for me, and book 2 in my new contract with FSG. I’m not going to tell you anything about it other than it’s funny, I love it, and I already have a title for it (which is crazy!).

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Oh this book, you guys. It’s funny and sweet and the voice is just so damn authentic. I recognized Molly and her friends as real teenagers, and some of Molly’s struggles rang so true for teenage Lauren. If you loved Becky’s first novel, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (soon to be a major motion picture!) or any of Stephanie Perkins books, you will love this book. Treat yourself to a sweet weekend read, ok?

 

 

Outshine Strawberry Popsicles

Guys, spring has arrived in Georgia, but if you live anywhere north of here, you’d probably call this weather summer. We’re in the mid-80s in the afternoons, and IT. IS. GLORIOUS. It also means popsicle weather, and I’ve been housing these like you wouldn’t believe. I mean, they’re made from actual strawberries, so that practically makes them a health food, right? (Don’t answer that)

So what’s making you happy this week! Share down in the comments?

What’s Making Me Happy This Week? MY BOOK DEAL!

In case you didn’t catch my social media barrage, I have a new book deal!

Yep, that’s right, books 5 and 6 are comin’ atcha in 2019 and 2020! So how’d you like to hear a little more info?

Better Than The Best Plan is a book about a girl whose single mother is arrested, and because she has no other family, she finds herself in foster care. Only it turns out, she was in foster care for the first two years of her life and never knew it. Twist? She’s going back to live with the foster mother who first cared for her for the first two years of her life. It’s a story about what family means, and how family can define you. It’s a story about experiencing the other side of life. And of course, because it’s a book written by me, it’s got a sweet summer romance.

The story of the way this book came to be is actually pretty cool. The idea first came to me in 2013, and I wrote the very first words (actually just a couple hundred) of it in the Las Vegas airport while leaving the Vegas Valley Book Festival (and some of those very first words actually made it into the draft that exists now!). But I promptly set it aside in order to work on other things.

Fast forward to November of 2015. I was in sort of a low place about writing. My books were having a hard time finding readers, my publisher had just passed on a partial I’d submitted, and it was starting to feel like maybe this wild author ride could be over for me (maybe irrational, but like I said, I was low). I’d also spent the last year learning how to be a mom to a sweet and wild little boy. It was a great but exhausting year. My head wasn’t completely on straight.

At the same time, like much of the rest of the country, I was furiously listening to the Hamilton cast album.  And one night, in a fit of optimism, I searched for tickets. I found a resale pair for January that wasn’t too terribly expensive, and also found a super cheap flight and a super cheap hotel (turns out there’s not a lot of tourism in NYC in January, so it’s a good time to visit if you don’t mind the cold!). My husband, because he is a saint and saw how sad I was about the state of my writing situation and exhausted from momming, urged me to treat myself. So I found a friend to buy the other ticket in the pair, and I booked the trip!

Now cue my super star agent, Stephen Barbara. He heard I was coming to New York and said he wanted to set up some meetings for me while I was there. Um, yes please! He said he had an editor in mind who was looking for an author like me to add to her list, and he thought we should meet. He wanted me to pitch her the partial I’d written. So before I headed back to midtown to see Hamilton, I headed down to the Flatiron Building to meet with Joy Peskin, the editorial director at Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers. We sat in her office for something like an hour gabbing about books while I told her about my hopes for my writing career. It was so relaxed and fun, and I loved talking to her. Stephen did some good matchmaking. We clearly had some chemistry on the literary front. She told me to send the partial when I got home.

And that night I saw Hamilton with the original Broadway cast and it was INCREDIBLE and life changing and I’ll never ever forget it.

Ok, so back to the book deal. I sent Joy the partial, she loved it, but she wanted to know if I had any other ideas. And so I said, “Well, I’ve got this idea I’ve sort of been thinking about, but I haven’t written any of it.” And I told her about this idea I had for a book about a girl who wound up in foster care for the second time, only she never knew there was a first time. She was instantly intrigued, and asked me to go write 20 pages and send it to her. So I did, and this time, the words poured out (I think I ended up sending her more like 40 pages!). She took it to acquisitions, they loved it, and suddenly I’d sold a book that I’d written only a couple chapters of. Crazy! But I was so thrilled, because again, my meeting with Joy had been fantastic and I knew I had to work with her.

This was March 2016. Yep, over a year ago. That’s how long I’ve been sitting on this news. It has been PURE TORTURE, but we had to finalize the deal, and then we had to come up with a title for this brand new book, and then we had to get through the holidays, and then … blah blah blah. But finally finally FINALLY the news came out on Tuesday, and I’m so happy!

I just turned in the revision on the completed manuscript for Better Than the Best Plan. As I imagined after that very first meeting, working with Joy on this book has been an absolute dream. I love getting on the phone with her to hash out plot problems or talk through characters. It has been the best writing experience I’ve ever had. And now I’m starting to develop the shiny new idea I have for the second book in the contract.

And the best part? I’m back to feeling optimistic about writing again. So thank you Stephen, for finding me the perfect home, and thank you Joy, for helping me find my voice again. I truly can’t wait for you guys to read this book. I think it’s going to be really great!

And that’s what’s making me happy this week!

Don’t miss the party TONIGHT!

Yep, this is the last day you have to hear me be annoying about this, because tonight’s the night of my LuLaRoe online popup shop! For 24 hours you’ll have the chance to shop in your jammies, and trust me, you don’t want to miss out. Just click the link to join the group!

And the best part? Jessica, fellow YA author and our lovely LuLaRoe consultant who’s running the party, is giving away a free pair of leggings! And you don’t even have to buy anything! Just head on over to the group and find the check-in post to enter. Click here to join!

I’m looking forward to checking out what Perfect Tees Jessica’s got in her inventory, and maybe picking up a maxi skirt for summer. Anything you’re looking for?

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Rocking my springy Carly swing dress this morning, belted with a vintage scarf!

Let’s Party! LuLaRoe-style

Ok, so after a couple weeks of shopping and thoroughly obsessing about my comfortable and cute new clothes, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up to host an online LuLaRoe popup.

Yeah, I know.

First of all, you should know that I’m not selling anything, or signing up to sell anything. My friend and fellow YA author Jessica Love is a LuLaRoe consultant (one of many I know, it turns out!), and so I signed up to host an online pop-up with her. Picture the 1970s/1980s Tupperware parties, only this time it’s cute clothes, and instead of having you over to my house, we’re hanging out on Facebook! No pressure to buy, like when you’d show up to eat brownies at someone’s house and feel like a jerk if you left empty handed. You’ll be at home in your jammies, and no one will know if you dip in, browse, and dip out.

Ok, now here’s how the whole thing will work:

Step 1: Join the Facebook Group

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE GROUP!

There will be a temporary Facebook Group set up just for this virtual pop-up, meaning you can join to check out this sale and then you’re done! No annoying news feed clutter after, unless you get seriously obsessed and start joining other groups. Not a Facebook user? Good news! Jessica uses an app called Shop the Roe, so it’s possible, once the party goes live, to just click on that link (I’ll share it across my social media) and shop entirely through that, bypassing Facebook entirely. BUT if you’re in the Facebook group, you’ll have the chance to win cool stuff like discounts and free items.

Step 2: Shop when the sale goes live!

Shopping will start on Monday, April 10th at 8:30pm EST, and will remain available until Tuesday, April 11th at 8:30pm EST. All you have to do is scroll through, and if you see something you like, click “Claim.” When you’re finished, click “Done Shopping,” and enter your payment and shipping, and your stuff will be en route to you!

Seriously, that’s it! Two steps! Ok, surely there’s more, right? Nope, but if you’re curious or just a person who thrives on information in new situations (hi, it’s me), here’s some stuff I learned when I started this obsession …

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE GROUP!

Meet Your Girl Gang
All the LuLaRoe pieces are named after girls, and yes, people do refer to them as if they’re real people. Yes, it’s kind of weird. Also, LuLaRoe people love puns. #HowIRoe #RoeWithMe #RoeMyEyes

If you want it, grab it!
The consultant usually only has one thing in a particular pattern/size, so if you see something you like in your size, snag it! There’s not an endless supply … or even really a supply. Everything the consultant has will be shown, so there’s no secret back room stash.

With LLR, Sizing Matters … and Doesn’t
Here is a comprehensive size chart for all the items LuLaRoe sells. Most women will fit into a couple of sizes of each item, depending on how they want things to fit. You can go up a size if you want to belt something or tie it up. You can go down if you want something a little more fitted. Most everything is stretchy and forgiving. I also find this chart handy for determining if an item runs true-to-size or if you should go up/down. Basically all the tops are designed so they can be paired with leggings, meaning they’re going to cover your butt.

Full Disclosure: I’m 5’4 and normally 125lbs with a 34B chest … although that’s all gone to hell now that I’m pregnant. Anyway, I mention that to say that as a giant pregnant lady I’m wearing all my normal sizes in LuLaRoe, and they are:
Azure: Small (I may fit an XS like, six months after I have this kid, but who wants to rush that?)
Carly: XS (These run big. They recommend going down 1-2 sizes. The only thing keeping me out of an XXS is the pregnancy boobs … if you’re not rocking a big rack, you can go all the way down)
Perfect Tee: XXS … I could do an XS, but I like my tops to be a little more fitted
Classic Tee: XXS (same as above)
Monroe / Lindsey: Small (really little/slight ladies can fit the Bianca, the kid’s kimono, in a 3, which is cheaper!)
Irma: XXS (these are very long and loose through the torso, so definitely size down)
Randy: I don’t have one, since these aren’t bump friendly, but I like a looser fit so I’ll probably go Small on these

Dresses and Madison skirts are a no for me with the giant belly, but I definitely can’t wait to give them a whirl after I have this kid. Unfortunately, that means I’ve got no insight into how they fit. But there’s tons of info online if you’re curious (and I’m guessing I’ll be a small in Madison just like I am in Azure). This blog post from rock, STYLE, teach was hugely helpful when I was trying to figure out sizes.

Leggings
Leggings come in two sizes: One Size (OS) or Tall and Curvy (TC). You wouldn’t think it would work, but it does. My OS leggings fit up over my 3rd trimester belly comfortably. They’ve got a nice wide waistband that’s not constricting (these are not compression leggings, fyi) that is very forgiving. The patterns range anywhere from sedate to Mrs. Frizzle, so be prepared. Solids are famously in short supply, and don’t even try to find black leggings. In LuLaRoe Land, those are referred to as “unicorns,” and yes, you can feel free to eye roll.

Pregnant? Nursing? Body in Transition?
The worst thing about postpartum life, for me, was finding clothes that fit. I felt like my body was a different size every day, I wanted nothing to do with maternity clothes, and then of course there was breastfeeding. I so wish I’d had this stuff back then (when I was buying a new pair of cheap jeans every couple of weeks), but I have it for my second go ’round! Everything I own will transition right from pregnancy into postpartum life. And even better? While I’m maybe possibly (seriously, we’ll see) getting my body back over the course of the next year, I won’t have to worry about keeping a collection of clothes in various sizes. I can wear all this stuff that whole time, and I’ll be comfortable and cute to boot!

Ok, so now what?

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE GROUP!

If you’re at all interested, just click the link and join the Facebook group, that way you won’t miss when the sale goes live (and you’ll be able to win cool stuff!). Again, there’s no pressure, and I’ve joined plenty of sales and not bought a thing. You do not have to feel weird about that. If you have any questions, ask ’em below in the comments for email me. Anyone can join the group, you can invite others to join, you don’t have to know me or read my books!

Happy shopping, LuLaLovelies! (Oh god, I’m one of them now, aren’t I….)

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

And I’m back! Time for another edition of What’s Making Me Happy This Week. It’s been a good one, so here we go!

I don’t have gestational diabetes!

After getting the news that I failed my 1-hour glucose test, I was feeling pretty low. First of all, it meant I’d have to take the dreaded 3-hour glucose test (fast after midnight, arrive at your doctor’s office, get a blood draw, then drink a bottle of glucose syrup in under 5 minutes, then get your blood drawn every hour for 3 hours). It also meant I might actually have gestational diabetes, which would mean cutting out basically all my favorite pregnant lady foods (milkshakes, cookies, doughnuts, and all manner of carbs). The test itself was both easier than I thought (I was so hungry/thirsty from the fast that I downed that bottle of fruit punch syrup no  problem) and worse (because I was dehydrated from the fast, my veins were not super cooperative and it took 6 needle sticks and some digging around to get 4 blood draws). But today I got the news that I passed! And celebrated with a trip to Dunkin’ Doughnuts.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

During my three hours of sitting in my midwife’s office, I burned through Sarah Dessen’s newest book. Getting that galley felt like finding a unicorn, and reading it definitely didn’t disappoint. I think Once and for All joins Along for the Ride and The Truth About Forever on my list of favorite Dessen books. I just loved Ambrose and all the wedding planning stuff, and a plot point I won’t spoil for you because the way it unfolds is just beautiful and wonderful and heartbreaking. If you haven’t preordered it yet, GET ON IT ALREADY!

Shiny New Idea!

My current writing notebook from ban.do and my ride or die Sharpie pen

I told myself I was going to take some time off between turning in the revision on book 5 and starting book 6. But then I was struck with a shiny new idea, and it just kept itching at my brain. I haven’t actually sat down at the computer yet, but I’ve been outlining and drafting scenes in a notebook. I love those heady early days of a new idea. It reminds me of the excitement and optimism when you start dating someone new, and I hope I can ride this for as long as possible (and maybe even get some semblance of a draft before this baby comes?).

 

Before I go, remember how last week I told you I fell down a LuLaRoe rabbit hole? Because yeah, I was tuning into a couple live Facebook sales while fiddling with this shiny new idea and ended up winning two pairs of leggings and also scoring an Azure skirt on big time sale. Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and host a one-time online pop-up with awesome fellow YA author Jessica Love on April 10th! So if you’re at all interested in checking out LuLaRoe, comment below, and I’ll be sure to poke you when we get closer to the sale! I’ll definitely do a more in-depth blog post on how it works (because I was totally mystified when I first started checking it out), but the long and short is you can pop in and just look, so it’s totally no pressure!

Scored this awesome 70s-ish skirt (for less than $35, it was on big time sale!) and can’t wait to rock it all summer!

 

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

I love podcasts. They’re my fave for when I’m in the car, or when I’m out on a run (which, let’s be honest, hasn’t happened since before I was pregnant … but I’ll be back to it soonish!). And one of my favorite, never-miss podcasts is NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s hosted by Linda Holmes, who is so smart and funny and damn good at moderating a panel full of people with OPINIONS. Pop Culture Happy Hour ends every episode with “and now it’s time for our favorite segment of this week and every week, What’s Making Us Happy This Week,” and then they go around the table sharing their recommendation for, well, you get the idea.

And because we can all use a little happiness in our lives these days, I’ve decided to steal the idea and share with you some things that are making me happy.

I turned in the revision on my 5th YA novel!

I sound like a broken record, but someday (I SWEAR) we will announce this beast and I’ll be able to tell you all about it. In the meantime, just know it’s a lil bit different from what I normally write, but still contemp. It’s with a new editor whom I absolutely adore. And it’s an idea I first started playing around with in 2013. Oh, and I’ve been sitting on this secret for A YEAR, which is killing me because I suck at secret keeping.

I went down a Lularoe rabbit hole

I have enough Facebook friends who spend their time crowing over their “butter-soft” leggings that I had to see what this is all about. Because you know me and loungewear are besties, right? I joined a local Lularoe group, checked out a couple sales, but was hesitant to actually buy because HELLO I’M GREAT WITH CHILD I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THOSE THINGS FIT RIGHT NOW! But then I won a contest in the Lula group I’m in, a fringed kimono called a “Monroe.” So off I went to the consultant’s home for one of her pop-up shops to pick it out.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lularoe, it’s basically uber-comfortable clothes in patterns ranging from sedate to funky to elderly art teacher (sorry … it’s true). You can only buy the stuff from “consultants,” making it a lot like Tupperware or Pampered Chef. Only the perk of Lularoe is that it’s possible to only ever shop the online pop-up sales, making it the anti-social Tupperware, and that is totally my speed.

Anyway, off I went to the pop-up shop, held by a woman I do not know (at her home!), and no one I knew was in attendance. Basically I earned 1,000 introvert points and don’t have to leave my house for a month (these are the lengths I’ll go to when you offer me a free $50 clothing item, guys). And because I felt like a jerk walking in, taking my free piece, and peacing out, I shopped. And ended up going home with a skirt and a top, both of which will be perfectly comfy and postpartum/breastfeeding-friendly for the summer.

I didn’t buy leggings, which are basically the Lularoe gospel, because I keep seeing stories pop up online about how lately they’ve been ripping very quickly (apparently you’re also supposed to wash them separately, inside out, and hang to dry, and mama ain’t got time for that kind of laundry maintenance … my whites barely get their own cycle around here). But the quality of the stuff I bought feels good.

FullSizeRender

The kimono I won (and though I NEVER would have bought that for myself, I kinda love it), the shirt reminded me of Jane Fonda-era workout videos, and the skirt is just damn comfy.

Anyway, it’s possible for Lularoe to become a cult or an addiction (seriously, spend 5 minutes reading blog posts about it and you’ll refuse any beverages you’re offered at subsequent Lula parties), but for someone with a transitioning body for the next, oh, 6 months, I’m down for a little kool-aid drinking in exchange for some comfy, kooky clothes. I’m thinking of partnering up with a consultant to host an online party (this would not make me a consultant, because I absolutely do not have the fortitude for that business). So if you’d be interested in hopping into a Facebook group and browsing silly leggings and cute dresses, lemme know in the comments!

I love Instagram Stories

Hello, my name is Lauren, and I’m addicted to Instagram Stories. Am I particularly “good” at it? Not really. I definitely don’t know my angles, as evidenced by the fact that I often look like I’ve just been thrown from a moving car in my stories. And I’m sure most of what I have to say is 90% ridiculous. But if you love Insta Stories or simply want to watch me be stupid on the internet, I highly recommend following me. I’m also a big Insta-story watcher. Busy Phillips is one of my favorite celebs, and Morgan Matson is great bookish follow (I always feel like a big-time slacker watching her stories … she’s such a hard worker!).

And that’s it for this week! I’m still mostly off Twitter (I pop in now and again, but it’s only on my desktop computer these days), so if you want to keep up, check Instagram! And head on down to the comments to tell me what’s making you happy this week, so we can spread the joy around!

Little Brother Wishlist

We’re about three-ish months away from baby boy #2. I know, can you believe it? This one has gone a lot faster than the first (although I’ll be honest, 3 months still feels like an eternity). We’ve got the nursery partially set up (I say partially, because half of my office crap is still in there), I unpacked all the newborn clothes from their storage bin and washed them. There’s really not that much to do, because I saved EVERYTHING from our first go-’round. We still have the crib, the mamaRoo, the Rock ‘n Play, the blankets and the burp cloths. We’ve got our stroller and infant carseat and the infant bathtub. We really don’t need anything.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not lusting after some cute baby stuff. So here’s my baby #2 wishlist.

little-brotherwishlist

Solly Baby Swaddle Set

I’ve still got my Solly wrap (and our hand-me-down Ergo) from the first time, but I’d love to get one of these swaddle sets. They’re so light, which will be perfect for the Georgia summer (Freddie was born in October, so his blankets tend to be warmer). I’m eyeing the Succulent/Stripe set.

Chicco Lullago Portable Bassinet

As new parents, our biggest hurdle the first time around was infant sleep. I distinctly remember sitting up all night that first night at home, terrified to put him down in his crib lest he flip himself over onto his face like some kind of wunderkind Russian gymnast and suffocate. I think we missed the window on getting him to sleep on his back in those early weeks, and as a result he would only snooze on me or in his mamaRoo. I’d like to avoid that this time around, and I’m thinking this portable bassinet would be perfect for him to sleep by our bed. And the sky color is so pretty!

Basically all the Aden + Anais stuff

One thing we didn’t keep were all the awesome AA bibs we had (mostly because Freddie thoroughly destroyed them), so I want to get all new ones. I love the burpy bibs in the early days, and the snap bibs after that. I also love their hooded bath towels and all their super cute summer rompers. And I’d like to get lil brother his own set of the silky soft blankets. They’re amazing when kiddos are little, because you can spread them out anywhere for a portable play area (they’re HUGE). They’re good nursing covers, good stroller covers, nice and light so they don’t get hot, and just generally fantastic utility blankets. At two and a half, Freddie loves his (he calls them his “snuggle blankets”), so they’re definitely not getting handed down. Basically adan + anais can take ALL MY MONEY.

Joovy Caboose

One thing we don’t have is a double stroller. I don’t think we’ll need a full-size one, because Freddie really likes to walk places, so I have my eye on the Joovy Caboose, a lightweight sit-and-stand stroller. I saw one in the airport recently, and watching the parents fold it up in one quick flick was awesome. I think it’ll be great for times when I take both kiddos out at once and need Freddie to be wrangled, or things like family trips to the zoo or the aquarium. Love that blue color!

The nice thing about it is that I don’t *need* any of this stuff, they’re all just mostly *wants.* There’s not much of a sense of urgency this time, or the need to pour giant amounts of money into the baby-industrial complex. But that doesn’t mean I won’t treat myself (er, the baby … I mean treat the baby).

Twitter Hiatus: Accomplished

I did it! I said I was going to stay off Twitter for the month of February, and I did! The first few days were a little rough, and I constantly kept tapping the spot where the app was on my phone out of habit (and opening my tip calculator instead). I’d say there was basically no downside to leaving, other than it took me a few hours to find out that Bill Paxton died. It was also kind of a bummer to miss out on the Oscar tweets, but I ended up working on my revision instead of tweeting, so it worked out. In fact, that was the point: spend less time scrolling, spend more time in my life.

And boy did I.

I set a goal to read four books in February, after being in a serious reading slump in January. And without Twitter? I read 10. I set a goal of finishing my massive revision on my next book, and while I didn’t *quite* get there, after a kickass phone call with my editor today to discuss the ending, I’ll have it done in a week. I spent a lot of time in the unseasonably warm (even for Georgia) weather, playing with my kid and laying in the grass and doing some champion porch sitting.

So, the question is … am I going to go back? I’m not sure. I felt so much more relaxed this month. I definitely felt my blood pressure drop. I slept really well without the Twitter before bed, Twitter right after I wake up habit. I missed catching up with friends, but I think ultimately the pros outweighed the cons. So I think after I check in on my notifications, I’m going to disappear again. I’ve got some news that I’ll get to share soon, and once that hits, I’ll pop back in. We’ll see what happens from there.

In the meantime, enjoy my February reading list. I sure did!

How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore … totally unexpected. Picture mean girls, but dark

The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson … a really sweet, fun Dessen-y type contemporary

Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki … Sorry, sometimes a mom’s gotta mom. If you’re facing potty training, I highly recommend this one

Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm … sigh, they just don’t publish fluffy contemporaries like this anymore. And it’s a damn shame, because this was FUN

The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu … good lord that was some gorgeous writing

All Fall Down by Ally Carter … a great start to a new series full of spies and hijinx

We Are Ok by Nina LaCour … is there anything I could say about this gorgeous and heartbreaking novel that hasn’t already been said?

Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez … another one that was just all about the writing that I really dug

The Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern … one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Finished it in one day. Lovely story, great characters, and a perfect romance

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan … reread this one because I needed a fun comfort read. Just as fantastic the second time around!

A much-needed break

Hi guys! How’s everybody doing?

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Are you done screaming yet?

Yeah, it’s been a rough few weeks. On top of the world news and he whose name I shall not speak, I’ve also had 4 weeks of my 2 year old in a body cast followed by almost 2 weeks where he couldn’t walk. Then my grandmother died, so the 2 year old and I had to solo road trip down to Florida for the funeral (thankfully that was actually a fairly painless trip … turns out my kiddo loves hotels!). Oh, and I’m way behind on a project that’s due … well … today. But I just can’t focus, and it’s partly the world out there, and it’s partly my own fault. I need to find a balance.

So in that spirit, I’ve decided to take a Twitter hiatus for the month of February. I’ve been heartened by seeing the activism present there, and it’s been great for mobilizing, but the fact of the matter is it’s too much for me right now. I’m 5 months pregnant, and I’m starting to feel the stress of the news cycle in a physical way. I’m also parenting a toddler, and I’ve caught myself way too many times helping to set up brio trains or lego towers with my phone in my hand, constantly scrolling and feeling the acid rising in my throat. So for the next 28 days, I’m going to take a break from it. I’m going to get my news by making a once daily visit to NPR.org and my weekly listen to the Slate Political Gabfest. I’ll be doing Dahlia Adler’s Author Life Month on Instagram (follow me at laurenmorrill) and probably taking silly videos of my dinner and my kid on Instagram stories. But otherwise, I’m tuning out for a bit.

No seriously, I am. I’m about to change my Twitter password to something random, which I will write down and hide in the back of my desk. Then I’m going to delete the app off my phone. No more Twitter first thing when I wake up. No more Twitter last thing before I go to bed. A real, actual hiatus.

And hopefully with some time off, I’ll be able to find my own version of good again. I know that sounds selfish, but the road is long, and I can’t burn out now. And I especially can’t burn out when I’ve got two little guys counting on me. I’m hoping to use my extra free time to get back to writing and read some books (seriously, all I’ve read lately is The Handmaid’s Tale, which is excellent, but not exactly heartwarming). I want to take more walks outside (February is basically the start of spring where I live, so it’s lovely to be out and about). I’ll share what’s making me happy on Instagram stories, and I may even pop in here from time to time. But otherwise I’ll be focusing a little more on the home front.

And if you’re looking for permission or encouragement to take a breather, let this be one. There is a hell of a lot of resistance to be done outside of Twitter, and sometimes it’s ok to find out about the news a few hours later (and actually it can mean skipping a lot of the alarmist insta-reactions and getting the actual, factual stuff). As the great Jerry Springer used to say at the end of his show, “Take care of yourselves, and each other.”

My 2016 Year in Reading

I don’t blog much anymore (that’s actually one of my 2017 resolutions, because with the year we’re about to have, I feel like I have more to say than what can be conveyed in a tweet), but my year in reading post is stalwart. I had a pretty good year, though I fell just shy of my 100 books goal (I actually thought I was about to meet it with the book I’m reading now, but then realized I’d miscounted … oops!). So without further adieu, here’s my faves:

The Great Harry Potter Reread
I’d read the first 4 books a couple times, but this year I decided to do a complete series reread for the first time ever. And holy wow did those books hold up. I actually enjoyed the 7th book more the second time around than I did the first (it seemed like they wandered in the woods less than I remembered?). My favorite is a tie between The Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
It’s a hard book to read, but one I think we all need to as we move into 2017. Of course, I didn’t know what would be coming when I read it back in February (oh, you sweet summer child…).

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
This was such a Lauren book … snark, humor, and amazing chemistry in the romance. I looooved Jack, the book boyfriend. I’m really looking forward to what Jenn Bennett does next.

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas
This is one that had sat on my shelf for a long time before I finally picked it up. And damn, is it good. I’d put this right up there with Perks of Being a Wallflower for instant classic, and yet so many YA fans I know haven’t read it. It has a really interesting format, and the voice is really fantastic. Highly recommend for YA readers looking for a deep cut.

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Another book that had been on my shelf for a while, and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. I’ve loved all Leila’s books, and this one is right up there (I also reread my favorite of hers, This Song Will Save Your Life this year). I was truly surprised by the plot, which is something that doesn’t happen to me a lot, what with all the YA I read. Leila Sales stays on my auto-buy list.

Once Was a Time by Leila Sales
Speaking of Leila Sales, this is her middle grade book that came out this year. Middle grade is not normally my thing, but like I said, Leila = auto-buy. And man, I was not disappointed. It’s a great twist on time travel that I devoured in one sitting (I stayed up late to finish!). I’m pretty sure this would have been 5th grade Lauren’s very favorite book.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by Elana K. Johnston
This was a one-sitting read for me. It’s heavy, but it a way that you don’t see often, and I think it does a lot of good work to combat rape culture. There are some amazing characters in this one, and if you missed it, go back and pick it up.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
I read 3 JoJo Moyes books this year, but this one was by far my favorite. The characters felt so vibrant and real, and I think it did a really good job exploring the realities of poverty. The romance was also very sweet.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Pride & Prejudice retelling for anyone who ever wanted Elizabeth and Darcy to bone. ‘Nuff said.

The Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally
I’m pretty sure this was my favorite book I read this year. I read it as a galley, and when it came out I made sure to get a hard cover. You hear “If you love Sarah Dessen, you’ll love …” all the time, but this book really means it. It’s got a really interesting POV that you never see in YA, but here it absolutely works. I’m already looking forward to my reread.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
I read several adult books this year (gasp!), and enjoyed a lot of them. I’ve heard really mixed reviews on this one, but it really worked for me. Despite being a story about rich white people problems, it never felt cynical. It was funny and heartfelt, and I loved the characters.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Savenaz Tash
Another 100% Lauren book. If you love John Hughes movies and classic rom coms, this book is absolutely for you, whether you’re into comics or fandom or not. It just made me so happy, which is really what I need from books these days.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Another one that sat on my shelf, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. Even more glad that I picked it up just as the sequel was coming out, because Crooked Kingdom was just as good, if not better. It’s like Ocean’s 11 meets Gangs of New York … but with magic. How’s that for a pitch? Seriously, believe the hype and just read this. I”m not even a fantasy person and I loved it.

The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas
Speaking of hype, this has got to be one of the most-hyped books of 2017. Which can be a dangerous position to be in, particularly for a debut. Well, I got an ARC of it, and I gotta say, it 100% lived up to the hype. In fact, I’d say it exceeded my sky-high expectations. The characters are so vivid and amazing (I seriously loved her father), and it’s the perfect example of why #ownvoices is important. I truly don’t think any tourist writer could write even one tenth of this level of realism and create such wonderful, full-realized characters.

Party of One by Dave Holmes (audio)
My favorite audiobook genre is “Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Celebrity,” and this was far and away my favorite of these. Maybe because it hit my nostalgia button, maybe because Dave Holmes is hilarious and a damn fantastic writer, maybe it was his own great reading. Whatever it was, I was all in. This one joins Amy Poehler’s Yes Please as an audio book I’ll listen to again.

And there you have it! My favorite reads of 2016. Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn will probably hop on this list, too, but I haven’t finished it yet.

So spill in the comments … what were your favorite reads of 2016?