What I Read In September

I feel like I should tell y'all that, when I write these book recaps, I write them as I finish a book, so that I don't forget anything. Which sometimes ends up with several paragraphs that are all over the place. I had a ton of my books on holds come off all at the same time, and joked with the librarian about it. She agreed that it was weird that we couldn't like, give the person behind us in line a turn first. If you missed what I read in August, you can find that here

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A book stack, with two library books and a kindle on top. From the bottom up, you have The Testaments, The Lost Girls of Paris, and on the Kindle, is the cover of Becoming

Beloved: HOLY COW YOU GUYS. I honestly put this on my TBR list shortly after Toni Morrison died and I learned more about her. I devoured this. Literally finished it in two days because I could not put it down. I don't know what I was expecting from this book, because I honestly didn't know anything about it going in other than all of the praise for Toni Morrison. Anyways, here's the goodreads description

"Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved."

It's dark and twisty and there's this middle part where we abandon all grammar and syntax rules, it's a wild ride. I recommend it, if you're into dark and twisty. 

The Lost Girls of Paris: This was very much in the same vein as The Alice Network, told with two different timelines, and I loved it. It was another one that once I got to the meat of the book, I couldn't put it down. I kept telling myself "okay, one more chapter and then you have to go to bed" but I ended up finishing it. Another story about strong women in WWII who were nearly forgotten because the men want to take all the credit. You know the drill. I really liked that there was a romantic interest for the main characters, but that wasn't the whole story. It wasn't something that was wrapped up in a pretty little bow at the end of the book where they live happily ever after in some enchanted forest.

If you liked The Alice Network and The Huntress and any of the other ones about female warriors and spies in WWII, I recommend this one too. It does take a little while to pick up, but once it does it's hard to put down! 

Becoming: I've mentioned before that I'm enthralled by the stories of strong women that tend to get overshadowed by their superstar husbands, so obviously this one was on my list to read. I really enjoyed this one, it almost felt like I was listening to Michelle Obama tell her story. I loved the little behind the scenes things that you're not going to get in an interview and I loved how honest she was about everything? It sounds weird, but I really enjoy when people who seem larger than life can be like "I sat there thinking, am I enough?" because that's something I feel all. the. time. It's nice to know that you can feel that and still have a huge impact on the world. I'm also fascinated by [most] of the First Ladies, it's such an interesting position. There are so many rules but at the same time there are no rules. I was too young to really remember people hating on Hillary for working while First Lady, but based on recent history, I'm really not that surprised to hear it. Another one that I very much enjoyed and I think everyone should read.

I did have a book I didn't finish in last month's round up, so I swear I don't love every book  I read. 

The Testaments: I was the very first person to borrow this from my library. I recently saw an instagram post that was in no way directed at me, but I took it personally anyways, it was about how the poster always makes a point to buy copies of books instead of getting them from the library to support the author. Now, I'm sure Margarte Atwood will survive without my royalty money, but I freaking love the library, so I felt defensive. Additionally, I can't afford my reading habit without the library.

ANYWAYS. This book is a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. From Goodreads: ""Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in." --Margaret Atwood" (putting that quote in quotes made me feel very much like Michael Scott...)

I really enjoyed this. I haven't watched the third season of the TV show based off of The Handmaid's Tale yet, so I'm not sure if I should have "seen the overlaps coming" as the reviews on Goodreads state. Personally, I've stopped reading the reviews there until I've finished the book, one because people play very fast and loose with spoilers, which for a social network for book lovers blows me away, and two because they're often very harsh. Atwood said this is everything you've been asking about Gilead. I think that's what she delivers. I've read some bad post works (LOOKING AT YOU CURSED CHILD) I don't think that's what this is. I read it in TWO DAYS you guys. Hard, physical copy. All 415 pages. I devoured it. If you liked Handmaid's then I think you'll like this too. I don't think it's pandering, I think that most authors know what happens to their characters after the first book ends. I'm very defensive, I suppose, but I enjoyed it. I wanted to know how it ended. I worked out some of the ways the characters were tied together, but I think you were supposed to. Someone else read it and let me know if I'm being fanatical, the "top" reviews on Goodreads are making me doubt myself.

Currently reading: The Girls of Atomic City:

That's it for September! What did y'all read? As always, linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books! 
Life According to Steph

Can I Bring Albus? Dry County Brewing

I think Can I Bring Albus? is my favorite blog idea in quite some time. I'm always trying to get out and about when we don't have company in town (we have a bad habit of cramming all of the fun things we want to do into a weekend when we have someone to show around town. It's aggressive.) So, a couple of weeks ago, we met my mom, stepdad, grandmother, and grandfather out at Dry County Brewing.

This is not a sponsored post. We would love for Can I Bring Albus? to be picked up by anyone willing to give us beer or food in exchange for our honest opinions about how great it was that you wanted to give us beer or food though..
Albus sits, smiling, in front of a Dry County sign. He's wearing a very dapper buffalo plaid bandanna

If you're familiar with the Kennesaw area, Dry County is tucked right behind McCollum Airport and the Vulcan quarry, just before Kennesaw State's main campus. They have a pretty big space with an outside patio, complete with cornhole! BONUS: their brewing facilities are behind a sealed door, so dogs are allowed inside and outside! 

While I have been trying to get Albus's instagram up to "send us free treats and bandannas" fame, we've found some other pups to follow that are local and share our interests. We walked into Dry County, and who should we meet? One of Albus's friends from the internet, Larry! They were super cute together and Larry even shared his ball with Albus (I cannot say Albus would have done the same. He's very much an only child..) 

Larry, of Larry Loves Adventures, sits smiling to Albus's left. They became best friends on this day
Dry Count is also a DISTILLERY. That's right ladies and gentlemen, they make beer AND liquor. So while we were there we had a chance to try TWO frozen drinks made with their own vodka. Let me tell you, they were so tasty. I'm not a fan of sugary drinks, but since it's been summer for my entire life I was willing to give the frozen blueberry lemonade a chance. My mom and I were supposed to share the drink and I absolutely drank 90% of it. Albus gets his inability to share from me, apparently. It was so good that for my next drink I had the raspberry limeade, which was EVEN. BETTER. 

A delicious looking frozen blueberry lemonade drink in a Dry County pint glass, with the blue sky and patio area of Dry County Brewing in the background. We're all very kindly ignoring what little bit of a manicure is left on Kasey's hand.
I've also been really digging their Lechuza and their Oktoberfest brew. (PS, if you're a big beer drinker, I adore the Untappd app, come be my friend!) I've found those on tap at some of my favorite local places too! 

We played corn hole (which, somehow, I was on the winning team AND scored the winning point.) Albus had lots of snacks, got lots of pets, and made some new friends. It was a very laid back vibe (we did go on Sunday afternoon, but it was Labor Day Weekend, so that's not a real Sunday) and it's both dog and kid friendly! The staff is great and everyone is very knowledgeable about the beers and can even help you decide what to drink! They had dog bowls with water in them, even though we always bring our own, and a canister of treats at the bar! 

Have you been to Dry County? Where should our next installment of Can I Bring Albus take us? 

September Coffee Date!

Happy football season y'all! I'm going to Athens this weekend for the UGA/Notre Dame game, so please send your thoughts and prayers because I'm not as young as I'm going to act this weekend.. All I've felt like writing lately has been "Can I Bring Albus?" posts, but I'm trying to space those out. So let's chat! 

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IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I'd tell you that it looks so weird in the editor when I type that in bold and all caps, but I really like how it looks on the theme I have going on so I keep doing it, hopefully it's not something I have to go back over if I ever decide to move to wordpress or switch the layout here. ALSO SPEAKING OF. I've been having problems with sharing posts to twitter & facebook -- they're just showing as a link and no image or preview, I have no idea what I've done. Elle tried to help me, we discovered that for some reason my domain isn't showing as "secure" so I paid the domain company I use for an SSL license, that I have no idea how to add. It's fine, I'm fine, everything is fine.

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I would ask for suggestions on relatively affordable jewelry that won't turn my skin green or make my ears feel like they're on fire. I'm apparently allergic to copper or nickel or whatever makes yellow gold yellow? So I can't wear the fun $3 earrings without my ears getting all gross and itchy. I ALSO can't wear the cute little necklaces from target or etsy because somehow they turn my neck green. I am trying to talk myself into "investing" in a few nice pieces that I can wear every day, but having a hard time telling myself it's worth $100 for a new necklace. I have a pair of 1/4 carat diamond studs that I got for my 25th birthday (get it? .25 carat?) that I have literally taken out maybe twice since then, lately those are the only earrings that I don't end up taking out and shoving in my purse halfway through the day. Am I the only one with this problem? Plz help.

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I would tell you I PASSED my GA Real Estate Licensing exam! I'm meeting with a brokerage this week and will hopefully have my official license all handled by the end of the week. *fingers crossed* So now it's just time for someone to need me to sell their house.. It feels a little surreal now, to have to think "okay, the class is done, now I have to find clients." I'm excited though, I've already met some really cool people that I look forward to working with.

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I would tell you about this bracelet for my keys. I was influenced by Becca & Christine because I am literally a walking infomercial for a product like this. I always try to make JUST ONE trip from the car to the house, and I will put my keys in the same hand that I use to carry all of my crap from the car (ps, can we combine coffee mugs and water bottles into one thing that has my coffee hot and my water cold at the same time? thanks in advance) and then I get to the door to realize that my keys are in the wrong hand, I have to set everything down, and unlock the door. Just found myself shouting "there has to be a better way!" Enter this rubber bracelet that my keys clip on to. Derek makes fun of it, saying I have a child's teething ring on my keys, but whatever, it works.

I'm up to my teeth in library books, which is not bad at all. It's too damn hot outside to do anything else. We're melting down here guys. Anyways, what's new with you?

What I Read In August

Happy September, friends! August was a crazy month for me, but I still managed to get some books read. Partially because I am part-hermit so I'm totally fine sitting on the couch reading instead of going out and about. I've got the tiniest bit of summer fatigue. Like, I don't want pool season to end, but we had TWO WHOLE DAYS of nice, cooler weather and man does it make me want to wear jeans and maybe a sweater without sweating out all of my body's water supply. ANYWAYS, let's get to the real reason I'm here today - books! As always, linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books. If you missed what I read in July, you can find that here!

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The first page of a chapter in The Huntress is displayed on a kindle paperwhite sitting on a lime green and white glider with a cup of coffee in a mug featuring lovey turtles, taken on one of those fake fall mornings where it was a crisp, nice 69 degrees Fahrenheit


The Tattooist of Auschwitz: All of my holds tend to come off at once. I think that's because I place them all at once too? Like, oh, this book isn't available, so maybe this one is, oh no another hold. So then I'm in a little bit of a time crunch to finish them. I really enjoyed this one, had a hard time putting it down. It's nice to know that when everything is terrible awful no good that there can be a love story. That there can be light in the dark. It's also really cool that it's based on a true story. That warms your heart too.

Lord Edgeware Dies: I snagged another Poirot novel to be a bit of a buffer between Auschwitz and Columbine, but of course while I was reading that TWO MORE books I wanted to read came off of holds (The Huntress and I Was Anastasia) If I've said it once, I've said it a million times, but I love all of the Poirot books. I'm apparently an Agatha Christie Stan at this point. I love trying to guess who dunnit, to almost always be fooled. I think I figured this one out right as Poirot did though, and it wa a very fun one! As always, I recommend all of the Poirot novels.

The Huntress: I loved The Alice Network so I was super excited for this one to come off of holds. I think I placed the hold way back in April when I first got my library card. This was also book 30 of 30 of my goodreads goal! HOLY COW YOU GUYS. This was so good. I tore through it. It does this thing in the middle, that not everyone will like but I did, where it kind of lulls you into just a nice day to day life of all the characters. Because that's what happened to the characters, you're also experiencing it, but as the reader you know a little bit that they don't, and then when it clicks with the characters it takes OFF and oh my god it was so good. You should absolutely read it. And thank you to everyone in Show Us Your Books who read it before me. WOW. ALL the stars guys. All of them.

The Aviator's Wife: After I decided to quit I Was Anastasia, I found this title and then two days later, two more books came off of my library holds. I really wish they gave me the option to be like "let the person behind me take this turn, and I'll get it after they do!" Anyways. This one is about Charles Lindbergh's wife. As you know, I've already read about Ernest Hemmingway's first wife, and Einstein's wife.. So there's a trend here where I'm interested in the stories of these incredible women who kind of faded behind the scenes. I honestly had no idea about Anne Lindbergh until I picked this one up. I learned a lot of things I didn't know, like that Charles Lindbergh was a Nazi sympathizer. There are some other things that I don't know if they'll spoil the book, or if they were common knowledge I didn't know. I really enjoyed this, even though I kind of didn't care for either Charles or Anne for a little bit. I thought it was super interesting though, I definitely recommend picking it up if you're a sucker for the strong wives who somehow get overshadowed by their husbands.

CURRENTLY READING:
Radium Girls: I'm not sure that I'll get out of WWII any time soon. Somehow I'm all the way down the rabbit hole and maybe having some trouble distinguishing what's current and what happened 80 years ago... This one came off of holds the day before Beloved did so I had the Libby app very kindly letting me know that there were people waiting for both of the books I had checked out. This is the first non-fiction book I've read since Alexander Hamilton and I was shocked at the level of gaslighting they did to these women. I'm not sure why that ever surprises me, but it was intense you guys. I thought I would be done with this one before today, but I'm only about 60% of the way there. It's incredible and hard to read and it makes me so angry and knowing it's all real makes it hurt my heart so much more. So, for being 60% of the way done, I still recommend this one.

I've also had Beloved & The Lost Girls Of Paris come off of library holds so I'll be working on those for September. I really need there to be a way to pause my holds, so I can get caught up on the books I have and maybe the person behind me can go ahead and read one of the books before me. I think I have a couple more that are about to drop, so I'll be hiding from the heat in with my nose in a book for a while.

DID NOT FINISH
I Was Anastasia: This one also came off of a 12 week hold the day after The Huntress, I was a little scared I wouldn't finish The Huntress in time to get to this one. Libby tells you how many people are waiting for your particular copy. This one was a little harder for me to get into because the style of narration changes every chapter or so. Goes back and forth from third person to first person which made me a little dizzy? I honestly made it through the first 120 pages before I admitted defeat. It was not for me. 
Life According to Steph

That's all I have for August! Did y'all read anything good? I find so many good books from this Show Us Your Books link up, I look forward to it every month! 

Can I Bring Albus: East Palisades Indian Trail (Dog Beach!!)

Welcome back to another edition of Can I Bring Albus? Today we're talking about the dog beach on the Chattahoochee and that dog dad we made very mad the first time we went! If you're new to Can I Bring Albus? I made a designated page where I'll update our adventures by location. We're also always looking for new places to take him, so please send us any and all recommendations! So! Back to the dog beach

This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links. 

Albus, a black lab, sits in the seemingly still waters of the Chattahooche river with a very scenic background of lush greenery and expanse of river
So, we've been to the dog beach twice now! It took that many trips for me to realize that there are two different "trails" you can take to get there. Both times we've gone, and probably all of the times we'll go in the future, we've taken the East Palisades Indian Trail. It's just under a mile hike down to the river, so Albus and I both get a workout in. It isn't that hard of a hike in, because it's downhill, but on the way back up it's a little tougher. So almost like a reverse hike.

Albus and his cousin Sydney sit remarkably still in front of the trailhead sign for the East Palisades Indian trail, waiting for treats please.
You basically drive through a neighborhood to get to the trail head, make sure when you get to the park you drive all the way to the end to the actual parking lot. There are lots of little gravel places that look like parking spots, but you will get a ticket from the park ranger. Parking is $5 and you have to put either cash or a check in an envelope. There is no one to take any form of plastic though, so don't forget your paper money! 

Albus leaps through the river waters with a couple of other dogs, he's stolen someone's tennis ball.
You'll hear the dog beach before you see it, Albus always gets excited at the first sight of the river, but that's never where we're stopping. Dogs are allowed to be off-leash here! Which is great! Make sure you're comfortable with that, that you'r dog is comfortable around other dogs, and that you don't bring your good ball to the dog beach. Albus, like many other dogs I've met in off leash situations, doesn't care who that ball belongs to, if one is being thrown, he's chasing it. However, he's not the best retriever, so if someone else throws a ball, he's going to drop the one he has and go after the other one. OR he's going to try to get two, three balls in his mouth. Three is his record so far. 

Albus is pouting because Mom said it was time to leave, he did not want to leave, he was having too much fun.
Our first time at the dog beach, he snagged someone's good Chuckit ball. The dog the ball was thrown for could not have cared less to chase it, but Albus obviously did. We have those balls at home so how is he supposed to know? I rescued the ball from the river three times for this man, who kept throwing the ball but got more mad every time Albus would chase it. I apologized the first time, but bro, if your dog isn't chasing it and you want to keep it, maybe stop throwing it. The more mad this man got, the less I was motivated to get up to my shorts in the water trying to get it back from Albus. I'm more of a "take a ratty old tennis ball in the diaper bag" girl, so if we lose it, it's really okay. This man was SO mad at us. So I guess we weren't at the dog beach to make friends that day. 

Albus standing in the river, waiting again for the ball to be thrown, this time the text "Can I Bring Albus? East Palisades Indian Trail & Dog Beach are above him

The hike back to the parking lot is a little more of a challenge, you get spoiled coming down the hill and then you play in the river, and THEN you have to go back up the hill. I wear my Teva sandals on this hike, so I can get down in the river with Albus and not worry about my shoes getting wet. This trail is also how I learned I am not a Chaco girl. I highly recommend this dog beach, and if you're going, let me know and we'll meet you there! I have a few more Can I Bring Albus? posts coming up, but we're always looking for suggestions! Where should we go next? Have you been to a dog beach?

Four Must Haves For Your Doggy Diaper Bag

HAPPY NATIONAL DOG DAY. According to my facebook memories, I've captioned a picture of Albus the past two years with the exact same caption... So I thought I'd mix it up this year and blog instead of saying "let's be honest, every day is national dog day with Albus..." I've talked before about my doggy diaper bag and how I keep it packed, ready to go, right by the door. My mom is actually the one who named it a diaper bag, but I think it's very accurate based on what I've seen in human baby diaper bags, even down to something for the poops....

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Albus sits with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth in front of a "What Lifts You" mural with wings

EXTRA. POOP. BAGS. One of my biggest fears is running out of poop bags. It happens to the best of us, sometimes I don't check the bag holder (ps we just switched to a poop bag holder that straps on to the leash because we broke so many dangle-y plastic ones. the most ideal) only to find out that was your last one on the roll. There are so many passive aggressive signs on our normal walking route, that I'm extra self conscious about cleaning up after my dog. Also, if you're going to have a sign that says "be a good neighbor and clean up after your pet" why don't you help me to help you? Maybe have a trash can or a dispenser with some bags in it. Also, travel sized hand sanitizer, because picking up dog poop is a dangerous, yucky game.

Albus standing in the pool with water up past his belly, very heavy eyes, but he swears he is not even a little bit tired okay
Treats!! So we did all the levels of the PetSmart puppy training, and the biggest takeaway was to reward positive behavior. Albus is highly food motivated -- literally took three days to potty train him because he realized if he went outside, he got a treat. We've been very loyal BarkBox customers since the day I brought him home, and honestly average a little less than two bags of treats a month. I keep a bag of treats in my purse, in the doggy diaper bag, and in the car. Albus has recently decided that he will not look at the camera without seeing a treat too. Our newest trick is to say "Albus! Can I take your picture?!" and he immediately drops whatever he has in his mouth and freezes...

Albus sits with just his wet face in focus, back before mom got a new phone that only let her take portrait mode pictures of humans.
Collapsible Bowls -- *technically* these clip on our leash, because it has this cool ring for you to clip things on. If we're on a long hike/walk, any time I stop for water for myself, I give some to Albus. Which means I'm constantly lugging around my Nalgene bottle too. Also, a lot of places we go and sit on the patio either don't have a doggy bowl or. sometimes. Albus is the biggest water snob and will only drink water with ice cubes in it. Either way, we're always prepared. Plus they just fold right down and take up no space!
Albus is most definitely absolutely not sitting on the bench at the table like a person (yes he is.) He's looking at the camera like he's getting away with something.
This thing that will make you say "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?" because it holds the ball on top of your phone. I mentioned that Albus refuses to look at the camera without proof of a treat, but he will always look at a ball. My cousin got me one of these a few years ago and I recently had to replace it because I absolutely lost it somewhere dumb I'm sure.

I also have things in the bag for me: the aforementioned hand sanitizer, SUNSCREEN, chapstick, and extra koozies. We use the Kavu bag that every college sorority girl seems to own, which I have absolutely gotten all $50 out of. It's so easy to grab and go, plus there's room for me to stick my entire giant wallet in there and a super small pocket to stash my keys in. I've also adopted the Boy Scouts "always be prepared" motto, so I keep treats, extra poop bags, and hand sanitizer in my regular purse...

Do you have a doggy diaper bag? Or something similar? Is there anything I need to add to mine? Happy National Dog Day everyone!! 

August Coffee Date

I'll have you know that the whole Yeti coffee rambler trend is like, my life saver. Since it keeps my coffee hot forever I can just enjoy it throughout the day. On any given work day, I'm usually still drinking my coffee at like. 3pm. Same cup though. Just little bits at a time. So I thought we'd sit down and have a leisurely coffee date today. Also, I'm really disappointed in myself for not taking a picture of my coffee on the beach in Mexico...

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IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I would tell you that I have my interview for Global Entry on Wednesday. Global entry is like TSA Precheck, but it also lets you skip the customs line when re-entering the US from abroad. After our quick trip to Mexico, I have the travel bug extra bad. I've been saving for another trip to Europe. I use this app, Qapital? to automate my savings (it rounds up to the nearest $2 and keeps that money in a separate account.) I've been going back and forth about switching to something interest bearing, but I don't know if that's reasonable for a short term goal. Any money-smart people have advice for me? 

Anyways, so I want to take a trip to Italy sometime in 2020. I've been working on a pinterest board that usually starts with me searching "Italy Pizza Travel" because priorities. We want to hit Naples (obviously), Sorrento, and maybe one of the wine regions. I assume we'll either fly into Florence or Rome, and spend a day on one of those as well. Like, we're in it for the pizza and wine and lemon cello, we can hit the Coliseum next time. Have any of y'all been to Italy? What should we add to the list? When is a good time to go? 

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I'd tell you I'm so close to getting my Real Estate license. I just have to sit for the licensing exam. Which I'm a little terrified of. It's an important step in my debt free journey, but man am I rusty when it comes to final exams. Like, December marks 9 years since I graduated college (woooooof) and also 9 years since I took a real, closed notes, final exam. I took the final exam for the online class I took (I used RealEstate Express, if you're thinking about doing the online certification that link gives you 35% off the price. They're supposed to pay for my licensing test if I fail it, which somehow doesn't make me feel better..) 

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I'd tell you that when all of the online sales were going on, Chewy had Albus's dog food cheaper for two bags than just one. Like, it was $40 off the second bag, but with the autoship discount, we only pay $37 a bag. So I jumped on that. Well, I forgot to edit the autoship back to adjust for having ordered two month's worth of food, so on Monday I woke up to the notification that my order had shipped. Two more bags, but at full price this time. So Albus has food until November. 

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I'd tell you that my currently reading stack is pretty dark. I'm at the mercy of my library holds, and The Tattooist of Auschwitz AND Columbine both came off holds within 24 hours of each other. So I'll be needing some lighter reading suggestions for the rest of August. All of my holds told me like "36 weeks!" when I placed then and they're all coming up in like the next month. Say a prayer that I can get through them before I have to return them so someone else with a hold gets their turn.

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I would want to know what is new with you? Do you think we'll see a day under 100 degrees any time soon? I don't want summer to end, but maybe just like, low 90s or something please. 

What I Read In July

I feel like the first few months of this year took forever, and then the spring and summer have just absolutely flown by. I have to remember about school traffic on my commute now and I completely forgot about how many more people are on the roads when it's back to school time. Anyways, I'm linking up with Steph & Jana for another month of Show Us Your Books! Let's see what I read in July. (If you missed what I read in June, you can pop back over here!)

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a hand is holding a kindle with the first page of a new chapter showing, there is a pool, lots of greenery, and palm trees in the background 
Also, fun story (in case you missed it last week) I took my kindle to the beach with me when I went to Cancun, and accidentally tested just HOW waterproof my "waterpoof kindle paperwhite" is. Mere minutes after I took this picture, I was just going to read with the kindle near the pool. The ground was so hot that I accidentally tossed it ALL THE WAY INTO the pool. Like, it hit the bottom of the ledge that you sit on. Fully immersed. Didn't even turn off. Everyone around the pool was watching with baited breath as I tried to play off my act of clumsiness with "well, I guess we'll find out if it's really water proof!" It was a terrifying thirty seconds though. So, I WHOLE HEARTEDLY recommend the water proof kindle. (If you have an older one, you can even trade it in for a discount off the newer ones!)

At Water's Edge: This was a suggestion from the Libby App, where I use my library card and checkout ebooks, I think it has completely replaced Overdrive? Or is in the process? Anyways, I filtered popular historical fiction by "available now" and this was one of the first books! I really enjoyed it, even though there's not any time travel involved (how are all of my Scottish Highland books time travel-centric? It's those damn stone circles guys.) This one is set in WWII and tells a pretty cool little story. It does take it a little while to find it's legs, but stick it out! I give it all five stars. (was I doing five stars last time? or four? I can never remember.)

The Last Days of Night: So I tend to read a lot of super long books (think Outlander) and this one started out super slow, because it was a new chapter every like. Five pages. Literally. I was on chapter 9 and page 49. It was like instead of new paragraphs we'd just start a new chapter. I am very glad I read some goodreads reviews saying this took a while to get going, because it honestly didn't start to pickup until about 60% of the way through it. Then I didn't want to put it down. The end does a nice job of tying up all of the story lines, which I guess is nice? Sometimes I feel like that's forced, to give a summary of the characters' lives after it's all over. ANYWAYS. It was very interesting and if you can get past the first hundred pages, it's worth a read.

Peril at End House; Okay, so before I left for Mexico, I downloaded a bunch of books thinking I'd get a lot of beach reading done. It was silly of me, but I did finish The Last Days of Night on the plane, and move on to another Poirot novel. HOWEVER. I had downloaded two, so I picked the wrong one first. Not that it actually matters, they're all independent. But, I digress. This one was good, I haven't gotten to a point where I can completely tell the bad guy in a Poirot novel, and I honestly love that. They're quick little reads and the twist at the end almost always surprises me. I find it hard to review these stories with a twist without giving anything away, so as always, I recommend Poirot.

The Mystery of The Blue Train: This one comes before Peril at End House but that's neither here nor there. These Agatha Christie tales of murder on the trains somehow make me want to take one of these cool train rides across Europe even more? I feel relatively safe because I don't fit into the type that tend to be murdered on the train, more the type that would become friends with Poirot in the dining car. I started to suspect who the bad guy was in this one earlier than I have in the past, but there was STILL a twist I didn't see coming. I read this one and End House in like. Two days.

Small Great Things: In high school, I devoured every Jodi Picoult novel I could get my hands on. They're like the book version of a Law and Order episode. They're not so much thrillers or mysteries as they are a kind of commentary on the crimes themselves. I had forgotten what this one was about, and then started it after the two acts of terrorism in El Paso & Dayton. This book speaks about an angry white nationalist couple and a Black nurse. It was very hard for me to start so soon after, but I am glad I did. It was clearly written for the "white savior" group, and will make you feel uncomfortable, it should. There was one character arc I hated how it wrapped up, it felt like it was too neat for me. I still give it all the stars though!

Back at the beginning of the year, I set my goodreads goal at 30 books. I'm on pace to hit that this month, so I'm going to see how far past my goal I can get. I guess I should set it higher for next year. How do y'all set your goodreads goals? I just started The Tattooist of Auschwitz because half of my reading schedule is dictated by when books come off holds at the library. What are you reading lately? Anything I should add to my stack? Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!
Life According to Steph

Can I Bring Albus: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield

A couple of weeks ago, I got up extra early on a Saturday and I was super motivated. So I loaded Albus up for a quick little hike up Kennesaw Mountain. You would think that since I grew up in Kennesaw, went to the park every year for field trips in elementary school, drive past it every single work day, that I would remember the date of the battle. It was June 27th, 1864 and you guys will never guess what day I took Albus to hike the mountain. Go ahead, guess. Did you guess June 29th, the Saturday after the anniversary of the battle? BECAUSE YOU WOULD BE RIGHT! 

This post is not sponsored (but I would absolutely accept a National Park Annual Pass in exchange for taking Albus to all of the dog friendly ones and exploring them...) This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of those links, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks! 
A black lab stands in front of a sign that says "Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park" with park hours below it.

So, on this fateful day. I figured the park would be busy, it wasn't TOO hot yet, but it was a Saturday morning. I pulled up and the main parking lot was full (it's always full, but I always do a loop in case I'm there at *just* the right time and someone is leaving.) Then the overflow parking was a zoo too, I lucked into a parking spot, took a very official picture of Albus squinting in front of the sign in that parking lot, then we head to the opening of the park. We start to cross the street, and only then do I see the tents set up, the canons not in their normal places, and people dressed as Union & confederate soldiers. 
a lush green field is spotted with men dressed up as union and confederate soldiers with the base of Kennesaw Mountain behind them

In case you were wondering, no, Albus was not a fan of the cannon fire or the rifles. Since we had already fought to park and made it to the welcome center, I decided that we should try to go up the mountain anyways. The hike up Kennesaw Mountain is only 1 mile, but man I struggle every time. Atlanta Trails says it's a "relatively moderate" hike. In the intro they say "Hike a strenuous 2.4 miles roundtrip on the Big Mountain Trail," so maybe it's not so easy peasey. Not sure I'm going to be trying anything they say is more difficult. 

SPEAKING of more difficult. If you're ever in the area and end up at the entrance on the back side of the mountain, they call it "Little Kennesaw Mountain" that hike is substantially more difficult and I have been glared down by a troop of Boy Scouts with those poky hike stick things (staunchly refusing to google what they're really called.) because apparently letting the large group of boys who look like they know what they're doing pass is not actually proper hiking etiquette. I always operate under "slower traffic get out of the way" 
a black lab licks his lips in anticipation of the treat the camerawoman is bribing him with, the city of Atlanta is in the distance, as they're almost at the top of the mountain

So, on your hike up, you go about .8 miles and then there's a parking lot. Fun story, the first time I took my youngest brother hiking, he got SO MAD when we found the parking lot and insisted we walk the driving path down because he didn't believe that going around the mountain would be further than straight down it. Well, by the time Albus & I reach this parking lot, I'm breathing a lot heavier than I care to admit, and I plop down on the sidewalk for both of us to take a water break. We only do easy hikes, but I keep my doggy diaper bag packed with sunscreen, an extra water bottle, a bag of BarkBox treats, and a spare roll of poop bags. I also have this really cool collapsible bowl that clips on to the leash. Obviously I needed the break more than Albus did. 
A black lab smiling with the Atlanta skyline in the distance behind him

I asked the park rangers if they would be firing the cannons on the tippy top of the mountain, because by this time I remembered all of the Kennesaw Mountain knowledge I have amassed over the years. They were also firing those, the reenactment must be historically accurate you know, so I decided we'd just head back down. It was hot and sweaty, but we ended up doing over two miles anyways because we had to walk to and from that satellite parking lot. 
a black lab with a lime green harness is startled either by the sound of cannon fire or the fact that his human is not as agile going down the mountain as he is.

Kennesaw Mountain itself, as well as the rest of the park associated with it, is all very dog friendly. A KEY thing to note though, you're gonna need to bring your own bags and be a little prepared to carry one for a while. We once accidentally went 6 miles on the Noses Creek trail looking for a trash can. There are several different trails in the park and we've done almost all of them! Maybe on our next installment of "Can I Bring Albus?" we'll talk about the dog beach where Albus made some overly serious dog dad very mad..

Have you been to Kennesaw Mountain? Do you think I'm a wimp getting winded on the trail (it's okay, I know I'm out of shape.) Is there a National Park near you that you love? Tell me about it! Also, always accepting new ideas for where to bring Albus.