Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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Picture Perfect

Surprisingly, this whole staying at home thing is putting a hitch in my reading challenge. I usually spend 2-2.5 hours reading per day riding the train and before bed, the bulk of that being on the train. So without the train time, I’m quickly falling behind schedule to reach my 50 books for the year. When I’m at home, I gravitate towards tv or doing a puzzle. So I’ll have to come up with some self-motivation to get more home reading time in!

I recently finished Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult. I generally like Picoult’s book – some I love – but this one just fell into the ‘like’ category. The book begins with a woman, waking up in a church cemetery, with amnesia. She doesn’t even remember her name. A cop, who was starting his new job with the LAPD the next day found her. It’s definitely unexpected when she turns out to be an anthropologist, Cassie, who is married to a big shot movie star. That alone is pretty far-fetched. I like my fictional love stories to at least have a bit of plausibility! 🙂 And this movie star, Alex, also has some dark secrets that I guess she slowly remembers.

At the beginning of the book, Cassie has small, momentary flashbacks, which were plausible to me. But then the whole middle of the book is her entire past leading up to the current day – I think it was maybe a week after she woke up in the cemetery. I am not neurology expert, but it seems a little unlikely that a women has amnesia to the point of not remembering her name or any of the decades that happened before she woke up, then miraculously within a week remembers everything from her childhood to how she ended up in the cemetery.

It didn’t help either that there weren’t any characters that I really loved. Cassie was the most likeable, but she also had her moments. Ultimately, the story is a fairy tale gone wrong, which is more realistic, and of a woman who takes back control of her life. Good overall message but the details didn’t do it for me. Let me know what you think if you read it!


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Lost Roses

I really enjoyed reading Lilac Girls so I went quickly to Martha Hall Kelly’s second book, Lost Roses. It is a prequel to the first book, so some of the characters are the same. I wasn’t sure it would be as intriguing as the first, which is set during WWII, but I was pleasantly surprised.

In Lilac Girls, Caroline is one of the main characters, so in Lost Roses she is a young girl. This story line focuses on Caroline’s mother, Eliza. It is set in 1914, during the fall of the tsar and aristocratic class in Russia and World War I. Eliza’s friend Sofya, cousin to the tsar, and her family end up entrapped and held hostage in their own home. Sofya’s son is taken from her and members of the family attempt escape at different times, causing the family to split up. Meanwhile, Eliza is in the US trying to help Russian women and children who have fled to the US.

The story follows each of their paths and struggles to the end of the war. I won’t spoil who survives and who doesn’t, but it’s not all happy endings. It is written in a similar style to the first book and I enjoyed reading the parallel paths of the women in their respective countries trying to survive and make a difference. And you definitely don’t have to read them in the order they were written. Enjoy!


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The Nanny

I’m well into books for 2020 and this one may be my favorite so far. The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan kept me on my toes the entire time. Jocelyn Holt’s nanny, Hannah, up and disappears when she is 7 and 30 years later, she still seems devastated and holds this against her mother. This seems a little ridiculous and Jocelyn wasn’t my favorite character, but that was really the only downside to the book.

She and her daughter are forced now to return and live with her mother and while there, her entire world turns upside down. Her relationships with both her mother and daughter are challenged and she discovers secrets about her and her family’s past that are hard to come to grips with. Every time I thought I had it figured out there would be another surprise. I definitely recommend this one. Enjoy!


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Long Bright River

I was surprised I got this book quickly off the hold list as it is newer but maybe people haven’t heard yet how good it is. After a historical fiction and an easy romance, a good suspenseful read was appreciated, and Long Bright River by Liz Moore did not disappoint.

Kacey and Mickey, sisters, grew up with their grandmother and under pretty tough circumstances in Philly. As adults, they ended up on different sides of the system – one a cop, the other a drug user and prostitute. But their worlds collide when a string of murders begins in the district they both work in. They each have their own personal issues which melt into trying to catch a murderer, who may be hiding in plain daylight. A couple of times I thought I knew who it was, but the curve balls kept the story interesting and moving along. Enjoy!


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Still Me

Jojo Moyes is a great go-to author. I don’t want to read all her books in a row, but they’re a nice break from the historical fiction and thriller/suspense that I usually gravitate toward.

It’s been over 3 years since I read Me Before You and After You, but I still had the third book of the series saved to my wish list through the library. And it was available when I finished my last book. Still Me continues the story of Louisa Clark as she takes a job in New York City and adjusts to life away from everything she’s ever known. I still loved every minute of this book, even though I hesitated to read it because I don’t always love series past two or three books. But Louisa Clark’s character still made me smile and feel for her. If you’ve read the first two, I definitely recommend this one, even if it’s been a while. I was a little spotty on some of the details from book two (like her boyfriend and how they came to be together) but it wasn’t essential to the current story. Enjoy!


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BeachBody

Last summer, I was looking for a way to get back into a fitness routine. In the past I’ve been a big runner, did a stint of sprint triathlon training, then did a year at Pure Barre (which I loved), but when we moved there wasn’t anything close to go to and I was having trouble getting back into running. One of my closest friends from college had gotten into BeachBody and was really enjoying it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I’ve now done 3 different programs so I thought I’d give a little review of each for anyone trying to find a program or who might be interested. Check out my awesome coach, Meghan, if you want to give it a shot!

My favorite has been 21 Day Fix [Real Time] but that’s just me! People enjoy and are motivated by different types of workouts. What appeals to me may not appeal to you so this is just my opinion!

21 Day Fix [Real Time]

  • What I like: It is a true total body workout and you focus on something different each day. Each week builds on the last and makes it a little more difficult to really push yourself. There are modifications if you need it and the workouts are pretty basic moves. The 30 minutes includes warm up and stretching at the end. The group interacts a lot and has fun, which makes me have more fun! There are short breaks to catch your breath and get water.
  • Didn’t like so much: No music playing with the workout. Autumn talks a lot. And word vomits out a lot of cheesy cliches and motivational lines. It works for some people but I personally don’t need it. I wish there were a timer – either with the overall time and/or a minute timer for each move.

Morning Meltdown 100

  • Second program I did. 100 workouts, 30 minutes each. Ideally done in 100 days but doesn’t have to be.
  • What I liked: 30 minutes includes warm up and stretching at the end. Music playing during workout (there’s a DJ). High energy. Good total body workout that is challenging. There are short breaks to catch your breath and get water.
  • Didn’t like so much: There are definitely some nontraditional moves that are more challenging depending on your fitness level. I definitely felt like I couldn’t do some of the moves even by the end. The group is a little too serious which may just be the feeling after doing 21 Day Fix first that feels more laid back.

T25

  • I was looking for a new program to do in the new year and I know I can’t commit to anything longer than 30 minutes a day. 25 minutes (not including stretching).
  • What I liked: Challenging workouts – I sweat more during these workouts than any of the other programs. There is an overall countdown plus a progress bar for each move. It’s not supposed to be 7 days a week, but 6.
  • Didn’t like so much: This workout is very cardio heavy. I could just feel my arm strength waning. The way they want you to do it is confusing. You definitely have to print out the calendar and you’re doing the same 6 workouts in a different order each week – so after 2 weeks I was bored. There are no breaks at all, even short ones, to catch your breath or get water.


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Lilac Girls

Still loving the historical fiction books and this one may be up there as my favorite. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly was based on real people and real events, which makes it even better.

Three women are followed during and after WWII in Poland, Germany, and America. Their lives cross paths in different ways and they are involved in and affected by the war in very different ways. Caroline is in America, trying to help those affected overseas, especially children and worrying about a man she loves who ends up back in France. Herta is a German doctor who ends up working at one of the concentration camps. Kasia is a Polish teenager who ends up, with her sister, mother, and friend, at one of the concentration camps.

I have read enough WWII fiction and nonfiction that none of the story was necessarily surprising, but it was a more detailed story line about this specific concentration camp and what happened to a group of young girls. And even if you are familiar with WWII events, it never ceases to be completely appalling. What I enjoyed most about this story was that it continued after the war. Even after the liberation of the camps, the pain and damage, both mentally and physically, was incredible and I cannot even begin to imagine that life. But there were people like Caroline, who worked, even many years after the war, to continue to help.

I absolutely loved this story of hardship, friendship, family, and recovery. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction.