Thursday, March 19, 2020

Keep It Together // March 2020

Hello All! It's time for Keep It Together! :) Woohoo!

I am excited to post today with Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag and Rebecca Jo from Knit by God's Hand for our Keep It Together linkup!

If you're new here, this is our linkup for all things planners, memory keeping, and journalling. Please feel free to join us on the third Thursday of the month with any posts that fall into those categories! :)

Crazy Times:

Things are crazy right now. No one knows what's happening and we're all just doing our best. I'm wrapping my head around the world every day, and trying my best to go with the flow. 


As we are at home now, and planning to stay home unless necessary until further notice... now is a GREAT time to work on a lot of our goals. LOL! There are so many things that we wanted to do at home this year, and now we've got so much time to do it!

In the back of the planner there are a lot of spots for writing goals and breaking them down into chunks. I've started using these sections for a few of my 2020 goals. :) 

So far I'm also using the planner to write down inspiring ideas or quotes that I see. I draw a little flower or heart next to them so that I can see them easily when I flip through my planner.


Well, now is the time to scrapbook, isn't it? I haven't felt drawn to it, but with being at home so much I might try to get some paper together and see what happens. Now seems like a good time for art journalling... so many thoughts and feelings to get on a page.

What's Next?!

Just trying to figure out my "new normal" like everyone else. 

What would you like to see here, on youtube, or on Instagram?

What are you planning to do during your "new normal"?

Please feel free to linkup with us below! We'd love to see what you are up to!



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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

February 2020 Reads // Sequels, Lame Non-Fiction, and Romance Series

HAPPY BOOK DAY! :) My quest to read more non-fiction is off to an annoying start... LOL oh well!

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders - borrowed, physical book

DNF @ 39% - I would not recommend this book.

A memoir about a year of decluttering and living with less. 

I am interested in the general idea behind the project, but a lot of the mentality behind it just doesn’t work for me or my life. I know everyone is different, and goes about their days in ways that they need to to get through their life situations... but this book was written in a perspective where everything is black and white. I find that damaging as people, places, and things can fall into the grey. We live our lives in the grey areas, and we need to be comfortable with that. We need to give ourselves and our friends grace. I think people either love or dislike this one quite a bit. For me, it wasn't what I was expecting.. and the perspective just made it not my kind of book.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (Waverly Family #2) own, physical book

3.5 Stars - I would recommend if you enjoyed Garden Spells.

About 10 years has passed since Garden Spells, and everyone is discontented in Bascom. Claire has begun making candies and selling them en masse, she's worn out and has no time for creativity. Sydney is struggling to conceive and taking care of a young teenager and her baby. Bay is a teenager, and has embarrassed herself with her magic, and driven her crush away from her. As the women wait for the first frost they will do their best to address their restlessness.

I deleted my original review of this book and it's killing me. :( 

I started this book and I just wanted Garden Spells back. I know that is a lot of the intention as the women want the frost to come and their restlessness to go away. I felt for all of the characters during their struggles. A lot of the story focused on Bay, which was sweet, but did change the feel of the novel since she is a teen. I loved being back with my favorite characters even if they were very discontented. I love how everything pulled together in the end. It wrapped up and you felt like all was right.

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier (Wildwood #2) own, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoyed Wildwood Dancing.

Paula, the scholar of the family wants to learn the trading business from her father. He has trained her in negotiation, languages, math, and logistics. When she travels with him to Istanbul it will be her first opportunity to practice her skills, and to visit another part of the world. When her father's business partner is murdered, Paula and her father must hire a guard, and be careful in their dealings. They are in Istanbul to buy an extremely rare and valuable artifact of a long-ago religion, and are not the only ones who want to purchase it.

I was surprised by how radically the setting changed from Wildwood Dancing to Cybele's Secret, and I was a bit skeptical... however, I really ended up enjoying this book. As always the writing and setting was magical, and vividly drawn. I loved Paula as the studious one, and it was really fun to read her story. I loved that she wanted to strike out on her own and her father gave her a chance to do so. A book trader... that's a character I can relate to! :)  I loved all of the side characters and the quests. I thought Stoyan was so swoony and I enjoyed their low key romance. I'm bummed that the series isn't going to continue, but it was still fun to read this one. I wasn't so sure about the ending at first, but I really ended up liking it.

A Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews* (Parish Orphans of Devon #4) ARC, ebook

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy proper romance, and have read the rest of the Parish Orphans of Devon series.

Neville Cross was in an accident as a boy, and suffered a blow to the head that resulted in a stutter. His three best friends have cared for and provided for him, and he is left to care for the horses as his friend Justin Thornhill's estate. He is content with his life until he meets Miss Clara Hartwright, and comes to find that maybe his life is missing something after all. Clara has taken a position as a companion in order to help finance her brother's college tuition and living expenses. As she caused her family much grief, she is paying her debt to them until he graduates and takes her up as his secretary on his naturalist exhibitions. As Clara spends Christmas at the Thornhill residence, she quickly falls for Neville, only to wonder if she is about to make a fool of herself once again.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Neville and Clara were both loveable and sweet. I thought that Neville's inner dialogue and his stutter really painted a picture of a character that we previously knew little about. I loved his profession and love of animals, and the sweet moments with the dogs and horses. While I enjoyed the romance in this book, it wasn't my favorite of the series. It had it's fair share of swoony moments though. While this book takes place at Christmas it isn't too Christmassy to read at another time of year. I loved the resolution of this book quite a lot, maybe the most in the series, and am sad that this is the last book. Overall a sweet conclusion to a great series.

Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas (Ravenels #1) own, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance.

When Devon Ravenel's cousin dies, he is the last male heir to the family name. He has no desire to be an Earl and plans on selling the crumbling estate and it's poorly kept lands and not worrying about the women currently living there. However, when he meets his cousin's widow, Kathleen challenges his responsibilities, he begins to question his desires for his life and his role within the Ravenel family.

I enjoyed the immediate chemistry between Devon and Kathleen and the story of a reluctant Earl taking over a crumbling estate and family. I love how this story set up the whole family and their roles in the rest of the series. I enjoyed all of the side characters a lot, and appreciated that there was time to get to know them as a group before the series continued. I also appreciated that there was a bit of a start on the romance for the next book in this one. I wasn't expecting the action element of this story, but really enjoyed that part and thought it added to the depth and intensity of the story. I thought that Devon's transformation was rather devastating and emotional. I'm excited to continue on with the series. Highlight for spoiler I can't get past the thought that one particular love scene seemed a bit rape-y. Anyone else? I was really surprised by that.

The Art of Making Memories by Meik Wiking*** ARC, ebook

DNF @ 31% - I wouldn't particularly recommend this one.

A book about making and keeping memories.

I really enjoyed The Little Book of Hygge a few years ago, and was excited to get a chance to read his newest book. While The Little Book of Hygge felt cohesively focused on hygge and how to achieve it, with a splash of Danish history, this particular book felt very scattered. While the focus is on memory, both making memories and keeping them, it felt like it bounced back and forth between different methods of memorization, ways that memories are vivid, and generally any study based on memory or memorization. Sometimes a method would be brought up without much to back it up, or without much of a tie to applying it to your everyday life. Other times you get caught up in a very interesting study or anecdote, for example Andy Warhol's changing of perfumes every three months to give memories a distinct scent, only to think that while it was interesting, it also wasn't very applicable. I appreciated most the inclusion of memories from the thousand people that they used in their study, as well as Wiking's own memories. It did, however, make it feel like a bit of a memoir. Overall, I sadly didn't feel compelled to finish this book. It just wasn't consistently focused enough and applicable enough to my every day life for me.

Marrying Mr. Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas (Ravenels #2) own, physical book

5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy historical romance. Since the main relationship in this book starts in book one, I would recommend starting there.

Rhys Winterborne is a commoner who rose to the top of London commerce with is store Winterborne's he has wealth and power, but after a heated moment with her family, he no longer has his intended fiance Lady Helen Ravenel. Helen is quiet and reserved, and has been sheltered for her entire life. When she goes to Rhys and offers her virtue to seal the engagement, she'll learn about herself and the life she wants to posess.

Ugh. This was swoony. So swoony. Rhys was a great character and I really liked that he was a commoner and rough around the edges. (have I mentioned how tired I am of Dukes??) I especially liked him because he has everything, but Helen. All he wants is Helen and so he's incredibly desperate to have her and very intense. All of his Welsh terms of endearment turned me to jelly. Swoon! Anytime he'd talk about Wales or Welsh traditions or places, it was so vivid and lovely. Highlight for Spoilers That blacony scene. Wow. I did not in any way expect Lady Helen to have a half sister and go to find her in the slums of London. I thought that was really brave and sweet, I loved how she sacrificed her feelings for Rhys to save the little girl. I thought his reaction was endearing and amazing. He was so willing to help Helen and the little girl, and so desperate to care for them and keep them safe. More swooning to all of this book. I'm excited to see what happens with Dr. Gibson and Rhys's private eye guy. What fun characters! Definitely a new favorite historical romance.

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas (Ravenels #3) own, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical romance. Since characters in this book start in the other books,  I would recommend starting with Cold Hearted Rake.

Lord Gabriel St. Vincent has spent years avoiding the fortune hunting women of the 'ton and their mothers. One night at a ball, by helping a distressed female, he finds himself caught... by a women who really doesn't want him. The less she wants him, the more interested he is in her. Lady Pandora wants nothing more than to publish her first board game, she would rather die than relinquish her business to a husband. The more time Pandora spends with Gabriel, the more she realizes she might want marriage more than she thought she did as well. Can she have it all?

I thought that the beginning of this book was so cute and funny. I loved that by trying to avoid society, Pandora gets herself into a sticky spot with a very eligible bachelor. The whole scene in the clubhouse was really funny, and I liked both of them so much... but felt badly for them that the last thing they wanted to do was to have to marry. I loved that Pandora was such an independent character with her own career ambitions. I thought that it was fun that Gabriel had been avoiding being caught by fortune hunters for so many years only to be accidentally caught by Pandora, who isn't particularly interested in him. I loved that they spent part of the time by the beach, and the small touches to the characters... like his disdain of carrots. I thought that he was so sweetly tender with her related to her equilibrium issues, and that their chemistry was so sweet. I loved continuing to see the Ravenel family, and how they grow together. Devon is such a good guardian to all of these women. I didn't love the middle of this book, but the ending was so action-packed and filled with drama. Highlight for spoiler I was so invested in the danger she got herself into and was very emotional when she was injured and fighting for her life in the hospital. I definitely cried. The ending sealed this one for me.

Monthly totals:

Read - 8
Owned - 5
Ebook - 2
Physical book - 6
ARC - 2
Library/Borrowed - 2
Bought - 51 (36 physical books, 15 ebooks) - 18 books were freeee!++ :)
To Let Go - 9 (already sold!!)

Yearly Totals:

Read - 14
Owned - 9
Ebook - 2
Physical book - 12
ARC - 2
Library/Borrowed - 4
Bought - 75 (46 physical books, 29 ebooks) - 26 books were freeee! :)
To Let Go - 10

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Edelweiss!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time!

++ pro-tip: use your Amazon shipping at a slower rate to get e-book credits. I do it whenever I don't need something ASAP and it's resulted in a lot of free ebooks. I usually get them when they are $1.99, etc. Just make sure to use them before they expire!