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Tales & Tiger Lily: July 2020

Aug 19, 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. Be sure to check out her introduction post to get to know her better. Once a month, you get a new installment of Tales & Tiger Lily. In each post, she reviews three of her favorite reads from the previous month and ends with a list of everything she read with ratings (and links to reviews, if applicable). Her top three from July:


GODSHOT BY CHELSEA BIEKER
“Anyhow, most people never looked at anyone else with any clarity, one eye forever turned toward themselves.”

A crazy cult story with eccentric characters? Sign me up. Baptism by soda instead of water? I’m here for it. Lacey May is 14 and has grown up in Peaches, California where everyone worships their cult leader and believes that he will help end the drought. She lives with her alcoholic mama but ends up staying with her grandma Cherry, but I wanted to pluck her from her toxic home environment so she could live with me instead. The people of the town are all brainwashed and listen to whatever BS the cult leader preaches, thinking he holds the answers to a better life. Poor Lacey May, how much I wanted to give her a big hug and be her friend. 

But really I would give this book all the stars in the universe. Godshot made me laugh out loud one second, and my stomach twist in knots the next. It will make you feel every emotion under the sun. You will love some characters and hate others, and that is the perfect kind of story to me. This book is EVERYTHING. I’m adding it to my list of favorite books I’ve ever read. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

FRIENDS AND STRANGERS BY J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN
“As you made your way through life, there were people who stuck, the ones who stayed around forever and whom you came to need as much as you needed water or air. Others were meant to keep you company for a time. In the moment, you rarely knew which would be which.” 

Friends and Strangers is a book about Elisabeth, an accomplished writer and new mom, and the friendship she develops with Sam, a college student she hires to babysit her son. This novel explores modern motherhood, privilege, and how our paths in life are determined by the choices we make.

Where do I even begin? I read some reviews that people couldn’t stand the main character and thought she was a terrible person. I guess those people wouldn’t like me in real life. She has a lot of judgmental thoughts which she tries to replace with the word banana. This made me laugh. Do you know how many times I catch myself being critical? I am also extremely hard on myself. If we really paid attention to the thoughts we have, how many of them are kind thoughts?

I also loved Sam and her desire to figure out the correct path for her life. She is dating someone other people don’t seem like to like, and she doesn’t know how to handle this. Their desire to want the best for her comes out like an attack. Is it best to speak your mind and stop someone from making a decision you don’t think is good for them, or do you trust they will figure it out and make the right choice? 

I really enjoyed this book, but I don’t think it is for everyone. If you are in the mood for a slow burn, character-driven story about life choices and relationships, this is the book to read. For me, it was thought-provoking and one that will stay with me for days. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5

EUPHORIA BY LILY KING
“You don't realize how language actually interferes with communication until you don't have it, how it gets in the way like an overdominant sense.”

Writers & Lovers is my favorite book I’ve read this year, so I really wanted to read Lily King’s previous book, Euphoria. This novel tells the story of three anthropologists in 1933 exploring the land and tribes of New Guinea. The trio begin working together, but as they bond with one another, it quickly leads to tension and jealousy.

King’s ability to craft such beautiful prose and transport you into a different time and place is outstanding. The entire time reading this book, I just kept thinking how creative and talented King is as a writer. As much as I loved these parts, the characters’ past losses/struggles and their desire for human connection is what moved me the most while reading this book. There is a lightness of spirit and yet there is such depth to the characters.

I seriously loved this book. I think it was the combination of my love for Lily King’s style of writing, the setting of the story, and her ability to display the vulnerability and desires of humankind. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ


Recapping the Rest of Caroline's July Reads:
The Girls by Emma Cline | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ Review
The River by Peter Heller | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 Review
The Lightness by Emily Temple | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ Review
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ Review
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Barshardoust | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 Review
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ Review
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ Review
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ Review
The Whisper Man by Alex North | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ (Not Pictured)
I Left the House Today by Cassandra Calin | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ (Not Pictured)

Quick Lit: July 2020 (Part Two)

Aug 14, 2020



I read 18 books in July, and I'm reviewing six of those books today. You can find thoughts on the other books in Quick Lit: July 2020 (Part One), posted yesterday. I'm excited to share the rest of my July reads, which were all so great with only one exception! If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.


LATE MIGRATIONS BY MARGARET RENKL – Another book that was on my radar because of my sister, though I ended up reading it first! She was looking up past Read with Jenna selections, and this one caught my eye. This collection of essays is part memoir and part nature writing but reads like poetry. Renkl alternates between observations on the natural world, primarily from her own backyard, and recollections from her family's history. At first, many of the essays seemed random to me – and I wasn't sure I understood the point. But the more I read, the more I found myself immersed in the beautiful storytelling and keen view of the world. The way Renkl explored loss and grief was so moving that I cried. It was unexpected favorite – a slow, beautiful book to savor – and I So Loved It.

A BURNING BY MEGHA MAJUMDAR – Once again, I read this book because of my sister. A Burning is set in India, and I loved that aspect! It's always fascinating to learn about another culture. This book follows three characters who want to change their station in life – to become middle class, to gain political power, and to find fame through film. But one reckless comment on Facebook spins a web that entangles all three characters in different ways. I loved how the book immediately caught my attention and moved quickly. Even with three POVs, this is a slim, restrained story and does so much without wasting words. I listened to the audiobook and thought the format added so much, too! I wasn't fully invested in the characters emotionally, but I still So Enjoyed It overall.

FRIENDS AND STRANGERS BY J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN – I loved Sullivan's The Engagements but wasn't fond of Saints for All Occasions, so I went into this with low expectations. Thankfully, it immediately became a new favorite! I love Sullivan's writing style, and it worked particularly well for me here. Her characters were well developed, and I was so invested in their lives. Even when I didn't like their decisions, I couldn't put the book down. It's a long and a little slow – there isn't a lot of action – but I loved how it explored motherhood, marriage, class, privilege, and a complicated friendship between a mother and her child's nanny. I'm So Obsessed With It because it worked so perfectly for me but probably wouldn't recommend it to everyone. But it's still on my mind weeks after finishing!


A MARRIAGE GAME BY SARA DESAI – What I expected from this book and what I got were two very different things. I loved the Indian culture, especially any scene involving the heroine's family or their restaurant. But everything else was painful. I should have DNFed, but I was 50% in before realizing just how much I hated it and then had to see how it ended. I wrote a more in-depth review on Goodreads if you're curious, but here are the five main reasons I didn't like it: an asshole hero, a revenge plot that led to an AWFUL conflict, a romance built solely on sexual attraction without much of an emotional connection, being told a character was smart when their actions are the total opposite, and over-the-top awful arranged marriage dates that lost all sense of realism. I So Disliked It.

DEVOTIONS BY MARY OLIVER – I almost never read poetry because I don't "get it" most of the time. But I recently had the itch to try something new, so I picked up this book. It's a collection of Oliver's poems spanning her decades-long career, and it's arranged from most recent (2015) to oldest (1963). It was interesting to read her work in reverse, and I enjoyed seeing what stayed consistent through the years.  She had a deep love and appreciation for the natural world and wrote so beautifully about it. Some poems were very moving but others were a little boring or repetitive. But that's more about me – my general disinterest in poetry and the fact that I'm more of an indoors person – than Oliver's work. She was a gifted writer and this was a lovely introduction to her. I So Enjoyed It.

NOTES ON A SILENCING BY LACY CRAWFORD – In this memoir, Crawford looks back at the time she spent at the elite St. Paul's School, the sexual assault she suffered there, and how that trauma affected her. It's a cerebral memoir – the writing felt literary in its crisp directness and is evidence that education was central to Crawford's adolescence. I loved how it examined power and privilege, silence and speaking out. The non-linear structure did not always work for me, but it's a minor quibble. It's more about the effect of being silenced than an investigation and exposรฉ on the school itself, but I found it very insightful. I'd give this my equivalent to a four stars, So Enjoyed It, though the wording doesn't exactly work here. This was a heartbreaking, important read.

What have you been reading lately?

Quick Lit: July 2020 (Part One)

Aug 13, 2020


I read 18 books in July, and I'm reviewing nine of those books today in Part One and six tomorrow in Part Two. What about the other three books? Two are mentioned briefly at the end of today's post: one was a re-read and the other was a graphic novel that I didn't have a ton of thoughts on. The third book was one I loved so much that I'm wring a longer, separate review for it: Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis. I'm so excited to chat about my July reads! If you enjoy this feature, check out other readers' reviews at Modern Mrs. Darcy.


BIG SUMMER BY JENNIFER WEINER – This novel, my first from Weiner, tackles a number of topics – mostly focusing on body image, female friendship,  and influencer culture. The heroine is an adult at the start of the book, but there are lots of flashbacks to her adolescence. I thought this worked really well, and I was very invested in her story! The friendship at the heart of the book is a toxic one, and I could understand how it happened when the heroine was a teenager but less so once she was an adult. Thankfully, the story went in a different direction right around the time I was losing patience with the heroine. I So Enjoyed It overall, especially the way it looked at the pitfalls of social media and a highly curated life. This would be a good beach read – engaging, fun, and fast!

RELISH BY LUCY KNISLEY – When I was looking up food memoirs, I came across this one. It caught my attention because it's a graphic novel, something I've barely read. I thought this might be a fun way to try the genre! The early chapters were engaging, but the book overall felt inconsistent. Many of the stories felt disjointed, unfinished, or... dare I say it... boring. I loved the idea of exploring moments in life through the lens of food, but many of the ones here didn't seem noteworthy enough to share. They felt like the kind of stories that get repeated within a family where the listeners actually know everyone involved. There wasn't enough there to warrant a memoir, for me. I preferred the illustrated recipes over the anecdotes, which was a bit of a bummer. I'm So Okay With It.

SISTERS FIRST BY JENNA BUSH HAGER AND BARBARA BUSH – Since I've been in a memoir mood lately, I was browsing the non-fiction audiobooks available from my library. This was one of them, and I decided to give it a try since I've been enjoying many of the Read with Jenna book club picks. There were a number of things I enjoyed about this book, particularly the look inside a close-knit family. Their love for one another was evident in every story! I did think the writing and editing was somewhat frustrating – for example, the way the stories jumped around meant things were often repeated (perhaps as a reminder to the reader?) and left me wishing the structure was a bit different. But I So Liked It overall and thought it offered an interesting look into their lives.


SEX AND VANITY BY KEVIN KWAN – After loving Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series, I was thrilled when this new release was announced! My excitement skyrocketed when I learned it was a retelling of A Room with a View, one of my favorite classics. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put it down. I don't think Kwan is necessarily the strongest writer, but there's something about his characters and stories that I find insanely fun and engaging! I loved the nods to the inspiration, the footnotes often made me laugh out loud, and I really appreciated the way Kwan explored identity and racism through the experiences of the mixed-race heroine. I thought that gave it a lot of depth! I So Loved It, thought it was perfectly paced, and give it extra credit for being an excellent retelling.

HOURGLASS BY DANI SHAPIRO – There's a moment in this memoir about marriage where Shapiro talks about how their TV was programmed to cycle through thousands of family photos, at random, jumping back and forth in time. It was a telling anecdote because it's also how this book is written. There's a stream of consciousness to it, and memories aren't shared in chronological order. That would typically bug me, but it didn't here. Perhaps it was Shapiro's poignant observations, her deft maneuvering through the years, her vulnerability, or the loving honesty with which she wrote about her husband, but this book worked for me. I loved that it focused so much on time and memory, and it made me feel so reflective. This was more literary than other memoirs I've read, but So Enjoyed It.

BIG FRIENDSHIP BY AMINATOU SOW AND ANN FRIEDMAN – Before starting this book, I saw another reviewer mention that this was primarily the story of the authors' specific friendship, not necessarily an examination of the general topic, and was glad I went into it with that knowledge. I haven't listened to their podcast, Call Your Girlfriend, so their personalities and backstories were entirely new to me. I didn't always connect with them, which can happen in a memoir, but I loved many of the insights they shared about making a friendship last for the long haul. The concept of stretching within a friendship and repairing a broken one were two chapters that stuck out to me, in particular. I So Liked It and immediately wanted to call my bestie so I could read her my favorite quotes.


THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES BY GRADY HENDRIX – I don't read horror, but I trusted my sister when she said I should try this book. The 90s South Carolina setting was so vivid, and I could imagine the Southern women who populated this small town coming to life before my eyes. I gagged at some of the gore (rats! cockroaches!) and was not a fan of the scenes where the vampire attacks victims, but I did love how Hendrix illustrated that racism and sexism pose as much of a threat to this community as the vampire. The vampire is allowed to go unchecked for so long because no one believes the Black community he targets first or the "bored housewives" who unravel his lies. It was a perfect blend of thought provoking and entertaining, and I So Loved It

NOTHING TO SEE HERE BY KEVIN WILSON – This was such an odd, unusual read, but it was on my radar after my sister reviewed it. Though she didn't push it on me, it sounded so quirky that I had to try it! I'm so glad because this ended up being a delightful little story. It was such a fast and short read that I almost felt there should be more to it, but then couldn't think of what I'd add. The characters were well developed, and I loved the story and its conclusion. I thought the voice of the heroine anchored the story really well, and the twins provided just the right amount of spark. The story was surprisingly emotional, and I loved this little chosen family trying to claw their way out of dysfunction. Plus, a lot of the dialogue and the heroine's observations cracked me up! I So Enjoyed It.

KID GLOVES BY LUCY KNISLEY – On the hunt for a few more graphic novels to try, I picked up this one. In it, Knisley chronicles her fertility problems, miscarriages, nine months of pregnancy, and traumatic birth story. There are chapters woven throughout that discuss the history and science of reproductive health, and those ended up being my favorite part of this book. It was so informative! Knisley's pregnancy and labor were interesting to read about, though we had very different experiences. I did find it stressful at times and wondered how I'd feel reading this if I didn't have children or was currently pregnant. I have no idea! But pregnancy really is "nine months of careful chaos," so I respect how this book illustrates that fact. I So Enjoyed It overall. 


Additionally, I re-read American Royals by Katharine McGee, one of my 2019 favorites. After getting a review copy of the sequel, Majesty, I knew I had to re-read this one first. I listened to the audio, which was totally delightful. The drama, intrigue, and creative twist on history still worked for me. It's not a super deep read, but I So Loved It! Check out my original review for the reasons it worked for me, and stay tuned for my review of the second.

I read Go to Sleep (I Miss You) by Lucy Knisley, too. It's a cute little book of illustrations that focus on life with a baby. It doesn't have a narrative and is more of a collection of snapshots from Knisley's first year as a new mom. I could relate to a lot of them! It was a fun, quick read that was just right for this season of my life. I So Liked It, though I probably wouldn't have picked it up if I hadn't recently had a baby. I'm glad my library had a copy!

What have you been reading lately?

August 2020 Goals

Aug 5, 2020

Many of the things that I wrote about in June remained true in July. There has been a more consistent rhythm to our days, and I love having a flexible schedule to plan around. Even though we aren't going anywhere, it's nice to feel like I have a better idea of what to expect from each day. I can't believe we're more than halfway through the year – and that it's been almost six months since our baby was born. With all the coronavirus stuff, I've had to stop myself from wishing the time away. I want to go back to "normal," but I know that I won't get this time back in my baby's life. It's been such a weird season, but I'm doing my best to give myself grace for all the feelings.

I remember debating whether or not it made sense to focus on goal planning this year, but I kept coming back to the idea that I wanted to spend my days on the things that mattered. My Powersheets haven't given me more time, but they have helped hold me accountable and motivated me to do the little things that add up to the life I want. From meal planning to meaningful moments with my sweet boys, I love looking back at these past seven months and seeing tangible progress. I'm so proud of all I've accomplished!


On My Calendar:
– Celebrating six months of our sweet baby
– A well check doctor's appointment
– Starting private swim lessons for my big boy
– Hopefully a long overdue haircut for me

Currently Obsessing Over:
– I already mentioned this in my most recent So Obsessed With post, but it's worth repeating: the Lindsay Letters Vertical Monthly Creatives Calendar is perfection! I love using a paper planner with a some digital reminders set up on my phone for myself. However, I wanted something to act as a home base for the whole family: things like my husband's ever-changing travel schedule, the boys' appointments, a spot to jot down a quick note or reminder.
– Although it wasn't the prettiest meal, this ground turkey sweet potato skillet was delicious. I'll be making it again!
– I finally watched the new movie adaptation of Emma... three times. I'm not shocked that it got mixed reviews, but I just loved everything about it. Gorgeous costumes and interiors, hilarious moments, and major swoon. 
– The new Taylor Swift album, folklore, of course! I never imagined we'd get two albums from Swift in less than a year. I love moody music, so it feels like it was made for me. I'm in awe of how Swift's sound can change so (seemingly) effortlessly. I think my favorite song is "Invisible String," but there aren't any I want to skip.
– This diamond chain from Helen Ficalora has been on my radar, but lately I can't stop thinking about it...

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.

July progress: 
– Although I caught up by the end of the month, I got THREE WEEKS behind on my daily reading. Oof.
– I managed to stay on track with my daily devotional, only missing a day or two throughout the month.
– This has been easy to stay caught up on, and I'm sure it's because we've barely gone anywhere this year.
– There was one week where I only posted once, but it was balanced out by a week with three posts. Yay!

Revisiting My July Goals:
Schedule a monthly planning session. / Complete! I did most of it one Sunday and wrapped up the rest this past weekend. I know I'm repeating myself, but this is one of my favorite habits I've developed in 2020. 
Complete Five Months in the baby's journal + take monthly photo. / All done. I was a few days late on the photo but got it done in time. I had so much to write about this month as our sweet baby grows so quickly.
Complete Five Months in my big boy's journal. Yep, complete. I wish I'd known about this journal sooner, but I'm thankful that I've been able to use old photos and planner notes to fill in these memories.
Choose and print photos for both Promptly Journals. / I decided to wait until we're done with monthly photos before printing, but I did choose photos for the boys' journals and for the calendar I'll print for 2021. 
Cull, download, rename, and backup June 2020 photos. / I'm always shocked by how quickly I can complete this task since it's something I used to procrastinate for so long. It feels great to be caught up on photos.
Go through last few months of photos saved on iPhone. / All done, minus July. I'm waiting until they're backed up on my hard drive and the cloud before deleting them off my phone. But I should be done this week!
Celebrate nine years of marriage. / Yep, even though it looked different this year. We spent the day with our sweet boys, and then we had a date at home: eating sushi and watching Hamilton on Disney+.
Prep new 2020-2021 Dapperdesk planner. / OMG, IT'S SO PRETTY. I made a plan for all my notes pages, marked birthdays, wrote down appointments, and did everything to get my planner ready to go for its August start date.
Catch up on all reviews. / By the end of July, I caught up on reviewing everything I read the month before, a few books that had lingered on my to-do list, and everything I read that month. It felt amazing to get them all done! 
Review my 20 in 2020 list. / Although many of my goals didn't change much with COVID-19, I wanted to look at our family bucket list for the year to see if anything needed to change. Most of them still work, but I noted the ones that may not and wrote down alternate ideas to consider. I'll reassess each month as needed. 
– Meet with Nick to discuss finance book once he's finished. / My finance goal is that I've made the least amount of progress on. Nick finished the book, but I didn't prioritize chatting about it (though I know he has notes!). Whoops!

My August Goals:
– Schedule a monthly planning session.
– Complete Six Months in the baby's journal + take monthly photo.
– Complete Six Months in my big boy's journal.
– Cull, download, rename, and backup July 2020 photos.
– Celebrate our baby's half-birthday!
– Have a one-on-one date with my big boy.
– Brainstorm family traditions to implement.
– Complete three 20 in 2020 items.
– Read one 10 in 20 book.
– Make a screen time plan for myself and my big boy.
– Start a new evening routine.

Do you have any goals for August?

July 2020: Recap + On My Shelves

Aug 3, 2020


I feel like I never have anything new to say here, now that every month looks so similar. We didn't spend as much time outside in July due to the heat, but we made sweet memories at home. But I miss the old normal, y'all!


1. Celebrating Nine Years of Marriage – July 2 marked nine years of marriage for me and Nick, and it's a little crazy to me how quickly time has passed! My love for Nick has only grown, and I'm thankful every day for this life we've built together. We didn't do anything out and about to celebrate because of everything going on right now, but we did have a sushi + Hamilton date night at home the next day. It was low-key, but I wouldn't have changed a thing.

2. Fourth of July Fun – Our neighborhood has a golf cart parade on July 4th, and this was our first year experiencing it. We sat out in the front yard with our boys and waved to all our neighbors while they drove past in festively decorated golf carts and tossed out candy. It was so much fun! Afterward, a snow cone truck drove through, too. Yum! We didn't stay up to watch the fireworks though. For a holiday spent at home, it was full of sweet memories. 

3. Shopping with My Sister – Caroline and I went to the bookstore together a few times in July, and it was a fun way to get out of the house for a bit. I didn't buy a ton – mostly because my bookshelves and wallet were still reeling from all the damage I did in June. Haha! But I enjoyed getting to spend time with my sister, and these shopping trips with her have become one of my favorite bookish memories.

4. Jurassic Quest – My sister-in-law sent me information about this drive-thru dinosaur exhibit that was coming to Georgia at the end of July (and into August), and Nick and I thought it sounded fun for our big boy. He's obsessed with dinosaurs, and we hadn't been able to take him on a fun adventure since January. He thought it was so cool, loved seeing the giant triceratops (his favorite), and that made it all worth it to us.


Read 18 Books | Favorites:
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

Honorable Mentions:
Hourglass by Dani Shapiro
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

“In space, nobody could hear you scream; on the Internet, nobody could tell if you were lying.”
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

“I cannot bring myself to even idly wish any of it—not even the most painful parts—away.
Eighteen years. Change even one moment, and the whole thing unravels.
The narrative thread doesn’t stretch in a line from end to end, but rather, spools and unspools,
loops around and returns again and again to the same spot.”
Hourglass by Dani Shapiro

“...we have changed each other in countless ways, from the profound to the imperceptible.
We didn’t just meet each other that night.
We began the process of making each other into the people we are today.”
Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

“Sometimes she craved a little danger. And that was why she had book club.”
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

“A no-good man will tell you he's going to change,” she said.
“He'll tell you whatever you want to hear, but you're the fool if you don't believe what you see.”
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

“Honestly, Bessie? People don't care about anyone but themselves. They don't notice anything.
They are never looking at what's interesting. They're always looking at themselves.”
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

“When we write about our lives, it's a form of time travel.
We inhabit the body we were back then, and yet we do so from our safe distance in the future.”
Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley

“Blessed are the parents whose final words on leaving—
the house, the car, the least consequential phone call— are always 'I love you.'
They will leave behind children who are lost and still found, broken and, somehow, still whole.”
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

“What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth,
and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight,
waiting for an an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.”
Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

“It’s never the thing you’re holding back that kills the relationship,” Violet said.
“It’s the holding back itself that does it.”
Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

“The bond between parent and child was all-consuming, and yet its power was not cumulative.
It had to be remade again and again throughout the course of a lifetime.”
Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

“Maybe home isn't a place. It's a feeling. Of being looked after and understood. Of being loved.”
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
Devotions by Mary Oliver

“I had spent so much time considering the challenge of bearing witness,
of finding ways to transcribe experience so other people would understand.
The work of telling is essential, and it is not enough.
There is always the danger that the energy of the injustice will exhaust itself in the revelation—
that we will be horrified but remain unchanged.”
Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford


I got off to a slow start at the beginning of the month, but I did eventually hit my stride. I shared my June 2020 Recap, of course, and followed it up with my July 2020 Goals. I shared several book review-related posts: my June 2020 Quick Lit split into Part One and Part Two, Tales & Tiger Lily's June 2020 installment, and a longer post about my love for The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I chatted about my top ten books of 2020 (so far!) and predicted what will be on my list at the end of the year. It had been a while since I shared what I've been So Obsessed With lately, so it was fun to feature eight recent items I've loved. And finally, my favorite post of the month was writing about my best bookish memories from the past five years. So fun to reflect on them!



Favorite Album #1: folklore by Taylor Swift

I'm as shocked by this surprise release as everyone else, but omg I'm obsessed.
The whole mood and sound of this album is right up my alley, and I can't get enough!



Favorite Album #2: Gaslighter by The Chicks
I listened to more country music in middle and high school, so listening to a new album
from this band feels a little nostalgic for me. And boy, they didn't hold back on the drama!


Hamilton (20120) starring Lin Manuel-Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr. and more – Even though I'm not a musical person, I fell in love with the Hamilton soundtrack back in 2016. So, I was thrilled to watch the show with the original cast in my own home. Thank you, Disney+! And y'all, it was everything I hoped it would be and more. I loved the performances, costumes, set, the way it was staged – all of it! I can't wait to watch it again.


Palm Springs (2020) starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti – I saw someone talking about this movie on social media, so Nick and I decided to turn it on one night. It was ridiculous and so much fun! Watching two characters stuck repeating the same day over and over again could feel very repetitive, but I thought it was done so well here. I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy, and this one was just right for the mood I was in when I turned it on!


Emma (2020) starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn – Oh my gosh, I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS MOVIE! I bought this in May but didn't watch it until July, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long. I laughed so much, majorly swooned, adored the costume and interior design eye candy, and watched it again a few days later. It got mixed reviews, but I loved it. It was a quirky adaptation, and I was happy it leaned into's Emma's initial spoiled immaturity. 


Queer Eye, Season 5, starring Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, & Jonathan Van Ness – I think this was my least favorite season, and I can't quite put my finger on why. I wasn't as invested in most of the people being made over – and, in some cases, it seemed like the Fab 5 didn't have a natural rapport with the subject. It was still a delightful binge overall, but I would kind of forget about it as soon as the TV was off.


Book of the Month: Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford, Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan, and Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Bookstore Browsing: Old Lovegood Girls by Gail Godwin

Used Bookstore: Stir by Jessica Fechtor


Online Shopping: Headliners by Lucy Parker, Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon, Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel, House Lessons by Erica Bauermeister, Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slay Vampires by Grady Hendrix, and Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan 

Gifted: The Lion's Den by Katherine St. John

For Review: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria and Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams


Audible Sale / Credits: Beartown by Fredrik Backman, The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty, The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, Beach Read by Emily Henry, You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle and Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis

Kindle: Headliners by Lucy Parker

NetGalley: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
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