Style and Savings Reads: September 2020

Welcome to another edition of Style and Savings Reads! This month I read Sourdough by Robin Sloan, The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, The Turner House by Angela Flournoy and The Herd by Andrea Bartz.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Sourdough by Robin Sloan, 2017 MCD
Short Synopsis: Lois works long, stressful hours at a robotics company, and finds comfort in ordering soup and sandwiches from a local restaurant run by two brothers. The brothers abruptly move away, leaving Lois with their sourdough starter. Lois discovers purpose in and a talent for baking and becomes part of a futuristic farmer’s market.

This book was on my to read list for a few years, and I was reminded of this when baking bread became a trend during quarantine. I thought the commentary of the future of work was interesting, especially the irony of working long hours to program robots that will eliminate work.

“Repetition is the enemy of creativity….repetition belongs to robots”

Sourdough, Robin Sloan, page 7

Lois finds comfort in eating the sourdough bread and soup and is driven by the need to take care of a living thing – the sourdough starter she is given. Chef Kate finds satisfaction in feeding people, which reminded me of how until the pandemic, we had lost sight of who the essential workers are and what jobs are most valuable to society. The elder Loises in the Lois club shared things they wished they had done sooner in life and encouraged Lois to pursue baking and crafting the art of sourdough bread full-time. Listening to older people provides a different perspective on life and advice on how to live without regret. Overall, this story is about using savings from soulless high-paying job to to pursue a passion.

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, 2018, Jove Books
Short Synopsis: Alexa and Drew meet while stuck in a hotel elevator. Drew asks Alexa to be his pretend girlfriend and last-minute date to his ex’s wedding. Will a pretend date turn into a real relationship?

This is the second Jasmine Guillory book I have read, and both seemed to follow the same formula. I liked The Wedding Date enough, but not as much as I liked Party of Two. I’m not sure sure if I liked Party of Two better because I read it first or because it is Jasmine Guillory’s 5th book and her storytelling has improved. After reading The Wedding Date, I understood why the ladies in the Party of Two book discussion mentioned inconsistencies in Olivia’s character. In The Wedding Date, Olivia was introduced as Alexa’s wild sister, but in Party of Two, Olivia is a cautious, hesitant overthinker and doesn’t like to be in the public eye. As sisters, Olivia and Alexa are very similar characters, they have the same childhood experiences and even the same physical shape & insecurities. Alexa’s leading man – Drew wasn’t as socially aware as Olivia’s love interest, Max, but was still likeable and charming. Generally, I felt like I was reading a variation of the same book, and I enjoyed the comforting predictability of a rom-com.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy, 2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Short Synopsis:
Set against the backdrop of 2008 Detroit, the burst of the housing bubble and the start of The Great Recession, siblings in a large family (13 in total) decide whether to keep their childhood home.

The Turner House had also been on my To- Read list for several years and I finally got around to reading it. This book had an overall feeling of gloom and hard times. The story was told from the perspectives of a few of the siblings. and included flashbacks from the the previous generation, from the mother and father’s point of view. I was disappointed that most of the conflicts were left open, but glad that the book ended with the family being together.

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Photo Credit: Goodreads

The Herd by Angela Bartz, 2020, Ballantine Books
Short Synopsis: Eleanor, the glamorous CEO of a women-only co-working studio was murdered. Just as carefully as she had crafted the aesthetics of her business, she had also cultivated her image. To find her killer, her best friends Katie, Hana, and Mikki must uncover her buried secrets.

I saw a review of this book in one of the past month’s book link-ups and was drawn to the idea of a stylish and feminist workplace. It reminded me so much of The Belle, where Jane becomes a member and Kat finds a new job on The Bold Type. This book also had PLL vibes starring beautiful girls with dark secrets, solving the murder of their best friend (or frenemy).
I was proud that I was able to detect who Eleanor’s killer was before the book revealed this. I was much more surprised by the secondary mystery of what happened while Katie was in Michigan. I loved this book, because it combined a gritty murder mystery with the glamour of a beautiful and exclusive workspace while weaving in additional twists and secrets from the past.

What have you read lately?

Linking up with more book bloggers at Show Us Your Books and Modern Mrs Darcy

Style and Savings Reads: August 2020

This month, I read Clap When You Land, A Good Neighborhood and The Vanishing Half

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, 2020, Quill Tree Books
Short Synopsis: After a tragic plane crash across the ocean, two girls Yahaira in New York City and Camino in the Dominican Republic discover they are half sisters as they mourn their father’s death.

The book is thick at 432 pages, but is a quick read because it is written in verse. The entire story takes place over the course of two months, as the two families deal with the shock, grief and aftermath of the crash. Clap When You Land was inspired by a plane crash that happened shortly after September 11th attacks and was mostly ignored by the media, but was deeply felt by New York’s Dominican community.
Chapters alternate between the two sisters voices. We learn how their daily lives and experiences differ, and the differences in their relationships with their father. At times it was difficult to distinguish between the sisters’ voices. I think this was meant to show that despite not growing up together, they still had similarities. There is Spanish sprinkled into the verses and I like that Yahaira is in touch with her Dominican culture, although she grew up in America and had never visited the island. The main questions I took from this book are: Does keeping a secret protect anyone? Is it better to be honest because all secrets will eventually be uncovered?
Elizabeth Acevedo is also the author of With the Fire on High, which I also plan to read soon.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Ann Fowler, 2020,
Short Synopsis: Harmony in neighborhood of Oak Noll is threatened as trees are removed and replaced with new construction. When the wealthy white Whitman family which includes a teenage daughter moves in next door to Valerie Alston-Holt and her bi-racial son, the two teens develop a romantic relationship that continues while their families are at odds.

This book makes readers question “What is a good neighborhood?” Is it an area with large houses and manicured lawns? A community where neighbors become friends and actively care for one another? The story is narrated by unnamed neighbors who are outside observers to the central conflicts. This reminded me of how the voice of Mary Alice narrated Desperate Housewives. (Any fans of that show? – tell me in the comments)

Mary Alice Young | Wiksteria Lane | Fandom
Photo Credit:

At the book’s beginning, readers are told that the ending will be tragic. Despite knowing something bad would happen, the book had a cozy feeling of being surrounded by the shade of trees.

The author, who is white did well in writing Valerie’s character. Valerie was never stereotypical, she was a multi-dimensional Black woman as a widow, a mother, a girlfriend, a professor and a neighbor. Her interest and expertise in plants also made her unique. I also liked that Julia Whitman had a gritty backstory that added a layer to her surface level trophy wife appearance. The contrast between the Alston-Holts’ and the Witmans’ values offered insight and commentary on race, class and gender.

Most of the dramatic action took place in the last 80 pages, which reflects how quickly a situation can spiral out of control. Sadly, appearances and public opinion are given more value than truth.

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett, 2020, Riverhead Books
Short Synopsis: Twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes leave the small town of Mallard, Louisiana at 16 years old. Desiree lives her life as a black women, while Stella abandons her by choosing to pass as a white woman and never looks back. Their lives remain separate until their college-age daughters cross paths.

The story begins with the tale of Mallard’s town founder and how colorism was the principle that defined the town. Having lighter skin was valued and the founder envisioned each generation becoming lighter than the last. Desiree and Stella decide to leave town together as teenagers and a few years later, Stella begins a new life apart from her twin. Passing as white comes with many privileges, but the downside is that Stella’s new life is built on a lie.
Much like Don Draper, Stella has a hard time telling her daughter anything about her family and her past. Stella feels that she never fits in anywhere and keeps nearly everyone she meets at a distance so her secret won’t be discovered.

Photo Credit: Literary Traveler

Stella is not the only character in the book who becomes someone new.
There are others who are uncomfortable with their original identity and choose to reinvent themselves.

“You could convince anyone you belonged somewhere if you acted like you did.”

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett is also the author of The Mothers, which I really enjoyed and wrote about here.

What did you read this month?

Linking up with more book bloggers at Show Us Your Books and Modern Mrs Darcy

Style and Savings Reads: Party of Two

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory, 2020
Short Synopsis: Olivia is a lawyer who moves from New York back to California to start a law firm with one of her best friends. When a handsome stranger flirts with her at a bar, she isn’t looking for a relationship and doesn’t expect to see him again…. until she turns on the television and discovers he’s California’s hot, young senator.

This is the first Jasmine Guillory novel I have read. Back when I used to wander the aisles of Target, I noticed the brightly covered book covers and liked that they had diverse main characters. I also heard that Royal Holiday was inspired by Meghan Markle’s mom. When Tanya Sam (of Real Housewives Atlanta fame!) named Party of Two her next book club pick, I decided to give romance novels a chance.

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I did all these acrobatics to get the perfect shot but in the end I liked the one with our feet in it๐Ÿ‘ฃ and couldnโ€™t bear to crop them out. I think characters Olivia and Max would approve โค๏ธโฃ Follow along on their love story with us each week โฃ ๐—ง๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜†๐—ฎ ๐—ง๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—–๐—น๐˜‚๐—ฏ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ง๐˜„๐—ผ ๐—ฏ๐˜† @๐—ท๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐˜€. ๐—ช๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜ ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€ ๐Ÿญ-8 ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—๐˜‚๐—น๐˜† ๐Ÿฏ๐Ÿฌ ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—œ๐—š ๐—Ÿ๐—œ๐—ฉ๐—˜ ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐Ÿด๐—ฝ๐—บ ๐˜€๐—ผ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ด๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ท๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜‚๐˜€. โฃ โฃ #tanyatimebookclub #currentlyreading #bookclubsareLIT ๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽŠ โฃ

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I was glad to find Tanya’s book club and last month, I participated in the author chat with Tia Williams who wrote The Perfect Find. Sometimes it can be hard to find local friends who also love to read and will commit to reading a book by a specific date. Tanya’s virtual book club was able to bring together over a hundred women from all over the country (or world?) to talk about books.

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๐—ง๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ง๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—ท๐—ผ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—บ๐˜†๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ณ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐˜‚๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฟ @๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐˜„๐—ถ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—บ๐˜€๐˜„๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ง๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜†๐—ฎ ๐—ง๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—–๐—น๐˜‚๐—ฏ ๐—ญ๐—ข๐—ข๐—  ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐˜†!!! ๐Ÿณ/๐Ÿต/๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฌ ๐Ÿด๐—ฝ๐—บ ๐—˜๐—งโฃ โฃ We had a great time reading and discussing ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฃ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐˜ ๐—™๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ this month and now itโ€™s time to take it to Zoom for a virtual book party๐ŸŽ‰ ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿท This is your chance to speak up, interact and ask the author all the questions and thoughts you had while enjoying the spicy love story of Jenna and Eric. โฃ โฃ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ธ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—บ๐˜† ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—ผ!!โฃ โฃ Anyone can join our book club but please have read the book because thatโ€™s all we talk about ๐Ÿค— โฃ โฃ Canโ€™t wait to cyber-see you Thursday ๐Ÿฅฐ ๐Ÿค“ โฃ โฃ Xoxoโฃ Tanyaโฃ โฃ #tanyatimebookclub #currentlyreading #bookstagram #bookclub #theperfectfind #booksofinstagram #tanyasam #tiawilliamswrites โฃ #โฃ โฃ โฃ โฃ โฃ โฃ

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Party of Two is marketed as book #5 in The Wedding Date series. I’m not sure that “series” is the most accurate description because the books don’t have to be read in order. I think there are characters who show up in more than one book, but each story stands on its own.

As I was reading, I thought Wow, you can really tell this was written by a woman for women. Jasmine Guillory really knows what women dream about. Characters in a romance must have qualities that make them attractive to each other and the reader. Olivia likes that Max is a good listener, cares about others, sends thoughtful gifts, and is handsome and very attentive. Max likes that Olivia is treats him like a normal person and not like a Senator and her laughs and smiles are always genuine. Olivia is also a good listener, a volunteer at the community food pantry, and a partner in a new law firm she started with her best friend.

“He was falling in love with her? Not despite her ambition but because of it?”

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory, page 148

Of course, every story needs a conflict. Olivia likes to plan ahead and think things through before making decisions. Max is often impulsive and follows his feelings. Will opposites attract or will their differences tear them apart?

While Olivia and Max’s romance was at the center of the story, I appreciated that there were mentions of bigger issues. Max’s job as a Senator created the opportunity to mention restorative justice, and the flaws of the current legal system. Max’s awareness of his privilege and the challenges Olivia faced as a Black woman working in a male dominated field made him seem almost too good to be realistic.

I have seen other readers complain about how many times the characters eat cake and unhealthy meals. I personally love the references to french fries, pie, pastries, and picnics. It fits into the wonderful fantasy that Jasmine Guillory is creating – who doesn’t want to have Olivia’s shameless love of cake and the confidence to enjoy food while on a date with no concern for the calorie count?

If you like romance and sweets, with a side of social justice, please pick up this book!

Linking up with more book bloggers at Show Us Your Books and Modern Mrs Darcy

Style and Savings Reads: July 2020

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin, 2018
Short Synopsis: Emma and Zadie, best friends (and medical professionals) thought they had buried a painful experience in the past until their former chief resident from medical school moves to town.

This book felt like Grey’s Anatomy in book form. I’m not a fan of the show and I can’t really say that I enjoyed this book. Since it is centered around a pediatric cardiologist and a trauma surgeon, there are descriptions of gory medical procedures and literal life and death situations. The medical theme was present throughout the book and not just when they were at work. Saving a choking man at the country club and staying home to care for sick kids when they all catch the flu showed that a doctor’s work is never done. I admire the dedication, skill and sacrifice it takes to have this type of career. I also found it happily surprising that their friendship could survive the decades and the competing commitments of marriage and motherhood.

The author did a great job of keeping The Secret until the end of the book. Each chapter alternated between Emma and Zadie and between present day and their med school years. The short chapters kept me turning pages as pieces of the past were uncovered. The suspense of wanting to know what happened was really the only reason I kept reading.

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, 2019
Short Synopsis: As a consequence for a class presentation gone wrong, high school senior Alaine Beauparlant’s dad sends to to her mother’s family in Haiti to complete a volunteer immersion project and learn more about her family’s history and culture.

Alaine is a high school senior at a Catholic school in Miami, Florida looking forward to graduation and college. She hopes to attend Columbia – her famous journalist mother’s alma mater. “Call me Rumi and Sir, because the Ivys are calling my name”. Alaine is confident, smart, and funny making her a character readers will care for and want to see succeed.

The framework for the story is her Latin American History/Creative Writing class project to write about and present on notable individuals in a country’s revolution and to highlight their defining moments and claims to fame. Being Hatian American, Alaine chooses to learn about Haiti. I really loved that this book was told through journal entries, letters, postcards, group chats, and emails in Alaine’s unique voice.

Alaine’s Tati Estelle (her mother’s twin sister) is a prominent person in Haiti as both the Minister of Tourism and also as CEO and Founder of the nonprofit where Alaine interns to complete her volunteer assignment. When she’s not working, Alaine spends time getting to know her mother, the famous Celeste Beauparlant who has spent most of Alaine’s childhood in D.C. or travelling the world as a political journalist. ( I really think Estelle and Celeste are gorgeous names for sisters!)

“History is a Compass if You Just Know How to Read It”, is the chapter title that most resonated with me. I generally don’t take much interest in history, but I have been told that it is important to learn about the past to avoid making the same mistakes or to understand why things are the way they are today. Through her school project and spending time with her family, Alaine learns about Haiti’s history and uncovers past and present family secrets. Having arrived at a turning point in her career, the story ends with Celeste and Alaine begin working on a new project together.

Lakewood by Megan Giddings, 2020
Short Synopsis: When Lena’s grandmother dies, she discovers how much debt her family is in. Lena drops out of college to financially provide her sick mother by taking a job as a medical research subject for a secret government program.
I immediately noticed some similarities with The Circle by Dave Eggers with the main character being a daughter who takes a job that has great pay and health benefits to care for an ailing parent. In exchange for financial security, she sacrifices both privacy and the separation of work from her personal life.
The compensation Lena receives is a relief, but she also becomes increasingly aware that it is a form of exploitation.

“If Crooked Nose hadn’t been sitting there, Lena would have said, “I think having my teeth for as long as possible is more valuable than money.”

I have to wonder if the participants would agree to these risks if they weren’t in financially desperate situations. Most participants in the The Lakewood Project are are Black, Latinx, or of Indian descent, while researchers are White. The book confronts the history as recent as the 1970’s of unauthorized medical experiments performed on African American people. For this reason, Lakewood has been compared to both The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and the 2017 film Get Out.

I can also see similarities to the Amazon Prime series Homecoming.

There is a lot to think about in regards to the ethics of medical research. Participants in The Lakewood Project are told that they are serving to improve the lives of future generations. We have to wonder – at what cost to themselves?

Lakewood unexpectedly shares a commonality with Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, in that both stories emphasize the importance of family passing down knowledge and not keeping secrets so that the next generation doesn’t repeat the same mistakes.

I was excited to find out that Megan Giddings lives in Indiana and earned her MFA at Indiana University. Her writing is imaginative, descriptive and haunting to the point that I found myself thinking about the book in between reading its chapters. If you haven’t read this book yet, I recommend it!

Linking up with more book bloggers at Show Us Your Books and Modern Mrs Darcy

Style and Savings Reads: June 2020

Happy Book Day! Here’s a recap of the three books I read in June:

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, 2009, 435 pages

Short Synopsis: Lara is visited by the spirit of her great-aunt Sadie who tasks her with finding her special necklace so she can rest peacefully. Laura is busy balancing work and her love life, assisted by Sadie’s unsolicited advice and meddling. In her search for the necklace, Laura uncovers truths about her family.

I chose to read this book because I enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. Also, Twenties Girl seemed like fitting title to read in 2020. The story was a whimsical retreat from reality and it was funny to imagine Lara talking to someone who no one else could see. I also loved the idea of the sparkly, vintage 1920’s dresses Lara and Sadie wore. Lara’s Uncle Bill Lington, of Lington’s Coffee (a fictional coffee conglomerate on the scale of Starbucks) and Natalie, her business partner in a start-up headhunting firm were conflict creators. They both were lacking in honesty and were more than willing to use others to gain success for themselves. As expected, Lara prevailed and the story ended happily.

Memorable Quote: “Darling, when things go wrong in life, you lift your chin, put on a ravishing smile, mix yourself a little cocktail….”

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown, 2020, 474 pages

Short Synopsis: Lily is a grifter and con-artist, but hopes that her daughter Nina will go to college and have a better Future. When Lily gets sick and needs expensive treatment, Nina teams up with Lachlan, her mother’s former partner in cons to target Vanessa Liebling – heiress and Instagram influencer.

The glittery cover drew me to this book and I was reminded of the real-life Anna Delvey story . Pretty Things is centered around wealth, privilege and how people carefully curate the image they present to the world. Nina was a good student and made her mother proud by earning a college degree in art history. Unfortunately a college education did not lead to the bright Future they imagined: ” I walked away with a six-figure student-loan debt and a piece of paper that qualified me to do absolutely nothing of value whatsoever “. To earn money, Nina falls into her mom’s lifestyle of finding wealthy targets to con and steals cash, jewelry, and antiques.

Vanessa Liebling is a reminder that wealth doesn’t guarantee happiness and that people are not always as happy or successful as they appear on social media. While Vanessa appeared to have everything, she was sad, lonely, and constantly seeking external validation from her followers. Her Instagram feed allowed a look into her life, which helped Nina create a false sense of closeness and friendship while running the con.

The further I read, I realized Pretty Things reminded me of the TV show Revenge. I also liked that the chapters alternated between Nina’s and Vanessa’s perspectives so we could get to know each character’s thoughts and backstory. This story is filled with secrets, lies, shifting loyalties and a surprising ending.

Memorable Quote: “We have to keep up appearances, cupcake …. there are wolves out there, waiting to drag us down at the first sign of weakness. You can never, ever let people see the moments when you’re not feeling strong.”

Well, that Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey, 2018, 256 pages

Short Synopsis: Franchesca Ramsey’s life changed within a matter of hours when a YouTube video she created went viral. Although the video was about her personal experiences with micro-aggressions, she was now faced with the expectation to be an expert on anti-racism and race relations.

I hadn’t heard of Franchesca Ramsey before reading this book and have never seen MTV’s Decoded. She grew up in the suburbs, attended Catholic school and was used to being one of few if not the only black person in the room. It was interesting to learn how she was one of the early users of YouTube. Her day job was in graphic design and she posted comedic videos in her free time. In 2008, one of her videos went viral. Talk shows and media outlets started contacting her for comments and appearances. As she became more of a public figure, the expectation for her to speak as an expert and educate the public grew and haters and trolls appeared from under their bridges.

Reading Franchesa Ramsey’s story made me glad that I limit my participation in online forums. It was so disheartening to read the hateful comments and personal attacks she received online. It was helpful to read her description of the differences between “call-outs” vs. “call-ins”. A “call-out” is a public response to a problematic comment made to a wide audience. It draws attention to the issue and increases others’ awareness. If the problematic comment comes from someone you know personally, a “call-in” is a gentler approach. A one-on-one private conversation is an opportunity to tell that person how the comment makes you and others feel. The book cited an experiment that showed people are more likely to accept direction and correction from someone who looks like them. If people in your circle are making offensive remarks, you could be the positive influence they need. I also appreciated the reminder that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences. We are all free to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions but that does not mean we are free from disagreement, backlash or disciplinary actions. This book made me appreciate the effort towards increasing awareness and education about social justice issues.

Memorable Quote: “You can totally start your company emails to your boss with โ€œDear ugly b**chโ€โ€”youโ€™ll just get fired for it. By committing to march down the path of โ€œpolitical incorrectnessโ€, youโ€™re saying youโ€™re willing to sacrifice relationships with anyone who finds your language unacceptable.โ€ 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? For more Style and Savings Reads click here. Visit the Show Us Your Books link-up for reviews from more book bloggers here. Also, see more book recommendations at the Style and Savings Bookshop.

Style and Savings Reads: Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I first read about Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid in the book review pages of O Magazine. Since then, I have seen this book get lots of attention from book bloggers, book clubs (most notably Reese’s Book Club) and bookstagrammers. Its colorful cover makes Such A Fun Age very photogenic and it addresses a timely, controversial topic while weaving in some lighthearted fun and unexpected surprises that will keep readers turning pages.

The Amazon Synopsis:

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown up. It is a searing debut for our times.


This story skillfully illustrates how what are intended to be harmless actions and comments may actually be hurtful microaggressions that have a negative impact on individuals and society overall. For example, the concerned customer in Market Depot who accused Emira of kidnapping should have paused to question why she felt suspicious and jumped to the wrong conclusion that something bad was happening. If she still felt compelled to insert herself into the situation, she should have talked to Emira. Reporting her concern to the security guard should have been the last course of action rather than the first.

In Alix’s attempts to turn her daughter’s babysitter into her own best friend, she oversteps boundaries. Getting to know Emira by reading her personal email messages and looking at her phone, Alix uncovers her own unconscious bias. She regretfully notices her own feeling of surprise that Emira could listen to rap songs with explicit lyrics while also being educated and having a good vocabulary.

The main characters in this book are written realistically in that no one is only good or only bad. They are people who want to do the right thing, but their limited experience, or ingrained stereotypes cause them to make mistakes.

One of the main elements in this book is that the security guard’s confrontation with Emira was recorded. At a time where everyone carries a camera in his or her pocket, anyone can publish the next viral video or newsworthy story. Social media enables moments of life to be widely broadcast & amplified for better or worse. The sharing of stories has driven the most recent social justice movements by enlightening people and increasing awareness. Faced with suggestions of releasing the video and turning the injustice into personal gain in the form of a book deal or a higher paying job, Emira’s preference was to avoid bringing attention to herself. She deserved to make the decision that was best for her.

The phrase “such a fun age” is usually in reference to toddlers. There were plenty of funny interjections from Briar, the little girl Emira babysits, but this book reminded me of how much fun it is be a newly graduated twenty-something. Some of the most enjoyable scenes in the book involved Emira and her closest friends celebrating at clubs, discussing boyfriends, helping each other to take perfectly lighted cell phone pictures, starting their careers, and adjusting to adulthood.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I admire Kiley Reid as young author finding success in her debut novel. I was really drawn into the story, much like when I read The Mothers by Britt Bennett . I’m excited to see what Kiley Reid writes next and how Such A Fun Age translates to the big or small screen.

What have you been reading lately?

Discover your Spending Style

If you find yourself at the end of the month wondering where your money went, it’s time to start tracking your spending.

Most of us are selling our time in exchange for a salary and time is something we can never get back.

Style and Savings, Interview. Conducted by Fempire Finance, March 2020

If you have never made a budget before, the first step I recommend is to track your spending for one month using the Style and Savings Spending Tracker. At the end of each day, record where you spent money, what you spent it for, and the amount. This will help you discover your spending style.

The way you spend money reflects what you value


Pillows, candles

Makeup, trendy clothes

Girls Night Out







After 30 days, you should be able to identify your spending habits.

How would you describe your spending style?

After tracking your spending, you may discover that your spending doesn’t align with what you care about. Empowered by this information, you can re-group and re-direct your money by creating a budget.

Check in soon for a new budgeting tutorial!

For questions about budgeting or the Style and Savings Spending Tracker, use the Contact Me page – I’m here to help! Let me know in the comments how you feel about your spending style or follow along on Instagram to share some of your #moneygoals

The Great Indoors, vol. 3

Hi there and Happy Easter! Here’s what I have been doing during the 3rd week at home. Read about previous weeks here.


While catching up on some of my favorite blogs, I found this article from The Werk Life.

Quarantine Life: 50 Things to do at Home

If you’re feeling bored, this list is really helpful! Some of the ideas were related to cleaning and organizing. Others were more focused on fun and self care. With so many options and seemingly so much time, you can pick and choose from the list what fits your mood for the day.


As mentioned last week, I’m still watching Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu. What do you think of the movie and the book?

I was so excited to find Second Act for free on Xfinity HBO. I had seen Second Act when it was in the movie theater. I have loved Jennifer Lopez movies since I saw The Wedding Planner as pre-teen. This movie starring Jennifer Lopez and Vanessa Hudgens more than measured up to all of the J.Lo movies I love. It’s a career-driven Cinderella story with glamour, friendship, a surprise twist and a message about believing in yourself.

Second Act.png
Photo Credit: Wikipedia


For the first time in about three years, I did my own hair relaxer. It turned out well since I have plenty of experience using Dark and Lovely, but I miss the convenience and quality of a salon hairstyle. I’m also torn between feeling good about saving money and bad for the beauty shop stylists who are unable to work right now.

In continuing my routine of morning Pilates before work, I found this video from Blogilates.

If you haven’t heard of Houseparty yet, it’s an app used for video chats and games for up to 8 people. I got to try it out this week with my best friend and play Trivia, Heads Up, and Quick Draw. I would prefer that the camera didn’t come on as soon as you open the app, but that is my only complaint. The games are a lot of fun!

While you’re enjoying the great indoors, take time to connect through call, text, or FaceTime and make someone’s day brighter!

The Great Indoors, vol. 2

Greetings! Here’s what I’ve been doing during my second full week of working from home/staying at home. Click here to see last week’s activities.


I finally finished reading Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy by Emily Ley. The further I got into the book, the more I felt that I was not part of the target audience (busy perfectionist moms?). I still enjoyed reading about Emily’s journey to creating a life that makes her happy and allows her to spend time with her loved ones. Her book also offered interesting insight to what its like to be an entrepreneur, to build a business from an idea, and to make decisions about financing, brand image, and growth. Also, the book has beautiful pictures and I’m a big fan of her cheery, colorful stripes and prints.

Photo Credit: Amazon


Uncorked on Netflix is about a young man who wants to become a master sommelier despite his father’s wish for him to take over the family owned barbecue restaurant. There are funny parts and sad parts and the story is very much centered around family. The main conflict was whether Elijah should stay on the path that was paved for him and fulfill the responsibility to his family, or take a risk to do something new. I knew that there are many different types of wine and certain regions where wine is produced, but I didn’t know how rigorous the study and testing process is to become a sommelier. I admired Elijah’s passion and persistence.

A couple years ago, I read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. The book was so multi-dimensional and I could easily understand why it got so much praise on the book blogs. I have started watching the series on Hulu and at least in the first couple of episodes it seems to follow the book closely while also adding another interesting layer of conflict. The two main characters have very opposite lifestyles and philosophies. While Mia and Elena operate at extremes, and most women probably fall somewhere in between – I’m curious, do you relate to one character more than the other?

Photo Credit: Amazon

I have also been watching the latest season of The Bold Type. Freeform’s scripted series about three best friends who work together at the fictional Scarlet magazine. Watching Jane, Sutton, and Kat work, play, and date in the city feels carefree and fun!


I’m happy to say that I kept up my new morning Pilates routine this week. Here’s a quick video – don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s only three minutes, it still has an impact in building strength!

While you’re enjoying the great indoors, don’t forget to connect with others. Call, text, or FaceTime and make someone’s day brighter!

The Great Indoors, vol. 1

As of today, I have been working from home for a week and a half as an effort to “flatten the curve” and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The virus is scary, but Style and Savings is a positive space so I’ll focus on work from home lifestyle and how I stay entertained indoors.


Since the library is closed, I have been reading the books and magazines I already have. Currently I’m in the middle of Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley and catching up on the March issue of O Magazine. I’m also
reading several blogs, which inspired me to do my part by creating “quarantine content” and sharing my pastimes.


We recently watched the entire season of Gentefied on Netflix. This series is about a family in California working together to keep their family restaurant, Mama Fina’s Tacos open as their neighborhood demographics and income levels change. Aside from the restaurant, there is family conflict and generational differences, romantic relationships, and cultural awareness.

I also really enjoyed the Netflix limited series Self Made inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker, which I wrote about in the earlier post Self Made – Seven Steps for Success


Listening to music breaks the silence of working in my own office. Lizzo Radio on Pandora brings me good energy.

There are several podcasts I like to listen to, some of them were highlighted here: Five Fave Money Podcasts
My sister recommended Imagined Life and our family really likes this one. Each episode tells the story of a famous person from before he or she became famous. As the story progresses, more details of his or her journey unfold and it’s fun to guess who the story is about before the person is revealed at the end.


I have kept up with my goal of completing a Peloton cycling class at least once a week and I have also started doing Pilates in the morning. In the time that I would have spent driving to work, I can complete a couple of short videos. Here is my favorite from this week:

The policies that have closed public spaces and workplaces and locked down large cities have been referred to as “social distancing”. I later heard the phrase “physical distancing” and appreciate the sentiment more. Thankfully we have the technology and social media to stay connected family, friends, and others that we don’t see in person. This week I participated in a virtual meetup and a virtual Wine Wednesday and it was fun to catch up with friends that live close and far away.

While you’re enjoying the great indoors, take time to connect through call, text, or FaceTime and make someone’s day brighter!