Friday Favorites: February Playlist

Books are one of the great loves of my life. Another great love is music. I love the way a song can change your mood, can lift you up when you are down, can comfort you when nothing else can. I love the way music has moved through my life. I remember making mixtapes and then burning CDs: picking just the right song for the situation.

For me it makes sense that books and music go hand in hand. One of the things that makes a song for me, that makes a more than just music is the lyrics. I remember keeping a notebook of lyrics when I was in high school and my friends and I adding to it … with our favorite songs … songs that reminded us of the boy we liked or the song that made us feel better when that boy didn’t notice us or the perfect day we had on a road trip.

When I started thinking about what songs or artists I might talk about in a Friday Favorites I realized that I like with books there is so much music I want to share. So instead of sharing a song or an artist or an album here and there I decided that once a month I am going share a playlist complete with my favorite lyrics from some of the songs.


I’m just going to say it: Valentine’s Day is a made up holiday. I might not understand the point of Valentine’s Day or the history of the holiday (more on the next week) BUT I do love a good romance novel, romcom, Hallmark Movie and love song.

In celebration of this, the loviest of all months, here are some of my favorite love songs:

  • All You Need is Love, the Beatles
  • Make You Feel My Love, Adele
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love, Elvis / Kina Granis
  • Still Falling For You, Ellie Goulding
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen
  • Kiss Me, Ed Sheeran
  • Photograph, Ed Sheeran
  • Neon Lights, Natasha Bedingfield
  • The One, Kodaline
  • I Get To Love You, Ruelle
  • I Choose You, Sarah Bareilles
  • The Book of Love, Peter Gabriel
  • Steady As We Go, Dave Matthews Band
  • Breathe, Faith Hill
  • Heartbeat, Carrie Underwood
  • Home, Vanessa Carlton
  • The Way You Look Tonight, Frank Sinatra
  • Wonderful Tonight, Eric Clapton
  • Crazy Love, Van Morrison
  • Maybe I’m Amazed, Paul McCartney
* Please note, these earphones weren’t connected*

Crazy Love, Van Morrison

I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles / And the heaven’s open every time she smiles / And when I come to her that’s where I belong / Yet I’m running to her like a river’s song

Home, Vanessa Carlton

And even now / When I’m alone / I’ve always known / With you
I am home / For me it’s a glimpse / And a smile on your face / A touch of your hands / An honest embrace

I Choose You, Sarah Bareilles

My whole heart / Will be yours forever / This is a beautiful start / To a lifelong love letter / We are not perfect we’ll learn from our mistakes /
And as long as it takes I will prove my love to you

Make You Feel My Love, Adele (Bob Dylan cover)

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet / but I will never do you wrong / There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do / To make you feel my love

The One, Kodaline

You make my heart feel like its summer / When the rain is pouring down / You make my whole world feel so right when it’s wrong / That’s how I know you are the one / That’s why I know you are the one / When we are together you make me feel like my mind is free and my dreams are reachable

Neon Lights, Natasha Bedingfield

We got all the memories /So much more we can’t see / Better than our first kiss / Snow falling at Christmas / Like sleeping in on Sunday / Laughter we never faked / Bob Marley in Summer / One love for each other

Photograph, Ed Sheeran

Oh, you can fit me / Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen / Next to your heartbeat where I should be

Steady As We Go, Dave Matthews Band

When the storm comes shelter me / I don’t say a word anymore and you know exactly what I mean  / In the darkest times you shine on me 

Still Falling For You, Ellie Goulding

And just like that / All I breathe / All I feel / You are all for me / No one can lift me, catch me the way that you do / I’m still falling for you

The Way You Look Tonight, Frank Sinatra

With each word your tenderness grows / Tearin’ my fear apart / And that laugh, wrinkles your nose / Touches my foolish heart

Wonderful Tonight, Eric Clapton

I feel wonderful because I see / The love light in your eyes / And the wonder of it all / Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you


When I joined #bookstagram I joined a vibrant, fun community filled with readers just like me. I found readers that loved books from all genres, readers who were also cat lovers and readers who loved talking about books as much as they loved reading them.

I also discovered a group of readers (just like me) with a fairly large stack of books they bought, but had not read. I have never been able to pass up an opportunity to browse the bookshelves. I love it when my eye catches a beautiful cover. I love when I read the synopsis and know that I just have to read the story. Just like the thrill of wearing a new top or new pair of shoes, there is the thrill of rushing home from the bookshop and diving into a new book. For me, this often means that the books I own that need to be read fall lower and lower on my TBR.

One afternoon while scrolling through instagram I saw a post about Book Of the Month. I immediately knew the books in the picture were BOTM books by the logo at the top of the spine. In the caption the bookstagrammer admitted to owning a pile of BOTM books (just like me) that she had not read (just like me). She and a fellow bookstagrammer were hosting a challenge: #unreadBOTMchallenge. The idea was simple: gather up the unread BOTM books you have, snap a picture, set a goal, read the books, and report back on your progress.

My original #unreadBOTMstack. I received my January box after I took this picture.

Within the hour I posted my #unreadBOTMstack and by the end of January I had read two and set a goal of two BOTM books a month. I also set a goal that I would finish all my BOTM books by the end of the year, and that I would not buy more BOTM books until I read through about half of the stack.

My progress so far can best be described as win some / lose some:

  • WIN SOME: I met my goal in January, finishing two BOTM books:
  • No Exit by Taylor Adams
  • The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
  • LOSE SOME: One of the February books is by one of my favorite authors, Jasper Fforde. I couldn’t resist so I added Early Riser to my Feburary box. Since I was already getting a box I added The Silent Patient because so many people read it and loved it in January. Then “Go Big or Go Home” kicked in and I added one more book:
  • Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (my first buddy read!)
  • CURRENTLY PLANNING TO READ (this may change based on mood):
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  • IF I HAVE TIME (this is almost guaranteed to change based on mood)
  • Goldenstate by Ben H. Winters

*I am not immediately planning on reading the Jasper Fforde book because I have a vague notion of rereading all of his books in April and May. This is still kinda TBD. Updates to come.*

Book Review: Damsel

I am afraid of The Dark. I can last roughly 7 seconds in a room without a light. I don’t know why this is. Nothing terrible has ever really happened to me in a dark room. Not that anything could because I am never in the dark. Walking any distance at night without street lights? I turn on my phone’s flashlight. Walking from room to room after dark? I turn on the light in the room I’m going to then go back to turn out lights I left on behind me. Sleeping in The Dark? NOPE. I have a lamp with a low wattage bulb that stays on all night. Power goes out? There is at least one flashlight in every room in my home.

I think my fear of the dark is entirely because of my VERY overactive imagination. I like TV and movies just fine. But for me, nothing compares to the adventure of reading a really good book. Taking the author’s words and painting an entire world filled with faraway, foreign lands and new people in my mind. Reading is and always has been my favorite journey.

One of my favorite book Genres is YA FANTASY / SCI FI / DYSTOPIAN FUTURE. I think its because my imagination gets to soar – imagining a universe with magic and fairies and dragons.

My biggest complaint about YA books (and to be honest, books in general) is how often women NEED a man to “complete” her or give her the “strength” to conquer what ever needs conquering. The YA FANTASY books that I tend to read all feature strong women who are warriors in their own right – but until they find “the one” there is something missing. The message seems to be : now that I have a man and a good relationship I can go slay the enemy. I want to say: GIRL YOU COULD HAVE SLAYED THEM BEFORE.

I am not knocking relationships. I love the happy ending. But there is a difference between Wanting a relationship and Needing one. I wonder if we should be teaching all young men and women that as great as relationships are you can be a warrior and be single. If we should be teaching them that they can win any battle on their own. If we should be teaching them that they are no damsel in distress. It’s one thing to have allies and teammates. It’s another thing to repeat the message: you can do anything once you have found the love of your life.

  • THE BOOK: Damsel
  • THE AUTHOR: Elena K. Arnold
  • PIP! SAYS: 5 Paws

And this is where the very excellent book, DAMSEL comes in.

When the King of Harding dies the prince must go through a trial to ascend to the throne: go on a quest, slay a dragon, rescue a damsel. Emory’s father is dead and his quest ends with a slain dragan and a damsel rescued: Ama.

Ama is a blank canvas. She remembers nothing before Emory rescued her. Not even her name. Emory does his best to paint his ideal picture on her, starting with her name. But deep within there is a fire in Ama’s heart. She is no one’s blank canvas. And she will stop at nothing to find out the truth of her past and who she really is.

He had said something like that before … You are my destiny, and I am yours … And a little flame in her spurted up – Do I have no say in this matter?


This book is absolutely gorgeous – beautifully written and fast paced. I was drawn in from the first page: by Emory’s task and then by Ama’s quest. Ama proves her self to be more than Emory’s prize and in the process pulls off one of the best endings I have ever read.

New Years Readathon!

Happy Lunar New Year! According to the lunisolar Chinese calendar the Lunar New Year falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice and for the Gregorian (the commonly used) calendar it is the New Moon between January 21 and February 20. It is a day to celebrate gods and family members that have come before us, as well as to spread well wishes of “good fortune or happiness, wealth and longevity”. (All information in this paragraph from wikipedia).

To celebrate Lunar New Year, I thought I would write a post about how I celebrated the calendar new year! I wish you all both a Happy 2019 and a Happy Lunar New Year!

I have a confession to make: Books with PIP! was a total surprise. One day instagram was a place for me to post pictures of my cats and occasional travels and the next I posted book reviews two days in a row. When I posted the first picture of PIP! with a book I knew I had found my thing.

Around the middle of December, I decided to plan out my reading for the rest of the month. After my very successful Thanksgiving readathon I decided I wanted to do another one to celebrate the end of 2018, beginning of 2019.

I picked out my New Year’s Day book right away: Believe Me by JP Delaney. I picked that book because it is a thriller (I can usually read a thriller in one sitting) and I had just read (and loved) Delaney’s first book, The Girl Before .

I had a harder time picking out a New Year’s Eve book until I discovered that the third book in the Icon Trilogy by Vanessa Fewings (which I had started a while back) was available.

I have another confession to make: after a friend gave me the 50 Shades books (because she read them and loved them and wanted me to read them and love them) (I didn’t) I kept on reading Romance Novels. They are usually quick and light hearted reads. There may be some drama and fights, but everything is usually resolved in a few chapters and everyone gets their happy ending.

I have a third confession to make: I love, LOVE Hallmark movies for these same reasons. And the 50 Shades movies – they are the rare case where I like the movies better than the books. The grammar is better.

And that is how I celebrated 2018 and rang in the new year: reading romance and triller books, watching the Hallmark Channel.


December 30: I realize that I need to reread books one and two of the Icon Trilogy, The Chase and The Game. I have a moment of panic when I realize that I will now have to read 3 books in two days to make my deadline, but I believe in myself and the power of my eyes. Also, I am stubborn. I finish book 1 and start book 2.

December 31: Here’s the biggest flaw in this reading plan. #ADULTING. I have an 8 hour shift at work. I finish book 2 before I go in. I am home by 930 pm and dive right back in. At this point I realize two things: 1. I am never going to finish book 3, the Prize, by midnight and 2. This is my challenge, my rules. I decide that if I finish the book by 3 am – which is technically still December 31 on the West Coast – it counts. I pause at about 1130 to take pictures of PIP! and Sam with a split of champagne (because #catladylife) and then I finish the Prize a little after two am.

  • BOOKS READ: The Game, The Chase, The Prize
  • THE AUTHOR: Vanessa Fewings
  • PIP! SAYS: 3.5 Paws for the Series

Tobias Wilder is many things. A billionaire Tech genius. A philianthropist. A museum owner. An art thief. Lara Leighton is also many things. The daughter of a renowned art collector. A forgery spotter. An investigator. He is Icon, an infamous art thief and she is a member of the team trying to catch him. As Lara chases Tobias from London to LA she is forced to face the truth: she is falling in love with a thief.

These books were just the thing I needed to end the year. When I ask myself “what do I want to be when I grow up” sometimes the answer is “Art Historian”. One of my favorite places in the world is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These books combine art appreciation, a little bit of mystery, a transcontinental chase and a bit of romance. At times I found myself frustrated with both Zara and Tobias, and more than once I wanted to reach into the pages to yell at them. The romance in these pages is steamy but even better is the mystery. What kept me turning pages was picking up the clues and pieces and fitting them together.

January 1: Happy New Year! This is day I’ve been waiting for. I have baked goods and junk food and an entire day in front of me with a new book to read. It’s glorious – I spend the day hanging out on the couch with Sam and my book and I eat approximately three slices of chocolate bread with peanut butter. I finish the book around 4pm. Then I get a really crazy thought: could I really finish ANOTHER book? I assess my TBR pile and decide to stick with thrillers. The Death of Mrs. Westaway it is. More chocolate bread and I finish the book at some point that night. I didn’t note the time because by that point my eyes were on full revolt and I went to bed and watched a Hallmark movie.

  • THE BOOK: Believe Me
  • THE AUTHOR: JP Delaney
  • PIP! SAYS: 4.5 Paws

I planned to read this book in one day, but actually, I read this book, cover to cover, without stopping. (Except for more tea and snacks). One of my favorite things in the book genre thriller is the unreliable narrator. It adds another layer to the mystery – figuring out what is really happening in the story (and not just what the narrator is telling you). This story is told by Claire Wright, acting student and struggling actor. When one of the less than reputable jobs she is forced to take to keep a roof over her head ends in murder she becomes entangled in a police investigation. Is she the trap or the target?

I thought I had this one figured out. I thought I knew what Claire was doing. Turns out, I was pulled into her story, exactly as she planned. Delaney and Claire executed this twist perfectly. And Claire turned out to be one of the most unreliable narrators I have ever read. After all, it does say LIE right there on the cover.

  • THE BOOK: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
  • THE AUTHOR: Ruth Ware

When faced with the lowest moment in our lives who among us wouldn’t wish for something, anything to bring relief? Hal Westaway finds herself in a such a situation, money rapidly running out, with a debt that must be paid. She has no way of paying, no way out, and no hope when she receives a letter that her grandmother has dies and that she is a beneficiary. Except Hal’s grandmother died years ago, and the name of her mother in the letter is not the right name. But Hal is terrified and desperate. So she makes the journey to Trepassen to meet that family that is not really hers in the hope that she will find some relief.

What Hal finds is three uncles, two cousins, an angry housekeeper and a room that has bots on the outside of the door. She also finds that for her, there is no turning back: not from the house, or from the truth.

There is more than one mystery to be unravelled and the few crumbs that the author drops here and there were enough to keep me turning the page. However, this book is missing a sense of urgency that most thrillers have. This book reminded me of an Agatha Christy: the reader has most of the pieces but cannot fit them together. When Ware lays down the last piece is it a great twist to an intricate mystery.

TL; DR: I read 5 books in 3 days from December 30 to January 1. I loved spending a holiday with a book so much that I’m planning on reading a whole book on most major holidays! Next up: Valentine’s Day!


Breaking out of a Reading Slump

Anytime anyone asks me what I like to do in my free time or what my hobbies are my first answer is always reading. I also mention that I really enjoy movies, music, baking and dancing. But really, and truly my favorite way to spend an hour or two on a day off is on my couch, with my cats and a book.

My mother is a big fan of “Little House on the Prairie” and so she used the McGuffey Readers to teach me how to read when I was about 4 years old. For as long as I can remember books have always been my constant companion. I remember falling in love with Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time and reading them over and over.

I find a weird joy in telling people who say “I don’t read much” or “I think I only read one book last year” that I read multiple books a week. The decor in my home revolves around my books. I regularly fall asleep reading a book. I keep two books in my car (paperbacks I have read) just in case I run into a situation and I need to pass sometime. Long line in the grocery store, costco, the bank? No problem, I’ve got the kindle app on my phone.

Last fall something terrible happened to me. I hit an absolute reading slump. For about two months I couldn’t get excited about reading. I couldn’t decide what book to read and when I would start a book I wouldn’t finish it. I spent a lot of time on my phone aimlessly surfing the internet or watching a ton of instagram stories.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Last year was the second year I hosted and cooked for my family. That night, after loading the dishwasher, I made up my mind to try and read through some of the Book of the Month books I own but had not yet read. I pulled a couple off the shelf and paged through them, started two, changed my mind, and then started Lies She Told by Cate Holahan.

Once I started it, I could not put it down. At first I thought, let me read about 100 pages. Page 100 came and went and I was still reading. I did not put that book down until I was finished. I loved every word, but most of all, I loved the thrill of reading a good book, a book I did not want to put down, and finishing that book.

Over that weekend, I read three more books. And I’ve been back to my 2-3 books a week pace. I am spending next to no time on my phone, aimlessly surfing the internet. And the only time I spent on instagram is with Books with PIP!

  • THE BOOK: Lies She Told
  • THE AUTHOR: Cate Holahan
  • PIP! SAYS: 4.5 Paws

Imagine you had a month to write the book that would revive your failing career. What would you write about? How much of your life would find its way o the pages?

This is the exact situation Liza Cole finds herself in. Her personal life is crumbling around her. Her husband, consumed with a personal crisis, is less and less interested in Liza and the life she wants for them. Her professional life is in ruins, and she is forced to write a book on a tight deadline, a book that must meet all of her publisher’s requirements and turn her career around. The main character of this book is a woman named Beth.

Lies She Told tells both women’s stories in alternating chapters. Liza and Beth each narrate their own chapters. But Beth’s words are Liza’s. How much of Liza’s story has found its way into Beth’s?

This book is well plotted and well paced. I kept reading, page after page, because I was so invested in each woman’s story. Would Liza and her husband work things out? Would Liza be able to finish the book on time? What would Liza write next?

One of my favorite things about reading thrillers is paying attention to the details and trying to “figure out” what the big twist is. I was able to guess the twist in one part of the story. The other was such a shock I immediately went back into the book to see what I missed.

Both parts of the book are equally compelling and when I was finished I wanted to read more. More of Liza’s story and the rest of the book she is writing.

Friday Favorites & What I Read in January

Last Fall I was hit with a terrible reading slump. For the first time in my life reading did not bring me relaxation and happiness. I couldn’t decide what to read and I couldn’t finish anything once I started it. I finally broke out of the slump over Thanksgiving weekend when I read 4 books in 5 days. I rediscovered my love of thrillers and the “can’t stop till i know what happened” style of book was just what I needed. I was so excited about that and starting Books with PIP! that I kept up the pace throughout December. I ended the year reading 5 (yes FIVE!) books in 3 days between December 30 – January 1 (full post on that readathon to come!)

I didn’t start January or 2019 with an exact goal. I knew I was going to spend New Year’s Day reading – beyond that I kinda thought I’d aim for 2 books per week and see what happens. Turns out when presented with a goal I get kinda competitive (with myself) and I ended up reading. A lot.

My final total for the month of January is 12. (If you are counting books in the wreath, one of the books I read in December got mixed into my January pile when I photographed it to review it. Setting up the book wreath again with PIP! in time to get this post up would have been tricky). I probably could have read a 13th book but I decided to give myself a break from reading and watch Hallmark movies.

Here are all the books I read in January:

  • Believe Me by JP Delaney (my New Year’s Day book)
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (the fourth and final book I read for #authorweek).
  • No Exit by Taylor Adams (#unreadBOTMchallenge)
  • The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey (#unreadBOTMchallenge)
  • A Court of Thrones and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (#YAserieschallenge2019 – book 1 – a head start for February)
  • the Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (bookclub# book – this was my pick. I chose it because 1. Galbraith is the pen name of JK Rowling and 2. I already owned it)
  • I DNF’ed – Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid (bookclub# book – this was my friend’s pick. I mentioned this book because I wanted to say: for me, I’m learning its ok to DNF a book. Also, because it was a book club book I wanted to mention what I did about that: I spoke with her when I was struggling to read this book and we came to an agreement and I DNF. I did read enough to justify my decision and then I went and read the last few chapters.)
  • Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (A spur of the moment decision – the most recent book was a 2 for 10 special at Barnes and Noble, so I decided to start with book one)
  • Watching You by Lisa Jewell (A book section at Costco find, I read it the day I bought it!)
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand (This was 50% off at Barnes and Noble black Friday weekend and I bought it because I loved the cover and the synopsis in the front flap)
  • The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Harcastle by Stuart Turton (This was my first “I saw it on Bookstagram” book)
  • The Cat Who Sniffed Glue by Lillian Jackson Braun (Reread)
  • The Cat Who Robbed a Bank by Lillian Jackson Braun (Reread: I finished the month with these books because 1. I love them. 2. I pulled the whole series out for a blog post. 3. I had already met my “goal” for January and rereading these felt like taking a break from reading.


So far this has been a weird weather winter. Last year was snowy and frigid … this year not so much. I am not complaining. I do not miss the frigid. Although I wouldn’t mind a good snowstorm (just ONE!).

Tomorrow is February 2nd: GROUNDHOG DAY! A nice groundhog in Punxsutawney, PA will be pulled from his home and will then tell us our future – early spring? more winter? It all depends on whether or not he sees his shadow. WILL HE SEE HIS SHADOW?

It derives from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog emerging from its burrow on this day sees a shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat to its den and winter will persist for six more weeks, and if it does not see its shadow because of cloudiness, spring will arrive early.

To be honest, I do not understand what the correlation is between a groundhog seeing his shadow and when warmer temperatures will come to the northeast but that’s not the important part of this day. The best thing to come from Groundhog Day is this:

Bill Murray plays a weatherman from Pittsburgh, PA. This is the third year in a row he’s had to go to Punxsutawney to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. Murray’s character, Phil, is feeling like a big fish in a small pond. He is restless and wants to further his career. He does not enjoy covering Groundhog Day and sees it as another chore in his boring job.

He goes to Punxsutawney with his new producer, Rita (played by Andie MacDowell) and his cameraman Larry (played by Chris Elliot). He records his segment, gets trapped by a snowstorm and then …. wakes up in Punxsutawney on February 2nd. Again. And again. And again.

Ok campers, rise and shine! and don’t forget your booties cause its COLD out there today …

Groundhog Day

This movie was released in 1993, and it is a little dated but the overall story and message are still sound: if you had an unlimited amount of do-overs what would you do again? What would you do different?

My February Reading List:

With one more day / night of reading to go in January my total is 12. I might try to fit in a quick read tonight or start one of the books on this list, but I also might give my poor eyes a break and watch a Hallmark movie. .

Until I gathered all of these books together, I didn’t quite realize HOW MANY books I planned to read in February, THE SHORTEST MONTH. As a book friend said “My reading eyes are bigger than my stomach.” Did I bite off more than I can chew? Probably. I am just stubborn enough to find a way to read all this books? Absolutely. Will I do anything other than read in my free time this month? Probably Not. It’s ok. Reading is my favorite way to spend my time, the football season is all but over, I can totally read while a Hallmark movie is on in the background and I prefer to cuddle up on my couch with my cats, a book and a blanket to going out in the cold and snow (or the heat and rain. Or any weather really. I’m an indoors girl).

I am a little nervous about this – since leaving college I have never planned my immediate TBR books like this. I usually have a book in mind that I want to / should read next. This is a full month of reading, planned in advance. My biggest worry is that I tend to read by mood (which is why I have so many unread books) and a new book always leaps over books I already own (which is why I have banned myself from buying books this month).

Ok. February. Let’s Do This:


  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (buddy read / must read)
  • Goldenstate by Ben H. Winters (probably if I have time / might pick a different BOTM book)


  • ACOTAR by Sarah J. Maas.
  • A Court of Mist and Fury
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight 
  • These are all must reads because I am determined to finish one YA series a month until I have read ALL the YA Series that I own. I read book one of this series in January, so ACOTAR it is for the first month of this challenge.


  • Some Kind of Happiness
  • WinterSpell
  • Sawkill Girls
  • Also must reads. I really like the Author Week feature on my instagram. These books are the ones I am most excited to read!


  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • This is my fun hockeyfriend# (we like a backwards hashtag 🙂 ) book club. We each pick a book and then we have a book chat at the end of the month.
  • She is doing a series reread of Harry Potter. I joined late so I will be starting at book 3. I am going to reread books 1-2 but given my ambitious TBR I most likely will read 3-7 then 1-2.


  • Valentine’s Day Challenge: Continuing my celebrate a holiday by reading a book challenge (started on NYE / NYD) on Valentine’s Day I will be reading Love By the Book by Melissa Pimental
  • With 11-12 books scheduled TBR in February I probably don’t have time for anything else BUT I like to read by mood so there may be one or two spur of the moment reads added in or substituted.

Book Review : Verity

  • The Author: Colleen Hoover
  • instagram

This is the book review that officially launched books with PIP! I read a review of this book on Tumblr and I immediately looked it up. I love books. When I say that I mean that I love reading but that I also love physical books. I love turning pages as I read. At the time it was only available as ae ebook, with the publication date about a week away. I didn’t want to wait, so I read it on my iPad. I was so excited to read this book, and it did not disappoint. The minute I was finished I knew I wanted to post a review … but what about the picture. PIP! was in his cat tree and so I leaned my iPad up against him … and within minutes of posting the review I realized I had my “thing”: I would read the books, PIP! would pose with them.

This is the picture I took that morning, the first book with PIP!:

Lowen Ashleigh is a writer. She is in a terrible place in life. Her finances are in ruin, her career is suffering and she is a total mess. She is offered a job that can turn that all around by a man named Jeremy Crawford. Jeremy’s wife is best selling author Verity Crawford. Verity was in the middle of writing a very successful series when she suffered life altering injuries in a car accident. Jeremy wants to hire Lowen to ghostwrite the remaining books. She is invited up to their remote home to use Verity’s office and notes to finish the job. Lowen is hesitant, reluctant, but circumstances in her life mean she cannot say no.

Lowen enters the Crawfords home and life, hoping to get in, find what she needs, and get out. But nothing is that simple. And the things Lowen discovers and learns only pull her in further.

REVIEW: This book is so GOOD. It had me from the very first page. I read a lot of mystery / thriller books, so I pride myself on being able to “figure out” what the big twist might be or at least have enough pieces that I think I know where it all goes. I admit that I did have one thing figured out (I can’t speak for the author but I think she wanted the reader to see that thing coming – a red herring for to hide the bigger twistier twist). I thought I had tiny pieces of another BUT I DID NOT SEE THE ENDING COMING.

I read this in one sitting. I say that a lot – I read a lot and can finish a book in a day if I have time. This is that but it’s also – once I started this book I knew there’d be nothing else for me until I was finished.

How much I like a book is usually tied to whether or nor I like narrator or main character. I really like Lowen. I understand the terrible position she is in at the start of the story (broke, at a crossroads with her career … been there). I was just as captivated as she was by Verity’s story. It was the combination of both women’s stories that had me virtually turning page after page, way past my bed time. Hoover writes with just the right amount of suspense. The plot moves quickly and every word moves the reader to the final conclusion.

Book Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

In the world of Girls and Paper and Fire there are three castes, Moon caste: full demons, Steel caste, human-demon hybrids, and Paper caste, full humans. The Paper caste is the lowest of them. At birth every child is given a Birth-blessing: a single word on a piece of paper, secured in a pendant.

Our kingdom believes words have power. That the characters of our language can bless or curse a life.

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Lei is a Paper caste girl, known for her golden eyes. Taken from her own and thrust into the world of the Demon King and His Palace she becomes the 9th Paper Girl.

Paper Girls are the King’s concubines. They serve him for a year. Some girls want to become a Paper girl: for some it is beneficial to their family, for others it is an honor. For Lei, it is a prison from which she longs to escape.

Lei’s mother was also taken from their home by Moon caste soldiers, but she was not taken to become a Paper girl, and Lei longs to find any trace of her, to know what happened. She clings to the idea that she is alive, as she clings to the words her mother told her as a child:

When you’re angry or upset, stop for a moment and close your eyes. Breathe in slowly. Imagine as you do that the air you take in is bright and golden, as lovely and light as your eyes. Let that brightness fill your belly. Then, when you exhale, picture the darkness that had been within you – whatever it was that upset you- and visualize it leaving your body as your release your breath. Joyful, golden light comes in … darkness goes out.

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As she learns to navigate through her new reality, she makes a few friends in her new home, particularly one of the younger Paper Girls, Aoki. Lei also finds herself doing one of the most dangerous things a Paper girl can do : she falls in love.

REVIEW: From the first page I was drawn in by Lei’s voice as she tells her story. It begins as the story of her journey from her home and family to become the 9th Paper Girl, but it is so much more. It is the story of a girl finding her voice, of a girl who’s life has been irrevocably changed, of a girl falling in love. Most of all this is the story of a girl fighting to keep control of who she is as the world she lives in tries to force her into submission.

Natasha Ngan creates a rich and beautifully realized world in this book. She writes lyrical sentences and paces this book just perfectly. Her attention to detail made this book come alive in my mind and the supporting characters are fully developed.

This book stayed with me long after I finished reading it. I went back and reread some of my favorite passages before rereading the entire book the next day. I fell in love with the characters, I was drawn into Lei’s world. My heart hurt when she hurt, and soared when she found small pieces of happiness.


Odd, how time works. On long days in the shop, I’ve known it to stretch out forever, as thick and heavy as molasses. Other days – days filled with fun errands or festivals – time would take on a brittle, icelike quality. I’d race through it and it’d snap into pieces around me, crystalline moments of happiness and laughter, and before i knew it, the day would be gone.

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NOTES: I read the Barnes & Noble Special Edition with a bonus feature: Natasha Ngan’s handwritten notes on her favorite chapter. I already loved the world she created in this book and having Ngan’s notes added to and enhanced my understanding of Lei, her story, her world, and her journey.

In the beginning of December I was having a chat with a friend about reading. I told her about my Thanksgiving readathon. She told me that she wanted to read 10 more books to hit 100 for the year. She asked how many I read that year. I had no idea. I had never tracked my reading like that before. I began to think about using Instagram to track my reading. Finish a book, take a picture and post it. It was going to be a 2019 New Year’s Resolution. After I finished reading this book a second time, I snapped a quick picture of it and posted it to instagram with a very short review. I loved this book so much it was the final push I needed to post that first review, and start my own journey. As I wrote this post, I thought back to that day. December 10, 2018 me had no idea that January 28, 2019 me would have an instagram devoted to books and a blog dedicated books and reading. I am so very grateful that I got here, thank you to everyone that has supported me and Books with PIP!

Friday Favorites

Books With PIP! began as a couple of book reviews I posted to instagram. Within two weeks, I found a hobby I loved: posting short book reviews and pictures of the books with PIP! A few posts in I realized I have so much to say about books: they are one of the great loves of my life. After a lot of thought and some planning (but not a lot or I wouldn’t be me) I decided to start a book blog. Welcome to Books With PIP!, version 2: the Blog!

I plan on 4 or so book related posts here a week – reviews of both books I just read and past favorites, reading updates and other book topics. Fridays will feature some of my favorite things from outside the book world including music, movies, tv shows, sports and more!

First up for Friday Favorites is Jennifer Garner’s instagram , specifically her “Pretend Cooking Show”. Her entire feed is a wonderful mix of cooking, baking, farming, dancing and acting.

I first found her instagram when a friend of mine told me about her pretend cooking show. I watched every “episode” (they are only a few minutes long) in one go and then drove to the grocery (at 830pm – for me that is basically a miracle) to buy the ingredients for the chocolate bread.

As I write this I am enjoying a slice from the 5th loaf I’ve baked and it’s become my go to baking treat. Next to reading, baking is one of my favorite hobbies. Its so satisfying to start with a list of ingredients and end with something delicious & sweet!

If you have a moment, visit Jennifer’s Instagram, watch “Pretend Cooking Show” and try the chocolate bread. Serve it with a little peanut butter on top. It’s amazing.

*PS: I did not share this treat with PIP!. As soon as I got the shot I took the plate away and replaced it with a few of his favorite treats. *