Thursday, July 27, 2017

Children's Review: The List

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

The category of dystopian books is pretty well saturated at this point. We have our classics, our pop-culture phenomenons, and it can be hard to find something original in the mix. To me, The List is a stand-out, a unique spin on dystopian society and a middle grade book that I'll certainly be recommending to readers this year.

The List is set in a dystopian future, one in which climate change led to an event called the Melting, when polar ice caps plunged into the sea, creating floods, havoc, and few survivors. Letta lives in the city of Ark, a haven from the pollution and chaos that rules the outside world, founded and preserved by the city's leader, John Noa. Letta is an apprentice to the city's wordsmith, a man who collects the words of Ark and carefully controls The List. 

The List features 500 words, the only words that citizens of Ark are permitted to speak. Noa claims that language -- flowery, persuasive -- was the catalyst to the downfall of man. In the former world, while climate change raged out of control, politicians used language to calm the people, stopping them from taking action and dooming all mankind to a bleak future. Noa believes that language should be used for basic function only, so citizens are forbade from using words that are not on The List, and those who do so are cast from society.

Letta, being the wordsmith's apprentice, has access to all of the words, not just the ones on The List. She's a devout follower of Noa, but she can't help loving language, real language, as it was used before. One day, Letta's master goes missing, and Letta is promoted to the position of wordsmith. Soon after, a boy stumbles into Letta's shop and on impulse, she hides him. She discovers that the boy is from outside Ark, that he is known as a Desecrator, a threat to her beloved community, but she cares for him anyways. It is then that the façade of Ark begins to unravel, and Letta discovers some deeply disturbing information about Ark and the future of its citizens.

I thought that the world-building in this novel was outstanding, and when I finished I was hoping to discover that it would be a series. I'd happily follow Letta and her friends for another adventure, if that ever became the case. I think, too, that this book brought up a lot of great discussion points that are relevant to the state of our society now. Recommended for fans of The Mapmakers Trilogy and for readers fourth grade and up. 

This title will be released on August 8, 2017.

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5

Title: The List
Author: Patricia Forde
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2017
ISBN: 1492647969
Format: Ebook / Hardcover
Source: Net Galley / Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Review & Giveaway!

This title will be released on September 5, 2017.
Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

I'm starting to get nervous about the ratio of books that I've loved to the number of spots on my Top Ten list. There isn't a lot of room for more great books, but Girls Made of Snow and Glass has definitely earned a spot on that list, and you can expect to hear me talking about this one all year long. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my descent into obsession over the weekend. I read this book in less than twenty-four hours, and I'm not exaggerating when I say my heart was pounding hard for the last thirty pages. If you think that a YA fantasy might not be for you, let me beg you to reconsider. While this won't be winning prizes for masterful prose, Girls Made of Snow and Glass was a story that had me completely captivated.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass has been marketed as a feminist fractured fairytale, and that is such an apt way to capture this fantastic retelling of the Snow White fairytale. This fairytale is untraditional in many ways, but what I loved most was how Melissa Bashardoust took the original elements of the Snow White tale and created this completely new story. 

In this, the story alternates between the perspectives of Mina, the queen, and Lynet, her stepdaughter. Mina's perspective is told from the present, but also includes flashbacks to the time before she became queen. In those flashbacks, Mina is the daughter of a feared magician, who once removed her heart and replaced it with one made of glass. When Mina catches the eye of the king and becomes queen, she hopes desperately to find the one thing that she believes she can't have: genuine love. In the present narrative, Lynet is sixteen when she finds out that she isn't her father's child at all, but was created out of snow and made in the late queen's image.

Lynet's father is obsessed with Lynet -- he hopes for her to not only look like her mother but also to emulate her in all her delicate ways, but Lynet would rather be like Mina, whom she sees as fierce and bold. When the king decides that it's time for Lynet to take the throne, the royal family's fragile dynamic shatters. The relationship between Mina and Lynet -- and the ways in which they contrasted and mirrored each other -- was such a new way to approach the relationship between these two classic characters. Bashardoust was so creative in the way in which she created an entirely new villain and I loved how the setting was a character in itself.

Highly recommended for readers who love fairytales, this has classic elements, but rather than working within the strictly traditional boundaries, Bashardoust brings something entirely new. For fans of Disney movies and kick-ass heroines. All I can say is, I wish this were going to be a series, and it's given me new motivation to seek out more YA fantasy novels this year.

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5
Click here to pre-order a copy of your own on Amazon!


Thank you  to Flatiron Books for generously offering to partner with me in a giveaway for readers of Top Shelf Text!

FIVE lucky winners will be able to read advanced copies of this book before it's released in September!

Giveaway Rules:

Head to my Instagram and click on the same picture as the one in this post.

To earn ONE entry:

Make sure you're following @topshelftext and @flatiron_books.

Like the photo and leave a comment telling me your favorite fairy tale and tag two friends who might be interested.

U.S. applicants only.

To earn ONE BONUS entry:

Repost the photo in your Instagram stories and tag @topshelftext.

Giveaway open through Friday, July 28th.

Good luck!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Meddling Kids Review & Giveaway!

Meddling Kids & koozie c/o Doubleday Books

When I first heard the premise of Meddling Kids, I was instantly transported back to childhood, and more specifically to Saturday mornings with my little brother. It was pitched to me as Scooby-Doo meets H.P. Lovecraft, and upon hearing that, I just knew I had to read this book -- if not for anything else, then for nostalgia's sake. Cantero's allusion to my favorite mystery-solving gang was the perfect way to draw me in, but the imagining of a gang all grown-up, and facing real terrors -- kept me hooked.

Meddling Kids surprised me in so many ways, and I'm so grateful for the team at Doubleday Books, who first introduced me to this read and are also giving a copy to one lucky Top Shelf Text reader!

The story takes place in the summer of 1990, thirteen years after the Blyton Summer Detective Club went their separate ways after wrapping up their final case. Though the villain was caught, the unanswered questions of the case leave the gang feeling haunted.

The gang's final case took place within the formidable Deböen Mansion, located on a lonely island in the middle of the lake (having been built with a miner's fortune). There, the kids reveal the true identity of the Sleepy Lake Monster -- a greedy man after a treasure that didn't exist.

Years, later, the gang has lost touch, and Andy, the tomboy of the group, is feeling restless. She knows that there's more to the mystery from that long ago summer, so she gets in touch with Kerri, the token genius, and they travel to fetch the youngest of the group, Nate. Nate's fascination with all things horror landed him in an asylum, where he continues to talk with the ghost of the fifth member, Peter, whose movie star fame and drug addiction led him to his grave years earlier. Andy and Kerri convince Nate to return to Blyton Hills for a final look at the now-derelict mansion, hoping to find closure and an end to the nightmares. It's then that they discover that the final case may still need solving.

There were certain elements of this story that surprised me in their seriousness and sophistication. The book contained modern romance, observations of mental health, trauma, and did so in a way that felt raw and genuine. For that reason, the characters were extremely flawed but also the kind that you root for -- hoping that they'll find peace with themselves and with the frightening world that they live in. The science fiction elements of this book were unique and brought the idea of a group of teenage detectives to another level, one that sent chills up my spine as I read. I'd recommend this to fans of many genres -- mystery, horror, sci-fi, fantasy. I can't say whether it's a book that I would have picked off a bookstore shelf, but a month after reading it I'm still thinking about it and about the big reveal -- always a good sign.

Bottom-Line Rating: 3/5


Doubleday Books is offering one Top Shelf Text reader a copy of Meddling Kids AND a meddling kids drink koozie! To enter, go to THIS PICTURE on Instagram and tag two friends who would be interested in this book. 

You must be following @topshelftext and @doubleday books.

Open to U.S. applicants only. Giveaway entries valid through Monday, July 24th.

Title: Meddling Kids
Author: Edgar Cantero
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Price: $18 on Amazon
ISBN: 0385541996
Format: Hardcover
Source: Doubleday Books

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Doubleday Books. All opinions are my own!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Flight of Dreams Giveaway Winner! (& A Note about the TST Reader Survey Results)

Giveaway Results

First, let me say thank you to everyone who entered the Flight of Dreams giveaway! I was blown away by your enthusiasm for this novel and for historical fiction in general. 

Two things I learned from reading all of your recommendations:

1. I really, really need to read The Nightingale. It was probably the most popular pick for your favorite historical fiction novel!

2. Ruta Sepetys is an author I need to get behind. So, so many of you loved her books (and there were a few titles of hers that kept coming up)! Consider it noted, friends.

Now, for the winner!

Congratulations to Laura, who recommended to us Between Shades of Gray by Ruta SepetysThe Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, and I am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith!

Laura, please get in touch with me at with your full name and mailing address so that I can get your prize in the mail ASAP!

I also want to say here that I have read a few of the books in the Secret History of the Pink Carnation series and love them for when I need a light historical fiction read. I also read I am Livia back in 2014 and loved that too! If you like historical fiction set in ancient times, then that is the book for you. 

Thanks again to all who entered -- come back tomorrow for a new giveaway featuring a completely different genre!


Reader Survey Results

If you also took my reader survey, again let me say thank you! It was so helpful seeing some of the demographics of my readership, as well as getting to know you all through your favorite reads, Hogwarts Houses, and your reader recommendation picks!

Here's some of the results from the survey that you might be interested in knowing:

- The TST readership is 98% women -- hello ladies (and my very few gentleman readers)!

- The most represented Hogwarts House is Gryffindor, followed closely by Ravenclaw, with Hufflepuff coming in third and a small percentage of readers belonging to Slytherin. 

- Plus, a good number of you who do not know your house -- to you I say, take this quiz

- And, a decent number of you who are not Harry Potter fans -- to you I say, shame.

- The genres that you enjoy reading most are (in order): historical fiction, literary fiction, contemporary fiction, and mystery.

-You like to get most of your books from the local library (hooray!), then from Amazon and independent booksellers.

-Your top four favorite reads of this year have been:

(I'm glad we're all in the Backman fan club together, friends.)

Reader Recommendations

There were so many of you who would like to do a reader recommendation post here on Top Shelf Text. You all had me completely giddy with your enthusiasm for sharing your favorite reads.

If you submitted recommendations, you'll receive an email from sometime today with more details about how I plan to make this work. 


First, check your spam folder. 

If you still don't see it, you might have been one of the readers who gave me picks but forgot to include an email address. Don't be embarrassed -- there were quite a few of you! And I know that talking about books makes us all excited and frazzled (or is that just me?) so, if this is you, PLEASE send me an email at with "Reader Recommendations" in the subject line and include your picks so that I can enter you into my Reader Recommendations database. Every single one of you had great picks and I want you to be included!


Thanks again for being a reader of TST, friends. This venture is a lot of work, but so worth it when I get to connect with fellow readers like you!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

If you liked that, read this!

If you liked... this!

If you're a fan of Deanna Raybourn's Veronica Speedwell Mysteries, I have a sneaky feeling you'll enjoy A Study in Scarlet Women, the first the Lady Sherlock series. These two books have some of my favorite things in common: Regency era historical fiction, a mystery with an ending I couldn't predict, and a rebel protagonist in a time when women were meant to be demure. (And if you haven't yet been introduced to Veronica Speedwell, then might I suggest putting both of these books on your list.) In my review of A Curious Beginning, I loved Veronica for her audacity, brilliance, and spunk. I loved Charlotte, our Lady Sherlock, for the same reasons. In A Study in Scarlet Women, Charlotte is forced to leave home after a scandal. In need of a new position and a new path in life, she becomes Sherlock Holmes, mysterious consultant to those with a mystery in need of solving. Sherry Thomas did an excellent job with her creative use of the canon, and I came away with a great fondness for the cast of characters in this book. Also recommended for those who enjoyed Duels & Deception (another great historical fiction in this era with a strong female lead).

P.S. I'm already looking forward to reading the next in the series, due out in September. You can see a review of it right here on TST soon, but in case you're impatient (like myself), you can pre-order it here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Gather the Daughters

When I first read the description for Gather the Daughters, the word cult caught my attention right away. If you share my interest in the fascinating psychology of cults, you might want to add this to your to-read list. I've seen Gather the Daughters compared to classics such as The GiverLord of the Flies, and The Handmaid's Tale, which should give you some idea of how disturbing the premise behind this book is. 

Gather the Daughters takes place on an unnamed island, a haven (of sorts) for the ancestors after the incineration of the wastelands -- what the reader assumes to be society as we know it now. After the ancestors arrived, they founded a society built on strict control of its citizens. Many generations later, inhabitants practice ancestor worship and controlled breeding, with only a select group of men given the power to leave the island. Only that group -- called the Wanderers -- is allowed any knowledge of the outside world and the history that came before. The story is told through the perspectives of several girls in the cult, as they transition from childhood to adulthood and begin to question the strict boundaries of their existence. 

I have to warn you, this book contains some content that would not be appropriate for highly sensitive readers. Within the story, we witness child sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and incredibly strange mating rituals. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is extremely well-written, with characters that come to life and a setting so well-defined that it makes the reader feel steeped in the claustrophobia of the island. The author, Jennie Melamed, is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who works with traumatized children and studied child abuse for her PhD. After finishing the book and reading the author description, I felt that I better understood how it came to be. It's been on my mind since finishing it, and many books later I can say that it certainly had an impact on the way that I think about the dystopian genre and that idea of a strictly-controlled society.

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5

Title: Gather the Daughters
Author: Jennie Melamed
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 0316463655
Format: E-book
Source: Net Galley

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Top Shelf Text Reader Survey

Hello Readers!

Today I have something a little different for you. Since appearing on the What Should I Read Next? Podcast in March of this year, I've had a huge amount of growth here on the blog and over on Instagram, where you can find me constantly chatting about the books I'm currently loving. This year I've made so many more, great connections with fellow bookworms, so today I am asking that you please help me to continue to make Top Shelf Text a place where bibliophiles can come to read about all things books. You can do that by providing answers to my reader survey, which will ask you a few questions about what type of reader you are, what you like most about the blog, and will give you an opportunity to provide feedback. Anything that you have to say about the blog is greatly appreciated as I consider how Top Shelf Text will grow in the coming year.

Note: The survey is no longer accepting responses. Thank you so much for all of your feedback! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Flight of Dreams Review & Giveaway!

If you're a regular reader of Top Shelf Text, then you know that I recently took a quick trip to the Hamptons. If you're a follower of my Instagram, then you may have seen me apologize to my bookworm friends for being a bad listener.

Here's the scoop: while packing, I asked my Instagram followers whether I should bring Flight of Dreams or Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale. I like to pick a few reads from different genres when traveling, and I was looking for a quality historical fiction novel to bring along to the beach. While the majority of responses were in favor of the latter, I received a few enthusiastic votes for Flight of Dreams, with the qualifier that this was a suspenseful and quick historical fiction read. 

Those few votes won me over, and I am so glad they did because Flight of Dreams was one of those reading experiences that, after finishing, I wish I could experience for the first time again. (And not to worry, friends -- I fully plan to read The Nightingale this summer.)

I had Flight of Dreams on my shelf since reading The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress earlier in the year after the MMD Book Club was lucky enough to chat with Ariel Lawhon herself for an author event. I was instantly smitten with the way that Lawhon talked about the art of writing, the immense research she does in preparation for her books, and the way that ideas spring up in her life. (Psst! Lawhon has a new novel coming out in February of 2018 and I am already impatient to read it.)

Flight of Dreams is Lawhon's imagining of the events that took place leading up to the explosion of the infamous Hindenburg. The story takes place over the course of three days, as the passengers and crew on the Hindenburg journey from Germany to New Jersey. While historical record claims that the flight was uneventful, Lawhon imagines the journey to be much more interesting -- rife with tension, a love story, and revenge. Under the surface, people are nervous about Hitler's rise to power, and while many of the people on board seem to be there for pure enjoyment, all of them harbor secrets about their true reasons for taking flight.

The story is told from multiple perspectives -- from the real people who were actually on the flight, so it's one that I recommend you read distraction-free. (The beach was a perfect setting for me to get lost in the story.) I don't normally get so emotionally invested in characters, but I had full-on heart palpitations when it came to the defining moment in this journey.

Here's what sealed the deal for me at the end, and why I love historical fiction in general and Lawhon's approach in particular. In the author's note, she writes:

"They said it was an uneventful flight...But here's the problem: I don't believe them...I've taken enough transatlantic flights to know you can't place that many people in such a small space for any length of time and not have tension brewing beneath the surface. But if you're going to call bullshit on historical events, you'd best have a good theory to offer as an alternative. This novel is my attempt at a theory."



Because I loved this book so much, I want to share it with you. 
To win a copy of your own, comment below and tell me a favorite historical fiction read - I'm always looking to add to my to-read list!

Note: This giveaway is open to U.S. applicants only and not sponsored in any way. 
One winner will receive a copy of Flight of Dreams.
Giveaway entries valid through Wednesday, July 19th.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore has to be one of my top mystery/thriller reads of the year so far, and for that reason I must insist that you add it to your summer reading list. 

The book introduces us to Lydia Smith, who works at an eccentric bookstore in Denver. It's the kind of store that attracts not only customers, but also loyal followers. Lydia dubs a group of regulars her "Book Frogs," and is devastated one night when she stumbles upon the body of Joey - the youngest of the Book Frogs - among the stacks. Lydia cannot fathom why a patron would kill himself in the store, until she realizes that he's left behind a puzzle, and that she is the one who he hoped would solve it. As Lydia works to discover the motivation behind Joey's death, she is forced to remember a traumatic event from her childhood and to confront the ways in which that terrible night still keeps hold over her life.

This one is a five-star read for any season and one of those books where I can't tell you much about it -- for fear of spoiling the suspenseful reading experience that I loved, as I was surprised by the level of sophistication in its twists and turns. This is one of those reads that I didn't want to put down, and that still has me thinking about the depth of plotting that Matthew J. Sullivan had to do in order to achieve such a perfectly twisty novel.

 If you're looking for a book club suggestion for this summer, this would be mine -- I think it would make for some great discussions about suspense novels in general. I've already given it to my mother to read (she agrees that this makes for a great summer read) and just lent it to my best friend (who loves thrillers) who also thought it was a great beach read! I have a feeling I'll be passing this one around for a while.

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5

Title: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Author: Matthew J. Sullivan
Publisher: Scribner, 2017
Price: $20 on Amazon
ISBN: 1501116843
Format: Hardcover
Source: Scribner Publishers

Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this book from Scribner Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bookworm Buys: Carrot Top Paper Shop

Friends, I am so excited for today's post. First, I have to tell you that although I sometimes resent the internet for taking time away from real life, it occasionally redeems itself by bringing bookworms together and that makes my heart happy.

Today I want to introduce you to a kindred spirit, Jenny Williams of the 

Carrot Top Paper Shop.

Anne of Green Gables Quote Print c/o

I first stumbled upon Jenny's adorable illustrations on Instagram, and instantly fell in love with every last product in her shop. I knew then that I just had to share Jenny's shop -- and the brilliant heart behind her products -- with you all.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenny for the blog, and we got to chat about how she became a bookworm, literary heroines, and kindred spirits.

Jenny, tell us about your life as a reader. When did you become a bookworm?

I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember! I had a "lights out" time growing up, but every morning, I would come downstairs and "confess" to my mom that I had stayed up way too late reading, because there just wasn't a good place to stop. (She eventually told me to stop confessing, and just keep reading.) I read American Girl History Mysteries, the Dear America Diary series, the Little House on the Prairie series, and everything I could get my hands on by L.M. Montgomery.

Tell us about the origins of the Carrot Top Paper Shop. When and how did you get started?

Every since I was a child, I knew I wanted to do something creative when I grew up. But I never knew exactly what! Some days I wanted to be a ballerina, other days a greeting card illustrator, or a journalist, magazine editor, etc. After I graduated college, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill. I thought maybe I wanted to be a political speech writer. Needless to say, most of my life I've felt pretty all-over-the-map, career-wise. All of that changed after I had a baby, and was looking for literary nursery décor for her room. I had a very specific idea of what I wanted for her, but couldn't find it. So I decided to make my own, and that's when I created my very first literary heroine banner. I didn't create it with the idea of starting my own business too, but as we all know now, that's what happened! I tell people now that Carrot Top Paper Shop is the dream job I never knew I could have -- it combines everything I love into one perfect package: literature, creative a community around a shared loved of books, writing, art, and of course, Anne of Green Gables.

What has been the most popular product in your shop?

My Literary Heroine Banners and my Literary Bookmark Sets.

For many readers, these books contain not just characters but also close friends. Have you had any customers who have reached out with their own stories about the influence these books have had on them?

Absolutely! That is one of the best parts of my job. Before I started Carrot Top, I honestly thought only a few people in the world loved L.M. Montgomery's work as much as I did. I know now that was incredibly naïve! I get emails from people all the time telling me how much L.M. Montgomery has made an impact on their lives, or how her books got them through a difficult time. She feels like a dear friend, and everyone who loves her feels instantly connected. It's truly heartwarming!

You're a mom as well as a reader and shop owner. How did your reading life change when you had your daughter?

Great question! Sometimes I feel like I have no time to read. And when I am about to launch a new product line, I really don't. But I've learned that if I make it a priority, it happens. I cannot imagine my life without reading, but the biggest change now is that I don't put pressure on myself to read a certain number of books a year, or a month, or whatever. Sometimes I read a book a week, sometimes a book a month. As long as I am reading, I'm doing good.

I love your attitude towards reading. Why is it important that we read books with heroines to our children?

Growing up, stories about men inspired me too, but the ones that touched me most personally were the stories about girls and women. There's just something about being a little bit like someone else that makes you feel like it is achievable to be them. 

Both girls and boys today are exposed to a lot of bad messages about where their worth lies. True heroines reinforce to our daughters that their worth is not in outward appearances, or popularity, or any other superficial expectation. And I think deep down inside, we are all greatly relieved by that. We all want permission to be comfortable in our own skin, but also to aspire to something more. Fiction, good fiction, has the ability to represent a truer version of the world than the one we know. As G.K. Chesterton said, "Fairy tales are more than true -- not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten."

If you had to pick just one, who would be your favorite literary heroine? How does she inspire you?

That's easy! Anne Shirley, 100%. Anne is smart, hopeful, brave, and kind. She is secure in who she is, but vulnerable at the same time. Most importantly, she gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. Everyone, no matter how crabby, is a potential kindred spirit. I love that about her! She may have a quick temper, but she is also just as quick to forgive. She gives everyone a chance because no one is without hope, just as life is never without hope.


Some things that Jenny and I agree on wholeheartedly: children need literary heroines in their lives, L.M. Montgomery is a dear friend to each of her readers, and the world is a better place when we remind ourselves to act like Anne Shirley.
Thank you, Jenny, for sharing your love of reading and of literary heroines with us!
Jenny has been incredibly generous in offering Top Shelf Text readers an exclusive coupon to her shop.

Use code TOPSHELFTEXT for 25% off the Carrot Top Paper Shop.
Coupon valid through Friday, July 14th. 

I am a particular fan of both the quote prints and the to-do list notepad, which has brought a certain cheeriness to getting everyday tasks checked off. Next on my wish list are the Literary Heroine bookmark sets (shown above), which make a great gift for bookish friends!

Happy reading, and happy shopping too!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Very Bookish Vacation {with Summer Reading Recommendations!}

Happy Fourth of July, friends!

This holiday represents my favorite time of year. If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen my strict adherence to a red-white-and-blue dress code, my enthusiasm for our little town's annual festivities, and my joy at having a friend visit for it all.

The best part about all of it? That I'll still have plenty of days left to sit at the beach with a book in hand once the holiday is over. Teaching has its perks, one of them being summer vacation. In reality, most teachers do work over the summers, but due to a number of circumstances (changing districts, moving, etc.) I decided to take this summer off and embrace it as a season of both relaxation and transition. (And if we're being totally honest, I just wanted more time to read.)

Though fall is my favorite season, I am a wholehearted supporter of summer, especially when it means spending the day at the beach with a book in hand. Last week my mother and I took a quick trip out to the Hamptons to visit my little brother, and it was the perfect way for me to kick off the start of summer.

I finished up my school year on Thursday, said goodbye to my team (tears were shed), and we packed up the car on Sunday morning. After an overnight in the cute seaside town of Mystic, Connecticut, we hopped on a ferry to New York and drove down to see my brother in Southampton. 

Mystic, Connecticut

Of course, while we were in Mystic, I had to stop in the local bookstore. It's an incredibly well-stocked shop on the corner of the main shopping street. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping to browse the shop! It's called Bank Square Books and you can find their online shop here.

While there, I purchased this new novel and I absolutely cannot wait to read it. I don't know how I hadn't head of it already, but it is right up my alley.

(This is my brother. He's the best.)

Some background info here: my brother is in a PGA program, which means that instead of spending his college years on campus, he spends most of his time out on internships -- at some of the most beautiful (and prestigious) golf courses in the country. You can read about our visit to see him in Georgia last year for my spring break here. His current internship has him working in Southampton for the entire summer, and it's safe to say that I'm just a teensy bit envious.

I brought along a few books of my own to read while on vacation, three of which I managed to finish while lounging on the beach in Southampton. (P.S. You'll see a review for each of those here on the blog next week!) I spent the majority of my vacation parked right in front of the water, with my toes in the sand and a book in my hand. Some people might think it's a little silly, to go on a vacation and do the exact same thing that I like to do at home, but after a rather rough ending to our school year, I can tell you that those days on the beach are exactly what my body and soul needed to feel refreshed.

The ocean cures all, in my experience.

When we arrived at the hotel, we had an unexpected (and pleasant) surprise. Apparently, The Southampton Inn is a place run by bookworms. Many of you saw my elation on my Instagram stories, but I swear I've never been more giddy than I was upon finding out that the various books in the lobby were for guests to keep -- for free

Raise your hand if you can think of anything better than a free book.
(I can't.)

I plucked a few (brand-new titles, I should mention) from the shelves and stuck them in my beach bag, but my affection for the hotel owners only grew when we went to check out and I was given a goodie-bag full of summer reads.

I mean, let's just call this what it is -- Christmas morning.

All in all, I came home with quite a few more books than I arrived with, and I am so excited to have these new titles on my shelves. I've linked a few of the ones that I can't wait to read for you below, in case you're looking to add to your own summer reading stack.

This one is at the top of my list to pick up once I've crossed off a few more titles from my own summer reading list. It features a mysterious family heirloom, and you don't need much more than that to catch my interest.

This is one title you'll see on Anne Bogel's Summer Reading Guide and one that looks like a quick and light read that might actually prompt some unexpectedly deep thinking.

I couldn't resist taking this home with me after seeing that cover. It's a multigenerational novel about a family living on a Mediterranean island off the coast of Italy. 

Also on Anne Bogel's summer reading guide. For fans of Jane Eyre.

I'm pretty sure I first heard this title on an episode of What Should I Read Next, but the concept of it reminds me of this novel that I read and loved a few summers ago.

A family's deteriorating wealth forces them to take a cross-country road trip. I love this cover.


And if that's not enough, there was also a resident hotel cat, so you could say my cat-lady, book-loving heart was full during this stay. Kindred spirits can be found in the most unexpected of places.

P.S. This post was not, in any way, sponsored. I had no idea that the hotel would cater to my bookish spirit, nor do the owners know that this little corner of the internet belongs to one of their recent guests. If you're looking to stay in the area, send me an e-mail! I'd love to share more about our full experience there.