10 from the Past 10

May 29, 2019

I've always loved participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, but hadn't checked the topics in a while. When I saw a few posts with yesterday's prompt, I had to join in – even though I'm a day late. This week's prompt is "Favorite Books Released in the Last Ten Years," and I had so much fun narrowing it down. It's supposed to be a list of 10 books, but you're getting two bonus picks (one from 2008 and one from 2019) because I couldn't stop myself. I chose books based on their publication year, not the year I read it, and didn't repeat authors. It's not quite my ten favorite books from the past ten years, but it's pretty close. The book title will take you to my review!

Read in 2018 | I'm 98% sure that I first read this book in college (almost ten years ago), but it was before Goodreads so I don't remember the year. Regardless, I just re-read it last year and am obsessed! This whole trilogy is amazing, but this one is my personal favorite. I just love Sid and India + this storyline so much!

Read in 2011 | Ahhh, The Hunger Games. I created my blog at the very end of 2011, and I still remember putting this whole series on my "Best of" list. And then re-reading all three a few months later! This one is favorite book and movie of the trilogy, but they're all epic. Don't get me started on my love for this series because I'll totally spiral. 

Read in 2012 | Here's the deal: every single Melina Marchetta book could make this list. I can't even choose my favorite from her, so I went with this one because it was published in a year that worked best for my list. I just recently re-read this book, and it's just as emotional and brilliant as I remember. I love these characters so much!

Read in 2012 | This book almost didn't make the cut because #competition, but Kelly talked some sense into me. I didn't read a ton of fantasy before I started blogging, and now it's one of my favorite genres. This book should have been too weird for me, but Taylor's lyrical writing won me over and then the story emotionally wrecked me. 

Read in 2013 | Of all the books in the series, this is probably my least favorite. But I needed to fit Sarah on my list somehow, and this is the year she worked best. Plus, it is the beginning of a series that I'm legit so obsessed with, so it still counts overall. (Heir of Fire, released in 2014, is my personal favorite in the series.)

Read in 2017 | At the time I was reading it, I wouldn't have guessed that I'd pick it for this kind of list. But the more I read from the series, the more invested I became. And I wanted at least one mystery represented here! The most recent release, Lethal White, is the best of the four – but this book is a close second favorite. 

Read in 2014 | I've loved all of Reid's books, with one exception, but this is easily my favorite. I connect so deeply to the story, the characters, and the message at its heart. It's one of those books that I frequently crosses my mind, and I just can't even explain why I love it as much as I do. I love when I feel so personally connected to a book!

Read in 2015 | I never expected this little gem of a book to come to mean as much to me as it does. I've read it numerous times, and it never gets old. It inspired me to make it a habit to find the good in every day, and I feel like that's changed me as a person. I have pushed this book on so many people,  including a few reluctant readers. 

Read in 2016 | If you've been reading my blog for a bit, you probably know McFarlane had to make an appearance on this list. I can't tell you how many British contemporaries I've read in the hopes I'll "find another Mhairi." But alas, no one can compare! She's in a league all her own, and this has been my favorite release so far.

Read in 2018 | I dragged my feet on reading this because I just don't care about sports, especially hockey. But I'm so glad that I'd loved Backman's previous books and had that to motivate me because this is his best yet. I couldn't put it down and can't recommend it enough! It tackles serious topics, but it does so with such sensitivity and insight.

Read in 2018 | This book didn't even sound good to me when I read the summary, but I am so glad I ignored my instincts and took a chance on it anyway. I adored everything about this book, and I could see this being the kind of timeless read that remains beloved through the decades. Time will tell, but I know it's true for me personally.

Read in 2019 | Do you ever love a book so much that you can't even bring yourself to review it or push it on other readers? That's where I'm at with this one. I want everyone to read it, but I also want to keep it solely for myself. I know there's seven months left in the year, but I fully expect this to be at the very top of my 2019 favorites list.

What books from the past 10 years would make your list?

Book of the Month on the Brain

May 23, 2019

Yesterday, I chatted about my recent obsession with Book of the Month. I'd planned to end the post with reviews of four BOTM books that I read in April, but it ended being so long that I figured this would be better separated out. And then since I had extra writing space... I got a little carried away while talking about these books. Oops? Anyway, let's chat about what I read! The first three books were thrifting finds, and the last one was my April selection.

GOODBYE, PARIS BY ANSTEY HARRIS – This one immediately appealed to me because the summary compared it to a book and an author that I love. It was music to my ears! When I saw that Laura loved it, too, I was sold. I'm not telling you the comps, though it's in the first sentence of the Goodreads summary, because I think they affected my expectations this book. I struggled initially because it wasn't what I'd wanted it to be based on the description. It was often very hard for me to sympathize with Grace. As a reader, the flaws in her relationship seem glaringly obvious. And she is just so blind to them! There were moments in the moment when I wanted to shake her, and I probably would have DNF'd the book if not for the setting and the musical aspects. I found those parts so wonderful, however, that I kept going. And the longer I read, the more invested I became in Grace's journey. I fell for the surly teenager who works for her, and the endlessly patient elderly customer who finds her at her lowest moment. I was rooting for her to succeed, to get her life on track, and to escape a toxic relationship. She's a flawed, frustrating heroine, and my investment in her story snuck up on me. I So Enjoyed It in the end!

THE WIFE BETWEEN US BY GREER HENDRICKS & SARAH PEKKANEN – I recently reviewed An Anonymous Girl, this duo's second book, and mentioned that I liked this one just a bit more. So, let me tell you why! First, I have a confession: I accidentally spoiled myself for one of the big twists of this book before I even started it. But it honestly didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story at all. I missed out on that awesome "WHAT?!" feeling, but I did get to see the clues laid out. That was fun in a different way! As with An Anonymous Girl, I do think this story is bit on the slower side. I didn't mind at all because I love the building tension as the plot unraveled. Some parts of the story were a little predictable, but there were others I didn't see coming. I listened to the audio, narrated by Julia Whelan, and loved that format. I was inventing tasks and errands so that I could keep listening! Additionally, I was more invested in the heroine and the concept of this one. I'm giving it the same rating – So Enjoyed It – because I just can't quite bump it up to Loved. But Goodreads reviewers seem divided on which of the two books they like best, so don't take my word for it if you like this genre. I'll definitely pick up whatever they write next!

THE PROPOSAL BY JASMINE GUILLORY – I read Guillory's debut back in 2017, which I liked but didn't leave my rushing to read this companion book. When it was chosen for Reese Witherspoon's book club, I started to pay more attention. And when I spotted it at a thrift store for $3, I was sold. And y'all, I'm so glad that I gave Guillory another chance to win me over. This story was so much fun! The hero was first introduced in The Wedding Date as a secondary character, and the original couple does have a cameo in this book. I love when books tie together that way! You don't have to read the first, but I think it's more fun if you do. The beginning was immediately engaging, I loved the female friendship aspect, and the diversity was such a nice bonus. It was nice to see the hero and heroine become friends and then build to something more. Their relationship is the focus, but I liked the secondary storylines, too. They're both dealing with some emotional baggage – the heroine from a previous relationship and the hero from the loss of his father. That added some nice depth to the book for me. It's not the strongest writing, but everything else came together just right for me. I So Enjoyed It. It's got some flaws, but I just couldn't put it down.

BEYOND THE POINT BY CLAIRE GIBSON – And finally, my book choice for April's box! This is the story of three women who attend West Point, and it follows them from a few months prior to college into their lives post-graduation. I'm always drawn to stories of female friendship, and this one didn't disappoint. I loved how life took each woman on a different path, but all three showed up for one another when it mattered. The book depicted friendships, including their ebbs and flows, in such a realistic way. It was my favorite thing about it! The faith element was a nice surprise, and I enjoyed what I learned about life for women in the military. However, I did struggle with some aspects of the story. It covers almost seven years, and yet it often felt like nothing was happening. The story would shift in time right the story got interesting, and then significant events + their outcomes were only referenced in hindsight. It was frustrating! I So Enjoyed It overall, but it could have wowed me with a shorter timeline, more focused conflict, and better editing. Also, I actually listened to this on audio from the library. I liked that it had three narrators, but the format probably made some of the lulls in the story more noticeable.

What have you been reading lately?

So Obsessed With: Book of the Month

May 22, 2019

Have you heard about Book of the Month? It's a book subscription service, and I finally caved and signed up in April. But... it wasn't my first time using it! So, I thought I'd write a little bit about what it is, why I previously canceled it, and why I signed back up. And at the bottom, I'm reviewing four recent BOTM reads!

But first, in case you've never heard of it, here's how it works. Each month, a team of BOTM judges select five of their favorite new releases. You pay $14.99 per month for one credit, and you use that credit on the book of your choice. Shipping is always free, and you can add up to two additional books to your box for $9.99 each. If you don't like that month's selections, just skip the month. You'll keep your credit and can use it for add-ons to future boxes. The books are from a wide variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. Here's their FAQ page for more info.

At the beginning of the month, you can sign in to see the five choices. You'll see the cover, title, genre, a short description, and whether or not it's a repeat BOTM author. From there, you can click on a book to learn more.

Here's an example using one of April's selections, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim. You can see the same general information about it, and I personally love the "Good to know" section. Some other icons you might see include: 400+ pages, Emotional, Literary, Quirky, Non-linear timeline, etc. Basically, this info can help you decide if a book is right for you! Below this section, the judge who selected the book will write about why they chose it. This review can be a deciding factor, as can noting the judge who chose it. In the same way that I prioritize recommendations from some readers over others, I can learn whose taste in books most closely aligns with mine.

There's also an extensive list of books that you can add on to your book. You can choose past month's selections, additional books from that specific month, or "extra" books that BOTM has made available. You can sort these selections by months, genre, what's trending, members' most loved, and so on. It's pretty cool, and I've definitely taken advantage of the option to add-on books.

But why did I cancel in the first place? Well, I tried BOTM back in 2016, right after my son was born. They had a three-month special promotion for Mother's Day, so I signed up. It wasn't the best timing for a book subscription service. With a newborn, I was reading more sporadically and gravitating towards stories and authors that were familiar to me. BOTM often features books that weren't previously on my radar, and I struggled over what to pick. There's more information about each book on the website now, which I appreciate.

Back then, I wasn't impressed with the quality of the books I'd received. This is the biggest thing that's changed since 2016! The books are now a consistent size and almost always have the same branding (the BOTM logo at the top of the spine), which wasn't the case when I tried it. But one thing worth noting – if there's something special about the regular edition of a book (matte lamination, deckle edge pages, spot gloss, etc.), you don't find that on the BOTM edition. I assume i's to keep the books affordable and easy to mass produce. I totally get it, but that is the reason I won't buy the BOTM edition for certain books. I want those extra details!

Now, if you scroll back up the main image for my post (or this photo on my Instagram), you'll notice a pretty big stack of BOTM editions that I own. None of those are from my 2016 membership – they're all from thrifting! The more my stack grew, the more I wanted to sign back up for BOTM. I could tell the selection of books had improved. It seemed like a better blend of new-to-me and things I already wanted to read. Plus, let's be real, I was experiencing some FOMO. There are a lot of bookstagrammers with this subscription, and I was constantly seeing their boxes in my feed! When Kelly mentioned that she was interested in joining, too, I couldn't resist any longer.

Here's what I chose for my April box:

1. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – A book that I read and adored earlier this year! I already own two UK editions. But I had to have this one, too. Why stop at two when you could have a whole collection? 

2. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim – A courtroom drama that's been alllll over bookstagram recently. Sometimes I just can't resist the hype! I just finished this one a few days ago and absolutely loved it. Review coming soon!

3. Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson – An adult contemporary story about West Point, the military, and three female friends. I've read this one already and really enjoyed it! I'll post my review tomorrow.

I planned to end with reviews of four BOTM books that I recently read... but this post is already too long. So, I'll share those reviews tomorrow instead. If you're a member, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments. And I'm happy to answer any questions, if you've got them. There was so much more I could have said!

Want try Book of the Month and get a free book?
Just use my referral link to sign up!
(I'll get a free book, too. So thank you, if you do.)

Quick Lit: April 2019

May 15, 2019

I read 26 books in April, and I'm reviewing 17 of them in today's post. Of those not included, four books will be reviewed in an upcoming post about Book of the Month, four will be reviewed in my UK recap (next week, I hope!), and one is getting a full-length reviewed because I loved it too much to contain myself. My reviews today are a little longer than my typical Quick Lit posts, and I'm embarrassed to admit that's because I have way more to say when a book is fresher in my memory. As if I needed another reason I should never get six months behind on reviews again! As always, check out the linkup hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy for more reviews and recommendations.

FIELD NOTES ON LOVE BY JENNIFER E. SMITH – When I got home from my trip to England, I was craving something short and light that I could finish quickly. This book is about two teens traveling across the country together by train, which seemed fitting after a vacation with so many train rides. The heroine is an aspiring filmmaker and uses the journey to interview other passengers about love. If that had been the focus of the book, I probably would have loved it. Or even if there had been more of a focus on the places they stop along the way. But instead, it's mostly just an instalove relationship that got too cheesy for me. Give me more development, please! I was never invested in the couple, so I didn't really believe the emotion of the story. There's a lot of backstory for both characters, but it felt mostly glossed over. I'm So Okay With It because it wasn't bad – if only I'd connected to it!

WHEN WE LEFT CUBA BY CHANEL CLEETON* – After loving Next Year in Havana, I couldn’t wait for this book! I enjoyed that the story took place almost entirely in the past because I typically prefer that over dual timeline. Plus, Beatriz was a dynamic character to follow! Although knowing history means you know how one aspect of her story will turn out, I still felt drawn into her fight to get revenge and reclaim her home. Plus, I learned so much about Cuban history — and how the US played a role (or didn’t) in some aspects of it. But ugh... this romance. I can’t say what didn’t work without spoiling it, but it’s basically trope I strongly dislike + me asking myself repeatedly, “Why do these people even like each other?” So, sadly, I do have mixed feelings about the book. I definitely So Liked It, but I’m bummed that I didn’t love it the way I hoped I would! 

DEFY ME BY TAHEREH MAFI – Y'all, this book was so BORING. And I'm a little sad that I eve have to type those words! I fell in love with the original trilogy years ago, and wrote what was (probably) my longest review ever for Ignite Me. When the new continuation trilogy was announced, I re-read them all, noticed that my feelings had changed somewhat, but was overall pleased with Restore Me. So, I was optimistic about this one – and that might have been my downfall. The entire book was info dumps, flashbacks, and crying. Sooooo much crying. I didn't mind the lack of world building in the series and love character-driven books, but there was almost zero plot in this one. The moments of excitement just couldn't outweigh the awkward dialogue and clunky writing. I'm So Okay With It, I guess, and will still read the last book. That's how I'll know whether this second trilogy even needed to exist at all... 

THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW BY TRACEY GARVIS GRAVES* – I haven't read anything by Garvis Graves before, but I'd heard a lot of praise for this release on bookstagram. So I asked Alexa if I could borrow her ARC, and she kindly sent it my way. This short, engaging book follows two college sweethearts reconnecting after ten years apart. It moves back and forth in time – exploring how they met, why they fell apart, and what's happening in their lives now. I liked how the heroine's social anxiety and autism were portrayed, but I didn't care for the romance. Interested, yes, but not invested. The writing just didn't sell it for me. And the book takes a huge turn in the last third that felt out of sync with the rest of the story. Hello, emotional manipulation. I suspected something might play a role, bu it was done in such a forced way. I'm So Okay With It overall but wouldn't really recommend it.

ONCE UPON A RIVER BY DIANE SETTERFIELD – If you love books where the setting feels like a character, this one is for you. Leisurely paced and beautifully written, I loved how all the different branches of the story flowed back to the source by the end. This is a book of magic and myth, science and supernatural. It’s historical fiction, but it reads like a fairy tale. If you’ve read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, this book reminded me of it. And similarly, this story deals with some heavy human emotions — the love parents have for their children and the deep grief over a child lost. There’s also a sense that everything isn’t as it seems. Reading it felt like spending an afternoon floating down calm water, enjoying the view and feeling contemplative... only to find yourself rapidly approaching a waterfall by the end. I So Enjoyed It and recommend it to readers who enjoy this type of story.

ME BEFORE YOU AND AFTER YOU BY JOJO MOYES – Still Me is in this photo, but I didn't end up re-reading it in April. I'll get to it soon! I read Me Before You for review years ago and have re-read it several times . It never gets old to me, and I'm always so emotionally invested in it! I listened to the audio for this re-read and enjoyed that format. I am, unsurprisingly, still So Obsessed With ItAfter You, on the other hand, was the book that made me want to write off Jojo Moyes and Lou Clark. Thankfully, Still Me made me less angry about After You – and more interested in re-reading it. Well, now I have... and I still don't like it. But I don't hate it either, so that's progress! I can appreciate Lou's emotional journey so much more now and can more clearly see how and why she's at this place in her life. But a lot of the secondary storylines still frustrate me, which is why I'd have to say I'm only So Okay With It.

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL BY GREER HENDRICKS AND SARAH PEKKANEN – After finishing this duo's first thriller (review coming in another post), I immediately picked up this one! While I preferred the other book, this one was still such an enjoyable, twisty read. I don't read a lot of mysteries or thrillers, but I'm most drawn to ones described as psychological. And this one fits the bill! If you like stories where you don't know who to trust and question everyone's motives, this one is for you. It's more of a slow burn story with few truly shocking moments (for me, at least) but lots of smaller twists and turns. The tension builds in a really fantastic way, but the story dragged on just a little too long and lost steam near the end. I So Enjoyed It and how unsettled it made me feel while reading, but the story and characters weren't the most memorable for me. Still fun overall though!

SPRINGTIME AT HOPE COTTAGE BY ANNIE RAINS* – This was such a cute contemporary romance! I’ve never read anything by Rains before, but this was a fun introduction. As a fan of RaeAnne Thayne and small-town settings, I can see exactly why Estelle thought I’d enjoy it. It’s the second in a series, but I had no problem jumping right in. The setting was my favorite part, and I loved every minute Josie spent wandering around town and talking to the locals. It was sweet to watch Tucker and Josie fall for each other, and I appreciated that there wasn’t a lot of angst or drama. It felt like watching a Hallmark movie — a little predictable, sure, but still leaves you smiling. The seasonal aspect was perfect, and it was nice to pick up something light and breezy. Like the city-girl heroine, sometimes I just want my book to take me on a vacation. This did the trick, and I So Liked It!

MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY BY JILL MANSELL – This was one of the new-to-me books that I bought in England, and I was so excited to dive in once I was home! As soon as I started, I didn't want to put it down. There is a lot going on in this story, but the little seaside town and its inhabitants were just too cute. I was really hoping for more from the main romance, which has instalove vibes and very little development since the couple can't be together for almost the entire book. Even the secondary romances involved a lot of telling rather than showing. And that's okay, but it left me feeling like the book lacked depth. The dynamic between the step-sisters was frustrating, but they ended up being the most emotional part of the book in the end. I So Liked It and don't regret buying it, but I am passing my copy along to Kelly because I don't see myself re-reading it.

JANE OF LANTERN HILL BY L.M. MONTGOMERY – As much as I love L.M. Montgomery, there are a number of her books that I've never read. This was one of them! I listened on audio, and the narrator was fine, though unremarkable. But there were numerous times that sentences were repeated in the audio, as if producers forgot to edit when combining two recording sessions. As for the story itself, it was really sweet! Jane lives with her meek mother and overbearing grandmother in Toronto, where she's comfortably provided for but strictly controlled. She learns that her father is still alive and is sent off to spend a summer with him on Prince Edward Island. What follows next is a lovely little story about belonging, the joy of being useful, and finding confidence when surrounded by love and encouragement. I So Enjoyed It and believe fans of LMM will love the similarities to her other works.

KEEP HER SAFE BY K.A. TUCKER – After falling in love with The Simple Wild last year, I planned to explore Tucker's backlist. This one was available on Book Outlet at the time, so I started here. It's described as "romantic suspense," but honestly I was neither romantic nor suspenseful for me. The police corruption and procedural aspect could have been interesting, but there was nothing surprising about the way it unfolded. There are only so many suspects, and it seemed pretty obvious what had happened. The flashback chapters were distracting, and the pacing was off for the whole book. I think the book was about 100 pages too long and shortening it could have heightened the tension. Also, I liked Noah and Grace individually, but the romance seemed forced. I'm So Okay With It and am interested in more from Tucker, though maybe not in this particular genre.

84 CHARING CROSS ROAD AND THE DUCHESS OF BLOOMSBURY STREET BY HELENE HANFF – This was a UK purchase that I bought based on the charming premise and  Goodreads + bookstagram hype. This edition contains both books, which I didn't realize when I started. 84 Charing Cross is the correspondence between an American woman and British bookseller over the span of twenty years, and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is the American's travel journal when she finally visits England. They are non-fiction, though often compared to epistolary novels. Y'all, I'm here with a hot take: I hated both books. What other readers found charming, I read as rude and abrasive. Where some saw friendship, I just saw business. The huge jumps in time between letters made it feel disjointed, and the journal made Hanff sound like an awful travel companion. I'm So Over It.

TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS BY CHERYL STRAYED – I have no desire to read Wild, so I can't really explain why I bought this book. I weirdly enjoy advice columns, however, so I decided to take a chance on this collection of Dear Sugar columns when I found it at the thrift store. I started to sample it that night and ended up reading the whole thing. The letters were all written in a similar style, so I questioned how much stylistic editing they'd received (and whether they were even real letters). As for the advice, it was a mixed bag for me. There were specific passages I loved throughout, and a few replies in particular will stand out in my mind for a long time. But I really disliked how Strayed related everything to herself or her own life. It felt kind of narcissistic to me. I liked the tough love approach, though I sometimes wondered, "Does this actually help the person writing in?" I'm So Okay With It.

DECORATING A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN BY SUSAN HARLAN – With a recommendation from Go Fug Yourself, I knew I had to read this one! It’s a book of “conversations on interior design” with literary notables such as Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Havisham, Jane Eyre and more. It was so much fun! If you like classics and decorating, I think you’ll enjoy this adorable, satirical book. The illustrations throughout were a gorgeous bonus. Harlan takes the language of decorating sites like Apartment Therapy and applies it to homes from classic literature. She looks at these famous fictional residents and “interviews” their residents about their style, inspiration, favorite element, biggest embarrassment, best advice, and more. Harlan’s love and knowledge of the subject matter was so evident. I got the most out of the chapters where I’d read the book in question, and I So Enjoyed It overall.

CIRCE BY MADELINE MILLER – I've been on a Greek mythology kick the past month, which was perfect timing because this audio was recently on sale. I'd heard such good things about it last year, but it didn't really appeal to me at the time. Well, I'm glad it was still simmering on my mental radar because this was such an excellent read! I adored the narrator and didn't want to stop listening to her melodic voice. While the number of gods and figures referenced was a bit overwhelming at first, I was soon swept up in this story. Circe was such a dynamic figure at the center of the book, and I was so invested in her story. I loved the long passage of time, the lyrical writing, the character-driven story, and the way it explored women's roles in Greek mythology. And that ending? Perfection. I wasn't sure of my rating when I finished, but the more I've thought about it the more I'm So Obsessed With 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.

What have you been reading lately?

April 2019: Recap + On My Shelves

May 6, 2019

I started April by spending the day in Paris – how was the rest of the month ever going to top that experience? But while it wasn't strolling down the Champs-Élysées, I had some amazing adventures back home in Georgia, too.

1. Paris with Kelly – I may have included my trip in my March recap, but it had to have a spot in this post, too! I spent the first two days of April in Paris and London before heading home on the third, and it was an incredible way to start the month. I'd planned to go to Paris while studying abroad in college but was ditched by my friend instead... I'm glad now that my first experience with the city was with Kelly in celebration of my 30th birthday.

2. Petting Zoo in Our Neighborhood – Our neighborhood celebrated the start of spring with an Easter egg hunt, pony rides, and a petting zoo. I think you can imagine where our little animal lover ended up! The day was cold and rainy after weeks of great weather, but it worked in our favor because there wasn't a crowd. My son's favorite was the little black cow, but I was partial to the donkey. She got jealous when the other animals got more attention!

3. Botanical Gardens with My Boy – One lovely spring day, I decided I wanted to spend the morning outside. Since I didn't want to drive all the way to Atlanta, we went to a smaller branch of the Botanical Gardens and had such a blast! The small size was perfect for multiple laps to use up some toddler energy, plus there was a model train that my son loved watching. Add in a little arts and crafts time, and it was a perfect adventure.

4. Wild Animal Safari – One of Nick's friends told him about a drive-thru animal park in south Georgia that had been a huge hit with their family. With our son's birthday approaching, we decided to surprise him with a day at the safari as part of his gift. He was in heaven! We rented one of the park's vans, though you can drive your own car, and got to feed a huge assortment of animals out the windows. One favorite was this giraffe!

Read 26 Books | Favorites:
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Circe by Madeline Miller

“Unbeknownst to me, I was a treasure trove of interesting things,
once someone turned up to be interested in them.”
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

“Being 'in love' is a contented kind of bored with each other.
You're not going to find someone who sets you on fire and is also a good idea
and you know why? Because being on fire isn't a good idea. It's destructive.
When anyone describes love nowadays they usually mean lust.”
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

“I love that every generation thinks they’ve invented it.
They think they’re the first ones to fall in love and get their hearts broken,
to feel loss and passion and pain. And in a way, they are. We’ve been there before, of course.
But for young people, that doesn’t matter. Everything is new.
Which I love, because it means everything is always beginning again.
It’s hopeful, I think. At least to me.”
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

 “If I’m going to have regrets in this life, I’d rather them be for the chances I took
and not the opportunities I let slip away.”
When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

 “It was the dimples. Empires have swiveled on less.”
Lovely War by Julie Berry

“There are stories that may be told aloud, and stories that must be told in whispers,
and there are stories that are never told at all.”
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

“I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose.
We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours.
It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours,
as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”
Circe by Madeline Miller

April was a slower blogging month for me, but I'm not mad about it. Sometimes I just need to take a break from it all! But I've lots of ideas brewing, so let's hope that I can get some of those written in May. Though it wasn't my first post of the month, I've got to start with my March 2019 recap. I also shared Quick Lit review round-ups: February 2019 Part One and Part Two, and closed the month with March 2019.

My most popular photo of the month was my book cart filled with faves, though I didn't think the photo was that great. And my favorite photo of the month, of Persuasion by Jane Austen, was my least popular... so I clearly don't understand Instagram! I could write a whole post about it, honestly. Anyway, this was my second fave photo – mostly because I love my library and had fun sharing bookish facts about myself in the caption. • @soobsessedblog

  Favorite Album #1: Moonlight by Johnnyswim
I was obsessed with Maren's previous album and had it on repeat the entire summer it came out.
This one feels a more pop-y, but I don't mind it. The songs are so catchy! "Good Bones" is my fave.

Favorite Album #2: The Hurting Kind by John Paul White
I never cared about The Jonas Brothers when they were popular, but dang if I don't love this song.
I can't stop listening to it! And y'all, I'm even more in love with the music video for it.

The Perfect Date (2019) starring Noah Centineo and Laura Marano – Oh man, I was so excited for this Netflix release (teen rom com! Peter Noah!), and then it was just... blah. It wasn't notably bad, but it sure wasn't good either. And honestly, I think Lana Condor must have brought out Noah's dreaminess because I wasn't feeling any chemistry here at all. Whomp whomp! Oh well, on to the next thing in my queue...

Game of Thrones, Season 1 – Nick and I tried this years ago and barely made it twenty minutes into it before we turned it off. With all the hoopla surrounding the final season, we decided to try it again. And while we did finish it, we still... didn't really like it. I know, I know! That's like sacrilege on the Internet. It was just so graphic, and I could barely focus on the story without zoning out. I've been told to give it a little longer to win me over, but we'll see. 

UK Trip (Pt. 2): Orgueil et préjugés by Jane Austen (1), The Railway Children by E. Nesbit, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay and This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell, The Rise & Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning, State of Sorrow and Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury, and Orgueil et préjugés by Jane Austen (2)

Book Depository: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Book of the Month: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

Thrift Store Finds #1: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner, You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan, The Perfect Couple and The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand, The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, The Doll People and The Runaway Dolls by Ann M. Martin, All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen, Hot Mess by Emily Belden, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, On a Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond, King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green, and Troy by Adèle Geras

Thrift Store Finds #2: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo, Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino, The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory, and The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

For Review: Westside by W.M. Akers and The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Audible: Circe by Madeline Miller

Kindle: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Edelweiss: The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams and Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
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