My Mini Happy Planner: Reading Log

Jul 27, 2018

Back in December, I reflected on my favorite things of 2017 and noted that Happy Planner was at the top of the list. I bought my first one that May after seeing Lindsey from Bring My Books raving about them. And though I swore I wouldn't buy all the things, I should have known that I'd be so obsessed with it. It started with sticker books and soon spiraled into making my own printable pages. So, I thought it would be fun to spend this week talking about how I'm using them. Happy Planners come in three sizes: Big, Classic, and Mini. I have one of each, and they each serve a different function. It's time to chat about my final Happy Planner: my mini!

I use my mini Happy Planner as a reading journal! I've got a notebook with a list of what I've read each year that I started when I created my blog back in 2011, but it's just a list of titles and authors. I've always wanted to do something more, and that's where this one comes in! I started it last year, so I'm on my second one now.

At the beginning on every month in a Happy Planner, there's a recap/overview page. As you can see, I've covered some of the categories with washi tape to make them work as a reading journal. The list underneath April is labeled Top 4, and it's my four favorite reads from that month. Noted is a little breakdown of the source of what I read: TBR, Review and Re-Read. Quote is my favorite quote of the month, and Audio is just the total number I listened to.

The only thing to keep in mind, if you want to use the mini Happy Planner as a reading journal, is what this page looks like in whichever one you pick. Some minis have versions of this page that are hard to re-label.

On the monthly calendar, I write the title of the book on the day I finish it. Last year, I wrote more in the Notes sidebar (like the genre breakdown) but didn't continue it. If I finish two books in one day, I'll draw a line dividing the box in half. It's interesting to flip through and see months with reading slumps versus binges!

Mini Happy Planners are all in this horizontal format. It's worked perfectly as my reading journal because it's just enough space for a few thoughts on what I've read but not so much that I dread writing in it. In the past, I've given up on reading journals because it felt like writing a review – and I already do that here on the blog! 

On the day I finish a book, here's what I write: 

1. The title and author on the first line
2. The format, source and rating on the second line
3. A few brief thoughts on the book on the last three lines

And that's it! I don't write in complete sentences or try to make it sound nice. It's really just for recording my overall impressions. It's useful for me because I rarely write a review immediately after finishing a book, but it's not hard to grab this little notebook and jot down a few thoughts when I'm done reading.

For the sake of this post, I specifically chose a week where I finished a lot of books so that you could see it really filled in. But there are lots of weeks with only one or two books recorded! In busy weeks where I finish more than one book in a day, I'll take a little washi tape and cover up the date of a day where I didn't finish anything and just label it with the new date. That's why you see Sunday • 18 (Cont.) at the top of this page.

And if I'm really tearing through books and finish so many that I can't re-label the existing spaces, I'll just stick a sheet of lined paper in the middle of that week's spread. I'll do the washi + Sharpie thing again, and then I'm all set.

At the very back of this journal, I have the titles of what I read color coded by the source. That's how I format my Read in 2018 page on the blog, and I just like having a physical version of it.

Okay, that's it. I hope you've enjoyed taking a tour through my Happy Planners! In case you missed it, I chatted about my gratitude journal, my daily planner, and my blogging planner and bookish printables. If you have any questions, just let me know! Whether it's tips for making your own printables or sticker book recommendations, I'm happy to help. And if you've every written about your planner, leave a link in the comments. I'd love to check it out!


I've got a Happy Planner giveaway – with a bookish twist, of course – that will be going up on my Instagram account later today. I will come back on here and embed the post once it's live so you can see all the details!

** GIVEAWAY! ** I loved showing y’all my planner this week and am so thankful for the #bookstagram community that I thought it was time for a giveaway! Here’s what’s up for grabs: . 1. Happy Notes with 3 dividers + 60 pages of dot grid note paper (flip through in my story) 2. 12 pages of TBR printables (4 each of physical, audio & e-book) 3. $25 Amazon gift card (to add more to your TBR, of course!) 📖 . ** Here’s how to enter: ** 1. Must be following this account 🤓 2. Like this photo! 📸 3. Tag a friend in the comments & tell me a book you recently added to your to To Be Read (TBR) pile! 📚 . US only. Ends August 2 @ 5 p.m. ET. Please don’t follow just to unfollow. 💖 • #soobsessedwithbooks #books #planner #happyplanner #booklover #bookworm #booknerd #bookstagrammer #bookblogger #happynotes #giveaway
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My Classic Happy Planner: Books & Blogging

Jul 26, 2018

Back in December, I reflected on my favorite things of 2017 and noted that Happy Planner was at the top of the list. I bought my first one that May after seeing Lindsey from Bring My Books raving about them. And though I swore I wouldn't buy all the things, I should have known that I'd be so obsessed with it. It started with sticker books and soon spiraled into making my own printable pages. So, I thought it would be fun to spend this week talking about how I'm using them. Happy Planners come in three sizes: Big, Classic, and Mini. I have one of each, and they each serve a different function.  Today, is Part Two of my Classic. It's allll about the books! 

In the Happy Planner world, you'll sometimes hear people talk about "frankenplanning." The word is typically used to refer to the way people will take parts from various planners and combine them into one. So, for example, you might use the cover and rings from one planner with the inside pages of another. It sounds silly, but it's something that I love about this type of ring-bound system. I've been able to make mine exactly the way I want, which you'll see in this post. I have two planners combined into one + a lot of pages that I've made for myself.

The front of my planner has this folder that I'll use as a catch-all for various papers – receipts, an appointment reminder card if I haven't added the info to my planner yet, etc. After the folder, you may notice that I have two sets of July and August tabs. That's because I've combined two planners into one! To keep my planner from getting too thick, I only keep about 2-3 months in there at a time (and just store the additional pages – past and future – on an extra set of rings). The first July and August tabs are for my daily planner, which I highlighted yesterday. But today I'm going to show you the back half of my planner, which is dedicated to all things blogging and books.

With the exception of this monthly spread, the format of the blogging section is a little different than standard Happy Planner pages. I'll talk about it more after the next picture! But, for this monthly overview, I write down blog posts that I've published. They're color coded based on the type of post, of course. I don't write them down until they're written and scheduled, but I'll use small post it notes to plan out future posts.

Most Happy Planners are either vertical (the format in my post yesterday) or horizontal (like a traditional agenda), but there was a limited edition release in a totally different format that I knew would work perfectly for my blog! While the planner itself is no longer available, they do sell this format as a six-month undated expansion pack

Immediately after the monthly overview, this is what you'll see! I'll use the habit trackers on the left for book buying bans, social media posting, replying to blog comments, or any other task that I'm trying to accomplish on a near-daily basis. In this month, I was tracking my book buying ban. 

For Monthly Goals, I always write down at least three. Some repeat almost every month – like posting at least eight times. But the others will change based on whatever I need to accomplish... or have been avoiding. Haha!

In the Checklist section, I write down the title of a book when I finish it. I don't check it off until the review has been published! This list continues on the next page, which you'll see in the next photo.

The Note to Self area is where I write down the publication date and title of anything I need to read and review that month. And sometimes I'll use this section to call out anything extra that's on a deadline!

On the page opposite, there are three main sections. The Get It Done checklist is a continuation of the list of books I've read that month. Typically, those two sections have enough spaces for what I'll read in a month. But there have been a few times I extended the list into the Note to Self section of the previous page.

The top half of this page is just dot grid. I print out a photo of my favorite read from that month and will add a quote or info about when/where I read the book or why I loved it so much. I used two photos in this month because I participated in my first readathon and wanted to make note of that fact in addition to my favorite read!

The Focus On section aligns perfectly with my goal to publish eight posts per month. This is where I plan them out! I sometimes publish more than eight things, but this section helps me decide where to focus my attention and time.

Remember how I mentioned half sheets in yesterday's post? Here's one in use. I love decorating one and making a monthly TBR! I divide it into sections: Review, Borrow, and New Releases (pictured) and then TBR and Audio (not pictured, on the back). I'll write my rating and the date I finished once I've read it. I have another half sheet behind this one with random blog post ideas for whenever I need a little inspiration.

And here's another place where you can tell that this planner format is very different. When I first bought it, I dated this section and used it as daily to do lists. But honestly, I wasn't blogging enough to keep it up. I'd often forget to write anything for several days or end up writing things in after I'd done them – not very useful.

Then, I realized that I could leave them undated and use them in an unexpected way. The first three sections – black circle stickers – are my recurring monthly blog tasks. Pages are the three things I need to update throughout the month. Reading Log is something that you'll see tomorrow, so stay tuned. And Misc. is a catch-all for anything else.

The section below that, Reading Backlog, is a list of books I read in previous months but haven't reviewed. Since I don't keep past months in my planner, I like having a quick reference for what I still need to write.

The next two sections, with blue exclamation point stickes, are for the two posts I publish every month: Recap + On My Shelves and Quick Lit. Underneath both, I have the different things I need to do to complete the posts. From taking photos to adding it to a linkup, this keeps me on track since I rarely finish it all at once.

The last two sections, with orange circle stickers, are books I finished that month. Remember how I had that checklist on the previous page? Well, here's where I write down all the things that need to happen before I can check it off there: take a photo, write my review, update Goodreads, post the review, and add it to my reading log. If it's a review book, the last line will say Log & Submit. The next few pages are this same format, so I didn't take more pictures, but it also includes sections for other posts with the list of things I need to do to finish them. 

After the pages labeled Daily To Do's, there are two lined pages. I divide them into the main categories that I use in my monthly recap posts: Loved, Read, Heard, Watched and Acquired. And I just add things to the relevant sections throughout the month! It's made it so much easier to write those recaps because I'm no longer scrambling to remember those details. That wraps up one month in the blogging section! So, let me show you what comes next...

I tried bullet journaling a few years ago and loved the concept but didn't stick with it. The format was just a little too loose for me, and I didn't like having to draw stuff every month. It was so time consuming because I would be too meticulous and overthink it. When I realized that I could customize my Happy Planner, I knew I could take what I loved about bullet journaling and combine it with a traditional planner. The stuff behind these two divider (which are hidden behind one of the monthly tabs in a previous photo) are where I applied some of those principles. 

As I've mentioned, you can mix and match Happy Planner stuff with multiple planners, different extension packs and more. But my favorite part? You can add your own stuff, too! Happy Planner sells a paper punch that you can use to make anything work with their ring system. And that's how I got carried away making inserts!

Rather than hand draw this, as I did when I used a bullet journal, I just designed a quick printable. Yes, I had to take the time to make it initially, but now I can print it every year (or quickly adjust it with a different goal in the future). As you can see, I've already completed my Goodreads Challenge for 2018. 

When I saw Alexa post about her personal Read or Die Challenge earlier this year, I knew I had to do it, too! Basically, the goal is to read anything on my TBR that's been there since 2016 (or earlier) by the end of the year. And if I don't? It's getting culled! I color the box pink when I finish a book, with the date I completed it noted in a light gray pen to the right of the title. Black means I've DNFed or culled it. 

I created a Series Tracker, too! I alphabetized the list by author's last name, noted the series title, and then used a box for each book in the series. I color them in when they're done! This is just meant to track my progress so that I can quickly see what series I haven't finished, even if it's unfinished due to books not being published yet. I'll probably redesign this page in the future to make it easier to add series to it. 

Ah, now we're getting to my favorite pages in my planner! When I was bullet journaling, I drew my TBR on a bookshelf and absolutely loved it. But it was such a pain to keep adding books to it because it would fill up quickly and then I'd have to start drawing it all over again. So, the first printable I created was this bookshelf! I use it for physical copies only, and I divided it up. My Adult Fiction TBR is pictured here. I color in a book when I complete it, and black book means I DNFed it. The best part? When I fill up a bookshelf, I just print and punch a new page.

After I made the bookshelf, I knew I wanted something for my electronic books, too. So... I made myself a Kindle TBR printable! I just write the title in the spaces, check it off once I've read it, and note the date that I finished it. I have a separate sheet that's just for digital ARCs because I like to group them together.

After my physical and Kindle sheets, I had to make an audiobook one, too. I was clearly looking at the Audible app when I designed it! Right now, I only use this for audiobooks that I own and haven't listened to yet. But I'm thinking about adding some titles on here that I have saved on Hoopla and Overdrive so that I don't forget about them! In the spot where the audio cover would go, I just color it when I'm done and note that I've finished + the date. 

Those are all the printables that I decided to photograph for this post, but that's not all that I've made for myself. Here's some of the other pages I made that I've got in this section:

  • Author Events: A place where I can note future book tour dates + time & location, as they're announced.
  • Book Challenges: All the prompts listed for the Modern Mrs. Darcy and Picky Pledge challenges, followed by blanks that I can fill in with the books I read for each.
  • Book Releases: A yearly overview to track release dates + titles that I need to pre-order or request from the library (so I can be first on the holds list, obvs). 
  • End of the Year Survey: All the questions from this survey created by Perpetual Page-Turner with space left to fill it in throughout the year.
  • Recurring Blog Features: Pages designed for posts I do frequently, like checklists for future editions of So Obsessed With or pages divided into the categories that I use for my end-of-year recaps.  
  • Review Book Tracker: A place to fill in all of the books I've received for review, source, publication date, and whether I've read/reviewed/submitted them.
  • Top Ten Tuesday Topics: The list of upcoming topics + pages to plan for ones I do every year, like Top Ten New-to-Me Authors or Top Ten Books of the Year. 
  • TV Tracker: A section to fill in the show and season, and then check off episodes as I finish them. 

And finally, we've come to the last tab in my planner! The previous tab has all of my printables grouped together, and this last one is for extra blank paper that I can use for brainstorming and other random things. I updated my blog design earlier this year, and this was a page I used in the process to help me visualize the new drop-down menu and list specific tasks I needed to complete. I love creating printables for things that I'll use repeatedly, but it's nice to have a section of paper at the back for things that I'll only need once. 

Okay, whew! I know that was a lot of info, but I wanted to talk about more of these pages because they're unique to my planner and illustrate why the Happy Planner system has been so perfect for me. It gives me what I loved about bullet journaling, combining everything into one place, with so many added benefits:

  • Allows me to use a pre-designed calendar
  • Easier to reproduce frequently-used pages
  • Ability to rearrange pages so that categories stay together
  • Customizable with personal inserts + printables 

Only one more planner to discuss: my mini! It serves a book-related purpose, and I can't wait to show it to you. 

BEFORE YOU BUY: Happy Planners are sold online and in stores at Michaels, Joann Fabric & Craft, and Hobby Lobby. Although you can buy directly from the Happy Planner site, I highly recommend shopping at one of the listed retailers. Why? You can use coupons! There's a reason I can't stop buying stickers... Hello, 50% off one item.

How do you track blogging tasks and/or your TBR?
Check back tomorrow for my mini and a giveaway! 

My Classic Happy Planner: Daily Life

Jul 25, 2018

Back in December, I reflected on my favorite things of 2017 and noted that Happy Planner was at the top of the list. I bought my first one that May after seeing Lindsey from Bring My Books raving about them. And though I swore I wouldn't buy all the things, I should have known that I'd be so obsessed with it. It started with sticker books and soon spiraled into making my own printable pages. So, I thought it would be fun to spend this week talking about how I'm using them. Happy Planners come in three sizes: Big, Classic, and Mini. I have one of each, and they each serve a different function. Today, is Part One of my Classic. There's more to come tomorrow! 

In Happy Planners, each tabbed monthly divider (the page with candy hearts, in this case) is preceded by a monthly overview page. The specific breakdown varies by planner, but most include a spot for Birthdays, Important Dates, Monthly Goals and/or Notes, and a Currently fill-in-the-blank section. In mine, the candy hearts sticker is covering the Goals section because I didn't need it that month. I always fill out the birthdays at the beginning, as well as the dates to remember. Nick travels frequently for his job, so this is where I'll note when he'll be gone. 

The Currently section is one of the reasons I wanted to start using Happy Planners! I preferred Lilly Pulitzer agendas for years, but I loved that Happy Planners made it seem so easy to capture memories. I have all my old planners because they feel like little time capsules, but this one is even more special because it goes beyond appointments and to dos. It captures so much of who I am and what I love, not just what I've done! 

On the Monthly spread, I generally just write down the big stuff: birthdays, appointments, and important reminders. But sometimes I'll include little things too, like participating in a readathon or a creating a Happy Planner Instagram account with Kelly. Yes, I've become someone who has a separate Instagram account for photos of their planner. I don't even know who I am anymore, but I'm having so much fun doing it right now!

I love all the different half sheets that I can insert into any week, though I didn't take a photo of any that I'd written on. From general brainstorming to tracking tasks with deadlines, this is one way I stay organized. One of my favorite things about my Happy Planner is being able to take pages in and out! My post tomorrow will truly highlight the reason why, but it's also useful for this type of thing. It's nice to create a master to do list that I can move from week to week. And, as a lefty, I love not having to deal with rings while I'm writing.

And that brings me to my weekly spreads. I swore that I wouldn't become a sticker person... and look at me now. Those were my famous last words! I used to look at heavily-decorated planners and wonder if they were useful, even if they were beautiful. But now I've realized how fun it can be to create something pretty! I used to think that I wasn't a crafty person, but I'm pretty sure it's just that I hadn't found the right outlet yet. I use my planner to stay organized, but I don't necessarily think of it as a productivity tool. Truthfully, I see it more as a scrapbook.

I'm a stay-at-home mom to a toddler, so I don't need a planner to function in the same way I did when I was working. You won't find meeting reminders or project due dates in here. And yet, as I flip through these pages, I see all the memories I've documented: books I read, silly things my son said, FaceTime dates with my best friends, places I spent too much money, and so much more. It's a record of how I'm crafting a life that I love. I've always been organized, but my Happy Planner has inspired me to record the details, celebrate the everyday, and live creatively.

You might be looking at this and thinking, "But who has time to do all that decorating in their planner?" And honestly, that's totally fair. I have no idea if I'll do this forever. But I love that I'm doing it now – that I'm using some of my free time to chronicle my daily life. I hope I stick with the concept of writing about my days, even if the method changes, for the rest of my life. My crappy memory needs this kind of keepsake!

Okay, that's all for Part One of my Classic. I focused on how I'm using it to record my daily life, but there's obviously a huge component missing: books and blogging! If you're wondering how that fits in, be sure to check back tomorrow. I'm excited to show you what I've created for myself. Things are about to get even nerdier...

What type of planner do you use? Do your journal or scrapbook?
Check back tomorrow for all things blogging and bookish!

My Big Happy Planner: Gratitude Journal

Jul 24, 2018

Back in December, I reflected on my favorite things of 2017 and noted that Happy Planner was at the top of the list. I bought my first one that May after seeing Lindsey from Bring My Books raving about them. And though I swore I wouldn't buy all the things, I should have known that I'd be so obsessed with it. It started with sticker books and soon spiraled into making my own printable pages. So, I thought it would be fun to spend this week talking about how I'm using them. Happy Planners come in three sizes: Big, Classic, and Mini. I have one of each, and they each serve a different function. Today, I'm talking about the Big. 

I mentioned in my post my motherhood journey so far that I keep a "Three Good Things" Journal. The name and inspiration came from one of my all-time favorite books, Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center, and you can check out that post if you want all the details. But the gist of it is that it's my gratitude journal. Every day, I write down three good things that happened. And that's how I'm using my Big Happy Planner!

This one stays next to my bed, and I love reflecting on my day before I go to sleep. It was initially a hard habit to start – I felt like I was repeating myself all the time or would forget for a few days and then struggle to remember enough to complete it. And that's why I keep this one super simple. There's no stickers or decoration, just plain black pen and one good thing in each box. I love looking back through it, and it's helped me develop a more positive attitude + see the good in my daily life. I'm particularly glad I had it after my thyroid cancer diagnosis

On the lefthand sidebar of the weekly spreads, I write my Top Three for the whole week. I started doing it because it was nice to spend a little time on Sundays reading through everything I'd written down for that week and choosing three favorites. It only takes a few minutes, but it's worth it. It often feels like the days are so slow but a week passes in a blur, so this helps me stop and pay attention to the details. I want to be more mindful!

And finally, my favorite part of my Big planner: the month-at-a-glance spreads. Since I'm not using this as a planner, I originally didn't intend to write anything on these pages. But I saw Linds share this idea, and I knew it was exactly what I needed. It's the perfect addition to the pages filled with memories! It brings me so much joy to flip through this journal and marvel at how much things change from month to month. 

I have so many photos on my phone that rarely get printed and still need to create photo books for 2016 and 2017. But somehow, I always find the time to do my little photo-a-day in this planner. I bought a Canon Selphy Wireless Photo Printer, and I love it so much. From the photo quality to the convenience, I highly recommend it! About once a week, I use the PicFrame app to create a collage of six squares, print it as a 4x6 photo, cut them out with my Fiskars large circle punch, and then use Tombow Mono Permanent Adhesive to glue them in. 

While I still hope to get around making photo books, it's nice to have at least one place where I can look at physical photos of my life. From adorable pictures of my son to silly things we did, it's a record of my life. I love all of my Happy Planners (and can't wait to talk more about them this week), but this one is the most meaningful to me. 

Do you keep a gratitude journal?
Check back tomorrow to see my daily planner!

So Obsessed With: The Mini Edition #5

Jul 20, 2018

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

1. Chicken & Bacon Pasta from Julia's Album
This is the same website that I mentioned in my last mini edition, but this recipe was too good not to feature! Anything tastes delicious with bacon and a garlic cream sauce, but I loved that this was pretty easy to make, didn't take very long and was a huge hit with my husband. This has definitely been added to our favorites list!

This was recommended by Jessica from Go Fug Yourself, so I obviously had to try it. I love it so much! My lips are often a little dry, and I have a terrible habit of making it worse by touching or picking at them. At night before bed, I now just slather on this thick balm that has a mild strawberry smell/taste and wake up with soft, moisturized lips.
I've never loved buying clothes and rarely do it unless I need something. However, I decided to buy a few casual maxi dresses and skirts recently. I don't love shorts and jeans are often too hot in the summer. This skirt is the best of both worlds: long enough to cover my legs but still cool and breezy. I love that I feel comfortable and cute!

In the past few months, I've gotten more serious about taking care of my skin. I have more products to recommend in the future, but I wanted to start with my absolute favorite. This balm has a creamy texture that "melts" into an oil as you rub it in and legit removes all of your makeup. Here's how it works – I'm so obsessed!

It took me a long time to find a foundation that I love because my skin tone can be hard to match. But I wanted to try a CC Cream this summer for lighter coverage, and this was my favorite of everything I sampled in Ulta. I've used it for a few weeks and can honestly say I love everything about it. I will buy this again and again!

Okay, I know this vacuum is sooo expensive. Talk about a major splurge! But honestly, I love it so much and it's been worth every penny. We have a toddler + a dog + hardwood floors, which is a recipe for dirt. Being able to grab this and clean up quickly feels life-changing. Haha! And bless Costco for the discounted price.

Annie B. Jones (owner of The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Ga) mentioned on Instagram that this candle's scent is a cheap dupe a candle that I love at Anthrologie. So, of course, I had to check it out! I bought mine a few days and already plan to get more. It smells so delicious – and it's more affordable, too. That's a win for me!

What are you so obsessed with lately?

'I'd rather die on an adventure than live standing still.'

Jul 18, 2018

I've had A Darker Shade of Magic on my to be read pile since it came out in 2015. I remember buying a copy in the bookstore after hearing all the hype and being sucked in to the first chapter when I sampled it. It languished on my shelves for long enough that I was able to buy the second book, A Gathering of Shadows, too. I told myself that I'd binge them once the third came out... but that was in February 2017. Story of my life, right?

Finally, I put the first book on my June TBR. I started making seasonal reading lists for myself last year to tackle all my unread books, and I've only recently switched to monthly versions. It was the perfect motivation to finally start this series. And once I started, I couldn't stop! Since I read them all in four days, they've blended together a bit in my mind. So, I just decided to write about my overall thoughts on the series as a whole – with no spoilers, of course.


1. Developed Characters – If you love complex characters, you're in for a treat with this series! I hesitate to call it character driven because the plot is packed with action and adventure, but it certainly comes close. Delilah Bard was definitely my favorite, but I loved that each book gave me new people to root for and love. There's deep friendship, chosen family, slow-burn romance, villainous rulers... I mean, what more could you want?! 

2. Creative World – In Schwab's fantasy world, there are four Londons: Gray London, Red London, White London, and Black London. Their names are associated with the state of magic in each, and only the Antari can travel between them. But happens when a bit of harmless smuggling opens the door to something dangerous? You'll have to read this series to find out! But, needless to say, I was fascinated by this setting and the creativity behind it.

3. Engrossing Story – From the first chapter in A Darker Shade of Magic, I was hooked! I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I loved that within the overarching conflict, there were lots of smaller moments that added to the sense of adventure. From ocean voyages to petulant kings, I'm still marveling at the richness of this story and world. I have a feeling these books just get better and better with every re-read and each new discovery!


1. Moral Dilemmas – There isn't a lot of black and white in this world, despite the names of the Londons. Characters face complex decisions that don't always have a right answer, and I appreciated the moral ambiguity. The book explores what happens when you do the wrong thing for the right reasons, and no one is immune from dealing with the consequences of their actions. I enjoyed the thought-provoking situations throughout the book. 

2. Emotional Investment – This was a pleasant surprise because I didn't expect to be so emotionally invested in the series! Although I never reached the obsessive love that I've seen on Goodreads, I was so wrapped up in everything that was happening. And I'm so thankful that I waited to read this series until all of the book were released. The endings to the first two books might have killed me if I wasn't immediately able to pick up the next.


1. Unnecessary Length – There aren't many things that bugged me about the series, but I will say that the second and third books felt overly long at times. It affected the pacing a bit, though it's not a huge complaint. The third, in particular, felt crammed with information that sometimes seemed unnecessary or like it could have been introduced earlier in the series. And yet I still have a few lingering questions that I'd love to have answered! 

So, there you have it! I know I didn't really discuss many specifics about the plot or characters, but I honestly think it's more fun if you go into this series with no idea what's in store for you. I can see why these books were so hyped, and I'm glad I finally read them! If you're a fantasy reader, you don't want to miss this series. I finished these and immediately thought, I have a feeling I'll want to re-read these in the future. And that's high praise indeed!

So Quotable
“Battles may be fought from the outside in, but wars are won from the inside out.” – ADSOM

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.” – AGOS

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.” – ACOL
Release Date: February 2015, 2016 & 2017 | Publisher: Macmillan; Tor Books
Pages: 400, 512 and 624 Pages | Source & Format: Bought/Borrowed; Hardcover

Quick Lit: June 2018

Jul 16, 2018

I read 22 books in June, and I'm chatting about 16 of them in today's post. So, as you can imagine, it's longer than normal. On the blog this past month, I shared reviews for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman. Two of those were June reads!

I should have reviews soon for the other books I read in June – Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas and A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. As always, check out the Quick Lit linkup that's hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy if you're looking for more reviews and recommendations.

99 DAYS AND 9 DAYS & 9 NIGHTS BY KATIE COTUGNO | Let's start with a confession: I had no intention of reading 99 Days. A heroine who ruins her relationship with a guy because of something she does with his brother? YIKES. But I recently found myself craving YA contemporary, and this book kept popping into my brain. Honestly, y'all, I'm shocked that I So Enjoyed It. There's a lot of drama in here, and I was judging ALL the characters. And yet... I was invested in the outcome, couldn't put the book down, and loved Cotugno's writing. The emotions this book evoked were messy and complicated, but I admired Cotugno for writing something so thought provoking. 

After finishing 99 Days, I had to pick up the recently released sequel. I was pretty happy with the way the first book ended, but I couldn't resist seeing what happened next with the characters. The premise of this one made me cringe, again, though I did love the change in setting. Who can resist a book involving a European vacation? This was another emotionally complex story that involved some things I definitely didn't like, and yet I was still so invested in everything. My favorite part was the way Molly has to reconcile her past with the new identity she's tried to create for herself and the life she wants in the future. I So Enjoyed It, even though the angst would typically bother me.

DEFENDING TAYLOR BY MIRANDA KENNEALLY | I'd heard from a few friends who'd read this series that this book was their least favorite, but I just couldn't bring myself to skip it. I've enjoyed these books overall, despite my varied reactions to each, and knew I wanted to complete the series. I liked that Taylor was such a driven character, that she begins to find more balance by the end of the book and that she's able to talk to her parents about their expectations vs her dreams. But I hated the entire plot since it revolved around her lying to protect someone who didn't deserve it, and the romance felt super rushed to me. I was So Over It by the end.

COMING UP FOR AIR BY MIRANDA KENNEALLY | Y'all, I've outgrown this series. I usually enjoy the "friends to lovers" trope, but it didn't work for me here. Maybe because the attempt at no strings attached seemed destined for inevitable heartbreak? I had so many issues with this entire storyline, and I was incredibly frustrated by the heroine. The motivation behind her actions felt so immature! I struggled with the fact that the heroine felt that being inexperienced was something to "fix" or be ashamed of and the book never addressed that idea. It pains me to say I was So Over It because that's not how I hoped to say goodbye to Hundred Oaks.

THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE BY STACEY LEE | After loving Lee's debut and second book, I was excited to see her tackle a new genre. The heroine in this book is an aromateur – someone with a heightened sense of smell who is able to use her talent to make elixirs that help others fall in love.  I loved the concept, and the tone of the book reminded me of a YA Sarah Addison Allen. It's a lite version of magical realism, but I could tell Lee put a lot of thought into the mythology behind this ability. It was a whimsical book with an endearing (though occasionally frustrating) heroine, but I just wasn't sold on the romance. I So Liked It overall.

THE KISS QUOTIENT BY HELEN HOANG | This book has been getting a ton of buzz in the blog world! This was a fun, unique romance – though I have some personal reservations about it. Stella Lane has Asperger's and decides to hire an escort to help her get more comfortable with dating and romance. The author described it as a gender-swapped Pretty Woman, which felt accurate. I was invested in the characters, thought the pacing was just right, and didn't mind the drama. But y'all, this was way too steamy for me. Like, woah. I'm giving it my So Enjoyed It rating because there were so many things that did work for me, but I definitely skimmed past A LOT.

SAVE THE DATE BY MORGAN MATSON | I was so excited to start reading this book, but I was side-eyeing it by the end. I loved the overall message and the focus on family. Both of those things were positives! But I struggled with the heroine's immaturity and naiveté, the disjointed pacing and plot, and the fact that it felt way longer than it needed to be. I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to accept that this many things would go wrong in one wedding weekend and that so many people in America were this invested in a newspaper comic strip. I got the sense this book went through a lot of revisions (but needed more), and I'm sad to say I was only So Okay With It

THE PERILOUS GARD BY ELIZABETH MARIE POPE | This book was published in 1974, but it popped up on my radar a few years ago. I finally got around to reading it, and it wasn't really what I expected. I think I fixated on the word "Tudor" in the summary and expected more of the historical fiction elements and less fantasy. A number of Goodreads reviews mention this as a childhood favorite, and I wonder if I would have liked it if I'd read it then. As it was, I just didn't click with it. I liked the main character, but I wasn't invested in the plot at all until the very end. For a pretty short book, it felt like such a slow read. I'd give it a So Okay With It, but I did consider a lower rating. 

THE READ-ALOUD FAMILY BY SARAH MACKENZIE | I've only listened to a few episodes of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, but I'd been eagerly anticipating this book. Part One explores the benefits of reading aloud, Part Two offers practical tips for creating book culture at home and connecting with kids through books, and Part Three features read aloud book recommendations for four age groups. I loved it all, but the chapter on asking compelling questions was worth the price of the book alone. This a great resource, and I can see myself referring to it frequently in the future. I So Loved It and would highly recommend it to other parents!

THE COTTAGES ON SILVER BEACH BY RAEANNE THAYNE* | I've really enjoyed the Haven Point series up to this point, but this one was a struggle to finish. I didn't like it at all, and I'm bummed that was the case. The dialogue felt very cheesy to me, and the romance just limped along. And I know it's because I wasn't invested in the couple! They were so one-dimensional, boring, and kept pushing each other away for no reason. The formulaic nature of the series was way more apparent in this one. And honestly, I was more interested in the missing sister-in-law than anything else and that wasn't even resolved by the end. As you can probably guess, I was So Over It.

THE PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE BY JEANNE BIRDSALL | I loved the first and second books in this series, so I was excited to pick up the third. I always feel like I'm escaping into the past when I settle in with the Penderwick sisters. Birdsall's writing makes these books feel like classics! I love watching the sisters grow up, and it was interesting to see how the sibling dynamics were affected by Rosalind's absence (she was on vacation with a friend). It was wonderful to get to know Jeffrey better, and I was so moved by his story. I'm so curious what will happen next with him. Hijinks and hilarity abound in this book, and it was the perfect read to welcome summer. I So Loved It

BORN A CRIME BY TREVOR NOAH | I didn't know anything about Trevor Noah, aside from the fact that he hosts a late-night talk show, prior to picking up this book. A friend recommended it to me, and I trusted her enough to give it a try. I was expecting it to be just another celebrity memoir. Well, bless my heart. It blew me away! Noah focuses on his childhood in South Africa, not his career or rise to fame, and I was immediately invested. He's a gifted storyteller and makes you laugh one minute and cry the next. He discusses heavy subjects – apartheid, domestic violence, poverty and more – with insight, wit, and honesty. I've thought of it often since finishing and So Loved It

SUNBURN BY LAURA LIPPMAN | I don't pick up a ton of mysteries, but I wanted to read this one for two reasons. The first is shallow: I love the cover. The other is not: it was a Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide pick! As soon as I started this book, I knew I couldn't put it down until I was done. I loved so much about it – the unreliable narrator, the slow burn pacing, and the question of who is being played. Each new revelation gave me a different view of a character! I wasn't entirely satisfied by the ending, but I think it would be great for a book club discussion. If you want a mystery that's more about the characters and less about a crime, this one is for you. I So Enjoyed It

THE DISH BY STELLA NEWMAN | I'm drawn to books where one of the characters is a chef, which explains why I randomly bought this one day. Laura and Adam have a meet cute and hit it off right away... until Laura realizes that she can't tell him about her job. Adam is the head chef at a restaurant she just secretly visited and negatively reviewed. There's more to the story, but I was immediately invested. Unfortunately, I lost patience with it by the end. I can't handle the lying and secrets that cause so much hurt and misunderstanding! Add that to the fact that there were way too many unnecessary secondary storylines, I was just So Okay With It in the end.

A TANGLED WEB BY L.M. MONTGOMERY | L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors, but this book was so different from anything I've read from her before! This story features two families who are feuding over who will inherit a prized heirloom jug. LMM introduces you to all the various members of the Dark and Penhallow families. Some of their stories are sad, others are hilarious, but all were intriguing. I was confused by the number of characters early on but enjoyed it more once I could follow the various squabbles, romances, and scandals. Overall, I So Liked It – but the last line was so unexpected and racist that it soured an otherwise enjoyable book. 

BEGIN, END, BEGIN EDITED BY DANIELLE BINKS | In the past, I haven't had the best of luck with short story anthologies. They're usually so hit or miss, but I figured this collection was my best chance at a win because I'm obsessed with Aussie authors! I'd only read books from three of the ten authors featured but was excited regardless. And you know what? I So Enjoyed It overall! Two or three were just okay, but the rest were engaging and enjoyable. None of them truly wowed me, but I don't really expect that from this type of book. My favorite was from Ellie Marney (gimme all the Wattscroft), but Gabrielle Tozer's was a close second.

* 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.

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