Quick Lit: April 2017

May 26, 2017

One of my worst blogging habits is my inability to write about what I've read in a timely manner. So, I'm trying something new: recapping what I read at the end of each month and linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy. I feel like "traditional" reviews have declined in popularity, although I'll still be writing some every month, so I'm hoping this will be a fun way to share what I'm reading. The exception will be review books that I can't discuss yet! 

Does it count as "timely" if I'm writing about April reads at the end of May? Probably not. I don't know why I kept dragging my feet when it came to writing this post... If you missed it, I recently reviewed The Bone Season, The Mime Order and The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon and Disruption and Corruption by Jessica Shirvington. 

And in the next week or so, I should have reviews up for two additional April reads soon - The Mothers by Brit Bennett and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES BY SARAH J. MAAS | This was my third time reading this book, and it's so interesting how my feelings about it alter with each reading. In some ways, I got to approach it with fresh eyes because I read it in a different format (audio!) and have new insight after the events in the sequel. I loved seeing all the clues included, and I got to pat myself on the back for spotting some of them in my very first read. I still feel like the pace is uneven - the plot goes so slow until the portion under the mountain! Maybe that's because I knew what I had to look forward to in A Court of Mist and Fury? That being said, I So Loved It!

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY BY SARAH J. MAAS | After finishing ACOTAR, I continued my audio re-read by queuing up the second book. The narrator, Jennifer Ikeda, did such an excellent job bringing the characters to life. Although it was a re-read, I still felt the tension, the romance, and the raised stakes while I was reading! I adore the Inner Circle and the Night Court (who doesn't?!) and just lose myself in this world with every turn of the page. However, I'm not a fan of the sexual content, personally, and would recommend it with reservations for that aspect alone. But I have to say I'm So Obsessed With It overall - because I am!

ALEX, APPROXIMATELY BY JENN BENNETT | I hadn't read anything by Bennett before, but I grabbed this one from the library because I kept seeing people talk about it. It's basically a YA version of You've Got Mail! Bailey "Mink" Rydell decides to live with her dad in California - partly as an escape and partly to be closer to the movie geek she met online, Alex. She takes a job at a museum, butts heads with the security guard and discovers life (and love) is so much messier than the movies. I loved the banter, the swoons and the way Bailey grows in a new environment. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't known Alex's identity, but I still So Liked It.

THE SECRET BY JULIE GARWOOD | I've been hesitant to read the romance genre because there are aspects of it that I know won't work for me as a reader, but I have a few friends whose recommendations I'll trust. This book is one that Kelly and Alexa both love with the promise of a strong female friendship and a swoonworthy love story. While I liked a lot of the elements in it, especially the setting, the romance just didn't work for me. I had major issues with the alpha hero and the way the heroine interacted with him, which was a bummer. I was So Okay With It for the most part, but I did love the friendship and finding out more about midwifery at the time. 

THE BRIGHT SIDE OF DISASTER BY KATHERINE CENTER | Unfortunately, I hated pretty much everything about this book. Heroine Jenny Harris' fiancé takes off the day before she goes into labor with their child, and it propels her into a life she never imagined. I expected to relate to her somewhat since I'm a relatively new mom, too, but OH MY WORD, I just wanted to rage at her. She needs a Get-A-Grip Friend in her life! Think of the most annoying, whiny, "here's every horrific detail about raising a baby" new mom that you know... Jenny is worse. The plot was a total bore, and there was way more telling than showing. I'm bummed to say I So Over It

PURPLE HEARTS BY TESS WAKEFIELD | Cassie, a struggling singer/songwriter, is drowning in medical bills after she's diagnosed with diabetes. She approaches a friend in the Army about a marriage of convenience for the military benefits, but he declines. But one of his friends, Luke, overhears and volunteers instead. I liked that chapters alternated between Cassie and Luke. However, as the reader, I knew more about Luke than Cassie did, but it ended up making me sympathize with him and have very little patience for her. I wasn't super invested in them together, but I still found myself totally caught up in the book. So, I'd say I So Liked It!*

*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.

Have You Booked a Trip?

May 23, 2017

There's something about summer that just calls for an adventure. I don't know if it's the warm weather or the feeling in the air, but I start dreaming about packing my bags for a new destination. And if you're a bookworm, you're probably familiar with the age-old question: WHAT BOOKS WILL I BRING? It's a struggle trying to decide 1) how many books I'll pack and 2) what books I'll be in the mood for while I'm there!

It's challenging to guess what I'll want to read, although I can typically predict the type of book that's most likely to catch my eye. But I do love dreaming about the perfect place to read my books! So, every year I put together a post of "themed bags" where I pair summer getaway spots with the books I hope to read while I'm there. Whether I'm at the beach or just in my backyard, here are ten books that will be in my bag this summer.

I want to read something engaging at the beach. Because I'm surrounded by people, I need the book to hold my attention. I definitely don't want a book that requires my undivided attention. After all, you never know when you'll want to grab a snack, take a dip in the water, go for a walk or watch the families nearby. So, ideally, I want it to be easy to put down and pick back up without missing a beat.

The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee is about a teen who uses her sensitivity to smells to mix perfumes that help others fall in love. It sounds utterly charming! On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins is the story of two sisters who are drawn closer together by loss. It sounds a little heavier, but I'm drawn to the complicated family dynamics. I'm hoping that both will have the perfect balance of levity and depth!

find that loot: towel | sunscreen | lemonade | speaker | bag

While I'd probably choose the beach first, there are definitely benefits to visiting the mountains in the summer! There's something to be said for the cooler temperatures and quieter days. And unless you're traveling with a big group, there will probably be fewer people, too. You'll find me sipping coffee in my slippers on the back deck, so I'd probably grab a book that's longer (or slower) since there aren't as many distractions. 

In The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during WWI is brought together with an American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947. And The Whole Way Home by Sarah Creech is about a talented singer whose past comes back to haunt her when she's on the brink of making it big in Nashville. I can't wait to explore the secrets, drama and (hopefully) strong female characters.

find that loot: slippers | mug | nail polish | backpack | fitbit

At the lake, you'll find me in any number of places: the boat out on the water, sitting on the dock, or swinging in a hammock (if there's one around). Unless it's a slow ride on a pontoon, I likely won't take a book on the boat. I'm not risking the water damage! But on the dock, I'm up for something with a hint of mystery - buried secrets, shocking discoveries, etc. - that will keep me turning the pages until I can find out what happens next.

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson is about a woman who uncovers a dangerous secret when she returns to her childhood hometown to put her grandmother's affairs in order and tell her family that she's pregnant. And The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein features a beloved character from Code Name Verity - and the summary mentions an accident, a disappearance and being framed for a crime. Both should have me hooked!

find that loot: lip balm | bag | sunglasses | hair ties | swimsuit top & bottom

It's not always possible (or affordable) to travel to my heart's content. That's when I turn to my backyard! When I need some fresh air, a little sun or a new perspective, I can just step right outside for a little refresh. Plus, you can just head right back inside when the air conditioning is calling or the bugs get to be too much. And I don't have to worry about predicting my reading mood because my bookshelves are just right there!

Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy is a memoir - a journey of her first year in a new house. It seems fitting to read about creating a home while sitting right outside of my own. And What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum is the story of an unlikely friendship between a popular girl and socially isolated boy. I adore this author's books, and I'll read this one on my porch because I won't be able to wait any longer once it arrives.

find that loot: hat | ice cream | water bottle | bag | lip balm

When we moved into our home five years ago, I remember being thrilled that we had a neighborhood pool. But as more and more homes have been built, the pool has filled up faster than I would have ever imagined. With little kids running around, music playing and adults chatting, it's not always the best environment for reading. I need the same kind of books I'd pick up at the beach - engaging and enjoyable. 

Serenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne is the newest release in a contemporary romance series that I fell in love with last year. I've grown to love the little town of Haven Point and the new couple introduced with each book. I expect this one will be no different! When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is a YA romantic comedy about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. It looks adorable!

What books will be in your bag this summer?
Any trips already booked?

This post was inspired by this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
Here's a look back at my "summer bags" through the years: 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

'I know that you know.'

May 22, 2017

I first read Disruption by Jessica Shirvington at the end of 2016 and loved it. I got a little burnt out on dystopian fiction a few years ago, but something about this premise made me want to pick it up. In this world, smartphone technology evolves into something called M-Bands, bracelets that promised to make like easier but have instead begun to control it. Some of its functions will sound familiar - it can monitor your heart rate, allow you to pay for purchases, track your location, and so on. But it can also rate your relationships with other people, and everyone fears negative ratings because getting too many has dangerous consequences. 

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched her family fall apart. Now, she's determined to make things right... and Quentin Mercer, heir to the M-Corp empire, is crucial to her plan. I really loved the fast pace, the relatable world highlighting the scary potential impact of technology, and the romance that used one of my favorite tropes. I went it with low expectations and finished anxious to find out what would happen next. Since the sequel came out this year, I re-read the first book and loved it just as much as I did the first time around. That's one of the best moments with a book!

Maggie is a totally kickass heroine, and she won't let anything (or anyone) stand in her way. That means she isn't afraid to make decisions that hurt people, but I liked her single-minded focus on her goal. However, I loved the way Quentin disrupted it. He's the symbol of everything she hates - heir to the company that ruined her life and destroyed her family. So, she initially feels very little guilt about using him for her own purposes. But the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes she may have misjudged him. It's an eye-opening journey for both characters: Maggie as she gets to know the boy behind the name and Quentin as he discovers the reality behind the façade. This was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the book.

I was a huge fan of the plot, too. It took me a few chapters to get into at first, but I was hooked before long. Following Maggie on every step of her journey was an adrenaline rush, especially when I got to the end! There were some twists and turns I never expected. The first time I read it, I was so mad that I couldn't immediately start the next book. But thankfully, you won't have that experience since Corruption came out earlier this year!

I started it as soon as I finished my re-read of Disruption, and I was so pleased with the way everything happened. These books are a duology, which is actually perfect for this story. While I would have loved more time with these characters, I think the pace and plot benefited from the fact that it was just two books. I hadn't seen certain things coming in the first book, and it's always exciting when a book really surprises me. I won't say a word about the plot of this one - but I'm happy to report that it was intense, thrilling and still surprising! The romance was even better (SWOON), the stakes were higher and the ending was really satisfying.

If I wasn't afraid to spoil anything, I'd tell you more about Corruption. But I'd hate to ruin the experience, so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you it's a worthy follow-up to a fantastic beginning and an excellent conclusion in its own right! I love that these books surprised me - both with the content and with the way I felt about them. It's a joy to discover a favorite in an unexpected place! I'd definitely recommend this duology.

So Quotable
“But people should have the right to become whatever they’re going to be before they are judged and sentenced.”
*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.
Released: October 2016; March 2017 (US) | Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 416 pages; 448 pages | Source & Format: Publisher; Paperback

A Moment. A Choice. A Revolution.

May 11, 2017

Can you think of one book that you just had to buy as soon as it came and yet still haven't read? And I'm not talking about a few months passing... more like years. If you're a blogger, there's a good chance you can think of a lot of books that fall into that category. For me, The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon would be one of the first that came to mind if someone asked me that question.

I bought it around the time it was released - in hardcover, on Kindle when it was $1.99 and then added the audio edition for a couple extra dollars. Y'all, I basically owned three copies of a book I hadn't even read yet. And yes, I know how that makes me sound. I never said self-control was my strong suit! There was so much hype when it was released with news of Shannon's seven-book deal drawing comparisons to J.K. Rowling,  and I didn't want a repeat of my "I didn't read them until they were all published" experience with the Harry Potter books. I wanted to be in the know!

But every time I started it, I set it aside for later. I'd read a few pages, decide it wasn't what I was in the mood for and promise myself that I'd come back to it soon. The next thing I knew, the third book was being released. Kelly and Alexa had been begging me to finally read it, and I figured there was a good chance I'd enjoy it since they both did. But I kept putting it off until I got an email from Little Shop of Stories saying that Samantha Shannon would be in town for a book signing. At that point, I realized I had to finally start this series. Shannon is from England, which meant this event would probably be my only chance to meet her. If I ended up loving the series, I didn't want to kick myself for having missed her! Within a week, I'd finished The Bone Season, The Mime Order and The Song Rising and was desperate to learn what would happen next.

For the first 55% of The Bone Season, I was liking it but slightly mystified by all the love it had received. It was creative and interesting, sure, but it was also overwhelming and confusing. The terminology alone made me feel like I was reading a book written in another language. I just kept moving forward, turning the pages and wondering if any of it would ever make sense to me. And then, there was a shift. The pace picked up, the plot became more engaging and the characters took center stage. Suddenly, I was hooked.

Then, I immediately picked up The Mime Order. Paige returns with a vengeance in the second book. The world and terminology were still a little confusing for me at times, but I found myself so much more immersed in the story. I couldn't wait to find out if - and how - Paige would accomplish her goal. Plus, of course, WHO might help her (and I think we all know who I was hoping to see...). This series seemed to just keep getting better and better! The pace is sometimes uneven, but I didn't have a problem with it. There's a lot of character development in this installment - for Paige and for several secondary characters - and even more world building. I loved it, but the plot does occasionally slow down because of it.

And finally, I raced through The Song Rising. There are things I love about each book in the series, but I think this one is my favorite so far! At her signing, Shannon talked about how she'd always wondered about the larger world in most dystopian fiction. For example, how did the rest of the world react to the Hunger Games in Panem? And this is the book where you see that question explored. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about going beyond London before I started reading, but now I'm sold. The idea of a global dystopia is so fascinating, and I have no doubt Shannon will continue to surprise me! I love the scope of this world, the higher stakes, the fast pace, the complex characters and the dilemmas they face.

Shannon also talked about how books 1-4 in the series have their own arc vs. books 5-7, which makes me both nervous and excited (nervocited?). It reminds me a lot of the shift in tone in the Harry Potter series after the fourth book. But oh goodness, I don't know if my heart can take the "jawdropping ending" she's got planned. Regardless, I look forward to finding out where she takes Paige next. I was a little late to the series, but I definitely consider myself a fan now! If you like the idea of a dystopian fantasy with a global perspective, this is definitely a series you should consider. It's confusing at first, but it's worth it in the end!

So Quotable
“Knowledge is dangerous. Once you know something, you can't get rid of it. You have to carry it. Always.” — The Bone Season

“Words are everything. Words give wings even to those who have been stamped upon, broken beyond all hope of repair.” — The Mime Order

“Never allow yourself to believe you should be silent.” — The Song Rising
Released: August 2013; January 2015; March 2017 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 466 pages; 510 pages; 363 pages | Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover

April 2017: Recap + On My Shelves

May 9, 2017

April was a really lovely month in Georgia, especially because a special visitor came to stay with me! I love the return of spring weather - the sunshine, the new blooms, the compulsion to just go outside and soak it all in.

1. Gorgeous New Bible - I've known about She Reads Truth for a while now, but I hadn't kept up with them in recent years. So it was a total surprise to learn they'd come out with the She Reads Truth Bible in April. Their tagline is Inherently Beautiful, Intentionally Designed,” which is very fitting. The details in this Bible are just stunning: artwork for key verses, reading plans, and new maps, charts and timelines. 

2. Happy Easter - Easter is one of my favorite holidays because of what it symbolizes and means to me personally, but there was an added joy to it this year! I loved putting together a little Easter basket for my boy, dressing him up in a sweet smocked Jon Jon for church and walking him around to find eggs afterward. It's crazy how much a child can make you look at things with new eyes!

3. Planner Heaven - This is old news to anyone who knows me or regularly reads my blog, but I'm a huge planner nerd! I've written about Lilly Pulitzer agendas and discovering the world of traveler's notebooks - two things I still love. But I purchased a Happy Planner in April (partly because of Lindsey from Bring My Books) and now I'm OBSESSED. I have one for planning and one for memories, and they're amazing!

4. Kelly Comes to Visit - This was the highlight of April! Kelly from Belle of the Literati is one of the best friends I've made through blogging, but we'd never gotten the chance to meet in person. When the timing and details worked out, Kelly finally booked a trip to Atlanta! I loved having her here for a few days because I got to show her a bit of Georgia, spend all day chatting and bring her into the planner obsession. PLEASE COME BACK.

Read 8 Books | Favorites:
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (re-read)
 “Like most girls, she'd already learned that pretty exposes you and pretty hides you
and like most girls, she hadn't yet learned how to navigate the difference.”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

 “We would’ve told her that all together, we got centuries on her.
If we laid all our lives toes to heel, we were born before the Depression, the Civil War,
even America itself. In all that living, we have known men. Oh girl, we have known littlebit love.
That littlebit of honey left in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth
long enough to mask your hunger. We have run tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit
as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more.”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

 “A daughter grows older and draws nearer to her mother, until she gradually overlaps her
like a sewing pattern. But a son becomes some irreparably separate thing.”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

 “Could you be nostalgic for a friendship that wasn't over yet
or did the fact that you were nostalgic mean that it already was?”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
In April, I shared my March 2017 recap, which is always fun. Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and I got caught up on sharing The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge reviews. For me, that included Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu and She Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. I talked a bit about how I found Alanna by Tamora Pierce a little disappointing but found a new favorite in Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. And finally, I recapped what I read in March with my Quick Lit: March 2017 post. 
1. Mug Life {1} by Kelly from Belle of the Literati - I'm so excited about Kelly's new feature... and not just because I helped her come up with a few categories! I think this is such a fun way to share a peek at what she's up to currently + feature a cute photo. And bonus: I had a great time contributing to her most recent Mug Life!

2. The Other Side of Anne of Green Gables by Willa Paskin - Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books and a huge reason I'm the reader that I am today. I loved the 1980s mini-series for TV, too, so I'm both eager and nervous about the upcoming adaptation (on Netflix May 12!). This article gave me so much insight into it!

Favorite Song: "Now or Never" by Halsey
I became so obsessed with a few of Halsey's songs a few years ago, 
and I've been looking forward to new music from her since. This song didn't disappoint.

Favorite Album: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by James Newton Howard
I used to love movie scores, but I haven't spent as much time listening to them in recent years.
But I had this one on repeat in April, and it provided the perfect background for blogging and crafting. 

Prison Break: Resurrection (2017) starring Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller - The summer after my freshman year of college, I became completely obsessed with Prison Break. You can ask my family about it - I have no doubt they'll remember. I was super annoying about it! So, I was more than a little excited when I heard about the nine-episode revival. It started in April, and I've been enjoying it so far!

Book Depository: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

For Review: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams and Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast by Matteo Bussola

Kindle Deals: The Course of Love by Alain de Botton, Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Best Man by Kristin Higgins and Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy

Audible Credit + Sale: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella and The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
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