Posted in Month in Review, Reading List

Month in Review: March 2019 Wrap Up

Bookish friends, we’ve crossed another month off our calendar!  A couple of days into April, I feel like spring may actually be here to stay!

At the end of February, I posted my first Month in Review, as a month end wrap up of all the books I’d read.  Time to build on that tradition with my March wrap up!  March was not a prolific reading month for me, but I did squeeze in a few good titles.  Let’s see what was on my list!

 


 

 

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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Starting with my last completed read of the month, The Winter Sister is a great domestic suspense novel.  We follow Sylvie, who lost her sister Persephone years ago when they were teens.  When Sylvie comes back home to care for her ailing mother, she deals with old feelings and people from her past… and then starts asking questions, leading to answers she never saw coming.

Four and a half stars to this debut, which I reviewed in full here:  Book Notes: Review of “The Winter Sister” by Megan Collins

 

 

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The Sherlock Files: The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett

I read this book as part of #MiddleGradeMarch, which was a fun challenge on Instagram.  Intended for upper elementary or middle school age kids, The 100-Year-Old-Secret was a fun read with adventure, mystery, and a couple of kid sleuths who happen to be descendants of one of the greatest detectives of all time!  This is the first book in a series.

No rating for this title, as I just read this for fun, but recommended for kids who like their action with a hint of who-dun-it!

 

 

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The Food Blogger Mysteries by Debra Sennefelder (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Uninvited Corpse and The Hidden Corpse are the first two books in a new-to-me series by a new-to-me author!  In this series we follow Hope, a food blogger who’s just gone through some major life changes, including moving back to her hometown of Jefferson.  Unfortunately, her welcome home includes murders that Hope is determined to solve!

This is the first series I’ve seen focused on a blogger, so it was fun to read about that part of Hope’s life.  I give each of these titles four stars… a solid start to the series with interesting characters and plenty of misdirection!

 

 

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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

This was probably my favorite read of the month.  The Perfect Girlfriend was twisty, entertaining, and outrageous!  Juliette, the main character, was… well, really special in a very dark way.  If you haven’t read it, you need to!

Four and a half stars to this debut… here’s my full review:  Book Notes: Review of “The Perfect Girlfriend” by Karen Hamilton

 


 

So that’s what my March looked like… as I said, not a lot of books read, but I enjoyed the titles above.  I’ve got a long list of possibilities for my April reads, and I can’t wait to share them with you throughout the month.  In the meantime… happy reading!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for a complimentary digital review copy of some of the books mentioned here.  All opinions are my own.

 

Posted in Month in Review, Reading List

Month in Review: February 2019 Wrap Up

 

Hello, readers… and happy March!  I’m going to try something new, and start doing a monthly wrap-up post of everything I’ve read.  Here are the books I read this February!

 


 

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Murder & Metaphors by Amanda Flower (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

This is the third installment of the delightful Magical Bookshop series from Amanda Flower. Violet and her grandmother get more than they bargained for when an event at the Morton winery & vineyard results in the death of the honored guest, a renowned wine expert and author.

I did a full review for this title and a Q&A with the author… check it out!!

 


 

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Hashtag Authentic: Finding creativity and building a community on Instagram and beyond by Sara Tasker  (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

Hashtag Authentic is a book all about Instagram. Sounds simple, right? But it’s really more than that.

Sara Tasker is an Instagram coach and influencer, and this book draws on some of the lessons she’s learned, and provides tips and strategies to authentically engage and grow your own following.

Social media is a huge part of our modern lives. And striking a balance of beauty, creativity, and authenticity on an account can be difficult. I wasn’t sure what to expect on this title, but the book was charming and practical. It covers topics such as photography tips, how much/little to share, finding your online tone and voice, and much more.

The digital ARC was difficult to read because of the formatting…not sure whether that’s been corrected in the final version.  Personally, I’m considering buying a physical copy of the book for the beautiful photos, and to slowly savor the advice offered.

 


 

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The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald  (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

If you haven’t been hearing about this book, have you even used the internet in the past month or two?!?  This has gotten tons of hype and it’s well deserved… a great debut novel that earned 4 1/2 stars from me.  Read my full review here!


 

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Academic Curveball (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​) and Broken Heart Attack (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​) by James J. Cudney

These are the first two titles in the Braxton Campus Mysteries.  A few weeks ago, I revealed the cover for the third title coming out in late March.  See the preview and find out more about this series here!

 


 

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Animal Farm by George Orwell (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book. I’m a big fan of Orwell and liked 1984, but this one was an incredibly short and fast read, and somehow more accessible. A timeless allegorical classic. While this is a commentary on Stalinist Russia and a cautionary tale about power, propaganda, and freedom…. its nearly chilling how one can still see these themes mirrored in modern times. If you haven’t read this, add it to your list.

 


 

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Criminally Cocoa by Amanda Flower (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​)

Criminally Cocoa is a short novella in the Amish Candy Shop series. Bailey and Charlotte hit NYC for filming of Bailey’s new show, but when things start going wrong on set, Charlotte sets out to investigate.

This is an extremely quick read and has a bit of an Easter theme. It’s told from Charlotte’s point of view, which adds a new perspective. Fun story that makes a nice addition to the series.

(I previously reviewed another book in this series… find it here!)

 


 

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (⭐️​⭐️​⭐️​⭐️)

This was a light read about creativity and its role in everyone’s life. There wasn’t anything earth shattering, more of a pep talk and inspiration. Fun, somewhat irreverent book that reminds us to embrace the artist in each of us.

 


 

And there we have it… my list of reads from February!  I did manage to get in a classic this month, as well as not just one but TWO non-fiction reads!  The month was still half cozy mysteries… I doubt I’ll cut too far back on those.  But I have been enjoying branching out a bit in my reading, and March will continue and expand that trend.

Let me know what great books have caught your attention lately… happy reading!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for a complimentary digital review copy of some of the books mentioned here.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

Posted in Reading Life, Reading List

3 Ways To Spice Up Your Reading Life

Raise your hand if you love reading… but you feel like you read the same type of book all the time.  Or you always pick a book off the standard bestseller list.  Or maybe you read whatever a certain friend or family member chooses and tells you about.  But sometimes you probably wonder… what else is out there?

Since I’ve started The Biblio Blonde, I’ve gotten a fresh look at the huge array of books available to us.  Literally thousands of new titles are released every year.  The bad news is that in our human life spans, we can’t possibly read every book that’s ever been written.  The good news is, we can read a LOT of them and our choices are endless.

So are you looking to spice up your reading life?  Read some things you wouldn’t normally pick up?  Here are three ways to look beyond your usual choices, and intentionally seek out something new!

 

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Not exactly a picture of all the unread books in my house, but probably closer than I’d like to admit!

Find books in new places

It’s easy to look to the same source over and over again for our reading options.  But there are so many places to look for inspiration!  Here are a few ideas, and I’ll plan to expand on some of these in the coming weeks to feature some of my favorites:

 

  • If you normally use the library or order books online, visit a small independent bookstore in your area.  They usually have more titles by local/regional authors, and feature books that are delightful but not quite as well known.  These establishments also typically have a small but dedicated and knowledgeable staff that would be all too happy to point you toward your next favorite!

 

  • You can get great recommendations right from your favorite comfy chair at home by exploring book blogs! Bloggers read a LOT, and we feature every type of book out there.  Some bloggers only review cozy mysteries or YA titles… some read a wide variety and talk about everything book related.  Find a few new blogs to follow and try some titles that these book lovers rave about.  (Might I suggest starting with the blog you’re currently reading? 😊​)

 

  • Maybe you’re more visual, and love pouring over pretty pictures of fabulous books.  (I mean, who doesn’t?)  If that’s the case, #Bookstagram is your cup of tea.  Bookstagrammers host a subsection of Instagram dedicated to books, books, and more books… you’ll find colorful book stacks, shots of books and readers out in beautiful scenery, and great recommendations all the way around!  (And did I mention the props?  Bookstagrammers can take any theme or decorative item and make a book picture.)  You can start by following my Instagram account, and I’ll help point you toward more great book lovers!

 

 

Take up a challenge!

One of my favorite ways to branch out a bit with books is to take on a reading challenge.  You can find boatloads of these, and the beauty of each is that in checking off items on the list, you seek out titles you might not have otherwise considered!

Although I’ve participated in many challenges over the years, one that I’ve discovered more recently and highly recommend is the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.  Modern Mrs. Darcy is Anne Bogel’s website… I’ve made no secret of being a huge fan of hers (see my review of her latest book) and the challenge is no different.  It’s not overwhelming, and it hits that sweet spot of making you intentionally choose some titles but leaving you a lot of space to personalize it.  Later in the year, I’ll post about some of the books I’ve been using to check off this list.  Here’s a graphic of this year’s challenge:

 

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Join the club!

Books are always better when shared with other readers.  So if there’s a book club in your area, why not try it out?  You’ll meet other book lovers, and even if a title chosen isn’t one you might not have considered on your own, you may find a new favorite author or topic!

There are, of course, all kinds of small book clubs out there based around a neighborhood or group of friends.  If you have access to one of these, try it out!  If not, another option is to check out your local library… most hold monthly reading discussions of all types of books.

One new club is through one of my favorite stores!  The Barnes and Noble Book Club began last year, and has since started meeting every month to discuss a new title.  The book selections have so far tended to be newer fiction.  What better way to spend an evening than hitting up B&N for a book discussion, some shopping, and a treat at the cafe?

If you’re not much on joining real-life groups (leaving the house can be so overrated!), how about a virtual one?  Many online book clubs are available too, including group reads by Modern Mrs. Darcy, The Pingel Sisters (who also offer monthly reading challenges), and more!

 

There’s never been a better time to be a reader… make the most of it and explore the bounty of titles out there!  Happy reading, friends!

 

 

Want to save this post to read later?  Pin this image:

Spice Up Your Reading Life!  Find 3 ways to branch out with your book choices at www.thebiblioblonde.com!  Pin me to read later!

 

Posted in Book Notes, Reading List

Book Notes: “I’d Rather Be Reading” by Anne Bogel

Sometimes a book comes along that just “gets” you.  One where the content just speaks to you.  Where you’re reading and find yourself continually nodding your head in agreement with the words on the page.

Readers, I just finished my first book of the year… and it was definitely that kind of book!

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I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel is a tiny little gem of a book.  It’s under 150 pages, but it packs a punch for anyone who lives the life of a reader.  This is a series of essays and recollections by Bogel, who very much lives the reading life herself.

If this book sounds familiar, it’s either because you’ve been hearing about it EVERYWHERE lately, or because I’ve already mentioned it in a couple of posts, including my recent Happy Bookish New Year Tag!

When I found myself stopping to snap quick pictures of some of the paragraphs because I really wanted to go back to them later, or wanting to share a few choice snippets on social media while I was reading… I knew this book was a keeper!  Like this part, in a chapter entitled “Bookworm Problems” that I somehow found rather relatable:

“You have more books than shoes.  You have more books than bookshelves.  You do some quick math and realize how much money is tied up in your book collection.  You suspect your books equal the gross domestic product of a small nation.”  (p. 71)

I mean…. I guess some people might see that as a problem?  I call it doing my part to stimulate the economy.  (No need to thank me, just my patriotic duty.)

Another part I enjoyed, and found absolutely hilarious, was her observation in “Bookseller for a Day” that one of the largest parts of a job in any bookstore is solving elusive customer mysteries.  Such as:

“I forget the title, but it was published last week, and it’s by a woman.” (p.109)

Friends, I spent four years working in a bookstore, and I can tell you without hesitation that a shift is not complete without getting some sort of question along those lines!  (And that may have been one of the more specific of those type of queries.)

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My practiced & professional response to: “I can’t remember the title, but it was blue.”

If you’re not familiar with Anne Bogel… well, we all should be, but I wasn’t either until recently.  In addition to being a published author, she also has two other sources of wisdom for bibliophiles:  Her website, called Modern Mrs. Darcy, and a podcast called, simply enough, “What Should I Read Next?”  She blogs about books, literary characters, home and family, and personality types, and it’s all quite fun.

I’d Rather Be Reading is the first of Bogel’s books that I’ve read (another called Reading People is on my list), and you guys, I think I just found my new author BFF!  We’re of a similar age (okay, I’m a *couple* years older), we both love reading and education (we’ve both spent some time in the homeschooling world), and I recognized my own past in a lot of her stories.  And neither of us can keep quiet about books!

The writings in these pages brought me a wave of nostalgia, talking about book series from the past (Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High, fellow Gen-Xer’s?), along with trips to the library and summers spent reading.  But Bogel’s words also inspired me to continually stretch my reading… to read different genres, revisit the classics, and re-read old favorites with a more mature eye and mind.

If you’re a book lover, and you’re looking for the perfect quick read to start your year of reading off the right way, this is the perfect book to pick up!  It won’t take you long to go through it, but if you’re like me, you’ll want to keep it on hand and revisit it for inspiration in the years to come.  You can find it through these links:

Get “I’d Rather Be Reading” at…

Barnes & Noble      Amazon       Local Indie Shops

And while we just got through the holiday gift-giving season, keep this title in mind when you need a little gift down the road for a reader in your life.  It’s a perfect little gift book with a very pretty cover!

I give I’d Rather Be Reading five inspiring and nostalgic stars!  It sets the bar just a bit high for the year, but… isn’t that a good thing?

So what are you reading as your first book of 2019?  Is it inspiring, funny, thrilling, or emotional?  Whatever it is, I hope it’s wonderful… let us know in the comments!  Here’s wishing everyone a delightfully bookish year… happy reading!

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

Posted in Book Tags, Reading List

Happy Bookish New Year Tag!

Here we are, down to the final bit of 2018, and what a year it’s been!  Starting this blog and joining a whole new community as The Biblio Blonde has easily been my biggest accomplishment of the year… and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store!  So, let’s do a fun post to celebrate this fantastic year of books and look forward to the next one!

 

Happy Bookish New Year Tag 2019 The Biblio Blonde

 

 

I’ve created this Happy Bookish New Year Tag for us to look ahead to 2019, and kick off our year of reading the right way!  Come play along!  Here are the rules for this tag:

  • Introduce the tag, and use the square picture above somewhere in your post.
  • Using the questions, tell us all about the reading you have planned for 2019.
  • Link your post back to this post, and comment on my post below with your link.
  • Share your post and tag additional friends!

 

 

Ready to check out my year of reading?  Let’s get this party started!!

 

 

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The last book you’re finishing in 2018?

I’m finishing up with One Day in December by Josie Silver.  Yes, I know, everyone else read this book much earlier in the year.  It kept getting pushed back on my list for some reason, but really, what better time to read this delightful story than… December??

 

 

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Title you’re planning to read first in 2019?

I’m planning to kick off 2019 with Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather Be Reading.  This slim volume is another book I’ve had on my list for a while.  It seems like it would be a perfect option to begin a delightful and wonderous year of a life spent reading!

 

 

Books from your 2018 TBR list that you’re pushing to your 2019 list?

Oh, I’ve got a few of these.  Apparently I got sidetracked a lot this year.  (I am, after all, easily distracted by shiny… hey, what’s that?  Ha.)  A couple at the top of this category include Orwell’s Animal Farm and Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness.  (For the latter, I might want to first re-read the entire original All Souls Trilogy.  Talk about getting sidetracked.  Oh well.)

 

 

 

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Genre you plan to read more of this year, or try for the first time?

I’d really like to read more classics in 2019.  Not a steady diet, as I feel like these need to be contemplated and savored.  But more.  One on my list is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I started it years ago and set it aside for some reason, so I’m trying again.

Also in the plan is to collect more beautiful classic literature editions.  I have quite of few of the Collectible Classic titles from Barnes & Noble so I’ll probably start there.  I’ve also been eyeing these rather pricey but beautiful Puffin Clothbound Classics, like this set by the Bronte sisters.  (And don’t forget the lovely Puffin Book to Table Classics I described in this post.)

 

 

Reading challenges you’re planning to complete?

I’m still mulling this one over a bit.  One that I’m definitely planning is the 2019 Challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy, which is Anne Bogel’s blog and website.  I’ve already signed up for this challenge, which will send you information right now and occasionally throughout the year.

Also, I’m planning to join the Pingel Sisters as they kick off their new book club!  Not a reading challenge, exactly, but it’s nice to have a community of others to discuss the titles you’re reading.  They’re starting with The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, one that’s been on my TBR list for a while!

 

 

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An author you’re looking forward to reading for the first time?

A few months ago, I purchased The Lying Game by Ruth Ware… and I still haven’t gotten to it.  (See: distraction, shiny objects.)  But I’ve heard so many good things about her books, and I’m determined to read at least the one sitting on my shelf!  Then I’m sure I’ll be ready for another trip to the bookstore.

 

 

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If you could only read one book in the coming year, it would be…?

I’m going to go with… a book by the one and only Agatha Christie.  Mysteries are my thing, but somehow, I’ve never read anything by this legendary author, and it’s high time I experience it.  Thinking I’ll probably start with either And Then There Were None, or the beginning of the classic Miss Marple series, The Murder at the Vicarage.

 

Wow… I think I have a big year of reading ahead!  Which, really, is just fine by me.  I’m looking forward to immersing myself in these wonderful stories and lots of other great titles.

What about you?  I’d love to see the feast of books on your table for 2019!  Join me and post this tag for yourself… the rules and picture are back up at the top, and here’s a list of the questions to copy!  (I’ll tag some of you on Twitter!)

  • The last book you’re finishing in 2018?
  • Title you’re planning to read first in 2019?
  • Books from your 2018 TBR list that you’re pushing to your 2019 list?
  • Genre you plan to read more of this year, or try for the first time?
  • Reading challenges you’re planning to complete?
  • An author you’re looking forward to reading for the first time?
  • If you could only read one book in the coming year, it would be…?

 

Thanks again for a wonderful 2018… I’m so grateful for a solid start to my blog and for the new friends I’ve made along the way.  Happy reading, friends… and happy 2019!!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)