The Siberian American

Monday, January 14, 2019

Five Best Coastal Towns to Visit in Maine

If you’ve read my travel posts in the past, you know that Maine is one of my favorite places in the world. Chris and I constantly talk about how much we want to own a summer home there in the future (because we definitely don’t want to deal with those winters!). Now that I’m back to travel blogging, I thought it was only appropriate to kick off my travel posts with more Maine talk! One of my favorite parts of our Maine babymoon was visiting all the of the adorable coastal towns, so today I wanted to share five of my favorite spots with you.

Kennebunkport is the town that made me fall in love with the Maine coast. We first visited Kennebunkport on our fall colors cruise in 2014, and I knew we had to go back. Kennebunkport is full of adorable shops, historic mansions, gorgeous views, and amazing lobster rolls at The Clam Shack. If you want to swim, there are also several beautiful beaches to visit.

Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is the gateway to one of my favorite national parks: Acadia National Park. Like with Kennebunkport, we first visited Acadia on our fall color cruise, and we loved it so much we knew we had to go back! Bar Harbor itself is special too. We loved walking along the water, going on a lobster boat cruise, and dining at the many delicious restaurants. You must stop for ice cream at Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream and grab some wild Maine blueberry muffins at Jordan’s Restaurant.

Camden is known for gourmet dining and the gorgeous Penobscot Bay. One of my favorite memories from our babymoon was our sunset cruise on the Penobscot Bay: it was absolutely stunning! Camden Hills State Park, a short drive outside the city, is also worth a visit. Mt. Battie (inside the park) offers gorgeous panoramic views of Penobscot Bay.

Boothbay Harbor
Boothbay Harbor stole my heart. It was the cutest little town with the most beautiful, clear water. It might just be a top contender for that vacation home of ours. I loved walking the Footbridge and just exploring all the fun shops along the water. It was absolutely charming and felt a bit like going back in time. I can’t wait to go back!

I included York on my list because it’s one of the easiest towns to get to from other states if you are driving. York is located on the southern tip of Maine and is full of fantastic beaches and gorgeous mansions. My favorite part of York, though, was the Cape Neddick Light (most commonly referred to as the Nubble Light)—one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine.

This is just a taste of some of my favorite places in Maine! I'll be sharing more in-depth guides in the future.
P.S-If you know me, you know why all of the photos I showed y'all today are of the water and not the towns themselves-the water is my favorite part!

Other Maine Babymoon Posts:

Other Maine Posts:

Have you been to Maine? What was your favorite town?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Six Books I Read in December

Happy book day, friends! I'm so excited to be sharing books with y'all today because I've read so many good books lately! Chris started working nights a few days before the new year (so brutal), which has been a good excuse for me to get some reading done! Also, I had quite a few First to Read ARCs that expired January 1, so I had to finish quickly. Because of this, December was heavy on historical fiction, but it all worked out since most of these books were fantastic!

(c/o NetGalley)
I waited till December to read this book thinking it had a Christmas theme (it didn't), but it was still a great, light read for this time of year, which I really needed after some heavy books. I sped through it and was excited to see how it would end. Here's the thing: I really loved the way the ending was done, but I hated some of the events that lead up to the ending. Some of the main characters' actions really didn't sit right with me, and I think this cheapened the ending a bit. I'm obviously being vague on purpose to avoid spoilers, but I'm happy to discuss it with those who have read it. Overall, it was a cute read, and I would definitely recommend it.

(c/o Penguin First to Read)
Wow, what a story! This historical fiction novel set in the 1920s features Alice "Nobody" James, who, after fleeing a life entrenched in the New York mafia, finds herself at Paragon Hotel, Portland's only all-black hotel. It weaves between Nobody's life in New York and the racism she witnesses as she is thrust into life at The Paragon Hotel. This novel is heartbreaking, interesting, and relevant. One of the things I love about historical fiction is learning something new, and this book taught me so much: about the Italian Mafia in New York, the Prohibition Era, and the rise of the KKK in Oregon (I had no idea Oregon was originally established as an all-white "utopia"-wow!). It's powerful and beautiful, and the only reason I can't give it five stars is the ending fell a little flat for me.

This book definitely lived up to the hype. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and the story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. I love when historical fiction teaches me something new, and I feel like I really have a better grasp on the situation in Cuba, past and present.

(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I read this book right after I read Next Year in Havana, and I was so excited to read a book with Beatriz as the main character. She's a great character, and I loved how she went outside of the norm of society. I didn't love this book as much as Next Year in Havana because I didn't like the romance as much and didn't feel quite as connected to the characters. Overall, though, I liked that this book gave a better overview of life for exiles in the United States after the Cuban Revolution!

(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I love Susan Meissner's books because they always teach me something new. In this case, I learn a lot about internment camps during World War II. Overall, I liked the main character, but this book did lack some emotion for me. It was a good read, but I have read better books from Susan Meissner.

(c/o NetGalley)
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an incredible author. Honestly, when I read the description of this book (about the rise and fall of a fictitious band in the 1970s), I thought that if it wasn't written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I wouldn't have read it. This story was just incredible. It was heartbreaking, beautiful, and just so raw. I felt a rollercoaster of emotions. I loved the interview format-it was so perfect for this book! I pretty much loved everything about it, except one thing towards the end, but it wasn't enough to change my rating from five stars. I rarely give out five stars, but this book is absolutely worth it. I want to start all over from the beginning!

Favorite reads in Month: The Paragon Hotel, Next Year in Havana, and Daisy Jones & the Six.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Let's Talk About My Blogging in 2018 and My Goals for 2019

I've thought a lot about what I want to say about my lack of blogging in 2018. I honestly never wanted to be one of those bloggers who has a baby and leaves the blogging world. I love writing and the blogging community too much for that. I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep blogging, but honestly, I felt so much better when I let it go and only wrote when I could. I've touched on it a little in the past, but here is what happened in 2018 that made me write only 19 posts all year:

Photo by Brittnie Renee Photography
1) Anthony hated sleep. 
From birth to 9.5 months, Anthony would not sleep. There was a point in time when he would wake up every 30 minutes at night for several months. I was in survival mode, and blogging just couldn't be a priority. All of a sudden at 9.5 months, he flipped a switch and started sleeping through the night! For those currently in no-sleep land, it does get better!

2) I work from home. 
This was a big one. I have enjoyed working from home the last few years, but now with Anthony, I get most of my work done during his naps and after he goes to bed at night (except on Tuesdays, which are always super busy for me, so my mom comes and watches Anthony). With the lack of sleep and still having to finish my projects, blogging just didn't work.

3) I had major post-partum anxiety. 
People always warn you about post-partum depression, so I didn't even know post-partum anxiety could happen. My heart was constantly racing, and driving anywhere became a huge struggle. I feel like I'm finally coming out of that severe anxiety haze, so here are my goals for 2019:

Post Once a Week
I'm hoping to start posting once a week on Mondays. I have missed blogging so much, and I think I have gotten a little better at time management now that Anthony is older, so I am really hoping to make this happen. That said, I'm not going to put pressure on myself to make this happen. These next few months are going to be a bit crazy in our family (I'll hopefully explain more later!), and I'm not really looking to increase my stress.

Post One Travel Post a Month
This is a huge one for me. I still get emails all the time with people asking me travel questions, especially about our California trip (which is by far my most-viewed blog post, thanks to Pinterest), and I have missed writing about travel so much! I didn't write a single travel post in 2018 because they are the most time-consuming posts, but I have so many things I want to share, and I'm really hoping to make these a priority in 2019!

I really want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to me last year. I love this community so much, and I'm so thankful for those of you who checked in on me or even commented because I definitely wasn't the best at reading your blogs in 2018! Cheers to 2019! Wishing everyone all the best this year and always.

Linking up with Kristen and Helene!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Best Books I Read in 2018

Hi, friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrated yesterday! We had a fun, full day with friends and family. I'm so excited to link up with Steph and Jana today to share my favorite reads in 2018. As of today, I've read 54 books in 2018, which is a bit low for me, but it's better than I thought I would do in my first full year as a mama! Out of those 54 books, these are the ones that stood out to me:

Favorite Historical Fiction:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I've wanted to read The Book Thief forever and never got around to it, so I'm thankful for Erin's Challenge for finally helping me make it a priority. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and truly an important read. I'm glad it's so popular because I think everyone should read it!

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
I actually just finished this book (it'll be in my January reviews) because I received the advanced reading copy for the sequel! What a fantastic read-it's definitely another book that lived up to the hype for me. I feel like I have a much better understanding about what happened in Cuba, and the writing is just beautiful.

Favorite Women's Fiction

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
I feel like I have recommended this book more than any other book I read this year (other than maybe the other book I put in this category). It just really surprised me. I thought I was picking up a sweet, light love story, but it had so much depth.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
I have also recommended this book a bunch this year, and all of my friends who have read it loved it too! I'm amazed at Katherine Center for making such a heartbreaking story so beautiful and truly funny at times. If you haven't read a Katherine Center book yet, pick one up!

Favorite Thrillers:

Our House by Louise Candlish
The thing with most of the thrillers I read is they are interesting while I'm reading them, but they don't really stand out once I'm finished. Our House is one of the rare thrillers that does. The plot sucked me in from the very beginning, and I thought the story was super unique. The ending was great, too!

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
This is one of those great thrillers I can't say much about because I'm afraid to give anything away. It's fast paced and really interesting. I read it back in January, and it still had enough of an impact to make my top list, which says a lot!

Linking up with Steph & Jana

Happy New Year, everyone! Can't wait to share more books with y'all in 2019. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Seven Books I Read in November

Hey there, book friends! I've been struggling with blogging this year (Hoping to share a little bit about why sometime in January because it's more than just having a toddler), but I do try to show up for book day. I managed to read seven books since the last book day, so I have a fun variety of books to share with y'all! It's a bit more heavy on historical fiction than usual, but of course, I had to throw in a few thrillers to the mix!

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
(c/o NetGalley)
I thought I would absolutely love this historical fiction based around the Barbizon Hotel for Girls, but it lost me somewhere in the middle. I had a hard time caring about the present portion of the book, and I just got bored. It did pick up for me in the end, and I liked the ending, but overall, it was just an OK read.

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
The Winters was a slow build for me. It took me a while to get into it, and I questioned the point of the book a few times in the beginning. It picked up about halfway through the book, though, and the ending was really good. This is a retelling of Rebecca, which I haven't read, but now it makes me want to read the original!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
(c/o NetGalley)
I haven't read a WWII book quite like this. What an incredible story of hope and survival. Lale's story is such a unique perspective into life at Auschwitz, and it's truly an emotional ride as you flip from the horrors of Auschwitz to Lale and Gita's love for each other. I couldn't stop reading. The only reason it's not five stars for me is the writing is awkward at times, maybe because it was originally written as a screenplay. Overall, it was a beautiful and heartbreaking read.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I was intrigued by this family drama involving three sisters, one of which is in prison. The reality, though, is that I was mostly bored by it. Honestly, I think many people will love this book, and it will be popular. I just wasn't one of those people. It's more of a 2.5 stars to me, but I rounded up to 3 because it did have some redeeming qualities towards the end.

The Liar's Room by Simon Lelic 
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I really enjoyed this psychological thriller about a mother who moves away with her daughter to escape her past until a stranger walks into her office who knows about her past...and has kidnapped her daughter. It's fast-paced and interesting, and I thought most of the story was pretty unique. I didn't love the ending (I think it could have been a bit better), but overall, this was a great read.

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
Honestly, I was a little hesitant to read this book about Alice Roosevelt because other books I've read like these in the past have let me down. That said, I really enjoyed this one! Alice Roosevelt really was a firecracker, and it was so interesting to read all about the people she knew! It got really sad towards the end (if you know anything about Alice's life, you know why), but I liked the ending!

The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott
(c/o Penguin First to Read)
I've read a lot of thrillers, and here's the thing-you can't just have an interesting twist. The character development in this book is abysmal. Paul, the husband, is so one-dimensional. Rebecca is slightly better but not much. Then, you get to the twist, and I wasn't really impressed. Honestly, it's a bit unbelievable to me. I HATED the ending (though some people will really love it, I'm sure). The one thing I will say is it was a fast read. There are just so many better thrillers out there. I'd pass on this one.

Favorite reads in November: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Liar's Room, and American Princess.

Linking up with Steph & Jana.

I love book suggestions. What have you read lately?