The Best of July

July was a good reading month: #24in48 was a great jumpstart to my review deadlines this month and everything's been pretty damn great since. A few of my favorites:

Seven Bookish & Bookloving Characters from Literature

I've long loved books about books--bookstores, book collections, and especially fellow bookish types. Seven of my favorite bookish and bookloving characters from literature:

Week in Reading: July 27

I'm writing this on the front porch of my aunt's beach house, catching the ocean breeze from a few blocks away and devouring some truly wonderful Jersey-shore bagels (I love Maryland, but we are not known for our bagel supply). Despite a few days of beach weather, I didn't get all that much reading done, so this week's reading stack looks shockingly similar to last week's:

Note: The exact same stack of books I was reading last week.

I did finish Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg last week, which left me breathless--seriously, put this on your list for September. It's excellent. As I wind down on SuperBetter and Americanah this week--both fairly lengthy books--I'm looking forward to picking up the forthcoming Sarah Vowell book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

Anyone else having a lazy week of summer reading*? What's on your stack this week?

*The lovely ladies at the Socratic Salon are talking today about summer slumps.

A Tiny Plum Cobbler Full of Tiny Plums

small cobbler recipe for plum cobbler
Better pictures not available because I ate it all already.

Last weekend, we got a boatload of tiny plums at the farmers market in town. About the size of cherries, they were deliciously juicy and sweet on the inside with super-tart skins. But a girl (and her husband) can only eat so many plums in one sitting, and so the remainder went into a tiny plum cobbler. If, like me, you like cobblers with rising crusts (not biscuit tops), and want a cobbler that serves a normal number of people (think 2-4 instead of 6-12), here's the recipe for you:

Book Pairing: On the Desegregation of Virginia Public Schools

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is part history, part memoir. Written by Kristen Green, who was raised in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and attended Prince Edward Academy (a private school that did not accept black students until the 1980s--yes, you read that right, 80s). Green started poking around her town's local history and was startled to learn not only that her county protested desegregation by closing schools to all children (and using state funds for education to support the founding of Prince Edward Academy), but that her family was intimately involved in the fight against desegregation. It's an eye-opening read, to say the least.

Book Review: Little Black Lies, by Sharon Bolton

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

little black lies sharon bolton

When one child goes missing on the Falkland Islands, both police and locals chalk it up to the dangerous environment and many island cliffs. When a second--and then a third--disappear, it's impossible for the locals not to suspect that something more dangerous than cliffs and rocks is afoot. But how does a town as small and remote as Stanley cope with such a terrible possibility? And what other secrets lie hidden across the islands?

Writing Elsewhere: Classics (and Classics-in-the-Making) for Summer Reading (on

I'm over on talking about classics (and classics-in-the-making!) to add to your summer reading list

What would you add?

Reading Diversely: Recently Read & Recommended

Over the past several years, I've been making more and more of an effort to read more diversely. Translation: less books by and about straight, white, cisgendered men. It's been an incredible journey, made all the easier (and more collective) by groups like We Need Diverse Books and the efforts of bloggers and writers to acknowledge and write about and highlight a lack of diversity in many, many publishing lists, reviews, and bestseller groupings.

So far this year, I'm counting 32% of the books I've read as by or about diverse authors, of varying races, sexualities, abilities. Here are some recent highlights:

Week in Reading: July 19

My weekend went something like this: run, shower, nap, finish book, repeat. And I have absolutely no complaints.

5 Miles (and many more to go...)

I ran five miles yesterday. But this isn't a post about running. Not really.

#BlumeALong Linkup: Summer Sisters

I've written and re-written this first paragraph so many times that I've actually lost count at this point. I keep trying to find a way to introduce Summer Sisters in a way that does the book justice, and I keep failing. I want to find a way to express how pleasantly surprised I was to find an adult book that so effortlessly crossed from childhood to adulthood; that so perfectly captured both the innocent curiosity of middle-schoolers and the angsty trials of college and first loves and first heartbreaks; that so wonderfully explored the nuance of childhood friendships as they bend and twist and turn into adult friendships.

Rosemary Parmesan Cupcakes: Recipe & Review (Sweet, Savory, and Sometimes Boozy Cupcakes)

parmesan rosemary cupcakes with lemon zest frosting from sweet, savory, and sometimes boozy cupcakes cookbook

Today's my dad's birthday (happy birthday Dad!)--and also my sister's birthday (happy birthday Ashley!)--and also my cousin's birthday (happy birthday David!). What better excuse to break out the cupcake this new cupcake cookbook (sent by the publisher for review--and what better way to review a cookbook than to, I don't know, cook from it?)?

We're not a big dessert family, so I opted for one of the savory options from Sweet, Savory, and Sometimes Boozy Cupcakes: Rosemary Parmesan Cupcakes + Lemon Zest Frosting.

Week in Reading: July 13th (and #24in48 Wrap-up)

A few too many hours reading this weekend (the best) and a few too many glasses of wine last night (the worst) have me rubbing my aching head this morning and waiting for this coffee to kick in. The grey, rainy weather is the perfect match for my just-let-me-snuggle-in-my-sweatpants mood.

#24in48: Updates

Lalalalalala, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (yep, sung to the tune of Jason Mraz) BECAUSE IT'S 24IN48 WEEKEND. I debated binging on backlist or working on the teetering stack of review commitments I have waiting for me, and decided that my brainspace would be best served by going with the latter. Here's what I'll be reading (the book with no spine language is Zeroes, by Chuck Wendig):

#24in48 Stack.
(Not pictured: Audiobook, TBD)

I'll be updating here throughout the weekend with hours read, books read, etc. I'll also be on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #24in48.

#24in48: A Reading Stack

I love readathons (what's better than an entire weekend of nothing but books, books, and people who like books talking about books, books, and people who like books?), and the #24in48 is one of my favorites. It's a bit more flexible than the Dewey readathon (the goal: 24 hours of reading in a 48-hour timeframe), and I'm always thrilled when the dates work in my schedule.

Book Review: The Star Side of Bird Hill, by Naomi Jackson

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

Naomi Jackson's debut novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill, centers on two young girls living in Brooklyn in 1989: Dionne, a 16-year-old who has just discovered makeup and boys, and her sister, Phaedra, a 10-year-old tomboy. When their mother is unable to care for them, the sisters are sent to spend the summer with their grandmother Hyacinth in Bird Hill, Barbados. The trio makes an unlikely family unit. Dionne is most interested in young love and testing the limits of her independence; Phaedra would spend her days climbing trees and exploring Bird Hill if allowed; and Hyacinth must balance the demands of two young girls with her role as the town's midwife.

Rounding Up (Feminist, Bad Ass) Romance Recommendations

recommended feminist romance books

Last month, before heading to the beach, I decided I wanted to better understand the romance genre. This came in part from some incredibly ignorant comments floating around the bookish internet about the genre, and in part from my recognition that my own knowledge of an entire, vast and robust part of the publishing field is sadly lacking.

I ventured to a local bookstore only to find myself overwhelmed with rows upon rows of books that all looked--and sounded--exactly the same. I know better than to think that every single romance book ever published is exactly the same as every single other romance book ever published, but it seems publishers are doing their damnedest to make sure readers can't recognize that fact.

A Refresh!

Though I've been slow to read and review and post lately, I did manage to find the energy to refresh the blog design this past week. It's now live and on the site, so if you're reading in a feed reader or via email subscription, come take a look and let me know what you think!

And thanks, as always, for reading.

Week in Reading: July 6th (or 7th...)

Fireworks and hot dogs and family, oh my. That's what my weekend consisted of: a house full of people I love, incredible fireworks in the park downtown, and an afternoon at a local amusement park (complete with bumper boats and rickety old roller coasters). All that fun didn't leave a lot of room for reading, but I'm ok with that--sometimes it's good to give your eyes a break, right?

Despite the hectic weekend, I actually drafted this post yesterday for my typical Monday round-up of weekly reads, but forgot to publish it, so here you go, a day late:

Book Review: The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins

This review originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins's debut novel, is strange and complicated and convoluted. But with a little trust in Hawkins's world-building, readers can acclimate to the book's fantastical elements. What emerges from the first chaotic scenes is a dark and philosophical novel about the nature of power and control, cruelty and humanity.

The Best of June

June was a good month. Lots of reading, lots of travel (lots of train trips!), lots of sunshine. I wrote about most of my favorite June reads in yesterday's roundup of the best books of the year so far, but let me recap quickly: