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Welcome to our blog. We are Abby & Austin. Join us as we document and share all of our adventures in travel, style, food, culture, and so much more. Hope you enjoy! 

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading List


Austin and I love reading throughout the year and there seems to be something about summer which motivates us even more. As you can see we tend to read different genres of books, but every once in a while we will read a book together- kind of like a book club for 2! As we always do, Austin writes his thoughts in italics and I write in standard font (in case that's been confusing ha). Comment below with your thoughts on these books or any recommendations!    


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland." 

Rating: B+ -- Beware, this novel is very long, but the story is very beautiful and complicated. The main character is very flawed, which refreshing in a lot of ways and frustrating at the same time. This story is also very powerful in expressing what it feels like to be African in America (the character has a blog entitled “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-­American Black,” and dates an African American man, a white man, & a Nigerian man) and also what it is like to return to your home country after living and working as an immigrant.

The Medici Letters by Taylor Buck

"A shocking ancient secret. The origins of western civilization discovered. The Renaissance—our most fundamental age of technological and artistic advance, was built upon a secret passed down to a banking family in Florence—the Medici. 500 years ago that secret was buried. Florence, Italy, present day. A trove of letters belonging to the Medici family is discovered underground. Archaeologist Kat Cullen comes across a map that leads her to the Swiss Alps where her partner is murdered and she is left for dead. Kat’s husband, professor and classicist—Jack Cullen, rushes to investigate. He joins with Chester Allen, a scientist from surveillance enterprise TerraTEK Industries, and together they begin to unravel the mystery of the Medici letters in hopes of determining what happened in the Alps."

Rating: B -- While not the best action adventure book I've ever read, this was certainly entertaining and enlightening. I really feel I enjoyed it doubly due to the fact that we recently returned from our own Italian vacation and this book revealed so many fascinating facts and details of the city that I never knew. Some elements were a bit far fetched for me, however, still worth a read.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

"Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed."

Rating: B -- I'm not normally one to ready Sci-Fi, but the story was so realistic for a dystopian novel. The story jumps around a lot, probably too much, but it really made me think about our survival instincts and what would happen if civilization as we know it vanished. I'm rating it pretty high since it was so thought provoking for me.

Churchill by Paul Johnson

"In Churchill, eminent historian Paul Johnson offers a lively, succinct exploration of one of the most complex and fascinating personalities in history. Winston Churchill's hold on contemporary readers has never slackened, and Johnson’s analysis casts new light on his extraordinary life and times. Johnson illuminates the various phases of Churchill's career—from his adventures as a young cavalry officer in the service of the empire to his role as an elder statesman prophesying the advent of the Cold War—and shows how Churchill's immense adaptability and innate pugnacity made him a formidable leader for the better part of a century."

Rating: C -- I've been eager to finally read a biography on the famous British leader for some time now and although it was appealing in length, 166, pages, I would have hoped to have more depth covering his time as prime minister. Now, I knew this going in, as it clearly states that this is a book that covers the many facets and periods of his life both prior to and after being prime minister. I am certainly intrigued to read another, more detailed account of his life, especially during World War II, and I certainly am grateful to Johnson for this. It is an easy read and succinctly explains some very complex events. 

Dark Matter by Black Crouch

Are you happy with your life?”  Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”  In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe."

Rating: C -- While the plot is definitely intriguing, by the end I pretty much knew how it would end and was like "let's just get to the point already!" It definitely was captivating at the beginning and also made you think about how every choice in your life is impactful. It was a nice, quick read for me. 

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

"The book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck."

Rating: A -- I'm a personal development junkie and I love books that aim to inspire, especially through historical and prominent figures. This book was great in that it really shows how presidents to CEOs to innovators to generals dealt with the hardships bought their way to accomplish incredible and unforgettable feats. 

Superficial: More Adventures from the Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen

"Since the publication of his last book, Andy has toured the country with his sidekick Anderson Cooper, hit the radio waves with his own Sirius station, Radio Andy, appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher despite his mother’s conviction he was not intellectually prepared, hosted NBC’s Primetime New Year’s Eve special, guest edited Entertainment Weekly, starred in Bravo’s Then & Now with Andy Cohen, offended celebrities with his ongoing case of foot-in-mouth disease, and welcomed home Teresa “Namaste” Giudice, from a brief stint in jail. Hopping from the Hamptons to the Manhattan dating world, the dog park to the red carpet, Cardinals superfan and mama’s boy Andy Cohen, with Wacha in tow, is the kind of star that fans are dying to be friends with. This book gives them that chance."

Rating: B -- I enjoy these book because I like getting the inside scoop of celebrity friendships and their day to day lives. Andy Cohen always delivers. I felt like the first book was juicier because he wasn't as good friends with famous people so he didn't shy away from talking about them, but it was still enjoyable to read about his glamorous life behind the scenes. 

A Season for the Dead by David Hewson

"In a hushed Vatican Reading Room, the scene is shocking: a crazed professor shot dead after brandishing evidence of a grisly crime. Moments later, two bodies are found in a nearby church, each with a gruesome calling card from their killer. Detective Nic Costa is one of the first on the scene. A cop who barely looks his twenty-seven years, Nic soon meets a woman who will dominate both his thoughts—and his investigation."

Rating: B -- We read this book together and both really liked it and have continued to read the Nic Costa series. We tend to each read a chapter and pass it back and forth. This is the first of ten books in Hewson's Nic Costa Series. I'm a huge mystery detective fan and I love the fact that they take place in Italy (Rome specifically for this book). I feel like I'm reading a thrilling crime novel while also reading a travel book. At points it's a bit dark but push through and you will love the ending. A good beach read.


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