Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else

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What We Forgot To Bury

If you are a reader and aren’t on Goodreads, you should be! Not only is it a great, easy way to track what books you’ve read, but you can win FREE BOOKS! I’ve been on a bit of a winning streak lately: I won 2 free Kindle books from Goodreads and a whole free family meal from a local restaurant! I can no longer say I never win anything!

This was the first book I won. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little skeptical of free books (although it’s a little different when it’s a giveaway). I’ve tried some of the books available through Prime Reading and they can be hit or miss. What We Forgot To Bury by Marin Montgomery was definitely slow to start and it took longer to get into the story and know where it was going than I like, but it’s not a long book, so I kept trudging through. It got a little better towards the end since there were some twists, but I’d still put it down there pretty low ranking my books for this year.

The two main characters, Elle and Charlotte, are both living with dark and muddled pasts. Their lives become entwined, though not completely by chance, and so do their histories. The interesting thing about this story to me was that you don’t trust or really like any of the characters. There are times when you feel for them, but none of them are completely likeable. The father who may or may not be wrongfully imprisoned for manslaughter, the daughter who may or may not be trying to hurt her father’s ex, the ex who may or may not be lying about everything to everyone. I think that’s why the story was hard to get into – as a reader you don’t know the truth about anyone or anything. Usually there’s one perspective that is true or you know you can trust. These characters all just lie constantly or have personality traits that make them seem like they’re lying. And there are a LOT of holes in the story line.

The last quarter of the book definitely had me more on the edge of my seat because there was a little more action. If you like thrillers and have the patience to wade through the weeds at the beginning, you might end up enjoying it. Though I am still confused about the title of the book…no idea where it came from or how it relates to the story. Book #19 done!

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Writers & Lovers

This was a pretty quick read but took me a bit to really get into it. My initial thought about Writers & Lovers by Lily King was that is was slow and kind of boring. But after the last 1/3 of the book and thinking about why I wasn’t into the first 2/3, I loved it!

Casey is just a normal young adult (young-ish….early 30s) dealing with normal adult issues. She struggles with her mental health after her mother’s sudden death. Her father is somewhat estranged, her brother lives on the other side of the country, and she is dealing with a recent heartbreak. She dreams of being a writer and has been working on a novel but cannot seem to get it done. And she’s hiding from collections agencies trying to collect her overdue debt of college loans. And these are just the issues she’s dealing with at the beginning of the story.

Throughout the entire story, she beats herself up for not being able to cope with all of this. And she doesn’t have anyone she is comfortable being fully honest with about any of it. She finally sees a therapist who really snaps her back to reality. She has tried to play off the things she’s dealing with as small and insignificant issues. And I feel like a lot of us do that, especially right now. If something is troubling you or stressing you out, it is significant in your life, even if you think it’s silly or would be a minor speed bump for someone else. It doesn’t do anyone any good to compare tragedies.

I didn’t end up liking this book because it does have a happy ending. I ended up liking it because it is real. The character is real, her issues are real, and the way she deals with those issues, both initially and ultimately, is real. No one can do it alone. Definitely check it out and enjoy!

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American Royals

This was a great, lighthearted read, which was much needed. American Royals by Katharine McGee is a creative fictional story about a royal family and succession to the throne. But it is not exactly what you would expect. This royal family is not British, but American. When the US won their independence from England, they set up the country as a monarchy, like England. And the Washingtons became the royal family.

The story follows the King, Beatrice, the eldest daughter and heir to the throne (the first female to hold that position), Samantha and Jefferson, the twin children of the King, and their crazy life of friends, guards, parties, papparazzi, and expectations. There are definitely elements of the real life British royal family woven into the storyline, which I thought was interesting albeit slightly confusing. If you’ve watched The Crown you’ll see what I mean. If you haven’t watched it, this book will make you want to watch it.

The story was very entertaining but really leaves you hanging at the end. I guess that’s a good thing for McGee since the next book is supposed to be released later this year. If you like all things royal or just need a light, easy read, check it out! And enjoy!

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And Then You Were Gone

I’ve finally broken out of my historical fiction trend to my other favorite – suspense/mystery. Of course I liked And Then You Were Gone by R.J. Jacobs because it’s set in Nashville and a lot at my alma mater (VU!). And Jacobs lives in Nashville, so bonus points right off the bat.

I will say for a suspense, there were some holes in the storyline. Or maybe I just watch and read too many crime dramas. There were definitely some things that I feel like the cops would have done but I am no police investigation expert. The book starts with Emily and her boyfriend, Paolo, on an overnight trip and she wakes up to him gone. Completely gone. The story continues with more murders and many stupid decisions by Emily trying to figure out what is happening. And although her bipolar diagnosis explains a lot of her actions, it didn’t really make me like her any more. But it’s always fun to know exactly where things are taking place, to be able to picture them.

So not my favorite main character, but the storyline was still great. There’s murder, suspense, virus and epidemic research. So also very appropriate at the moment. Enjoy!

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The Alice Network

Another fantastic historical fiction! I definitely need a break now, though from war stories. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn follows three unlikely friends, all dealing with their own ghosts from their pasts. Eve was a spy in WWI and is still haunted by people and actions from her time in France. Finn, a little more minor character, was a soldier in WWII. Charlie (short for Cahrlotte) is in search of her cousin who hasn’t been seen since the end of WWII.

This crew finds each other and their lives begin to interlace in ways unimanginable. They cross countries in search of leads and answers. And along the way, we read of Eve’s adventures and tasks as a spy. This book was fascinating to me, especially after learning that some of the characters were based on real people. Not the 3 main characters, but the others in the spy network Eve worked in – The Alice Network – were. I think I will always be fascinated by WWI and WWII historical fiction because, again, there is so much information and so many stories. And the stories about women’s roles in those times is so interesting.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Echelon Fit

I loved spin class when I was a member at a gym (nothing is close enough now where we live) and my husband likes a stationary bike for exercise. Cardio is hard on his knees. So we’ve talked about buying one for at least a year now. Obviously there is a lot of hype around the Peloton and I have numerous friends who have one, so that was a great gauge. But my husband set out to do some comparisons as well.

And boy did he compare. He literally spent weeks comparing different bikes. He got it narrowed down to two – Peloton and Echelon Fit – then did a week or so more of comparing and contrasting. This is not a cheap purchase, so we wanted to be sure about out decision! There were obviously pros and cons for both, but ultimately we went with the Echelon Connect Ex-5 Bike. It was significantly cheaper then the Peloton and still had great reviews. The main complaints were about the app, but we figured we’d try it and at the very least subscribe to the Peloton app instead. And Echelon had a deal that included a free iPad, which we figured would be more useful than a screen connected to the bike. So here’s what we think.

We love it! The shipping took a little while – we pulled the trigger and ordered right when we started to work from home. But it came in one giant (and heavy) box pretty much ready to go. As with anything, it took a little while to put together and some instructions were a little vague, but it wasn’t bad. This was one difference between the Peloton is that they set it up for you. But we also didn’t want anyone in the house by then.

I have already been doing Beachbody for a while, so I don’t use it every day, but my husband uses it most days. He’s had a few issues with the app syncing the workout but overall we’ve loved it! He likes the scenic routes and I’ve done both scenic rides and on-demand classes. There are also live classes, which we have not done yet. The on-demand classes I’ve done so far are great. I’ve tried a handful with different instructors and enjoyed them!

Overall, we love the bike and am so glad it’s an option for at home exercise. Let me know if you have any questions about it!

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Orphan Train

Thanks to my mom for sharing this book! Like the last book, this is a story set in two different times. But the two main characters share a very similar life. Both orphaned at a young age and left to survive the system. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is still historical fiction but it wasn’t directly set during a World War. Many historical events are happening during the story but they are not the main story. I had no idea that in the 1920s orphans in the northeast were put on trains and taken around the midwest to try to find families, so this was an interesting new piece of history.

Molly is seventeen and has been through many foster families. When she gets in trouble and has to do community service, she ends up at the house of 91-year-old Vivian. She’s there to help her go through her attic and get rid of things, but quickly realizes Vivian doesn’t actually want to get rid of anything. What she begins to learn, though, is that Vivian has a fascinating story and one that mirrors her own, to some degree. Vivian was also orphaned as a child and began an incredible and sometimes horrific life journey at the age of seven.

This was a great quick read and definitely a unique story line. Enjoy!