SLIDER

Books I'm Buying in the Second Half of 2020

Jun 30, 2020


When I saw today's Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, I was so excited to share my list! This post covers the second half of the year and, once again, I didn't stick to just ten releases. There are too many things I want to read! Just like my earlier edition of this post, I focused on new books from authors I've already read and enjoyed + featured four books from new-to-me authors that I've got my eye on.

Two of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2020 aren't featured here because they were included in my first half of 2020 post. Both were originally June releases with date changes: The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan comes out July 7 and Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers will publish August 2.

Twelve books I can't wait to read from authors I enjoy:


1. The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty (June 30) – I really enjoyed City of Brass last year and flew through Kingdom of Copper this spring. And now I can't wait to see how the trilogy wraps up!

2. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (June 30) – After loving the Crazy Rich Asians series, I've got to read this new release from Kwan. Finding out it's a retelling of A Room with a View? That's icing on the cake.

3. Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan (June 30) – I loved The Engagements but wasn't crazy about Saints for All Occasions, so I'm very curious how this one will work for me. Guess we'll find out!

4. The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi (August 11) – As a huge fan of Adachi's Lazy Genius podcast, I was thrilled to find out she was coming out with a book. I made sure to pre-order to get these awesome bonuses.


5. Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin (September 1) – Although I would have sworn this was going to be a duology, it turns out that it'll be a trilogy. I'm excited anyway because Serpent & Dove was just so good!

6. Majesty by Katharine McGee (September 1) – Did I scream when I got a copy of this for review? You better believe it! American Royals was one of my favorites, and I need more after that cliffhanger.

7. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (September 8) – Backman is one of my favorite authors, to the point that I never feel the need to read the summaries of his books. Whatever this is about, I already know I want to read it.

8. Well Played by Jen DeLuca (September 22) – Well Met was an adorable read, and I'm looking forward to returning to this world and spending time with characters we've already met. I hope it's just as fun and enjoyable!


9. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (October 6) – I'm not a Schwab fangirl like most of the Internet, though I did enjoy the Darker Shade of Magic series, but the summary for this sounds fantastic!

10. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (October 13) – This summary doesn't totally appeal to me, but my love for The Ten Thousand Doors of January is strong enough that I've got to at least give it a try.

11. Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer (November 3) – I've only read Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and this is obviously a genre departure for her, but I think it sounds adorable. And I'm obsessed with the cover!

12. Admission by Julie Buxbaum (December 1) – Anything Buxbaum writes, I want to read it. I love that this is inspired by the recent college admissions scandal and have no doubt I'll be raving about this book.

And four books on my radar from new-to-me authors:


13. Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis (July 14) – I knew very little about this when I received an email from the publicist about reviewing it, but the summary made it sound so interesting. I hope it's as adorable as the cover!

14. Austen Years: A Memoir in Five Novels by Rachel Cohen (July 21) – Reference Jane Austen in the title, and I'll automatically want to read it. I've been on a memoir kick lately and am fascinated by the idea of this one.

15. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria (August 4) – As soon as I saw the comparison to Jane the Virgin, I was sold. I'm totally here for telenovela stars falling in love both onscreen and off! Gimme, gimme.

16. Jane in Love by Rachel Givney (October 27) – Jane Austen magically travels to modern-day England? Yep, I want to read it. It's a truth universally acknowledged that I'm trash for anything related to Austen.

What 2020 releases are you excited to read?

10 Years of Top Ten Tuesday!

Jun 23, 2020


Today Top Ten Tuesday is ten years old! My very first post was in February 2012, and I've written 173 TTT posts since then. While I don't participate as frequently as I used to, I'm still so glad that Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl decided to take it over after The Broke and the Bookish retired. It's such a fun part of the bookish community, and it's been the inspiration for so much blog content for me. Today's topic called for revisiting past posts, and I decided to make TWO lists for it: I revisited ten past answers and then listed my ten favorite topics that I participated in. 

And just a note: I'm posting this really late on Tuesday, so email subscribers probably won't see it until Wednesday. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten the day of the week! I just didn't want you to be confused.

REVISITING PAST ANSWERS

It was so fun to compile this list! One thing you'll notice about this section is that most of the posts come from 2013-2014. That's because those are the years I most actively participated in Top Ten Tuesday! I had a baby in 2016 and only blogged sporadically that year and didn't do many TTT posts until 2019. But my answers wouldn't changed for those! I excluded seasonal TBRs or lists I do every year (favorite books, new-to-me authors, etc.) because I wanted more variety. So, here's how many answers have changed on ten past topics: 

1. Top Ten Blogs That Aren't About Books – May 2012
There's only one blog on this list that I still look at (though it's not a daily read anymore), and that's Elements of Style. The others either no longer exist or don't interest me. And I care so little about fashion that it's hard for me to believe I used to look at some of these blogs! I mostly just look at book blogs now, though I love I Heart Naptime for recipes and Em for Marvelous for lovely reflections on life, parenting, goals, and more.

2. Top Ten Series I'd Like to Start or Finish – March 2013
Of the five series I wanted to start, I'm excited to say that I read them all! I've since completely finished four of the five (The Passing Bells series, The Lunar Chronicles, The Bronze Horseman trilogy, and the Throne of Glass series) and read the first three (and don't plan to finish) books in the Fairyland series. Of the series I wanted to finish, I did read of the five finales listed. I decided not to complete the Chaos Walking trilogy.

3. Top Ten Characters I'd Crush on If I Was Fictional – April 2013
Only five of these crushes still have my heart: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gilbert Blythe, Peeta Mellark, Frederick Wentworth and Sean Kendrick. Jonah is okay, but Adult Me has moved on. As for the other four (Cricket Bell, Adam Wilde, Dimitri Belikov, and Roar), to quote TSwift: I forgot that you existed. I'd replace them with the only other crushes that matter: Rowan Whitethorn from the Throne of Glass series and Jake Archer from Happiness for Beginners.

4. Top Ten Things That Make Life as Reader/Blogger Easier – August 2013
It was so fun to see what I considered an essential in 2013! Many have stayed the same: Goodreads, my iPhone camera, my local library, Feedly, Audible, and my Kindle Paperwhite. Three have changed slightly: I now use Happy Planners (not May Books), Instagram instead of Twitter, and OneNote rather than Reminders. While I have the Kindle app on my phone still, I rarely use it. I'd probably replace it with my iPhone tripod, AirPods, or Hoopla.

5. Top Ten Best Sequels Ever – September 2013
I laughed when I read this list! If I were to write it today, only one of these books would make my list: The Piper's Son. The other sequels aren't bad, but I've read so much more since then. They just don't compare anymore!

6. Top Twenty Books I Want to Re-Read – February 2014
Of the books I highlighted, I've re-read five of the ten adult books (After You, Me Before YouNowhere but Home, Attachments, and The Help) and all of the young adult books except The Sky is Everywhere (which I no longer care to re-read). I'd still like to eventually re-read the other five adult books, but they aren't a priority. 

7. Top Ten Books People Tell Me I Must Read – August 2014
I've read six of the ten books I featured here. My favorite of them all was All the Light We Cannot See, followed by The Bone Season. And I have no plans to pick up the four that I never got around to reading,

8. Top Ten Authors I've Read One From But Need More – September 2014
I did eventually read more from eight of these authors, and I just purchased the 2020 release from Emily St. John Mandel so it may become nine. I never read more from Kiersten White and likely won't. Only one of these authors is still really on my radar: Mhairi McFarlane. My interest in all the other authors has faded.

9. Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors – August 2015
My auto-buy list has definitely changed since 2015! Four of these authors would still definitely make my updated list: Jane Austen, Sarah J. Maas, Melina Marchetta, and Mhairi McFarlane. Two would likely still be auto-buy: Mindy Kaling and Taylor Jenkins Reid. And the other four are authors I'm still interested in, just on a case-by-case basis. I'd replace them with Fredrik Backman, Julie Buxbaum, Abby Jimenez, and Lucy Parker.

10. Top Sixteen Audiobook Superlatives – September 2016
Most of these answers would stay the same, with a few exceptions. I think I'd change the audio that makes me feel all the things, but I'm not sure what I'd pick instead. I've listened to a lot of long books that might unseat Pillars of the Earth from its place, and I doubt I'll ever finish / catch up on the Bloody Jack series. But the biggest change is that I no longer wish I had an Audible subscription – I'm now active!

REVISITING PAST TOPICS

In the process of choosing posts for the section above, I started noting some of my favorite past topics. They often inspired posts that I still love today, so I thought it would be fun to highlight them here:

1. Top Ten Best Bookish Memories – February 2013
This is still one of my favorite blog posts because I love how books are so entwined with my memory. While reading through this post, I decided I'm going to write an updated version of it. Be on the lookout!

2. Top Ten Things That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book – April 2013
Kelly and I were just talking about this recently, and I'd completely forgotten that I once wrote a post about it. A few of my answers have changed, so you'll likely see my share a new version on this one soon, too.

3. Top Ten Things on My Reading Wishlist – January 2014
Everything on this list still stands! The only thing I'd change is that I'd probably add more to my wishlist. And I just might, in a future post... are we sensing a theme here? My archives are apparently full of inspiration. Haha!

4. Top Ten Bookish Confessions – July 2014
Yep. To all of these things. I could probably add more, but the ten things listed are all still true.

5. Top Ten Things I LOVE in Love Stories – February 2015
I like my categories in this post! I still love the same types of romance, though I've since realized second-chance romance is very hit or miss for me. All of the feelings and moments are still favorites, too. But the most shocking change? I think I've reversed my opinion on the failure featured in the post. 

6. Top Ten Books On My "Jane Austen 101" Syllabus – August 2015
This is one of my favorite topics because I loved getting creative with my answer. I remember wanting to make it look as realistic as possible. This was a fun one to look back on!

7. Top Ten Reasons I Love Reading – June 2016
Here's a post that isn't exactly groundbreaking but just makes me happy, regardless. I liked coming up with this list, making the graphics for it, and scouring my shelves to see what books fit each item. I wrote it not long after my first baby was born, when I still hadn't found my blogging groove, and have sweet memories of it.

8. Top Ten Books to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump – August 2018
I tweaked this topic when I posted about it and focused on ten ways to kick a reading slump to the curb (but did pair a book with each item on the list). It's all advice you've probably heard before, but I liked compiling it anyway.

9. Ten Favorite Books Released in the Past Ten Years – May 2019
Looking back at all the books I've read in the past ten years and trying to narrow it down to the ten best felt impossible. But oh man, I thoroughly enjoyed doing it! You'll actually find twelve favorites on my list because I couldn't resist.

10. Top Ten Things I'd Have at My Bookish Party – May 2020
This was such a creative topic, and I really felt inspired by it! I had a great time planning my pretend party and finding accompanying photos for the post. There are a lot of topics I love, but my favorites are often things I never would have thought of on my own. This is a great example of that!

Bonus: Seasonal TBRs, New-to-Me Authors, and Yearly Favorites
I didn't want to link to one specific post, but these three topics are my tried-and-true favorites. Even when I'm barely blogging or inconsistent with TTT, one of these topics is most likely to pull me back in.

Have you participated in Top Ten Tuesday?

What's been one of your favorite topics?

25 Books on My Summer TBR

Jun 19, 2020


Back in March, I shared 20 books I was planning to read this spring. I was looking at my list this week and am happy to share my progress: I read 12 books, DNFed five books, moved two books to my Summer TBR due to a release date change (one re-read + the new sequel), and only have one  uncompleted book. Not too bad! 

Since it was such a success, I decided to make one for summer. It was this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic, but I'm a few days late. Oh well, since I definitely didn't stick to 10 either... I normally use this TTT topic to pair books + summer bags, one of my favorite posts every year, but that's in the works for next week instead.

• REVIEW BOOKS •

1. What You Wish For by Katherine Center (July 14) – While none of Center's recent releases have come close to my love for Happiness for Beginners, they've all been enjoyable. I'm looking forward to this one!

2. Majesty by Katharine McGee (September 1) – I have let out a delighted squeal when I was approved for this on NetGalley. I loved the first so much, and I can't wait to see what happens next after that cliffhanger ending.

3. The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon (June 9) – Estelle was kind enough to send a copy of this my way, and I was delighted since I didn't get it as my May Book of the Month pick. It sounds like so much fun!

• NON-FICTION •

4. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb – I saw this at the used bookstore and couldn't resist because of the hype. The idea of a memoir about a therapist, her patients, and her own therapist intrigued me.

5. How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo – If I see a book about reading with your child, chances are I'm going to read it. I love the illustrations and the way its sectioned, so I hope it lives up to my expectations.

6. All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth – My mom gifted me a copy of this memoir, and I've been meaning to read it for years. It's on my 10 to read in 20 list, so that's part of how I'm motivating myself to finally dive in.

• FICTION •

7. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – I loved Bennett's debut, The Mothers, and have been eagerly awaiting a new release from her. You can imagine my delight when it was an option for Book of the Month in June!

8. The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton – Next Year in Havana was one of my favorite reads of 2018, but I found When We Left Cuba a little disappointing. I'm hoping this one will restore my obsession.

9. The Marriage Game by Sara Desai – I don't really know much about this book, but I was immediately drawn to the cover and then sold on the summary. I can't tell if it's truly hate-to-love, but I'm hoping...

10. Last Tang Standing by Lauren Ho – Another cover buy, I can't lie! The idea of Bridget Jones' Diary + Crazy Rich Asians was too good to resist. Everything about it sounds like something I'll love, and I can't wait to read it.

11. Miss Austen by Gill Hornby – I was on the fence about reading this book until I saw the UK cover. And then, I had to buy it. My summer TBR is more contemporary-focused, so this will be a nice change of pace.

12. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner – I've been looking forward to this book for a while! It's now eerily relevant, too, since the Jane Austen House was just fundraising due to being closed for COVID.

13. Anna K by Jenny Lee – Anna Karenina was one of my favorite high school reads, and I've never read a retelling. Add Gossip Girl vibes and an irresistible cover, and I'm sold. I hope I remember the original enough to appreciate it.

14. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Circe was one of my favorite reads last year, so I had to read Miller's other Greek mythology retelling. Kelly wasn't a huge fan, however, which makes me nervous.

15. The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey – The summary reminded me a little bit of A Man Called Ove, so I decided to treat myself to this recent release. Older, curmudgeonly characters might be some of my faves.

16. By the Book by Amanda Sellet – Once again, I was first drawn to this book because of the adorable cover. But once I saw that it was about a YA heroine who loves classic novels, I knew I had to give it a try.

17. Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner – I added this to my BOTM box in June on a whim, and it will be the first book I've read by Weiner. I liked that it explores female friendship, and I hear there's a mystery element, too.

• RE-READS •

18. Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers – I adored this extension of LaFever's His Fair Assassin series and am excited for the duology's conclusion. This is one of the books I had on my spring TBR and just moved to summer!

19. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin – This was such a great surprise last year, a long book that I devoured in one afternoon. I can't wait to re-read via audio in anticipation of the second book's release in September.

20. American Royals by Katharine McGee – I already mentioned the sequel, Majesty, earlier in my list, so it's a given that I had to re-read this one first. I bought the audio a few months ago, and it's ready for me to hit play!


• PRE-ORDERS / LIBRARY HOLDS •

21. The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi (August 11) – I love the Lazy Genius podcast (even though I'm rarely currently and simultaneously trying to listen to older episodes I've missed) and am so excited for her book!

22. The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty (June 30) – Reading the second book earlier this spring made me so hyped for this finale! This series has slowly won me over, and I can't wait to see how it all concludes.

23. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (June 30) – I loved the Crazy Rich Asians series enough to pre-order this book. While working on this post, I learned it's a retelling of A Room with a View so now I'm even more excited!

24. Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers (August 4) – I'm excited to see how this duology concludes! I think this was originally scheduled for a June release and was changed to August, and it can't get here soon enough.

25. Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin (September 1) – Although I wish this had stayed a duology, I'm still excited to see where it goes next. And I think this will be the perfect read to help me transition into fall.

What are you hoping to read this summer?

Quick Lit: May 2020

Jun 15, 2020


I read 16 books in May, and I'm reviewing six of those books today. What about the other ten books? One is published in July, so I'm holding my review until then. One was The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. I'm working on a separate post for the Travis series, and I'll review the Mortal Instruments books once I've finished the whole series. Finally, you can find brief thoughts on my two re-reads at the end of this post. Whew! If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.


THE GUEST LIST BY LUCY FOLEY – I'm always on the lookout for a lighter mystery that doesn't get too dark, and this seemed like it would fit the bill based on the summary. And I was correct! In some ways, it reminded me of a modern-day Agatha Christie novel. I loved the remote Irish setting and how it made everything closed off. The writing was very atmospheric, too. It's a slower-paced mystery, but that worked for me. I liked getting multiple point of views – they each added different things to the story. I did guess one of the reveals, but the ultimate resolution was a fun surprise. I don't think the book will wow people who read heavily from this genre, but I So Enjoyed It. If you wanted to be whisked away to a destination wedding where something evil is afoot, give this one a try!

THE WORST BEST MAN BY MIA SOSA – I was browsing romance audiobooks on Hoopla and noticed this adorable illustrated cover. The premise sounded tricky – a woman who falls for her ex-fiancรฉ's brother – but seemed to include one of my favorite tropes: hate to love. My favorite aspect was the heroine's Brazilian roots, and Sosa did a great job incorporating that into the story. My biggest issue wasn't with the book itself; the male narrator was awful. Any time he attempted a woman's voice, I cringed. So I didn't connect as deeply to the romance because I couldn't wait to get past his sections. But there were a lot of cute things about it, including the witty dialogue, the supportive secondary characters, and the wedding planning element. I So Liked It but advise you to skip listening to it.

HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT BY LAURA HANKIN – This was such a happy surprise! I took a chance on it for my May Book of the Month selection but tried not to get my hopes up. I've been burned by books about rich, entitled moms before! Thankfully, this ended up being such a fun read. I couldn't put it down once I'd started, and I loved the realistic look at motherhood through a more satirical lens. I was invested in the characters and their dramas, and I was so happy that I couldn't ever really predict where it was going. There's a bit of a mystery at play, and it reminded me of Big Little Lies in that regard. The characters aren't always likeable, but that's fine with me. I still wanted to see what they'd do next, and I thought it had a very satisfying resolution. I So Loved It!


THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MONEY BY DAVE RAMSEY – One of my 2020 goals is to learn more about personal finance, and I figured Dave Ramsey was a great place to start. He's known for his Financial Peace classes, and I was already aware of (and agree with) many of the principles he teaches about debt, term life insurance, emergency funds, and more. While his writing is pretty average, I did appreciate the conversational, no-nonsense tone. Ramsey provides straightforward explanations for financial concepts – writing about them in an accessible way. It was nice to see where my husband and I are ahead of the game and begin to develop a plan for the areas where we could be doing more (like investing). I So Enjoyed It and am glad I started here.

FOR THE LOVE OF DISCIPLINE BY SARA WALLACE – We joke that our big boy is, in the words of Mary Poppins, 'practically perfect in every way.' He's the sweetest, most loving little boy and has been so easy to parent. That being said, I'm so glad I picked up this book. I enjoyed how Wallace explored the purpose of discipline and included lots of Scripture and biblical truth about how the Gospel plays a role in shepherding our children's hearts. It reminded me of Paul David Tripp's Parenting in some ways. There were practical suggestions throughout, several of which I plan to implement. I have a feeling I'll end up revisiting this one. It was thought-provoking, easy-to-read book that was just what I was looking for since it's geared more towards moms of little kids. I So Enjoyed It.

THE SWITCH BY BETH O'LEARY – After loving O'Leary's debut, The Flatshare, this was one of my most-anticipated 2020 releases. I ordered a copy from the UK so I could get it sooner and have this adorable cover! Unfortunately, it was pretty disappointing. The premise is cute – a woman and her grandmother switch houses for two months, a la The Holiday, because they're both in need of a change. For me, the execution left a lot to be desired. The story was boring and had too many unnecessary secondary characters, so it felt like a series of scenes connected together without a strong drive to the narrative. And it was just so cheesy! It was like reading a Hallmark movie, and I just had no patience for it. It was cute, but in a light, shallow way that was ultimately forgettable. I'm So Okay With It.


I re-read two books via audio in May. The first was Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It's such a sad story, and I always forget that fact. There is a puzzle-like aspect to the book, and it takes until about halfway through before the pieces start fitting together. Even though I've read it before, it still felt a little confusing at times! But I'm So Obsessed With It still and thought narrator Rebecca Macauley did a great job. The other book I listened to was Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, a Pride and Prejudice retelling that I had fond memories of. I won't lie – I liked it less on re-read than I expected. I'd probably still say I So Enjoyed It, the same rating I gave it my first read, but I found myself mentally nitpicking it while listening. It wasn't bad, but the characters grated on me more via audio.

What have you been reading lately?

Tales & Tiger Lily: May 2020

Jun 12, 2020


My sister recently joined bookstagram as @talesandtigerlily. Her name is Caroline, and Tiger Lily is her adorable sidekick (pictured above). Since she's discovered a love of reading, I've had the best time talking about books with her. I love recommending my favorites to her, telling her what NOT to read, and seeing what she discovers on her own. Her taste runs a little more literary than mine with a side of dark and twisty. That's made it even more fun to call her every morning, ask what she thought of whatever she finished the night before, and find out what she'll be reading next! Be sure to check out her introduction post to get to know her a little better. 

I've loved getting a sneak peek at her reviews before she posts them, marveling at how she's able to infuse so much personality in them. I love her voice so much that I had to start featuring her on my blog, too. Plus, she's reading so many things that I haven't – the perfect opportunity to highlight a wider range of books here! So, once a month, you'll get a new installment of Tales & Tiger Lily. In each post, she'll review three of her favorite reads from the previous month and end with a list of everything she read with ratings (and links to reviews, if applicable). I'm so excited to kick this off today and know y'all will love her, too! Without further ado, her top three from May:


WRITERS & LOVERS BY LILY KING
“There’s a particular feeling in your body when something goes right after a long time of things going wrong. It feels warm and sweet and loose.”

I LOVED this book so much. I am the type of reader who likes to sit down and knock it out in one day. Writers & Lovers made it quite a wonderful Sunday. The 4 cups of coffee had me flipping pages and in the zone.

Casey Peabody can't seem to catch a break. She is struggling to write her book, recovering from the sudden loss of her mother, and trying to deal with the large amount of debt from student loans. On top of this, she is trying to decide between two men she is seeing. OMG. I just wanted to scream at her not to rush too quickly into these relationships. Been there done that! Slow down, Casey Peabody.

I loved the style of the writing. It felt quirky and fun. I didn’t want to book to end. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

MY DARK VANESSA BY KATE ELIZABETH RUSSELL
“I'm a speckled seal swimming past the breakers, a seabird with a wingspan so long I can fly for miles. I'm the new moon, hidden and safe from him, from everyone.”

My mom always says, “H.A.L.T. — If you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, don’t make any big decisions, Caroline.” Well, I say if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, DO NOT pick up the book My Dark Vanessa. If you are in good spirits and woke up prepared to face the evil in the world, then you don’t want to miss out on this stunning debut novel by Kate Elizabeth Russell. 

You know when you watch a terribly addicting crime documentary and you think, “Holy cow that was great, but why does my stomach hurt?! Why are my hands sweating?! Why do I feel so suddenly depressed?! I need to go outside in the sunshine and listen to Bob Marley or just sit in the kitchen and eat my feelings.” Well, that is how you will feel after reading My Dark Vanessa.

I absolutely loved this book. I felt so invested in Vanessa, and I wanted nothing more than to hug her. I wanted to see her overcome the trauma she had to deal with at the hands of her abuser. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

THE DUTCH HOUSE BY ANN PATCHETT
“But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know now, so we’re not seeing it as the people we were, we’re seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered.”

I am always drawn to books with deeper themes. There was so much I took away from this book, and I felt choked up a few times. It felt like I was reading a memoir rather than fiction. The Dutch House is about the bond between a brother and a sister, the abandonment of their mother, and the death of their father. It is definitely character driven and a book you may have to be in the mood for — but I’m so glad I read it. 

At times, I was so frustrated while reading. How can someone just walk away from their family? How does a mother abandon her children to be some “wannabe Mother Teresa”? I think it makes me so angry because I know people do it all the time. People often want to change the world, yet they are not willing to make necessary changes inside their own home. 

Enough ranting — I LOVED this book, and I think if you enjoy reading about how our family influences who we become, then you should give it a try. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

Recapping the Rest of Caroline's May Reads:
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
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The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5
Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 • Review
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullogh | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 • Review
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review

Introducing: Tales & Tiger Lily

Jun 10, 2020

I'm so excited about today's post because I get to introduce you to my sister, Caroline! When she texted me two weeks ago and told me she was thinking about creating a bookstagram, I was thrilled. I've always been the reader in our family, a love I inherited from both of my grandmothers. Caroline and my mom would read occasionally, but they didn't love it the way I did. In fact, when we were younger, Caroline once told me to never talk about book on the first date. Little did she know she'd  one day have a social media account dedicated to them... Introducing:


So, what changed? Quarantine! She teaches third grade, and life has looked very different since staying at home and distance learning started. She turned to her bookshelves during the extra downtime, and she's been unstoppable now that school is officially out for the summer. While she'll listen to my recommendations, she definitely gravitates towards different books than I do. Her taste runs a little more literary, with a side of dark and twisty mysteries. She's started dipping her toe into fantasy and sometimes turns to women's fiction to mix it up.

I love finding out what she's reading and getting to hear her thoughts when she's done. When I read the first review she wrote, I was beyond impressed. Her writing has so much personality! I eagerly anticipate reading she'll write and then discussing it with her in more depth. She makes such personal connections to the things she reads and has the best way of communicating that in her reviews. She's already influencing me – I've read several things that weren't even on my radar! And she's Team Treat Yo' Shelf, so she's validating all my worst book-buying impulses.

Enjoy getting to know her, in her own words, below:


Meet the Bookstagrammer

Why hello, fellow book nerds. Let me introduce myself! My name is Caroline, and this is my cute dog Tiger Lily. I haven’t always been a book lover – but oh, do I love words. In fact, I love words so much it has gotten me into a bit of trouble with all those sweet talkin’ boys. If only I could have put those boys back on the shelf and DNF when they did me wrong… Now, the only words that can make me swoon are #talknerdytome.

Just like I don’t really have a type with men, I'm open to all genres. I appreciate them for differences, and size doesn’t matter. It’s what is on the inside that counts. 

I already have 100 books on my TBR, but with each swipe of the page, I am getting closer to finding The One. Until then, readers never go to bed alone, and I’ve got Tiger Lily to keep me warm.

• • •

Did you have any favorite books growing up? And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

What's the best book you've read this year? The worst? Writers & Lovers by Lily King is the best, and Stray by Stephanie Danler is the worst.

What's your favorite genre? Least favorite? I've been drawn to literary fiction lately, but thrillers got me into reading. My least favorite is romance.

If I gave you $100 right now, what books would you buy with it? The Mountains Sing by Nguyแป…n Phan Quแบฟ Mai, Shiner by Amy Jo Burns, If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha, Normal People, and The Beauty of Your Face by Sarah Mustafah.

What's the most recent book you added to your TBR? Euphoria by Lily King.

What's your favorite book you've read that I recommended to you? Circe by Madeline Miller.

Name three things that will automatically make you want to read a book. Family drama, deception, and death.

Describe your ideal reading scenario. Sitting in my chair with a cup of coffee and the whole day to finish a book with no distractions.

Do you have any bookish quirks? I always update my Goodreads progress on a book, even though I know I'm going to finish it in the same sitting. And I love listening to an audiobook and following along in the physical copy.

What's the last book that made you cry? A Burning by Megha Majumdar.

Who is your book boyfriend? Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. (Damn, he sexy).

If you could live inside a book, what would you choose? The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.

What character do you want as a friend in real life? Lou from Serpent & Dove because we could get all fat and sassy together. 

• • •

Hardcover or Paperback? Hardcover

Audiobook or E-Book? Audiobook

Buy or Borrow? Buy

Bookmark or Dog-ear? Bookmark

Fiction or Non-Fiction? Fiction

Adult or Young Adult? Adult

Standalone or Series? Standalone

New Books or Re-Reading? New Books

Coffee or Tea? Coffee

Dog or Cat? Dog, duh

• • •

Because I'm genuinely so obsessed with her account, I had to highlight her here. Y'all need to follow her, if you aren't already doing it. Plus, there's another fun reason I wanted y'all to meet her: you're going to start seeing some of her reviews on the blog. Keep an eye out for the first installment of that in the next few days!

June 2020 Goals

Jun 5, 2020

While I accomplished many of my May goals, I was a little too ambitious. I spent a lot of time during the day helping my baby learn to nap in the crib (and have finally had consistent success!) and making sure my big boy was getting one-on-one attention, and then fell into bed exhausted at the end of the day. It didn't leave a lot of time or energy for my other projects! I'm still pleased with my progress and am celebrating marking some items off my to-do list that have been there for months. However, there are a few things I just keep procrastinating, namely getting caught up on my big boy's childhood journal. I scaled back my June goals to prioritize that project!


On My Calendar:
– The baby's fourth-month well visit
– Celebrating Father's Day
– A possible trip to the mountains

Currently Obsessing Over:
– Our neighborhood pool currently requires masks when not in the water, so we got this $34 inflatable pool for our backyard. It's been a great purchase: inexpensive, a perfect size, and provided hours of fun already.
– My sister joined bookstagram! Shes's @talesandtigerlily, and I've already gotten great recs from her. I'm working on a blog post introducing her + her account, and then we've got some fun ideas in the works together.
– I mentioned this show in two posts recently, but I loved Mindy Kaling's Never Have I Ever. Highly recommend!
– I always look forward to Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2020 Summer Reading Guide, and this year is no exception. I'd already read a few, had others on my radar, and found a few new titles that I can't wait to try.
– My big boy is obsessed with animals and wants to take them all over the house for "figure setups," as he calls it. My parents got him a wheeled basket called a Luggy from Olli Ella, and it's adorable + one of his favorite things.

Yearly Goals:
(These should stay the same all year, so I'll just do month-to-month progress reports!)
– Read through the Bible in one year.
– Read a devotional every morning.
– Track my spending in the Goodbudget app.
– Blog 2x per week.

May progress: 
– I did better in May about staying on track, though I still haven't built this into my routine yet.
– Doing pretty good here, too! I sometimes miss a day but always catch back up.
– This has definitely become a habit, and I'm so glad. Nick and I are discussing our next steps now!
– There was one week where I only posted once, but I wrote nine new posts overall so I'm still on track.

Revisiting My May Goals:
Schedule a monthly planning session. / Yep! May's planning session took place in bits and pieces over the course of a few days, but I still got it done. I always look forward to doing this at the end of the month!
Organize my closet. /  loved the way I organized my closet in the past, but I needed to purge a ton of clothes and tidy up a few areas. It felt so good once I completed this project, and my closet looks so much better.
Complete Three Months in the baby's journal + take monthly photo. / I had this done right on schedule!
– Complete Toddler Year Three in my big boy's journal. / Total fail. I barely touched my big boy's journal, and I know it's a project that will take less time than I think that it will. This is now my priority for June.
Cull, download, rename, and backup April 2020 photos. / I didn't do this until halfway through the month, but I did get it done. Not sure why I dragged my feet on it, but I'm so happy I have a solid routine in place.
Cull and rename all 2017 photos. / YES! I want to do a happy dance. I am now completely caught up. I've culled, renamed, and backed up all of my digital photos and videos – from 2007 up to now! I never thought I'd see the day.
– Have a Q1 financial review with Nick. / This got pushed from May to June and will clearly be having a mid-year review instead. After reading a finance book, I decided to have Nick read it, too, and then talk about our next steps.
Read two non-fiction books (faith + finance). / Complete! I read Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money as my finance pick, and then a book about how the Gospel affects discipline as my faith-focused book.
– Read one 10 in 20 book. / I'm only about a third of the way through Magic for Marigold... Whoops!
Write two discussion posts. / I'm considering this as completed, though one post barely counts. I wrote about our newest love & ten things he's taught me and a Currently post where I chatted about what life looks like lately.
Check off two 20 in 2020 items! / Nick and our big boy built a bird house in May, which was adorable! And we had "go strawberry picking" on our list, but the farm had to close due to COVID-19. They did a drive-thru "feed the animals" event instead, and we went to it so I think we'll use that as our substitute adventure.

My June Goals:
– Schedule a monthly planning session.
– Complete Four Months in the baby's journal + take monthly photo.
– Complete Toddler Year Three + One to Four Months in my big boy's journal.
– Cull, download, rename, and backup May 2020 photos.
– Since all my photos/videos are now backed up, cull what's saved on iPhone.
– Trade in used books, and donate unwanted clothes.
– Complete two 20 in 2020 items.
– Make my Summer TBR.
– Finish three blog posts currently in my Drafts.
– Read one non-fiction book.

Do you have any goals for June?

May 2020: Recap + On My Shelves

Jun 4, 2020


In May, we celebrated our big boy's fourth birthday and spent most of our time at home. After March felt like it lasted forever, I didn't expect April and May to fly by. I can't believe we're almost halfway through the year.


1. Outdoor Picnic – We've been eating on our porch a lot more lately, but our big boy asked us to have a picnic in the front yard recently. We spread out a blanket in the shade of a big tree, made breakfast for dinner (yum!), and enjoyed waving to our neighbors on their evening walks. It was fun to do something different from our norm!

2. Drive-Thru Farm – We'd planned to take our big boy to the zoo for his birthday, but that got postponed in light of the pandemic. A local farm that typically offers strawberry picking in the spring pivoted to a "feed the animals from your car" experience, so we went. We all agreed that the homemade ice cream at the end was the best part.

3. My Big Boy Turns Four – I cannot believe our big boy is now four years old! Where has the time gone?! Although we didn't have a party, we had rain forest decor (per his request) and loved celebrating him all day long. This age he's at now just might be my favorite! It's a joy to be his mama, and I'm so thankful for him. 

4. Backyard Fun – Since we're still staying home, most of our fun comes in the form of playing outside. Our neighborhood pool just re-opened but requires masks when not in the water, which sounds miserable in the Georgia heat. So, we were thrilled to find this large $34 inflatable pool at Target. We've been loving it!


Read 16 Books | Favorites:
Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin

“Sometimes you think you love someone,” I said, “but it’s really just that they’ve become a habit.”
Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

“It's unrealistic to expect to find peace in the arms of someone else if you can't find it within yourself.”
The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

“Eleanor doesn't argue,” Elizabeth said as she poured the first of five Splendas into her tea.
“She simply says things, and lets you decide whether you want to be wrong or not.”
The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

“The truth is just that sometimes you think you’re a good person,
and then little by little, you justify your way into being a bad one.”
Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin

“Sarcasm is the last refuge of the imaginatively bankrupt.”
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare


While I haven't been at the peak of my blogging productivity, I have managed to consistently post about twice per week. That's a win, in my book! As usual, I started the month with my April 2020 Recap and then shared my May 2020 Goals. I participated in three Top Ten Tuesday topics: Ten Things I'd Have at My Bookish Party, Ten Books I Recently Abandoned, and Ten Favorite Opening Lines. I was particularly happy with my party post!

I shared a more lengthy review of The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez and wrote mini reviews for nine books in my April 2020 Quick Lit. My final two posts in May were a little more personal! I shared an updated Currently {May 2020} post with an overview of what my life has looked like lately. And my favorite post was about our newest love and ten things he's taught me. I'm so happy I finally sat down to write that one.



Favorite Album: Three. Two. One. by Lennon Stella

I remember liking Lennon's voice when she was on Nashville but didn't know she had
a music career outside the show. This album was on repeat for me all May!


Happiness Continues starring The Jonas Brothers – I wasn't a Jonas Brothers fan at the height of their popularity and have mostly just listened to their singles since they got back together. So, why did I turn on this concert film? I have no idea. Haha! But it was a suggestion on Amazon one day, so I decided to turn it on. It was pretty fun to have on in the background, I won't lie. And I'll probably watch their documentary now because why not?


Making It, Season 2, starring Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman – My mom mentioned watching this show, so Nick and I turned on when we couldn't decide what to watch next. I couldn't find season one, but Hulu had the second available. What a delight! I don't watch a lot of reality TV, but I love the kind that focuses on people's skills – like baking, sewing, or making. I'm not very crafty, but it was delightful to watch these talented people at work.


Superstore, Season 1, starring America Ferrara and Ben Feldman – I have so many shows in my queue to watch, but most of them are hour-long dramas. This wasn't really on my radar, but Nick and I decided to try it when we realized we were mostly in the mood for a sitcom. While some moments were so corny, I did laugh while watching this show. It's not a favorite so far, but we liked it enough to continue to the second season!


Never Have I Ever, Season 1, starring Maitreyi Ramakrishnan – If you attach Mindy Kaling's name to a project, it's basically guaranteed that I'll have to watch it. And when it's a teen comedy, too? Even better! Exploring the life of a first generation Indian American teen girl, I couldn't turn it off. I expected the humor, but I didn't know I was going to find it so moving, too. I loved everything about it and am so hoping there will be another season.


New Releases: Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare, Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle, The Switch by Beth O'Leary, and Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Gift Cards: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey, and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb 

eBay Finds: Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth-Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas


Book of the Month: The Guest List by Lucy Foley and Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin

Gifted: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins and By the Book by Amanda Sellet 

For Review: The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Audible: Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas (not pictured)

Kindle: Most Likely by Sarah Watson (not pictured)

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