A Place for Us

From Goodreads: A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia's, wedding - a match of love rather than tradition. It is here, on this momentous day, that Amar, the youngest of the siblings, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. Rafiq and Layla must now contend with the choices and betrayals that lead to their son's estrangement - the reckoning of parents who strove to pass on their cultures and traditions to their children; and of children who in turn struggle to balance authenticity in themselves with loyalty to the home they came from.

In a narrative that spans decades and sees family life through the eyes of each member, A Place For Us charts the crucial moments in the family's past, from the bonds that bring them together to the differences that pull them apart. And as siblings Hadia, Huda, and Amar attempt to carve out a life for themselves, they must reconcile their present culture with their parent's faith, to tread a path between the old world and the new, and learn how the smallest decisions can lead to the deepest of betrayals.


I stayed up too late over the weekend finishing A Place For Us and nearly made it through the entire book without crying. And then I got to the last four pages and had a cry fest on my couch. 

Let me say that the writing is absolutely gorgeous. The majority of the book consists of nonlinear flashbacks but Mirza gives you enough information and detail to visualize where in the history of this family they take place. It could easily feel scattered but she keeps the prose fluid and always moving. There are leaps in time but I didn't have trouble keeping up in that sense. 


This is a book I have a hard time professing love for, partially because I know how certain readers might be disappointed by it. It reminded me a lot of A Little Life in the sense that it's both haunting and beautiful, emotionally complex and incredibly simple. I'm doing my best not to spoil but please be careful if you've not yet read it. A Place For Us is a slow burn and the payoff is not in how the plot and story end, but rather, in experiencing the heights and depths of the intricacies of the human experience. It's a love letter to what could have been and the missteps along the way. Part four is where it all comes together and it's worth it to keep reading. This isn't a book to get lost in the plot and drama of one family. It's slow and nuanced and so full of tenderness and ache. I enjoyed the book because it made me feel something and it's one I know I will think of often. Part of me wants to hate it because I didn't get the resolution I wanted. All in all, I'm blown away by Mirza's debut novel at such a young age (27!). I would love to discuss if you've read this one - I'm definitely still processing. You can pick it up at your local indie bookstore or online from amazon.

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and Hogarth Publishing for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions my own. 

Us Against You

Happy pub day to Us Against You! I'm so excited it's out in the world for everyone to go out and buy. This was such an anticipated read for me and I'm so thankful to Atria Books for providing me a free, early copy. All opinions my own. 

From Goodreads: After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach. Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute. As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.


Oh my goodness. I'm honestly a little glad that I waited to read Beartown this year because it meant I got to read both Beartown as well as Us Against You pretty close together. I was simultaneously so excited as well as apprehensive. I finished the last page of Beartown in February and knew I'd already read my favorite book of the year. What if the sequel didn't live up to my expectations after Beartown? Would I be let down? Beartown easily earned it's place on my ALL TIME FAVORITES LIST and Us Against You is no different. 


Us Against You starts out slower and Backman's cadence feels just a bit different but the story and emotions build in the same wonderful way. You meet both old and new characters and learn to love their quirks and struggles in a more involved way. What I love about Backman is how can wreck you with the mundane details of life and brilliance hidden within. This one is a slower burn but absolutely beautiful. If you want to fall in love with characters and a town and don't mind a little heartbreak, this one is absolutely for you. There were lots of tears and this is one I'll be re-reading in the future. I hope you love it as much as I did because this is one I can't stop talking about. 

Fingerprints of Previous Owners

Today I'm a stop on the book tour for Fingerprints of Previous Owners. Thanks TLC Book Tours for providing this copy. All opinions my own. 

From Amazon: At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins the locals refuse to acknowledge. Myrna's mother has stopped speaking and her friends are focused on surviving the present, but Myrna is drawn to Cruffey Island's violent past. With the arrival of Mrs. Manion, a wealthy African-American, also comes new information about the history of the slave-owner’s estate and tensions finally erupt between the resort and the local island community. Suffused with the sun-drenched beauty of the Caribbean, Fingerprints of Previous Owners is a powerful novel of hope and recovery in the wake of devastating trauma. In her soulful and timely debut, Entel explores what it means to colonize and be colonized, to trespass and be trespassed upon, to be wounded and to heal.


I was immediately intrigued upon hearing about this book. The topic in combination with perspective offered seemed right up my alley. That said, I had the hardest time getting into this book. The first chapter made me feel so disoriented and it was really hard to understand what exactly I was reading. I appreciate the authors research and willingness to explore such a weighty topic but I had a difficult time connecting with any of the characters or feeling invested in the story. I appreciated the concept of the story but the execution fell a bit flat. I had pretty high hopes for this one and overall, it missed the mark. It wasn't for me but I can see that others might appreciate it more. If you've read this, I'd love to chat!


The Immortalists

From GoodreadsIf you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.


I firmly believe that some books find us at just the right time. And while literary fiction can be hit or miss for me, I absolutely adored this book. It's less about the prophecy and more about what choices these four uniquely different siblings make. 

The book is divided into sections, each focusing specifically on one sibling. I found myself crying in public after the first section and knew I was hooked. There were a few scenes throughout that were a BIT much for me (hello, sensitive reader) but overall I adored this book. I think Benjamin does a fantastic job bringing Varya, Daniel, Klara, and Simon to life and I truly savored my time with them. There were so many lines I found myself reading and re-reading, including the closing lines. I finished a few days ago and I'm still thinking about this story and the final pages. 


Overall, I found The Immortalists to be remarkable and absolutely captivating. It forced me to slow down to really soak in the beauty of the Gold family. I'm so glad I held onto this book for  a few weeks before reading as it was the perfect way to kick off my reading in 2018. Already, it's found a spot on my favorite books list. This book is out in the world TODAY so do yourself and snag a copy. I hope you love it as much as I did. 



Thank you so much to Putnam Books for gifting me this early finished copy. All opinions my own. 

The Great Alone

From Amazon: Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.


Hannah does an incredible job of creating characters in such a way that they truly come alive in your mind while reading. I'm not sure that I've loved a character like Large Marge in such a long time. As much I hated so many of the choices the characters made at times, I felt like I knew them in such a way that I understood what they were doing, even if I loathed it. She took me to another world - Alaska in the 1970's. Beautiful, tragic, remote, and breathtaking. There's a significant story here but if domestic abuse and violence are triggers, this might not be for you. Hannah broaches a tough subject and handles it beautifully. My only complaint was something in the ending but I won't spoil that one for you.

Overall, I really loved The Great Alone. It is so very different from The Nightingale so try not to compare - I won't lie, that was hard for me. I wasn't exactly satisfied with the ending but I still thought the book was incredibly well written. I was completely sucked into the story and stayed up late to keep reading. Bonus points for both making me laugh out loud AND tear up. 


The Great Alone is out 2/6/2018. Pre-order your copy here. Thank you so much to St. Martin's Press for a free copy in exchange for a review. All opinions my own. 


Books of 2017

What a year! I feel like I've heard the phrase, "The more things change, the more things stay the same" so often but it's never felt as true as it has this year. As much as things feel the same, I feel like 2017 has been a big year.


I created an Instagram account for books (best decision ever) and started listening to audiobooks. I made space for more creative things - specifically sewing and it is changing my perspective and teaching me to slow down.  And of course, I read some incredible books. I read more than I ever have in a year and finished at 67 books (!!!)


Regardless of how many books you read, I just really value READING. And one book is better than no books! Here's what I read (in order) in 2017:

1. Kira-Kira
2. The Mothers
3. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
4. We Should All Be Feminists
5. Commonwealth
6. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress
7. The One-in-a-Million Boy
8. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
9. Small Great Things
10. Brown Girl Dreaming (Audio)
11. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
12. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
13. The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book
14. The Last Days of Night
15. Big Little Lies
16. Columbine
17. Pachinko
18. Divergent
19. Feathers
20. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (Audio)
21. I Found You
22. Insurgent
23. Exit West
24. Allegiant
25. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
26. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between (Audio)
27. The Hate U Give
28. The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
29. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
30. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
31. In the Woods
32. Crazy Rich Asians
33. Goodbye, Vitamin
34. This Is How It Always Is
35. Behind Her Eyes
36. The History of Bees
37. Live from Cairo
38. Dreamland Burning
39. Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything
40. Stella by Starlight
41. Castle of Water
42. The Address
43. Between the World and Me (Audio)
44. The Graybar Hotel: Stories
45. Hum If You Don't Know the Words
46. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Audio)
47. The Captain's Daughter
48. Sing, Unburied, Sing
49. White Bodies
50. Stuart Little (Audio)
51. Little Fires Everywhere
52. I Was Anastasia
53. The Alice Network
54. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
55. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
56. Seven Days of Us
57. The Magician's Nephew
58. Oliver Loving
59. The Horse and His Boy
60. A Short History of the Girl Next Door
61. The Room on Rue Amelie
62. Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood (Audio)
63. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
64. The Great Alone
65. Bonfire
66. Delicious!
67. Wild in the Hollow

While I read so many good books, the favorites truly were standouts. My favorites were Castle of Water, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. These books gave me ALL of the feelings. And when I say all, I mean all. I sat outside Whole Foods sobbing while finishing one of these and it was truly the best. I have had the most fun reading this year and am already eyeing my bookshelves to see what I want to get 2018 started with. I've loved connecting with so many people over a shared love of reading. It's been a hard but beautiful year and I think those are some of the very best kind. 

What was the best book you read this year?!




Maybe it's a millennial thing but I feel like I've been hearing about bullet journals (or #bujos if you're on the internet) for so long now. The idea (in my own words) is that it's a place for all of your lists, goals, and ideas to be in one place. I have friends who are far more artsy than I who use it as a bit of a catch-all. Theirs are full of lists but also memories, photos, and quotes. I loved it but didn't think it was for me - it seemed like a lot to keep up with. 

I started tracking what books I was reading in 2013 and have kept a notebook specifically for my lists since. I knew that I loved tracking bookish things and figured that would be something I could actually keep up with. I followed my friends' lead and bought a leughtturm1917. This is the one I have - I love how bright the yellow is! Now, I had space to track not just what I'd actually read but keep lists and organizers of other things - books I wanted to get through, how many fiction vs. non I've read in a year, etc. I don't feel like there's a ton out there in relation to bookish spreads specifically, so I'm hoping that as more people start using a bullet journal for books, we can all share ideas. 


I absolutely love it! All of my bookish things are in one place and it's an excuse for my washi tape addiction. I personally love using felt tip pens. These are my favorite - I love the size small! And the mildliners come in the very best colors. 

I'm learning as I go but I've loved having another creative outlet for all things books. Can't wait to see what you come up with and make sure to use #bujoforbooklovers so we can see! Happy reading and bullet journaling. 

The Short History of the Girl Next Door

From the jacket:

“Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her. He implodes on the basketball court, even though no one cares about the JV team. And the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about cantankerous candy-cane lumberjacks. If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain. But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse. After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, spiraling out of control and in danger of losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.”


I went into this book pretty blind, only knowing the inside flap and not having heard of it otherwise. I was immediately drawn in by the snarky and honest voice our narrator has. This book is technically YA and I think that made me love it even more. Reck puts into words the thoughts so many of us have undoubtedly had as an unsure teenager trying to navigate the social norms and despair of high school. I felt like I was living in Matt’s head the entire time which was such as satisfying experience as a reader.

The one caveat I will give to more sensitive readers is that this book uses a LOT of language and if you are not a fan of the F word, this probably won’t be for you. I loved Matt and Tabby enough to overlook it but I do wish the author had been a BIT more sparing with the cursing.


I finished this book with a smile on my face while tears were streaming down. It was sweet and sad and so very brutally honest. I thought Matt was endearing and candid and I was totally drawn into this story. I think some might argue this book is not totally realistic to which I would respond that it’s young adult and I’m okay with that. Even if it might not be the most accurate or lifelike, if it can make me feel something – I’m sold. I was willing to suspend disbelief and this book left me with a LOT of feelings. After reading, I saw this book compared to Looking for Alaska. I will say that I enjoyed this book MUCH more. I can’t wait to pass this along to my friends who teach high schoolers to hear what they think.

I wouldn’t have found this book if it weren’t for Blogging for Books. Thank you for this free copy in exchange for an honest review.

November Wrap Up

Happy December 1st! I can't believe it's already December. I'm so excited for Christmas but feeling a little nostalgic that the year is already ending. I won't lie, my days feel pretty monotonous sometimes, but I look back and see just how good this year has been. Cue all of my sentimental feelings about the end of a calendar year. 

This month I've gotten into a new routine of actually leaving the speech room for lunch. I have a few co-workers who also like to read during their lunch break so it's been nice to have some camaraderie in that. Overall, I finished seven books this month! Two historical fiction, two middle grade, one magical realism, and two contemporary fiction. It was a wonderful month of reading and I'm eager to round out 2017 with some incredible books. 


Not pictured are I Was Anastasia (currently being loaned out) and The Alice Network (library book).

I absolutely loved Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance and was so fascinated with I Was Anasastia. If you like magical realism or historical fiction, definitely add them to your list! Many thanks to Flatiron Books, Doubleday Books, Berkley Publishing, and Ruth Emmie Lang for sending books my way! 

What was the best thing you read this month? Anything I should definitely try to read in December? Happy reading everyone! 






Book of the Month

If you've been following my book account on Instagram, I think you'll know how much I love Book of the Month. I was introduced after winning a giveaway this summer and now I'm HOOKED. I look forward to the beginning of the month so much more knowing that the new selections will be revealed. It saves money on new books and it really is like Christmas each time my box arrives. This post is not sponsored by BOTM in any way, I just love it THAT much. 


Happy reading!

Summer Reading Wrap Up

I've officially started back to work and as embarrassing as it is, I'm a little wiped after two days. It was a fantastic summer filled with just enough structure working part time, a trip to Mexico, and lots and lots of reading. I also made an instagram account specifically for books which has been the most fun experience ever. You can find me here. My goodreads goal is 70% complete thanks in part to summer reading and was able to finish 14 books on my break. Here are a few of them. 

My final list for summer included:

1. Insurgent
2. Exit West
3. Allegiant
4. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
5. Talking As Fast As I Can
6. The Hate U Give
7. The Happiness Project
8. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
9. Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore
10. In The Woods
11. Crazy Rich Asians
12. Goodbye, Vitamin
13. This Is How It Always Is
14. Behind Her Eyes

Favorites included The Hate U Give, Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore, and This Is How It Always Is. I hardcore struggled to finish The Happiness Project and In The Woods.I still like the more serious books and struggle with picking lighter summer books but really no surprises there. 

What was the best book you read this summer? You know I love chatting books!


The Hate U Give

Summer has been gloriously filled with slower mornings and lots of reading. Although I am savoring it as best as possible, I can feel myself starting to itch for a more consistent routine. I've been working part time at the most fun clinic but working two days a week is definitely not real life. It's a blast but I definitely do better with a more consistent schedule. I have gotten more plugged into the Bookstagram community which is the most fun and have gotten some really amazing book recs from it. One of which is the incredible debut by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give.

From GoodreadsSixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: whatreally went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: It is truly SUCH a valuable time to have diverse books that challenge us to re-examine the lens we view our lives through. It is so easy for me to ignore the news and stay in my own little bubble. It's so easy to pass off problems if they don't affect me directly. It's easy for me to refuse to use my voice since I don't know enough about the given topic to contribute. I've been there and I can't stay there. I don't think any of us can afford to stay there. 

“That's the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?” - The Hate U Give

This book was heartbreaking and incredibly real. It was raw and tough to read at times but so very necessary. It taught me to delve a little deeper into empathy and understanding. I truly loved this book and cannot urge you to read it enough. Also read the acknowledgements because HELLO TEARS. Have you read this? Let's chat. 

Books of 2016

2016 was equal parts wonderful and hard, full and lonely. I finished grad school, we decided to stick around Fay town, and I started my first "real" job (!!). Through it all, lots of reading. 

Books of the year originally started in 2013 as a way to read more and keep myself accountable to something I loved doing. The idea was to read the number of books that correlated with how old I was that year. 21 books for my year of being 21, etc. You can read about previous years here and here

I've always been passionate about books and reading. Now more than ever, I see the importance in it. Reading teaches us to take on another's perspective, to agree or disagree. To engage in a story that's different than our own. Reading helps with that connection and I think it helps us build bridges in ways that most other things can't. And in a life that's so saturated with technology and ads and quick fixes, a physical book slows me down. For that, I'm grateful.

I've kept up my annual reading challenge but decided to bump up my goal to 40 books this year. 


I read several classics and finally worked my way through a few books that had been sitting on the shelf FOREVER. I'm slowly purging books and only keeping ones that I love! I still love thrifting books but I find the books I'm most excited to read most often come from the library.

All of that said, my 2016 list! In order they were read..

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
2. French Women Don't Get Fat
3. The Interestings
4. The Alchemist
5. The Secret Garden
6. Scary Close
7. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
8. When Breath Becomes Air
9. The Things We Keep
10. The Kitchen House
11. Still Alice
12. For the Love
13. The Color Purple
14. Me Before You
15. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
16. The Nightingale
17. The Shootist
18. Two Across
19. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
20. Carry On, Warrior
21. The Language of Flowers
22. Olive Kitteridge
23. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
24. My Berlin Kitchen
25. The Dinner
26. The Westing Game
27. Number the Stars
28. But You Did Not Come Back
29. The Nest
30. The Dirty Life
31. The Boston Girl
32. A Man Called Ove
33. Calling Me Home
34. The Bell Jar
35. A Little Life
36. The Other Wes Moore
37. The Girls
38. The Astronaut Wives Club
39. Homegoing
40. Daring Greatly
41. Present Over Perfect
42. The Underground Railroad
43. Into Thin Air
44. News of the World

Favorites: Homegoing, The Nightingale, Calling Me Home. GIMME ALL THE HISTORICAL FICTION. 

Honorable Mention: A Little Life (still reeling from this book), The Underground Railroad, The Kitchen House

2016 was a solid year for reading and I'm already eager to get rolling on my 2017 booklist. Did you read any really great books this year? Will you set a reading goal for next year? Find me on goodreads and let's be friends!

Happy reading!

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad won this year's National Book Award and for very good reason. 

"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share."

It was a read I'd been looking forward to for quite some time and I was extremely excited to reach the top of the queue at the library. This book was incredibly well written and heavy in a way that takes your breath away. He does an incredible job of intertwining history with a story that sucks you in. It's grotesquely accurate in it's portrayal of our history as a country and it scares me to see how much we've regressed. Whitehead had the idea for this book 16 years ago but waited until he felt like he could do it justice. It's more relevant now than ever before. 

“The whites came to this land for a fresh start and to escape the tyranny of their masters, just as the freemen had fled theirs. But the ideals they held up for themselves, they denied others.” 

Books, especially this one,  are helping me to find the right questions to ask and to dig a little deeper into my discomfort. To realize the responsibility I have in this day and age, and to feel the weight of it all. To be challenged and pushed forward. 

I'll finish with these words by @athousandbooks:

"It's interesting to see what's happening in literature in 2016 juxtaposed with the current political climate. Books addressing the scourge of slavery like Homegoing and The Underground Railroad are bestsellers, plays like Hamilton are sold out, and yet deep down I think many of us have a sense that despite changes to laws, the collective mindset concerning race remains stagnant. Why is that? I don't think it's wrong to read these books on the beach or set them next to steaming cups of coffee and lunch or melt ice cream on their covers, but as we illuminate, let's also remember the dark tragedy of it all. When literature emits pain like heat, may we as readers feel its prick and do our best to remember the oven is still on."

A Little Life

7 months later...excuse me, is this thing on? I'll blame it on comps/praxis/finishing grad school/thinking we were moving/deciding to stay here/finding a job. In all that...STILL READING.

It took a while for my name to reach the top of the request list for this one which is really no surprise. I had been seeing this book all over and it's one people will be buzzing about for a while.

“He had looked at Jude, then, and had felt that same sensation he sometimes did when he thought, really thought of Jude and what his life had been: a sadness, he might have called it, but it wasn't a pitying sadness; it was a larger sadness, one that seemed to encompass all the poor striving people, the billions he didn't know, all living their lives, a sadness that mingled with a wonder and awe at how hard humans everywhere tried to live, even when their days were so very difficult, even when their circumstances were so wretched. Life is so sad, he would think in those moments. It's so sad, and yet we all do it.” 

Let me start off by saying I'm not sure if I've ever been so deeply heartbroken after finishing a book. I loved/experienced/suffered through 700 pages of absolute tragedy. I like sad books. In fact, I gravitate toward them. Fluffy, happy books never seem real, so I'm okay with the grief factor in a book. A Little Life was a roller coaster that took it to a whole new level. I hated the explicit depth of suffering Jude endured and I just wanted to yell, "COUNSELING! COUNSELING!" the entire time. That being said, I loved the stories and lives of JB, Malcolm, Willem, and Jude. A Little Life is both beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking. I wept the last 100 pages and went through AT LEAST half a box of kleenex. I loved this book and felt thoroughly depressed both while reading and upon finishing. It's a strange combination but if you've read it, I think you'll understand. 

I wouldn't recommend this book to everybody and if you are a sensitive reader, this book is absolutely not for you. However, it's one that will stick with me in the days to come. It's a devastatingly brilliant book but not for the faint of heart. Have you read it? Let's discuss. 

2016 reads (so far)

January is dwindling away (what!) and I'm still hopeful for snow in February. Really, I think we could all use a few snow days. I'm settling into a new normal and eagerly awaiting for my nights to be free from studying. Here's to hoping I pass the praxis and comprehensive exams the first time around (!!!) and can say that I'm finally done with grad school work. I feel both giddy and terrified. PRAY FOR ME.

Here are my January reads (thus far). I haven't read this many books in a month in a very, very long time. I'll go ahead and thank my extended Christmas break for that. I'm also still hopeful that I'll finish another before the month is over. One of my goals this year is to read more books we already have and donate the ones I impulsively bought for a quarter but will never actually read. I can't help it!!! I'm a sucker for cheap books. All the while, I'm still planning on hitting a book sale Saturday morning. Give and take, give and take. Want to be book friends? Follow me on goodreads !

books of 2015

2015: the year of being 23, second year of marriage and grad school, traveling, moving, adjusting to being a semi-adult in my college town, learning how to be more comfortable in my own skin. This year was a whirlwind. It was all of the feels and I am ready to welcome a new year. There is the possibility of so much change in the next few months and it makes me equally giddy and terrified to think of it. BRING IT.

This is my third year to keep this up and I can't wait until I'm 60 years old and doing the same thing. I have a January birthday so it just made sense when I came up with it a few years ago. The idea is that however many years old I am, that's how many books I read. I typically go over although the amount of books I read is nowhere near the surplus so many friends read in a year. Regardless, it keeps me on track and away from netflix/interwebs so much and keeps me sane in the torment of grad school (DRAMATIC, SUE ME). I read some amazing books and nerded out at really incredible (new to me) bookstores this year: Bookman, Bookwoman (Nashville, TN), McKay Books (Nashville, TN), Coffee and a Good Book (Van Buren, AR), and The Tattered Cover (Denver, CO). I am a book nerd through and through and PROUD OF IT. So if you want to talk about books or be in a book club or really just drink coffee...I'm in. There's me in a nutshell!

Without further ado, my 2015 booklist (in the order they were read). So many good books and many tears were shed this year. I LOVE IT. 

1. The Book Thief
2. The Shell Collector
3. I'll Give You the Sun
4. East of Eden
5. Everything I Never Told You
6. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
7. The Silver Linings Playbook
8. Brain on Fire
9. The Girl on the Train
10. The Goldfinch
11. We Are All Made of Molecules
12. The Opposite of Loneliness
13. Riding the Bus with My Sister
14. Little Bee
15. The House on Mango Street
16. Maniac Magee
17. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
18. Station Eleven
19. Eleanor & Park
20. Kitchens of the Great Midwest
21. Where the Red Fern Grows
22. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
23. The Year of Magical Thinking
24. A Homemade LIfe *reread*
25. The Zookeeper's Wife
26. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
27. All the Bright Places
28. The Martian
29. Crossing to Safety
30. Fates and Furies
31. Infinite Home

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Book Thief, Traveling Mercies, Where the Red Fern Grows (Wow, I never read this growing up and HELLO SO MANY EMOTIONS. I absolutely SOBBED. No regrets), Orange is the New Black, A Homemade Life (forever, I love you Molly Wizenberg), The Silver Linings Playbook.

TOP 3: Brain on Fire, Station Eleven, Kitchens of the Great Midwest

I think I've recommended Kitchens to at least 10 people. I laughed, I teared up. It's funny and bizarre and all about people and good food and LIFE. I need to own that book. I saw Station Eleven all over instagram but didn't think it really sounded like my kind of book. So different, incredibly written, and I loved seeing the stories come together as one. Technically post-apocolyptic but not incredibly depressing. Brain on Fire - WOW my goodness, could not put down. Maybe I was partly interested because it related to a lot of classes I had just taken (neuro, adult language disorders) but I thought this book was phenomenal. Cahalan does a fabulous job of balancing the medical information with the personal. LOVE. 

Overall this was a great year for reading. I'm ready to dive into the next year - hoping for 40 books! Any recs?


 Cheers to slowing down and reading more books! 

december reading list

It's hard to believe it's already December and another year is almost gone. A few years ago I decided my goal for the year would be to read as many books as I was years old. I've kept it up and this year is my third year to do it, making my goal 23 books. My 2014 list can be found here

 My break officially starts next week and I could not be more excited. After this week I am officially done with grad school classes and will only have a clinic placement in the spring. PARTY TIME, PEOPLE!!!! And by party, I mean read a lot and finish gilmore girls. Here's what I'm planning on reading! What's the best book you've read lately? Any others I should add to my list? I've read some really great books this year so I'm interested to see if any of these snag a spot in my top 3 for the year. 

My break officially starts next week and I could not be more excited. After this week I am officially done with grad school classes and will only have a clinic placement in the spring. PARTY TIME, PEOPLE!!!! And by party, I mean read a lot and finish gilmore girls. Here's what I'm planning on reading! What's the best book you've read lately? Any others I should add to my list? I've read some really great books this year so I'm interested to see if any of these snag a spot in my top 3 for the year. 

stories of the year

books1 There is something about the new year that still makes me a little bit giddy. Although it really is no different and the days will pass as they always have, the idea of newness and a fresh start always manages to find a home in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s simply the feel of crisp whiteness against the slate of grey days. I don’t typically make resolutions but last year I decided to set a goal for myself. 21 books. 2013 was the year that I spent as a twenty-one year old and I wanted to read as many books. As a kid, I grew up at the library. I hung out during the summer programs and volunteered there as a teenager. Now I try to visit the book sale whenever I’m back in town. But somewhere in the midst of college, my love of reading was buried beneath a stack of assignments and final papers. Last year I knew I wanted something to change.


I wanted to practice the discipline of making time for something I loved so much, something that was nourishing for me as a human. To intentionally make my way to home base with a warm mug and a story to slip into. In 2013 I learned how to better make time for myself and in 2014 I learned how to appreciate it on a whole new level. This year, the goal was 22 books. I ended up surpassing that number a bit but I feel the same way I did at the end of last year; there are stories worth living and telling and there is great value in sharing them. No set parameters or specific books I had to read. I just wanted to READ. Here is my adventure in books this year:

A Long Way Gone The Color of Water Bridge to Terabithia Where Things Come Back Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Dear Mr. Henshaw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Wild The Tale of Despereaux The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team Peace Like a River A Painted House Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume Walk Two Moons Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Bud, Not Buddy A Homemade Life It’s Like This, Cat Bread and Wine Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Where’d You Go, Bernadette I Am Malala The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears The Bite of the Mango The Rosie Project Tell the Wolves I’m Home Charlotte’s Web Gone Girl Little House in the Big Woods The Magician’s Nephew Little House on the Prairie Farmer Boy All the Light We Cannot See

This year included a variety. Newbery medal winners, stories from countries far away, books that made me laugh, and a few that made me weep. There are stories that will stick with me for the rest of my life, stories that I cannot wait to pass on to my friends. It has been an incredible year of adventuring through these and I am already so excited to start reading in 2015. There were so many incredible books this year but these three stand out the most:


Cheers to stories worth living and telling. If you've loved any of these, I always enjoy a good book discussion over coffee. Happy reading, friends!