The Turning of the TBR in Fall

Sep 22, 2020

When I shared my Summer TBR in June, I was feeling very ambitious. I put 25 books on my list, and I'm wrapping up the season having finished only 15 of them. That's not terrible, but it definitely isn't my best showing either. Oh well! You'd think that I would have kept that in mind for my Fall TBR and yet... I've got 20 books on my list for today's Top Ten Tuesday topic, a few I've carried over from my previous list but most fresh new additions.


1. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (September 8) – I just adore Backman's writing and am so excited to have something new to read from him! I just started it a few days ago and am hoping it will be a 2020 favorite.

2. The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty (June 30) – This was on my summer TBR, but I didn't get around to reading it, mostly because the length intimidated me. I'm carrying it over to this list so I'll finally pick it up!

3. Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams (June 30) – Williams' past few books haven't been wins for me, so I've been a little hesitant to read this recent release. But I think it's time to rip the bandaid and give it a chance...


4. House Lessons by Erica Bauermeister – I saw Annie B. Jones rave about this one, and it sounded really interesting. I love the idea of a memoir focused on renovating a home and exploring what that place means to you.

5. The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan – I loved Hilarie Burton on White Collar and Jeffrey Dean Morgan on Grey's Anatomy, but truthfully I picked this up because their farm life intrigues me. I can't wait to read it!

6. Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl – When looking up foodie memoirs recently, it appeared that Reichl is a staple in the genre. With several to choose from, I decided to go with the most recent (and prettiest cover).

7. The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams – My sister bought this because it was a pick for Jenna's book club, but she hasn't felt motivated to read it. It sounds great to me, however, so I decided to borrow it.

8. Someone to Romance by Mary Balogh – I haven't been in a historical romance mood this year, but I can't resist to latest addition to this series that I love so much. Balogh rarely disappoints, and I'm hoping that's the case here.

9. We Are Not Free by Traci Chee – Books set during WWII always interest me, especially if it covers an aspect I'm less familiar with. This YA release focuses on the Japanese internment camps in the US and sounds fantastic. 

10. I'd Give Anything by Marisa de los Santos – While this wasn't on my summer TBR, I did intend to read it then. But since I didn't, I figured it would be a nice contemporary option to break my historical-heavy fall TBR!

11. Little Universes by Heather Demetrios – This sounds like a very emotional contemporary YA. I'm always drawn to books about sisters and have only read one other book by Demetrios, so I'm excited to try another from her.

12. The Secret Place by Tana French – I've had mixed feelings on this series, but I have to try this one since I'm on a mystery high after reading the latest Cormoran Strike installment. I'm so hoping this one will be a win for me.

13. The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – My sister and Kelly both enjoyed this book, so you know I've got to try it for myself now, too. I borrowed my sister's copy so that I'll be extra motivated to pick it up soon!

14. Miss Austen by Gail Hornby – This was on my summer TBR, and I don't know why I never got around to it. Luckily, it feels like a perfect fit for fall. I'm trying to keep my expectations low, but the cover is just too gorgeous...

15. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner – Another carryover from my summer TBR! I was so excited for this book that I bought it as soon as it released, so why haven't I read it yet?! I have absolutely no excuse. 

16. The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline – When my sister and I were browsing at the bookstore, I was immediately drawn to this cover. And then once I read the summary? Sold! This doesn't sound like anything I've read before.

17. Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie – I bought this on a whim one day after spotting it at Target. The cover appealed to me, but the fact that it's set in post-WWII Japan is the reason I had to take it home. It sounded so good!

18. Betty by Tiffany McDaniel – Here's another "the cover caught my eye." My sister and I both bought ourselves this book while in the mountains one weekend, and she's raved about it so much that I can't wait to read it. 

19. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano – I can't even remember what this book is about aside from the fact that it involves a plane crash, so that probably tells you that, once again, I bought it partly because of the cover. Whoops?

20. Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden – When the September Book of the Month (referral link) choices were announced, this one snuck up on me. The more I read about it, the more I had to try it for myself.

What are you hoping to read this fall?

September 2020 Goals

Sep 10, 2020

After seven months of progress and motivation, it was probably inevitable that I'd hit a lull. There wasn't any reason that mood struck in August, but it came on strong. I didn't read as much, neglected some of my household chores, lost my blogging mojo, and totally forgot about several of the goals I'd written down. I mean... what?! And I got more and more frustrated by the fact that I didn't feel like doing anything. Generally, I don't mind stalling out in one area if it's due to focusing on something else. For example, I don't mind falling short of my blogging goal if I was on a reading binge instead. But when it seems like I'm not productive in any area of my life, I get annoyed. 

However, I keep reminding myself that everyone needs to rest. That sometimes my brain and my body need to slow down and have quiet. So, I'm choosing grace over guilt as I look back at my progress in August and set new goals for September. I'm writing this post almost seven days later than I'd planned, but that's okay. Each morning is a fresh start! I factored in my current mood when setting goals for this month. My motivation will return eventually but, until then, I'm happy to keep it lowkey and relatively easy to accomplish.

On My Calendar:
– A trip to the mountains for Labor Day weekend
– The start of virtual preschool for my big boy
Finally getting my haircut
– The beginning of fall and (hopefully) cooler weather

Currently Obsessing Over:
– I've been on a major Great British Bake Off kick and can't stop watching it in the evenings. It's just so soothing and charming, especially for the mood I've been in lately. I don't enjoy baking but love watching other people do it.
– When I got an email that a pricey robe I'd been eyeing recently was temporarily 40% off, I pulled the trigger and treated myself. I got the short robe from Weezie and am obsessed. I love putting it on after I've showered while I'm doing my hair and makeup. It's the perfect length and thickness, especially since I usually feel so hot getting ready. 
– My big boy went from hating getting water in his eyes to opening them underwater in just days, but the biggest joy was watching him learn to swim and float over the course of a month. We loved his ISR lessons
– As for the random-but-useful, I love these new laundry hampers we bought. They solved a problem we were having with our dog! And my mom recommended this Dawn dish spray, which is another new favorite.

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.

August progress: 
– I was doing great for the first few weeks of August, and then I got majorly behind and still haven't caught up. Oof.
– Still on track with this goal, however, and glad I've been able to maintain consistency here. 
– I wasn't adding things to the app immediately, so I lost the real-time look at our balance. Working on it now!
– NOPE. I think this is the first month I completely failed at this goal. Whoops! Let's hope September is better...

Revisiting My August Goals:
Schedule a monthly planning session. / Complete! One of my favorite things I've started in 2020.
Complete Six Months in the baby's journal + take monthly photo. / The monthly photos are my favorite, even when I'm a few days late. And I love the practice of sitting down and writing about the past month!
Complete Six Months in my big boy's journal. / I will forever wish that I'd found this journal when my big boy was a baby, but I'm glad that I'm getting caught up in it (to the best of my memory). Such a great keepsake.
Cull, download, rename, and backup July 2020 photos. / Done! One of the first things I do each month.
Celebrate our baby's half-birthday! / I'm checking this off, though we didn't totally celebrate. We did share our favorite moments from the past six months and get cute photos of the baby, so it feels like good enough.
Have a one-on-one date with my big boy. / This was one of my favorite things from August. We went on a few dates: picked up books at the library, got a cake pop at Starbucks, bought a prize for completing swimming lessons, went to the pool, and starting reading chapter books before bed. I can't handle the sweetness!
Brainstorm family traditions to implement. / I'm so glad I made this a goal and loved reading a few social media and blog posts about other people's family traditions. I got so many great ideas and created a list to reference. 
– Complete three 20 in 2020 items. / We were so close! I checked off two items in August: we walked a nearby hiking trail. and we created a new family tradition when we're sitting at the dinner table each time.
– Read one 10 in 20 book. / Whomp, whomp. There's a good chance I won't finish my list this year...
– Make a screen time plan for myself and my big boy. / I totally forgot that I'd made this a goal. Haha!  
Start a new evening routine. / I want to add more steps eventually, but for now I'm really pleased with the way I sit down with my planner at bedtime and review the day + make a plan for the next one. It's been so helpful.

My September Goals:
– Schedule a monthly planning sessions. 
– Complete Seven Months in the baby's journal + take monthly photo.
– Complete Seven Months in my big boy's journal.
– Cull, download, rename, and backup August 2020 photos. 
– Make my Fall TBR.
– Start new learning routine with virtual preschool.
– Research family photo books.
– Re-evaluate finance goal. 
– Complete three 20 in 2020 items.
– Start planning Christmas gifts for my boys.

Do you have any goals for September?

August 2020: Recap + On My Shelves

Sep 3, 2020

I'd expected August to be another productive month, but instead... I hit a wall. I had no motivation or energy and just didn't get very much done. And that's okay! We still had some fun family adventures, even with my weird mood.

1. Six Months of Our Baby Boy – We adore our baby boy, but we joke about how he's got a sweet and sour personality. He's so happy... until he isn't. And he'll let you know when he reaches that point! August marked six months since his birth, and I can't believe it's already been that long. I love looking back his baby book and writing down sweet things I want to remember, like the way he covers his eyes with his hands when he drinks a bottle.

2. Walking the Dinosaur Trail – Last year, I took my big boy to a nearby trail that had giant foam dinosaurs along the path. It was the perfect local adventure. He mentioned at the time that he wanted to go back with Daddy, too, so I put it on our 20 in 2020 list. We headed out one one August morning that was a little overcast and not quite as hot but were sad to discover that all the dinosaurs were gone. We still had fun, but it was definitely a bummer!

3. Sweetest Brothers – Throughout the month, I write down possibilities for this section of my recap in my blogging notebook. And I typically go through my camera roll, too! I'd planned to write about taking my big boy on a date to the bookstore and to get a Starbucks treat, but I apparently never took a photo. What I do have a million photos of, however, are these two boys cuddling, playing, and making each other laugh. It's one of my favorite things ever.

4. Learning to Swim – We hadn't thought much about swim lessons before, and then I kept putting it off because he hated his face getting wet. But when I read about how dangerous puddle jumpers can be, we immediately signed him up for ISR self-rescue lessons, which teaches kids to swim and float. The lessons last ten minutes a day, five days a week, for 4-6 weeks. It's a commitment, but we're so thankful we did it. He's a swimmer now!

Read 12 Books | Favorites:
Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
The Comeback by Ella Berman

“You’ve always been the one who was brave—no, the one who was sure. 
You’ve always been so sure of the story you want me to tell, 
the story you’ve been asking me for since we were seventeen: 
The story about the things that happened while I was asleep. 
'It’s your story,' you would say. 'If you don’t let it out, it will take over your life.'
But the story is mine only as the victim owns the prosecution, or the whale the harpoon. 
Telling it has always been the privilege of the perpetrators, who have the actual facts, 
and of the bystanders—like you—who believe they know.” 
True Story by Kate Reed Petty

“Maybe that’s the definition of nostalgia: 
getting sappy about things that are supposed to be insignificant.” 
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

“Do not become the ones who hurt you. Stay tender with your power. Never fight to injure, fight to uplift. 
Fight because you know that in this life, you deserve safety, joy, and freedom. 
Fight because it is your life. Not anyone else’s. I did it, I am here. 
Looking back, all the ones who doubted or hurt or nearly conquered me faded away, 
and I am the only one standing. So now, the time has come. I dust myself off, and go on.” 
Know My Name by Chanel Miller

“When I listened to her, I understood: You have to hold out to see how your life unfolds, 
because it is most likely beyond what you can imagine. It is not a question of if you will survive this, 
but what beautiful things await you when you do. I had to believe her, because she was living proof. 
Then she said, Good and bad things come from the universe holding hands. Wait for the good to come.” 
Know My Name by Chanel Miller

“We force her to think hard about what this will mean for his life, 
even though he never considered what his actions would do to her.”
Know My Name by Chanel Miller 

“People do what they have to in this life. We try to get from one end of it to the other 
with dignity and with honor. We do the best we can.” 
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

“I didn't want to accept that in order to move forward, I had to walk through it. 
It was so much easier just to believe there was another path I could take around it 
and that at the end of that path would be the destination I wanted. 
It would be easier to want to end up at a lie, instead of the truth.” 
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

“We shouldn’t judge food until we try it. 
Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s less delicious. 
Same goes for people.”
A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan

“You can desire things that someone else doesn't. 
You can struggle with something that gives someone else joy. 
You can care about what matters to you even if it doesn't matter to someone else, 
and we can all lovingly and compassionately exist together in that tension.”
The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi

“Was a person like Merry born with her character, or had it been built up brick-by-brick
 by people who taught her to choose the good, the kind, and the true?”
Old Lovegood Girls by Gail Godwin

“We were always living different versions of the same story.” 
The Comeback by Ella Berman

Y'all, I don't know what happened to me in August! I'd had all this motivation previously and was doing great meeting my goal of blogging at least twice per week, and then it all went out the window. I was a little annoyed at myself because I wasn't in the mood to read or blog or do much of anything. Oh well! Because of that, I only shared five blog posts. I started the month with my July 2020 Recap and followed it up with my August 2020 Goals. I was excited to talk about what I'd read with my July 2020 Quick Lit Part One and Part Two, and then I shared what my sister, Caroline, read in Tales & Tiger Lily: July 2020. I drafted several other blog posts but didn't finish any of them. The creative thoughts were there, but I didn't see them through. September is a fresh start, thankfully.

Favorite Album: EMMA. (Soundtrack) by Isobel Waller-Bridge and David Schweitzer
I will forever and always love the instrumental soundtracks for my favorite costume dramas.
The one for Emma was no exception! I loved the movie and the music.

The Great British Bake Off, Seasons 7-9, starring Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig – I don't know why I find this show as soothing and as comforting as I do, especially since I don't even enjoy baking personally, but I know that I'm not alone. There's something about it that is just so endearing! I love that it's filmed in a tent, the camaraderie between the contestants, and the creativity of these amateur bakers. I wasn't in the mood to read or blog, but binging several seasons of this show was just what I needed. Highly recommend!

Book of the Month: The Comeback by Ella Berman, True Story by Kate Reed Petty, and The Unbecoming of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan

Bookstore & Pre-Orders: Act Like It by Lucy Parker, Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin, We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan, The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi, The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall, The Exiles by Christine Baker Kline, Educated by  Tara Westover, and Igniting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

Used Bookstore: The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden and The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser, Most Likely by Sarah Watson, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez, Long Bright River by Liz Moore, The Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel, Things in Jars by Jess Kidd, Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan, Sunburn by Laura Lippman, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

Gifted: Lost Souls at the Neptune Inn by Betsy Carter

Audible: Igniting Darkness by Rovin LaFevers and Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Kindle: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon and Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
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