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Quick Lit: October 2019

Dec 6, 2019


Ah, I'm almost caught up on my Quick Lit posts! I wish I could promise to never get behind again, but I'm already anticipating another blogging break when this new baby is born. I remember those early days with my first, and I know that I'll probably still be reading but won't feel much like writing. So, please be patient with me when that day comes! But let's focus on October for now. I finished 14 books and have reviews for 12 of them today. I'd already reviewed one in September's post, and the other is briefly mentioned at the end of this post. If you enjoy short and sweet book reviews, you'll find links to similar posts in the comments on this feature over at Modern Mrs. Darcy.


SERPENT & DOVE BY SHELBY MAHURIN – When I saw Steph raving about this book, I had to check it out. It didn't really appeal to me because I'm generally turned off by books about witches, but it seemed like a fitting way to kick off October. I picked it up one afternoon and was shocked when I'd finished all 528 pages by the end of the day. I couldn't put it down! So, here's the deal: you've got a witch on the run and in hiding and a man sworn to hunt witches... who end up forced to marry. I loved that this led to a very compelling enemies-to-lovers dynamic because that's one of my favorite tropes. The world and magic system could have been more fully developed for me, personally, but I still So Enjoyed It. This was an exciting debut, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel!

KULTI BY MARIANA ZAPATA – I've seen many readers recommend this book and others by Zapata, so I snagged it when the e-book went on sale. I'm not a huge fan of sports romances but decided to give it a shot. While this didn't end up a favorite for me, I still So Liked It. There's a big age gap in this romance (the hero is 12 years older than the heroine), which was addressed in a realistic way. I've seen this recommended most often for fans of slow burn romances, and it's definitely very slow. I personally felt that it dragged on too long. There was no reason for it to be almost 600 pages, especially since so much of it was the heroine's internal musings. Boring! I was debating a 4-star rating up until a very unnecessary sex scene was tacked on to the end. Fun but not worth the hype, in my opinion.

THE NOBODIES BY LIZA PALMER –  What do you do when an author you've loved in the past writes something that seriously lets you down? I don't even know where to start. I've read several of Palmer's earliest books and liked/enjoyed them overall. Nowhere but Home and Girl Before a Mirror, however, quickly earned spots on my favorites lists and made Palmer an author to watch for me. Though I skipped her 2017 release, I was excited to dive into The Nobodies. But if I hadn't purchased it, I would have decided not to finish it. I had issues with almost everything about it: the plot, the characters, the pacing, the writing, the conflict, the resolution, and more. Nothing worked for me. I'd go into more detail, but I'm So Over It and that's all you really need to know.


MEET CUTE BY HELENA HUNTING – I wasn't planning on reading  Meet Cute because Hunting's previous release, The Good Luck Charm, didn't really work for me. But a reader I enjoy following on Goodreads highly recommended this one (and had DNF'd the other). So, I decided it couldn't hurt to try! If you suspend some disbelief on the premise, this was a really fun read overall. I thought one aspect of the storyline was so predictable, but didn't mind too much since most contemporary romances aren't reinventing the wheel. I liked the unexpected depth to the story since it deals with the characters' grief in a moving way. The dynamic between the hero and heroine was fun, and I particularly liked the  former celebrity/major fangirl aspect. That was hilarious! I So Enjoyed It overall.

HOTSHOT DOC BY R.S. GREY – This author's books pop up on Amazon frequently when I'm just browsing, so I decided to borrow this one from the Kindle Lending Library. I read it in one sitting because I couldn't stop once I started! Even though I was sucked into the story, it did feel a little unrealistic – and maybe factually incorrect? A throwaway line in the Epilogue was so inaccurate that it made the question the book as a whole. But someone with a medical degree would probably know better than me! Regardless of all that, I still So Liked It. It basically felt like Grey's Anatomy in book form, and I love that dumb soap opera. Ha! It didn't pack the emotional punch that Grey's does, but it was a fun read. I'm not sure I'll read more R.S. Grey in the future, but I'm glad I gave her a shot.

THE SKYLARK'S WAR BY HILARY MCKAY – While browsing Hatchards in London with Kelly earlier this year, I spotted this beauty in the children's section. The gorgeous cover and the "Costa Books Awards Winner" sticker on the front made me pick it up, the summary intrigued me, and the first page was just so good. I had to buy it! I finally read it in October, and it... did not go well for me. It was so slow that I was forcing myself to pick it up, and I wasn't invested in the characters at all. The writing started to grate on me because it felt like it was trying too hard to imitate a children's classic. And I kept wondering about the audience for the book. It's middle grade, but would a 9-12 year old really appreciate this depressing, contrived story? I have no idea, but I was So Over It personally.


THEN THERE WAS YOU BY MIRANDA LIASSON – Estelle recommended this contemporary romance to me and was kind enough to send me a copy for review. I'm always on the lookout for cute, small-town romances, and this one fit the bill! It's got one of my favorite tropes (hate to love) since the heroine (partially) blames the hero for her broken engagement. The beginning of the book does feel like it's setting up the series – introducing a lot of characters, the town, and some backstory – but the couple won me over as time went on. Plus, I enjoyed the family dynamics and was excited to find out the heroine's siblings will have their own books. I didn't enjoy the characters' negative motivations, but I So Liked It overall and plan on reading more from the series.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES BY L.M. MONTGOMERY – "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." I mean, how was I supposed to resist an October re-read of my forever favorite? I've had this audio edition, narrated by Rachel McAdams, waiting for the perfect moment to listen. And I timed it just right! This was the perfect way to close out the month, and it brought back all the memories. I believe I was in second grade when I met Anne Shirley, a kindred spirit through and through. This is one of the books that I credit with making me the reader I am today, and I always enjoy revisiting its pages. I find new moments to love and lines to cherish with each re-read. It just never gets old for me! I'm So Obsessed With It and would absolutely recommend McAdams' narration, too.

THE FIREBIRD BY SUSANNA KEARSLEY – I read The Winter Sea in 2017, and the historical heroine of The Firebird is the offspring of characters from that book. Thankfully, I remembered most of the important background info! I was immediately sucked into Kearsley's writing and found the contemporary and historical storylines to be equally engaging. That doesn't always happen for me! I thought both romances were well-developed and loved how they were paced. As with many of Kearsley's other books, this one contained a supernatural (ish?) element. In this case, the heroine can touch an object and see its past. I wanted the mystery to be uncovered in a more realistic way, but this element is part of Kearsley's style and charm. And honestly, I still So Loved It in the end. 


BEGINNER'S LUCKLUCK OF THE DRAW, AND BEST OF LUCK BY KATE CLAYBORN – This series wasn't really on my radar until I saw Estelle mention in an Instagram story that the first was on sale for $0.99 for Kindle. I knew she enjoyed them and have gotten so many great recommendations from her in the past, so I decided to buy Beginner's Luck and give it a shot. I had no idea I'd end up reading it almost immediately and buying the second and third in the series in quick succession. 

This series follow three best friends who randomly win the lottery together and find their lives forever changed because of it. Each friend gets her own book, and each book is told in dual POV (the heroine and hero each get their own chapters, which I loved). I was a little skeptical of the lottery angle but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was barely mentioned in each book aside from the way it enable each heroine to pursue her own specific dream. In the Prologue for Beginner's Luck, there's a few lines that give you such a good sense of what to expect from this series. The characters are discussing what they'd buy if they happened to win:

        Kit said, "A house," but what she thought was, home.
        Zoe said, "An adventure," but what she thought was, forgiveness.
        Greer said, "An education," but what she thought was, freedom.

I just loved that so much – and it definitely gives you an idea of what to expect from each woman's book! You'll send them working towards the dream they've said out loud, but you'll also get to watch how that leads to (or interferes with) the unspoken desire of their heart. Each book was around 250 pages, which felt like the perfect length. The romances in each felt fully developed, every story packed an emotional punch, and there was just enough drama/conflict to keep me hooked without ever dragging on too long. They are contemporary romances, so just note that there are a few steamy scenes in each. I've said next to nothing about each individual book, but I think my overall feelings give you enough details to decide if these will appeal to you.

If you love books with strong female friendships and swoony romances, this series needs to be on your radar. I joked with Kelly that I'd just started to find my reading mojo and then almost lost it again because of the major book hangover I had when I was done. I was leaning towards a 4.5 rating for all three books, but I've got to give them a So Obsessed With It. The more I think about them, the happier I feel. And I see a re-read in my future!


I read one other book in October! The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare was a cute addition the series, though my least favorite so far. The animal rescue/rehoming story didn't appeal to me, and I struggle with how modern Dare's historical romances feel. I still So Liked It, but it's definitely one where I skipped a lot because of the steaminess. 

*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?

October 2019: Recap + On My Shelves

Dec 5, 2019


I'm almost caught up – the end is in sight! For the most part, October proceeded exactly as I'd expected with lots of fun fall adventures and family time. But then, it took a very unexpected turn at the end of the month.


1. House Projects – With the baby expected in February, we've been extra motivated to get some things done in and outside our home. That's included purging and organizing every room, as well as doing some more decorating. Two huge things we checked off our list in October were replacing all of the blinds with bamboo shades and having a fence installed in our backyard. Perfect timing with cooler weather! Each change makes me love our home more.

2. Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch – The weather was gorgeous on Columbus Day + Nick had the holiday off work, so we decided to check an adventure off our fall bucket list. We headed to a farm about thirty minutes of us with a great corn maze, pumpkin patch, hayride, market, and other fun activities. It was a great day! I love that we've made this a priority each fall, and it's so fun to compare photos from year to year. Excited for the baby to join in 2020!

3. Fall Festival – Our neighborhood feels a little bit like Stars Hallow from Gilmore Girls, in the best way possible. There's always a monthly calendar with tons of social events to participate in, and October was one of our favorites: the fall festival! The day was a little overcast and chilly, but we still loved the petting zoo, bounce houses, and checking out all the vendors who participated. This community is so cool, and I'm so happy we moved here!

4. Talented Medical Professionals – My son woke up sick one morning, and we thought it was a stomach bug. We knew something wasn't right after a day and headed to the pediatrician. He ordered an ultrasound and then sent us on to a children's hospital in Atlanta. Our son's appendix had ruptured, and he needed surgery. Surgery went well, and he was so incredibly brave during it all! After five days in the hospital, we headed home. I will probably write more about this in the coming weeks. But needless to say, I'm so thankful for our pediatrician, the surgeon, and all of the nurses who took such wonderful care of my son (and us!) during such a scary experience.


Read 14 Books | Favorites:
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

“Our lives reflect our hearts.”
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

“Home was complicated, layered. Home was people you loved but also places you knew well
and liked to go to, things you had around you that made you feel safe and comforted.
Home was too much for one person to be to anyone.”
Beginner's Luck by Kate Clayborn

 “That’s the truth about making mistakes, about making the wrong choices. You live with them,
and if you’re lucky you get enough perspective to see where you went astray.
You figure out what you can do to repair the damage,
and you figure out how to do better going forward.”
Luck of the Draw by Kate Clayborn

“When I’m with him—walking streets I know with my eyes closed,
sitting on a couch where I’ve sat hundreds of times before—
it feels like something’s changed in the way time moves.
Every second is that second before the runners spring off the block at the start line,
or the second before the bass drops in a song you love.
He makes the whole world sit in that beat of suspended animation.
And every time I’m with him, part of me is always thinking: Please, please, please. Press Play.”
Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn

“When one door closes, another one opens.
I might just have to do a little breaking and entering to get the right one for me.”
Kulti by Mariana Zapata

“I think it’s interesting that you have a thing for the teenage version of me
but you’re not all that fond of the real, adult version.”
Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

“I’m not good with fragile things,” he said. “I’m careless, and I break them, and I lose them, but I…”
He broke off, as though to gain control of some emotion,
and when next he spoke his tone was gentler than she’d ever heard it. “I’d take care of you.”
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

 “There are times when our victories have a cost that we did not foresee,
when winning brings us loss.”
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

After a three-month hiatus, I was missing this space. I have complicated feeling about bookstagram, but I can't give up blogging! No matter how many views or visitors I get here, it always feels worth it. And I appreciate every single reader who sticks around during the ebb and flow, especially since consistency is touted as a tenet of success.

In October, I felt my blogging mojo return and realized that I should probably explain where I'd been the past few months. And so, I chatted about my second pregnancy in a personal discussion post. After that one, I shared my June 2019 Recap. I'd hoped to post at least once more, but my son's surgery and hospital stay changed all of that.

 

Favorite Album: new skin by VÉRITÉ
I don't know if I like this album as much as the previous one, but I still had it on repeat.
My favorite song right now is "gone," followed by "ocean."


Peaky Blinders, Season 5, starring Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Helen McCrory, Sam Claflin and more – Nick and I binged the first four seasons of this show in January, and I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this season. While it wasn't my personal favorite, I still enjoyed it overall. I loved seeing Sam Claflin, as well as the return of a character I didn't expect to see again. These characters are so self destructive, but dang if it isn't great to watch.


The Good Place, Season 3, starring Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto, and D'Arcy Carden – This was another show we started to binge in January! We didn't like it enough to want to watch week-to-week, so we just waited for the third season to hit Netflix. It's still a little too ridiculous for us, but it was a nice change of pace after the heaviness of Peaky Blinders. I look forward to season four!


Downton Abbey (2019) starring Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, and more – I couldn't contain my excitement when the movie was announced! I went to see it with my parents, who were also fans of the show, and we were in agreement: this movie didn't need to exist. Many others feel differently, but I didn't like it at all. It was so cheesy and scattered! We kept making eye contact in the theater and suppressing laughter. 


Going Out of Business Sale: For the Love of Discipline by Sara Wallace, Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday by Valerie Woerner, Memory-Making Mom by Jessica Smartt, The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin, Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales, and Mercy Like Morning by Jane Johnson 

Book Outlet Haul: The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery, Empress of the Seven Hills by Kate Quinn, The Long-Lost Home by Maryrose Wood, The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd, and Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson 

Used Books: From Twinkle, With Love and There's Something about Sweetie by Sandhya Menon, Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright, Winter Solstice, September and Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher, Someone to Honor by Mary Balogh, Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries, and The Season by Sarah MacLean


Gifted: The Golden Road and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn, and The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Kindle: Beginner's Luck, Luck of the Draw and Best of Luck by Kate Clayborn

Quick Lit: September 2019

Dec 3, 2019


I finally started to find my fiction mojo in September, though I still didn't finish a ton of books compared to previous months. As much as I love reading, sometimes other things grab my attention more – and that's normal! I finished 8 books in September, and I'm reviewing 7 of those today (plus one October read). The eighth book is mentioned at the bottom of this post. Visit Modern Mrs. Darcy for more people participating in the Quick Lit feature.


WELL MET BY JEN DELUCA – I'm not a huge fan of wearing costumes, and the Renaissance Faire sounds like torture to me. But I couldn't resist this rom-com about two enemies who engage in a bit of flirtation... and maybe more... while working at their town's annual Renaissance Faire. The second I hear "hate-to-love," I can't wait to get my hands on a book. I went into Well Met with low expectations and was pleasantly surprised by it! The first 100 pages or so very really slow for me, but I continued on and was soon hooked. Hello, delightful banter. I liked the secondary storyline involving the heroine's relationship with her sister and niece, as well as the hero's journey to deal with what he's lost and how he moves forward. The setting ended up being a nice touch, too. I So Enjoyed It!

EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER BY LINDA HOLMES – I went into this one expecting a new favorite and instead was so disappointed. I did not click at all with the dialogue in this book, but I can't really put my finger on why. It just felt so stilted and fake to me! I kept picturing the characters as 10+ years older than they actually were, too, which didn't really help matters. The Maine setting never really came to life for me, and I had a lot of issues with the story. Both characters are dealing with some heavy stuff (the loss of a spouse and loss of a career), but it felt like they were trying to fix each other rather than actually face their own issues. I found both characters flat and their chemistry together was almost nonexistent. I was So Over It personally, but many other readers have loved it.

WOOING CADIE MCCAFFREY BY BETHANY TURNER – I randomly grabbed this Christian fiction book at the library and had very mixed feelings on it. I'm about to semi-spoil one aspect of the story, just FYI. I liked that it was trying to deal with sex before marriage, a topic often ignored in this genre (or at least the books I've read). And the guilt and remorse that the characters express felt very realistic to me. However, I was so dang frustrated with the characters! JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER. It baffled me that they'd been dating four years but were completely unable to communicate (about their future, their feelings, and the significant events that derailed both of those things). I was So Okay With It, and this review goes into more detail about many of the frustrations I felt, too.


THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY BY ALIX E. HARROW – I owe this new favorite read entirely to Kelly! She first spotted it on Instagram and sent it my way so we could fangirl over the cover and summary. When she visited at the beginning of September, she convinced me to pre-order it with her. I took it to the beach with me at the end of the month, and I loved every second I spent savoring it there. The writing is so lyrical, the world so intricately constructed, and the concept so creative. I loved the way the story unfolded, even though I predicted a twist or two. It's the type of book you want to read slowly, to soak up the magic and mystery. It's a love letter to readers and the places that books can take you. I'm So Obsessed With It and will be opening this Door again in the future.

THE CITY OF BRASS BY S.A. CHAKRABORTY – I borrowed this audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani, from the library and was so glad I did. The world is so layered and complex that it was a little hard to follow in the beginning but, at the same time, I appreciated hearing all the names and terminology spoken aloud. While the story and characters are interesting and well developed, I felt like the world and its rich history is where this book truly shined. The Middle Eastern folklore was fascinating, and the political maneuverings and conflicts kept me guessing. The pacing was a bit uneven – with some dramatic, action-packed scenes and then others that felt like reading about the history of this place and its people. But all in all, I So Enjoyed It and will be picking up the second book. 

UNSPOKEN, UNTOLD AND UNMADE BY SARAH REES BRENNAN – It's been five years since I first read this series, so I decided to re-read at the end of the month. My original series review is still one of my favorites I've ever written, though it is long. Just be forewarned! However, I had a few thoughts to add since then so figured I'd write a little something short and sweet. I'm still So Obsessed With this series – but I don't know that I would have loved them as much if this had been my first read. I think I discovered them at exactly the right time in my reading life, and now I partly love them for the memories associated. They're darker and more angsty than I remembered, and the conclusion was a bit anticlimactic... and yet they're still favorites. I recommend them, but with that footnote.


The only book that I didn't review above was Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean, the second book in her Bareknuckle Bastards series. The heroine was fantastic, and I loved watching her outwit her opponents. MacLean is too steamy for me personally, however, so I did skip over quite a bit. But the story itself earned a So Enjoyed It

What have you been reading lately?

September 2019: Recap + On My Shelves

Dec 2, 2019


And now we're back to some catch-up content! I'm only about a week of posts away from being current. September was such a great month – one of my favorites of the year, by far. Let me tell you all the reasons why!


1. Kelly's Visit – The month got off to great start with a visit from Kelly! I can't remember how long we'd had this visit planned – maybe a month or so in advance? I couldn't wait to see her since I felt like it had been forever, even though it had just been five months. We went to all the bookstores, spent an evening in the mountains, and just enjoyed hanging out around my house. We have the best time, no matter what we do, and I'm so thankful for her.

2. Dinosaur Hike – Someone in our neighborhood Facebook group mentioned a local hiking trail in our area that had dinosaurs (foam, I think?) on it. My son is still obsessed with all things dinos, and I had a feeling he'd love it. He was in heaven, even more than I'd expected! I was dying inside because I accidentally chose the hottest day of the year for our visit, but seeing his joy made all the sweating worth it. Mostly. We'll definitely be going back!

3. It's a Boy! – I reached the 20-week mark of my pregnancy, which meant it was time for the anatomy ultrasound scan. We prayed that everything was developing just as it should be and couldn't wait to know if it was a boy or girl. We got good news all around – and found out we were having another little boy! Nick and our firstborn got to be there, too, which was so perfect. We had fun calling everyone and celebrating after, too!

4. Beach Vacay – Nick was traveling too much this summer for us to plan a vacation, so my mom suggested that we take our own trip after everyone was back in school. It was seriously the best! My son and I had so much fun with "Mimi" and made the best memories. The weather was wonderful, the food delicious, and the vibe so relaxed. It was busier than we expected, but still so much quieter than the height of summer. I'd love to do it again.


Read 8 Books | Favorites:
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Well Met by Jen DeLuca

“There is nothing fearless about me. I am scared every day.
I fear the wide world and the way it stares at me and sneers at me
and whispers about me when it thinks I cannot hear.
I fear a life of half measures, full of shadows of emotions and hints of possibilities
 and a thousand things I might have had if only I’d reached a bit farther.”
Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

“Let us love you, and remind you that you’re worth it
until you figure out what you’re going to do next.”
Well Met by Jen DeLuca

“Your head is the house you live in, so you have to do the maintenance.”
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

“Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

 “The will to be polite, to maintain civility and normalcy, is fearfully strong.
I wonder sometimes how much evil is permitted to run unchecked
simply because it would be rude to interrupt it.”
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

“Destiny is a pretty story we tell ourselves.
Lurking beneath it there are only people, and the terrible choices we make.”
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

“Every story is a love story if you catch it at the right moment.”
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow


I was on a podcast binge in September! Here were three new-to-me favorites:

The Lazy GeniusThis is my new favorite podcast, by far! So much so that I've been slowly catching up on all past episodes. I think I'm about halfway through. Host Kendra Adachi wants to help listeners "be lazy about the things that don't matter and genius about the things that do." I love her practical, real-life advice about a variety of topics.

Cultivate Your Life with Lara CaseyI've been listening to these in order and am thankful there weren't too many to catch up on. Some episodes are 15 minutes and others are 1 hour +, so I have to be in the right mood to start one. This is a podcast where I really enjoy the content but sometimes find myself annoyed with the delivery. 

Work and Play with Nancy RayAnother podcast that I binged from the beginning! Nancy Ray's voice is so soothing, and I just really enjoy listening to her. The "play" episodes are generally more relevant to me than the "work" ones, but I tuned in to all of them. They're a great length and just have refreshing, encouraging content.


Sex and the City: The Movie (2008) starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon – I finished the last season of Sex and the City in June, a little less than a year since I started the show. Kelly is the reason I watched it in the first place, so it seemed only fitting to watch the movie with her when she was in town. We talked too much during it for me to say much about it, but what a fun memory with my friend!


Falling Inn Love (2019) starring Christina Milian and Adam Demos – When Kelly and I were trying to decide what to watch on Netflix, this popped up as a recent release. She'd already seen it and wanted me to wait to watch it until I could pay more attention. I'm so glad she recommended it because this was adorable. Yes, it was cheesy, predictable, and unrealistic... but it was so fun, too! I loved the home renovation aspect of the story. 


Used Books: It's Not You, It's Me by Mhairi McFarlane, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkereust, The Meanest Doll in the World by Ann M. Martin, and The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty 

New Releases: American Royals by Katharine McGee and The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

From My Mama: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman, The Nobodies by Liza Palmer, The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center, Circe by Madeline Miller, Beholding and Becoming by Ruth Chou Simons, How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, and Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen and Lauren Wifler


Audible: Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane, The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

Kindle: Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller and Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg

Review: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

So Obsessed With: The 2019 Gift Edition

Nov 29, 2019


Today I'm sharing a fun, holiday-inspired edition of So Obsessed With! I've done different gift guides in the past but decided to make this year's post allllll about meeeeee. Ha! Instead of rounding up things I've used and would gift, here are some things I've got my eye on this year. There are a few things I've already treated myself to and some I'll buy in Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales, so they won't all be gifts. Even then, they won't all make the cut. But here's what I'm so obsessed with for Christmas this year:

Under the Tree

1. Oventure Big Ossential Set in Mocha Ostrich ($130) – I have the rose gold leather key ring and ID case, and I'm still so obsessed with them. But now I want to add to my collection, especially with this larger size wallet.

2. Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Robe ($99) – The new baby is getting a blanket from this company, and it's so soft that I want to steal it for myself. I think the robe will be an even better treat – and perfect for after baby arrives, too!

3. SUPERGOOP! Your Everyday SPF Kit ($32) I use this sunscreen almost every morning on my face and neck and noticed recently that it's running low. The sunscreen is cheaper by itself, but I want try the other two products.

4. Kindle Fire 7 Tablet ($30) I typically use my phone or Macbook for browsing and blogging. I've contemplated trying a Fire tablet, however, and it's hard to resist at this price. Even if my son is the only one to use it!

5. Sonix Brown Tortoiseshell Phone Case ($35) My current phone case is one from Target, and I bought it last Christmas. While I still think it's cute, I've been craving a refresh – and this tortoiseshell has caught my eye.

6. Handheld Garment Mini Travel Steamer ($21) Every grown-up Christmas list has to include at least home appliance, right? I never iron my clothes but occasionally need to deal with wrinkles. This would do the trick!

7. Apple AirPods with Charging Case ($140) I've gone back and forth on getting a pair of these headphones, mostly because I'm terrified of losing them and don't love how they look. But I think it's time to commit...

8. Madewell Leather Laptop Case in English Saddle ($88) – I've had my current laptop sleeve for years, and I just recently broke the zipper on it. So, I've on the hunt for a replacement and this simple, stylish one is my pick.

9. Val Marie Paper 2020 Prayer Journal ($47) – This product launched in the fall, and I pre-ordered to get the best price. So it's not technically on my wishlist, but I do think it would make a lovely gift! I'm excited to use it.

10. Diamond Eternity Band in 14k White Gold ($210) – Here's one of those "don't need / won't actually get, but still want it" additions to my list. Because, hi pretty. I don't even have room on my ring finger for another band!

11. Circe by Madeline Miller ($19) + Other Books – Can you call yourself a reader if you don't ask for any books for Christmas? I've got a few on mine this year, including the UK hardcover of this favorite read from 2019.

12. Banana Republic Satya Sunglasses in Blonde ($98) – Have you ever found a product that you loved so much you needed it in every style? That's me with these sunglasses. I own them in two other colors, so this is a must.

13. Madewell Shoulder Bag Strap: Leopard Calf Hair Edition ($45) – I'm going back and forth on this bag strap. I love how it will change the look of my two Madewell bags, but I'm iffy on it since I can't adjust the length.

14. Madewell Jean Jacket in Pinter Wash ($118) – Is a denim jacket considered a closet staple? I don't have one and have to remedy that pronto! I don't want clothes for Christmas (hi, pregnancy), but this is an exception.

15. Kate Spade Women's Metro Leather Strap Watch ($90) – I love the idea of a gorgeous watch, but I never find myself wearing one. So, this isn't the most practical item on my list. But it was just too pretty to leave it off!

16. SCOUT Bags Hidden Gem Jewelry Case in Black Velvet ($39) – SCOUT Bags makes such great totes, but I didn't realize they had smaller bags, too. I'm interested in a few of them, but this jewelry case is the top of my list.

17. Plan to Eat Yearly Subscription ($19.50 – sale starts 11/29) – Plan to Eat has changed the way I feel about meal planning and grocery shopping. I used to hate both, but this makes them stress-free. Yay for renewing it!

18. Crock-Pot 6qt. Programmable Slow Cooker ($38) – My current crock-pot was a gift when I got married eight years ago, and I just noticed it now has a crack in the stoneware insert. If I can't replace the part, here's what I'll do.

19. Longchamp Large Le Pliage Tote in New Navy ($145) – I have a black Longchamp that I got in college, and it's my most-used purse by far. I don't know why I've never treated myself to another, but I think it's finally time.

20. Helen Ficalora Alphabet Charm ($165) – Nick bought me a Helen Ficalora necklace two years ago, and I adore it. I have charm with our firstborn's initial, so it's almost time for a second charm for Baby #2.

21. Poldark: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-Ray ($34) – For some reason, I enjoy this more when I binge an entire season rather than watch week-to-week. I can't believe this is the final Christmas I'll have this on my list!

22. Tartan + Twine Deluxe Weekender ($58) – There's a really well-reviewed makeup bag on Amazon that I may end up getting instead, but this one is much prettier. Will looks win in the end? Only time will tell.

23. Farmacy Sweet Greens Holiday Set ($44) – This makeup remover balm is one of my favorite beauty products, so I was excited to see a full-size of it in a set. I don't know much about the other two items, but worth a try.

24. 2020 PowerSheets Goal Planner ($60) – I treated myself to this as soon as it launched in October, but it looked too perfect on here to leave off! I have heard great things about this product and hope that I love it.

25. LUSH Stardust Gift Set ($50) – This specific set isn't on my wishlist. All I really want is a bunch of bubble bars! The bath bombs are nice, but the bars last so much longer. And I used up the stash I've been hoarding!

Stocking Stuffers

1. Reusable Makeup Remover Pads ($11) – These could be a total bust, but I feel like I waste so much money on disposable ones. I go through them so quickly and never have more when I need them. I want these to work!

2. Seche Viche Top Coat ($10) and Essie Nail Polish in Off Tropic ($9) – While I don't paint my nails as often as I used to, I still love finding a new color or two in my stocking. And I just ran out of top coat!

3. Portable Travel Medicine Organizer ($7) – I saw this on someone's Instagram story and immediately added it to my Amazon wishlist. I don't know why I haven't already bought it, but it's a perfect stocking stuffer.

4. AirPods Protective Cover ($9) – If I end up getting AirPods, I know I'll want this protective cover for the case. I saw Rachel from Hello, Chelly recommend it in one of her posts about things she's been loving lately.

5. Reese's Peanut Butter Holiday Tree ($1) – Candy is just a given as a stocking stuffer, right? There are lots of sweet treats I'd be happy to find inside, but my personal favorite is this Christmas-shaped classic.

6. Aquis Original Performance Drying Hair Turban ($22) – This is random, but I saw it recommended on a blog I follow. I just can't remember which one! I wrap my hair in a towel after a shower, and this looks so much better.

7. Philips Sonicare Replacement Toothbrush Heads ($25) – My son's stocking usually includes a pack of toothbrushes. I need replacement heads for my electric toothbrush, so this is just a practical necessity.

8. L'Oreal Lash Paradise Mascara Set ($13) – This mascara is my favorite, and it's always worth it to have at least one backup for that day when you realize the one you've been using has completely dried out.

9. Fabric Shaver, Lint Remover and Sweater Defuzzer ($15) – There are two chairs in my library that have been looking pilled recently, and I want get them looking like new. And if this works on my sweaters, too? Even better!

10. Mint Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix ($5) – I love hot cocoa, and my favorite Starbucks drink is a Peppermint Mocha. Will this essentially taste like a combo of those two things? I certainly hope so! It sounds delish.

11. Simplified Planner Color-Coding Sticker Set ($10) – I switched from a Happy Planner to this brand in August, and these are the only stickers I use now. I haven't run out of my first pack, but I might as well stock up.

12. Jack Black The Balm Squad ($19) – My favorite lip balms, and my favorite time of the year to replenish my dwindling stash. I've used Mint before, but the Asian Pear and Black Cherry ones will be new to me. I can't wait!

13. Makeup Brush Cleaning Shampoo ($5) and Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat ($7) – Rachel mentioned a brush cleaning mat in one of her posts, too, which I'd never even heard of before. This is something I definitely need!

14. Gingerbread Cozy Boxed Sock Set ($15) – Whether it's slippers or socks, you've got to have something a little cozy in your stocking. Target has lots of cute options, but these looked so fun while I was browsing.

15. Tweezerman Rose Gold Slant Tweezer ($21) – My tweezers have gotten dull, so it's time to replace them. I have Anastasia Beverly Hills currently, but I know Tweezerman is popular. Always fun to try something new!

What's on your wishlist this year?
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