Nov 15, 2016

The Reading Slump

Friends, I am in the middle of a huge reading slump. I can't seem to find anything that holds my attention. I've tried book after book and I just can't stick with anything. I know it's a busy time right now and that's why I can't get into a book, but I'm ready to find a story that is unputdownable.

Today I decided to share a few of the books that I've attempted to read here lately, but just couldn't get into. Feel free to try and convince me to give a book another shot!

The After Party by Anton Disclafant. This book sounded exactly like my favorite kind of book: a good southern debutante novel. I just could not seem to connect to any of the characters. The writing just felt dull. Maybe if I had kept going with this story I would have gotten into it. Have y'all read it? Should I try again?

I'm probably one of the few that didn't like this one. Granted, I only read the first 35 pages or so, but I was confused about several parts in this one. Some of the characters just didn't make any sense and I wondered if that was because it was an Alice in Wonderland retelling/prequel/variation. 

It saddens me that I could not get into a book that Reese Witherspoon recommended. A few of y'all even messaged me and suggested I pick this up. I only read the first 15 pages, so I didn't really give it a fair shot, but there was so much description and I prefer more dialogue and interaction among the characters. Should I try it again?

I really wanted to love this one. The plot is compared to Gossip Girl, so I was very excited! I read the first 75 or so pages and I was so confused about the world and the skyscraper. I just couldn't visualize what a building like that would even look like. 

I'm dying to find a romance book like Lauren Layne's Wedding Belle series. I ordered the first one in this series and hated the edition they sent: a small pocket book. I can't stand reading small editions like that. Has anyone read the series? Should I just look past the smallness? :)

I was skeptical about this one, but when I visited my local library and saw that it was in, I decided to give it a go. I couldn't get into the story and after reading reviews of it, I realized lots of other people had the same problems as me. What did y'all think? 

Sooo any suggestions on what I should read next? I've ordered this one and it's suppose to be here tomorrow. I've also got an ARC of this one that I'm going to try out tonight. Wish me luck!

Nov 14, 2016

Christmas Living Room Tour (Part 1)


I know, I know. It may be a little too early to start decorating for Christmas since Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet, but I'm already in a Christmas mood! Last year was incredibly busy and I didn't even put up a tree :( I was determined to get into the spirt bright and early this year! I spend the long weekend decorating and watching Christmas movies (when I wasn't watching Alabama win...Roll Tide!) I thought I'd share a few pictures of what I've gotten done so far. :)

I'll try and link everything that I can find online or tell where I got it in case anyone is wondering. 

mirror (hobby lobby) // wooden Christmas tree (TJ MAXX) // sleigh (TJ MAXX) // present (Pier One from last year; similar here)

(Local friends- I found this at The Alabama Gift Company in Gadsden and the drugstore on the square in Jacksonville also sells them:) ) 

I've had several people ask about my couch. I bought it at a local furniture store, but it's by Broyhill. You can see it online here. Warning: it's a LOT bigger than it looks in the store. I SO should have measured before purchasing. I love it and it's extremely comfortable, but I'm limited on where I can place it in my living room. :)

Isn't that pineapple lamp the cutest?? It was a junk store find! Those Southern Firefly candles are amazing. The little Christmas tree is from the Target Dollar Spot (this year) and the lit house is found in the Christmas department in Target right now. 

If you follow me on Instagram (@msleslieann01) you know I'm trying to learn how to make pretty chalkboard signs. :) The snowman is from TJ MAXX. The wooden trees are from the Target Dollar Spot (this year). The small brown crate is from the Target Dollar Spot (this year). The pine cones are from a friend's yard :) :)  I used fake snow to add a little white to them. 

I put lights around these grapevine snowmen, but I couldn't capture them lit in the picture. 

I always have people ask about my TV stand. It's from the same local furniture store where I purchased my couch. I have no idea what brand it is... :( The two trees on either side of the TV are from a friend's booth in a local decor store, but I've seen similar at Hobby Lobby. 


Santa (Target Christmas section) // white tree (Target Christmas section) // wooden trees (Target Dollar Spot) // Pillow (Target)

Can you tell I LOVE Target! :)

I found this small wreath at TJ MAXX. Just what  I needed for my carport door. 

That's what I've got so far! I've put my Christmas tree up, but it's not fully decorated yet. I am obsessed with Emily Gemma's tree on snapchat so I'm working to recreate it! 

Nov 13, 2016

Weekly Outfits Recap


It's time for the weekly outfit recap! I started this last week in an effort to make better use of my closet and stop wearing the same ole clothes week after week. This week shall be known as the week I declare my love for stripes. :)

top // pants (old) // shoes // handbag

top (from a local boutique) // pants // handbag // necklace 

dress (old navy, not online) // cardigan // shoes // clutch (old, similar here) // necklace // necklace 

top (old navy, not online; similar here) // jeans // handbag // shoes

Friday was Veteran's day so I had the day off. I spent the entire day working in my house, decorating for Christmas. I didn't document the sweatpants I wore that day ;) 

I hope y'all had a great week! Only one week 'til Thanksgiving break. I. cannot. wait.

I'll be sharing some home decor pictures later this week so make sure to check back! You can follow me on Instagram for some sneak peek of Christmas decor pics :) :) 


Nov 7, 2016

The most comfortable sweater...ever!



Oversized sweater // black pants (from Target, not online) // handbag // shoes

As a teacher, I'm all about comfort! I ordered this sweater from Nordstrom after seeing Emily Gemma from The Sweetest Thing wear it. She wore the blue and green and I just loved it. When I saw that it came in black and white, I knew I had to order one for myself. I wore it today and it was pretty much the most comfortable thing ever. You better believe I came home and bought the blue/green one too! 


Nov 5, 2016

Weekly Outfits Recap

It's the weekend, y'all! In an effort to maximize my closet, I've decided to start documenting and blogging about what I wear to work. My closet(s) are packed full and I always seem to grab the same ole clothes and I want to change that! I'm hoping that blogging about it will help. :)


TJ Maxx Top // Old Navy pants // Tory Burch clutch (old, similar here) // Burberry inspired scarf ( TJ Maxx) // Tory Burch shoes (old, similar here

Nordstorm white top // Old Navy pants // TJ Maxx vest // Burberry bag // Old Navy booties

Old Navy dress // Kendra Scott necklace // Clara V. leopard clutch // Old Navy booties (last year, similar here)

Old Navy undershirt (not online) // Old Navy pants // thrift store chambray button up // converse // Louis Vuitton handbag


Nordstorm top // Old Navy pants // Lilly Pulitzer scarf // Kate Spade Saturday clutch (old) // Tory Burch Caroline shoes 


I've linked everything that I could find online. The Old Navy pants I'm wearing in several pictures are from last year and I have no idea what they are called and I couldn't find anything similar online. There are just basic black pants that I always stock up on because we aren't allowed to wear jeans at my school :(

This Nordstorm white top is my newest obsession. I want it in every color. It's the perfect basic long sleeve t-shirt. 

Handbags are my weakness, so I consider them an investment. The Tory Burch clutch from Monday's outfit is a few years old, so I don't know if you can still get that style. I've seen it in stores, but the one I found online looks a little differently. The Clara V. leopard clutch was a birthday gift that I had been wanting for the longest time. The Louis Vuitton speedy was my first "big" handbag purchase- a gift to myself when I turned 25. And the Burberry bag was a birthday gift to myself this year when I turned 30. What can I say? Handbags are my favorite! 

Happy weekend, y'all!

Nov 2, 2016

Top Ten Thrillers


The genre of thriller is one that I never thought I would like. And then the Gone Girl craze happened. Confession: I have never read Gone Girl. I've attempted it several times, but I just can't get into it. I've watched the movie and I loved it, but the book just isn't for me.

I'm so glad the book is so popular because I've discovered so many great books! I'm sharing my top 10 favorite thrillers today. Not all of them are pictured above. I've loaned some out. :)

Hands down, my favorite thriller is The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. I LOVE this book! That ending?! Oh man, it was so good and completely unexpected! 

Here's the synopsis: 
"I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will." 

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life. 

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter. 

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.

I was not expecting this one to be as good as it was. I read this one back in January and I still remember exactly what the book was about. That's a true sign of a really good book! This one is told from the POV of three different characters in a really unique way. I LOVED this one!

Here's the synopsis: 
A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder. This is a modern re-imagining of Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train from the author of the acclaimed The Girl with a Clock for a Heart.

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” 

From there, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they plot Miranda's demise, but soon these co-conspirators are embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse--one they both cannot survive--with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

This one has a lot of negative reviews attached to it, but I loved it! I read it last summer and really enjoyed the storyline. Lots of people say that don't like the main character, but I actually thought she was relatable and understandable. Plus, Reese Witherspoon is making it into a movie, so it's a must read!

Here's the synopsis: 
As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

While everyone was hopping aboard the thriller train after reading Gone Girl, it took The Girl on the Train to convince me that this was a genre worth reading. I remember researching and researching this book before caving in and getting it. I couldn't imagine enjoying a thriller book, but this one was amazing! I haven't seen the movie yet, but I really want to!

Here's the synopsis: 
EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Now, this one doesn't come out until January, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC from the publisher last month. I cannot begin to tell y'all how good this one was! It kept me guessing until the very end. 

Here's the synopsis: 
Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

Jane
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

Behind Closed Doors was one of those books that you just couldn't put down. I think I read it in one sitting. The marriage between the two main characters was just fascinating to read. 

Here's the synopsis: 
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You'd like to get to know Grace better. But it's difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.


Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace's friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn't Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?


The plot of this one is SOOO good, but a little warning: it is confusing at first and takes awhile to get into. This book is told backwards. The setting covers the span of 15 days and the books begins with Day 15. It takes awhile to understand what's going on, but then things start to click and it gets really good! I promise if you stay with this one, you'll love it!

Here's the synopsis: 
Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.

Hands down the creepiest, scariest book I've ever read. It made me want to delete every single one of my social medias and become a recluse. The main character, Joe Goldberg, delivers a scary POV that makes for a jaw dropping read. At times I just had to sit the book down and go "what just happened??"

Here's the synopsis: 
When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

This one was another quick read. The thing I loved about this book was how everything came together at the end. 

Here's the synopsis: 
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora, but one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents, but the truth is a much more complicated story.


Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years. 

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family, a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist. 

Mary Kubica's new book from this year was another winner for me. She also wrote Pretty Baby, which I read and liked, but it's my least favorite of the 3. This one was one that I had no clue what was going on until about the last 10% of the book. Then everything made sense and made me think "ohhhhh that's what was going on!" I love books like that! 

Here's the synopsis: 
In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew. 

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.  

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

I'd love to hear what your favorite thrillers are!

Nov 1, 2016

October Favorites


Happy November 1st, y'all! I cannot believe that it is already November. Here in Alabama it still feels like the middle of summer, so I'm not quite ready to break out the the snowmen and Christmas tree just yet, but I'm eagerly awaiting cooler, winter like weather!

Today I'm sharing my favorite beauty products that I discovered/used during the month of October. 

First off, let's talk about that scarf in the above picture. I have been dying for a Burberry scarf for such a long time, but that price tag is a tough pill to swallow! I found this one at TJ MAXX and it looks almost identical.




This overnight hair serum from Pantene is hands down the most amazing thing I've ever smelled. I haven't really noticed a difference in my hair, but I haven't been using it very long either. But it makes my hair and pillowcase smell wonderful so it can't hurt! :)

I've tried pretty much every gel nail polish out there and the new Essie ones are the best! They are kind of expensive, but so worth it! The white coat makes your nails so shiny and it lasts a long time, too!

Now, I don't know how these Target makeup wipes are on your face, but as a makeup remover on your hands, they are wonderful! I was looking for a cheap package of wipes to keep in my makeup drawer so I can wipe off foundation from my hand as I apply makeup in the morning. These are the best I've ever used and they smell wonderful! 

This Becca blush photographs a lot darker than it really is, so don't let that fool you. I've been loving Becca blushes here lately and my go to color has been 'foxglove'. 

I shared my favorite skin care products on Instagram a few weeks ago and showed the Simple Micellar water that I had been loving. Someone messaged me about the Garnier version. I don't really love Garnier products, but I decided to give this one a try and I'm SO GLAD I did! This does such a good job at removing makeup before cleansing the face. 

Aren't peel off masks so fun? I love trying new face masks and I decided to try out the Formula 10.0.6 Get Your Glow On brightening mask. I had heard absolutely nothing about it and just picked it up on a whim. I ended up loving this one! It smells great and leaves your skin feeling so soft!  And at $6.99, you can't beat the price!

Looking for a product that helps cut your hair drying time in half? I have become addicted to the Kenra Blow Dry Serum. Love, love, love!

I have to put something on my lips before I go to sleep and I've been loving this Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm from First Aid Beauty. Now, this is a SUPER thick balm, so if that's not your thing you probably won't like this one, but I love it! My lips still feel moisturized when I wake up in the morning. 

This is completely random, but my mom found these Smith and Vandiver foot fizzies at the grocery store back in the spring. I never used them until this month when I started giving myself nightly pedicures. These smell like Bath and Body Works Sheer Fressia from back in the day.  Love!

I was in desperate need of a good moisturizer that wasn't greasy. I've been loving the Johnson's baby creamy oil. It smells just like summer and makes me a little sad every night when I apply it. #teacherproblems.  

My go to lip is a rosey pink and I've been obsessed with this combo. The Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On lip pencil in 'turn on' and the Buxom full on lipstick in 'Las Vegas'

That's what I've been loving during the month of October! I'd love to hear your favorites!

To see my October book review, click here