Products and Books I'm Enjoying in April 2019
Book Recommendations, Loving and Learning Lately, Products I Love

Loving and Learning Lately {17}

Products and Books I'm Enjoying in April 2019

Welcome to Round 17 of this little series I started of all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately! Here you’ll find everything from the books I’m currently reading to the products I’m loving to the shows I’m watching (which, spoiler alert–won’t be very many or very exciting, since I’m not a huge t.v. or movie watcher). If you want to check out past editions of the series, click here.

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, which means I get a small percentage of any sale made at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting To Love and To Learn!

Linking up with Steph and Jana today!

Loving Lately

Get your bundle now!
  • You all should know how much I love the stuff they do over at Ultimate Bundles by now, and so I just figured I’d pass along the flash sale they’re opening up this week for the new Ultimate Productivity Bundle that was just released earlier this year. If you don’t know how bundles work, they basically gather up hundreds of the best resources on the Internet on a certain topic and then offer the whole bundle to you at a steal (in this case, $37). They only offer deals like this on each bundle twice a year (when it first launches and then one flash sale), and then the deal is gone forever, so if this is something you’d be interested in, you need to act fast. (Note: it opens up tomorrow–Wednesday 8/14–and closes on Thursday.) If you’re curious to see which online courses, ebooks, free bonuses, and more are included in this bundle, you can see the whole list here.
    • Hot Tip: If you missed their Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this year, which is always one of their most popular, you can get a further deal on that if you bundle it together with the Ultimate Productivity Bundle at checkout. It’s the only way you can currently access that one!
  • I’m currently on a major popcorn kick, mostly because I received a bag of Boom Chicka Pop popcorn as part of a gift bag and have been hooked on it ever since. Not only does it use no processed ingredients (always a plus in our book), but it tastes AMAZING, and I’m only sad that I’ve wasted years on mediocre popcorn! (For the record, you can either get it in microwave popcorn form or in bags of pre-popped corn, both of which are fantastic.)
  • I know I mentioned this in my latest monthly goals post, but I’m about to buy a stuffed animal hammock for the kids’ room from Amazon, and I’m getting it for close to free thanks to my Bing rewards account. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, if you sign up for a Microsoft/Bing rewards account, you basically get points every time you use the Bing search engine, and there are tons of ways you can earn lots of bonus points, too. You can trade in your points for rewards, and I’ve been doing it for years as a way to earn free Amazon $5 gift cards. The program is free, and I figured since I use search engines anyway, it’s an easy win. You can click here if you’re interested.

Learning Lately

I’m in a bit of a reading slump at the moment—I’m in the middle of a million books (okay, 7), but not finishing any. I blame my library—they purchased a bunch of the books I requested from my Summer Reading List, but…they’ve all been stuck in bar coding for about a month and a half. Bummer. Because I expect them all to come in any day now (which means I’ll get about 8 or 9 books in at once to read in just a 3-week span), I’ve been hesitant to start any fiction books lately.

The good news is that my September issue of Loving and Learning Lately should be much more exciting book-wise since *surely* they should be available before then, and *surely* that will get me jazzed up about reading All the Books again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, anyway.

As for now, here’s how this last month has shaken out:

The River by Peter Heller

I’d heard rave reviews from seemingly every corner of the Internet, and even though a thriller about surviving a wildfire while on a river trip definitely didn’t sound like my usual fare, I was intrigued by the promise that the book was beautifully written, as well (and you all should know I’m a sucker for literary prose). So I picked it up. And…it was okay. On the plus side, the plot was quick, the premise interesting, and I was guessing about what would happen all the way until the end. On the other hand, the writing style took awhile to get used to (lots of reeeeally long sentences), and I completely hated the ending. In the end, while I could see why people gave this one 5 stars, it just earned 3 from me.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand

I read My Lady Jane (which is the first book in this kind-of “series” where Hand rewrites old classics with a bunch of slapstick humor), and even though it was kooky and a bit over-the-top, I thought it was pretty delightful. (In fact, it even made it to my Top 10 Books List for 2017.) This second installment, which rewrites the story of Jane Eyre, wasn’t quite as immediately lovable for me (and seemed even MORE over the top), but it was light and fluffy and great summer reading, which netted it a solid 3 stars.

The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan

I’m beginning to think I need to do a round-up of memoirs where people take on year-long projects, because I seem to have a definite thing for them. In this particular book, Kaplan (who used to be the former editor of Parade magazine) decides to devote an entire year to consciously feeling and expressing more gratitude in her life, as well as compiling all the research she can find on the subject. What she finds is pretty astounding, and even though I’m not done yet, I’ve already found myself being MUCH more grateful for things on a daily basis, which has given me a definite boost in my happiness levels as of late.

Moments of Seeing by Katrina Kenison

I don’t do this often, but I was enjoying Kenison’s The Gift of an Ordinary Day so much (which I discussed in my last LALL roundup) that I went ahead and ordered a used copy of this one off of Amazon, since I knew my library didn’t carry this title. This is basically just a collection of all of Kenison’s essays (mostly from her blog, I believe), but her style resonates with me enough that I don’t mind the scattered nature of the collection.

Related Post: My New Rules for Book-Buying (+ What I’ve Bought Since Instigating Them)

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

Apparently this is a classic in the personal finance/FIRE (financial independence/retiring early) world, but I’d never heard of it until recently. Basically, this book shows you a 9-step program to follow to free yourself from financial stress but also set you up for financial independence. What I especially like about it (and why I picked it up) is because it’s not just a book about money management—it’s a book about learning to be content with just what you have and need to be truly happy.

All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam

If your memory is scary good, you might remember that this title showed up on a couple of these LALL round-ups ages ago, but I never finished it before it was due back at the library. I ended up putting a hold on it through the Libby app on our tablet, and it has taken this long (we’re talking probably 6 months here) for it to come in. I’m about two-thirds through this title, and I’m distinctly on the fence about it. On the one hand, it has helped to permanently change the way I think of some money philosophies and concepts, but on the other hand, I don’t love that the author assumes that everyone just has all sorts of money to throw at “wastes of time” like cleaning and doing laundry. Right now this is sitting at about 2.5 stars.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicone Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

This is not the sort of nonfiction book I’d gravitate to on my own, but after seeing several of my most like-minded reading friends on Goodreads rave about it, I decided to give this a try. I’ve just barely started this–so I don’t have an opinion yet–but in case you’re unfamiliar with it, this is the true story of a multibillion dollar startup that promised to revolutionize the medical field with its new technology for blood tests…except the tech didn’t work. This is told by the journalist who finally uncovered the scandal and broke it to the public, and if nothing else, it should prove to be a page-turner (if I can trust the reviews on Goodreads).

On the Blog

  • I’m super late to the game, but I’m in the middle of working on my first email list freebie, which will be (what else?) a book round-up that’s available only to email subscribers. I’ve been sending out monthly (ish) newsletters since about March, but this is my first PDF download I’m offering, so I’m pretty excited! If you want to make sure you get it when it first becomes available, you can subscribe to my email list here.
  • I’ve been updating old content like crazy the past month or two, and the only place I usually share those links to the updated content is on the blog’s Facebook page. If you’re not following that yet, click here to make sure you don’t miss those!

That’s a wrap for August! Now fingers crossed that the September issue of this will be exploding with new reads because it will mean all my books finally came in!