Friday, January 31, 2014

Five on Friday {January 31, 2014}

It's Friday, which means that it's time for us to link up with Darci, Natasha, April, and Christina to share five things we're loving this week!

1) New nail candy

Thanks to a Sephora gift card, I was able to treat myself to a little online shopping spree - it's no surprise that I had to pick up a few new polishes! After hearing M rave about it, I finally had to purchase my own bottle of Butter London's Wallis. Additionally, I picked up two Illamasqua polishes - Rain Drops (a sheer light gray with a very subtle sparkle) and Speckle (true to its name, it is a speckled lilac polish, and we all know how much I love a speckled polish). I was first introduced to Illamasqua when M bought me a deep midnight blue polish called Phallic a couple of years ago - they have some really beautiful colors, so check them out on Sephora!

2) Check one 2014 resolution off the list...

One of my 2014 New Year resolutions is to go on more vacations - well, my first vacation of the year is officially booked and coming up very quickly! In just a couple of weeks, I will be escaping the icy streets of New York City and lounging on the Floridian coast! I'm sooooo ready for a full week of relaxation and sunny skies.

3) My annual Valentine candy hunt

With Valentine's Day only two weeks away, my annual hunt for Brach's small conversation hearts is in full swing. You might say, "But B, there's no need for a search, there are conversation hearts in every drugstore and supermarket!"- well, they are usually the Sweethearts brand, which just will not do (they're just not the same, am I right?). I usually manage to track down the elusive Brach's every year, though it's never an easy task. I see that Amazon is currently selling an 8 oz. bag for $7.50 each - that's about $6 more than it should be, so I'll keep searching until I am reunited with my chalky candy crush this year! The hunt is on!

4) Movie sneak peek

I was invited to a free advance screening of Labor Day at the beginning of the week. While certain parts were a bit sappy (and spoiler alert: my planner brain was freaking out about the shoddy, impulsive planning that went into their ill-fated escape plot), it was a treat to have a free movie date with a friend, and there were a couple of twists that took me by surprise. 

However, the real highlight was when I received this: 

Yes, we all received a free packet of tissues for the movie. My packet was still intact by the end, but where was this idea during Titanic when I really needed it for one of Kate's movies??

5) M's birthday!
Join me in giving M a big birthday shout-out filled with sequins and love!
As she mentioned last week, M's birthday is right around the corner (in fact, it's tomorrow). I am so incredibly lucky that we've been best friends for over 15 years (wow, time flies!) and co-bloggers at The Sequin Notebook for almost a year. We had literally talked for years about writing a blog together, and I'm thrilled that we finally took the plunge last spring - it's so much fun to have a joint project to work on together, especially since we're not living in the same city anymore.

The birthday gal is a master at mixes (of both the music and cocktail variety), she has a fierce accessory collection (which reminds me, I still need to return one of her bracelets that I borrowed...), and she is an expert at deciphering and responding to cryptic boy text messages (there is no way I could navigate the dating world without her input!). 

Basically, M is the best friend a gal could ever have and she deserves an amazing, sequiney birthday! Happy birthday, M!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Delicious Dinner: Tomato Chicken Orzo Soup

No matter what the weather is like or what time of year it is, soup is always my go-to lunch. Yes, I'm that weird person eating soup on a 90 degree day in the middle of July (and M's husband, Grill Guy, has totally called me out on this in the past!). As part of my New Year resolutions to cook more and save money by bringing my lunch to work more often, I've been scouring Pinterest for some easy and tasty recipes for a beginner chef like me.

You guys - there are seriously so many yummy-looking soups on Pinterest! I pinned a bunch and can't wait to try them all, but one soup definitely stood out above the rest: Cooking on the Front Burner's recipe for Spinach Chicken Orzo Soup! This grown-up chicken soup looked like a big bowl of comfort, and is packed with both protein and delicious veggies (including my personal favorite, mushrooms!).

Not only is this soup easy to take to the office for lunch, but it's also hearty enough to be a dinner entree. Best of all, this recipe is large enough to yield plenty of servings for me to freeze some of it so that I'll have lunches available for a few weeks!

You'll want to start by chopping up your veggies.

Saute your shallots with some olive oil.

Add your vegetables to the pot, followed by the chicken, tomatoes, and liquids (I reduced the amount of liquid from the original recipe but kept the same amount of tomatoes).

Bring the mixture to a boil, then allow the flavors to simmer.

Add the orzo and spinach, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Chicken Orzo Soup

Ingredients (for approximately 8 servings)
* 1 tablespoon diced shallot
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 cup fresh spinach
* 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes with basil and oregano
* 1 cup sliced carrots
* 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
* 1.5 cups chopped cooked chicken
* 1 cup orzo pasta (dry)
* 1 quart chicken broth
* 1 quart water

1) Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and saute the shallots for three minutes. 

2) Add the carrots and mushrooms, stirring until the mushrooms are light brown.

3) Add the tomatoes, chicken, water, and chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.

4) Add the orzo and spinach, and continue to simmer until the orzo is fully cooked. 

Mmmm...its a big bowl of comfort that is so satisfying during this chilly winter!

What are your favorite soups that I should try making next?


Friday, January 24, 2014

Five on Friday - Week of January 19th!

Hey Gals - another week down, so happy Friday to you all!  After seeing how much fun B had last week participating in the 5 on Friday linkup, I couldn't wait for this week to end so I could join in!  Thank you to DarciNatashaApril, and Christina for hosting this fun weekly party!

Here are the five things I'm obsessed with this week (do I sound like Andy Cohen?!  I couldn't resist channeling our fave Gal when he gives his nightly run down on WWHL!)

1. A short work week

A short work week means extra snuggle time with my two favorite little clowns - I promise they were more excited than they look here!
This week marks my second week back to work after 17 wonderful weeks home with Baby M.  To ease my transition back, I scheduled a vacation day for this Friday.  So that coupled with Monday's holiday made for a short work week for me!  If any of you Gals out there are on your own maternity leaves, I'd recommend taking this approach because it's been a great way to ease back into the daily grind of being a working mama!

2. My new desk calendar
Naturally February is my favorite - but come on!  How can you resist those pink flamingos!?
A new year means a new desk calendar!  I picked up this cute letterpress calendar from Paper Source when it was on super clearance a couple weeks ago.  I had completely forgotten about it and discovered it this week!  It *almost* made me excited to go to work and add it to my desk!

3. Free Rent the Runway dress

I recently became a Rent the Runway pro, and one of the perks is a free dress rental for your birthday!  As it turns out, I'm planning a pretty low key birthday this year, but I have an engagement party coming up this weekend, so I was super excited to cash in on my free rental.  The above beauty just arrived on Thursday and I'm super excited to wear it this weekend!

4. Adventures in making baby food
Never met a gadget I didn't love!
As I mentioned in my New Year Resolutions post, I'm not only focused on a healthier me for this year, but also a healthy Baby M!  I recently was given the go ahead by his doctor to start solid foods, so I picked up the Beaba Baby Food Maker (on sale - thanks Amazon!).  I know some criticize this little gadget for basically just being a glorified steamer/food processor, but anything that helps make this working mama's life a little easier is a go in my book!  Plus Baby M was very appreciative of the apple-y goodness I was able to add into his oatmeal cereal!

5. Exciting changes coming ahead!
Stay tuned Gals - big things ahead for TSN!
I can't say too much on this last one since I don't want to spoil the surprise, but we're super excited for some upcoming changes coming to The Sequin Notebook.  B and I had a nice long gals session this week and planned a bunch of exciting stuff that's right around the corner, so stay tuned!

What five things are you obsessed with this week?

- M

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day to Night Nails: Jagged Edge Manicure

Last week, I painted my nails a neutral pale pink - it was a pretty, professional look for the office, but since I had a three-day weekend filled with fun plans, I thought my nails needed a little more pizzazz. However, my neutral manicure was in great shape and did not have many chips, so I was hesitant to completely remove it. 

Enter the Jagged Accent Nail manicure.

I love fun nail art designs, but I don't always have the patience (or artistic skills) to pull them off. The beauty of doing an accent nail is that you only need to focus on 2 out of the 10 nails, and the rest can be polished normally and quickly! Instead of simply painting the accent nails a different color, I decided to add a slight design element by using two of my trusty crafting sidekicks: Scotch tape and pinking shears. 

Tape and pinking shears: The only supplies you'll need to create this mani (other than your polishes, of course!)
I started out with all of my nails painted in the same conservative, work-appropriate color.

Pretty, but in need of a little extra fun to kickstart the weekend!
Using my sawtoothed pinking shears, I cut a piece of tape and placed the jagged edge about halfway down the nail of each of my ring fingers. I love using these scissors because the wavy cut will always be very precise.

Make sure you firmly press the tape down around the nail, so that no extra paint creeps under the edges.
I selected a metallic silver for the main color of my accent nail, and used it to paint the bottom portion of those nails. I slowly peeled the tape away (make sure you pull it from side to side, instead of up and down) and was left with a pink/silver split nail. To further emphasize the jagged division between the silver and pink sections, I selected an electric blue polish (with a thin applicator brush specifically designed to create nail art) and carefully traced the outline between the two colors.

To add a little extra sparkle, I covered up any minor chips and imperfections on the non-accent nails by adding a pink glitter tip, which is one of my favorite easy manicure fixes

With just a few simple touch-ups, my neutral pink nails went from a board room presentation to a fun night out on the town in just a few minutes. I'm often time-strapped, so I love quick fixes that don't require me to take off all of my polish and start over from the very beginning!

What's your favorite way to take your nails from day to night?


Monday, January 20, 2014

Sequiney Pinspiration: Words to Live By

Hey Gals!  After paying tribute to my college quote book in our SSB post, I haven't been able to get enough of our Words to Live By Pinterest Board!  Today we are featuring some of our very favorite quotes that are everything we try to embody here at TSN!  

Not following us yet on Pinterest?!  Follow us here!

Middle: Laugh // Disco Ball // Drink Champagne // High Heels
Bottom: Sequins // DVF // Enjoy the music

What are some of your favorite words to live by?

- M

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Italian Popcorn

I recently learned that today is National Popcorn Day (for real - Google it!). Obviously, I could not let this day honoring this beloved snack pass us by without sharing one of my favorite ways to indulge in it. Caramel popcorn and white cheddar popcorn are certainly tasty, but I like to spice up this treat by making Italian popcorn.

It's super quick and easy to make this popcorn - best of all, you probably already have all of these ingredients on hand! Start with your favorite popcorn, sprinkle it with some parmesan cheese, and top it off with some Italian spices and herbs. 

Italian Popcorn
* 1.5 cups popcorn
* 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
* Black pepper
* Italian herb spice mix

Add the popcorn and cheese to a bowl, then top with a generous sprinkling of black pepper and Italian herb spice mix.

Hope you can take some time today to celebrate National Popcorn Day by pairing our Italian Popcorn with a movie! I'm planning to eat it while catching up with my DVR recording of Lifetime's Flowers in the Attic that premiered last night - hopefully it won't be too traumatizing!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Five on Friday

Happy Friday, Gals! Even though we're totally ready for the weekend, there has been a lot of great stuff happening so we're linking up with Darci, Natasha, April, and Christina to share five things we're loving this week.

1) Meeting new people (while indulging in pasta, naturally)
Image by Missy via Flickr
One of my favorite things about a New Year is meeting new people (and let's face it, I enjoy going out to a delicious dinner any time of the year). It can be tough meeting friends as an adult, but I've started hanging out with a new friend who recently moved to New York and this week, we went out one-on-one for the first time (kind of sounds like we're dating!). We spent a leisurely 3 hours dishing about our holidays, work, and of course, guys (and we also split a tiramisu, which always makes a night out even better). I love expanding my network so it was great to spend some quality time with a new friend!

2) Choreographing my ninth high school musical
How cute are my high school dancers? 
 Growing up as a performer, I was constantly involved in tons of different theatrical productions. Since I've chosen a different professional path, I no longer get to perform nearly as often as I would like and I really miss having a creative outlet. Luckily, I've been choreographing musicals at a local high school (I can't believe this is my ninth show with them!) and we had our first dance rehearsal for their spring production of Seussical this past weekend. My leaps may not be quite as high as they were 15 years ago, but I still love to dance and be part of the artistic process of putting on a show. I really enjoy working with these students and can't wait to see their production come together! 

3) Volunteering
Image by Bahman Farzad via Flickr
 And speaking of my theatrical endeavors...I volunteer for a theater nonprofit group that recently held its first Advisory Council meeting of 2014. I'm so excited for another successful year of supporting this great organization, especially since I'll be serving in a new capacity as the group's Events/Public Relations Chair!

4) Standing beside an old friend
Love a fierce feather dress!
 One of my dearest friends from college recently got engaged to a wonderful guy - they're going to be so happy together! She invited me and a few other friends to get drinks this week, and presented us each with a beautiful card and hand-painted wine glass that asked, "Will you be my bridesmaid?" Of course, the answer was YES! I can't wait to help her with wedding planning and stand beside her on her special day!

5) Bring on the Brunch Club
The very first outing of our Brunch Club
Over the summer, my friends and I launched a Brunch Club and it has really taken off! We love trying out new brunch restaurants, and it's great to have a few hours of each month carved out to catch up with a big group of friends. Today, I spoke with the club member who is hosting our February outing about his venue ideas...while I can't reveal our final destination yet, I can say that I'm already super excited for this club meeting and I can already taste the mimosas! I wasn't kidding about how much I love to fill up a brand new planner with lots of fun things to do, so it was fantastic to lock down the February Brunch Club details earlier this week.

What were your highlights of the week?


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Secret Single Behavior

It shouldn't come as any surprise that we're still huge fans of Sex and the City and that we always manage to apply a SATC analogy to pretty much every situation in our lives. When we counted down our top 10 all-time favorite SATC episodes, "The Good Fight" made it all the way to #4 on the list. One of the most relatable things about the episode is when each of the characters reveals her own "secret single behavior."

Just like us, Carrie and Miranda revealed their secret single behavior to each other.

What exactly is Secret Single Behavior (or SSB, as we like to abbreviate it)? Well, it's any activity that you only partake in when you're completely alone, and that you'd be embarrassed to admit to other people. If you're single and live alone like B, you can indulge in some SSB every day; if you're coupled up or married like M, you give into your guilty pleasure SSB when your partner is out and you have the whole place to yourself. No matter what your relationship status, we all have our own favorite SSBs; today, we are sharing ours with you!

Since I'm single, I have the luxury of indulging in SSB pretty much anytime I feel like it (though I do try to restrict it a bit so that I can spend most of my time doing things that are a bit more productive!). Here are a few of my favorite Secret Single Behaviors (shhhh, don't tell!):

- A lot of times when I get home from work, I'm very hungry but don't feel ready to eat dinner yet. Enter my trusty bag of pretzels: even though I know that I always overdo it, I still continue to pop tons of mini pretzels as a "snack" before my main meal. Inevitably, I get so full from this Pretzel Dinner (as M and I like to call it) that I can't eat a proper dinner. Not my most fun or healthy SSB, but it's definitely a habit of mine that I would be embarrassed to do in front of other people! 

- You know how there are tons of random perfume, prescription, and makeup ads in magazines? I'm sure the companies that spend tons of money on those ads will not be pleased to hear this, but those extra pages annoy me so much that I go through all of my magazines and methodically rip them out so that only true magazine content remains. For some reason, I find the act of ripping out the pages to be extremely soothing, and it seems productive because the magazine feels lighter in my work bag without that excess weight (yes, I'm aware that this sounds crazy, but I swear I can feel a difference!).

- As a former musical theater actress, I love any opportunity to perform and belt out a showtune (with or without an audience). I no longer have a car to be my private showtune music hall, but that doesn't stop me from singing in my apartment. From old standbys like Guys and Dolls to newer classics like The Last Five Years, I can frequently be found in my apartment putting on my own personal musical theater concert.

- Ok, this is the one that I'm most ashamed to admit...but sometimes, when I'm really in the need of some comforting SSB, I will eat...a can of frosting. Like, we're talking no cake, no brownies, just a spoon right into that not-so-little tub of icing. I know it's soooo bad, but clearly frosting is the best part of any cake so we might as well hop straight to the good stuff!

- This one is probably the least surprising since I'm not exactly shy about my love of trashy television, but since I'd only do this alone it still qualifies as SSB! Me + a Lifetime original movie + cozy sweats + an at-home beauty treatment + plain M&M's (eaten in order from worst to best flavors, of course) + a few rounds of Scramble with Friends (I'm addicted) = my ultimate SSB night in!

Grill Guy and I have been together for quite a long time but I love to indulge in all of my SSB's on those nights when he's out for the night.  Recently I've been feeling a little reminiscent of my SSB days now that Baby M is here, so I may just need to arrange for GG and Baby M to have their own little guys day so I can relive some of my favorite guilty pleasures once again!!

- Without fail, the first thing I reach for when I'm left all to my lonesome is pizza and wine!  And not just any pizza, but one slice of margherita and one slice of white pizza.  While pizza is in no way a novelty, I love being able to get two different slices when it's just me, rather than getting a whole pie of one flavor.  Then, I load up my slices with lots of hot pepper so it's nice and spicy and then pour myself a huge glass of wine!  For me, there is nothing better than washing down spicy food than with white wine.  Usually, the wine will last well into the night, and if we're being honest, I'll probably end up polishing off the whole bottle!  

- Next up is a little entertainment to keep me company during my fabulous SS dinner, and more times than not, I turn to none other than my SATC Gals!  And I'm not talking about the watered down, TBS/E! version, but I pull out my complete series DVD collection and begin a marathon, often skipping around from season to season.  And since the very episode that inspired this post is one of my favorites, I really come full circle by re-watching (and reciting every word) while enjoying my indulgent SSB evening!

- Once the wine has been flowing for a little bit, and I'm ready for a tv break, I then troll iTunes for my next round of mixy selections!  I hunt around for new music, and thanks to the wine, often end up buying one too many songs, though I have no regrets because I've discovered lots of great new music this way!  Once I've sufficiently exhausted my new music options, I put on a mixy of my very favorite songs, which I lovingly (and jokily) call My Anthem!  I'll admit that much of this mixy is pretty depressing in nature, but what can I say, I love it (and now that I think of it, I may just need to feature my mixy in a future post!)  *And a fun Galish fact is that B discovered my Anthem on my computer a couple years back and has not stopped tormenting me about it since!  Between it's jokey name and wrist cutting nature, she can't get enough of My Anthem!

- And lastly, probably my most cringeworthy SSB - I break out the quote book!  What is the quote book, you ask?!  Oh it's just a huge book of quotes that I compiled throughout college.  While it contains a lot of the classics, it also is jammed packed with many a quote from pop culture of the early 2000's.  So as I polish off that last bit of wine, I thumb through my quote book and soak up the greatest  lines of DMB, Michelle Branch (you'd be surprised how inspiring her music can be!), and of course, Sex and the City (are you noticing a trend here?!)  While my little quote book is absolutely jokey and reeks of collegiate sappiness, it's one of my most prized possessions and breaking it out for a little SSB is the perfect end to a perfect evening!

What are your Secret Single Behaviors?

The Gals

Thursday, January 9, 2014

10 Favorite Things About the New Year

Hey Gals!  You may have heard this once or twice, but The Gals looove a good list, which is why we are so excited to join our first (of many, hopefully!) blog linkup, courtesy of Brianna at Endlessly Beloved.  This month's topic is Ten Favorite Things About the New Year, which is the perfect companion to the New Year Resolutions we recently posted.  We decided to tag team this list, each listing our top 5.

Thanks to Brianna for starting up this fun linkup - we are looking forward to a fun year of many to come!

1. New adventures
At the end of 2013 I became a mommy, so this new year makes me excited for all of the new adventures and discoveries I get to have with my amazing little guy.  I can't wait to experience all of his firsts in the coming year and watch him grow into the little man that he's becoming!
2. My birthday is right around the corner!
I always get excited for a new year because that means that my birthday is right around the corner!  I've been known to be a bit of birthday brat, so the month leading up to my birthday is a constant countdown of the fun that's to come. (P.S. from B: And once we get through M's birthday, mine isn't far behind so get ready for some birthday bragging (umm...celebrating!) from both of us!)
3. A little down time from all of the holiday celebrations to pamper yourself without any guilt 
The holidays are always a super crazy time of year, and while I love all of the constant festive celebrations, it often leaves me exhausted and excited for a little down time!  I love the calm that January usually brings, and it's been great to stay in and pamper myself with long baths, at home facials (thanks to shopping my own cabinets!) and luxurious manis and pedis.
4. Snowy days and cozy nights
Coming off of this polar vortex in the northeast has been a bit brutal, but I've loved having an excuse to cozy up by my fireplace with some delicious red wine and a good book (thanks B for all of the great recommendations!).  And while this doesn't usually happen, we had so much snow last week that we were able to enjoy a snow day last Friday.  It was a wonderful day of staying in our pj's with some trashy tv, yummy snacks and drinks to warm you up!
5. The Winter Olympics
I'm thrilled that we are upon another olympic year, and while most people prefer the summer olympics, I personally love the winter games!  I can't get enough of all of the skiing events, ice skating and of course the bobsled (hello, Cool Runnings anyone?!)  

6. Meeting new people
When I write out my holiday cards, I love adding new people to my card spreadsheet to see who I met during the year (yes, I keep a holiday card spreadsheet...M wasn't kidding about our love of lists!). While I didn't mail him a holiday card, a major highlight of 2013 was meeting Michael Buble (I'm still in shock that it actually happened!) and of course, meeting M's son (my sweet little godson). Who will I meet in 2014? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out! Which leads me to...
7. The chance for romance
As a single lady in the big city, I always wonder if my next great love is right around the corner and if perhaps I'll bump into him sometime soon. A new year is as good a time as any to find a new man, so I'm going to remain hopeful that maybe this year will bring some romance with it (oh, and I'll carry some extra lipstick and mints in my purse at all times, just in case!).
8. A blank calendar
If you thought my holiday card spreadsheet was dorky, you probably won't be surprised to learn that I love purchasing a crisp, new, paper planner each year. It's great to fill up the pages with dinners with the girls, coworker happy hours, exotic vacations, weddings, and more...all of these blank pages are opportunities for making new memories!
9. Finding my new favorite jams
With a new year comes new catchy tunes that will become dance party staples, additions to my "Getting Ready to Go Out" playlist (please tell me I'm not the only one with this!), and subway commuting tunes. What will be this year's answer to "Brave," "Wrecking Ball," "Wake Me Up," and "Royals"?
10. Fresh starts
Maybe I didn't quite get to gym as much as I would have liked to last year...Perhaps I should have saved a little more cash instead of spending it on a few happy hour cocktails...It's possible that I could have made more of an effort to go out on more dates. But hey, that's all in the past - a new year brings a new slate, and everything gets a fresh start to be better than it was before!

There is already so much to love about a new year - we can't wait to see what it has in store for us and all of you. What are your favorite things about the new year?

The Gals

Monday, January 6, 2014

Best Cozy Fireplace Books 2014

Reading on the beach is super relaxing, but I also love spending a cold winter afternoon relaxing in front of the fireplace with a warm blanket, steaming hot coffee, and completely engrossing book. Now that NYC is experiencing a polar vortex (seriously, what even is that?), a warm, glowing fire sounds extra amazing. 

 I've put together a list of 10 books that I'd like to read by the fireside this winter (though I'll also settle for a few chapters each day during my subway commute). Some of these books are a bit darker than my summer beach books, but they've all captured my attention and made me eager to give my library card a work-out. Here's what I'll be reading this winter:

This novel has been described as a combination of two of my favorite dramas: a thriller (specifically, a murder mystery) and a coming-of-age tale. Set in the 70s, it follows two sisters whose father is a detective trying to catch a serial killer. I'm a sucker for stories about father/daughter relationships and we all know that I love a good crime story, so this pairing seems perfect for me!

This quirky story revolves around a compliance office worker whose job is to read company e-mails; while digging for incriminating information, he becomes captivated by the messages between a pair of friends and starts to fall for one of them. Reading other people's e-mail sounds like a dream come true, and I love the idea of someone falling in love all because of someone else's words (it's so You've Got Mail).

This one is for all of my fellow musical theater nerds! Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark was a legendary Broadway musical that recently closed, but seemed ill-fated from the very start. This juicy tell-all book promises to deliver the full story of all of the drama that took place on and off the stage.

This book has been on my list for several months, so I'm hoping to finally get to it on a snowy day soon. Another coming-of-age tale, this one follows a group of friends who met as teenagers at art camp (I can already relate!) and tracks the journey of their friendships through highs and lows. 

Another dark and twisted thriller (what can I say, I definitely have a type!). This novel is about BFFs who are kidnapped and held captive in a cellar; one makes it out, the other does not. Years later, the survivor decides to confront her trauma head-on and winds up unraveling a mystery that is even scarier than she could have ever imagined. I already have chills!

I may be the only person who hasn't seen Her yet (hoping to fix that soon!) but in the meantime, I'll settle for this novel that also deals with someone searching for love while being challenged and confused by human connections. 

I know I already made a Gone Girl comparison in my list of summer beach books, but this novel also follows the pattern of a husband and wife telling the story of their marriage through duel narratives. Which one (if either) is telling the truth? I'm excited to find out.

I hope you're as into creepy thrillers as I am, because clearly this list is loaded with them! This psychological thriller involves strange incidents surrounding the titular old woman and her neighbors. When a neighbor's daughter comes to town to investigate, she feels a kinship with the old lady and slowly starts to piece together what is happening on their street.

True confession: this book made the list because my book club is discussing it at our meeting later this month, so it's basically required reading for me. While I normally wouldn't pick up a nonfiction war story, I've only heard rave reviews about this book and it seems very inspirational, so it will be good to branch out from all of my thrillers! 

After almost 30 years of marriage to a man, our protagonist has fallen in love with a woman. Their upcoming wedding stirs up complicated reactions from family members, and unearths hidden secrets. I love a good love story (especially with a side of mystery)!

Looks like I have a lot of reading to get started on...can't wait to curl up in front of a warm fire and get lost in one of these books soon! Of course, I'm always looking for new additions to my list - what are some great books that you would recommend?

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