TTT: My Favorite Literary Tropes

August 20, 2019


***Book titles are Amazon affiliate links

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Literary Tropes.

My Favorite Literary Tropes

Do you have favorite tropes?

Part of successfully choosing your next read is knowing what tropes (themes or plot devices) you enjoy and which you don’t! I will almost always be happy with my reading experience when I choose to read a book with one of the following tropes (listed in no particular order). 

The Gruff Older Character Whose Life is Changed by a Precocious, Precious, or Extraordinary Child

Examples: The One-In-A-Million Boy, News of the World, A Man Called Ove

The Importance of Family, Complicated Family Drama

Examples: A Place For Us, We Were the Lucky Ones, Little Fires Everywhere, Ask Again Yes, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

Found Family

Examples: Louisiana’s Way Home, News of the World, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words


Examples: Ask Again Yes, A Place For Us, Invention of Wings


Examples: From Sand and Ash, Paper Hearts, A Fall of Marigolds, Unbroken




Book Characters That I’d Like as Best Friends

August 13, 2019



***Book titles are Amazon affiliate links

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Book Characters That I’d Like For Best Friends.

Book Characters That I’d Like For Best Friends

Oh my! This is a difficult topic! I admire so many characters!

Many characters I love are from the histfic genre, and I can’t imagine sharing their difficult lives. Also, some of the characters I’d like to be friends with are younger than I am……but maybe that’s OK because we are pretending, and I guess I can become their age if I’m their imaginary friend! So I won’t worry about those pesky details!

Here’s the list I created (tomorrow could be a different list)…..I don’t want to hurt any favorite character’s feelings by leaving them off this list…..just know that there are a hundred more! (listed in no particular order)

Inspector Gamache, Reine Marie, Myrna, Clara

I’d love to be friends with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his wife, Reine Marie (…..and Myrna the bookstore owner and Clara the artist)….. but prickly Ruth the poet kind of intimidates me!). I’d love to visit the Safe Haven of Three Pines and sit by the roaring fire in the Bistro for pastry and hot chocolate, or visit one of their homes for a comfort-food dinner and enjoy their cozy friendship.

A Better Man (Installment #15 in the Chief Inspector Gamache/Three Pines Series) by Louise Penny (counting the days until the 8/27 release!)
Genre: character-driven mystery
(My Kingdom of the Blind ReviewThe Series and Glass Houses Review)

A Better Man


I’d love to be friends with the industrious, loyal, patriotic Eliza Hamilton (wife of Alexander Hamilton). Although she had eleven children and partnered closely with her husband in writing and drafting documents and probably wouldn’t have time to chit-chat, I still think it would be inspirational to have known her.

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Genre: Historical Fiction, U.S. History and the Founding
(My Review)

my dear hamilton


I would love to have had the opportunity to befriend Cussy Mary Carter who endured racism because of a rare medical condition that caused her skin to appear blue and suffered more than her share of hardships due to poverty and isolation. Cussy is courageous, committed to literacy, always chooses kindness, and cares deeply for others (especially children). It would be a privilege to call her “friend.” (no worries, she doesn’t cuss!)

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Racism, Prejudice, Book About Books
(Review coming this Friday)

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek


I would be honored to be best friends with Precious Ramotswe. She’s a gentle spirit, gracious in her hospitality, wise, thoughtful, and kind. I could learn to drink tea!

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith
Genre: Fiction, Gentle Mystery (Africa)
(a review of The House of Unexpected Sisters)

No 1 Ladies Detective Agency


I can always be friends with a competent, caring, compassionate, creative teacher! I would love to be Maggie‘s teaching partner and her best friend! We would share middle grade lit recommendations and create engaging lesson plans!

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
(my review here)

The Secret of Clouds



Favorite Quirky Literary Characters

June 9, 2019

My Favorite Quirky Literary Characters

Aren’t we all just a bit quirky?!

Favorite Quirky Characters

Quirky Defined

Definition of quirky: having many quirks : unusual in especially an interesting or appealing way (a quirky sense of humor, quirky ideas/behavior, a quirky and creative artist)

My personal definition also includes the word endearing. My favorite quirky characters have a story behind their quirkiness and often quirky is a survival strategy. Their quirkiness is understandable when a reader sees the entire picture and their quirkiness becomes endearing in light of the challenges they are bravely overcoming.

top ten tuesdayI’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Character Freebie.

Although I love characters of all types, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent abundance of stories with quirky characters. I love to hear their stories and celebrate their determination to live their best lives in spite of the circumstances. Even though my star ratings vary on the following books, I’ve loved all the quirky characters. My favorites are brave Eleanor and grumpy Ove. Do you love quirky? Who are your favorite quirky characters?

***Titles are Amazon affiliate links. Listed in order of Star ratings. And, yes, I realize I have eleven and not ten! I couldn’t leave any of them out! 

Quirky Favorites

Eleanor from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

5 Stars. My Brief Review.

Eleanor Oliphant

Ove from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

5 Stars. No Written Review.

man called ove

Frank from The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

5 Stars. My Review.

music shop

Loveday from The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

5 Stars. My Review.

The Lost for Words Bookshop


Summer 2019 TBR

June 25, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books on My Summer 2019 TBR


top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books on My Summer 2019 TBR.

With all the books that are on my radar on a given day, it’s nice to pick out a few for an official TBR. Ten still leaves room for library holds that come in, occasional ARCs, or some mood reading.

One question you may ask is “Are these beach reads?” Many readers have differing opinions of what comprises a beach read: some want light and fluffy, some look for thrillers/suspense/mysteries, some seek out escapist reads, while others like to tackle large tomes during the summer when they have more time. It’s my opinion that any book you read at the beach is a beach read (just like any body at the beach is a beach body). For my summer reads, I look for the types of books I look for all year: memorable, thought-provoking, and unputdownable. Although I’m planning a post in a couple of weeks that feature books I’ve read that might be suitable for a vacation or beach read, it will likely look different from other typical beach reads lists.

For now, these are the reads that are on my summer 2019 reading radar.

Keep in mind that I’m not yet recommending the books on this list…..check back often though because I will provide updates and links to reviews as I read them. In no particular order, here is my Summer 2019 TBR list.

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.


Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books in My Favorite Genre: Historical Fiction

June 4, 2019

Do you love making lists?

Top Ten Tuesday:
10 Favorite Historical Fiction Reads



top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books In My Favorite Genre. Last week, I made a list of my favorite historical fiction books for each of the last ten years. This week’s list is comprised of my absolute favorites in historical fiction! I actually didn’t think I could make this list! My initial list had several more titles and it was difficult to cut, so I’ve cheated a bit. How do I choose my favorites when I’ve read so many titles? The following titles are the stories that I connect with emotionally, the stories I still remember weeks and months and years later, and the stories I recommend over and over again! All are five-star reads and all have great themes. I recommend them without hesitation.

How many of these titles have you read and loved? Are you a histfic fan?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

(in no particular order)

my dear hamilton

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I love the (less public) story of the determined, smart, influential, and driven woman who was Alexander Hamilton’s wife, partner, and best friend. America’s First Daughter by the same authors is also excellent.
My review here.

From Sand and Ash

we were the lucky ones

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

(I read these almost back to back and because of the themes I always think of them together….so this is my sneaky trick to include one more!)
Themes make these stories memorable: I love the theme of faith in Sand and Ash; in We Were the Lucky Ones, I love the themes of family and faith….especially the beautiful ending). Sand and Ash review here. We Were the Lucky Ones review here.

invention of wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I love this imagined story of two brave women who were actual pioneers in the abolitionist movement. Review here.

News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I love the theme of found family and the moral dilemma at the story’s end of doing the right thing versus doing things right. I also love the beautiful prose. Brief review in this post.

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I love the compelling themes of determination and survival. Brief review in this post.


Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Historical Fiction Books I Read During Each of the Last 10 Years

May 28, 2019

Do you love making lists?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Historical Fiction Books I Read During Each of the Last 10 Years



top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in Each of the Last Ten Years. Once I started curating my list, I realized that the majority of titles were historical fiction (no surprise!), so I’m tweaking the prompt to list my favorite historical fiction reads in each of the last ten years. This is a difficult task, but it’s fun to reminisce. Some years it was too difficult to choose only one. Many years I have favorites that are not historical fiction and I decided to save those for another list.

For this list, I have simply chosen a memorable book for each year. This list doesn’t represent the best of all the books I’ve read in the last ten years.

Most of these titles were read in the year they were published, but some are back list titles.

How many of these titles have you read and loved?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

2019 (to date)

The Gown, Paper Hearts


My Dear Hamilton, Last Christmas in Paris


From Sand and Ash, Refugee


News of the World, Homegoing, America’s First Daughter, Salt to the Sea


The Nightingale


Spring TBR

March 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Spring 2019 TBR

spring TBR

Image Source: Canva

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books on My Spring 2019 TBR.

I have two books to finish from my Winter TBR, and they’ve been on  my TBR for so long that it’s too embarrassing to add them to yet another TBR. So 84, Charing Cross Road and its sequel will be my priority before any book on this list!
***UPDATE: finished these two reads…both 3 stars.

Keep in mind that I’m not yet recommending the books on this list…..check back often though because I will provide updates and links to reviews as I read them. In no particular order, here is my Spring 2019 TBR list.

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.


Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books That Need A Sequel

March 12, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday:
10 Books That Need a Sequel

Books That Need a Sequel.png

Image Source: Canva

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books That Need a Sequel. *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Have you read a book and thought “I wish there had been a little bit more closure?” Then do you think about the book and the ending for a few days as you mull over various ways it could have ended or do the characters linger in your mind for days and you worry about them? It’s not that you were unhappy with the ending, but you were simply left wanting more. I have listed a few books below that made me wish for a sequel. Do you agree with any of my picks? What books would you put on your list?

(listed in no particular order…..titles are Amazon affiliate links)

Books That Need a Sequel

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

What were the three words?!
(not reviewed because it was read before I was active on Goodreads and before my blog)

8 Ways I Choose My Next Read

February 24, 2019

How Do I Choose My Next Read?

8 Ways to Choose Your Next Read

Image Source: Canva

Modern Mrs Darcy  inspired my thoughts about how I choose my next read during a recent webinar (paid content so I can’t provide a link). Thanks to Modern Mrs Darcy for causing me to stop and consider my strategies. This not a summary of her webinar, but its my response in exploring this topic. *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

top ten tuesdayI’m also linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things That Make Me Immediately Want to Read a Book (even though I’ve listed 8 and not 10)

8 Ways I Choose My Next Read

1. Genres & Covers

As tempting as a great cover can be, the genre and diversity aspects are more important considerations for me. I have set a goal to read more nonfiction as well. When choosing books, I’m intentionally looking for authors of color and authors who are women. I actively look for more “own voices” literature. In addition, I like to balance my reading with some Middle Grade and Young Adult selections.

Covers are not that important to me. Since I read ebooks almost exclusively, it’s not as easy for me to fall back on the tried and true strategies most commonly used if you were browsing physical copies in a book store. For example with an ebook, it’s more difficult to select a book by a cover because it doesn’t jump out at me the same as when I’m comparing it with fifty titles before me on a shelf at Target. When purchasing ebooks, I’m usually more focused on the kindle price! However, when I see a book reviewed, I definitely make a mental note about the appeal of a cover. Sometimes I can’t even remember what the title of my book looks like when I’m reading it because it’s not sitting around on an end table…..once I open it on my kindle and start reading, I never see the cover. Some of the covers I’ve recently loved include Amal Unbound, The Ensemble, How to Find Love in a Bookshop, Refugee, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls. One cover I don’t love and it almost caused me to miss a great read is Eden. Choosing a book by a cover is one of the disadvantages of reading ebooks, but it’s one of the most popular ways of choosing physical books. How many of you choose a book by the cover? What’s the last book you chose exclusively for the cover?

2. Trusted Reviewers

Because I’m part of the Bookstagram community (Instagram for accounts devoted to books and reviews) and follow many review blogs, I have identified several reviewers whom I trust in choosing books for my TBR. Find a blogger who focuses on the genres you love, and then also follow their reviews on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. One of my most trusted sources for summer reading ideas is the Summer Reading Guide from the Modern Mrs Darcy website. How many of you choose books based on trusted reviewers?

3. Amazon and Goodreads Reviews

I pour over Amazon and Goodreads reviews in the following ways. First I check the 3 star reviews and then the 2s and 1s. I really want to know what issues other readers have with the book. I balance these out with a few 4 and 5 star reviews which are always glowing but are useful for identifying some strengths. I spend more time in the 3, 2, and 1 star range trying to identify any triggers (such as graphic violence, explicit sexual content, profane language, abuse, etc.) or possible pace, plot, structure, and/or writing problems. Then I evaluate the importance of these issues (balanced by the strengths) and if I can live with them during the reading experience. The danger with perusing reviews is that you might come across spoilers. Do you check out Amazon and/or Goodreviews before making a reading decision?

4. Pre Reading

If I were in a bookstore or library, I might do some pre reading: the first page, a random page from the middle, the introduction/preface and acknowledgments (this will sometimes give interesting information about the author’s purpose or reasons for writing the book), and the publisher’s summary on the back cover or flap. I’m careful and skeptical about the publisher’s sales pitch. Sometimes it doesn’t truly represent the content of the story or is misleading. With an ebook, I depend on the Amazon feature which allows me to download a sample. This gives me an idea of the writing style and tone. One more idea if you have multiple books in your hand that you want to read, is to “speed read” (I first heard this term and concept from Kate Olson Reads) each book for a certain amount of time (for example, three minutes). Do you scope out potential reads using any of these strategies?

5. Blurbs

One area that I honestly give very little weight to are blurbs by other authors found on the cover or inside pages. It’s my opinion that these blurbs have been carefully curated and cultivated…….perhaps these authors are friends or neighbors or in the same writing group. I’m a bit skeptical and usually don’t let them sway me. This is a personal opinion……do any of you feel the same way?

6. Buzz

I don’t read a book simply because it’s receiving a lot of hype…..I make sure it’s the right read for me. Sometimes if I’m not sure, I allow some time for the hype to die down. I can usually tell if it’s for me because multiple reviewers whom I trust will review and recommend. This is a little tricky because I have a great deal of FOMO and I love to read new releases and be a part of the initial buzz! Although sometimes a great deal of buzz sets the reader up with expectations that are too high and it ends up a disappointing read. Even a favorite author’s new book might not meet your expectations. The last book I read with a lot of buzz was Where the Crawdads Sing and, for me, it lived up to the buzz. What’s the last book you chose based on the buzz? Did you enjoy the read?

7. Best Friends

If you are lucky to be surrounded by readers in your life, you might depend upon a recommendation from a best friend. Before I started closely following reviews, I interrogated my friends that I  met for lunch. My first question was always, “What are you reading?” because I knew that we enjoyed the same genres and quality of literature. Friends were always good for a few recommendations and I had reads for the next few months. My mom shares a Kindle account with me, so her next reads come from my ebook library. Luckily, we have similar bookish tastes. Do you have a friend you can ask for a recommendation? Sometimes I “push” books on my friends by buying them my favorite read of the year for a Christmas gift. Do you receive books or titles from your best friends?

8. Commitments

When choosing my next read, I always have to consider my book club and NetGalley commitments. I’m a part of three book clubs: Modern Mrs. Darcy (online club, $10/month fee, title/discussion threads provided), Postal Book Club (a mailing group of 6 people who share/rotate books and a mailing deadline every two months), and an IRL (in real life) book club (monthly commitment). In addition, I’m under obligation to read and review free books that I receive from publishers via NetGalley (so I monitor pub dates to determine my reading priorities). When I think about my next read, I must take these commitments into consideration first. Do you have a commitment to a book club? If you’re a mood reader (like me) sometimes it can be difficult to read a book you feel like you “have” to read (especially if you have to forgo reading the latest release that’s receiving all the buzz!….or is that just me?).

Do any of these methods for choosing your next read resonate with you? How do you most often choose your next read?

Even though I read about 100 books per year and I’ve done my best to check them each out, not every read meets my expectations. Reading is still a personal experience and no two readers read the same book. One that I love might not resonate with you at all. Only the books I’ve rated 4 and 5 stars will be reviewed on the blog. I want to be a blogger you can trust.  You can always find all my reviews on Goodreads.

Let’s Discuss!

Share with me! How do you choose your next read? What methods have been the most successful for you? Do you have tips/strategies you can add? Is there a book you’ve picked up because of reading a review here?

*This weekend while blog hopping, I came across a post with the same topic… enjoy this perspective from bookidote blog


I’m curious how my reviews are resonating with all of my followers. If you are a regular reader, would you consider taking one or two minutes to comment about a book you read based on reading a review here? I’d love to hear.

A Few Trusted Reviewers

I follow a lot of blogs…..listed below are a few of the blogs/podcasts that I check most frequently. There are too many to list here…..these are a sample of a few recent posts that I’ve read.

Modern Mrs Darcy Blog & What Should I Read Next Podcast

Jennifer~Tar Heel Reader Blog

The Lexington Bookie Blog

The Secret Library Book Blog

Fictionophile Blog

My newest discovery is Orange County Readers

From the Front Porch Podcast (books reviews/book talk with a side of southern charm)

Reading Women Podcast (reviewing books about women written by women….lots of literary fiction, interviews, and thoughtful book talk)

***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

December 11, 2018

For this post, I’m linking up with two great memes. One is That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday

…and the second is with Traveling With T: A Month of Faves: The Blogger Love Edition. I have a huge list of favorite bloggers, but for this post I couldn’t possibly mention everyone. I’ve decided to divide the list into bloggers and podcasters.

If you’ve popped over from Traveling With T or That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome!

A Month of Favorites TwithT


My Favorite Blogs and Podcasts



The Thankful Heart

Visiting The Thankful Heart is always a lovely treat that’s filled with reflection, love of family, books, and recipes. Rhonda at The Thankful Heart embraces a spirit of thankfulness all year long.

Modern Mrs. Darcy

Always high quality and consistent bookish recommendation, this is one of my major resources for my best reads. MMD AKA Anne Bogel has also created an online Book Club ($10/month) and it’s a wonderful bookish community.

The Ardent Biblio

A lovely literary lifestyle blog filled with great book recommendations, links, and inspiring ideas for literary dinner parties. Michaela and Rikki offer excellence in content, blog design, and photography. I love to stop in and “look.”

The Lexington Bookie and Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Amanda and Jennifer always writes quality and comprehensive book reviews and we share many of the same favorites.  I’ve listed them together here because they are both also super encouraging and supportive which has been important in my journey as a fairly new blogger. They represents a younger generation of readers than mine and it’s encouraging to know that the love of reading will continue for generations to come.

Traveling With T and That Artsy Reader Girl

Of course, I am pleased to include the hosts of  today’s memes where you will find an abundance of book reviews. Also, I greatly appreciate their support of the blogging community in providing opportunities like this for link ups.


I find that I need to limit my podcast intake or it seriously cuts into my reading time! Out of the many great podcasts, these are the ones that I’ve recently been listening to the most often (the first two are my “must listens”):

Fron the Front Porch Logo

From the Front Porch

I never miss an episode of From the Front Porch which features southern charm and the delightful bookish and lifestyle chatter of Annie and Chris. In fact, sometimes if I want to relax and not read, I will listen to a back episode. It’s a must listen every Thursday.

What Should I Read Next Logo

What Should I Read Next

This is a podcast from Modern Mrs. Darcy in which the guests tell her three books they love and one book they hate and she suggests three new reads for them. I always gain great reading ideas from this podcast and it’s a must listen every Tuesday.

Reading Women Logo

Reading Women

This podcast focuses on literary fiction and stretches my horizon as I hear about books that are not always making the best seller lists but might be winning other literary awards. I listen often and enjoy the hosts.

Popcast Logo

The Popcast

OK….. this podcast isn’t often literary but it’s my attempt to keep up with pop culture as explained by Jamie and Knox. It’s always entertaining! I listen to selected episodes based on the episode descriptions that sound appealing.

Sorta Awesome Logo

Sorta Awesome

This is another podcast that helps me keep up to date with pop culture, especially related to women’s issues. Some episodes are more interesting to me than others, so I pick and choose. The hosts also include occasional book reviews.

What are your favorite blogs and podcasts?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

Looking Ahead:

This weekend, I’ll post my regular weekly review. I’ve read two books this week: Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce and  The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (releasing in January). Both are interesting and very different from my usual reads. Dear Mrs. Bird will be reviewed on Friday 12/7, then The Dreamers on Friday 12/14.


My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.

Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

 Let’s Discuss

Please share some of your favorite blogs and podcasts in comments.

***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.