Happy Friday! I hope you're all having a fabulous week! Mine has been filled with lots of work and deadlines for finals next week. I can't believe the school year is a quarter of a way through already! Luckily, none of my classes change until after New Years so I don't have to get a new schedule down just yet. Although, that means I'm still in chemistry but, you know what? I choose to believe that I will survive. A lot has happened this month that I'm so excited to talk to you all about! College decisions, photoshoots, album drops, and a million other things in between. Let's discuss!
Hello, hi! This is Caroline two weeks later because, as always, I started writing and then stopped. Currently, I'm writing this on my laptop operating in split screen mode because I am on a mission. That mission is to sign up for presale notification of Taylor Swift t0ur tickets. The actual tickets aren't even on sale yet and I'm waiting in a queue just to be signed up for a notification. I keep switching between the tabs and my little person is moving ever so slightly. While I wait, I'm finally going to get to that update I promised weeks ago! First things first: TAYLOR SWIFT. She released a new album called 'Midnights' and I LOVE it. I think I'll do a separate post about my favorite parts so look out for that coming up! I have so many thoughts but I know some people could absolutely care less, hence- I won't bore you here. I will definitely bore you with other things, though!
Remember at the start of this how I was prepping for finals? Well, finals happened. I ended AP European History with an A- and in a shocking turn of events, managed a B- in Chemistry. My mouth was on the floor. And now I'm starting another twelve weeks with those same classes....so fun! I think it'll be a good few months. Yesterday went well and I have a different mindset overall! Although, my wardrobe does not show it. I've been wearing mainly sweatpants and t-shirts the last few days and I think my mom is a little annoyed at me. This morning she asked me what I wanted to wear and I said "comfy". She kind of sighed and said that I had so many cuter outfits. Which, for the record, I most definitely do but this week is a survival week until I get in a groove. So the outfits will change eventually. But also, I'm wearing my braces again and I don't think a leather skirt pairs well with pink unicorns. On a positive note, my Pumas fit over the braces so the ugly Sketchers are no more!
A queue update: At 9:11 am I am about halfway there! My October included senior photos and they turned out really great! I've posted a few online but maybe I'll put some here too. It was a little windy but at least you can't tell just by looking. My hair weighed about a hundred pounds with all the product and curls but it has returned to its natural resting state. Today I took a big step in that I deleted my Twitter account. Now, I love twitter. You can get news in seconds and there are a great majority of really wonderful, kind people but I've been reading a lot over the last few days about different developments and I just couldn't do it. Lots of websites reported that use of the n word went up 500% when the deal went through and the potential of hateful, horrible people getting back on made me actually angry. So I'm gone from there but I'm on Instagram @carhill765 and TikTok @carolinehill1 so go follow me over there and we'll have a ridiculously fun time.
Yesterday, I had to get my braces tightened so now they're purple and I want to rip all my teeth out. They are actually working and even the orthodontist commented on how my bite had massively improved from my last appointment. We're getting there. Almost eighteen and a half years with a gap and in a few months it won't even be there. I can't wait! In other news, as I have been typing, I have recalled all the functions my chair can preform. Over the last hour, my legs and feet have started to cramp because my braces are doing their job and holding them in the correct place. I was trying to stretch and move but they're stuck in a seated position. I happened to glance at the joystick which prompted a lightbulb moment: the footplates can be lowered with the joystick. So now they're extended and the burning pain has subsided. However, the inside of my left foot is sore and that is because, for some reason, my legs tense and brace into the material. Hoping they chill out soon. I think it's because the braces give them stability so when they do tense, it's much stronger due to the extra support.
Queue update: At 10:03 am I am less than 1/4 away from being at the front of the line! I'm in AP Euro right now and our assignment for the week is a virtual google slides museum about the industrial revolution in Britain. Yesterday we had to draw a village with pencil from the 1750s to the 1850s-60s. That was stressful because it slowly got bigger and you slowly ran out of real estate on the paper.
BREAKING NEWS: AT 10:12 am I GOT THROUGH THE QUEUE! Hopefully I get picked for presale access! Now on to holiday talk! I am a Christmas person. It is my time of the year and I put my decorations up around Halloween every year. I'm still waiting for a few more things that'll hopefully arrive later this week/month so that the whole design can come together. I'm planning on putting the tree up this weekend so hopefully you'll all get a Christmas decorated room tour this weekend or early next week. I'm editing a vlog right now but I need to search through my camera for one more clip and then I can do final edits and send it your way this afternoon or tomorrow.
This month, I have seven books to read but I am focusing on two specific ones at the moment. I am about two hundred pages away from finally finishing the Alexander Hamilton biography and I have another one called The Hotel Nantucket that is solely a school book so that I might finally finish it after nearly six months of it stewing on my bookshelf. In October, I finished eight books which is a record for the year, I believe. Finishing strong! I need to get my bookshelf down by a lot. Stay tuned on YouTube to see if I clear it before New Years.
I hope everyone's November is going smooth and that you all have a great holiday! I'm really excited to start bringing you all Christmas content! Make sure you're following me everywhere to see it all!
The following books made my head spin. Proceed with caution.
#1: The House Across The Lake by Riley Sager
I read this book in four hours. I specifically grabbed this from my shelf because it has been there, staring at me with deep-seeded judgement, since the beginning of summer. And. I. Deserve. It. I went into this story thinking it was very much a Woman in the Window plot. That's kind of what it starts out as and then it turns into a case of demonic possession of a famous model by the serial killer husband of the main character who is also an actress. Throughout the whole book, you think that Casey, the main character, is an alcoholic because she's still dealing with her husband, Len's death. But then the most massive thing is revealed: Casey found Len's serial killer trophies the year before. She's so enraged that she drugs Len with his allergy meds, gets him on their boat, pushes him off, and then stages it as a fishing accident. Earlier in the book, we learned there's a legend about this particular lake where souls get trapped and haunt it. Len's soul ended up in the water and he took over Katherine's body as a vessel. After Katherine-as-Len is locked in a basement by her husband Tom (who we will be getting to later) because she's currently hosting the soul of a killer, Casey breaks him/her out so that he'll lead her to the bodies of his victims. Spoiler: they're in the lake. Now you may be asking, why hasn't Casey just killed the living body yet? Because otherwise she kills Katherine. But, don't worry. Girl has a plan. Back in the boat, Casey gets "Len" to kiss her, therefore transferring his soul to her. Before Len takes over, Casey tells Katherine what she needs to do and then jumps in the water. Like, what?! In order for Len's soul to punch its time card, the host has to die. And she does for, like, a nanosecond before Katherine saves her. By this point, Len's back in the magical lake and all is well. But then, surprise! It's not! Tom is trying to kill Katherine to get all her money. As if he isn't already terrible, he goes for the classic husband-kills-for-money motive. Casey figures it out because Katherine had been feeling bad since before she had a slumber party with a crazy killer. After a fight, Casey bashes Tom's head in with a very expensive wine bottle. By. The. Lake. So Len's back! Luckily, Casey has no moral issues when it comes to Tom, so she uses his head for batting practice yet again. Both evil souls are now in the lake and we'll see if a sequel comes.
#2: Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George
Guys, history! I love it. It's my favorite thing, we know this. One of my particular favorites is Mary Queen of Scots as well as anything related to her. I found this book in the library on a random shelf and took a whole two months to read the 700+ pages. From start to finish this was a masterpiece! Historical biographies can be difficult because the story's already been written. You're just compiling it all in one place. The challenge is adding a fresh spin to a dense topic and taking people's thoughts into a new realm. This version of Mary's story took the history and spun a bit of creative license into it, While the public accounts are all accurate, she actually included scenes of what might've been going on behind the scenes based on what's known about each person's behavior, beliefs, and mannerisms. I was hooked! Always looking for extra time for a page or two is the hallmark of a good book, especially in one where the events took place five hundred years ago.
#3: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Lisa Jewell is a master of twisted mysteries! The Family Remains is perfect if you're looking for a spooky season read. The setting: London. The place: a creepy abandoned mansion. The past: not as buried as they thought. Libby, our main character, was adopted after her parents and an unknown man were found dead of an apparent suicide. She's just turned twenty-five and has inherited her birth parents' home. There were two other children, Henry and Lucy, but they disappeared following the deaths and never came forward on their birthdays. The book is split between two timelines: the present and the late-80s to 90s in the build-up to the adoption. The whole picture forms about 3/4 of the way in and reveals cults, murder, poisoning, and abandonment all in the name of survival. It is truly a masterclass in thriller writing and I'm telling you now: even though he's weird, Henry will be your favorite character.
#4: Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf
A creepy book set in Iowa! I've been waiting for October to write about this one. While it's a little hard to follow and definitely not the best book I've ever read, it still deserves some praise because it did give me goosebumps. It's set in a very small Iowa town and follows a group of girls after one of them is seriously stabbed on the train tracks and all of her friends are suspects. A lot of weird stuff happens that doesn't really make sense but I did like the ending. It was a total shock because I truly didn't know how it was going to end. You really can't trust any of the characters because they all have agendas, even the girls. Overall, I just wish the structure was different.
#5: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
I don't like giving shade to a book because authors put so much time into them but this one was SO BAD. The characters had horrible development and the plot was just a total dumpster fire. Nothing pulled me in. There were a few small moments that I liked but even those were mediocre. The main character, whose name I can't remember because this book was that bad, comes to stay with her brother in his apartment in Paris (such an original book title) but then he disappears and she starts trying to find him. All the characters within the building turn out to be related and the building is actually their home and, like, nothing comes together and it's all a mess. The end.
Happy haunting! I hope these give you nightmares.
This was not a post I had planned but feel that it’s necessary to write. On Wednesday, September 8th, Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Balmoral is a private vacation home of the Royal Family located in the Scottish Highlands. It was purchased by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria in 1860 and has been passed through the family ever since. Because it is family property, not owned or managed by the Crown Estate, Balmoral is typically bequeathed to the heir to the throne in the will of the current monarch. An exemption to this rule came in 1936, known as “the Year of Three Kings”. Following the death of His Majesty George V in January 1936, Balmoral became the property of his son and heir, Edward VIII. When Edward abdicated the throne in December 1936 to marry Wallis Simpson, he actually had to sell Balmoral to his brother, George VI because the traditional way of passing the property obviously did not work. After the death of George VI in February 1952, Princess Elizabeth ascended the throne as Queen Elizabeth II and received Balmoral as part of her inheritance. Her death brings an end to an iconic era that spanned over seven decades and passes the baton onto the next generation of royals.
Around noon in the UK (six am in the US), Buckingham Palace released a statement stating that royal physicians were concerned with her health and she would be under medical supervision from that point on. Her Majesty had last been seen with new Prime Minister, Liz Truss on Monday of that week as tradition dictates that the monarch formally invites the new PM to form of government in their name following the election. Typically, this is done at Buckingham Palace but the Queen was advised against traveling the hour car ride to the airport and subsequent multi-hour long flight. Photos were released on social media marking the occasion and while Elizabeth was noticeably thinner and frailer, nothing of further alarm was noted. The palace’s announcement of her worrying condition was worrying itself as the palace never releases much information on her personal well-being unless it is of grave importance. Within thirty minutes to an hour, it was revealed that members of the immediate family would be traveling to be with their grandmother. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were already present at Balmoral having traveled from their country home, Birkhall- which is only a short distance from Balmoral. The Princess Royal was also there as well. Shortly after 10:00 am in the US, a flight carrying members of the Royal Family touched down at Aberdeen Airport, having originated in London. The Duke of Cambridge was the first to emerge, followed by the Earl and Countess of Wessex (or the Queen’s third son Edward and his wife Sophie). Last to emerge was the disgraced Duke of York. They were escorted into waiting cars and began the journey to Balmoral. Noticeably absent was the Duchess of Cambridge as well as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It was reported that Kate was still in Windsor- where the couple has just recently moved into Adelaide Cottage- with their three children George, Charlotte, and Louis, who’d all had their first day of school. She wanted to be there to bring them home as well as give William some time with his family. However, the issue of Megan and Harry was a little less clear. The two were already in the UK for a variety of events and engagements. Since the Sussexes were not seen in that flight from London, it was assumed they were making separate arrangements. Later, it was confirmed that Harry was traveling to Scotland alone and- this next part is a rumor (but also kinda not but we’re just saying that to avoid drama)!- that an invitation was not extended to the Duchess. Maybe they were worried a camera crew would be attached or some crazy rumors would ensue. Who, honestly, knows? The royal quartet was seen driving into Balmoral, Prince William at the wheel.
Through the day, the queen’s health dominated headlines and social media. We could do nothing but speculate and wait. Shortly before six pm, news broadcasters were still repeating the same information we’d been hearing for hours, Their cameras offered live shots of many royal residences from Balmoral to Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace. While stopped at Balmoral, the camera caught the royal standard as it began to lower. The royal standard is the queen’s coat of arms in flag form. In accordance to protocol, the standard flies at whatever residence she is currently residing in and comes down when she leaves. It is lowered and then re-hung at half-mast to mark her death. Simultaneously, statements from Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen had died earlier in the afternoon. A bulletin relaying the same was placed on the gates of Buckingham Palace by two footman.
Many things happened immediately following the death and it can get confusing but I’ll do my best to explain. The Prince of Wales immediately became King. His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, also got a new title. It was announced in a subsequent statement: Her Majesty the Queen Consort. Consort is just a fancy way to say “spouse”. Before his death, Prince Philip was styled as His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Elizabeth created him a British prince through Letters Patent in 1957 so that he held equal rank to her. He was never granted “King Consort” because he was married to a queen and there’s a lot of gender bias surrounding queens who get the title in their own right. For years it was speculated as to what Camilla’s title would actually be because the period of, like, 1970-1999, was a capital-s Scandal. Google “War of the Waleses” and you’ll get lots of fun reading material. Princess Consort was thrown about. Months ago, during the Platinum Jubilee, the Queen issued a statement expressing gratitude to her son for all his help but also that it was her “sincere wish and hope” that Camilla one day would become Queen Consort. I guess nobody took her seriously because of the drama but also, it’s tradition so let’s all grow up, shall we? So Charles is King which means William is the heir. Upon the death of the monarch, the entire line of succession moves up a spot. Some titles pass automatically, while others have to be formally granted. William and Kate, previously known as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, automatically became The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Cornwall. Duke of Cornwall is the heir’s second-highest ranking title. They also gained the titles of Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, Earl and Countess of Carrick, Baron and Baroness of Renfrew; all relate to the different parts of the UK: England, Scotland, Ireland, etc. William also became Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. The following day, in his first address as monarch, King Charles III formally announced his son and heir as The Prince of Wales, making Kate The Princess of Wales. This officially gave them the additional titles of Earl and Countess of Chester. A ton of new titles but Prince and Princess of Wales will be the one they use most often because they’re primarily in England. I saw Charles referred to as the Duke of Cornwall only a handful of times and Camilla was the Duchess of Cornwall all of the time because, while legally Princess of Wales, it was so associated to Diana that Camilla used Charles’ second-highest title out of respect. Don’t try to put words in my mouth, don’t try to spin it into some ugly narrative. The choice was Camilla’s. Also, the Prince and Princess’s children get new titles as well. Instead of Cambridge, it’s now Wales (His/Her Royal Highness Prince/ss (name) of Wales). We’re also waiting for Charles to create Edward and Sophie Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, which has been in the works since their wedding, but all in due course.
Now before we get onto the protocols and events for the period of mourning, I feel like we need a good dose of drama. Prince Harry finally arrived at Balmoral literal hours after everyone else sans Meghan. There’s rumors that she wasn’t invited and threw a tantrum (or was just throwing a tantrum that he had to diffuse), hence, him being so late. On the 10th of September, The Prince and Princess of Wales along with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex appeared outside Windsor Castle to see the flowers and talk to the public. Seems fine, right? William extended an invitation, the Sussexes excepted, they do the walkabout, all is great! Well, not really….. According to royal sources, it was originally only going to be Prince William and Princess Catherine. Then it came out that William invited the Sussexes. Sweet! When that came out, along with it came the tidbit that negotiations for Harry and Megan to join them took ALMOST AN HOUR. And there’s more! William invited them because he was informed that Harry and Meghan were planning to go themselves and were bringing a camera crew!!!! I’m sorry……..WHAT?? William decided that was absolutely not happening. When they actually got there, the atmosphere can only be described as A-W-K-W-A-R—D. First of all, everyone only wanted to see the Prince and Princess of Wales. I’m sorry, but they were. Prince William was engaging with everyone and super chill and nice while Princess Catherine looked absolutely stunning. The dress was a Jenny Peckham (I’m 99% certain of this because she has another dress in blue that’s a Jenny Peckham; same style, length, detail, etc.). The jewelry was a pearl set and the shoes were her traditional, go-to black pumps. The fashion is harder to pinpoint right now because obviously the fashion is not the focal point. I can’t even speculate on the other three because I would have no idea without a deeper dive. I only knew which dress Princess Catherine’s was since she has another one in a different color. Plus, fashion is fun and this post needs that! While the quartet had no obvious issues, there was tension. My honest analysis is this: Harry and Meghan said things about the Royal Family and are constantly saying negative things. There’s the tell-all memoir coming out too which we won’t even get into. On top of it all, Meghan primarily went after Princess Catherine in that disastrous Oprah interview so how are the Wales's supposed to act? Meghan and Harry don’t know where they stand at the end of this. The Queen was really their blanket of security because she hated the drama. They caused and continue to cause so much chaos that King Charles could decide to be done with the whole thing and strip them of their titles. At least then they can’t make money off of their royal status anymore. I do wish the best for everyone and truly hope we can move on from this mess but until then Meghan and Harry don’t have my stamp of approval because they’re essentially selling out their whole family for a paycheck and they just refuse to stop being problematic.
Back to the week’s events. After lying in the ballroom at Balmoral since her death, the Queen was moved to Edinburgh by car. During the six-hour ride, Princess Anne followed and thousands of people lined the route to see her pass by. She will lie in the throne room at the Palace of Holyrodhouse, the Royal Family’s official Scottish resident. On the morning of the 12th, she will be taken down the Royal Mile to the St. Giles Cathedral where a service of Thanksgiving for her life and reign will take place. The Royal Family will be present at the service and its preceding procession. After a day at St. Giles to allow the people of Scotland to pay their respects, she’ll be driven to the airport and taken by plane to RAF Northolt and then by car to Buckingham Palace. The Princess Royal will accompany her the whole way while the King and the Queen Consort will be waiting in the Bow Room of Buckingham Palace where her coffin will rest. On the 14th, Her Majesty’s coffin will be taken by gun carriage to Westminster Hall, which is about thirty-eight minutes of procession through London. The King as well as the immediate royal family will walk behind the coffin the whole way. A processional like this last took place in 2002 following the death of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Prince Philip had a smaller processional from Windsor to St. George’s Chapel due to COVID-19 protocols.
A small service will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury when the Queen’s coffin arrives. She will lie in-state at Westminster Hall from the 14th until the morning of the state funeral. The public will be able to view the coffin all day for four days. The imperial state crown, the Sovereign’s Orb, and the Sovereign's Scepter with Cross will be placed on top. The funeral is set for September 19th at Westminster Abbey. This is the first funeral of a British sovereign to take place at Westminster Abbey since George II died in 1760. Following the service, the coffin will travel to Windsor where another procession will take place at the Quadrangle. The Queen’s internment in the King George VI Memorial Chapel is expected to be private, as she joins her father, mother, and sister within the Royal Vault. Prince Philip will be moved from his temporary burial site within St. George’s Chapel and join the queen. The Royal Family and members of the Royal Household will remain in mourning protocol until seven days after the funeral.
Death is one of the few promises of life but we still like to dream of immortality. The Queen represented those ideas for it seemed impossible that there could be a world without Queen Elizabeth II. She was a constant. Even those who could care less about monarchy knew the Queen. Her memory will endure in the fabric of our world long after these initial days have passed.
What do you know? Maybe she really did achieve immortality after all.
Let’s see how long it takes me to write this one. I swear, as soon as I sit down, my brain shoots off a list of fifty things that I should be doing instead. Like, hello? Where have you been all day and why now when I’m actually doing something fun/productive? Welcome to my brain. But that’s my issue! Today, I just want to write and catch you all up on my summer thus far. I feel like all my blogs always have some sort of “theme” instead of me writing about the show that I watched or the new album that you have to listen to or whatever else pops into my head. So I’m hoping that with this blog, I can get back to simply writing for the joy and peace it brings me while still keeping that “themed/purposeful” content. Once you get done reading, I hope you’ll check out the other pages because I’m planning to update them all. A fresh start for this new season of life that I’ve entered! Also, if you’re not on my email list, you’re missing out! I’m excited to get back to those fun monthly updates and have plans to make the list even more exclusive. There may be early releases and access to other content so stay tuned.
It’s been so long since I’ve been on here like this. There’s so much to catch up on! Like, I’m starting to apply to colleges. Ahhhh! When I started this, I was about to head into my freshman year and now I’m turning eighteen (fifteen days but who’s counting) and graduating high school in a mere nine months. I’ve got my list of schools narrowed down and I’m planning on majoring in business or something related to that. I want to pair it with media or PR since the world is going to be expanding even more into the digital space in the future. Also planning on throwing French/European studies in there and eventually going to law school. Definitely not struggling with what my future looks like, just how to make it all fit.
And suddenly we jump forward four weeks! The quick highlights are as follows: My birthday was excellent. Being able to type this means that I survived the first week of senior year (!) And finally, I've got so many books to read. I did get some of those things on video so be sure to check out this week's vlog. My channel is linked under the YouTube tab!
I may or may not be writing this in AP European History while I'm supposed to be finishing a presentation but honestly, Spanish exploration in the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries is making me TIRED this morning. So to wake me up, let us discuss all my recommendations for food and stores and music and more! First of all, if you've never been to The Breakfast Club in the village or West Glenn, make a trip immediately! So so good! I tried the stuffed french toast and although my brother wasn't a fan, I loved it. First of all, it's on the starter menu so you won't get a huge plate. Second of all, the filling is fabulous! My brother, unfortunately, has no culture. To drink, I had a s'mores hot chocolate and it is every bit as dreamy as it sounds. It came in a coffee mug and while I was taking a sip, my whole body did an involuntary twitch (as one does at brunch in the middle of a crowded restaurant) which resulted in hot chocolate ALL OVER ME. My siblings thought it was hilarious. I was not as amused. Next up is cinnamon rolls from Smokey Row. Attached to pretty much every Hy-vee Fresh you'll find a Smokey Row. I'd had their coffee before (A+) but had never tried any pastries. And it is the biggest mistake of my life. These cinnamon rolls are......(loss for words). You must try them!! Following the coffeeshop trend is The Coffeesmith and Five Borough Bagels. The Coffeesmith recently dropped their fall drink lineup. I am obsessed with the pumpkin pie latte (hot not iced). Five Borough Bagels is New York-style bagels as well as coffee. I didn't know that was a thing but apparently New York-style can apply to everything. My go-to order is a bagel with mocha chip cream cheese and and an iced swiss mocha. Plus, they make each order fresh so.....
To be continued.....
July’s book club has the perfect picks for days spent under the sunshine! Some of the most popular books of the year combined with some hidden gems make this month’s top five a must-read!
#1: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Colleen Hoover is everywhere! Her books are simply amazing and It Ends With Us carries on her spectacular storytelling. This novel deals with a heavy topic: spousal abuse. Both beautiful and heartbreaking, poignant and at some points, laugh out loud funny, It Ends With Us tells Lily’s story. Her past weaved with her present leads to her future as Lily and the reader learn that survival is possible when life seems bleak. That people are not shades of black and white. That the human spirit cannot be broken as long as we have the courage to just keep swimming. I’m telling you: this is a book that you don’t want to miss.
#2: A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross
You know those books that you put off for weeks, months, or possibly years? And then you pick it up to find that it’s easily one of the best things you’ve ever read? That’s this book. Rebecca Ross is truly a master with words as her fictional world comes alive around you. I found myself captivated within fifty pages and managed to finish the whole thing start to finish in five hours. After which, I was emotionally drained but you know, that’s just a minor side effect. Filled with magic, music, mystery, multi-dimensional characters, and a fabulously subtle romance subplot, A River Enchanted is a title that should be found on every bookshelf.
#3; One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Rebecca Serle does the impossible once more! Following the bestselling success of In Five Years, one of my personal favorite authors writes the perfect summer beach read, set in the beautiful costal city of Positano. This book had me in all the feels. I was laughing, crying, yelling, annoyed, and amazed. Sometimes all at once. Try experiencing that. It is DRAINING. But so so worth it because this book is perfectly perfect. As readers are taken through the stunning streets of Positano and the breathtaking views of the Italian coast, Rebecca Serle shows us that happiness is possible in even the heaviest grief. That the people who leave us are never truly gone. After all, the human soul is eternal.
#4: Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
This novel was far from what I expected. Coming of age meets Native American culture meets epic undercover thriller. All in under four hundred pages. I. Loved. It. There were so many twists, some great one-liners, and wonderful characters (both good guys and bad guys). Fueled by grief and something more spiritual, Firekeeper’s Daughter will keep you wondering until the very last page. And that’s a literal promise. The end had me in a rollercoaster of thoughts. It’s so good and you need to read it because I need people to talk to.
#5: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Do not be fooled by the cover, This book is far from simple. The phrase, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead” never hit more true than with The Better Sister. A murder, an affair, a trial, a desperate last resort, and tons more drama, make this novel a true suspense story. I mean wait until you find out that the main character marries her sister’s ex-husband and is…..opps, maybe I should stop while I’m ahead. From start to finish, Alafaiir Burke weaves a truly twisted tale. Are the good ones actually evil? Have the evil ones only been painted that way? Read it and see!
I hope July’s book club gave you some refreshed ideas for what to put in your beach day tote! Let me know if you read any because some of these are truly awesome. Until next time!
I've got things to write about other than books! For the last few months, I've been in a stagnant routine of only posting monthly book clubs and gang, I don't know about you, but I am supremely bored with it. There was a time where I actually used to post blogs that were witty, interesting, and sometimes so epically off the rails that even I was concerned with my mental state (Side Note: still am but that's besides the point). I haven't written anything with real substance and meaning in so long and I'm a little sad. I just miss writing. So I've dusted off the keyboard and am putting my skills back to work again. Keep reading to see the fabulous disaster I've created.
First off, this edition is hot off the press from Spanish class. I know, I know. I should be studying or doing something to further my skills but I am so bored. I'm 100% certain that everyone currently sitting in this room is on autopilot but after a very long year, I think we all deserve it. Even if we do end up driving our teachers insane. There's a week left of school and I am coasting through it. And if you think I'm bad, my table mate is currently playing Wordle. If only they hadn't blocked Netflix on our computers. I'd totally be on a Criminal Minds or Grey's Anatomy watch-a-thon by now.
Hello, it's Wednesday. Back in Spanish where we're about to play a round (or five) of Quizlet Live for some vocab practice. Fun! I'd like to point out that the definitions (which our teacher wrote) have spelling and grammatical errors, so, um....take that as you will. For our finals next week, our writing assignment is to write to a class in Spain. They wrote letters to us but those got lost in the mail. So now, to save time, we get to type instead of write by hand. Luckily, I'm 95% done with it. Until tomorrow.
At this moment, I am supposed to be working on trigonometric functions in right triangles but at this point in the day, I am so exhausted. It is only by sheer force of will that I am not on my desk asleep right now. And there's still TWENTY MINUTES left in this class. I could try to do work but I'm definitely going to write this instead. I'll just have a long to-do list tonight but that's okay because your girl has so much stationary to burn through. Bring on the lists! For some reason, doing all my work at school is a foreign concept to me. I wait until the day is done and once I'm home, I sit at my desk, gather my thoughts (read: watch a few episodes of Criminal Minds on my iPad), and put my list of things together. It's a weird process but it works for me.
Anyway, that's school. I'm just trying to get through the next week. Onto more fun topics! First of all, I've had lots of good food/been to new places. Starbucks is obviously a forever favorite. I'm on an iced caramel macchiato binge with a chocolate croissant if it's breakfast time. I also add in a strawberry refresher every now and then because that's my summer drink. The Starbucks in Waukee was closed at the end of April so we got Dunkin' Donuts a few times. I shockingly didn't hate it. Kenzie and I also decided to try a new place during the closure. It's called Fredrick's and again, was another winner. I can't tell you exactly where it is but we took University Avenue all the way to Urbandale, I think. It was somewhere within that general vicinity. Or I could be entirely wrong. Which, let's be real here, is more likely. There's also this place called Hyper Energy Bar which is so good! My favorite drink is the pink power. Strawberry and watermelon is actually pretty good together. A classic favorite, Panera Bread, makes my list because there is a new mac and cheese sandwich that was absolutely created and handed down by God himself. That's been my go-to lunch since April. I feel like I also need to hype up the croissants and coffee. They are phenomenal! I finally tried boba tea while I was shopping this weekend and I don't know why I waited so long. Five stars across the board. Cinnaholic is relatively new but you need to try it if you're ever downtown. I did a taste test in a vlog so look up "Trying Fancy Cinnamon Rolls" on my YouTube Channel. It's also here under the "YouTube" tab. I have it from a good source that Cinnaholic will be catering my sister's grad party this weekend so pop in if you want some! Crumbl Cookies is another place to get your sugar fix. The flavors change weekly and sometimes they're fabulous and sometimes they're not. Make sure to check the menu before you order. For Mother's Day brunch, the whole fam ventured downtown to Americano. It wasn't heart-stoppingly delicious but they still deserve some love. I loved the brownies, the chocolate mousse, the eggs, the sausage, and the mashed potatoes. Mini side-note: While Wayne was getting food, Ashley poured salt into his water but he, like, didn't notice?! I was kinda bummed.
Moving on! It's storytime! For those who don't know, the van, which has a wheelchair ramp, is very old. Dinosaur old. Wuthering Heights old. The Queen of England old. It likes to break and just, not work in general a lot of the time. Last September, it died multiple times in one week. My dad got a new battery and everything was fine(-ish). Flashforward to prom. We drive to take pictures, drive to dinner, and drive to the actual dance. We have our fun but by 9:15, we're good to go. So we get in the car, Kenzie puts the key in the ignition and it..... doesn't start.
Welcome to day three of me trying to write this blog. Yesterday, I left you on a cliffhanger, so let's get back to it, shall we? A quick reminder of the current situation. It's prom night. Very cold and rainy. We are decked out to the nines in formal attire. The car is dead. Kenzie and I look at each other for awhile before deciding that we can do nothing else except make the call of shame to our dad. This is a new term I invented during this week's vlog and I'm sticking with it. He comes, tells us that, yes, it is dead. Fantastic! But then he just leaves to get his jumper cables without letting anyone know. We were so confused at first because none of us can see him anywhere and I happened to open Find My Friends which showed that he was halfway home. But that's my dad. Communication isn't always his forte. Then the weekend after, Alexis and I had ordered pizza. I ask if I can go too, thinking nothing of it because we had been in Iowa Falls all day at graduation parties and the van drove perfectly fine. The place we had ordered from was ten minutes away but not even five minutes in, the battery light comes on. I'm not kidding when I tell you that we watched everything shut off. The speedometer didn't work, the gas gauge went to empty, the radio shut off, nothing was functioning at all. Luckily, once we turned everything was downhill. So we somehow manage to turn and get into a bank parking lot. We make the call of shame for the second time in a week and sit there. Very hungry as well because, remember, we were on our way to get food. Dad gets there, jumps it, and then we start driving home. As soon as we get back into four lane traffic, that demonized battery light turns on. We end up having to leave it in a Casey's parking lot until my dad brought it home at like, 11:30 after replacing the van's battery with the one from his car. Monday comes around. I get to school without issue but then after school, the thing dies again as soon as I get in. The third call of shame has to be made and a battery switcheroo is made again. That afternoon, it gets fixed and now the battery works fine. Now, however, there is a plastic piece dragging on the bottom and my dad thinks the muffler needs to be replaced. Such a fun month May has been!
In reading news, I've been getting through a lot of books recently. This week, I've finished a book about Jack the Ripper and another that covered French history from the days of Julius Caesar to the 90s. Right now, I'm halfway through a Russian history book called The Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia. I'm very interested by everything I've read so far! At the end of June, I'll be filming a video with every book I've read so far in the year. Let's see if I can get through my entire TBR list (to be read list) before then.
I've got lots of other things to write about like my new favorite podcasts, TV shows, books (obviously), stores, and more. This summer's going to be a fun one and I'm planning a variety of different things across the board. I'm very excited for you to see it all! Hope you're all having a great day!
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!
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!