Once There Were Wolves Will Have You Howling For More

This is the thing, isn’t it? This is the fear they live with now. The children in us long for monsters to take forms we understand. They want to fear the wolves because they don’t want to fear each other.

Charlotte McConaghy, Once There Were Wolves

Ah, Neature.

There’s nothing quite like experiencing the great outdoors. For me, I like to experience it from a distance. For example, If I’m going to go camping, then I want to be in a camper (or not camping at all). I’m not sleeping on the forest floor with nothing but a flimsy tent to protect me. I’m also not wandering off any hiking trails because that’s an easy way to get lost and die from the elements.

I am almost the exact opposite of Inti Flynn, the main character of my new read, Once There Were Wolves. This exceptionally nature filled novel was written by Charlotte McConaghy.

Reading this book was like a breath of fresh air 😉 and I have a feeling that every person who reads it will be howling for more.

Book Description (Brought to you by Goodreads)

Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.

Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect?

Propulsive and spell-binding, Charlotte McConaghy’s Once There Were Wolves is the unforgettable story of a woman desperate to save the creatures she loves—if she isn’t consumed by a wild that was once her refuge.

Just Read It

Hey, look, neature! That’s pretty neat.

I honestly can’t get this book out of my mind. There was something quite wild about it, and that’s not just because it was set in the wilderness of Scotland. This book breathes nature in such a way that it makes you want to get out of your house and wander the woods like a weirdo (See above giphy). Maybe hug a tree or two. It definitely opens your eyes to conservation and rewilding, if said eyes aren’t already open to that.

McConaghy’s descriptions read like beautiful poetry. This isn’t a book that you can just skim through. You have to read it nice and slow, but that shouldn’t be a problem because the words are just so dang magestical.

Don’t even get me started on Inti Flynn. This girl is a big time BAMF. In all the ways a person can be a BAMF. She takes care of her sister who is emotionally scarred from a terrible incident that happened in Alaska, an incident that badly affected Inti too. She is in charge of rewilding Scotland by releasing – yes, you guessed it – wolves into some of the parks. Let’s just say the locals don’t take a liking to Inti and her colleagues, which doesn’t make her job any easier. It doesn’t matter how bad it gets, she doesn’t give up on her wolfy mission.

Also, kind of a spoiler, but I have to mention it – she gives birth in the freaking woods leaning against a tree, catches the baby by the ankle, and then bites the umbilical cord apart. You got that? BITES it. Like a crazy warrior woman. This happens in the dead of winter, people. She and the baby are huddled together against a tree, practically freezing to death, when a wolf pack encounters them, huddles around them, which saves their lives until help comes.

Just WOW.

To top it off, Inti kind of has a cool superpower. It’s actually just Mirror Touch Synesthesia, which is a condition that causes a person to feel a sensation of touch when they see someone else being touched. For Inti, it doesn’t just happen with people, it’s animals too, which explains her freakish obsession and love for wolves.

If you’re worried this book will be too nature-filled for you, please worry no more. There’s plenty of mystery and intrigue to keep your attention.

If you aren’t a fan of neature now, you will be by the time you finish reading this book. So do yourself a favor and just read it, mmkay?

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22 Book Quotes That’ll Inspire You

One of my favorite things about reading a new book is underlining all of my favorite quotes. There is something very satisfying about underlining a good quote. It lets you hold onto the words for just a little bit longer, just letting your mind soak it all in. It’s how I get a lot of my inspiration. Who doesn’t love to be inspired?

Since I aspire to be inspired, and aspire to inspire others, I’m sharing 22 inspiring book quotes that will most definitely inspire you. I also wanted to see how many times I could fit the word ‘inspire’ into one post (title included).

I hope these inspiring book quotes inspire you to feel inspired to accomplish all of the things that have led you to seek out inspiration in the first place.

Figure out what your gift is, Edward Adler, and then blow that shit up.

Ann Napolitano, Dear Edward

You all listen now, this is a real lesson in life. Yes, we got stuck, but what’d we girls do? We made it fun, we laughed. That’s what sisters and girlfriends are all about. Sticking together even in the mud, ‘specially in mud.’

Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up.

Veronica Roth, Divergent

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

G.K. Chesterton, Coraline

You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.

Yann Martel, Life of Pi

‘The thing about growing up with Fred and George,’ said Ginny thoughtfully, ‘is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got the nerve.’

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.

C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

Would you like an adventure now, or would you like to have your tea first?

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.

Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it. And don’t give a second thought when people mock it or ridicule it. Most gossip is envy in disguise.

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

That was the first time her grandfather leaned down and whispered, ‘Be Brave,’ into her ear. And then, ‘Or pretend to be. It’s all the same.’

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds

Where there’s life, there’s hope

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Standing on the fringes of life…offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When you get up every day, I want you to remind yourself that tomorrow will be better than today. That you are a person of value. That you are important.

Abi Dare, The Girl with the Louding Voice

It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go

Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

If you want something different, the only person holding you back is you. What is it you love to do?

Sarah Penner, The Lost Apothecary

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

I hope you found some inspiration whilst reading these inspiring book quotes. Feel free to let me know in the comments what your favorite inspiring book (or non-book) quotes are. I’m always looking to be inspired!

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The Silent Patient Vs. The Maidens

Today I’m going to mix things up a bit. What’s that saying? Ah, yes. I’m going to kill two birds with one stone; if those birds were books and the stone, this post.

I’m reviewing The Silent Patient and The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. I actually read The Silent Patient last year and never got around to writing a post about it, so this is one part genius and the other part procrastination.

These books proved to be highly exciting, and if you’re a fan of the thriller genre, then you’re going to need to add these to your TBR list stat.

The Silent Patient

Perhaps some of us are simply born evil, and despite our best efforts we remain that way.

Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient is about a silent patient, which goes to show how accurate the title is. Alicia Berenson refuses to speak after killing her husband in cold blood. Enter Theo Faber, a specially trained psychotherapist, who starts a new job at The Grove Psychiatric Facility to find out what the whole world is dying to know: why Alicia Berenson killed her husband and why she refuses to speak since that fateful night.

The more Theo digs into Alicia’s past, the more he realizes that nothing is what it seems. He begins to discover that maybe Alicia isn’t as crazy as the whole world has been led to believe. As more information is revealed you’ll begin to think that maybe there’s a reason for her madness….

This book shook me like an earthquake shakes the ground. From the moment Theo Faber enters The Grove until the very last page, you will be hooked. We’ve got alternating perspectives of Theo and Alicia. A crazy person’s perspective vs. a not-so-crazy person’s perspective. In one chapter you’re reading about Theo’s investigation into the murder and his therapy sessions with Alicia. In the next, you’re learning about Alicia’s life leading up to when she shoots her husband.

If it isn’t obvious already, this book has twists and turns like you wouldn’t believe and if you aren’t shocked by the insane ending then you are probably an insane person, or really good at solving mysteries.

The Silent Patient was Alex Michaelides’ debut novel, and it’s a gem you shouldn’t deprive yourself of.

The Maidens

After all, everyone’s entitled to be the hero of their own story. So I must be permitted to be the hero of mine. Even though I’m not. I’m the villain.

Alex Michaelides, The Maidens

This time our story begins when Mariana, a recently widowed psychotherapist, goes to Cambridge after her niece’s best friend is found murdered on campus. While originally there to offer Zoe emotional support, Mariana becomes invested in solving the murder. And when she suspects Edward Fosca, a popular and handsome professor at Cambridge, of being the murderer, she’s met with a lot of skepticism. I mean, how could a handsome man with a lot of influence be a murderer? It’s unheard of!

Her accusations are valid considering Fosca is the advisor to a secret society of female students on campus known as the Maidens. A group that Zoe’s BFF was a part of. It’s also discovered that Zoe’s best friend received a lot of special attention from Fosca.

Also, keep in mind that Mariana has recently lost the love of her life, so it becomes a struggle for her to keep Zoe’s spirits high whilst grieving her late husband. There are definitely moments where you’ll be thinking Mariana should get some psychotherapy for herself.

This book focuses on Mariana’s perspective with a few chapters of random journal entries sprinkled throughout. It’s not made entirely clear who the author of these journal entries is, but it’s definitely assumed that their Fosca’s. I’m not saying it’s not Edward Fosca, but I’m also not saying it’s not him either. It could be him, but it could also not be him.

The ending is definitely shocking with a pinch of disturbingly sad. I imagine you’ll be quite confused and quietly sad upon reading the last few chapters of this book. You may even need five to ten minutes to stare blankly at the wall.

Just Read Them

It’s clear that Michaelides has a lot of interest in greek mythology and crazy people, and I’m here for it. I say to you sir, keep writing books and I’ll keep reading those books. While some might believe The Silent Patient is superior, I believe both were well written and executed. Therefore, I grant them the “Just Read It” stamp of approval.

*Side Note: I would highly suggest that you read The Silent Patient before reading The Maidens. Theo makes a guest appearance in Mariana’s storyline which you’ll appreciate even more by reading The Silent Patient first. Just sayin’.

Happy reading, book nerds!

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10 Books That’ll Bring Early 2000s Tweens All The Nostalgia

My love for reading began in my tweens, so I felt reminiscing on the books that brought me into the literary world was long overdue. Thinking about these books reminds me of all those Scholastic Book Fairs I’d attend at my middle school.

Oh, those were the days.

I’d usually end up snatching money from my parents the morning of and spend every penny I had on books and useless things like giant erasers. A lot of the junk I bought at Scholastic Book Fairs just ended up in the junk drawer of my desk at home. I think this is where my love for shopping truly began. Also, my lack of logic when making purchases.

Anyway, some of these books I was forced to read and others I read for my own enjoyment. No matter, each book on this list 100% brought me all the tween nostalgia. If you were a tween in the early 2000s like me, then you’ll probs remember at least one of these books.

1. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

I think I bought this book because of the cute little chicky on the cover. Good choice on my part because this book ended up being one of my fave reads. I loved the back in forth between Bryce and Juli.

Side note: the movie is currently on Netflix.

2. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

When I first picked this book out at my school’s Scholastic Book Fair, I was very confused. Donde esta title of the book?! This obviously intrigued me and I had no choice but to buy it.

It’s basically another book about a weirdo girl attracting the attention of a cool kid who was scared to show his interest. Apparently, she’s so weird that she just can’t be defined.

3. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

If you’ve ever watched the show the Alone on the History Channel, then you’ve basically read Hatchet.

And if the first Hatchet book isn’t enough for you – like you need more survival stories – then check out Hatchet 2. The boy gets stranded in the woods for a SECOND time. You literally have to have the worst luck in the world to be put in that situation. TWICE.

Poor Hatchet boy.

4. Holes by Louis Sachar

Dig it up, oh, oh (dig it). Dig it up, oh, oh (ohh). Dig it up, oh, oh (dig it). Dig it up, oh, oh (ohhhh). Two suits, two tokens in hand, I got no respect ’cause I’m the new man. Got my shovel, shoes full of sand, check out the tag–the name’s Caveman, uhh.

You’ve got to go dig those hooooooooooooles.

The movie was better than the book – that’s all I’m going to say.

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I was 100% forced to read this book in middle school, but it didn’t end up being the punishment I thought it might be like most school kids assume when forced to read a book for class.

Also, I’m a sucker for a good dystopia book, so there was no way I was not going to enjoy reading this one.

6. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

There’s about a million books in the Princess Diaries series and I only managed to read the first one. For those who haven’t read this book, you should know that it is vastly, vastly different from the movie. I also like this movie waaaaay better than the book.

7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Woof. This book was super intense and very eye opening. I’m sure most, if not all, tween girls in the early 2000s read this one. It was the first book I read that discussed the trauma of sexual assault. Definitely a tough read, but an important one.

8. TTYL by Lauren Myracle

This whole book is set up like an aim/text conversation among three besties. It was the first of its kind and deeply beloved by young tween girls such as myself.

Teen Magazine even reviewed this book and stated it was “changing the way you read.” Right you were Teen Magazine, right you were.

9. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I’m not even slightly embarrassed by how obsessed I was with this book series. No shame. I was Team Edward allllllll the way too.

I was so Team Edward that upon realizing Edward was not in most of book two, I refused to finish reading the book. Yes, that’s right. I read New Moon long after finishing the last book in the series.

Once I matured I decided I could handle the emotional trauma of Edward’s absence and finished the book.

10. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

I think I’m saving the best for last here. I mean, this book is a classic. It’s beyond classic. The book, and let’s not forget about the movie.

There’s nothing I loved more than the irony of the main character (the girl on the milk carton) being lactose intolerant. I’m now wondering if her ‘parents’, aka kidnappers, somehow made her lactose intolerant to prevent her from seeing her own missing face. Hmmm….

Feel free to share what books you remember most from your tween days in the comments below 🙂

Happy Reading!

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The Alchemy Thief Will Steal Your Heart

I’ve got a new book for you hungry hungry readers and it’s a good one (per usual).

The Alchemy Thief, by R.A. Denny, is a book that will take you by surprise in the best way possible.

I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. I was a wee bit skeptical, but opted for keeping an open mind and I’m glad I did. Because WOW. Wow, R.A Denny. You wrote a pretty awesome story, and it’s pretty obvious that you did your research.

I dare to even say that this book stole my heart.

Book Description (Brought to you by Amazon)

2019: A young woman finds a relic engraved with a mysterious symbol off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Terrorists in Morocco steal a 17th-century book engraved with the same symbol. As the woman struggles to unravel the secrets behind the symbol, her life changes in ways she could never have imagined.

1657: Transported back in time, she meets the alchemist, John Winthrop, Jr. who is plotting to lure the greatest scientific minds to the New World. But the more she learns, the more she fears for the lives of the loved ones she left behind.

In a stunning twist of fate, a modern terrorist has traveled into the past, where he has become a Barbary Corsair. He has plans of his own. And he will stop at nothing to succeed.

It’s a book about a book

This book centers around a book, which I low-key love. We’re taken to Morocco 2019 where a young boy and his mother are plotting to steal a book from a museum and hand it over to the Islamic State. After craziness ensues the mom sadly detonates a suicide bomb so that her son can get away with the book in question.

The son, Ayoub, hands the book to the Islamic State not really knowing why they even want it. He does take a small bodkin hidden in the spine before handing it over. A bodkin that coincidentally transports Ayoub back in time to the year 1647. Lucky for Ayoub, he gets adopted by some pirates and adapts well to that lifestyle. The only reason he wants to go back to modern-day is so he can gather all of the AK-47s and bring them back to the 17th century and become super powerful and dangerous. Oof.

The question of what the Islamic State will do with the book Ayoub stole is brought up throughout this twisty and turny story. We know this book contains some super secrets about a powerful weapon or weapons. I think it’s safe to say that one of those weapons is time travel.

Time traveling fun

Then we have the lovely Experience/Peri Fuller who ends up finding a bodkin in the shallows of the ocean in Martha’s Vineyard. Can you guess? She also gets taken back in time. Except she ends up in New England/early America in the year 1657. Ten years after Ayoub. That means Ayoub is a few years older than Peri when she travels to the 17th century.

She settles in with Thomas Mayhew’s colony, who also happens to be her 7th or so great grandfather. She has this crazy family reunion with the Mayhew family, which would be great if she wasn’t trapped in the 1600s.

A lot of the Pilgrim/Puritan/Native American history that I remember from school consists solely of the mistreatment of Native Americans and the puritans/pilgrims causing that mistreatment. It’s not a secret that early settlers of America were no bueno in a lot of ways, but where there are a-holes there are also decent people. I would consider the Mayhews to be decent people. Were they perfect? No. But they were known to be the most respectful settlers towards Native Americans in Early America.

The Wampanoag Native Americans and the Mayhew colony seemed to have a courteous relationship. Mayhew had minister children who spent a lot of time preaching the word o’ God to a lot of the Native Americans in their vicinity. In this story, you see a lot of Native Americans who do convert. You also see plenty who refuse to convert and just go about their lives with no evil or hatred coming from the Mayhew’s side.

Love is in the air

I mean so far this book kind of has it all. How could romance not be included? Our young Peri forms a strong love connection with Daniel who is Native American and a Christian convert. He also happens to be a co-writer (along with John Winthrop) of the secret weapon book that Ayoub steals for the Islamic State.

Daniel helps Peri become an apprentice for John Winthrop and that’s where she learns more about the book Winthrop is writing and the alchemy it contains. He also saves Peri’s life when some townspeople catch her on her cell phone and call her out for being a witch. Woof.

That was a real issue for ladies in the 17th century. Not the having a phone part, but being called out for being a witch.

Honestly, their relationship is adorable and I really enjoyed seeing their love blossom. Ah, love!

Just Read It

The Alchemy Thief had me saying “What?!” as I flipped through its pages, not entirely believing what I was reading. I went into this story not knowing a lot about Puritan and early American history, and knowing nothing about Moroccan history. There’s nothing I love more than enjoying a good plot line and learning new things.

If you’re looking for a new fantasy book then I insist that you give this book a lil read. I think you’ll enjoy it.

And while it might seem like I discussed every aspect of this book, I really didn’t. There is so much I didn’t cover.

The book comes out July 16 (tomorrow), and you can find it on Amazon.

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5 Reasons You Must Read Malibu Rising On The Beach

That is the thing about the water, it is not yours to control. You are at the mercy of nature. That’s what makes surfing feel like more than a sport: It requires destiny to be on your side, the ocean must favor you.

Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising

Obviously, you can read whatever book you want on the beach, but I have to say there are better ones to read than others. Malibu Rising, written by the lovely Taylor Jenkins Reid, is a clear beach read winner.

You see, I didn’t know that when I started it so unfortunately I didn’t get that opportunity, which is why I’m here today imploring you to get this book and read it on the beach. Learn from me.

Check out the lengthy description below and then enjoy the 5 Reasons You Must Read Malibu Rising on the Beach.

Book Description (Brought to you by Goodreads)

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

1. It’s basically a big party…on the beach

My golden rule is if the setting of the book takes place on the beach then you too must read the book on the beach. It allows you to get into the characters’ state of mind.

The day starts at 7 am and goes into the wee hours of the next morning, each chapter detailing out the hour for each sibling. If you think I’m exaggerating about the book taking place on the beach then I do insist you read it and see for yourself. There are a limited number of scenes that don’t take place on the beach, and even then the beach is across the street.

2. There is a lot of sibling bonding (on the beach)

Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit have all been through some trauma, and that is what has tide 😉 them together. Nina kind of acts as their pseudo mama and from the way she is constantly checking on her baby siblings, you can see that she would do anything for them.

These four peas in a pod are what I like to call “friblings” they are siblings, yes, but they are also best friends. Despite a few tiffs, there doesn’t seem to be anything that could break them apart.

3. There is lots and lots of surfing

The one thing that truly united the Riva siblings was surfing. From a young age when their father abandoned them and then when their mother passed, it seemed surfing was their only escape. For most of the sibs, it’s more than a hobby, it’s a way of life.

Reading about them surfing almost made me want to surf myself. Seeing as I live in the midwest, I don’t really see that happening.

4. It’s a very fast read…perfect for the beach

Taylor Jenkins Reid does an incredible job of writing complex plots while still making the book an easy and fast read. I didn’t know anyone could be so talented, yet, here we are.

I think it helps that you get so many different perspectives from all of these characters and it just hooks you in. Each character is interesting and you keep wanting to know more from their perspective.

The whole plot of this book takes place in 24 hours. Along with some chapters that outline the origin of June and Mick Riva’s relationship, which allows us to see how the siblings became who they are.

5. There’s a lot of juicy drama

This book is filled with all the juicy drama you could ever want in a book. It’ll be so juicy that you’ll want to drink it.

When you have a party filled with high and drunk people (including famous people), plus all the side drama coming from the Riva’s personal lives, you get a big hot mess. This also ends with a giant fire, so I don’t think the mess could get any hotter. Don’t worry, it’s a good hot mess (except the fire isn’t great).

Just Read It

While I aimed to make this post light hearted and didn’t go into a deep analysis (this is a beach read after all) there is a lot more depth to this book than meets the eye. I highly suggest you read this book, not just for the hot juicy drama, but for all of the beautiful character developments and plot twists. There is a lot to unpack there.

If you’re ever interested in making this your next book club read then you can check out some awesome guides that I found:

  1. Reading Group Guide
  2. Book Club Chat

Like I said, there really is a lot to discuss with this book. Don’t miss out on a fantastic read 🙂

Happy Reading!

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The Last Thing He Told Me Should Be The First Thing You Read Today

We don’t turn away from the parts of someone we don’t want to see. However quickly or long it takes to see them. We accept them if we are strong enough. Or we accept them enough to not let the bad parts become the entire story.

Hannah Dave, The First Thing He Told Me

As I sit and write this, I’m getting pumped up to go on vacation – yeah, that’s right – I’m going on a vacation for four whole days. Up north in the great wilderness of Wisssssconsin. Thankfully, I managed to get another quick read in before I depart for my 4th of July festivities.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was a book I wasn’t expecting. From the summary I assumed it might be just okay, but decided to give it a chance anyway. When in doubt always give a book a chance. The worst thing that can happen is you end up hating it, and the best thing that can happen is you fall in love.

Anywho, this book had some twisties and turnies that almost blew me away. Luckily, I was wearing my cement shoes as a preventative measure. Otherwise, I would have been gone in the wind.

Let me hit you with a summary and my insightful thoughts on this exciting read.

Book Description (Brought to you by Goodreads)

We all have stories we never tell.
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her.

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated. 

*Takes Just Read It stamp out* *Stamps the cover of The Last Thing He Told Me* *Hugs book gleefully*

This book. This book, you guys, was a good book. A really good book. From the first chapter you are instantly insnared by the plot – there is no time wasted. Protect her. Hannah’s mission; a mission given to her by her husband of one year who has abandoned her and his 16 year old daughter Bailey, for unknown reasons.

You’ll be taken on an adventure to California to Texas while you follow Hannah and Bailey on their never ending quest of finding Owen. Hannah’s love and fierce determination to protect Bailey never lets up. Even when the chances of seeing Owen again become slimmer and slimmer.

Their relationship is reminiscent of Elsa’s and Loreda’s in The Four Winds. A rebellious teen girl resists the love of her mother, but that never diminishes the love that her mother feels for her daughter. Of course, in the instance of this book, Hannah is Bailey’s step mom, which is just one reason Bailey keeps her distance.

*Kind of a spoiler in below paragraph – skip if you don’t want to know*

At the conclusion of this book, you will probably grieve what could of been. You can see how loving and beautiful Owen and Hannah’s relationship was, and it will definitely make you sad when you realize that their relationship won’t blossom beyond the two years they had together. The fact that Hannah sacrifices any semblance of a life she could of had with Owen, to protect his daughter, just goes to show how much she really loves him and Bailey. Woof.

Also, Bailey lost her mother when she was only a small child, so when her dad leaves it’s pretty devastating to her (understandably). This is what brings Hannah and Bailey closer. Much to Bailey’s dismay – Hannah is all she has left and vice versa.

This book might also make you want to buy a house boat in Sausolito, California. I’ve already looked up some options on Zillow dreaming of all the possibilities. I suggest you do the same whilst reading this book.

Now please enjoy a picture of a house boat:

Look at that little turret! So charming.

Just Read It

If you want to feel like you’re being immersed into a puddle of love and intrigue then you should definitely just read it 😉

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8 LOTR Quotes That Will Teach You How To Adult

I’ve never been able to finish reading The Lord of the Rings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great story, and the writing is BEAUTIFUL – shout out to J.R.R Tolkien for sharing his gift of writing with the world – but I still can’t seem to finish the books. The same also goes for watching the movies.

Not having finished these books or movies has not stopped me from obsessing over all the inspiring LOTR quotes. If you don’t live under a rock, then you’ve probably heard these quotes yourself.

I’m just here to remind you of their beauty and the lessons they reveal. So, without further ado, enjoy these 8 LOTR quotes:

1. Don’t be an idiot

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

“Keep your feet” aka, don’t be an idiot. It’s good to go on adventures and have fun because that’s the best part about life: you never know where it’s going to take you. Tolkien reminds us to hold on to our common sense so we don’t make stoopid decisions.

And because I love The Office, I will share another relevant quote: “Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, ‘Would an idiot do that?’ and if they would, I do not do that thing.”

So don’t be an idiot and you’ll be okay.

2. Darkness never lasts

But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.

It’s important to remember that shit happens, but it never lasts. The pandemic weighs heavy in my mind when I think about this quote. I truly thought the quarantine would never end, and while it’s not completely over, I think we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

3. You’re capable of greatness

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

I know in the context of LOTR, Frodo is considered a tiny hobbit, so I’m thinking this quote is in reference to how no one would expect Frodo to change the course of the future when he’s small in stature…? Obviously Frodo proves everyone that he his capable of awesomeness.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what your physical limitations are – you have the capability of achieving wonderful things.

4. Live your life to the fullest

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandolf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

Kinda like the “live each day like it’s your last” mantra. We don’t get to decide everything that happens in our life. All we really have control over is what we do with the time that we have left on this crazy planet. Live your life the way you want to. Go on some crazy adventures and try new things, meet new people, etc.

5. Life is full of surprises

None knows what the new day shall bring him.

Suuuurpise! The unknown can bring a lot of stress into your life, but isn’t that the fun of it all? I also think Forest Gump summed it up pretty well: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get!”

This is a reminder not to worry about the future, since it’s unknown, and we have little to no control over it.

6. Don’t get going when the going gets tough

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.

In life, we encounter a lot of challenges and we’ll be stronger for having gotten through those hard times versus abandoning all effort because we’re feeling scared or uncomfortable. I kind of think of it as staying strong, holding on to hope, and/or never giving up.

7. It’s okay to cry

I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil

It’s healthy to cry and sometimes very necessary to our mental health. Especially when you’ve endured something emotionally traumatic. If you need to cry, you cry. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or says.

8. Make you own path

Not all those who wander are lost.

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. You really don’t know where life is going to take you, and it might take you a lot of exploring to figure out where you want to be. During this time of exploration, don’t let anyone second guess your path.

I think this quote also shows us that it’s okay to be different. Just because you’re figuring out life, or going down a path no one else is following, doesn’t mean you’re lost.

Thanks for Reading!

Let me know what your favorite LOTR quote is in the comments below 🙂

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4 Reasons The Four Winds Will Blow You Away

The four winds have blown us here, people from all across the country, to the very end of this great land. And now, at last, we make our stand, fight for what we know to be right. We fight for our American Dream, that it will be possible again.

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds

There’s nothing more uplifting than reading a book set during the Great Depression. What’s not to love? People starving, losing jobs, living in large dirty camps, and let’s not forget about the dust bowl. Mix all that in with a woman who has literally been through hell and back, and you have The Four Winds.

You might wonder, whilst reading this book, if Elsa and her family will ever catch a freaking break. There may also be a moment or two when you want to throw your book across the room because of all the emotional devastation occurring. Devastation or not, I can assure you that this book is well worth the read.

Which is why I’m sharing with you today the 4 reasons The Four Winds will blow you away (as it did me).

Book Description (Brought to you by GoodReads)

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

*Warning: this book will make you cry tears of joy andd sadness (if you consider yourself a highly sensitive person).

4 Reasons this Book will Blow you Away

1. Elsa’s unforgettable character transformations

A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds

The winner for bestest character transformation goes to Elsa Martinelli! She began this story as a sheltered, emotionally abused, scared, and incredibly self-conscious young woman. She’s like a nervous turtle hiding in a shell, wanting to leave, but not really knowing how. She has a difficult time finding her voice in the beginning.

By the end of this story we see a strong, fearless woman ready to take on the world during an impossible time. It’s inspiring to see Elsa become this warrior mother. She will do anything for her kids, not matter the cost to her.

Motherhood helped her find her voice.

2. Because LOVE

Love is what remains when everything is gone.

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds

As I mentioned in my intro, there is a lot of suffering that happens in this book. Things go from bad to worse real quick for Elsa and her family. Thankfully, the bad times don’t last. Kristin Hannah reminds us that even in the darkness, love still remains. Love endures through it all.

Elsa instills this into her kids throughout the story. She does everything she can to make it known how much she loves them. Elsa didn’t grow up with parents who loved her, so she knows how isolating that neglect can be.

When you have nothing, having just a bit of love can make all the difference.

3. All the beautiful and complex relationships

Elsa hadn’t known until right then how much difference a friend could make. How one person could lift your spirit just enough to keep you upright.

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds

The most pivotal relationship in this book is Elsa and Loreda (Elsa’s daughter). Loreda’s feelings toward her mother in the beginning aren’t the warmest. You have to remember, she’s 13/14 when this book takes place, and we all know how rough puberty can be. Their bond quickly grows stronger as the family leaves their Texas farm and embarks on a journey to California.

The family learns early on that life isn’t as green in the West as it’s being advertised. I mean, visually there is a lot of greenery, but there isn’t much money. This forces the family to live in a camp with other people in the same boat. As horrible as it is, Loreda sees how much her mom has been sacrificing to give her and her brother a better life.

Another important relationship visited in this book is with the Dewey family. Elsa becomes close friends with the matriarch of the family, Jean. Coming into the camp, Elsa has no idea what to do or how to survive. Jean becomes an important confidant to the family. Both families give each other hope when all things seem lost.

4. The Great Depression – Woof

How can we call ourselves the land of the free when people are living on the streets and dying of hunger?

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds

Most of my knowledge for the Great Depression came from my Kit Kitridge books. School too, but I really only retained info from Kit. Of course, her story, while a bit heartbreaking, is nothing compared to what the Martinelli family endures. I knew it was bad, but when you’re reading this book you can really feel it. It’s like you’re suffering with them when the worst happens and cheering them on when they run into a bit of luck.

Kristin Hanna does make a note that some history was fudged a bit to fit into the timeline of her story. She has some awesome resources on her website, so if the book isn’t enough, then you can check those out here.

Just Read It

I feel like I don’t need to give you any more reasons to read this book. Just read it and see for yourself 🙂

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Get Your Revenge At The Lost Apothecary

The best apothecary was one who knows intimately the despair felt by her patient, whether in body or heart

Sarah Penner, The Lost Apothecary

Usually within the first few chapters of a book, I can tell whether or not I’m going to love it, or if I’m going to leave it on my bookshelf to collect dust.

I didn’t just love this book – I LOVED THIS BOOK. I all caps loved this book. I will never allow this book to collect dust. EVER. I will be lending it out to everyone I know, and then I’ll read it again.

Side note: this book also has fun drink recipes at the end, one of which I tried, and it was delicious (no poison needed!)

Book Description (by yours truly)

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London lies a secret apothecary that caters to women who have been afflicted by the greatest ailment of all time….BETRAYAL. We’re talking men betraying their women here. Real dark stuff.

Of course, Nella, the proprietor of this hidden/secret apothecary, knows all about this kind of betrayal. She knows the only way to bring these women justice is to sell them discrete poisons that are meant to end the lives of these horrible and oppressive men (ugh, men, am I right?) .

When Nella meets Eliza, a 12 year-old house maid of one of her customers, she doesn’t expect the child to take such a liking to her. She also doesn’t expect feel a similar connection. Nella takes the young kiddo under her wing, but chaos soon ensues when Eliza makes a fatal mistake – a mistake that endangers Eliza, Nella, and the apothecary that’s responsible for bring justice to women all throughout London.

Fast forward to present day London, where Caroline Parcewell finds herself celebrating her 10 year wedding anniversary alone and feeling betrayed by the man she’s spent most of her life with. When Caroline, also an aspiring historian, comes across an apothecary bottle related to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London during the 18th century, her life intertwines with Nella and Eliza in ways you’ll never expect.

Told from the perspective of these three empowering women, all different ages and coming from different walks of life – all of them united through The Lost Apothecary. You will NOT, I repeat, will NOT, want to put this book down until after you have read the very last page.

My Thoughts


Eliza had to be my all time favorite character. I mean, they’re all great, but Eliza takes the cake.

First she is as loyal as a golden retriever (aka very loyal). She meets Nella when her mistress sends Eliza to the lost apothecary to pick up poison meant for the man who betrayed Eliza and her mistress, the master of the house. I think Eliza feels some sort of bond with Nella from the very beginning, and Nella tries very hard to keep Eliza away from her and the apothecary business. Obviously, all attempts are useless.

After the deed/murder is done, Eliza feels this horrible guilt. She feels that her master’s spirit is haunting her. It doesn’t help that Eliza actually gets her first period right when her master dies (from the poison she gave him). Of course any 12 year-old would assume that what she was experiencing was the demon in her belly instead of mother nature taking care of business. Honestly, that’s probably the funniest part of the book. I know I often think of my period as a curse more than a blessing. Such a mood.

I don’t only love Eliza because she was uninformed on feminine biology – she is also (in my opinion) the saving grace of this book. Even though she is the reason for everything falling apart, she redeems herself in the most amazing way.


Nella, another great character. At first, resistant to the adorable charms of Eliza, but not even Nella could keep the kid at arms length (she tried real hard though). I can also see why Eliza felt drawn to Nella. There’s something about Nella that is so intriguing. I mean, she sells poisons to betrayed women for a living – that would make me want to get to know the depths of her soul, or just the circumstances that led her to that profession.

That is something you learn more about when you read the book – Nella’s Big Betrayal (Prequel Idea?!).

It was Nella’s betrayal that turned her mother’s regular ole apothecary into an apothecary that caters to the broken hearted. A place for women to go to exact their revenge. She helps only women and she never kills women. She only helps women kill the men that betrayed them.

I like Nella because her life’s purpose is this mission and she’s determined to follow it through. You can tell as the book progresses that Nella also has some kind of illness, the same illness that took her mother from her. That doesn’t stop her from working #BAMF.


Caroline has also experienced her own betrayal. The day before she and her husband are set off to go on their 10 year anniversary honeymoon trip, she discovers that he’s cheated. She sets off on their trip to London all by herself, trying to understand what she should do next.

While she doesn’t go to the lost apothecary to buy herself some revenge poison, she does end up finding herself again through uncovering the mysteries that lie behind Nella’s hidden apothecary.

I’d say more about Caroline, but I don’t want to give away any major spoilers. The whole fun of this book is watching Caroline uncover the big mystery while Nella and Eliza are living it out.

Just Read It

Three women – one story – all of them united through their own tragedies. I can’t tell you how empowering this book really is. All I can do is tell you to read it and see for yourself.

Sarah Penner, if you see this, please know: This is one of the BEST novels I have ever read and I cannot wait to see what else your brilliant mind comes up with next. I am not just saying this because we both spell Sarah with an “h” (although that is a big reason).

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