August 16, 2017

Quick Lit: July 2017

While my June Quick Lit was shorter than normal, today's is longer! I read 17 books in July, and I'm excited to share what I thought about most of them today. If you're looking for more book recommendations, check out the Quick Lit linkup at Modern Mrs. Darcy to see what other bloggers have been reading lately.

In case you missed it, I co-hosted the Bestie Beatriz Binge in July - an event with Kelly from Belle of the Literati to celebrate our shared love of Beatriz Williams. One of the posts featured mini reviews of all nine of Wiliams' novels: Overseas, A Hundred Summers, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Tiny Little Thing, Along the Infinite Sea, A Certain Age, The Wicked City, Cocoa Beach and The Forgotten Room. It was so fun to talk about my love for this author. And although it was posted on the first day of August, I should also mention my reviews for Catch of the Day, The Next Best Thing and Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins. I loved bingeing this series in July!

And I'll share my review soon for my July favorite (and a Best of 2017) - The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. 


UNEQUAL AFFECTIONS BY LARA S. ORMISTON | This was an audio re-read for me, and I was curious to see if I'd love it just as much a second time. This Pride and Prejudice retelling asks the question, What if Elizabeth Bennet had said yes to Mr. Darcy's first proposal? I said before that it was my favorite retelling, and I stand by that statement. It's not perfect, but it retains the spirit of the original while still bringing something new to the story. The audio was a great experience, too, because I really enjoyed the narrator! I'm So Obsessed With It

MYSTIC SUMMER BY HANNAH MCKINNON | I liked my first McKinnon book, The Lake Season, but didn't love it. Thankfully, I tried again with this book, which was a gift from Cassie. Once again, I loved the setting of seaside Connecticut. McKinnon made me want to visit! The characters were great, and I was immediately hooked on the story. It was a light, quick read that was perfect for an afternoon by the pool. I can't put my finger on what it was missing that would have made it a favorite, but I'm happy to say I So Enjoyed It.

CHASING SLOW BY ERIN LOECHNER | I don't read Loechner's blog, but I saw this book in a store while browsing one day and was intrigued. It's so beautifully designed - inside and out - and I liked the idea of a book about choosing simplicity in your daily life. But man, it did not live up to that premise. The writing was sometimes nice but often meandering, packed with dumb metaphors and very repetitive. It read like a series of blog posts that lacked direction or depth. I'm So Over It and walked away wondering why I even bothered to finish it.


WHAT TO SAY NEXT BY JULIE BUXBAUM | Buxbaum is an all-time favorite author for me, so I had high expectations for this release. Thankfully, it completely delivered! I loved the two main characters - Kit and David - and enjoyed reading from both of their perspectives (particularly the thoughtful representation of someone on the autism spectrum). I adored their blossoming friendship and felt so emotionally invested in everything that was happening. This is a short book, but it packs a punch. I So Loved It, in case you can't tell.

THE KNOCKOFF BY JO PIAZZA AND LUCY SYKES | I found this book at Goodwill one day and bought it on a whim. I loved the idea of a modern retelling of the movie All About Eve set in the fashion journalism industry. I ended up listening to the audio because I love narrator Katherine Kellgren, and I couldn't turn it off! It was such a clever take on tech, fashion, journalism and aging in the workplace. I felt like many of the situations and characters were exaggerated for comedic effect, but I still So Enjoyed It. It was mostly fluff - but fun!

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI BY SANDHYA MENON | I'd been anxiously awaiting this release ever since the cover was released, and the hype in the blogging world just added to my interest. I'm happy to say that the book was just as cute as I'd hoped it would be! I loved the diversity in this story, and it was great to learn more about Dimple and Rishi's culture. The romantic comedy elements were adorable, even if they were somewhat predictable. I wanted more from the summer camp and coding project, but I So Enjoyed It overall.


GODS IN ALABAMA BY JOSHILYN JACKSON | The first time I picked up this book, I read 60 pages before returning it to the library. I didn't run out of time; I decided not to finish it. The writing voice was fantastic, but the story felt so bleak. After falling in love with The Almost Sisters, I decided to give this one another shot. And I'm glad I did. I love Jackson's characterization, dialogue and intriguing story. I've debated the rating a bit because the heavy subject matter makes it hard for me to broadly recommend it, so I'll say I So Liked It.

BACKSEAT SAINTS BY JOSHILYN JACKSON | When I found out this book was a companion to gods in Alabama, I knew I had to read it next. I loved that Jackson took a minor character from Arlene's story and made her the heroine in this one. While you don't have to read them in order, I'm glad that I did. Once again, Jackson tackles very serious topics with honesty and sensitivity. I couldn't stop thinking about this story and character after I was done. I So Enjoyed It (and would recommend it on audio, too, which was the format I read). 

What have you been reading lately?

August 14, 2017

July 2017: Recap + On My Shelves


It's been the best summer so far! From fun outdoor adventures to cuddling at home with my boy, we've loved every minute of this season. And that's partly why I didn't finish this recap until halfway through August. Oops!

1. Traipsing Around Tallulah - One Saturday, we drove up to Tallulah Gorge for a little exploration. The place has special meaning to our family because it's where Nick proposed to me six years ago! It was so fun to watch our boy take it all in. He was in heaven and loved getting to walk all around. Bonus? It wore him out!

2. Beatriz Williams & Karen White Signing - I went to my first Beatriz Williams signing back in February, and I quite enjoyed it. But my shameful secret? I'd only read one of her books at that point - even though I owned them all! Then, Kelly and I binged her books, which meant I had to go to her July signing and truly fangirl.

3. Library + Lake with My Boy - A few years ago, I visited my county's library and wasn't too impressed. I never went back (and paid to join another library system). However, I recently took my boy to our local library and discovered their excellent children's area. Another plus? It's near a lake with ducks, and my boy is obsessed.

Read 17 Books | Favorites:
What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins
“They seem to understand that the world is a big, diverse place,
and that different is not the same thing as scary.
It’s amazing to me how many people mistake the two.”
What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

 “Once you bring forth a baby into this world, God help you,
the terror instinct takes up residence in your blood, like a chronic disease, and never leaves.”
A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

“If you're not making enemies, you're not getting anywhere.”
The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams

“Maybe little girls should have the chance to see the world a bit,
while they're still young enough to see it in wonder.”
Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

“Have we all become so desperate to share everything that we’ve stopped enjoying our lives?”
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

“Do I want to know where I came from? Yes. But that doesn’t impact who I want to be.
My past -- that's the work of other people. What I do -- that's up to me.”
The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig

“God gave us crying so other folks could see when we needed help, and help us.”
gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

“It's safe to be in love with someone you know you'll never have.
Nothing is really risked when you know you can't lose.”
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins

“She smiled, and there it was again, that aching pressure in his chest.
Love, or a heart attack. Kind of the same thing.”
Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

“Young men, romantics, call it love at first sight, but even then I understood it was only prettiness.
Young men see pretty, and they start hanging all the things they hope you'll be onto you
till you're so weighed down you can't move.”
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
I kicked off July with my June 2017 recap. Then, I was excited to be able to share So Obsessed With: Baby Edition #3 - a post with all the baby/toddler products our household has been loving lately. My Quick Lit: June 2017 post only featured one book, but it was a new favorite! Finally, it was time for the Bestie Beatriz Binge, a blog event that I hosted with Kelly from Belle of the Literati to celebrate our love for Beatriz Williams. We shared five reasons to read Beatriz Williams, mini reviews of all nine Beatriz Williams novels, favorite quotes + bookish photos and wrapped the week up with a fun superlatives + if you like X, try X post. 
1. The Appeal of Limited Choices... and the Irony of My Overflowing Bookshelves by Christine at Buckling Bookshelves - I really loved this post because it expressed something that I've noticed recently in my own reading life. I did a little experiment this summer (details to come!) and came to similar conclusions as Christine.

2. The Hamilton Book Tag by Morgan at The Bookish Beagle - Morgan has shared some really fun tags on her blog, but this is definitely one of my favorites! It was fun to read through the prompts and see what she chose for each one. And I made sure to bookmark it so that I can hopefully complete the tag, too!

3. Bookish Memories by Lauren at Bookmark Lit - Like Lauren, I've talked about memories associated with music before on my blog, but never thought to do it with books, too. I thought this was such a great idea for a post, and it definitely made me ponder my own bookish memories. I'll have to share them soon! 

4. When Your Kids Won't Bow to Your Idols by Jennifer at Jennifer Phillips - Oh man, this was definitely the most thought-provoking post I read in July - and one I can see myself re-reading in the future. A friend shared this on Facebook, and I'm so glad I clicked through to read it because I needed to read what it said.

The Popcast 
with Knox McCoy and Jamie Golden
OMG, HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS PODCAST UNTIL NOW?
Y'all, so obsessed with doesn't even begin to cover how I feel about it. LOVE LOVE LOVE.
I've now listened to almost all of their 2017 episodes, and I feel like they're my new best friends.



Favorite Song: 
“I Like Me Better” by Lauv
One of my friends posted about this song on Instagram, and of course I went to look it up.
I liked the song immediately, and it's grown on me with every listen. It's so catchy!

Grantchester, Season 3, starring James Norton and Robson Green - I always forget how much I enjoy this show until it comes back on each season! I love James Norton, and the weekly murder mysteries always fascinate me. Plus, I'm totally hooked into the overarching storylines that span the whole season. And it's one of the few British shows my husband enjoys watching with me so that's a win, too.


So You Think You Can Dance, Season 14 - Ugh, I have a contentious relationship with this show. I used to be obsessed with it - and can still get sucked into the YouTube black hole of rewatching past dances. But they keep tweaking the format (not to mention the kids season, which I refused to watch), and it's so frustrating as a longtime viewer. However, this season seems to be recapturing a bit of the old magic.

Had to Buy: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

For My Collection: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Left | Right) and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Left | Right)

Bargain Finds: The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson and The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White


From My Mama: The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson, Beartown by Fredrik Backman and What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Audible Sale: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

August 1, 2017

“Love, or a heart attack. Kind of the same thing.”


In June, I read my very first Kristan Higgins book. I absolutely loved it, which was great because 1) it's always exciting to find a new favorite and 2) I'd purchased a ton of her books at a used bookstore in March. I've talked about this before on my blog, but I've got a very bad habit of buying a bunch of books from an author that interests me... before I've even read anything they've written. That was the case with Kristan Higgins.

When I first started thinking about what to read for the July's Picky Pledge Reading Challenge prompt, "A Book You Bought Because of the Author," I planned on reading something from an author who'd proven themselves to be a favorite. I mean, if you're buying a book for the author, chances are good that it's because you love what they've written in the past. But then, I thought about the Gideon's Cove series. I had all three books on my shelves and didn't even remember reading the summaries when I bought them. I'd been drawn in based solely on the author! So, it fit the prompt - and would help me determine if Higgins was truly a new favorite.

I picked up the first book in the series, Catch of the Day, and was immediately hooked. Maggie Beaumont hasn't been lucky in love. Her first boyfriend broke up with her by bringing his new girlfriend home. And then there was her crush on a gorgeous newcomer to town... who turned out to be the parish's new priest. Maggie loves running a successful diner, but everyone knows she's looking for love. Even Father Tim gets in on the matchmaking! And Maggie just might find her perfect match where she least expects it...

This book was hilarious! Higgins definitely knows how to write humor and books that just make you so happy while reading them. Maggie is constantly getting herself into awkward and/or embarrassing situations, but I loved that she just took it all in stride. She had a bright personality and was easy to relate to! I appreciated that her desire for a significant other was relatable and important to her, but it didn't define her. She had a successful business, good friendships, an amazing dog and a place in her community. 

I loved her relationship with her twin sister and the fact that she was somewhat envious of her life but never let it come between them. There's some tension due to her relationship with her mother, and I felt like it added a lot to the story. The focus on family dynamics was something I noticed in my first Higgins, too, and became even more apparent as I continued reading this series. I love that Higgins' heroines don't exist in a vacuum - you get to meet all the people who make up their world. And they add so much character to the stories!

If I had one complaint about Catch of the Day, however, it's the romance. I'm all about the strong, silent type, but I did feel like the hero was just too taciturn. There's not a lot of relationship development because there was so little conversation! He does prove that actions speak louder than words because he's there for Maggie when she needs him most... but still. I So Liked It, but would have loved it with a bit more development here.

Regardless, I finished this one and immediately moved on to The Next Best Thing. Lucy Lang has known life-changing love and was devastated when she lost it. As a young widow, she still wants a family and a husband. Her cat, Fat Mikey, and the family bakery she runs with her mother and aunts just aren't enough anymore. She can't risk that kind of pain again, but it's time to get serious about moving on. She knows she has to end things with Ethan, her completely inappropriate "friend with benefits," but he thinks he's know what's best for her...

I'd talk a little about the relationship in this book, but I don't want to share the most significant details about it. You'll find out why pretty early on in the book, but I still think it's more enjoyable if you discover it while reading. So, I'll say this: I couldn't wait for Lucy to open her eyes to what was right in front of her. I understood all her reasons for hesitating: her love for her husband, her grief over his loss, her fear of it happening again, and her awareness that this person was all wrong for her on paper. She was a little more closed off and less relatable than Maggie, but I was way more invested in this romance. It was so satisfying!

Once again, Higgins just makes me happy! I adored the bakery that Lucy works in with her mother and aunts, The Black Widows. They were such delightful secondary characters, and they are another great example of how Higgins fleshes out her characters' families. Lucy's sister drove me crazy at times, although I understood where her fear and control issues were coming from. Lucy had a sweet relationship with her in laws, but I do have a bone to pick with them about how they treated someone else. Overall, however, I So Enjoyed It.

One of my very favorite things about the book was Lucy's best friend, Parker, and Parker's son Nicky... which brings me to Somebody to Love. I had no idea that Parker Welles was going to be the heroine, but I totally did a little happy dance when I saw her name in the summary! When I finished the second book, I wasn't sure what made it part of a "series" because it didn't seem to connect with Catch of the Day. It didn't have the same setting or any overlapping characters. Well, that question was solved with the third and final book in the series. 

Parker Welles grew up with anything money could buy... but it couldn't fix her relationship with her dad. He's a hotshot businessman who always made sure she was taken care of financially, if not emotionally. And then comes the day he loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme. As a single mom, Parker knows she's got to figure out her life - and fast. Her first step is to go to Gideon's Cove, Maine, and sell the only thing she now owns: a decrepit house in need of a lot of TLC. Her father's attorney, Jame Cahill, tags along and she's not happy about it. He may be handy with a toolbox, but the last thing she needs is a constant reminder of all the ways her father has let her down. But she's about to learn about all the ways life can surprise you.

I knew from The Next Best Thing that Parker wasn't your stereotypical "rich girl" character. And thank goodness! She may have come from a life of privilege, but she didn't act like she was better than everyone else. It's definitely an adjustment for her when her father loses all of their money, but I liked that Higgins focused more on the sense of betrayal she felt towards her father and on the grief for losing a home filled with so many important memories. Parker had a career as a bestselling author, so it wasn't like she just sat around shopping all day, and she wasn't opposed to doing the work it took to rebuild her life (and the house she'd inherited). 

The home renovation storyline was so much fun. There's nothing like a little manual labor to create some tension and fireworks! James was my favorite man in the series for so many reasons. I loved that we learned so much about his backstory, his family and his past run-ins with Parker. It was a nice flip for the guy to be the one pining over a girl who wasn't interested in him. And I couldn't wait until Parker stopped seeing him as her father's lackey and finally noticed all his good qualities. Major swoon!

You'll get to revisit Maggie, Malone, Lucy and Ethan in this book, so I definitely think you'll appreciate reading it last. You don't have to, but I think it's nice to see how this book ties the previous two stories together. This one was my favorite of the three, and I So Loved It, but I can't say enough good things about the series overall. I adore Higgins' writing, the balance of humor with heavier emotions, the delightful secondary characters and the completely charming settings. I have definitely found a new favorite author!
Release Date: October 2007; January 2010; April 2012 | Publisher: HQN Books
Pages: 377 pages; 400 pages; 425 pages | Source & Format: Bought; Paperback

This was my seventh read for The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge that Alexa and I are doing in 2017! It's the perfect motivation to read books from my TBR and adds an extra dose of accountability, too. In addition to reading and reviewing one challenge book per month, we're answering three questions about each one!

1. How long has this book been on your TBR? 
I bought all three books in May of this year, so only two months. I'm failing at primarily reading books that have been on my TBR prior to this year, but at least I'm completing the challenge!

2. What other books have you read by this author? 
I've only read one other book by this author, On Second Thought, and I just read it in June. It was definitely a new favorite, which made me so excited to read this series.

3. Do you have any other books by this author on your TBR?
I do, and it's basically her entire backlist. She's a favorite now! But I only own If You Only Knew and her Blue Heron series, so those are my priority in the foreseeable future.
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