SLIDER

Series Speed Date: Round #10

Mar 22, 2019


This section will cover any key details about the series.

Released: March 2014; March 2015; March 2016
Publisher: Macmillan; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 355 pages; 402 pages; 484 pages

What do these covers say about this series?

Though I don't usually love faces/people on covers, this series is definitely an exception. I remember the first time I saw the cover for The Winner's Curse. I had major heart eyes! And after great reviews from other bloggers, I was dying to read it. I also remember my shock and horror when they announced they were changing the covers mid-series. I'm so glad they reversed that decision for the hardcover! While the covers imply that Kestrel goes to more balls than she actually does, I do love that you get the sense that she isn't your typical YA fantasy heroine. 

Based on the summary, what can you expect going into this series?

Before I read the summary for the first book, I'd already seen so much hype for The Winner's Curse. The cover had caught my eye, but it wasn't really on my radar. But once I finally read it, I fell in love. You can read my full review of the first book for more of an idea of what to expect going into this series, but I think the title of the first book tells you so much about Rutkoski explores in this series. Winning often comes at a steep price  – are you willing to pay it?

What are some highlights of the series?

A beautifully written story that will make you so emotional.
A smart, compassionate heroine who is a brilliant strategist. 
A bold, inspiring hero who fights to lead his people into a better future.
A moving bond between unlikely friends and surprising allies.
A fight between conquerors and conquered that will keep you guessing the entire time
A battle of wits between the smartest minds of this world, like an exciting game of chess.
A settings that's reminiscent of Greek or Roman culture, but with a fantasy angle.
A make-believe world with a historical vibe, making it easier to get immersed in the story. 
An exploration of choices and their consequences – and the price you pay in the process.
A romance that's slow burn, a bit star crossed, but destined to make you swoon.
A heart-wrenching story about fighting injustice and surviving against all odds.

How will you feel closing the last page?

Utterly and completely satisfied! After three books of emotional torture, I think you'll finish with a hopeful and happy smile on your face. The Winner's Curse really hooked me into the series and made me so invested in this couple and the overall conflict in the world. Even when things looked bleak, I couldn't put the book down. I picked up The Winner's Crime and had no idea that it would continue to decimate my already broken heart. You're probably wondering, "And why, exactly, would I sign up for this pain?" Because trust me when I say that in the end, it's all worth it. There's so much depth to this world and story, and I see it with each re-read. The first time I picked up these books, I was in it for the romance. And while that's still (mostly) true, I have more appreciation now for the victories and defeats, the fight for something better, and the belief that healing can be found.

Summing up this series in just three words?

Strategic. Dramatic. Romantic.

Is this series worth your time?

Absolutely! I'm writing this review after having read the first and second book three times and the last book twice. Clearly, I'm committed to this series. Kestrel is one of my favorite heroines because I can relate to the fact that she prefers strategy to physical activity. And this romance? OH MY GOODNESS. Hair braiding and board games have never been so romantic! The political intrigue and actions scenes are great, too, but the characters are the reason I keep coming back to this series again and again. Also, I listened to the audiobooks for my most recent re-read and loved narrator Justine Eyre. I've seen mixed reviews of her performance, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! I flew through all three at 2.5x speed and can't wait to listen again. If you haven't read these gems, I hope you will!

Quick Lit: December 2018

Mar 20, 2019


With this post, I'm finally caught up on reviewing books I read in 2018. I thought this day would never come! I read 22 books in December, and I'm reviewing 15 of them in today's post. At the end of the post, I briefly chat about the 7 other books that I decided not to fully review. As always, check out the Quick Lit linkup  that's hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy for more reviews and recommendations.


SEASON OF WONDER BY RAEANNE THAYNE – After falling in love with the Haven Point Series, I was bummed when I hated the previous book. I hoped this one would restore the feels, especially with the Christmas elements, but it was pretty bland overall. The romance had almost no development and felt so forced! The heroine's negative motivations (thanks to this review for teaching me the term) were such a drag to the plot and pacing. The overall story was fine, but the book gets a So Okay With It. And honestly, I'm hesitant to continue the series.

WINTER IN PARADISE BY ELIN HILDERBRAND – After reading my first Elin Hilderbrand in September, I couldn't resist her newest release. While the characters were almost all completely unlikeable, I still found myself so sucked into the drama! How did she do it?! I loved the St. John setting, and I'm so intrigued by the mystery. It's worth noting that the ending is total cliffhanger, but it just made me excited to read the second and see what happens next. I So Enjoyed It and really enjoy Hilderbrand's writing style. It just sucks you in and makes it hard to put the book down!

DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT BY LAINI TAYLOR – After re-reading the first book and the novella in November, I continued my re-read with the audio of this one. And man, I just never get tired of this story! It's been so long since I read this book that I'd forgotten a lot of the details, so it was lovely to rediscover my favorite scenes. Whether I was lamenting the star-crossed romance or tearing up over the horrors of war, all of my emotions were swept up in Taylor's lyrical writing. And once again, Khristine Hvam is an excellent narrator. I'm So Obsessed With It.


A CHRISTMAS PROMISE BY MARY BALOGH – I was trying to pick some holiday reads during the Christmas season, and I'd noticed that most were contemporary. Well, I wanted something historical, too, and grabbed this oldie from a new favorite author. And oh my goodness, it was a delight! The holiday scenes were fantastic, and I thought the relationship development was so believable. There are misunderstandings here, but it made sense to be since the hero and heroine are basically strangers to one another. I So Enjoyed It and wish Balogh had more holiday books! 

THE CHRISTMAS SISTERS BY SARAH MORGAN – This was a random find while browsing online, and I thought the summary sounded pretty good. Then Kelly read it first and begged me to prioritize it. I'm so glad she did because this was my favorite Christmas book of the season! The family dynamics were so well done, and I loved getting so many perspectives. The various romances were charming, and I thought the overall conflict and backstory were so intriguing. I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen! I So Loved It.

MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND BY CHRISTINA LAUREN – As soon as I started this book, I couldn't put it down! The friend group was great in this one, and I think that's something these authors do really well. The romance is a little problematic, so I can understand how it will bother some readers more than others. If you struggle with conflicts where one character is keeping something from the other, beware this book. But honestly, I thought it was fun overall and so compulsively readable! And I was pleased with the heroine's growth by the end. I So Enjoyed It.


CHRISTMAS IN SNOWFLAKE CANYON BY RAEANNE THAYNE – This is the sixth book in another Thayne series, Hope's Crossing, and the only one I've read. I liked the tie to the hero of the first Haven Point book, which is the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. After the meh-ness of Season of Wonder, I was happy that this restored some of my Thayne glow. It was nice to see the heroine's growth, and I loved how the hero eventually let his guard down. This one reminded me of the reasons I initially binged so many of her books, and I So Enjoyed It

THE FIERY CROSS BY DIANA GABALDON – My informal goal has been to read one Outlander book per year, but I failed in 2017. I was determined to do better in 2018, and I managed to squeeze in the fifth book right near the end of the year. I spent about a week with this beast, and it was one of my least favorites so far. It gets better by the end, but it took a while for me to get hooked. There's just so many details and random dramas! But I was always curious about where it would go next and did finish excited to start the next book. So, I'd say I So Enjoyed It overall.

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE BY J.K. ROWLING – I didn't read Harry Potter until I was out of college, so I don't have the nostalgia attached to this series that so many other readers do. But I kept thinking about re-reading it, so I decided to go for it. I started with the first, and it's the only one I've re-read before. I don't know why, but it took me forever to finish it! I never felt the urge to pick it up, and then lost my motivation to continue my re-read. It's a great book, and I'd even say I So Loved It. But something just wasn't clicking for me this time around...


SEVEN DAYS OF US BY FRANCESCA HORNAK – What I expected from this book was very different than what it actually delivered, and I think that played a role in my disappointment. The story of a British family quarantined together for one week during the Christmas holidays sounded like a recipe for drama. And it was, to an extent, but it mostly just felt dysfunctional. Everyone in the family is awful, and the ending was so depressing. I'm sorry, but I was here for holiday cheer – not drivel and disaster. Plus, So Many Coincidences! I'm So Over It.

THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE BY C.S. LEWIS – Fantasy wasn't my go-to genre growing up, and I didn't fall in love with it until I started blogging. This was the only Narnia book that I read as a kid. I know, I know. But with winter-y books on my brain, I couldn't resist re-reading this one. I downloaded the audio and dove in! I finished it in an afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was fun to listen to it as an adult, and it made me excited to continue the series this year. I So Enjoyed It, and I'm looking forward to reading it to my son someday.

THERE YOU'LL FIND ME BY JENNY B. JONES – I read this back in 2011 and had fond memories of it, so I randomly decided to borrow the audiobook from the library. While the narrator was lovely, I didn't like nearly as much when I revisited it, and I hate when that happens! There was just so much going on – celebrities, eating disorders, bullying, grief, falling in love, travel, faith, music – and it felt cluttered. It's a short book, too, so I kept wishing certain storylines had more depth and others had been cut out. I So Liked It, but I won't re-read it again. 


SOMEONE TO TRUST BY MARY BALOGH* – I was so excited to continue Balogh's Westcott series, and this one didn't disappoint! I loved what I knew of Elizabeth from previous books, and I couldn't wait for her to get a second chance at love. And with a younger man? OH MY! I didn't expect an age-gap romance, and I love that Balogh did something so unexpected. I wished they would have communicated more clearly, but I can understand why it took them to so long to admit to their feelings. It wasn't my favorite in the series, but I definitely So Enjoyed It.

THE GOWN BY JENNIFER ROBSON* – I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes I can’t help myself. I was expecting a book about Elizabeth's royal wedding but was surprised that it truly does focus on the gown. From the artistry that went into creating it to the difficulty of keeping the design a secret, it was a tribute to the women working behind the scenes who often go unrecognized. I could have done without the contemporary storyline and found the characters a bit flat, but I loved learning about the dressmaking process. I So Enjoyed It.

ONE DAY IN DECEMBER BY JOSIE SILVER – Blame it on bookstagram and Reese's book club! I couldn't resist the hype and bought this one because it fit in perfectly with my holiday reading. The concept – two people, one magical moment before they part ways, and the ten years that follow – sounded great. And while I loved the setting and enjoyed Silver's writing, I wasn't invested in the romance and didn't like the hero at all. But I still had a grin on my face by the end... so, yes, I'm one big contradiction. Since I couldn't put it down, I'll give it a So Liked It


As I mentioned, I read 7 other books in December that aren't included above. As with a few other past months, there were a handful of books that I just wanted to recap rather than review. In my holiday book binge, I read Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery and Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand. I'd give both a So Okay With It rating. Mallery's book felt very shallow, and there just wasn't anything memorable about it for me. Hilderbrand's book was a little better, in comparison, but I like my holiday reads a little happier / less dramatic. And when I was done, I just didn't feel any desire to continue the series.

I binged two historical romance series in December, too. The first was the Bevelstoke series by Julia Quinn. I So Liked It – they all had witty banter, a dose of drama, and definite swooning. There were things that annoyed me about each, and they all get a little too silly for me. But they were fun overall! The other series was the Scandal & Scoundrels series by Sarah MacLean, and I was So Okay With It. I technically read the last book in January, but I'm including it here. I liked the inspiration behind the series – modern celebrity gossip with a pre-Victorian twist – but wasn't crazy about the execution. They all felt too long and repetitive. Not terrible, but not MacLean's best.

* 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?

So Obsessed With: Mini Edition #6

Mar 18, 2019

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 eight things I'm so obsessed with lately:



I bought the cutest bookmark from Anthropologie last year – it has a big tassel + a cute saying printed on it. And then, I lost it. I was so mad, partly because it was $15. BAH! But I was excited to find these bookmarks at Target. The quality isn't a nice, but it's half the price and you get three total. So, I'm quite pleased!

While I will splurge on various skincare items, I refuse to buy expensive cleanser. It just gets washed down the drain and barely spends any time on your skin! This is a gentle, milky cleanser that works well with my dry skin. It reminds me of CeraVe cleanser, but I like it more. Perhaps because it's French and that feels fancier? Maaaybe. 

After Kelly and I booked our trip to England, I knew that I needed to save up for lots of book shopping once we're there. And then I promptly bought like five things at Target... Y'all, I've got a problem! These tees were on clearance for $7 and totally worth it! They're a great length, and I like that the colors look a little worn in.

Okay, this is the only item in my post that I don't actually own. Will you forgive me? My obsessions are always things that I'm currently using, but I had to include this beauty. It's a journal to document your child's history – like a baby book that lasts until your child is 18. I love the meaningful prompts and beautiful design. It's on my wishlist!

I read a review copy of this in January and can't stop raving about it! Written as an oral history of a fictional seventies band, there are so many reasons it shouldn't have worked. And yet, it was phenomenal! I can't wait for the TV mini series. In the meantime, I've got the audio version (with a full cast!) for re-reading.

I've been researching skincare products to try and was excited to see that Sephora now carries The Ordinary online. I bought this starter kit and loving it so far! If it continue to be a success with my skin, I'll definitely be visiting their London store when Kelly and I are there to splurge on more stuff. If you've tried this brand, any recs?

This isn't the first time I've talked about these sunglasses, so forgive me. I bought the light pink pair in 2017 after seeing them on Instagram. They're my absolute favorite (minus the price), and I've been wanting to get the black pair. With a recent 50% off sale, I finally treated myself! When you love something, might as well buy every color...

Madewell is my favorite place to buy jeans, especially when Taller is a size option. Finding jeans  that are long enough is a struggle! Most of Madewell's sales exclude denim, but I got these for 15% in a recent sale. I love the button fly and raw hem! And since I don't own another ankle-length pair, I could even pretend I "needed" them. 

What are you so obsessed with lately?

'I am not a muse. I am the somebody.'

Mar 15, 2019


Taylor Jenkins Reid became one of my new favorite authors after I read Forever, Interrupted in 2014. Over the next few years, my love for her writing deepened with After I Do, Maybe in Another Life, and One True Loves. But when I read the summary for Daisy Jones & The Six, I was so nervous! Written as an oral history of a fictional band from the seventies that unexpectedly broke up at the height of their fame, there are so many reasons it shouldn't have worked. And yet, it did. Even better, I already know this will be on my Top Ten Books of 2019! 

It did take a little bit of time to adjust to the format. Once I did, I was hooked! Since lots of people are interviewed, you don't really get in the flow of the story until you become more familiar with the various characters. But it made so much sense for the story to be told this way, and it made me love it all the more. One thing I’ve loved about Reid since I first read her books is her willingness to experiment with the way her stories are told. From nonlinear timelines to multiple versions of one life, she always surprises me – and it’s true for this book, too.

Reid provides vivid details about the setting and time period, which was particularly impressive given the format. Characters don't communicate with the same level of detail in a conversation as an author could in a traditional third-person narrative. But I still felt as though I could picture the time period! In fact, I kept forgetting this band wasn't real. I desperately wish Aurora was a real album that I could listen to, and I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the Reese Witherspoon-produced TV mini series adaptation. This book was meant to be read and seen!

In many ways, I felt that the interview-style format + the fact that the characters were looking back on that time added a necessary sense of distance from the events taking place. The "sex, drugs, and rock & roll" stereotype is in full force here. Looking at substance abuse and addiction in real time would have been a very different story. I had more grace for the characters' missteps because I knew they were years past it. That wasn't a guarantee they'd changed – just that I could read with the hope they did. (And you do find out "Where Are They Now?" in the end.)

I appreciated the way the book looked at alcohol and drugs. It showed how glamorized it was at the time while contrasting that with the dark reality of addiction. The characters who struggle with it are very honest about what it cost themselves – and the people in their lives. I ached to see them hit rock bottom because it's devastating to watch people destroy themselves. But there's a hope for recovery here, too. There is always a sense that the characters can change their story and their ending isn't a given. And I loved that so much.

The format won't work for every reader. It can sometimes make you feel removed from the story, and it is odd to feel like you ought to have heard of this band before. But I'm so happy that I clicked with it! And I can't begin to tell you how many quotes I underlined. It should be a given that I adored Reid's writing based on all I've said about how she succeeded with a risky format, but let me add another layer to my love. While I was reading, I had to keep taking photos of pages because I couldn't stop long enough to write down my favorite quotes. Here's one:
Love is forgiveness and patience and faith and every once in a while, it’s a gut punch. That’s why it’s a dangerous thing, when you go loving the wrong person. When you love somebody who doesn’t deserve it. You have to be with someone that deserves your faith and you have to be deserving of someone else’s. It’s sacred.
And I haven't even begun to talk about the characters! They were all so well developed and varied. I loved how what they said (and what others said about them) communicated so much about who they were and what they valued. And my favorite thing of all was the numerous women supporting one another. Whether it's a best friend rescuing someone from a bad situation or a wife offering honesty and hope someone she'd have every reason to hate, the women in this book have each others' backs. Reid sidesteps all the stereotypes you'd expect.

As I was reading, I kept imagining a seventies version of The Civil Wars. I was obsessed with them from their first single on and still get sad when I think about the fact they broke up. Williams and White had an intimacy and presence on stage, and the way people talked about the band in the book was similar. Reid's story felt like a plausible answer to the question, "What happened?" And, along those lines, I absolutely loved that there were tropes in this story that didn't play out as I'd expected. And I rejoiced when I saw that "Poison & Wine" by The Civil Wars was the first song on Reid's Spotify playlist inspired by the book. Clearly, it wasn't all in my head!

The themes of the book were great and added a lot of nuance to what easily could have been a more shallow story. There's so much you could unpack here: the highs and lows of creating art, the idea of soul mates, what you'd sacrifice for your dreams, being a woman in a man's world, what it means to have faith in someone, the destructive nature of addiction, the longing to be loved and valued, how women can empower other women, and more. This would make a great book club selection, as long as your group isn't sensitive to drug/alcohol content or language.

I'm sure it's obvious that I'm so obsessed with this book. I pre-ordered the audiobook because it's narrated by a full cast, which will be so perfect for this narrative. And I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Goldsboro Books edition that I treated myself to for my birthday. This beauty will definitely be displayed on my bookshelves. I'm a little sorry that I'm adding to the hype for this book solely because I know it lies to sky-high expectations. But I can't contain my love for it! If you've read this one, let's discuss.
Release Date: March 5, 2019 | Publisher: Random House; Ballantine
Pages: 368 pages | Source & Format: Publisher/ARC & 

* 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.

Quick Lit: November 2018

Mar 13, 2019


I know, I know. It's sad that I'm just now reviewing books from November 2018, but let's hope that I'll never get this far behind again. A girl can dream! I read 30 books in November, and I've written mini reviews for 13 of them in today's post. At the end of the post, I briefly mention the other 17 books. As always, check out the Quick Lit linkup that's hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy for more reviews and recommendations.


THE SCORPIO RACES BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER – I've loved The Scorpio Races ever since I first read it in 2012. "It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die." I had that opening line rattling around in my head and decided to re-read this to start off November. I love Sean and Puck so much, and Thisby feels like a real place. I'm sad that I can't visit this island of myth and mystery! The atmospheric setting + the gripping horse race + the blossoming romance + the quotable writing all add up to an excellent read, and I'm So Obsessed With It.

STRANGE THE DREAMER BY LAINI TAYLOR – I have no idea why I didn't read this book the minute it came out! Taylor's writing is lyrical, and the world is so creative. It gets off to a slow start off, but I couldn't put it down by the end. One of the things I love most is how deeply invested I was in the characters! They come alive with Taylor's words, and I was so swept up in their dreams and nightmares. I enjoyed the exploration of heroes vs. monsters and how that paralleled themes from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I am, of course, So Obsessed With It.

MUSE OF NIGHTMARES BY LAINI TAYLOR – After the dramatic end of Strange the Dreamer, I couldn't wait to pick up the sequel! I love that these books are a duology. The richness of the world deserved more than one book, but the story stayed tightly plotted and paced because it didn't span three. Taylor surprised me at multiple points in this story, and I loved the new characters. It expanded the world even further and added so much depth to the themes. But my favorite part was the small nod to her DOSAB series. ALL THE FEELS. I'm So Obsessed With It.


THE DINNER LIST BY REBECCA SERLE – I saw this one all over bookstagram for a while and couldn't resist the pull of Audrey Hepburn. "If you could have dinner with five people, dead or alive, who would they be?" You might know your answer, but what if it actually happened? That's the  intriguing premise of this book, and I wish I'd enjoyed the execution of it more. The heroine's list was so uninspired! I liked the book at first, but I got tired of it the longer it went on. It's more drama than comedy, and I wasn't invested enough in the characters to care. I'm So Okay With It.

WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS BY ROWAN COLEMAN – This was a random Goodwill find, and I liked the summary enough to give it a try. There was a lot going on here – a soldier with PTSD, a young woman with cystic fibrosis, a nurse writing last letters for her patients, and neighbors unexpectedly drawn to one another – and I've found that I can only remember bits and pieces of it. I know the story played out pretty predictably, but I did like it was sweet without getting too sappy. I So Liked It while reading, but it wasn't the most memorable book for me.

THE CRUELEST MONTH BY LOUISE PENNY – The more I read in the Inspector Gamache series, the less I like it... And I don't think it's supposed to work that way? I keep hoping that I'll love these as much as bookstagram does, but I haven't gotten there yet. I love Gamache and his family, but the town of Three Pines is just so weird! And while the mysteries are usually intriguing, this one was my least favorite of the ones I've read so far. I'd say I tepidly So Liked It because of the Gamache elements, but I will give up on this series soon if I don't get more invested.


GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT BY MONICA HESSE – I have read a lot of WWII fiction, and this one just didn't stand out for me. The heroine was so unlikeable, and I couldn't understand her motivation at all. She changes by the end, but why? I can appreciate the desire to tell "a story of small betrayals in the middle of a great war," as the author writes in her note at the end, but the way it was done just didn't work for me. The ending got confusing, too, and I felt like it was trying too hard to be surprising. But it was fast paced and readable, so I'm So Okay With It.

FANGIRL BY RAINBOW ROWELL – I bought this in an Audible sale a while ago and decided to give it a listen in November. When it came out in 2013, I loved that it was set in college. That felt so different from most of what I'd read in YA! Alas, I still feel like that setting is so underrepresented. This was a fun listen, though I don't know if I love it as much as I once did. I still don't like the fan fiction excerpts, though I do love that Cath writes it. She isn't always my favorite, but I still swooned over Levi. The scene where she reads aloud to him? HELLO. I So Loved It

EVIDENCE OF THE AFFAIR BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID – Since this novella was free for Kindle, I decided to give it a try! I hoped that it would reignite my TJR love, but I wasn't crazy about it. Written as a series of letters between a man and woman who discover that their spouses are having an affair with each other, it was a quick and interesting read. But I wasn't invested in the characters at all! Their friendship progresses quickly, and I found it a little hard to believe. Maybe due to the format? I didn't enjoy where the story went either, so I'm just So Okay With It


ALL FALL DOWN AND ALL ACES BY ELLIE MARNEY – Though the first book in this series didn't quite live up to my expectations, these two won me over! I loved that the second book made me love a character I'd previously hated, and the romance just worked so well for me. The mystery was better, too, and had more tension. So I was excited to go right into the third, and it didn't disappoint. I think it was my favorite of the three because the couple was just too adorable! I loved the sneaky moments and the swoony ones. Both books get a So Enjoyed It from me!

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE BY LAINI TAYLOR – I decided to re-read this via  audio because Strange the Dreamer made me long for more of Laini's writing. I love how re-reading can make me fall more in love with a book, and that's what happens when I re-read this series. The characters, the world, the story, the creativity – it all just works so perfectly. It makes me emotional every time, too, even though I know what's coming. And I've probably said it before, but narrator Khristine Hvam brings this story to life in the best way. I'm So Obsessed With It.

NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPETS BY LAINI TAYLOR – When this novella came out in hardcover, I bought it right away. I loved the idea of an illustrated version! Though I listened to the first book on audio, I re-read this physical book so that I could finally explore the art. And while the book itself is wonderful, the illustrations aren't my favorite. They're just so odd! I know that fits the book and world, but the style just isn't to my taste. But that's okay! Overall, I So Loved It and highly recommend reading this delightful backstory for two precious characters.


As you can probably see, I haven't reviewed all 30 books in this post. I thought about splitting this post into parts, but the other 17 books were all historical romances. And honestly, they have all started to blend together a little bit in my mind. So, I decided I'd just do a brief recap of those books instead because it was easier: 

I read five books by Tessa Dare: The Governess Game and then the Castles Ever After series. All five books hovered between So Liked It and So Enjoyed It. They've got Dare's distinctive sense of humor and get too cheesy for me at times, but they were fun. I don't think I'd re-read them, but I can see why Dare is a favorite for so many.

On Kelly's recommendation, I picked up The Hathaways series by Lisa Kleypas and So Loved It overall. All five were so enjoyable, though I liked last best and the fourth the least. I think Kleypas excels with sibling dynamics and that's what I'll remember most about this series. Each book makes you love this family more!

When I finished that one, Kelly suggested trying Sarah MacLean's Love by Numbers series. Each book felt about 100 pages too long, but I was rooting for the heroines as they defied convention. I'd give the series a So Liked It. Then, I flew through MacLean's Rules of Scoundrels series and So Enjoyed It. The first two were closer to Loved and the last two were Liked, so Enjoyed is where it averages out. Once again, they all felt a little long but I loved the the camaraderie between the four owners of the gaming hall. That setting was so memorable, too.

What have you been reading lately?

February 2019: Recap + On My Shelves

Mar 11, 2019


February always flies by, and this one was no exception. It was filled with birthday celebrations, vacations, and the best kind of books: re-reads. I can't believe we're already three months in to the year, but it's been wonderful so far!


1. My 30th Birthday – I celebrated my birthday by going out to dinner with my husband and then spending a hour or so browsing Barnes & Noble. And then, a few days later, I got together with my family for my favorite pizza and lots of great gifts. I didn't take photos at either event, so I used the one that I shared for my Meet the Bookstagrammer post on my birthday. I'm so excited for this new decade, and hope it's the best one yet.

2. Booking Another London Trip – Want to know the best thing about turning 30? My gift from Nick and my parents: a trip to England with Kelly! Nick dangled the possibility in front of us back in November, but we just didn't know if we'd be able to make the timing work. Well, we figured it out and finally booked everything in February. And Kelly and I don't even have to wait long because we leave at the end of March. I'm counting down the days!

3. Mountain Vacation – My family and I headed to the mountains during the long weekend in February, and it was just what I needed. I did a lot of reading and relaxing, plus a little bit of shopping in the cute town that's not too far away. The weather was nice, and the view from the back porch is the best! It's my favorite reading spot. I won't lie – I didn't even want to come home! I'm hoping we can go back again soon, especially as the weather warms up.

4. #FebruaREREAD – A few months ago, I told Kelly, “I wish I could ignore my TBR for a month and just re-read old favorites.” “Why can’t you?” she immediately replied. And so, we decided to spend all of February re-reading our favorite books! It was one of the best things I've ever done and just what my reading life needed. I revisited 24 old favorites and loved every second of it. We're even talking about doing it again later this year...


Read 24 Books | Re-Read Favorites:
The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“We're all blessed and we're all blighted, Chief Inspector,” said Finney.
“Everyday each of us does our sums. The question is, what do we count?”
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

“Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best.”
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

 “And if the gods were to give me a choice between living a better life, having not met them,
or a wretched life with the slightest chance of crossing their path,
then I’d pick the wretched life over and over again.”
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

“Because today, I think I’m leaning on the side of wonder.”
Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

 “When I read a book, I put in all the imagination I can,
so that it is almost like writing the book as well as reading it - or rather, it is like living it.
It makes reading so much more exciting, but I don't suppose many people try to do it.”
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

 “If we could capture feelings like we capture pictures, none of us would ever leave our rooms.
It would be so tempting to inhabit the good moments over and over again.
But I don’t want to be the kind of person who lives backwardly,
who memorializes moments before she’s finished living in them.”
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

  “Maybe what matters is not so much the path as who walks beside you.”
Under a Painted Sky by Emery Lord

“The greatest tales, well told, awaken the fears and longings of the listeners.
Each man hears a different story. Each is touched by it according to his inner self.
The words go to the ear, but the true message travels straight to the spirit.”
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

“Sometimes, when you catch someone unaware at just the right time
and in just the right light, you can catch sight of what they will be.”
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

“Don't ever settle for a man who won't labor for love.”
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

 “The things we remember are what we hold on to.
And what we hold on to becomes the story of our lives.”
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy;
but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

 “We are tied to each other. We can hate and love, miss and loathe each other all within the same breath.
We can never want to see each other again while never wanting to let go.”
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“You don't need to be gifted with a blade. You are your own best weapon.”
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

“We were never forever, (-----) and I. Nothing is in this life. But if you love someone,
and are loved by someone, you might find forever after. Whatever and wherever that is.”   
My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan

February was a slow blogging month, though certainly not the slowest I've ever had. My first post of the month was also my favorite: 30 Things I Learned by 30. It was fun some both silly and serious reflections on lessons from my life. And then, I backtracked to post my January 2019 recap. I continued my quest to catch up on reviews and posted by October 2018 Quick Lit. And finally, I talked about re-reading the Throne of Glass series with non-spoilery mini reviews of every book. Will I finally catch on all reviews in March? Only time will tell...


I posted on Instagram more consistently in February than I usually do, so I had a hard time choosing  my favorite photo! But I think I've got to go with this one, which I took to celebrate the release + my review of The Huntress by Kate Quinn. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted, and I was so excited when it actually worked! I can't tell you how many times what I plan to do doesn't actually work out.  • @soobsessedblog



Favorite Album #1: thank u, next by Ariana Grande
I've never listened to Ariana beyond what's on the radio, but her new singles had me hooked.
And the album is even better! I think NASA is my favorite song right now, but it changes daily.


Favorite Album #2: Six the Musical by Various
I don't really like musicals very much, so this isn't exactly my kind of album. Though it is clever!
Kelly and I are seeing this show in London, so I've been familiarizing myself with the lyrics.


Peppermint (2018) starring Jennifer Garner – This movie was absolutely ridiculous, but I wanted to see it because I love Jennifer Garner. It was fun to see her in a role reminiscent of her Alias days, since that's when I first became obsessed with her! While I can't say that I'd really recommend it, it was a fun one-night Redbox rental.


Sense and Sensibility (1995) starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman – After re-reading Sense and Sensibility, I re-watched this movie. I love this cast, even thought some of their ages are so wrong for the roles. But the scrip is excellent and true to the spirit of the book, so this will always be a favorite.


How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) starring Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera – Nick wanted to see this movie for his birthday, so we made it a date night. I don't love the previous two the way he does, but we both agreed this was our least favorite. It was SO SLOW! And sorry, I don't care about dragons finding love.


New Books: Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers, Enchanteé by Gita Trelease, King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, The Huntress by Kate Quinn, His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers, and  99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

eBay: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Pretty Face and Making Up by Lucy Parker

2nd and Charles: Come Away with Me by Karma Brown, The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Dodie Smith, The English Wife by Lauren Willig, Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland, The Serpent and the Pearl and The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn


Goodwill: One Day in December by Josie Silver, The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen, Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally, Goodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, The Garden of Small Beginnings by Wendy Wax, Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, and The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

Gifted: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

For Review: One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase


NetGalley: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang and Husband Material by Emily Belden


Audible: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Act Like It by Lucy Parker and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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