New month, new books! As I was picking, I didn't realize that most of this month's book follow a theme. Can you figure it out?
#1: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
You guys!!!!! This. Book. Was. Fantastic. A big chunk of the story takes place in a courtroom and throughout the whole thing, I was so sure that I knew what was happening/what had happened. I ended up being completely wrong. The early chapters lead up to the court drama and the last two or three chapters all take place post court ruling. The very last page twisted everything on its head. My mouth literally fell open as I read those lines. And then it was over! It ended with this major twist but I'm not mad about it. In fact, the way that the author structured the book all the way to that last chapter was so fabulous. You will not regret reading Where the Crawdads Sing!
#2: Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover
I'm on a Colleen Hoover binge at the moment. I have four of her books already and I plan on trying to read all of them by the end of the year. Reminders of Him is my favorite so far. I actually almost cried so I had to remind myself that it was just a book and the characters aren't real. The book follows the main character, Kenna, as she adjusts to life post-prison. She's trying to reunite with her daughter but it's a challenge because the grandparents blame Kenna for their son's death. It's a whole rollercoaster of emotions and you need to read it because the whole plot is a masterpiece!
#3: Elizabeth and Mary by Jane Dunn
I'm a history nerd, we know this. Recently, I wrapped up this biography about Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary Queen of Scots. I loved it! It was super detailed and so well told. Their story is intricate with so many layers that if you try to do your own research, it can get chaotic really fast. This book had all the information you could ever want to know and then some. There's even a few pages solely dedicated to full-color photos. I know you can look up all the things because this is a biography but it's a fantastic story that I feel is so much better in this form.
#4: The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpstein
I also have a fascination with Russian royalty, Yes, Russia actually had a royal family for many centuries. From the 900s to 1613, Russia was ruled by many different people. Essentially, everyone just kept killing people and ending the ruling bloodline. The crown hopped around a lot. In 1613, Mikhail Romanov was crowned Tsar of all the Russians and this book takes place throughout the mid-1700s. Mikhail's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth is the second-born daughter of Tsar Peter the Great. In 1725, Peter the Great died and his wife, Catherine became the Tsarina. When Catherine died a decade later, the crown goes to Elizabeth's nephew Peter. Peter didn't last long and up next is Elizabeth's cousin, Anna. There's lots of drama and backstabbing, and love affairs and all kinds of things in between. Such a good story.
#5: The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis
We're closing out the month with a good old murder mystery! The first few chapters were slow but the middle makes up for that very well. All the characters are enjoyable which is a blessing because sometimes characters can fall short. There are a few that are annoying but none are entirely unlikable. There's lots of historical New York landmarks used throughout the novel and the descriptions are really vivid and beautiful. I did my own research after reading and was surprised at how accurate it was. The overall mystery is fun (outside of the whole murder thing) and it gave me Clue vibes. When the killer was revealed, I was satisfied, especially because there was lots of easter eggs when I went back through at the end.
See you in June!
I know I say this an outrageous number of times, but I love every book on this month's list. They're just all so good! My rankings were really hard to make this month but I have finally figured it out. Let's dive in!
#1: Still Life by Louise Penny
I can't not include murder mysteries, guys. We know how it is at this point in the game. Still Life had so many great moments outside of the main murder plot which is why it earned the top spot. Normally with books that fall into this genre, you only get to see the aftermath as it relates to trying to figure out who the killer was. This novel not only shows that but it also takes a look at grief and how grief impacts the lives of each individual person as well as their relationships. Every character is involved in trying to help the police solve it and they're each able to offer help in their own way. The way that they actually solve it is spectacular and unexpected but totally fits the story as a whole. Everything sort of comes full circle at the end. Plus, if you love the characters, this is only the first book in the series.
#2: Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr
Romance novels are nice escapes from the normal world. However, they can become repetitive especially if the plot remains almost identical to others. Shelter Mountain has a romance plot that runs parallel with a very high-stakes situation involving fake identities, drug mules, crazy ex-husbands, and a very well put together team of Marines ready to take down the bad guys. The second book in the Virgin River series could not be anymore different from the show and it blows my mind how well the story is written. All our favorites from the first book make an appearance but we're still introduced to new characters that soon become ones we root for. Read this book!!
#3: Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson
Months ago, I blogged about a book called A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and I loved it! The sequel did not disappoint. The plot is different from the first but everything else is still the same. When a book series lives within the same world, it can be hard for writers to change up the story rather than a continuation (i.e. Caraval). Similarly, readers can struggle with interest if the story veers too far from the things they loved about the first. This series didn’t have that issue. The conflict within the first book stands on its own and the conflict within this one does as well. Each book flows nicely but you don’t necessarily have to read them in order because plenty of background is given. I love it when I’m annoyed to go to bed because a book is so good! A+ to Holly Jackson!
#4: Everything We Didn't Say by Nicole Baart
I’ve read two books in my life that were set in Iowa. Everything We Didn’t Say was the first. The interesting thing about this novel is that it is categorized as a “whodunit” but the mystery isn’t the primary focus. More like, every plot line relates back to it. As we explore different characters and situations, we learn a little bit more about the overarching question. Throughout the story, the author jumps between two different timelines: present time and the summer after the narrator graduated high school. I always find split timelines fun and personally think this one was executed really well. Sometimes, you don’t get lucky! Overall, I appreciated all the different characters and was satisfied with the final reveal.
#5: The Dead Girl in 2A by Carter Wilson
Online, this is classified as a psychological thriller but I’m also going to add on sci-if as well. The Dead Girl in 2A in no way goes as its title suggests. In fact, it all relates back to these experiments being done on children. This book gives few clues as to what’s really going on for the two main characters. You know virtually nothing until the very last chapters when all the random puzzle pieces given start finally making sense. I can definitely say that this one stumped me until the very end. Jam-packed with action and surprises, you’ll stay up all night until the final page is flipped.
Until next time, my friends!
It's snowing today. Actual snow, not just random flurries. Will winter ever end?? But we can't always get what we want, which is so unfortunate. Anyway, now that we've got the unpleasantness taken care of, let's move onto things that are actually fun and happy. Yesterday, the senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Breyer when he retires this summer. President Biden's first nomination to the Supreme Court is monumental. Jackson is the first African-American woman to be confirmed to the court in its 233-year history. The final vote came to 53-47. All fifty senate democrats voted yes along with just three senate republicans: Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Lisa Murkowski. Every other senate republican voted no. In a move that I can only classify as petty, Mitch McConnell left the chamber as the new Judge Jackson received a standing ovation. Other republicans followed suit which left the senate half empty. Photos captured by journalists underscore the divide between parties that only seems to be widening.
To the press, the senate minority leader had this to say, "When it came to one of the most consequential decisions a president can make, a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the Biden administration let the radicals run the show. The far left got the reckless inflationary spending they wanted. The far left has gotten the insecure border they wanted. And today, the far left will get the Supreme Court justice they wanted." Like, what?? Make it make sense! How do these people continue to get re-elected? Also, Mitch has no place to talk about "consequential decisions". Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in thirty-five days from President Trump's initial nomination after RGB's death in September 2020. The final vote came a week before election day. Remember when the Senate wouldn't let President Obama nominate Merrick Garland in 2016 because it was too close to the election?
The republicans are all riled up and Mitch and his favorite whipping boy, Lindsey, are on every major press outlet vowing "payback" when the republicans take back control of the House and Senate. What payback? The president nominated a highly qualified, highly intelligent candidate (as is his right as President, per Article II, Section II of the US Constitution). She went through all of the senate hearings which were honestly a circus because they were led by a bunch of clowns who argue like second graders on the playground instead of elected representatives of the richest, most powerful country in the world. But girl did it and she did it without breaking a sweat. She then got the number of votes needed to approve her appointment, end of story. There was nothing nefarious, no underhand tactics. Every step was done in accordance with established laws and precedences. Maybe that's what they don't understand? That something could be be done fairly, legally, and professionally. Whatever's actually going on in their heads, we'll probably never know but here's hoping that mid-term elections solve some issues.
Senator Brian Schatz is a democrat from Hawaii. Senator Brian Schatz is what Olivia Pope would call a gladiator in a suit because he just took a verbal flamethrower to Josh Hawley and it was a beautiful thing to watch. He really said, "Try me". I want more of this. Call these people out for their hypocrisy and their insanity. The one thing that will forever incence me about democrats is they don't fight. I'll give it to the republicans. They can go against anyone, no matter the range of reasonability and they will fight until they are on the floor bloody. The democrats can get something going or they can join in on a fight but they'll never follow through to the bitter end. There are a few here and there (see our fierce senator from Hawaii) but not enough. I think it also comes down to the leadership. Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell may be a few cards short of a full deck but they can pull their together and get things done. Meanwhile, you've got Chuck Schumer and and Steny Hoyer and they talk big talk but you never see the follow through. The slaying of the dragon if you will. For some reason, they just can't garner the same momentum from their people as McConnell and McCarthy can. The old guard is changing and they've lost a lot of the party's legendary power. I found this article from Teen Vogue and it's really eye-opening in regards to the need for fresh politicians in a Congress that's barely changed in four decades.
It's an election year! Mid-terms take place in November and it'll come faster than you think. Make sure that you're registered to vote if you'll be eligible by election day and stay up-to-date on canidates!
Breaking into your regularly scheduled programming to bring you something a little extra fun! No, this is not Caroline's Book Club. That will be arriving on your screens sometime this month. Today we have a brand new series, segment, whatever you want to call it: The Series Spotlight! The idea behind this new blog segment (?) is to focus on one specific book series instead of a set of different books. I happen to have quite a few series's and in the past, I've spread them out over a few months within the book club posts. It annoyed me but I couldn't figure out an alternative solution. Until today. As I was picking titles for March's book club from my master list, (every book I own and/or have read categorized into what has been blogged about and what has yet to be blogged about) the idea suddenly came to me. Put the books that belong to a series into its own post. The solution was that simple and somehow it took me three years to pull it from the recesses of my mind.
So from this point on, all books that follow a specific order will be posted separately from Caroline's Book Club. The only exception to this rule is if I have already blogged about prior books within the same series in past months. Hopefully, this makes things easier for all of you because you will no longer have to dig through month's of blogs to find a new series you're interested in. Before I made my master list, I had to go through the archives for each month to remember when/if I'd written about the first book in a series, the second book, and so on. It was not fun. But now neither of us has to do that anymore! I call that winning.
Without further ado, the inaugural Series Spotlight covers a highly popular set of books: The Bridgerton books. Now, if any of you think (or God forbid, comment) "What is Bridgerton?", we are banned from being friends. If I see you on the street, I'll go right by because how could you not know Bridgerton? #1.) it's a Netflix Original and #2.) said Netflix Original has dominated most of pop culture across all platforms so how could you miss it? Season one was an instant hit when it premiered on Christmas Day 2020 and season two is set to drop on March 25th. The series is produced by Shonda Rhimes (think Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder; PS: Who remembers TGIT Thursdays on ABC? Anyone?) and is primarily filmed in the UK so the set and general mood is stunning. Some of the sets, if you watch historical dramas like moi, will be familiar. There's major crossover between The Crown especially. If I have to explain that, we are really, truly, seriously not friends.
The books that the series is based on were written by Julia Quinn starting almost twenty years ago. Apparently, Shonda Rhimes read the first book, then went to a Starbucks a little while later, and Julia Quinn was there too. They started talking and by the end of that little unexpected coffee date, Bridgerton was being developed for the screen. By January 2022, Bridgerton had been approved up to season four. Each season covers one book. The series contains eight books so there could potentially be eight seasons which I think would make it one of, if not, Netflix's longest running series ever. Let's dive in!
Book 1: The Duke and I (Daphne and Simon)
The first book in the Bridgerton saga takes place in 1813. This period in English history is known as the 'Regency Era'. King George III lost both America and his mind which made him unable to rule. So while he maintained the title for appearances sake, the real governing was left to his son and heir, George, Prince of Wales, who from 1811 until George III's death in 1820, ruled as the Prince Regent before formally retaining the title of King. In this time, debutants were a staple of the culture. Daughters of the upper class and the aristocracy all anticipated the "season" where they would be officially introduced into society. Once out, the hunt for husband was on. Money was a must and a formal title was a fabulous addition. The Duke and I introduces readers to the Bridgerton family; a large, influential family within London. There are eight children in total, named alphabetically from A-H. The first sibling we follow is Daphne. She wants a love match, not just an advantage match. Early on in the novel, Daphne struggles to receive any proposals because she is only seen as a great and compassionate friend. Enter our dashing male lead, Simon Basset, who has just inherited his father's title: the Duke of Hastings. A match set up by her older brother Anthony to Nigel Berbrook (who positively looks like a toad) sends Daphne into a tailspin so she and Simon come up with a grand plan. Fake a romance so that Daphne gets more attention and Simon gets left alone by all of London's ambitious mothers who want their daughters to be the next duchess. It's totally going to work and there are totally not going to be any of those pesky things called feelings. All is going well until Simon and Daphne kiss at a ball. That's a big no-no. Women could be nothing less than "pure" when they married. If you get caught, to the alter you go. And get caught, they do. By Anthony, no less. He's all kinds of furious because Simon should know better but since he didn't, wedding bells must ring. But oh no! Simon has long ago decided that he would never marry, therefore never having an heir which would mean the title dies with Simon. It's all very doom and gloom and mainly stems from Simon's major daddy issues (more on that later). Simon refuses to marry, Daphne is devastated, and Anthony only sees one way out. If you know it, sing it: 🎶The challenge demands satisfaction, if they apologize no need for further action🎶 To the dueling field they go! If you end up watching the show, the dueling scene is a full five minutes and so dramatic. Just as the pistols are about to be fired, Daphne shows up right in the middle. Literally. I mean, her own brother almost shoots her. Daphne decides that they will be married without consulting anyone. They get a quickie marriage license and three days later, Daphne becomes the new Duchess of Hastings. Spoiler alert: Simon is grumpy about that. Throughout the entire second half of the novel, Daphne and Simon get all confused by their feelings but neither one will actually suck it up and talk to the other. Most infuriating! On top of that, Simon tells Daphne that he will never have children and Daphne assumes that this is because Simon has something medically wrong with him, not that he just doesn't want to have kids period. She gets suspicious so her next move is to ask a maid some questions. See, our poor girl doesn't actually know how babies are made. Once she figures out that Simon has been lying, she's fuming (dueling-level Anthony fuming). Daphne confronts Simon (after seducing him, mind you) then leaves him. Simon eventually comes to realize that he loves Daphne and only felt the way he did because his father was horrible and thought that his stammer made him an idiot. He heads for London, which takes awhile because this is the nineteenth century and literal horsepower was the only way to get around. When Simon finally gets to London, Daphne is riding so Simon has to get back on his little horse and gallop after her. All very dramatic. It just so happens that the copy of the book I have is missing five pages which is the bulk of this scene. I'm not bitter. Anyway, she's ahead, he's chasing her, she falls off her horse, they argue a little because remember that they haven't actually spoken to each other, and then go home. Where all of her brothers are waiting and they are so not happy with their new brother-in-law. But all is well because by the end, both parties admit to their feelings, and agree on having a few kids. The epilogue reveals they have had kids: Amelia, Belinda, Caroline (I love having a name preferred by royalty and aristocrats), and the most recent, David. There will be an heir after all.
Book 2: The Viscount Who Loved Me (Anthony and Kate)
If I had to rank the books by my favorites, Anthony and Kate's story is probably my top pick. It's a great enemies to lovers story arc. Anthony is the eldest Bridgerton sibling. His father, Edmund, was the former viscount and he died when Anthony was eighteen from a bee sting. Of all the crazy things you could die of in the nineteenth century and he gets offed by a tiny little bee. After a rather rakish (essentially a posh term for slutty mostly used to describe the gentlemen) youth, Anthony decides it is time to find a wife because he comes from a long line of firstborn sons so he cannot skirt his duties any longer. Enter Kate and Edwina Sheffield. Edwina is the season's diamond and Kate is the big sister you don't want to mess with. Anthony has his eye set on Edwina because she meets all his requirements for a wife. Love not being one of them. In the midst of being on Edwina's trail, Anthony and Kate kiss in his study after he catches her hiding under the desk. Over time, the two develop a sort of quasi-friendship because they have all these weird feelings that they would definitely prefer not to have. One day, while they are both at Aubrey Hall, the Bridgerton family country home, Anthony bumps into Kate while out with Colin. Colin proceeds to invite Kate and Edwina to a game of pall mall with all of his siblings. Kate agrees and Anthony leaves to go get Edwina. During the game, Anthony attempts to get one over on Kate by "accidentally" hitting her ball but she catches on and ends up victorious. Her schemes end with Anthony taking a dive in the lake. It's one of my favorite scenes in the whole series and I hope it makes it into the second season. Later, Anthony and Kate have a rather eye-opening experience after she gets frightened by a thunderstorm and he helps her through it. The whole scene can be viewed as the turning point for the plot. The next day, Anthony sees Kate walking through the garden and decides to join her. Things are going surprisingly well until the bee shows up. Although, they are outside so we can't necessarily blame the bee for what happened. Anthony clearly has some major PTSD from his father's sudden death and when a bee takes an interest in Kate, he gets very agitated. In the end, the two are caught in a very precarious position after Anthony tries to suck out the sting. Ladies and gentlemen, what does that mean? 🎶We're goin' to the chapel and we're gonna get married🎶 This is a little different tale because there were no preconceived romantic narratives, however one does begin to grow in the aftermath. Much like his sister, Anthony slowly begins to realize that he really does love his new bride. Our fearless heroine also begins to make the same conclusion. Anthony gets scared by his growing feelings and leaves Kate. A very confused Kate gets a letter from Eloise that Anthony is at Bridgerton House. She goes there but he doesn't want to talk. He tells her to leave and she does just that. Now nursing a pretty intense hangover, Anthony is with Benedict and Colin. Their conversation finally helps him get it through his annoyingly male brain that he loves Kate and needs to tell her. He leaves his brothers and heads home but learns that Kate is out with Edwina and her new love interest. On horseback, Anthony catches up just in time to see the carriage crash. Talk about drama. He pulls Kate out and professes his love in the midst of her having a broken leg. Once home and examined by a handful of doctors, Anthony tells Kate he feels that he could never live up to his father or surpass him in years. Basically, he believes he'll randomly drop dead sometime after he turns thirty-eight. This is also the reason why he was afraid to love her because he couldn't deal with having to leave her eventually. Kate tries to convince him that everything will be all right but he's still anxious. The epilogue reveals a very happy ending indeed for Lord and Lady Bridgerton. Anthony is celebrating his thirty-ninth birthday and the two have three children: Edmund, Miles, and Charlotte.
Book 3: An Offer From A Gentleman (Benedict and Sophie)
Benedict has lived a very fulfilling life as a bachelor thus far and he's not looking for anything to change that, thank you very much. Until, as all good romance novels tend to have, that one fateful night. Benedict is attending a masquerade ball thrown by his mother. While in the ballroom, a mysterious stranger walks in and Benedict is immediately taken by her. Under the mask is Sophie Beckett, the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Penworth. The maids transformed Sophie so that she could have a night of fun but she only has until midnight otherwise the whole plan would fall through. She ends up spending the whole time with Benedict on the balcony but never reveals her name. When it gets close to midnight, Sophie runs. Benedict tries to chase after her but fails due to the crowd in the ballroom. The only thing he has to remember the mystery girl by is one of her evening gloves. Sounds like a certain fairytale, doesn't it? A year later, Benedict has had no luck with his search and has given up hope of ever finding her. The other half of our Cinderella story, lovely miss Sophie, left her stepmother's home the day after the masquerade ball and ended up getting work as a maid in a country home. This home belongs to a nice old couple whose son runs in the same circles as Benedict. He decides to throw a house party and Benedict is one of the guests. Although he doesn't want to go initially, he changes his mind and good thing too because our girl desperately needs some help. Some of the partygoers get aggressive with Sophie and Benedict ends up being in the absolute right place at the absolute right time. Finally, when it seems everything will align perfectly for our star-crossed lovers, just the opposite happens. Benedict doesn't recognize Sophie. Then again, a masquerade ball probably isn't the best place to meet your soulmate because, hello....masks. However, being the gentleman that he is, Benedict takes Sophie away and promises to get her a position within his mother's household. While they are riding, a massive storm hits. Benedict decides to detour to his home until the rain passes. The name of Benedict's home is "My Cottage" by the way. Benedict ends up catching a cold so Sophie has to take care of him. The next day, the caretakers come back and wonder what's going on. The next few moments are mostly just Benedict and Sophie sending annoyed comments and such back and forth. Then, in the next scene, Benedict and Sophie are by the lake where there's major tension before they kiss for the first time. It was so magnificent that Benedict decides that Sophie will become his mistress. Sophie says "thanks but no thanks" as she should. Rule #1 when you think you might be in love with someone: Don't ask them to become your mistress! That's actually insane, talk to the wall. Anyhow, Benedict pretty much kidnaps Sophie, takes her back to London, and strongly implores his mother to hire her. Violet can see that there's something amiss but she can't quite put her finger on what. She hires Sophie and all is well for a few weeks. Enter, evil stepmother. Remember that menace? She's back and she's a vicious one. Lady Penworth never liked Sophie and after her husband died, she banished Sophie to the attic and forced her to do all kinds of work. One day, Sophie is spotted by her stepmother who accuses Sophie of stealing her wedding ring on the spot. There's a policeman nearby and he just arrests her. Like, I'm sorry but let's be logical humans for a minute. If Sophie hasn't been in the same 2-inch radius as her stepmother in the last year, how on earth could she swipe a ring that never gets taken off? Logical reasoning is clearly lacking here. Stepmonster thinks that she's about to get the last laugh until a beautiful coup is pulled. Benedict comes in with Violet and they are followed shortly thereafter by Sophie's stepsister Possy. Stepmonster gets docked even more points for bestowing that name upon a defenseless child. Possy proves that the whole thing is a set up and Sophie is released. Benedict thinks they're in the clear to marry but Sophie reveals that she doesn't have a dowry. Points for Possy because she comes in with a major reveal. The Earl did leave Sophie a dowry but his lovely wife spent it all. Lady Penworth is on fire and is about to throw back something scathing until Violet secures this whole chess game with the final checkmate. If she leaves Sophie alone and allows Possy to stay with her, then she won't contact her solicitors to hunt for the missing dowry. Stepmonster has no choice but to agree. Point, Lady Bridgerton. Possy rejoices with Sophie, who is now free to marry Benedict and they all lived happily ever after.
Book 4: Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Colin and Penelope)
Penelope Featherington has always been a side character in the preceding three novels. She's Eloise's best friend but has always loved Colin. Much like Daphne's problem way back in The Duke and I, Colin only sees Penelope as a very dear friend. There's even a scene in An Offer From a Gentleman where Colin swears that Penelope is the last person he'd ever marry and Penelope overhears. Julia Quinn did something really cool and she re-wrote that scene for the prologue but it's all from Penelope's perspective. Throughout the whole story, it was kind of obvious that Colin and Penelope were going to end up together. There were no other people or meddlers like there were for Daphne, Anthony, and Benedict. Penelope was pining in secret while Colin just had to spend (almost) the whole book figuring out that little fact for himself. When he finally does, it's a glorious day for all. Characters and readers included. The romance aside, a great reveal comes in the back half. For timeline's reference, Romancing Mister Bridgerton takes place in 1824. 11 years previously, in 1813, there was a great shakeup within London society. Everyone couldn't stop talking about Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews in the show). Lady Whistledown writes about everything. No scandal can get past her quill. The public are both intrigued but also desperate to uncover the author's identity. To motivate people, Lady Danbury (most definitely in the top five for characters) offers a lot of money to anyone who figures out who she is. Penelope panics because she is Lady Whistledown. She's afraid she's about to be discovered but everyone keeps guessing people who aren't her. Thinking she's in the clear, Penelope goes to deliver another draft to her editor but she's followed....by Colin. He's positively angry and Penelope is devastated because she thinks that all hope is lost for them. That is until a very odd turn of events and they get engaged. Although Penelope is happy and so is Colin, things are tense because he doesn't want to talk about her being Lady Whistledown. The whole tiptoeing around each other goes on for a handful of excruciatingly annoying chapters but all you need to know is that even after all the drama, the wedding does happen. And then all hell breaks loose in the form of Cressida Cowper. She's always hated Penelope and thinks herself to be better than everyone else around her. One night, while everyone is gathered at her house for a ball, Cressida announces that she is the one behind Lady Whistledown. No one really believes her but it is quite the dramatic moment. Penelope decides to pen a response which leads to Cressida putting two and two together that Penelope is the elusive author. She decides to conduct a little blackmail scheme which leaves Penelope terrified. She tells Colin who cooks up a plan but doesn't actually disclose the details of said plan to Penelope. All he tells her is that she must be at Daphne and Simon's ball and not leave the presence of his mother and sisters. Penelope does just that because what else can she do. Colin meets her later after conspiring with Simon. He leads her up to a balcony overlooking the ballroom, Simon halts the orchestra, and asks that the partygoes direct their attention to the balcony. After everyone is given a glass of champagne, Colin announces to the whole party that Penelope is Lady Whistledown. There is thunderous applause, Colin and Penelope cease their annoyed feelings toward each other, and the curtain falls on yet another successful Bridgerton love story.
Book 5: To Sir Philip, With Love (Eloise and Philip)
Book five picks up exactly where we left off. Eloise was at the ball but she slipped out in secret... to meet a man. Over the last two years, Eloise has secretly been corresponding with Philip Crane. He was married to her cousin Marina and after Marina died, Eloise reached out to offer her condolences and the two kept writing. However, Philip hasn't been honest with Eloise. He has eight-year-old twins named Amanda and Sam. He invites Eloise to see if they'd make a good match but she never responds. Thinking he scared her off, Philip forgets about the whole thing. That is, until Eloise shows up in his drawing room one afternoon. As they're having the world's most awkward conversation, a scream startles them. Philip explains that it was his children and Eloise stops in her tracks. Not once did he mention children. Philip assumes it was just an oversight on his part and heads for the stairs. He fumbles the situation miserably and Eloise is there to see. Luckily for everyone involved, things will get easier but not without a little bit of mayhem first. Amanda and Sam flat out tell Eloise that they don't want her there. Then, they arrange a bucket of flour to fall from the door when she opens it. Their final plot involves a piece of string tied from one end of the hall to the other. After a lot of yelling on Philip's part, the kids understand the error of their ways. A few days afterward, Eloise visits Amanda and Sam during their lessons. When she arrives, both are crying after the nanny took a ruler to their hands for misbehaving. Eloise has never liked that type of punishment but decides if the nanny felt it was warranted then she shouldn't overstep. She decides to take the kids swimming and work on their lessons. Everyone is having a fun time until Philip sees them. After some pushing, Philip explains that Marina died from pneumonia after jumping into the lake. Later that night, Eloise and Philip are sitting down to dinner, having grown much more comfortable with each other. Suddenly, the front door opens with a very loud bang followed by angry footsteps. The Briderton brothers have arrived. They proceed to pin Philip to the wall and beat him up. Anthony blasts Eloise for being irresponsible and all of them argue. Anthony takes Eloise from the room and informs her that she and Philip will have to get married since she's been there for days without any supervision. Eloise knows this and the conversation allows them both to talk to each other honestly. With that, the five of them for Benedict's until the wedding day arrives. After the joyous day, there's some tension between our newlyweds. Before they were rushed to the alter, neither one had a chance to sort out their feelings. This results in both of them skirting around the topic. Here. We. Go. AGAIN. Eloise decides to visit Amanda and Sam because she has lots of things planned for them that they've been missing out on since their mother died. Upon her arrival, both kids are very upset and the nanny says that they were misbehaving again so she punished them. With this being the second time she's witnessed something like this, Eloise goes off to find Philip. When she does, he's not seeing that she wants to have a serious conversation. In frustration, Eloise goes to Benedict's and finds that her nephew, Charles, is very ill. Back at home, Philip is irritated with the turn of events and leaves to go talk to Eloise. Once he arrives and learns the situation, he asked if they've tried a plant with certain healing properties. Everyone says no so Benedict and Philip go off to find some. Charles begins to slowly improve which allows Philip and Eloise to go home. Philip confesses that he thought she left him. Eloise responds that she would never break marriage vows and that she made a promise to Amanda and Sam that she would be their mother and that she would never leave them. The following day, Philip goes to visit the kids. He notices the nursery door open slightly and peaks in. Amanda is against the wall, huddled in a ball crying. He sees the nanny with a book raised over Sam. Philip fires the nanny immediately. Philip tells Eloise what happened and he finally gets the nerve to truly talk to her. They finally figure out how they both really feel. The end of the book is the four of them out shopping. Amanda is happily trying on dresses and Eloise makes Philip and Sam come in for the tailor. Sam's last line is that he wants the same tailor as his dad and Philip getting all warm and happy inside.
Book 6: When He Was Wicked (Francesca and Michael)
Francesca's story is different than the rest of her siblings. She met and fell in love with John, the Earl of Kilmartin and everything was perfect. At least for John and Francesca but not for his cousin, Michael. The minute he met Francesca, he fell in love but Michael loves John like a brother so he decides to keep his feelings hidden. For two years, the ruse works great and everyone is happy. One day while in London, John gets a headache so Michael and Francesca go for a walk while he rests. Upon their return, the butler says that he has been unable to wake John up for a meeting he needs to leave for. The butler didn't want to be intrusive by going into the bedroom so Francesca goes up instead. She tries to wake John but also fails. She yells for Michael and he confirms the worst. John is dead. With modern medicine, it can be assumed that he died from an aneurysm but back then, they would just assume he got a headache and never woke up. Francesca and Michael are devastated but there is a matter that neither want to deal with: who will be the next Earl? John and Francesca hadn't had kids so Michael is technically next. That is, according to the Lords, as long as Francesca isn't pregnant. So now there's a waiting game because the OBGYN field and women's reproductive health isn't very advanced at this point. What you need to know is that Francesca is pregnant but miscarries soon after finding out. Francesca retreats back to Scotland and Michael travels. He becomes the new Earl but allows Francesca to still live in the estate and help run things while he's out of the country. After a year, he returns to the country still very much in love with Francesca. The two of them have a rough reunion because there is so much unsaid. Francesca wants Michael to talk to her but he can't do that without revealing how he really feels. Over the course of the book, there's lots of confusion, tension, and anger. Eventually, Francesca starts developing feelings so now they both have to deal with the ramifications. Micheal wants to marry her but she's very cautious. However, by the end she doesn't have a choice because more time is spent in bed in this novel than any of the others. One day, Francesca gets a letter that Eloise got married and is furious because no one told her. Philip tells her that this is a sign they should get married because her family didn't tell her about Eloise, so why should they be there for hers? Francesca agrees and they end up getting married in a small chapel on the estate grounds. They actually admit to their feelings pretty quickly but have another problem. Francesca has fertility issues and they're not having any success. Francesca is deeply affected by this, especially since her siblings keep having more. Micheal also finds himself getting sadder with each unsuccessful attempt. Many months pass and Violet is anxiously awaiting Francesca's visit from Scotland. When the carriage comes into view, Violet runs out to meet them. Francesca comes out and greets her mother happily. She tells her that she has a surprise for her and introduces her son, John to his grandmother. Talk about a shock!
Book 7: It's In His Kiss (Hyacinth and Gareth)
Love for the youngest Bridgerton hasn't come easy. Opposite her is Gareth St. Clair, who, being born the second son of a baron, never expected to be in the spotlight. But then his brother died and Gareth became next in line for the title. On top of that, his father isn't his father. His mother had an affair but didn't disclose who the real father was. However, Gareth can still be considered legitimate. It's a little confusing but this is nineteenth century law, after all. Moving on to current events. Hyacinth is at the dreaded Smith-Smythe concert. Lady Danbury brought along her grandson: Gareth St. Clair and makes him sit next to Hyacinth. Long story short, they actually have a pleasant time. The next day, Gareth gets a journal that belonged to his grandmother, Isabella, who wrote it in Italian. Gareth decides to take it to Lady Danbury in hopes that she knows a translator. Upon his arrival, he finds both her and Hyacinth there, having interrupted their weekly reading session. Gareth tells them what's going on and Hyacinth says that she can translate the journal because she had an Italian governess. As Hyacinth reads, she learns that Isabella hid her collection of jewels somewhere. Romance novel meets Nancy Drew mystery, anyone?! They try searching different places within Clair House but have no luck. Between his scavenger hunt with Francesca, Gareth is still having to deal with his father- or not-father. He's a very difficult man and takes every opportunity to throw the family secret in Gareth's face without saying the actual words because can you imagine the scandal? On top of that, what else is happening? I want you to guess. 3...2...1...Gareth and Hyacinth are having feelings for each other. Yes, we have reached the point I like to call, "the awkward and infuriating chapters" because NO ONE WILL TALK TO EACH OTHER. Gareth is nervous because of the whole "my dad isn't my dad" thing and Hyacinth is just flat out confused. Eventually, Gareth's desire to stick it to his father grows so he proposes in the middle of Lady Danbury's drawing room and Hyacinth accepts. Afterwards, he's terrified that the secret will come out and Hyacinth will call it off. Gareth decides to seduce Hyacinth before the wedding because then she has to marry him. Real great plan! I'm screaming in my head. He and Hyacinth decide to do another search of Clair House but really he's just using it as a cover to get her into bed. The disastrous plan works but she still wants to search for the jewels and drags him along. At the same time they're sneaking out, Gareth's father is returning so Gareth makes Hyacinth hide in an alley. He and his father get into it again and the baron brings up the betrothal that he arranged for Gareth a decade ago. Gareth is furious that his father never broke it but his father delights in causing Gareth's misery. Once he leaves, Gareth goes back to Hyacinth but she's gone. Gareth chases her back to her house and is forced to climb through the bedroom window. After a few moments of back and forth, Gareth brings up the conversation and Hyacinth being angry about his previous betrothal. Hyacinth then informs him that she's not mad about that. What's upset her is the fact that he proposed only to get back at his father. The chapter ends with him crawling back out the window. Definitely how you want to leave a fight. After many days, both decide that they need to talk to the other. Much to my own anguish, this conversation can't stay on a straight line. They both started apologizing but then they got angry at the other one for not understanding and then one would apologize for overreacting then it would repeat. Hyacinth is fed up and about to leave but then Gareth finally tells her about his whole messy life. Surprise, surprise, Hyacinth is very supportive of it all. In fact, she still wants to marry him. But also, I'd like to remind you that she still has Isabella's journal. Based on when and what Isabella wrote, Gareth's biological father is actually his uncle. So now he feels a little better because he's still technically a St. Clair. All in all, everyone ends up happy. Hyacinth and Gareth get married, they have kids, eventually become the new Baron and Baroness, and then fifteen years later, as it is so kindly revealed in the epilogue, Hyacinth finds Isabella's jewels hidden in the wall in the nursery bathroom. What a ride!
Book 8: On The Way To The Wedding (Gregory and Lucy)
Alright, gang. We've made it to the final book in the Bridgerton saga. Over a week later and I've finally finished writing my longest blog to date. Let's talk about Gregory, the youngest Bridgerton brother. By now, it's been about fifteen years in book time since Daphne got her Duke. Every other sibling is happily married with plenty of children running around. As a result, Gregory believes in true love. He's just waiting for that one moment across a crowded room. In Gregory's case, he veers away from the cliché and experiences his moment across a crowded garden party at Aubrey Hall. The moment he sees this girl's neck, he has to know more. Eagerly, he crosses the lawn to introduce himself. Gregory learns that the girl who has captured him is Hermione, accompanied by her best friend, Lucy. Things are about to get so interesting, just wait. He's totally lovestruck but Hermione is used to this and so is Lucy because Hermione is perfectly beautiful. Lucy and Gregory end up dancing together because Hermione's one fault is that she can't dance. Gregory and Lucy make polite small talk before Lucy gets right to the point. She's seen plenty like Gregory before, so infatuated with Hermione. She informs him that he probably won't have much success because Hermione is in love with her father's secretary and can't be swayed. She takes the moment to talk about her own engagement to one Lord Haselby (more on him later), which is nearly official. Gregory thanks her for the insight and they leave each other for the evening. The next few days are Gregory trying and making little headway with his efforts. Lucy is even trying to help him because she knows Hermione can never be with her father's secretary. Lucy and Gregory get closer because of this and the waters are shifting ever-so- slightly. While Gregory and Lucy are scheming, Lucy's brother, Richard, formally known as Lord Fenworth, makes an appearance at Aubrey Hall to tell her that she will be married in a matter of days. Having been very assured up to this point, Lucy suddenly grows uneasy about the prospect of becoming a wife so soon. Opposite her, Gregory is still on the Hermione trail but quickly picks up on Richard's attraction to his sister's best friend. He relays this to Lucy but she lets him know that he's insane and doesn't believe what he's so cleverly deduced. Later, at a masquerade ball, Lucy and Gregory dance together while arguing about the Richard-Hermione thing in between waltzes. Eventually, they notice that the couple in question have disappeared from the ballroom. Lucy doesn't panic initially but Gregory explains the situation to his sister-in-law (What's up, Kate?) and the trio begin searching before something scandalous can occur. Lucy makes it to the greenhouse with Kate and Gregory following soon after. Upon opening the door, Richard and Hermione are no longer missing. Kate declares they will be married immediately. The next day, Hermione leaves early to begin preparations for the wedding. Richard and Lucy leave that afternoon under a heavy cloud of suspicion. Gregory says goodbye to Lucy and can I just say, the romantic tension is off the charts. But unfortunately, Lucy is going to be married before the week is out. Any hopes for a potential relationship are lost. But are they? Back in London, Gregory begs Lucy to call off the wedding. She g0es to her uncle to plead her case but her efforts are in vain. A blackmail scheme is underway that goes back to Lucy's father and her marriage to Lord Haselby is the final payment. To the church she goes! Don't lose hope yet because Gregory is also on his way to the church to make on last attempt. He makes quite the scene in front of a huge crowd, which includes his mother and sister. Lucy says she has to go through with the marriage and is subsequently dragged from the church. You'd think that would deter him but it doesn't. In fact, he sneaks into the wedding reception. After finding Lucy, he ties her to a sink in an old bathroom so that he can buy time to figure out a plan. Lucy's very annoyed, as expected but gives him an hour before she starts screaming like a banchee. After a brainstorming session with an unlikely squad that includes Richard, Hermione, Lord Haselby, and Lord Haselby's brother, it is determined that good ole Uncle Robert isn't so virtuous as he appears. A strategy is formed and they gang splits up. Gregory and Hermione go back for Lucy but she's missing. Robert kidnaped Lucy and has her in his study. He's got her blindfolded and held at gunpoint. Oh, not to mention that he's totally off his rocker. Gregory and co find Robert in the study before he can carry out any plans. After some crafty stalling, Gregory manages to get a non-fatal shot into Robert and save Lucy. Mind you, Gregory is the worst shot in the entire Bridgerton family. Everyone is joyful about the resolution and Haselby kindly allows the marriage to be annulled so Lucy and Gregory can be together. In my opinion, Lord Haselby is underrated throughout this whole plot and deserves more praise than he got.
Eight siblings, eight happy endings! The road wasn't easy and more often infuriating than anything else but it was definitely an enjoyable ride. Please, please read these books or watch the show. You won't be disappointed!
Hello, everybody!! It is my greatest pleasure to introduce you to this month's top five line-up. I found something to love about all of the following titles so I hope you do too!! Without further ado, the books you MUST pick up this month:
#1: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
I had never heard of this book or author before being gifted it at Christmas. Thank goodness Alexis decided to veer away from the list I provided and get something that was the complete opposite of my requests. I couldn't put this book down! The plot was super engaging and the characters were so complex. The genre for this book is somewhere within dystopian fantasy and fiction. The author doesn't come out and tell you the timeframe so it could be before modern times or years afterward. What I really liked and appreciated was that the society within the book wasn't completely unbelievable. Some dystopian novels get very big with their stories and other parts of the development that you can't visualize any of it actually happening. But with the way that The Grace Year was written, I could buy that it was something based of real life but altered in some ways in order to fit with the author's overall ideas.
#2: Virgin River by Robyn Carr
If you have never heard of this series, you're missing out. It's a show on Netflix that takes its inspiration from the above book series. I watched the show before reading the books which I almost never do but in my defense, I didn't know the books existed until afterwards. I went in sort of knowing what to expect- or at least I thought I did. First of all, the books are so much more dramatic than the show. Granted, books have a little more autonomy than TV shows when it comes to drama and violence. However, they're still super easy to read! The plot just has a little more going on than your average romance novel.
#3: When The Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
This book took me by surprise. It's actually based somewhat on events that really happened. The author uses the real-life events more as a device to further the plot than as the central focus. The whole book is spent trying to find a missing girl which then leads the investigators uncovering a whole slew of other missing girls. The reason? A serial killer, obviously. I find the way that the author wrote the story interesting. She managed to incorporate real events, people, and places while not letting it invade her story and allowing it to stand on its own. While it is a bit on the murder-y side, the journey of self-discovery that the main character goes through makes it worth all the not-so-nice details.
#4: Caraval by Stephanie Gerber
Caraval is like The Hunger Games on steroids. There's so much focus on the settings and the little details that your mind is able to create an almost spot-on image. If this turned into a movie, I would love to see what the set designers came up with. The author even includes a reading playlist (songs that fit with the mood or events within the chapter) in the back of the book. Sometimes I will admit that it wasn't the easiest to follow along with because a lot of stuff is packed into every chapter. The characters also weren't very likable at times and there's one supporting character that just gets. under. my. skin. I will leave it to you to discover which one. But overall, it was a fantastic story and two more books follow this one.
#5: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Ah, the classics. Full of tongue twisters and confusion. If I had to rank the ones I've read thus far for most confounding, Sense and Sensibility takes the cake. I really wanted to enjoy the story- and some parts I did- but overall, I had a hard time reading. It took me six months! The chapters may be short but the language makes it feel like you're trying to get molasses off your hands. As most Jane Austen novels are, this one is a romance but there were many times I wondered where exactly the romance was. And don't get me wrong, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorites but I can't say the same for this one. I will say, the difficulty made me more determined to finish it. Even if I didn't completely understand the ending.
See you in March!
2/18/2022 0 Comments
Somehow the middle of February has already arrived and, shockingly, I've done so much this month. I've seen new movies, read a ton of books (what else is new), discovered some new foods (of the sweet and sugary variety), and a few other interesting things that I feel meet the merit of importance to be forever immortalized on this blog.
First and foremost: crumbl cookies. If you know, you know. If not, where have you been? In some other universe? Crumbl cookies are essentially the greatest thing ever and yes, I am putting them above my planners as well as my obscenely large collection of fuzzy socks because they deserve that honor. Last weekend, we drove all the way to Ankeny just to procure ourselves a box of the goods. My thoughts are as follows. FREAKING DELICIOUS AND WORTH THE DRIVE. These things are the size of a human head. That is not an exaggeration for emphasis. That is a fact. They come freshly baked and smell like joy. The flavors change each week so you definitely won't run out of things to try if you have an out of control sweet tooth. You can get three different boxes ranging from four, six, or twelve cookies. The box of four lets you choose the flavor of every cookie. The box of six gets you every flavor for the week. The box of twelve lets you get two of each flavor. Can you guess which one we bought?
In the midst of our cookie adventure, we also went shopping because my closet has been desperately begging to be refilled after my New Years purge. If you're on a budget and haven't been to Plato's Closet yet, I highly recommend it. There's name brands for such great prices. I got a Ralph Lauren sweater for $10 and Fabletics leggings for $5. All-in-all, we spent $130. But that's not even the best part of this story. Coming out of Plato's Closet, as I'm getting in the car, what do I notice? A flat tire, of course. Mind you, we drove at least twenty-five minutes and had no issues. So we (my mom, Ashley, and I) had to sit there and wait for my dad to come and change the tire. My mom was so annoyed (mostly at my dad because he just kept asking stupid questions) but at least I got to finish a book.
My grand book total for the last week rounds out to five:
Yesterday, I did something exceptionally brilliant. I broke my bedroom door. Now you might be thinking, "How does one break their bedroom door?" Well, when one has a 300+ pound machine in place of legs, things happen. And sometimes those things can be quite destructive. What you need to know is that my closet is on the right side of the room. My bedroom door opens inward to the right side. When it's open, it blocks the closet door. In order to complete my most favorite chore of putting away laundry, the door has to be shut. Yesterday afternoon, I close the door, open the closet, and start putting things away. However, I hadn't latched the door all the way so as a result, this little thing called gravity was pushing the door open again towards the closet. For some reason, my brain didn't recognize that it was right there so I do a back-up-turn thing and the front tires (that have been apparatuses sent by demons since I got the chair) slammed right into the bottom corner where a pretty decent-sized dent now resides. It was my karma. The last week and a half had been going way too smoothly up to that point.
My dad turned an undisclosed age on Tuesday! The man notoriously hates big celebrations so my mom planned a rather low-key affair at Spare Time, a bowling alley across the street from Jordan Creek. It was a rather chill dinner for us. Between discussions of delusional relatives, the bar seemingly being out of every ingredient for nearly every alcoholic drink Brandon wanted (I mean, the waiter came back three different times with varying expressions of sympathy), the misordering of MJ's salad (that is not a joke, ask her) and an epic birthday sundae. we all had our fun in the arcade. This place was no joke! I excelled in the coin games, lost to Kenzie at air-hockey, got severely dizzy after going on a virtual rollercoaster (even wheelchair bound people have to have their fun, even at the expense of my parents' backs), and had a great time watching my dad's first experience with virtual reality.
In the entertainment area, I went to a movie theater for the first time in five months. My mom and I saw Marry Me which was so good! The perfect feel-good rom-com, especially with everything going on in life recently. The seats we booked were able to have food served during the movie so plus points for that. Although, there was something trés crazy that we encountered. One movie-goer was apparently very cautious about COVID. Not only was she wearing a mask but she also sported surgical gloves. Before her family sat down, she disinfected every seat and then proceeded to pull out her own plates, silverware, bowls, and even Yeti's with their own drinks. But that's not all! There was another person in a wheelchair who had come with his wife so they were right across from us.
I would like it known that because a movie theater is a very open public area, I couldn't help but overhear these next parts. No eavesdropping was involved. Apparently, the wheelchair seat was available, the two seats next to it had been bought. The manager was very nice about the whole situation and promised to get it sorted out as long as the people who purchased the seats weren't disabled. Turns out that our walking health precautions billboard bought the seats. Not only did she buy those seats, but she bought her entire row and the row ahead of her. That's over $100 in empty seats for those of you at home scratching your head.
With that, I am pleased to inform you that you have reached the end of yet another one of my highly entertaining, sometimes chaotic blogs. Have a fabulous weekend and make sure to check back soon for the return of a fan-favorite!
It's time for a raid 0f my bookshelves to find the next round of novels that you must read.
#1: A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw
This book shocked me in a good way. The overall plot was something I'd never really seen at all in a lot of the novels I've read over the last few years. At first glance, A History of Wild Places appears as your typically mystery/suspense story. A missing girl, a small amount of clues, and one man determined to solve the whole thing. But then he disappears as well and what follows will truly blow your mind.
#2: I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Where are my fellow history nerds at? This novel covers one of my favorite subjects: Russian history. Inspired by the fall of the Romanov Dynasty, the story takes place in many different times and places. The period of 1917-1918 is told from the point of view of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who is the second youngest child of the imperial family. The period of 1920 and on is told from the point of view of Anna Anderson, whose claim that she was the youngest Grand Duchess of Russia's last royal family captivated the world for much of the twentieth century. This book combines accurate history with some creative imagination to make one intriguing tale.
#3: Mercy by David Baldacci
I had a love/hate relationship with this one when I thought it was the final book of the whole series because the ending left so many unanswered questions. I was so mad that I had invested in two previous books when the finale technically didn't even qualify as one. Overall, it kept my attention and had an interesting plot but that ending, you guys. I just can't get over it. I will say that what it implies is interesting and the reason it's on this list is because I feel the author deserves my attention for writing a fairly decent book. For as many answers that weren't given, we ended up with quite a few resolutions which I appreciated. I think I will forever have an unbalanced enjoyment of this particular novel.
#4: Daylight by David Baldacci
Remember how five seconds ago I said there was no actual ending to the previous book series? I welcome you to that actual ending. My annoyance at Mercy can be forgiven since the story now has a conclusion. And a pretty epic one if I do say so myself. There's government corruption, hitmen, mob connections, mistaken identities, emotional reunions, and fight scenes that left me physically in pain just imagining them. I read this book in three hours on Christmas Day. It was so good! I definitely think the series could've been shorter. As we know, the last book infuriated me on another level. Don't get me wrong, four to five book series' can work but you have to make it go on in a way that's interesting. While the overall story is cool, I only really appreciated the first and last books. The middle ones had more filler and random information than I would've liked. This one got right down to business and I appreciated that all the questions were answered fairly quickly. Insider note: You could totally read the first book, which is called Long Road to Mercy and then skip to this one. You wouldn't be missing much.
#5: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Overall, I think what the author wanted to achieve was cool but the execution failed. The whole book is written as a letter from a prison inmate to a lawyer explaining their case and why they're innocent of murder. First, you get a house in the English countryside that is portrayed as spooky but it really isn't. You have a rich family with demon children with a flakey dad and a mom whose just trying to raise her kids. In comes a new nanny after half-a-dozen have already been ran off because the house is supposedly haunted. The whole supernatural aspect just throws me off. It kind of is pulled together in the end but I hated it and wish it was never involved in the first place. I wish it would've been explained as the actions of the demon children in the beginning and not as a ghost. Also, there's a "romance" plotline that does not work at all. I wish that had been cut entirely because there's no build-up and no after effects except for a five page run in the middle of the story. It's supposed to aid in getting to the climax but instead it's like another story got inserted in this one. This novel starts out strong and then slowly devolves into a chaotic mess with the author hastily trying to tie up all the loose ends. But then at the ending, she LEAVES A LOOSE END?! Some books have endings that leave you wondering and they are fabulous. Hello, Verity. In this particular instance, I hate it. Just give me the clear ending after persevering through that whole thing. The only reason that The Turn of the Key ended up on this list is because it's so messy and chaotic and outrageous, it makes for great reading.
And with that, January's books are concluded, ladies and gentlemen. Until February.....
Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday filled with all your favorite people and things. The post-Christmas/New Year's fog has finally lifted from my brain and let me tell you, it was rough. I had no sense of time no matter how many times I looked at a calendar (which was a lot) and no motivation whatsoever. I had been on autopilot for most of December but am glad to finally be back to some form of normalcy.
One Week Later....
Hello. It's been a week. A long, boring week that I had to drag myself through. It was cold and my computer kept dying literally everyday and I had to finish writing an English paper about Russian history of all things. I did a whole lot more that I won't bore you with but all you really need to understand is that my brain is fried. Today we're starting our final speaking exam in Spanish which I'm torn over. I'd love to get it over with but I also don't want to do it. Which is so dumb. I'm creating stress for myself for absolutely no reason but that's how my brain operates. It's very annoying. As I'm writing this, I'm listening to music and I just totally missed three songs from Hamilton. I'm sad now. Those were some of the best songs. I'm contemplating rewinding. Does anyone else do that? You miss your favorite song or part because you spaced or gasp, breathed too loud?
I finally did a thing. I posted a TikTok. This is a very big deal. I never got on the TikTok train when it first came out but now I have started using it more and thought, Why not? I mean, it's not great but it doesn't suck either. My username is carolinehill1 if you want to form your own opinion.
Update: I did my speaking exam. My final thoughts: it wasn't that hard. Luckily, we got to use notes so I wasn't totally thrown into the deep end. Next semester (which starts a week from today), I'm taking Spanish III so I better be a fluent-ish speaker by May otherwise I'm going to be very mad.
I also have $100 so let me know what I should do with it because I've hit a wall. I'll probably end up buying more books, lets be real here. In other news, Grey's Anatomy got renewed for a nineteenth season and I don't know how I feel about it. I love the show and will watch an episode a million times over but this last season has been a hard one to get through. It's missing the feeling that the older seasons have. I don't get as excited anymore which makes me so sad. It was the first show that I truly binged watched before binge watching was even a thing. I'll keep watching new episodes but I think the end is very close. I mean, there aren't that many characters left to kill anymore.
I need to cease procrastinating and actually get some studying done so I’ll be back next week! Hopefully when I return, it’ll actually make sense and isn’t just my thoughts as I think them. Have a great week!
It's book club time! I'm going to tell you now that there are no murdery, mystery novels. I'm giving you all a break for December and these are strictly all my mushy, rom-com, family books. Enjoy!
#1: One Day in December by Josie Silver
I love this book!!! If memory serves me correctly, I included another book by this same author last month so if you were interested in that one, you're going to like this one. In short, it's about love at first sight and if that is even a real thing. At the beginning, two people see each other at a bus stop and they both have this moment of connection through a bus window. But then the bus leaves and they never meet again for another couple of months. The whole book traces the evolution of their relationship and what's cool is that the narrative switches between both the guy and girl. I think you'll be very happy when you get to the end.
#2: In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Another book that takes the cake! This book is like the movie, Groundhog's Day. The same stretch of December keeps repeating itself until the main character finally starts getting things she got wrong right. Whenever she starts over, it always happens very violently. The first time she's in a car accident. The next time she trips going down a set of stairs. The last time she gets hit by a falling branch. There was almost a fourth time where she was hit by a car and then a rock gets launched at her head. But she ended up missing both so it's fine.
#3: The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe
This book was so sweet and comforting. It's set in South Carolina which I actually enjoyed. The main character is having a really difficult time so she decides to come home. Her mother loves turtles and helps them hatch and then get to the ocean. The two of them reconnect after almost twenty years of estrangement and disconnect. The book spans over a summer of many revelations, trials, hardships, love, family, and friends.
#4: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
I will be honest and say that I would've been perfectly fine if this book went on forever. It's a chill, feel-good story. The ending, even though I felt that it was predictable from the beginning, actually threw me for a loop. I didn't think it would be as intense as it was but I appreciated the intensity. Romance novels are a very open and shut story in general but this helped change the pace and pull the readers back in. Especially for people who lose interest or attention fast.
#5: A Little Hope by Ethan Joella
Finishing out December's book club is this very fast, refreshing novel. The characters have traits that we can all associate to ourselves. I love books that are actually meaningful to human behavior and like soul/spiritual stuff. It's not cheesy or overdramatized. There are a lot of characters but they all fit in really well. In the middle is a major twist that I was not expecting but then the plot is able to change and explore some other things with the characters and their motivations/feelings/thoughts!
The next time we'll be back for a book club is in 2021! How crazy is that? I hope you have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! See you all in January for another round of books!
Happy December everyone! I can't believe that we're already in the final month of 2021! I’m looking forward to all the fun things that are going on over the next few weeks. Now, I am a total nerd because my room has been decorated since Halloween. This is my favorite time of year so I went all out. I just love Christmas, alright!
This week has been another interesting one. On Sunday, I got a horrible migraine that lasted well into Tuesday. Then, I spent the last part of the week catching up on everything I missed which thankfully, wasn't a whole lot. Two days of school missed is much more manageable than three weeks. I've also been writing this blog all week. The first paragraph took me until today to finish. Six sentences took five days. I'm a horrible procrastinator. But that's not all! Yesterday, my entire bookshelf came tumbling down. It's no big deal, I just find the whole thing really funny because I can't tell you how many times I've had the thought that maybe I should move the shelf over. The way my room is now, it sits right next to the bathroom door against a wall. This means that you have to be very careful when coming out and not turning too sharp. There have been a few close calls in the past but yesterday was finally the day where close call would turn into actually happening. Now I'm really thinking about moving it and also maybe just getting a new bookshelf entirely. The one I have is from Walmart and I have put so many books on it that it actually like leans forward slightly. We'll just call this whole thing a sign from the universe!
In other news, I have finally finished every single book I own. There are no more. Never in a million years did I think this day would come. Why? Because buying books and reading books are two entirely different activities. However, I have found a sort-of solution for my dilemma. My mom bought us advent calendars this year and mine is from Barnes and Noble. It's disney princess short stories! I've been filming the opening of them every day so you'll be seeing them all soon! I'm also a member of a monthly book subscription box and I've already ordered my box for December but it's taking an epically long time to ship.
Speaking of subscription boxes, I got my winter FabFitFun box last week and have just remembered as I'm writing this that I still haven't blogged about it. Look forward to that at some point!
And yes, December's newsletter will be out by early next week. I'm giving myself a deadline. I know I've been really bad with consistent newsletters but with this one, it's seriously my favorite one to make and it's only me doing it. So give me a little more of your patience. I promise it will be coming soon and it will be magical.
I am still obsessed with Starbucks peppermint mocha. If you haven't tried it yet, you need to. It is delicious. The only way I can describe it is as caffeinated hot chocolate. I've tried some of their other ones but I just don't get the same taste of gloriousness. I will forever love the iced white mocha but Christmas puts me in a different mood. Also hoping to get one of the new Starbucks Christmas tumblrs but my fight is currently facing challenges as my mother thinks that because the actual holiday is close I can get it as a gift. But by then, what's the point of the Christmas tumblr if Christmas is literally passing as I receive it? I'll keep you all posted on this developing story.
I hope you all had a fabulous start to December and the holiday season if you're one of those people who doesn't start celebrating after Halloween. I don't know why you wouldn't, honestly but I digress. This is a space of inclusion....even if you do happen to unfortunately fall under the Grinch category.
The Blog in a Nutshell
Hi! Welcome to Fashion Fun and Extra, a blog run by Caroline Hill. A wheelchair user, podcaster, little sister, writer, and more, Caroline's unique view on life allows readers to take a glance into something they don't experience everyday. Told with humor, realness, remarkable wit, and a special kind bluntness, no blog will fail to entertain!