Tales & Tiger Lily: March 2021

Apr 27, 2021

My sister joined bookstagram as @talesandtigerlily. Her name is Caroline, and Tiger Lily is her adorable pup. 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, I'll list everything she's read the previous month + reviews of three of her favorites.

Recapping the Rest of Caroline's March Reads:
First Comes Like by Alisha Rai | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
Shipped by Angie Hockman | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
Well Met by Jen DeLuca | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 • Review
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailer | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 • Review
Good Neighbors by Sarah Lancaster | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ
I'm So Effing Tired by Amy Shah | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ • Review
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 • Review
Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5 • Review
Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

One of Caroline's March favorites was Dear Emmie Blue – one of my 2020 favorites that I pushed on her (and still haven't blogged about). She hadn't reviewed it yet, so I'm featuring the next book on her list instead.

Her top three from the month:

“Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine. That is what life is. It's only the ratios that change. Usually on their own.” 

Sorrow and Bliss tells the story of Martha, a woman who knows something is wrong with her. Her husband Patrick has loved her since he was fourteen, and all he wants to do is make her happy. He just can’t figure it out how to accomplish this.

The narrative moves back and forth in time as we uncover Martha’s past, and I wanted so badly to figure out what would happen in her life. Will Martha get help? Will she heal the relationships around her? Will she and her husband stay together? I could not put it down because I was soooo invested in her. It’s no secret Martha is suffering from something. Although she is difficult and stubborn and harsh, I loved her like she was my own sister. 

I cannot even begin to describe my love for this book. I called my sister after I cried reading the ending. We both had so much to say about it! The dry British humor, the writing, the character development—it was a masterpiece! 

Sorrow and Bliss is the ultimate portrayal of how people are connected to each other. No matter what you are going through, your words and actions affect other people. Relationships matter. I know it’s fiction, but I haven’t read a book so real and raw in a long time. I felt every single emotion at once. I think the title was perfect. When I closed the book I felt those two things: sorrow and bliss. 

It could easily be my favorite book of 2021 – that’s how much I loved it. You have to add this to your list, and read it as soon as you can! | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

“Now, I'm not the kind of girl to gush over weddings but the marriage part–the idea of two flawed people being somehow perfect for each other, the odds of finding another human who can tolerate your specific brand of shit, and whose shit you can tolerate too—I think that's pretty special.” 

Out of Love is a story told in reverse. It begins with a young woman boxing up her ex-boyfriend’s belongings, preparing to see him one last time. Each chapter takes you further back in time to the start of their relationship. 

This wasn’t really a love story to me. It was more an in-depth look at the protagonist, her anxiety/depression, her views about herself and life. I loved getting to know her, and I could relate to her in many ways (we don’t know her name). It is a look at grief and what to means to lose someone. I love how the main character loved her home country, Ireland, and I could tell some of her sadness resulted from not being home and with her family. 

It gave me Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine mixed with Sally Rooney vibes. I think some of you would absolutely love this one! I highly recommend it. It Is one I will be thinking about for awhile. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ.5

Dark Horses tells the story of fifteen-year-old Roan Montgomery. She is an equestrian prodigy, coached and ruled by her abusive father. Outside of the stables, his power takes a very horrifying turn. Roan tries to compartmentalize her life, focusing on her riding ambition, but how can she function when she has no one to protect her? 

This is ultimately a survivor story. Roan is strong, resilient, and determined. She has little time for a social life, and she is viewed as a “snobby horse girl”. She is not nurtured by her family. Her mother is an alcoholic and lets the abuse happen. It made me so angry for her. As she develops a relationship with a boy her age, things start to change. She becomes more aware of her reality. 

For those of you who liked My Dark Vanessa or The Comeback, this one should be on your list. I will say it was more uncomfortable to read because the abuse was at the hands of her own father. It was disturbing yet powerful. I was rooting for Roan the whole way. 

Susan Mihalic actually taught therapeutic horseback riding, and I thought that made the book even more special. It was such a powerful story to tell. Most child victims are abused by a parent. How devastatingly sad is that? So even though Dark Horses was hard to read, it happens to children every day. | ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ

April 2021 Goals

Apr 19, 2021

Welp, is my April Goals post late or what? I can't believe the month is halfway over! Some of the things I've listed below have already happened, but I'm still including them because I use these posts as a reference and source of accountability. At the beginning of April, my Powersheets included a Goal Refresh – the chance to adjust the goals I'd set for myself in 2021. I didn't anticipate making a change, but working through that section helped me realize that I'm going to table my Meal Planning/Kitchen goal, at least for this quarter. I didn't have the margin for ALL the goals I set for myself and that one had fallen to the wayside because of it. Hopefully I can get to it later in the year!

I took a break from blogging in March because I got on a reading kick, and it was just what I needed. I won't lie – it's making me think about the future of this space. Sometimes I wonder if I'm ready to stop blogging, and then the mood always passes. But as I approach 10 years of So Obsessed With, it's been on my mind again. I don't see myself stopping in the immediate future, but I also have no regrets about taking the past several weeks off.

On My Calendar:
– Celebrating Easter with family
– The birth of my new nephew
– A week-long visit from my bestie
– The 2021-2022 Dapperdesk release
– Re-scheduled family photos
– Some spring adventures outdoors

Currently Obsessing Over:
– I was in a crafty mood lately, so I bought a bunch of scrapbook paper from to make bookmarks. My favorites are from Maggie Holmes, but there are so many cute options.
– Speaking of bookmarks, I ordered a few from The Book Script Co's most recent launch. Love them!
– I've loved my Dapperdesk planner this past year, and I can't wait to start using my new blush one in August.
– Although I haven't been using it long enough to fully recommend it, I've been loving the Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask that I bought on sale during their Beauty Insider event. I just add it after my normal moisturizer at night.

Yearly Goals:
(These should stay the same all year, so I'll just do month-to-month progress reports!)
– Read a devotional every morning.
– Do Soulspace meditation every night.
– Blog 2x per week.
– Complete the Contentment Challenge (Q1). 

March progress:
 I think I missed 5 days in my devotional, but that's not bad overall.
– Once again, I did Soulspace for 60% of the month. Not terrible but I want to see growth here!
– I was on track for the first half of the month, but then I took a break. I don't regret it, however.
– This was not as successful as 2020, and I have my theories as to why. I'm still glad I participated!

Revisiting My March Goals:
Select photos and design our 2020 family yearbook. / I planned to do both 2020 photo selection and design in March and then realized that I'd rather batch those tasks. So, I'm going to do photo selection for all the yearbooks I need to catch up on first and then work on design after. I think I'll find my groove better that way.
Complete Eleven Months in our big boy's journal. / Done! I'm not officially caught up in his journal yet because I've still got to finish Year 1, 2, and 3. But I'm going to sprinkle those in as goals the rest of the year!
Make my Spring TBR. / You can see my list here, and I'm happy to say I've already read a lot from my list.
Participate in The List Maker Challenge in my journal. / This was so much fun, and I'm glad I participated! It made me get out my journal way more frequently. I plan to keep adding lists to my journal!
Complete three items from our 2021 family bucket list. / We technically only completed two in March, but I checked it off because the third (family photos) was pushed back to April due to weather. The other two: Nick and our big boy visited LEGOLAND, and then our whole family went to a wildlife preserve about an hour away. 
Choose outfits for family photos. / I'm so glad I made this a goal so I didn't procrastinate on it! I found an adorable smocked jon jon for the baby and chose our outfits around his, since the photos were for his first birthday.
Start changing phone habits with app limits. / Although I'm not posting on Instagram these days, I still find myself wasting time on the app. So, I set a limit for March and stuck to it for every day except two. I'm so glad I made this change and plan to continue changing my phone habits with additional changes this year.
Break down meal planning goal into action steps! / As I mentioned, I'm putting this goal on hold for now.

My April Goals:
– Select photos for our 2018 and 2019 family yearbooks.
– Complete three items from our 2021 family bucket list.
– Plan my big boy's 5th birthday.
– Buy my new 2021-2022 planner!
– Catch up on February and March book reviews.
– Begin implementing an earlier bedtime + routine.
– Choose a Bible study to go through this spring.

Do you have any goals for April?

March 2021: Recap + On My Shelves

Apr 10, 2021

I got on a major reading kick in March, finished 32 books (insanity, I know), and let blogging fall by the wayside. But I did do some things besides reading, and I'm excited to chat about them today after my time away from this space.

1. Visiting a Wildlife Preserve – We decided to go on a family adventure in early March to a wildlife preserve about an hour away that someone had recommended to me. It was a beautiful day, and our boys had so much fun looking at the zebras, camels, tigers, bears, horses, and more. That's one item off our 2021 family bucket list!

2. Outdoor Adventures – As the days got prettier, we spent more and more time outside. From neighborhood walks to exploring some playgrounds, I loved taking my boys places. We didn't do much last spring (due to COVID and the baby being a newborn), so it's been nice to get out a little more and have fun locally. 

3. Sister Socializing – A new month means new books, so naturally my sister and I had a few bookstore dates. I was excited to buy some of my most-anticipated 2021 releases and some new-to-me finds that could be a bust (but here's to hoping they're not). Caroline is terrible for my TBR but hanging out is so good for my heart.

4. Nerd Time at the Library – After a week that felt way too long and kind of exhausting, I told Nick that I just wanted to sit down with a cup of coffee, my book, journal, and planner. But it's hard to have quiet time – alone – at home. So, I packed up some of my stuff and went to our local library. It was just what I needed!

Read 32 Books | Favorites:
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Honorable Mentions:
My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew
By the Book by Amanda Sellet
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

“Grief runs through the whole of life and leaves nothing untouched. 
A voice on the car radio, a knife in the kitchen drawer, each carries a thought of the dead.”
Austen Years by Rachel Cohen

“You are not among the good that has happened to me. You are the best of all that I have known. 
You are what I searched for when I left that house and wandered this earth, boy and man. 
You are the part of myself I never thought to find because I did not even dare to dream you existed. 
You are all that I want and more than I deserve, and I will go to my grave thanking a god 
in whom I do not believe for bringing me you.” 
An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn

“Maybe that’s how it always is, I thought—we all just go along, 
catching glimpses of one another, thinking we know everything.” 
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. 
What you must do is this: 'Rejoice evermore. 
Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.'
I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.”
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

“Reverence is the practice of remembering your place in the world: small, and with very little control. 
It sounds defeatist, but I think it's actually the key to living with a sense of wonder and appreciation. 
Nothing was ever promised to us, including the miracle of life itself.”
My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew

“You grow to love something when you give your attention to it.”
My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew

“To find out what a story's really about, ” the Librarian said, 
“you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader.”
Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

“Memories are always bent retrospectively to fit individual narratives.” 
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

“Memories were beastly little creatures, after all—they rose with the faintest whiff of nourishment.” 
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

“But sometimes my mouth starts saying words without checking with my brain first.”
Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

“Happiness is not a zero-sum game. It's the only case in which the resources are limitless, 
and in which the rich can get richer at no expense to anyone else.”
Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

“Everything is redeemable, Martha. Even decisions that end up with you 
unconscious and bleeding in a pedestrian underpass, like me. Although ideally, 
you want to figure out the reason why you keep burning your own house down.”
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

“ Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine. 
That is what life is. It’s only the ratios that change. Usually on their own. 
As soon as you think that’s it, it’s going to be like this forever, they change again.”
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

“There is always a road back. If we have the courage to look for it, and take it. 
I'm sorry. I was wrong. I don't know. I need help. These are the signposts. The cardinal directions.” 
The Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

I didn't meet my blogging goal in March, but I'm totally okay with that fact. I got on a reading binge and finished 32 books, so the time away from my computer was good for me. I'd put my boys to bed each night and then sit down with a book, often reading it all in one sitting. It was so fun! I still managed to write six posts, too. I shared my February 2021 recap and March 2021 goals, two staples every month. My So Obsessed With: Mini Edition #11 featured seven things I've been loving lately. And inspired by something I'd written for my birthday, I shared 45 Facts About Me as a Reader. I posted My Spring 2021 TBR and am pleased to say that I've already read a lot of books off this stack! And finally, I posted my sister's favorite recent reads for Tales & Tiger Lily: February 2021. The main post that I'm missing? My own Quick Lit mini reviews! I've got a lot to catch up on this month...

Favorite Song #1: "If You Want Love" by NF
This randomly ended up on my radar and led to me listening to a lot of NF in March.
I don't even know, y'all. But I have no regrets! I love the lyrics to this one.

Favorite Song #2: "Love You Like That" by Dagny
I saw someone recommend this song on Instagram, and I liked it immediately. 
It's perfect for turning up the music and driving with my windows down.

Book of the Month: One to Watch by Katy Stayman-London and The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Bookstore: Accidentally Engaged by Farrah Heron, Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher, The Rose Code by Kate Quinn, Float Plan by Trish Doller, Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson, My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew, Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare, An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn, and We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Book Outlet: Girl Gone Viral and The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai, Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin, Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory, Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey, and Marriage on Madison Avenue and Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Used Bookstore: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (not pictured)

Gifted: The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary (from Kelly) and Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez (from my sister)

Audible: An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn, A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, Betty by Tiffany McDaniel, and The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

NetGalley: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
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