Courtney · Family · non-Books

The Heart of the Matter

Mom, Dad, and Me in Florence, Italy, Summer 2017

Just over a year ago my dad went to the emergency room because, after a rousing run through the house after a rogue flying squirrel, he was feeling pretty darn lousy.

Just over four months ago, my mom was at one of my dad’s doctor appointments and made a passing comment about how she too was starting to feel a bit lousy. Continue reading “The Heart of the Matter”

ARC · Book Review · Fiction · NetGalley

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

36723031.jpgTitle: All We Ever Wanted
Author: Emily Giffin
Genres: Fiction; Contemporary; Adult Fiction
Publication Date: 26 June 2018
Date Read: 4 July 2018
First Line: It started out as a typical Saturday night.
Favorite Line: But I cherished our filterless relationship and considered it the truest measure of a best friend, greater than pure affection. Who was the person you trusted enough to be your most transparent self with, in both good times and bad?


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publishers, Random House/Ballantine, in exchange for my honest review. This had no sway over my thoughts and opinions on the book and did not influence this review. Thank you to both for the opportunity to read and enjoy this novel!

I’m not gonna lie — I requested this book from NetGalley expecting a traditional easy, happy, romantic read that Emily Giffin is known for. Sure, I read the synopsis, but despite that I was still incredibly surprised when I finally got into the story. This was a tough book. Timely with the rise of the #MeToo Movement and all of the cases of sexual harassment and assault that cycle through the news.

But it was also a necessary book — for all those reasons. There were moments early on that I wanted to abandon this book because it was just so hard to read. But that was just the reason that I needed to read this book.
••• Continue reading “All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin”

Book Review · Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Reading · Young Adult

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Read:  26 June 2018
First Line: The first snow of winter had begun whipping through Velaris an hour earlier.
Favorite Line: She had always been drawn to the untamed, wild things of the world.
Runner-up Favorite Line: Cassian set me down at last. “What’d you get me for Solstice?” I smacked his arm. “A heaping pile of shut the hell up.”


Man do I have a backlog of blogging to get to, you guys! This PhD thing is honestly no joke – something that shouldn’t surprise me 4 years in, and yet it still does. Thanks for holding tight while I try to figure out a way to organize my life in a way that allows me to enjoy both reading for school and reading for fun. Anyways, let’s get to the book, shall we?

Continue reading “A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas”

Book Review · Books

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

27883214Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genres: Young Adult; Fantasy; Adventure; 
Birthday Present (Thanks, Dad!)
Publication Date: 31 January 2017
Date Read: 30 September 2017
First Line: It took seven years to get the letter right.
Favorite Line: Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.
Runner-Up Favorite Line: Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.


Be forewarned: I’m still completely undecided on this book. I wanted to love it, I really did. And I’m not sure if I didn’t like it either. I’m completely caught in the middle. There is just so much in this book that I really like, but there’s so much that I just have so many questions and thoughts and…

Continue reading “Caraval by Stephanie Garber”

Courtney · non-Books · Writing

When Words Fail

42e3e5d2fc0fccc410e585903ef59439I have always prided myself on my writing.

I think maybe that’s because words have never truly failed me, they have never let me down.

There are rules to be followed with words, but there’s always also room for creativity and imagination and play. There are endless ways, through careful thought and placement, to use them to create art and magic and inspiration. With words you can create order, create disorder, or create order out of disorder. We use words to record the moments that we want to remember and to remind ourselves of the lessons we’ve learned from moments we wish we could forget. We use words to make sense of things that seem so nonsensical, or confusing, or difficult, or challenging.

I have always prided myself on my writing because it is through words that I am best able to communicate my thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas, and desires.  Continue reading “When Words Fail”

Courtney · Family · Italy · Travel

Questa Vita Italiana: Roma

thumb_IMG_9235_1024I’ve recently returned to the US from a whirlwind last few weeks in Europe which saw: a visit from my parents, a trip to Spain for a conference, and a week of trying to soak up everything Italian before flying home. I didn’t have time to blog because I was too busy just living this crazy vita Italiana. But, that I’m home with some time on my hands to recap and reminisce before I fly off to another great adventure in a week. Enjoy!  Continue reading “Questa Vita Italiana: Roma”

Book Review · Fiction · SciFi · Young Adult

Select by Marit Weisenberg

33830806Title: Select 
Author: Marit Weisenberg
Genres: Young Adult, SciFi, Romance
 e-book ARC
Free from NetGalley and CharlesBridge Teen
Publication Date: 3 October 2017
Date Read:  6 April 2017
First Line: “Julia!” That startled me.
Favorite Line: “Julia, don’t accept their story that you’re less. You’re more of everything. All the best parts.” 
I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This had no sway over my thoughts and opinions on the book and did not influence this review.


What an interesting take on the super-human genre! I was so excited when I got this book from NetGalley – I totally wasn’t expecting it, that’s for sure! The cover art is amazing, the premise was fascinating, and I pretty much devoured this book in two days.  It had some issues, so it wasn’t perfect. But it was a good, easy read. Continue reading “Select by Marit Weisenberg”

Courtney · Food · Travel

Italian Food Groups


IMG_8779.jpgSo, I’m back in Italy for round two of Courtney’s Great Italian Adventure. You’ll be please to know that things are going much (much) smoother this time around. In case you missed it, my last trip over here involved a lot of tears and a lifetime’s worth of doubt all packed into two short (but seemingly endless) months. Thankfully, that seems to be a thing of the past and that makes me quite glad I came back. It’s nice to be able to approach a country I love with, well, love – instead of trepidation and anxiety. It would have been so easy to say that my last trip was enough, that two months of research was all that I needed. And I did say that – a number of times – to anyone who was willing to listen. I tried to figure out a way to not have to come back. But, fast forward to the end of that trip, and I knew that I needed to give this city another chance. And I am so glad I did.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Or, at least, not what this post is mainly about. Continue reading “Italian Food Groups”

Book Review · Books · Fiction · Young Adult

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Title: If I Stay (If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Audio Book
Borrowed from the Library!
Date Read:  5 March 2017
First Line: Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.
Favorite Line: Life may take you down different roads. But each of you gets to decide which one to take. 
Runner-up Favorite Line: I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard. 


As I said in my initial Goodreads post: this book got me right in all the feels. I wasn’t prepared for it, honestly. I didn’t even really know what I was getting myself into with this book. I had just heard it was amazing and I was looking for a good, not-too-long audiobook for a drive I was heading out on. Well, that will teach me. But, it was an amazing book, with na equally amazing narrator for the audiobook.

Continue reading “If I Stay by Gayle Forman”

Book Review · Books · Fiction · Young Adult

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews


Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Genres: Young Adult, Humor, Contemporary
Overdrive from the Library!
Date Read:  21 April 2017
First Line: I have no idea how to write this stupid book.
Favorite Line: When you convert a good book to a film, stupid things happen. 
Runner-up Favorite Line: I am the Thomas Edison of  conversational stupidity.


This book confused me. I wanted to love it as much as all the gushing reviews I read. I wanted to be as annoyed with it as all the displeased reviews I saw. But instead I found myself somewhere in the middle – I both loved and did not love Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I spent a lot of time laughing out loud (really) while reading this book over my daily coffee & croissant breakfast here in Italy. But at the same time, I don’t feel like I got all that much out of it. I guess Greg did warn us to put the book away right from the start….

Continue reading “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews”