Top Ten Books for Early Spring!

Hello, hello friends!

I hope you are all having the loveliest of Tuesdays! Are you doing well? Reading lots of good books? Baking anything yummy? I’d love to know! (On my end, I just tried out Sally’s Baking Addiction’s funfetti cake, in honor of a friend’s birthday. I now plan on adding rainbow sprinkles to all meals — they up the whimsy factor of every food by at least sixty percent!)

If you’re anything like me, you’re also desperately looking forward to spring weather. Happily, where I live was quite warm today, and I was able to bask in the sunshine with a couple of long walks around my neighborhood! Though there’s still clumps of snow and streaks of ice on the ground, my mind is set on the coming season. Fittingly, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Spring Cleaning!” We’re looking for books that feel fresh, floral, and festive, in honor of the coming equinox.

Below, I’ve featured five old favorites I love to re-read to get me thinking of spring, as well as five February and March releases I’m hoping to pick up in the next few weeks. Let’s get spring-y, all!

5 Books I Love to Re-Read for Spring:

1 | Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

As a current second-semester senior, the last book in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy speaks to me on a *deep* level. As I long for May senior celebrations, I find solace in sharing Lara Jean’s college search and end-of-high-school woes. Plus it features a too-cute love story, sister bonding, and a delicate, spring-y cover. Worth a re-read to compare with the Netflix film, too! 

2 | The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks series was a very influential part of my childhood reading, so I’m happy to include it on as many lists as possible! As the title suggests, the fourth installment follows the Penderwicks family in springtime, with the majority of the story coming from the point of view of eleven-year-old Batty. The book has birthdays and dog-walking and plenty of hijinks, making it a charming step into “the bright light of the spring sun.”  

3 | The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a queen and has a reserved spot on all my top ten lists, but The Beautiful Ones — and its gorgeous, newly-revamped cover — is especially fitting this time around. The “novel of manners and romance” (as Garcia herself characterizes it) follows telekinetic gentry in the fictional French city of Loisail, as they court and plot during the spring social season. It’s like Austen and Bronte, flirting with magic. 

4 | Emma by Jane Austen

Speaking of Austen, I find that there’s no better time to re-read my favorite of Jane’s books than in the spring! Perhaps it’s just because the 2020 film version of Emma has the floral, pastel aesthetic of my dreams, but the novel never fails to make me think of English country manors, abloom. At the very least, I will definitely return to Autumn De Wilde’s adaption and its fantastic soundtrack sometime soon! 

5 | Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne Shirley says things like “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage” which makes her the best possible companion for our forthcoming dive into spring. Plus, my senior yearbook quote is one of LM Montgomery’s beautiful, moving descriptions of nature, so I can’t abandon her now! A return to Avonlea is in short order, for sure. 

+ 5 February and March releases I’m looking forward to reading this spring:

Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson >> Watson’s newest book came out in February and takes place during the summer, but I think its lovely, flower-filled cover renders it a suitable addition to this list! The novel follows high schooler Nala Robertson as she learns to love and advocate for herself while also exploring a budding romantic relationship. The novel has been praised for its emphasis on community, activism, and self-love. I can’t wait to read! {Released February 2nd}

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi >> Mary HK Choi is super duper cool (she was featured in How I Get It Done! The ultimate cool-girl signifier!!) and I am so looking forward to her latest release, Yolk. The novel follows two estranged sisters, Jayne and June, as they begin living together after June is diagnosed with uterine cancer. Not a light nor fluffy read, but the cover has been compared to a Peep. Thus, ’tis spring-y. {Released March 2nd}

Across the Pond by Joy McCullough >> Despite my utter lack of knowledge regarding anything avian, I co-teach a virtual bird-watching class for elementary school students on Saturday mornings. It’s great fun, and I now keep my eyes out for any bird-related media! Joy McCullough’s middle grade book, Across the Pond, fits the bill; it follows a young girl, Callie, as she relocates from San Diego to Scotland and joins a birding club. Wildlife facts and castles make for refreshing springtime reading, I think! {Releases March 16th}

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley >> Look at that GORGEOUS cover! I am super excited to support debut author Angeline Boulley’s upcoming release; Firekeeper’s Daughter follows a Native teen as she explores love and family, roots out corruption, and investigates murder in her community. Early reviews highlight the novel’s celebration of Ojibwe culture and the complexity of the heroine; it sounds so good! {Releases March 16}

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo >> Finally, although Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha-verse series contains some of the least spring-y YA books I can think of, I couldn’t help but include Rule of Wolves on this list. The sequel to King of Scars will hit shelves at the end of this month, and I strongly suspect it will emerge as a fave among my 2021 reads. (It also comes out around the same time as college decisions, so it will provide both emotional support and celebration! Thank goodness.) {Releases March 30}

Happy reading!

xx

lulu

Top Ten Holiday Books! {Top Ten Tuesday | December 8}

Good morning, friends!

It’s been quite a while since my last Top Ten Tuesday post, but today’s theme seemed like the perfect time to get back into the list-making groove. This week’s prompt, which comes from That Artsy Reader Girl, is “Holiday/Winter Freebie.”

(Freebies *and* holidays! Two of my favorite things! Together!!)

Since I’m very much in the spirit of the season, I’ve leaned heavily on the “Holiday” portion of the prompt. The books below feature oodles of winter-y cheer, quite a few ghosts, and plenty of snow. Let’s discuss!

[1] I love the Greenglass House books for so many reasons. Not only do these cozy middle grade mysteries remind me of childhood favorites like The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Red Blazer Girls, they also take place at a rustic winter inn on the top of a mountain at Christmastime. There’s frequent descriptions of cocoa and cookies. Amazing!!

[2] Main Street was one of my absolute favorite book series when I was younger, and I’ve especially always loved the third installment, ‘Tis the Season. Following the lives of four best friends living in the fictional (and adorable) town of Camden Falls, the book is a lovely ode to the strength of community and friendship.

[3] The Vanderbeekers books are all really stinkin’ cute, but the first one, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, gets 10,000 extra coolness points because it takes place at Christmas. I so, so encourage you to spend part of your holiday reading with Isa, Laney, Oliver, Jessie, and Hyacinth as they attempt to save their Harlem brownstone from a curmudgeonly landlord before New Year’s Day. It’s great fun!

[4] I received The Afterlife of Holly Chase as a gift a few year’s back, and it was such a good, fluffy, holiday read! Cynthia Hand transports the Scrooge story to the modern day, centering her tale around Holly Chase, a spoiled teenage girl who has an unfortunate run-in with death. Ghosts and romance abound!

[5] My friends, Royal Holiday has it all. Scones. Romance. Christmas. References to my fave, Meghan Markle. Need I say more?

[6] The Mother Daughter Book Club was my sister’s favorite series growing up, and I have super fond childhood memories of it as well! The fifth novel, Home for the Holidays, sees the titular book club tackle the Betsy-Tacy series. There’s plenty of friendship intrigue, literary incite, and holiday cheer. Also, the in-person cover glitters.

[7] If you, like me, enjoy a good dose of Regency-era holiday fun, I heartily recommend Cindy Anstey’s 2018 novel, Carols and Chaos. There’s both carols *and* chaos. What a book!

[8] Guys, I talk about Little Women a lot. (On this blog. In life. In college interviews. Everywhere!) Is it my favorite book? Probably! Do I read it every year at Christmas? Yes! Did I spend a significant portion of last year’s Christmas strategizing when I’d get to see the Greta Gerwig version? You bet! Anyway, it’s totally a Christmas book.

[9] My family and I watch The Polar Express movie every year on Christmas Eve, so both the original story and the film hold a special place in my heart (uncanny valley eyes and all…) The 1985 picture book has beautiful art and a story that never fails to make me cry.

[10] The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories is a new addition to my holiday reading this year, as I picked it up just last week! I’m quite enjoying the collection so far, which features stories from authors across centuries. The first one, a short tale by Hans Christian Anderson, is about an insecure, worrying fir-tree. Relatable. And Christmas-y!

Books are one of my favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit! What are some of your favorite winter-y reads?

xx

lulu

August Book Round-Up

Hi friends!!

It’s September! Which means it’s almost fall! Yay!

I adore the cooler weather, spooky stories, and Dave Malloy music that accompany autumn, but I also feel like summer blew by. Whew.

Today though, we’re staying in the realm of ice cream cones, mini dresses, and sunshine. I’m looking back at the books I read in August, and while I didn’t get around to as many books I hoped to this summer, I did discover some of my new favorite novels. There were haunted mansions, talking gorillas, and fiddles galore!

You can check out the books I read last month, plus some brief thoughts, below.

Atonement was one of my summer reading assignments for school, and I was enamored with McEwan’s classical use of language! The book is an interesting treatise on the nature of writing, though the middle section – describing a soldier’s life during WWII in great detail – wasn’t my cup of tea.

This was my second time reading Americanah, and Adichie’s novel is well worth revisiting! It was a summer reading assignment as well, and I really enjoyed analyzing my favorite passages and quotes. I’m eager to pick up Half of a Yellow Sun, too.

Mexican Gothic, I think, is one of my favorite books ever. Noemí is such a stylish, witty protagonist, and the mystery freaked. me. out. As the title suggests, things get Jane Eyre-style spooky. I won’t spoil. But it’s real twisty. (And have you seen the accompanying paper doll? Silvia Moreno-Garcia understands my desire for literary-based crafts and I appreciate it. I also recommend you check out her FAQ on Goodreads, in which she explains how Mexican Gothic calls out HP Lovecraft and Arthur Conan Doyle on their racism.)

I mentioned how much I enjoyed The One and Only Bob a couple posts ago, but I really do love Katherine Applegate’s verse-like writing and canine protagonist. It’s a heartwarming story, and a fitting follow-up to The One and Only Ivan. Both reduced me to a big mass of tears.

After loving The Downstairs Girl and Outrun the Moon, I checked out Stacey Lee’s debut novel, Under a Painted Sky. It skews to the younger side of YA, yet I’m sure it would please history buffs of any age! I really appreciated the novel’s central friendship; Sammy and Annamae were so freakin’ cool. Plus, it’s a diverse western! Stacey Lee is the best.

What books did you read this August?

xx

lulu