Hey, y’all, hey! I hope you had a relaxing holiday weekend. We did. The Hubs and I went to Mississippi to visit my family. I didn’t take many pictures, but you can see the few that I did take on Instagram. Mostly, this trip was about making sure my parents are doing OK. And they are… I also got to see my sister and her family, which is always nice. We took her youngest son and walked around Lowe’s to look at plants and pick out tile for her new house. You guys, even that little bit of normalcy was enough to make my heart happy.


Welcome to the monthly edition of Where Bloggers Live. It’s kind of like HGTV’s “Celebrities at Home,” but…Bloggers! Who doesn’t like to peek behind the scenes and see inside people’s homes? Over the next few months, a group of seven bloggers will be sharing their work spaces, their homes, towns and more!

I should note – because this is super important – the creative brain behind this project is Bettye at Fashion Schlub! Love her!

The Celebrity Bloggers

Bettye at Fashion Schlub
Daenel at Living Outside the Stacks
Em at Dust and Doghair
Jodie at Jodie’s Touch of Style
Iris at Iris’s Original Ramblings
Leslie at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After

Make sure you visit everyone to see where the magic happens!

Side note wherever you see words in bold italics and a different color, those are clickable links. Those links will either take you to related posts or links for purchase. If you decide to purchase something using those links, I’ll earn a commission at no extra charge to you. 

THE THEME: My Favorite Books

Confession: I’m a librarian who doesn’t read much. It’s not that I don’t have the time. I don’t have the desire. By the time I get home from work, I just wanna eat dinner and chat with The Hubs.  Or walk Bleu, then veg in front of the television. However, when I do read, I have very specific genres that I stick to, so keep reading for a review of my favorite book(s) from each category.

African American Literature

Passing by Nella Larsen

From the book description:

Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella follows friends Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, two black women who pass as white. Their anxieties about passing culminate in tragedy, revealing the powerful repercussions of hiding one’s identity. Nearly a century later, Larsen’s exploration of race remains urgent and relevant as ever.

I was introduced to this novel by my English lit instructor, Dr. Turner, when I was a student at Misericordia University and I cannot thank her enough. This is one of those novels that I’ve read more than a couple of times and, each time, I see something new. The story is layered with issues of racism, classicism, colorism, and sexuality. More broadly, there are the explorations of women’s friendships, marital relations, and family secrets. Really, just so much to explore. Perfect for book club discussions.

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

From the book description:

In her heralded first novel, Gloria Naylor weaves together the stories of seven women living in Brewster Place, a bleak-inner city sanctuary, creating a powerful, moving portrait of the strengths, struggles, and hopes of black women in America. Vulnerable and resilient, openhanded and openhearted, these women forge their lives in a place that in turn threatens and protects—a common prison and a shared home. Naylor renders both loving and painful human experiences with simple eloquence and uncommon intuition. Adapted into a 1989 ABC miniseries starring Oprah Winfrey, The Women of Brewster Place is a touching and unforgettable read.

I discovered this book through a miniseries starring Cicely Tyson, Jackée Harry, Oprah Winfrey, Mary Alice, and a few other African American greats of the small screen. After watching the series, I discovered that it was based on a book, which I had to read. I’m not sure which was more emotional — the book or the miniseries but both will draw you in. The novel is an emotional roller coaster, dealing with such issues as homosexuality, friendship, interpersonal relationships, and class.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

From the book description:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I read this when it first came out. Honestly, up until that point, I’d never really had a desire to read anything from the Young Adult section but people were raving out this book on Twitter and it was worth the hype. This book deals with some pretty heavy topics like police brutality, code switching, loyalty, and teen relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. Definitely worth the read and the discussions that’ll come out of it.

Historical Fiction

War Brides by Helen Bryan

From the book description:

With war threatening to spread from Europe to England, the sleepy village of Crowmarsh Priors settles into a new sort of normal: Evacuees from London are billeted in local homes. Nightly air raids become grimly mundane. The tightening vice of rationing curtails every comfort. Men leave to fight and die. And five women forge an unlikely bond of friendship that will change their lives forever.

Alice Osbourne, the stolid daughter of the late vicar, is reeling from the news that Richard Fairfax broke their engagement to marry Evangeline Fontaine, an American girl from the Deep South. Evangeline’s arrival causes a stir in the village—but not the chaos that would ensue if they knew her motives for being there. Scrappy Elsie Pigeon is among the poor of London who see the evacuations as a chance to escape a life of destitution. Another new arrival is Tanni Zayman, a young Jewish girl who fled the horrors of Europe and now waits with her newborn son, certain that the rest of her family is safe and bound to show up any day. And then there’s Frances Falconleigh, a madcap, fearless debutante whose father is determined to keep her in the countryside and out of the papers.

As the war and its relentless hardships intensify around them, the same struggles that threaten to rip apart their lives also bring the five closer together. They draw strength from one another to defeat formidable enemies—hunger, falling bombs, the looming threat of a Nazi invasion, and a traitor in their midst—and find remarkable strength within themselves to help their friends. Theirs is a war-forged loyalty that will outlast the fiercest battle and endure years and distance.

When four of the women return to Crowmarsh Priors for a VE Day celebration fifty years later, television cameras focus on the heartwarming story of these old women as war brides of a bygone age, but miss the more newsworthy angle. The women’s mission is not to commemorate or remember—they’ve returned to settle a score and avenge one of their own.

I’m not exactly sure when or how I found this book, but I’ve always been drawn to war dramas {specifically World War I and World War II}, so… Anyway, I remember being surprised by the ending and that rarely happens.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, Lilit Thwaites

From the book description:

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

Whenever I read about the Holocaust, the things I find most awe-inspiring is the will to survive and to create a normal existence in the most horrendous of situations. This book has both.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

From the book description:

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

This is one of those books that still brings me to tears every time I think about it. I was not prepared for the twist or for the amount of research that I’d do while reading. If you plan to read this, make sure you have plenty of tissues.

Vintage Chick Lit

Every summer, I re-read three of my favorite vintage chick lit books. Why? Because they’re familiar, yet, I discover something new each time I read them. I discovered each of these novels when I was a teenager and they’ve occupied a place on my bookshelf at every home:

The Street by Ann Petry

From the book description:

The Street follows the spirited Lutie Johnson, a newly single mother whose efforts to claim a share of the American Dream for herself and her young son meet frustration at every turn in 1940s Harlem. Opening a fresh perspective on the realities and challenges of black, female, working-class life, The Street became the first novel by an African American woman to sell more than a million copies.

So incredibly gritty and timeless. This story is proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Peyton Place by Grace Metallious

From the book description:

When Grace Metalious’s debut novel about the dark underside of a small, respectable New England town was published in 1956, it quickly soared to the top of the bestseller lists. A landmark in twentieth-century American popular culture, Peyton Place spawned a successful feature film and a long-running television series—the first prime-time soap opera. Contemporary readers of Peyton Place will be captivated by its vivid characters, earthy prose, and shocking incidents. Through her riveting, uninhibited narrative, Metalious skillfully exposes the intricate social anatomy of a small community, examining the lives of its people—their passions and vices, their ambitions and defeats, their passivity or violence, their secret hopes and kindnesses, their cohesiveness and rigidity, their struggles, and often their courage. This new paperback edition of Peyton Place features an insightful introduction by Ardis Cameron that thoroughly examines the novel’s treatment of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and power, and considers the book’s influential place in American and New England literary history.

I also discovered this novel during my Misericordia University days. I used it for a research paper on women and popular culture. When it was initially published, it was so scandalous that women hid the cover so no one would know what they were reading. Still, it became a best-selling novel.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

From the book description:

Dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight—for Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry—only to find that there is no place left to go but down—into the Valley of the Dolls.

This is one of those novels that I thoroughly enjoy for no other reason than I just do. It’s a beach read before there were beach reads.

Honorable Mentions

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity

No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts

Even though I don’t read as much as I’d like, I do have a TBR shelf that I’m always adding to.

Now it’s your turn,

Leave a comment telling me about your favorite book{s}.


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