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Quick Lit: August 2018

Jan 18, 2019


Yes, you read that post title correctly. This is a collection of thoughts on books that I read last August. Y'all, I can't believe that I'm FIVE MONTHS BEHIND on book reviews. I have a reading journal where I jot down thoughts on what I've read and post reviews for some books on Instagram, which is the only reason I'm able to even attempt to review what I've read the past few months. I almost just called it a day and started fresh in January, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I've read too many great books and love that this blog documents my reading life. 

And so, this begins my attempt to get all caught up! I read 24 book in August, and I'm talking about 22 of them in today's post. The other two will appear in my September Quick Lit. As always, check out the Quick Lit linkup  that's hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy for more reviews and recommendations.


FORCE OF NATURE BY JANE HARPER | I started the month with this mystery and So Enjoyed It! The rising tension, remote setting, and unreliable characters created the perfect sense of mystery. I had to know what happened on that fateful hike when one person didn't return, and the reveal didn’t disappoint. I hadn't read the first book, The Dry, at the time but did so a few days later. I’m hoping for more books with Federal Agent Aaron Falk in the future! 

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS BY LAUREN WEISBERGER | Did I buy this book because of the cover? Maybe a little bit. I didn't read the first two Devil Wears Prada books before diving in, but I never felt like I was missing out because of it. I enjoyed all three main characters, loved how the book poked fun at the super rich, and was rooting for the female friendships that developed as the story progressed. I So Enjoyed It.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: GRAPHIC NOVEL BY MARIAH MARSDEN | This was such a great adaptation of one of my favorite books ever! The artwork by Brenna Thummler was so lovely – and detailed, which I really appreciated. I haven't read many graphic novels, but I was pleased with how this one conveyed the heart and main themes of Anne Shirley's story. The full-length book is obviously better, but I still So Loved It.


TELL ME MORE BY KELLY CORRIGAN | I binged Corrigan's backlist in 2017, so I knew I had to check out her 2018 release. These essays are organized by phrases – the 12 hardest things Corrigan is learning to say. They range from "No" to "I Was Wrong," and a few favorites made it worth the read for me. I don't always like Corrigan herself (and some essays fell flat for me), but I always seem to find something to connect to in her writing. I So Liked It.

THE HELP BY KATHYRN STOCKETT | I re-read this one via audiobook, which was a wonderful listening experience. I adored all the narrators for this book, and they made this re-read something to remember. Even though I knew the story and where it was headed, I found myself so invested and emotional while revisiting it. I'm So Obsessed With It, though I've read other perspectives on it that have helped me be more conscious of its flaws. 

THE DRY BY JANE HARPER | I was immediately hooked by this story, which introduces Detective Aaron Falk who I met in Force of Nature. I didn't think the writing or characterization were particularly noteworthy, but I did find the Australian outback setting added a lot to the story and the mystery kept me guessing until the end. I So Enjoyed It and would definitely suggest reading the books in order since it helps you understand the detective better.


LOVE AND RUIN BY PAULA MCLAIN | I wanted to love this one so bad, and I'm so bummed that I didn't. The heroine was fascinating, and I loved learning more about her as the book went on. The setting and historical detail were nicely done, but I just had no emotional investment in anything or anyone. I didn't believe in the relationships and slogged my way through to the end. I was So Okay With It and, unsurprisingly, still hate Hemingway. 

CATWOMAN BY SARAH J. MAAS | I would never have picked up this book if it didn't have Sarah J. Maas' name on it because I just don't care about superhero stories, so you should probably take my opinion on it with a grain of salt. I thought the story was compelling, enjoyed Maas' writing, and was rooting for the characters. I'm happy that I So Enjoyed It, but it definitely wasn't a favorite or super memorable for me. But a fun read nonetheless!

I'LL BE YOUR BLUE SKY BY MARISA DE LOS SANTOS | de los Santos writes so lyrically, which I immediately loved. It was so nice to return to these characters — and to meet brand new ones, too. And, like with her previous books, I delighted in the literary references throughout. The story itself required me to suspend some disbelief (so many coincidences occur), and I preferred the historical timeline to the contemporary one, but I still So Enjoyed It overall.


THE DUCHESS DEAL BY TESSA DARE | This was my first book by Tessa Dare, and I So Liked It but didn't love it like I'd hoped. It felt so modern, even though it was supposed to be historical. I think some of it is due to Dare's sense of humor and just her style of writing, which isn't my favorite. It was too sexy for me (lots of skimming past stuff), and some of the plot felt so over-the-top and implausible. But it did make me curious enough to try more from Dare.

LIFE ON THE LEASH BY VICTORIA SCHADE* | If you really love dogs, you might enjoy this one more than I did. I wasn't expecting quite so much dog training in it, which I found boring. I found the heroine so annoying – why did this American girl just randomly speak French? She might love dogs, but she's rude to people. And don't even get me started on the romance. Cheating one minute, a rushed resolution the next. I was So Over It.

GHOSTED BY ROSIE WALSH | Seven perfect days together, and then ghosted. But why? I had to suspend my disbelief on the instalove that's central to the plot, which is probably my biggest issue with this book. I just didn't believe the heroine's level of obsession after one week! However, I got hooked at the halfway point and couldn't put it down. The story went in a direction I didn't suspect and was surprisingly emotional, so I'd say I So Enjoyed It


ALL WE EVER WANTED BY EMILY GIFFIN | What to say about this one? It wasn’t awful, and I didn’t hate it. But... it felt like it was trying too hard to do too much, and the ending left me so angry and dissatisfied. I kept thinking of Beartown by Fredrik Backman while reading (because the subject matter is similar), and this one is so shallow in comparison. I couldn't stand the characters and was So Over It. Giffin just isn't an author for me anymore. 

THE SIMPLE WILD BY K.A. TUCKER | I wasn't prepared to love this book as much as I did! Tucker’s descriptions of Alaska made me long to visit. The romance had some hate-to-love vibes (my favorite!) with banter and situations that made me laugh out loud. But it was the story of the heroine trying to reconnect with her estranged father that really got to me. It was so emotional! I'm So Obsessed With It and look forward to exploring Tucker's backlist.

HELLO STRANGER BY LISA KLEYPAS | After reading Devil in Spring, I was excited to pick up this book. What's not to love about a heroine who is a female physician and a hero with an undercover accent?! I was so invested in both characters, totally swooned over their romance, and was on the edge of my seat when things seemed to go wrong. Their banter was great, and I So Loved It. And now I'm dying for West's book because he practically stole the show.
And finally, though I don't have a photo, I read The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn. I read the first book in the series back in March and had issues with it. I decided to finish the series anyway and So Liked It overall. The first and third were my least favorites, and the second and fourth were my favorites. The series was a mixed bag that was fun but ultimately forgettable for me overall, and I don't see myself re-reading any of them.

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

What have you been reading lately?

Author Obsessions in 2018

Jan 15, 2019


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so I obviously love this feature!

It's been a while since I participated in this feature, but I couldn't resist this topic because I've done it every year since 2012. It's always fun to look at what I read and see which new-to-me authors I revisited throughout the year and which I'm most looking forward to more from in the future. Here are the ten that topped my list:


Technically, I read my first three Mary Balogh books on the last three days of 2017. But I had to include her because I went on to read 15 more of her books in 2018. Talk about a Balogh binge! I really enjoy her style and the variety in her romances because all the characters/couples feel very different.


2. ELIN HILDERBRAND | The Identicals, Winter in Paradise, and Winter Street
I don't think I'll binge Hilderbrand's entire backlist, but I still felt like she ought to be included because I devoured The Identicals and Winter in Paradise and look forward to checking out more from her. Not every summary appeals to me, but enough of them do that I know she deserves a spot on this list.


This was Honeyman's debut, and what a book to introduce yourself to the world! I have no idea if what she writes next will live up to the perfection of this book. But this heroine made it impossible for me to leave her creator off the list! I had no interest in reading this based on the cover and summary, but oh I'm so glad I did anyway.


4. LISA KLEYPAS | The Ravenels and The Hathaways
I read the Wallflowers series at the very end of 2017 and had already decided on my top ten new-to-me authors of the year at that point. But after reading nine more books by Kleypas in 2018, it seemed fair to say that she's a new favorite for this genre. She's at her best when she's writing about strong friendships and families! 


I won't read everything in their backlist because some of their series aren't the right fit for me, but I totally binged their standalones this year. Roomies was my favorite by far, but most of the others were pretty fun, too. Their books always make me laugh and swoon. Plus, I can usually expect some great friendships, too.


7. DELIA OWENS | Where the Crawdads Sing
Want to talk about the biggest surprise of 2018? THIS BOOK. Nothing about it really appealed to me, but I gave in the hype and read it anyway. And what I found inside was gorgeous writing, a character I deeply loved, and a world that I wanted to explore. I hope Owens will write more fiction in the future because I'll be waiting for it.


8. LUCY PARKER | Act Like It, Pretty Face, and Making Up
One of the first authors that came to mind when I was making my list! I'm so glad this random Kindle purchase was such a winner for me. Parker's romances feature some of my favorite tropes, have just the right amount of drama, and definitely deliver on the swoon. I want more contemporary romances like the ones she writes!


I'll be honest – I debated including Penny because I don't seem to love this series yet with the intensity that I've seen from other readers. But I decided in the end that she deserved a spot on here because I do love the main character and find her writing very soothing. I'm hoping the series will continue to grow on me with time!


9. J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN | The Engagements
Although it just barely missed the cut for my favorite books of 2018, The Engagements was definitely a memorable read for me. I'm not typically a fan of dual timeline historical novels, but Sullivan somehow made me invested in all five storylines. I'm looking forward to exploring her backlist and am most excited to try Saints for All Occassions.


10. K.A. TUCKER | The Simple Wild
I'm definitely cheating with this addition because I read my first book by Tucker back in 2013. It didn't work for me, but I was curious enough about her newest book to give it a shot. It ended up being one of my favorites of the year and made want to try more from her backlist. I hope I end up loving some of those, too!

Explore past favorites: 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 

What authors did you fall in love with in 2018?

December 2018: Recap + On My Shelves

Jan 14, 2019


It feels a little backward to be talking about December when after I've already posted a bunch in January, but you know I don't want to skip a monthly recap. 2018 was a good year for my family, and here's to 2019!

1. Painting Our House – We bought our house in September, but December marked the end of a few big projects that have made it everything we dreamed. It looks like a new home now that the outside is painted white! Goodbye, ugly brown. We also had some remodeling done in the kitchen, and now I'm so happy. It's gorgeous!

2. Celebrating the Holidays – There are so many things that made December so special – catching up with friends who were in town for the holidays, lots of family events, thoughtful gifts from the people I love, and starting new family traditions. And I can't forget to mention seasonal reading by the light of a fire and the Christmas tree!

3. Relaxing in the Mountains – We went on two short trips to the mountains in December, and it was just what we needed! We spent lots of time relaxing, binging TV shows, reading, and just enjoying the family time. The weather wasn't always great, but the atmosphere was absolutely perfect. It was a great way to end the year.


Read 22 Books | Favorites:
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
The Gown by Jennifer Robson

“Love is many things, but it’s not easy. It requires everything.
Whatever you’re most afraid to give is exactly what it will demand of you. But it’s worth it.
That’s the secret. It’s worth it.”
Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery

“And that was how intimacy happened, she thought, watching as he took a mouthful of his drink.
Not in a giant leap, but step by gentle step, each movement forward as stealthy as the incoming tide.
One minute you were standing alone on dry land and the next minute you were in over your head and drowning.”
The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

 “When the day shall come, that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me,
“if my last words are not 'I love you'—ye'll ken it was because I didna have time.”
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

“You tread lightly through life, but you leave deep footprints that are hard for other people to fill.”
One Day in December by Josie Silver

I just shared my October 2018 and November 2018 recaps in December. I planned to blog more but got too caught up in the festivities – and reading a bunch of books, of course. Oh well! I enjoy blogging at my own pace and when the mood strikes me. But I'm so behind on book reviews. Will I catch up? Only time will tell...


My favorite photo in December is the one I used as the main image of this post, and my second fave got all messed up because I posted it the day there was an Instagram glitch. So, here's my third favorite! I took this pic in the mountains, which was the perfect place to read The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon. • @soobsessedblog



Favorite Song #1: "Stay the Night" by The Shires
After listening to my Top Songs of 2018 playlist, I moved on to Spotify's recommendations for me.
This one immediately caught my attention and stayed on repeat throughout the month.


Favorite Song #2: "The Vow" by RuthAnne
This was my other favorite song from the playlist Spotify curated for me! 
I haven't heard of RuthAnne before, but I really loved her voice and the lyrics to this one.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) starring Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Katherine Waterston – Nick and I went to see this in December and enjoyed it. I didn't think it was a good as the first (and find it annoying how Rowling keeps tinkering with canon), but I still like the magic and spectacle of it all. 


Poldark, Season 3, starring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson – I prefer to binge this show rather than watch week to week, and I ended up two seasons behind because of it. I watched Season 3 one weekend while Nick was out of town and loved it! I hate everyone at varying moments, but I still love it. Now on to Season 4!


Dumplin' (2018) starring Danielle Macdonald and Jennifer Aniston – I haven't read the book this is based on, but I can't resist a fun teen movie. This one was quite fun, especially seeing Jennifer Aniston in such a different role! I didn't love everything about it, but I enjoyed the positive female friendships and overall message. 


Bought Brand New: The Glass Ocean by Karen White, Lauren Wilig and Beatriz Williams, Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan, and One Day in December by Josie Silver

Bargain Buys: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House by Kate Morton, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, Roar by Cora Carmack, The Grand SophyArabella and Frederica by Georgette Heyer, The Firebird and Mariana by Susanna Kearsley, The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, and The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Gifted for Christmas: Decorating a Room of One's Own by Susan Harlan, Bibliophile by Jane Mount, Pride and Prejudice: A Book-to-Table Classic by Jane Austen, the Jane Austen miniature library set, The Tales of Beetle the Bard by JK Rowling, The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton, Love á la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Pride and Prejudice (print on demand edition) by Jane Austen


Bought for Kindle: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski, World Without End by Ken Follett, and The Wondering Years by Knox McCoy

Audible Freebie (Not Pictured): Christmas 1914 by Charles Olivier

The Picky Pledge 2019

Jan 8, 2019


Today, Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and I are talking all things Picky Pledge! We're taking a minute to look back at some stats from 2018, reflecting on what we accomplished the past year, and sharing our plan for 2019. The Picky Pledge was born out of lots of chats about our reading choices and book buying habits. We wanted to be more intentional and decided to hold each other accountable. Here's how it got started.


When we originally started The Picky Pledge, Alexa and I would share a long post with charts and graphics and stats. We'd use them to identify what we needed to change in the year to come, which was so helpful. We started to do things differently last year in the name of simplifying, and it was just what we needed.

So much has changed since we started this in 2015 – and so much has stayed the same. I think I'd still say I struggle with my book buying habits, and I suspect that Alexa would still point to her review books as the category that gives her the most trouble. But I think we've both gotten more aware of our choices and been more intentional, so we consider this little project a win. This year, we're only looking at one statistic: the source of what we read in 2018. It's the category that most ties into what we set out to accomplish back in 2015 and is often the most revealing one.

I read 222 books in 2018, and here's where they came from:

BOUGHT/GIFTED (2018) • 76 Books • 34%

BORROWED • 51 Books • 23%

OWNED (PRE-2018) • 33 Books • 15%

REREAD • 45 Books • 20%

REVIEW • 17 Books • 8%

Y'all, I'm so surprised by some of these stats, especially compared to last year! My 2016 and 2017 percentages were similar to each other, but things have changed a lot this year. I read fewer review books (down from 11%), more reread (up from 9%), and more borrowed books (up from 14%). I read fewer books from my TBR (down from 19%), which may be partly due to the fact that I have fewer older books on my TBR since I cull more frequently now. 

Finally – and of most interest to me – I read fewer books bought/gifted in 2017 (down from 47%). I didn't track my purchases the same way I have in the past and don't know if that's because I bought less or just that I wasn't reading as much of what I bought. However, my monthly recaps have pictures of everything I bought in 2018, so I'm probably going to compile that information to find the answer. I'm hoping that it's just that shopped less!


In 2017, Alexa and I set personal goals related to book buying and review books that we tracked throughout the year. But in 2018, we had only one goal: Complete the Picky Pledge Reading Challenge. We came up with 12 categories, enough for one book per month, to help us tackle our TBRs. All we had to do was read one book that fit each category – and all were tied to reasons we bought books. Simple, fun, and purposeful.

With one exception, I had all of these books on my TBR prior to 2018. Here are the categories and what I read:


Now, let's talk about 2019.

As with last year, Alexa and I decided that our only plan for the year is to complete another round of The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge. We've tweaked two categories, but everything else has stayed the same. We loved that this made us think about why we buy what we do and approach our to be read piles with intention. We'll share a recap in January 2020 of how we did, but I'll track my progress on the blog throughout the year. And if you're interested, feel free to join in and complete the challenge with us!


Here's to being intentional - and simplifying - in 2019!
What are your reading goals for the year?

My Year in Adventures {2018}

Jan 6, 2019


I always look forward to the end of the year for a variety of reasons – the holidays, the anticipation of the new year, and the habit of looking back on the past twelve months. Since 2015, I've always recapped the year with a series of posts I call "My Year in." From best books to biggest obsessions, they're some of my favorite posts to write. Today is my final look back at what I loved in 2018. It's time to talk about my adventures! It isn't a comprehensive list because some of my favorite memories can't be captured on camera.  • Adventures in 2017


THE UK WITH KELLY – Spending a week with Kelly in the UK for our birthdays was definitely a highlight of the year! We made so many great memories in our favorite place in the world, and I loved everything about it.

NEW CUT & COLOR – When I got home from my trip, I had a long overdue hair appointment where I chopped off so many inches and got balayage. The refresh was just what I needed and the highlights are so low maintenance.

CASSIE VISITS GEORGIA – I have been friends with Cassie for years, but I'd only briefly met her in person a few years ago. She came to Georgia this spring, and it was so fun to show her around and spend a weekend together!


THE BOTANICAL GARDENS – One gorgeous spring day, we decided to visit the zoo... and discovered that everyone else in Atlanta had the same idea. We regrouped and headed to the botanical gardens for a day I won't forget.

THE DINO LOVER TURNS TWO – With Nick traveling, I didn't plan a party for our son's second birthday. But my mom shocked me by turning our low-key get together into a dinosaur-themed dinner that was absolutely perfect.

KELLY COMES TO GEORGIA – Did I convince Kelly to come see me again a few months after our UK trip? Why, yes, I did! We visited the mountains, did some book shopping, and laughed into the night together.


SEVEN YEARS OF MARRIAGE – Nick and I celebrated seven years of marriage in July, and it's hard to believe that it's been that long! We had a fun date night together and just enjoyed some time without our sweet boy.

MOUNTAIN VACATION – We joined my family for a mountain vacation over the summer and went on so many adventures. Visiting the river, going on a hike, reading by a waterfall – what could be better?!

ALL THE POOL DAYS – My son fell in love with the pool this year, and we spent a lot of time there together after school was back in session. We'd often have it all to ourselves, and I could read while he splashed beside me. 


SEEING DINO BONES – Our boy kept asking to visit "dino bones" like in the books we've read, so we finally took him to Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta. He was obsessed and is already begging to go back again.

VISITING KELLY IN WISCONSIN – Since Kelly kept coming to see me, I decided it was high time that I finally booked a plane ticket to Wisconsin! I loved spending a week with her acting as tour guide. Also: CHEESE CURDS.

FAMILY BEACH TRIP – Nick and I took our son to Florida in September, and it was heavenly. We loved seeing the beach through the eyes of a two-year-old! Sweet memories, great weather, good food, and lots of time to read.


OUR NEW HOUSE – We sold our house and bought a new one, and I feel like I'm still recovering from the move! The outside used to be an ugly brown, but we had it painted white and now it's everything we dreamed. 

CORN MAZE & FALL FESTIVAL – This fall was filled with so many fun moments: a corn maze, petting zoo, hay ride, hot boiled peanuts, and our new neighborhood's fall festival. There's a reason it's my favorite season!

TRICK OR TREATING – Our son dressed us as a triceratops and went trick or treating... for five minutes before he called it quits. Ha! But he had a blast passing out candy at home and greeting our neighbors, so it was still a win.


KELLY COMES BACK – Yes, I got to see Kelly four times this year! How am I so blessed? We loved having her visit our new house, and her trip was marked by lots of book shopping, delicious food, and non-stop talking.

WINTER IN THE MOUNTAINS – We took two short mountain trips near the end of the year, and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to 2018. We read books, binged some TV, had dance parties, and enjoyed the family time. 

CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAYS – Our first Christmas in our new home was everything I could have wanted! We started new traditions, spent time with family, and got lots of great gifts. Plus, I loved all the seasonal reading!

What adventures did you go on in 2018?
Here's to a happy 2019!
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