March 2021: Recap + On My Shelves

Apr 10, 2021

I got on a major reading kick in March, finished 32 books (insanity, I know), and let blogging fall by the wayside. But I did do some things besides reading, and I'm excited to chat about them today after my time away from this space.

1. Visiting a Wildlife Preserve – We decided to go on a family adventure in early March to a wildlife preserve about an hour away that someone had recommended to me. It was a beautiful day, and our boys had so much fun looking at the zebras, camels, tigers, bears, horses, and more. That's one item off our 2021 family bucket list!

2. Outdoor Adventures – As the days got prettier, we spent more and more time outside. From neighborhood walks to exploring some playgrounds, I loved taking my boys places. We didn't do much last spring (due to COVID and the baby being a newborn), so it's been nice to get out a little more and have fun locally. 

3. Sister Socializing – A new month means new books, so naturally my sister and I had a few bookstore dates. I was excited to buy some of my most-anticipated 2021 releases and some new-to-me finds that could be a bust (but here's to hoping they're not). Caroline is terrible for my TBR but hanging out is so good for my heart.

4. Nerd Time at the Library – After a week that felt way too long and kind of exhausting, I told Nick that I just wanted to sit down with a cup of coffee, my book, journal, and planner. But it's hard to have quiet time – alone – at home. So, I packed up some of my stuff and went to our local library. It was just what I needed!

Read 32 Books | Favorites:
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Honorable Mentions:
My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew
By the Book by Amanda Sellet
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

“Grief runs through the whole of life and leaves nothing untouched. 
A voice on the car radio, a knife in the kitchen drawer, each carries a thought of the dead.”
Austen Years by Rachel Cohen

“You are not among the good that has happened to me. You are the best of all that I have known. 
You are what I searched for when I left that house and wandered this earth, boy and man. 
You are the part of myself I never thought to find because I did not even dare to dream you existed. 
You are all that I want and more than I deserve, and I will go to my grave thanking a god 
in whom I do not believe for bringing me you.” 
An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn

“Maybe that’s how it always is, I thought—we all just go along, 
catching glimpses of one another, thinking we know everything.” 
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. 
What you must do is this: 'Rejoice evermore. 
Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.'
I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.”
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

“Reverence is the practice of remembering your place in the world: small, and with very little control. 
It sounds defeatist, but I think it's actually the key to living with a sense of wonder and appreciation. 
Nothing was ever promised to us, including the miracle of life itself.”
My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew

“You grow to love something when you give your attention to it.”
My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew

“To find out what a story's really about, ” the Librarian said, 
“you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader.”
Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

“Memories are always bent retrospectively to fit individual narratives.” 
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

“Memories were beastly little creatures, after all—they rose with the faintest whiff of nourishment.” 
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

“But sometimes my mouth starts saying words without checking with my brain first.”
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

“Happiness is not a zero-sum game. It's the only case in which the resources are limitless, 
and in which the rich can get richer at no expense to anyone else.”
Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

“Everything is redeemable, Martha. Even decisions that end up with you 
unconscious and bleeding in a pedestrian underpass, like me. Although ideally, 
you want to figure out the reason why you keep burning your own house down.”
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

“ Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine. 
That is what life is. It’s only the ratios that change. Usually on their own. 
As soon as you think that’s it, it’s going to be like this forever, they change again.”
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

“There is always a road back. If we have the courage to look for it, and take it. 
I'm sorry. I was wrong. I don't know. I need help. These are the signposts. The cardinal directions.” 
The Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

I didn't meet my blogging goal in March, but I'm totally okay with that fact. I got on a reading binge and finished 32 books, so the time away from my computer was good for me. I'd put my boys to bed each night and then sit down with a book, often reading it all in one sitting. It was so fun! I still managed to write six posts, too. I shared my February 2021 recap and March 2021 goals, two staples every month. My So Obsessed With: Mini Edition #11 featured seven things I've been loving lately. And inspired by something I'd written for my birthday, I shared 45 Facts About Me as a Reader. I posted My Spring 2021 TBR and am pleased to say that I've already read a lot of books off this stack! And finally, I posted my sister's favorite recent reads for Tales & Tiger Lily: February 2021. The main post that I'm missing? My own Quick Lit mini reviews! I've got a lot to catch up on this month...

Favorite Song #1: "If You Want Love" by NF
This randomly ended up on my radar and led to me listening to a lot of NF in March.
I don't even know, y'all. But I have no regrets! I love the lyrics to this one.

Favorite Song #2: "Love You Like That" by Dagny
I saw someone recommend this song on Instagram, and I liked it immediately. 
It's perfect for turning up the music and driving with my windows down.

Book of the Month: One to Watch by Katy Stayman-London and The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Bookstore: Accidentally Engaged by Farrah Heron, Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher, The Rose Code by Kate Quinn, Float Plan by Trish Doller, Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson, My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew, Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare, An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn, and We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Book Outlet: Girl Gone Viral and The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai, Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin, Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory, Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey, and Marriage on Madison Avenue and Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Used Bookstore: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (not pictured)

Gifted: The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary (from Kelly) and Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez (from my sister)

Audible: An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn, A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, Betty by Tiffany McDaniel, and The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

NetGalley: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Tales & Tiger Lily: February 2021

Mar 18, 2021

My sister joined bookstagram as @talesandtigerlily. Her name is Caroline, and Tiger Lily is her adorable pup. Since she's discovered a love of reading, I've had the best time talking about books with her. Be sure to check out her introduction post to get to know her better. Once a month, you get a new installment of Tales & Tiger Lily. In each post, I'll list everything she's read the previous month + reviews of three of her favorites.

Recapping the Rest of Caroline's February Reads:
Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
Girl A by Abigail Dean | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ (re-read)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ (re-read)
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ (re-read)

Her top three from the month:

Send for Me tells the story of Annalise, who grew up working in her Jewish parents’ bakery in Germany. She grows up, gets married, and has a daughter named Ruthie. But people start treating their family differently. Customers stop coming to the bakery. Friendships are lost. How will the family survive? The novel becomes a powerful generational story of one family leaving Nazi Germany during WWII. 

This story is very character driven. It read more literary than historical fiction in my opinion. It is about the relationship between a mother and a daughter. It is less about the events that took place during the rise of the Nazis, and more about the way the Jewish people lived in fear—how their neighbors and people whom they used to spend time with completely abandoned them. 

I finished Send for Me in one sitting. It is THE VERY BEST short novel I have ever read. It packs a punch, and I found myself taking pictures of so many paragraphs. The prose is breathtaking. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt after reading this book. I enjoy reading. I do. But sometimes after reading a few okay books, I wonder if I truly like reading. Send for Me is a book that reminded me of why I love reading so much. 

You have to read this book. It’s breathtaking. The author actually knew she needed to write this because her grandparents moved to Milwaukee in 1938. After her grandparents died, she found letters between her great-grandmother back in Germany to her grandmother in Milwaukee. How amazing is that? It made the story even more beautiful and impactful. I will be thinking about this book for days.  | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

I absolutely loved Nesta and Cassian’s story. This was quite the addicting read, and I am pretty sad it’s over. I know all my SJM fans have been in heaven! 

I loved how this book was quite a bit different than her others. It was very character-driven, and I loved getting to know Nesta. She is haunted by her traumatic past, so she turns to sex and alcohol. Nesta has to work through it—her anger, fear, and desire to drink so she doesn’t have to feel. 

And I really thought it was a beautiful process in that Nesta learns to frequently practice her breathing and put habits into place which help her cope. These little boring things can make quite a big difference in how we feel. I also really loved the house in which Nesta dwelled. I want a house that listens to me and runs a bath for me! Gives me chocolate cake. Delivers me books. Do what?! I don’t know why, but that was one of my favorite elements of ACOSF. Rituals & simple daily acts at home can be so healing. I just loved how it made me want to take time for myself and appreciate the things about life that make us happy. 

Oh, Cassian. Oh, Nesta. You two are feisty. That’s all I’m gonna say about the romance. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

The Bone Shard Daughter is the first book in The Drowning Empire trilogy. The book takes place in an empire with many islands. Lin, the former heir to the empire, must figure out how to reclaim her magic and place on the throne. The emperor uses bone shard magic to build all these weird constructs to enforce law and spy for him. It is creepy lol. As the emperor’s rule is falling, there is a revolution sweeping across the many islands. 

Andrea Stewart tells the story through four characters: Lin, Jovis, Phalue, and Sand. At first, I wondered how their stories were connected, but by the end, Stewart wove them into something so unique and exciting. I was very impressed and surprised by revelations throughout the book. There is a lot of mystery to this novel, with a mix of the known and unknown. It kept me turning the pages to discover the truth. 

I was completely drawn into the world-building and details. I could picture things vividly in my mind, and I felt I was right there with them. I loved the characters, as they are all trying to figure out how far they will go to stop evil. I was excited to jump around to each one, the suspense building every chapter. 

All in all, I would highly recommend this one to my fantasy lovers. It was really impressive for a debut, and I loved it. I cannot wait to read The Bone Shard Emperor (already looked at the release = November 11th). | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

My Spring 2021 Stack

Mar 16, 2021

Let's celebrate the fact that I crossed off 24 of the 25 books on My Winter TBR. Of those 24, I DNFed 3 books and read the rest. It was one of my more successful seasonal TBRs! It had the perfect blend of genres, backlist and new releases, and many were available on audio from my library (which helped motivate me to start a few titles I'd procrastinated). For today's Top Ten Tuesday topic, I'm excited to share the 20 titles that made my Spring TBR:


1. The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg – I loved Bragg's short story collection from my winter TBR. The food section was my favorite, so I'm particularly excited for this Southern food memoir. My mouth is watering!

2. The Power of Writing It Down by Allyson Fallon – One of the hobbies I want to cultivate this year is journaling. While there's no right or wrong way to do it, I'm interested in this non-fiction book about the power of writing.

3. That Sounds Fun by Annie F. Downs – Although I don't listen to Annie's podcast, I loved this adorable cover when I spotted it in Target. We could all use a little more fun in our lives, and I'm looking forward to Annie's advice.


4. Admission by Julie Buxbaum – I've been a fan of Buxbaum's writing since her adult fiction debut years ago, and I can't believe I still haven't read her most recent YA release (especially since it's inspired by current events). 

5. Lore by Alexandra Bracken – If you put Greek mythology in a book's summary, chances are good I will want to read it. I have books like Lovely War and Circe to thank for this obsession! I'm hoping this one won't let me down.

6. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev – While I'm keeping my expectations low for this Pride and Prejudice retelling, regular blog readers won't be surprised that I'm going to give it a try. And there's food!

7. A Rogue of One's Own by Evie Dunmore – I just recently read and enjoyed Bringing Down the Duke, and Kelly thinks I might love this sequel even more. I can't wait to see if she's right! These covers are the best.

8. A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler – For whatever reason, I love this cover. I don't know much about the Vanderbilts but have been interested in them ever since visiting Biltmore Estates a few years ago. 

9. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune – This doesn't sound like my typical read, but the hype has made me want to read it. I noticed my sister had a copy on her shelves, and I just had to borrow it (with permission).

10. Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason – After seeing Annie B. Jones' rave review, I treated myself to a copy of this debut from an Australian author (an automatic selling point for me). I can't wait to give it a try. 

11. The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher – In high school, I was obsessed with the Golden Age of Hollywood. Since Grace Kelly was always of particular interest, I couldn't resist this fictional book about her.

12. Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley – I heard about this on the From the Front Porch podcast, and it just sounded so adorable. As an equestrian lover, I'm very intrigued by the idea of a book narrated by a horse.

13. Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz – Growing up, I hated that Jo and Laurie didn't end up together in Little Women so I will totally read this retelling that imagines another ending for the beloved classic.


14. Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly (March 30) – There doesn't seem to be a lot of historical fiction set during the Civil War (compared to the World Wars, for example), which is how this ended up on my radar.

15. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (May 11) – After loving Beach Read, I'm looking forward to another contemporary romance from Henry. And I'm pretty sure it's friends-to-lovers, which sounds excellent.

16. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (June 1) – A new historical fiction release from Reid? Sign me up! This looks like the perfect book to read to usher in summer, and I know it will be something I can't put down.


17. Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle (April 6) – Hogle's You Deserve Each Other took me by surprise last year and quickly became one of my favorite contemporary romances of 2020. I'm looking forward to more from her!

18. Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson (April 6) – Jackson's first thriller, Never Have I Ever, was a win for me, so I'm glad she's returning to the genre with this release. I'll probably listen on audio since I love Jackson's narration.

19. Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez (April 6) – Jimenez made me fall in love with The Friend Zone and then raised the stakes with The Happy Ever After Playlist. Can she do it again? I certainly hope so!

20. Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane (May 4) – This is my most-anticipated spring release! I adore Mhairi McFarlane, and she's at the top of my auto-buy list. I can't wait to fall in love with another one of her stories.

What are you hoping to read this spring?

45 Facts About Me as a Reader

Mar 11, 2021


Back in February, I shared 32 facts about myself. When I initially typed my list, many were related to books. I decided to stick to more personal facts for that post and saved all of the facts related to my reading life for this one! It's perfect because the topic had been on my mind ever since Modern Mrs. Darcy posted her own list. It's fascinating to think about my reading identity, especially because it can change so much with time. One of my favorite things about blogging is having a record of my bookish life. Being able to look back on the past 10 years, it's amazing to see what's stayed the same (my love for re-reading) and what's entirely new (hello, audiobooks). Without further ado, here are 45 facts about my reading life:

1. Reading is my favorite hobby and has been all of my life.
2. If the love of reading is inherited, then mine comes from both of my grandmothers.
3. The best signing I've ever attended was Markus Zusak for the 10th anniversary of The Book Thief.
4. Typically, I'm reading several books at one time.
5. Tracking my reading is one of my favorite activities. I wish I'd done it since childhood!
6. My favorite bookstore is the Picadilly Waterstones in London.
7. For some reason, I can be really resistant to reading books recommended to me. 
8. As a little girl, I had Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans memorized.
9. Hype causes me to pick up more books than I'd like to admit.
10. Culling books – read or unread – is one of my favorite ways to organize. 
11. Gilbert Blythe, Peeta Mellark and Fitzwilliam Darcy are my three biggest book crushes.
12.I love the thrill of the hunt with used bookstores and have a long list that I routinely visit. 
13. Deanna H. never returned the copy of Anne of Green Gables I loaned her in 4th grade. I'm not over it.
14. I belong to two library systems – one for the county I live in and one for a county nearby that I pay to have access to (because it's my favorite). 
15. The best trope is hate-to-love, no question. 
16. Talking to Kelly about what I've read helps me clarify my rating, especially when I have mixed feelings on a book.
17. Sometimes I buy multiple books in a series before I've read the first one.
18. Excellent teachers helped me love books like Anna Karenina... but Lord of the Flies is dead to me.
19. The best bookish gift I've ever received are the custom bookshelves my husband built me.
20. My five favorite authors are Jane Austen, Melina Marchetta, Sarah J. Maas, Mhairi McFarlane, and L.M. Montgomery. Apparently, the Ms are my sweet spot alphabetically!
21. I listen to audiobooks on at least 2x speed... and often 3x.
22. Buying books is almost as much fun as reading them.
23. My proudest bookish accomplishment was moderating Sarah J. Maas' Tower of Dawn tour stop in Atlanta.
24. I don't mind abandoning a book that isn't working for me.
25. My love of historical fiction stems from an early love of the American Girls and Dear America books.
26. When I start a new book, I try to pair it with a bookmark that matches it.
27. Re-reading brings me great delight, which was true even when I was younger. 
28. My books are organized by broad genres on my shelves – Non-Fiction, Classics, Middle Grade, Historical, Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, and Fantasy. Unread books are separated out at the end of each section.
29. I love looking at one-star reviews for books I loathe... and love.
30. My favorite place to read is in the bath.
31. Only my sister and my bestie have book borrowing privileges.
32. Growing up, I would pretend to have a stomachache at bedtime so I could sit on the toilet and keep reading.
33. Contemporary is my favorite fiction genre, and memoir is my favorite non-fiction. 
34. Audiobooks have changed my reading life for the better!
35. Unsurprisingly, my favorite thing to give (and receive) are books.
36. I've completed the Goodreads Challenge every year since 2011.  
37. Over time, I culled almost all of my childhood books. One of my biggest bookish regrets!
38. When I pick up a book, I stick my bookmark in at the spot I want to read to (usually at least five chapters ahead). 
39. When I finish a book, I always read the acknowledgements. 
40. Generally, I feel best when there's balance in my reading life – backlist and just released, long and short, re-reads and new-to-me, etc.
41. When traveling, I try to buy at least one book at a local bookstore. 
42. The best thing I did for my reading life was start a book blog.
43. Thanks to reading, there are a lot of words I know the definition of but don't know how to pronounce.
44. I read aloud to my boys every single day, and I hope that's still true years from now.
45. At last count, I own 51 copies of Pride and Prejudice and 36 copies of Anne of Green Gables.
What's true about you as a reader?

So Obsessed With: The Mini Edition #11

Mar 9, 2021

Some of my favorite posts are ones where bloggers highlight the products they're loving lately or the things they're currently coveting. I love this kind of content so much that I started highlighting my loves and lusts with So Obsessed With posts. So, here are seven things I'm so obsessed with lately:

I was out wandering and couldn't resist buying this tote! The green was sold out online, and it was on sale + an extra 20% off. I love the woven detailing and color, and I'm sure it will hold up well like my other Madewell bags.

This was a recommendation from Miss Freddy, and I love it so much! It's a video diary app where you record one second every day and compile them chronologically into a single video. I'm excited to use it for all of 2021.

Even though I own more than enough random notebooks, I really wanted one from Archer & Olive based on what I'd read about them – and how much I love the book! I've started journaling recently and am loving it.

My sister convinced me get an Apple Watch. I was so resistant – but she was right! It makes it easier to stop mindlessly using my phone, and it's convenient. This charger stand for the Watch and AirPods is a must have, too!

On the same day I bought the tote, I picked up these sunglasses. They were on sale, too, and I loved how the shape looked on my face. The blue frames were a fun, expected touch! My only minor dislike is the mirrored lenses.

Alyssa (@bookstaandbujo) is one of my favorite new-to-me Instagram accounts, and I was so excited when she posted about this list challenge for March. I don't post my lists, but I am having so much fun participating.

Nick gave me Olive & June's complete mani & pedi system for Christmas, but I've mainly been doing manicures. It's become my weekend ritual, and it's a routine I didn't know I needed in my life. Plus, I just love their polish!

Have you been so obsessed with anything lately?

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