Book Review: Her Every Fear

I'm back with yet another thriller book review! Are you surprised? I've heard a lot of buzz on Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson, so I figured it needed to be my next read for 2018. The cover is amazing! Unfortunately, I have to report that the beautiful cover and hype did not meet my expectations. Here's a short summary from Goodreads:

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full-blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

Soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves--until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment and accidentally learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? What about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jet-lagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself, so how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Pros: This book was an overall entertaining read. The story was structured to be told in multiple perspectives, so it was fun to see the same story being told in distinct mindsets and time frames. It was a clever technique to keep the mystery going until the final revelation. Her Every Fear is a story of unreliable narrators and unfortunate assumptions. This always leads to added mystery and suspense. As a thriller read, there were many moments where I felt panic for the characters. There is a lot of gruesome murder, psychotic behavior, and unnerving doubt. All the fun things! And though the ending was a letdown, I found the overall story to be enjoyable in some ways.

Cons: As mentioned above, the ending was a letdown. Totally anti-climatic. The story was set up to be a complex journey for Kate, yet the ending was cliche. It dismissed the first half of the book into a wrap-up for a character who I thought was going to display more depth. Now I'm going to be ironic here because I mentioned in the "Pros" that I enjoyed the multiple perspectives in this story. I also disliked it because it created so many coincidences. The whole storyline fed on coincidences which made it extremely unbelievable. Some don't mind outrageous storylines. That's fine. For me, it was shallow.

Overall: If you're looking for a murder mystery with many perspectives, time jumps, and flashy fun, Her Every Fear might be just right for you. If you're looking for a thriller with depth and complexity, give this one a pass.

Personal Rating Score: 3.5/5

Have you read this book? Tell me what you loved (or hated) about it in the comments below, or continue the discussion on Instagram where I hang out the most!

4 Essential Steps Towards Self-Love

I've been preaching this on social media all month long. Self-love is SO important. It's far more important than loving others because self-love must happen first. I'm bringing this topic up for obvious reasons: it's Valentine's Day. Oh, Valentine's Day. Why do you exist? Regardless of my opinions on the "holiday", it's a fact that love is on everyone's mind. What I DON'T want to talk about is finding and needing love in a partner (because you don't). I'm here to talk about my essential steps towards the journey of self-love. After struggling with depression and confidence issues for most of my life, these tips lifted me out of dark times. I'm confident at least one thing mentioned below will resonate with you:

Appreciate Small Moments
Yes, those weekend getaways and snap-worthy drinks at bars are great ways to have fun! But be wary of putting all your value in luxurious activities. They're temporary and not about you. Instead, get excited about small things that make you smile. Whiffs of a vanilla candle, long bubble baths, or favorite books are perfect examples. This will help you learn about what makes you happy. You'll know what to surround yourself with when you need a confidence boost.

Fuel Your Mental Health
Did you know that you can do simple things every day to boost your mental health? Here are some:
- Turn your phone off for a bit. Social media will wait, trust me.
- Spend some time alone. Again, learn about yourself. Take the time to enjoy things that are special to only you.
- RELAX. Seriously. You deserve it. If you're doing nothing, that's okay too. Use the time to figure it out.
- Talk to someone if you need to. That's perfectly okay.

Your Body, Too!
Taking care of your body is just as important! Some necessary tips:
- Eat wholesome foods. Junk food will make you feel groggy for absolutely no reason.
- Drink water! It will clear your skin and boost your mood!
- Take walks regularly. Visit a park, stroll, take some scenic photos. Even walking around the neighborhood will do.
- Challenge yourself to go makeup-free from time to time. I tried it once and now I don't wear makeup at all! My skin has cleared drastically. I've embraced my face for what it is. It's not easy, but it's rewarding. If you can't give it up, at least give your face a day to breathe.

Be Okay With Being YOU
Self-love STARTS here. This is the fact: You cannot truly love yourself until you become comfortable with yourself. If you adore your hair or handwriting, that's great! This is a start. What comes next is loving your introverted-ness, loving your thin eyebrows, loving your drawings even if they don't look Pinterest-worthy. Accepting your flaws are 100% mandatory. No one is perfect, but everyone is unique. Embrace your exclusiveness. That's what makes you such an amazing, beautiful human -- I promise.

I hope these steps are as hopeful to you as they are to me. It's not a task to love yourself, it's a given. You should be able to naturally feel comfortable with every part of who you are. Good luck with your journey, my dear friends. Chat with me on Instagram about it.

Book Review: The Woman in the Window

Here it is! My first book review of 2018. I discovered The Woman in the Window through Crime by the Book. Abby, who runs the crime/thriller website, always has amazing and up to date recommendations for the genre. She has become my GO-TO for new thrilling reads. Friends, I am so glad I picked this one from her list. Here's a short summary from Goodreads:

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times--and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Pros: I absolutely loved this novel. What I enjoyed most about it was its ability to hold onto my attention at ALL times. There was not a single moment while reading this where I felt bored. Every scene had a great level of entertainment and thrill. Oh, the thrills! You'd think a story about a woman who can't leave her home would be dull. This book proves otherwise. Anna Fox is such an interesting, charming, and likable character despite all of the issues she faces. I feel a strong love for her. There are many instances of suspense throughout The Woman in the Window. Each instance has its own storyline and base for horror. And each storyline was captivating. The multiple plotlines all connect to the main character to create this immensely heartwarming yet heartbreaking and incredible story.

Cons: The only reason why I didn't give this novel a perfect score was because of the ending. Don't worry, the ending was not bad. Lots of thriller novels have twists and this one did not lack. However, I didn't particularly enjoy the final twist. I was disappointed because I almost couldn't believe it. Or maybe I just didn't want to believe it.

Overall: Psychological thriller fans, this is a MUST READ. I actually think it's a great novel for ANY fan of the thriller genre. If you're looking for an adrenaline-rush read that doesn't rely on flashy horror tropes, this is a perfect choice.

Personal Rating Score: 4.5/5

Have you read this book? Tell me what you loved (or hated) about it in the comments below, or continue the discussion on Instagram where I hang out the most!

January Gratitude: 5 Things I Loved This Month

Looking at my life in a different perspective is something I really want to do this year. With the hustle of being a student, business owner, and employee it's hard for me to spend time appreciating. So I've decided to create this segment on the blog where I share five things I loved throughout each month. Maybe you'll find a product or idea that will resonate with your life, too!

Having Time Off
I didn't have to attend school for the entire January. It was great! I spent a lot of time reading, cuddling with my pets, baking, and writing in my journal. I think it's necessary to have some down time for yourself and WITH yourself. It helps with finding peace. It's also a fantastic time to understand who you are as an individual. You are not your degree, job, or social media persona. And using some vacation days or breaks from school to discover that can be extremely healing. It was for me.

I spend HOURS of my day on bookstagram (Instagram group for bookworms). This online community is filled with amazing humans who share the love for reading. I've built a lot of strong relationships there! Everyone is mostly positive, supportive, and friendly. It's a fun experience, so long as I don't get too attached (which I think is a rule of thumb for any social media group). I also want to note that with these kinds of communities where competition inevitably ensues (due to follower and like counts), things and people get tricky. Don't let numbers control the experience you have online. Or else, what's the point?

My Bullet Journal
Thank you, Bullet Journal, for keeping me sane. If you've been seeing these journals everywhere lately, there's a reason why! It's gaining attention online for being an efficient form of organization for ANYONE. Whether you're a doctor, student, business owner, or stay-at-home parent, this structure of journaling will work with you. Why? Because it's a blank book. YOU fill it up with whatever YOU need. Mine holds schedules, thoughts, goals, dreams and SO much more. Plus, it's a lot of fun while also holding my life together. If you want more info on what a bullet journal is, check this video out.

What have I been doing without Fitbit? The watch and app track everything I need to know about basic health habits -- daily steps, exercise, food logs, sleeping patterns, etc. Not only does it track, but it analyzes! Numbers are explained, calories are broken down, and everything is mapped out to understand better. The exercising app works with my level and never leaves me feeling scared to workout again. I've been using it for a full month. Not only have I lost weight but I've been eating healthier without feeling restricted. If you're looking for a smart and user-friendly health tracker, this is one I can recommend.

Independent Shops
Small shopping is so important. It helps your neighborhood flourish. It supports REAL people like you and myself, not money-hungry billionaires. I bought from a lot of small shops this month! Some of my favorites were this photo print from Forest Noir Photography, this bookmark from White Saturday & Co., and this bookish scarf from knit(able). These purchases felt so personal and that made me happy. It's not mass produced. It's genuinely made with a lot of love behind it and I think those are great vibes to be surrounded by.

I hope you enjoyed my list of January favorites! Do you want to keep seeing these at the end of each month? Let me know in the comments or on my Instagram, where you can find me most of the time. And definitely share which idea/product you'll try from my list if you decide to do that!

Recipe: Healthy Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Hello, my amazing friends, and welcome to 2018! I wanted to start my blog year off with a new year-sy type of post, but because this recipe was so highly requested on my InstagramI decided to get this one out to you as soon as possible! I'm sure a lot of us are working on a similar goal of eating healthier this year. But I'm a sweet tooth! It's literally HALF of what this blog is about! I just can't say no to desserts at this point -- it'd be against my code of conduct. So I whipped up this extremely healthy and SIMPLE Oatmeal Cinnamon Roll Cookie recipe. And yes, real healthy desserts ARE simple because fewer ingredients mean fewer added calories.

H E R E ' S  W H A T  Y O U  N E E D:
- 1/2 cup oats (I used instant)
- 3 tbs. flour (you can use AP if you don't have whole wheat)
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- dash of salt
- dash of cinnamon (to taste)
- dash of vanilla extract
- 2 tbs. honey
- 1/2 tbs. butter, melted
- 1 small egg (1/2 egg if you have large)
(for the drizzle)
- 2 tbs. powdered sugar
- splash of milk (preferably non-dairy like almond, soy, etc.)

H E R E ' S  W H A T  Y O U  D O:
In a small bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together (oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt).
In a medium bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients together (vanilla, butter, egg, honey).
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Cover bowl and chill for at least 15 minutes (so it's easier to work with!).
Set oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet.
Using a tablespoon, scoop chilled dough out and press lightly onto the baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Let cookies cool as you make the drizzle:
Mix powdered sugar with milk until a slightly thick glaze forms. Drizzle over the cookies once they've been cooled enough.

And have a cookie! Or two. Or three. This recipe has a lot of simple and easy ingredients, so it's a lot healthier than most cookie options. If you want to go super healthy, you can swap the powdered sugar out for reduced-fat cream cheese or the butter out for olive oil. There will be slight variation in taste, however. Please let me know if you try this recipe out! And also share your healthy journey with me if you'd like. I'm definitely on the same path as you. Remember, sweets in MODERATION is the key. Happy baking!

2017: My Year in Photos

Can you actually believe we're on the LAST day of 2017? This year had been MIND-BLOWING. So much has happened in both great and not-so-great ways. But I do want to take a quick second to thank each and every person who has visited my blog throughout the year. I started this blog pretty early on in 2017 + I would have never thought that it'd become such a monumental part of my life. I've made my presence on social media and + the fact that you chose to join me on my foodie/bookish journey means so much to me! From my huge heart to yours -- thank you so, so much. Alright! Enough of the sap. Here are some of my absolute FAVORITE shots from throughout the year -- enjoy!

Cutest little tree in my backyard covered in the first snow of the year.
Hiking in frigid February.
Piles of orders from my shop! Forever grateful!

Major hair makeover -- cut it all off + began my gray hair journey!

Meeting Shia Labeouf at my job.

Pies n' Prose has launched! I love you all!

Discovering Glossier -- take my money.

My first blind date with a book.

Tattoo tribute to my kitty who passed away.

Checkin' out the local museums, snappin' pics.


Guillermo del Toro speaking at my job (he's hilarious!)

Reading a few pages on a beach in Los Cabos. Summer vacation!

My college = Low-key Hogwarts.

The most badass dia de los muertos statue, ever (found in Los Cabos). 

Cupcakes for my brother's engagement party!

Welcome to the family, Logan!

Swanky swanky wine tasting in CT.

My most popular recipe: Edible cookie dough.


My favorite of the summer: Berry Galettes

My hometown in the 20's. Found in a random bookshop.

Coconut macaroons for days.

Grilled octopus at a food festival in NYC.

Being one with nature.

Slime debuts at Pies n' Prose -- becomes an instant hit!

Beauty in a small Brooklyn corner.
Ever been to a TREE farm?

Street art at Coney Island.

Anniversary gift.

Husband's Halloween costume.

Pink beauties at the Bronx Zoo!

Classic NYC.

A glimpse of history while strolling through the city.

What adults really do on weekend getaways.
Logan has met Nala! 

The Mysterious Bookshop.

Soup dumplings, I love you.

Spending my 23rd with you.

Have a safe + beautiful end to your 2017. I can't wait for all of the fun we're going to have together in 2018! I love you all.