february 2022 reading recap: snow day reads and 1- star surprises

*Note: This post does include affiliate links to Bookshop.org, a book-selling website which supports indie booksellers. Affiliate links are a way to support me with no extra cost to you!*

Welcome to the Nook!

I had no expectations going into February with my reading. I hit a mid-month slowdown with a surprising flop of a book before devouring two books in a series within a week. February was a busy month for me with work and socially. Now I’m behind a few books in my yearly challenge of 50 books in 2022, but I know I will easily get back on track in March with spring break.


COUNT YOUR LUCKY STARS by alexandria bellefleur

count your lucky stars by alexandria bellefleur cover

I adore this entire series of books with the cast of characters. I need a network to pick it up and adapt it into a New Girl style sitcom. While every book is absolutely fantastic, they still hit me in the feels. (This is definitely just a me problem.) COUNT YOUR LUCKY STARS, specifically, is a perfectly explored friends-to-lovers-to-strangers-to-lovers trope. I never thought I would love that second chance type trope until I read LOVE AND OTHER WORDS by Christina Lauren, but there’s something about being childhood friends that fall in love only to reconnect later in life. Anyways, if you love any of those tropes and want a sapphic love story, this is perfection. While this book can be read as a standalone, I think it does a fantastic job of showcasing where all the romances in the friend group end up. If you’re fine with spoilers for the first two books, then go ahead and grab this one ASAP. Otherwise, find some time to sit and read WRITTEN IN THE STARS and HANG UP THE MOON.

MAYBE SOMEDAY by colleen hoover

I was excited to pick up this book because the concept seemed interesting, and I read numerous reviews talking about how great MAYBE SOMEDAY was for a Colleen Hoover book. This book became the book I read while I walked on the treadmill every Sunday. I got about halfway through and was alright with the plot. Then Colleen decides to make it a cheating plotline book. Immediate one-star. I finished the book solely because I was hopeful Ridge, the love interest, would break up with his girlfriend after kissing Sydney, the main character. This did not happen. It never happened. I only finished because I wanted to know what was going to happen with Ridge’s girlfriend with her plotline.

I’m just glad I read this book off my already-owned TBR cart, and now it has made a new home in the local thrift store.

KINGDOM OF THE WICKED by kerri maniscalco

I was blessed in February with a snow day which meant I got to spend the whole day at home reading a book. I picked up KINGDOM OF THE WICKED off my TBR cart because I had heard fantastic reviews and needed a solid YA fantasy cleanser after finishing MAYBE SOMEDAY.

I wrote a full review here with all my thoughts. I already know it’s going to be in my top reads of the year.

KINGDOM OF THE CURSED by kerri maniscalco

As soon as I finished KINGDOM OF THE WICKED, I knew I needed to read KINGDOM OF THE CURSED as soon as I could. I ran to Barnes and Noble and snagged a copy. Finishing the book only took four days; three of which were work days. I would have fallen into a book hangover afterwards if I didn’t have to finish a book club pick for later that week.

This book is definitely a new adult book, not a young adult book, because of all the spicy scenes. I find it weird that the publisher would have the first book be YA but not the second book. This is a prime example of why publishing needs a small sub-age group between YA and adult. This series would be the perfect transitional read from YA to NA.

All-around, I love this series. I cannot wait for the third (and hopefully final) book coming out in September. I know it’s going to be fantastic just from how well this book set up the Underworld and the magic system. I liked that it slowed down the plot more to give more characterization and relationship development between Wrath and Emilia. 2022 is going to be cemented in my brain by this book series.


If you want to see more of my daily reading, make sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok. I post mini reviews in my Instagram highlights after I finish each book with immediate thoughts. TikTok is where I have a bit more fun with videos for the books. (I definitely posted 3 videos about not liking MAYBE SOMEDAY on there just to get it out of my system.)

live carefree,

Charley

kingdom of the wicked book review

*Note: This post does include affiliate links to Bookshop.org, a book-selling website which supports indie booksellers. Affiliate links are a way to support me with no extra cost to you!*

title: kingdom of the wicked

author: kerri maniscalco

category/genre: young adult fantasy

rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I picked up this book on a whim during a snow day, and I devoured KINGDOM OF THE WICKED within the day. Kerri Maniscalco also wrote the STALKING JACK THE RIPPER series, which I only read the first book of. This series was hyped up by one of my best book friends as well as the internet. To be honest, it lived up to the hype and then some.

I went into this book with no real expectations or idea of what it was about which definitely helped me become invested in this world. For a while, I couldn’t quite place the time period of the book, but I love the simplicity of the life in Sicily. I would love to visit the magical world of the village and eat dinner at Sea and Vine. The way the world and magic are built around this village/region of the world made me excited to continue reading and learn more.

The concept of the seven deadly sins becoming personified reminded me of the SWEET EVIL series by Wendy Higgins. I loved the idea of the deadly sins personified, but Kerri Maniscalco brilliantly built this entire underworld of houses with the deadly sins. I’m hopeful that the sequel, KINGDOM OF THE CURSED, will focus more on this underworld family of brothers and their magic. I want to know more about the history!

Within this world, the characters each felt unique which I loved getting to know more. Each witch had their own specialties in their magic. Exploring each witch’s specialty and seeing how the community could rely on each other even with the separation of families excited me. The intergenerational family home filled my heart with happiness. I love seeing intergenerational families because my family grew up with extended family always helping to raise the kids.

Now for the romance aspect: Wrath and Emilia. I love Wrath with my whole being. His love for Emilia showed from the very beginning. I could tell he was intrigued by Emilia. Emilia developed a lot as a character throughout this story, and Wrath was supportive the entire way. I love how Wrath is framed as this sort-of villain-y character and how he’s supposed to be “corrupting” Emilia. In reality, though, he’s just helping her deconstruct what she’s believed her entire life which is not even close to accurate of the reality. There’s so many great scenes of Wrath caring for Emilia while she’s sick or depressed, and I love that he’s always just there for her. Their chemistry is absolutely fantastic.

The ending of the book is heartbreaking. I literally had to run out and buy the sequel ASAP even though the third book doesn’t come out until later this year. I could not imagine having to wait until the second book came out. My heart would have been broken into pieces for far too long.


Naturally, I couldn’t let this review go by without adding a playlist or two since I love finding Spotify playlists to go with my current reads.

live carefree,

Charley

coffee chats with charley vol. 22: new year goals and last year reflections

Welcome to the Nook!

I wasn’t going to set any goals for 2022 with all the uncertainty of the pandemic. After several discussions with my roommate and a quick reflection on 2021, I decided to set some goals for 2022. This may be weird coming in February, but this post was a long time coming sitting in my drafts.

last year reflections

In 2021, I went into the year knowing I would have a lot of change coming at me. I started my semester of student teaching in January in the middle of a pandemic. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I learned a lot. In my second grade placement, I learned how amazing and rewarding elementary teaching could be along with exhausting. Having to teach every subject every single day with minimal breaks isn’t sustainable for anyone. I enjoyed my elementary student teaching placement more than my middle school placement because the staff made me feel welcomed and supported. The middle school students absolutely confirmed that I wanted to be a middle school teacher, though. Those students will always hold a special part of my heart.

While I was student teaching in second grade, I got COVID. I had to quarantine in my bedroom for two weeks while my parents delivered meals to my door and I showered at night. By some miracle, they managed to not contract COVID and stay safe. My quarantine routine became waking up to virtually teach in the morning, nap, teach in the afternoon, and nap again before dinner. I watched Bridgerton and Emily in Paris on the weekends. I spent way too much time video chatting with my parents and friends in order to get some sort of social interaction. Sleeping also took up much of my time, as it should.

Somehow I graduated, and I found a job at a local school district after a month of interviews. I had to wait another month after that to enter my classroom. After a full week of rearranging and bringing in items, I managed to get my classroom into what it is now. I created a room where I felt peaceful and at home. Since I knew I was going to be spending most of my time in that room, I needed it to be a reflection of myself.

With the start of a new career, I was able to move out of my parent’s house to an (not-too-far-away) apartment. I moved in two weeks after starting my new school year with my best friend of 9 years. It was a crazy yet exciting time. (Also a very warm weekend for September.) Being able to curate an apartment to reflect where I am in life now was the best part of 2021. I reminded myself to slowly build up items to put on the walls and furniture to add to my space rather than add a ton of pieces that didn’t truly fit. I’m excited to put up an apartment tour of sorts in a few weeks (once I take a trip to Ikea and get a few final key items) to show you just how much my space reflects my personality since I redid my bedroom in college. This apartment truly feels like home.

bookshelves in my reading nook corner

this year’s goals

1. stay in an A-frame cabin for a weekend

I love the look of an A-frame cabin, and they always seem so cozy. Plus, the idea of setting aside time this year to go to a cabin and force myself to relax makes my heart and soul happy. I tend to overwork myself and not give any time for me. This will be a nice change of pace once I actually find a cabin to book.

A-frame cabin

2. move my body once a week

My mind has a love/hate relationship with working out. I have gone through some unhealthy stages of exercising which affect my self-esteem. When I create an expectation of not necessarily working out to the point of exertion but rather to simply move my body instead of staying stagnant on the couch, I find the idea of moving my body less pressured and more inviting. I also accomplish this goal more when I have a gym to go to instead of relying on at-home videos. I like just walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes while I read a book. I’m thinking of getting a membership through the YMCA, but right now my roommate’s gym has a referral program where guests of a member can work out for free for a month.

3. read 5 non-fiction books this year

I want to read more non-fiction books because I used to only read non-fiction as a child. I loved learning about the world around me and discovering new ideas and experiences. As an adult, I’ve fallen away because non-fiction books got more difficult to read. I tried reading ATOMIC HABITS in January with Hanne (from Losing The Busyness), but I’m terrible at buddy reads. I will probably finish that book before I pick up another non-fiction book, though.

4. listen to a podcast about a new topic

The idea behind this is similar to the non-fiction books goal: I want to learn about the world. Podcasts are an easy way for me to feel productive while I’m learning. I complete tasks around my apartment or drive to/from work and other places while listening to podcasts. I started listening to “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” by Christianity Today which focused in on how the evangelical church movement created the opportunity for this extremely harmful and toxic environment of mega-churches while specifically focusing in on Mars Hill. I need to finish that podcast. I have a few others saved, too.

5. learn how to crochet the Harry Styles cardigan

I took a crochet class at the end of 2021 with a friend, which I loved. I did not continue crocheting, though, so I think my skills may not have lasted. The Harry Styles cardigan is really a bunch of granny squares, so it seems simple. I’m convinced I can work on this during the summer to have it ready for during the fall. I will definitely have to work on my stitches.

Harry Styles performing while wearing his iconic cardigan
picture from: New York Times

6. make a sourdough starter

My mom had a sourdough starter when I was growing up, and I loved all the treats she made with it. Her family calls it a “friendship starter” though because it’s meant to be split and given to someone else. I just need to find the perfect container for it at a thrift store. This would help me to bake more often which I love to do, too.


It’s never too late to set goals for the year and start working on them. What are some of your goals for this year?

live carefree,

Charley

books that made me believe true love exists

Welcome to the Nook!

As someone who has been single for her entire life, I have never experienced romantic love before. In the past few years, though, I have read multiple books that made me believe true love does exist in the world. While I’m waiting for my soulmate to come into my life, I’m going to continue reading romance books and finding new couples to cry about.

SPOILER ALERT by olivia dade

SPOILER ALERT was the first adult romance book I read where I saw someone who was plus-size be the love interest. I have read very few books about someone being plus-size without their weight being a main focus. Seeing Marcus fall in love with April made me realize that could also be me.

IT ENDS WITH US by colleen hoover

tw: abuse, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, suicide, grief

First things first: this book is so much more than the romance. Check out the trigger warnings posted above as well as on Storygraph.

Lily’s journey in this book reminds me of how intense life can become. Atlas and Lily are the perfect second-chance romance where it was the right person, wrong time. I’m excited for IT STARTS WITH US which Colleen Hoover announced at the beginning of 2022. I fell in love from the beginning with how Lily cared for Atlas and how Atlas later on cared for Lily. This book has stuck with me since I read it in August 2021.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS by christina lauren

tw: parent death, grief

If somebody combined PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION with BEACH READ, this is the book you would get. I love the childhood friends to lovers trope regularly, but Christina Lauren adds an extra twist with making them not talk for years before running into each other again. While this book tore my heart to shreds, Macy and Elliot’s love for one another showed in every interaction from the moment they met as children.

PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION by emily henry

Alex and Poppy will always hold a special place in my heart. The premise is of two unlikely college friends who go on annual vacations together as they grow up and discover who they are. The dual-timeline of their past vacations and the present vacation with figuring out what went wrong in their friendship. This book is what made me fall in love with the friends-to-lovers trope, but Alex and Poppy made me realize I could have a relationship stemming from friendship.

YOU’VE REACHED SAM by dustin thao

tw: grief

YOU’VE REACHED SAM is a unique book on this list not because it’s a young adult book, but rather because it’s a story where the love interest passed away before the story begins. Julie and Sam’s relationship before his death and their conversations after his death show the impact love can have on a person at any age. I could not recommend this book enough for anyone.

HANG THE MOON by alexandria bellefleur

If I could feature every book in this series, I would. (I mean, I could…) HANG THE MOON concreted this series as a comfort series for me because of the passion Brendon has for helping others find love. His love for love convinced me love is real.

HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING by denise williams

Jake and Naya are a power couple. The way Jake pursued Naya for a relationship made my heart scream. Their relationship journey felt like near perfection. I just… thinking about them melts my heart because they both worked hard to support one another’s careers even when difficult. I have always been career-oriented, so I understood Jake and Naya in that way. One part of love that always knocks me down is how career-oriented I am and finding someone that matches. Jake and Naya represent that part of me.

ONCE AND FOR ALL by sarah dessen

I potentially slightly-lied earlier with YOU’VE REACHED SAM. This Sarah Dessen book made me fall in love with a love interest after they died, but the focus of this book is about falling in love again after losing a loved one. I still remember the very spot I first read this book in and not being able to set it down. If someone can love once, lose that love, and fall in love again, then I know love is real.

THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE by amy reichert

Al and Lou’s romance happens in my home state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin often feels like the least romantic place in the entire United States. Reading about romance in the Midwest made me realize that even I could find love here. I always thought I would have to go somewhere else that seemed more romantic, but I can find that right where I am.


I wanted to take this time to share my love for my readers. You are a fantastic bunch of humans. My love language is sharing playlists, so here is my ultimate love playlist for y’all.

live carefree,

Charley

january 2022 reading recap: slowing down to start off the year

*Note: This post does include affiliate links to Bookshop.org, a book-selling website which supports indie booksellers. Affiliate links are a way to support me with no extra cost to you!*

Welcome to the Nook!

Even though I only read a few books in January, I started off the year reading some of my most anticipated new releases of 2022. I definitely had high hopes to read beyond these new releases, especially with trying to focus on books I already own. Life and work happened to get in the way. Storygraph hosted a “Page a Day” challenge in January that I wanted to participate in, but, unfortunately, I lost pretty early on in January.

Yes, very sad. Anyway [HD] : r/MemeTemplatesOfficial

ECHOES AND EMPIRES by morgan rhodes

echoes and empires by morgan rhodes book cover

I have been a fan of Morgan Rhodes’ books ever since a friend introduced me to the FALLING KINGDOMS series in early high school. While I never finished the FALLING KINGDOMS series (simply because I lost track of when the new books were released), I was ecstatic to read this new YA fantasy series. Morgan Rhodes does a phenomenal job of writing enemies/reluctant allies to lovers, and she does not miss with this book.

I chose this book to be my first read of 2022, because I knew it would blow me out of the water. I saw some of the plot reveals coming, as is typical of most YA books, but Rhodes definitely kept some hidden gems for twists in the story. The story really tells about a world full of fear and conspiracies which felt strangely relevant to this day and age in our contemporary world. The book ended well with not being a cliffhanger, but also still leaving the story open for the sequel.

HOW TO FAIL AT FLIRTING by denise williams

how to fail at flirting book cover by denise williams

I picked up this book because I kept seeing Sarah Thompson on TikTok post about Denise Williams’ other book, but I didn’t want to read about running. I decided to pick up this book instead. I’m so glad I did! While Naya, the main character, is an elementary math education major (which hits a little close to home with my job), I thoroughly enjoyed how the book doesn’t revolve around Naya’s job. Jake, the love interest, is my absolute dream man. I love how throughout the book and with the conflict, he is never painted as a jerk. The conflict comes from personal flaws, but it all stems from outside causes. This book is so well-written, paced, and developed. I am most likely going to read Denise Williams’ other books this year, too.

I didn’t find a good Spotify playlist, so I did create my own to share with y’all.

REMINDERS OF HIM by colleen hoover

Last year I read my first Colleen Hoover book, and then I just couldn’t stop. She immediately became an auto-buy author for me. I bought this book without reading the synopsis and raved about it regardless of what the story was about. The story, though, did not disappoint for me. In fact, the plot and characters surprised me.

REMINDERS OF HIM focuses on the grief of a young mother left alone in a cruel world struggling to get back on her feet after years in jail. Personally, I love how Colleen left the romance to be secondary to walking through the grief of the characters. The story heavily relied on the inner thoughts of the characters and Kenna’s letters which tore me to pieces. With dual-POV, I was able to truly experience both sides of the conflict.

This book felt like Colleen Hoover’s equivalent of what LOVE AND OTHER WORDS is for Christina Lauren. Something different and fantastic. Ironically, both discuss grief and its after-effects.


In February, I have more going on, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find time to read. I am hoping to get more done with planning for the year and maybe getting a tattoo or haircut.

live carefree,

Charley

21 backlist books I’m reading in 2022

Welcome to the Nook!

I made a resolution in 2022 to read more from my unread shelves. About 40 percent of the books I own are unread which needs to change before I read more from frontlist. I am hoping focusing on my owned and unread books will also help me slow down my purchasing of new books. I have only a handful of books I know are coming out in 2022 that I will buy on publication day. Otherwise, I haven’t focused much on the new releases.

I saw Shealea from Shut Up, Shealea post a backlist titles post for 2022, and I figured it could be a fun start to a new year to post about the books on my TBR cart since they’re all backlist titles. If I somehow stick to this TBR cart, I could do an update post later in the year with even more titles! 🤞

LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB by malinda lo

It feels like everyone read this book in 2021, but I never got around to it. I am excited to put this towards the top of my TBR list in 2022. A sapphic love story set in 1950s Chinatown? Sounds like perfection and emotional destroying. Perfect for me!

KINGDOM OF THE WICKED by kerri maniscalco

I picked up this book in paperback because some of my mutuals were raving about the sequel. I’ve heard the sequel is more new adult than young adult, so I’m excited to see where the series goes. I only read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by this author which I thought was fantastic.

MAYBE SOMEDAY by colleen hoover

I am working my way through Colleen Hoover’s backlist after reading 4 of her books last year. The first book I read by Colleen Hoover was NOVEMBER 9, which I absolutely adored. This book was actually recommended by a friend who doesn’t read too much anymore, but she has solid taste in books. I’m excited to read this one.

COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU by tashi bhuyian

I actually have an advanced copy of this book which means I have had this book in my possession for way too long. I’m ecstatic for the playlist in this book (because that’s the way to my heart) and the fantastic love interest.

FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE by mariana zapata

My love for figure skater and hockey player romances comes from growing up watching The Cutting Edge on a regular basis. I was so excited when I heard about this slow burn romance that I immediately squealed seeing at my local Barnes and Noble.

ALL THE FEELS by olivia dade

I have been dreaming of this book since I finished SPOILER ALERT in July 2021. The banter between Alex and Lauren in SPOILER ALERT made me laugh. I can’t even imagine being in their minds with this book.

ROOMIES by christina lauren

My first Christina Lauren book, JOSH AND HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING, set me off on my adult romance reading that hasn’t stopped since last summer. Their books are so fun and light with the romance but still manage to hit me in the feels. I’m excited for this marriage of convenience trope!

DANCE OF THIEVES by mary e. pearson

I don’t actually know much about this book beyond seeing a few quotes on TikTok and being highly recommended by a friend of mine. I’m excited to dive into a fantasy book because I have so many contemporary romances on this list.

TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW by rachel lynn solomon

I have a love for the academic-rivals-to-lovers trope because it’s parallel with enemies-to-lovers. I have heard such great reviews for this book. It’s definitely near the top of this TBR for me.

A THOUSAND BOY KISSES by tillie cole

I saw this one recommended by Steph Bohrer, and her recommendations haven’t steered me wrong yet. I just know this one is going to wreck my heart when I actually read it. It was literally part of her videos about romance books that made her cry. The only thing I remember about it is how emotional it is and that I think it flashes back and forth in time.

ALWAYS ONLY YOU by chloe liese

I didn’t realize this was a sequel in a series, so I’ve put off reading this book. I picked it up based on a rec because of the hockey player character and the grumpy-sunshine trope. I love when the woman love interest is the grumpy character. Should I pick up book one first, though?

ALL THE UGLY AND WONDERFUL THINGS by bryn greenwood

I totally picked this book because of the cover. I love the golden wheat stalks against the dark background. This book is an incredibly heavy contemporary, so this may be one I read during the summer when I have time off from work.

THE FOXHOLE COURT by nora sakavic

This one has been on my list for literal years since I started following Cait from Paper Fury. I recently bought the first book, though, after buying a few others book on Book Depository.

THE HATING GAME by sally thorne

I bought this book because of all the hype for the movie adaptation, but I had it on my TBR for a while before that. I have heard mixed reviews for this book, but I’m hopeful that this will be a fun read.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS by colleen hoover

I bought this book with the old cover before the cover change solely because I don’t like the new cover. The daisy on the new cover doesn’t make me want to pick up the book. I’m not sure if I will love this book as much as the rest because of the book being about a marriage falling apart which isn’t my typical jam. I tend to shy away from these books because I don’t relate to them.

THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by alison cochrun

I bought this book based on a strong recommendation from a friend. Literally a week after I bought it, I saw THE CHARM OFFENSIVE all over TikTok and Instagram as a recommendation. I love the concept of The Bachelor contestant falling in love with someone on the production crew.

BLOOD AND HONEY by shelby mahurin

I adored SERPENT AND DOVE, but I’m terrible at finishing series. I bought this hardcover literally on publication day in 2020. In 2022, I’m focusing on finishing reading completed series that I started. I even have an entire spread in my book journal to help me focus on these series.

THE EX TALK by rachel lynn solomon

I have not read a single Rachel Lynn Solomon book, and yet just about every book of hers is on my TBR. I fall in love with every single book of hers conceptually, and the books always have people raving about them.

UNFILTERED by lily collins

A reading goal of mine this year is to read more non-fiction books, and I have had Lily Collins’ memoir on my TBR for a while. I’m excited to read this memoir because I’ve been a fan of Lily Collins’ for a long time.

PURE: INSIDE THE EVANGELICAL MOVEMENT THAT SHAMED A GENERATION OF YOUNG WOMEN AND HOW I BROKE FREE by linda kay klein

I recently got into critically looking at the structure of evangelical churches and their viewpoints on purity culture. I grew up in the church, and I’m definitely a person who questions everything. I had this book recommended several times by people who suggested it for deconstructing Christians. I’m intrigued to say the least how this book approaches the topic.

TRAVELING MERCIES by anne lamott

Anne Lamott has been an author I’ve wanted to read for a while after seeing several of her books in the bookstore. This one seemed the most interesting to me with her approach to faith. I watched a TedTalk she did which really hooked me in to read one of her books.


I am excited to tackle these titles on my TBR cart in 2022, especially since some of these have been on my TBR for so long it’s a little embarrassing. I hope you rediscovered some old titles on your TBR or new titles to add to your ever-growing TBR!

live carefree,

Charley

my 2022 book bullet journal spreads and inspiration

Welcome to the Nook!

Last year I stopped bullet journaling because of how crazy life was with student teaching, graduating, and starting teaching. I started watching a few people on TikTok create book journals of different varieties which inspired me to start a journal for 2022.

the inspiration

The first journal I saw was from @alltheradreads. I love how she pastes the actual book covers into the journal as well as several of her spreads.

I will also be completing a page for each book that I read in the spirit of @charlsbookshelves. I love collaging and these spreads seem so fun to make!

the journal

I ended up purchasing an Archer and Olive A5 journal because they have thicker pages than the Leuchtturm 1917 journals. I absolutely love the quality of these journals, and I don’t think I’ll go back to any other journals.

I kept my index page simple this year. I still need to fill in the page numbers, but I love the colors in this spread. I used my label embosser to label this index page. The labels give a more textured look to the pages.

I added a reference page to keep track of the size of book covers I plan to print out, which marker colors I plan on using for star ratings, and the washi tape I want to use throughout the spreads. I have some star and spice rating stickers coming in the mail from AliciaMarksIt on Etsy. I’m so excited to use them throughout the book spreads.

I have a reading goal of 50 books in 2022 and 20,000 pages. I didn’t have a pages goal until this past year with Storygraph. In 2021, I read 42 books, so I’m going to try to push myself to prioritize reading more this year.

This year I added in a few more challenges to try to broaden my reading more than last year. Each year that I see this ABC reading challenge on Instagram, I want to complete it. I’m excited to actually keep track of some titles this year.

I see Uppercase YA posts all over Instagram, so I decided to try their 2022 challenge which is broken into four categories: tropes, genres, diversity, and a grab bag. I am not sure if I will double-count books or not, especially since the first book I read this year hits all the trope prompts and a few others on this list. We’ll see what happens as I get closer to the end of the year. 😉

I want to read more of the books I already own, and I remember some of my friends mentioning this challenge. I’m not sure I have books that fit these prompts on my shelf, but I’m not too attached to this challenge in 2022. It could be fun to see what prompts I do have on my shelf.

I took this spread from @alltheradreads directly. I’m excited to see the trends altogether in this way. I left a blank row in case I find something else I want to track throughout the year.

I already know what this spread is going to show which is finishing books on the weekends. I am excited to see the trends though with this one.

I have a few pages for this spread. Last year I gave a lot of books 5 stars simply because that’s the type of reader I am. It doesn’t take much for me to fall in love with a book.

I am happy with how these two pages turned out. I always struggle narrowing down my top 10 reads, but I am hoping having a pause in the middle of the year will help me.

I created these three backlist spreads of authors I have been wanting to read for a while now. I want to read more Jodi Picoult books this year. I haven’t read one of her books since 2015 (literally 7 years ago now). Last year I read my first Colleen Hoover book, and I know she is going to be a top author for me again this year.

This spread got a bit wonky, but the spirit of it is still there. I am hoping to keep track of more series to finish since I start so many. This list is pretty long, but I was surprised how close I was with them.

I don’t typically have preorders for books, but I bought 3 with one of Target’s Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale last year and then have a graphic novel on order into the store from Barnes and Noble. With the book shortages, I have been preordering more books than normal. I have a few anticipated reads of 2022 that I will definitely be preordering soon.

I’ve been severely behind any 2022 book release news, so I don’t have this spread filled out yet. I’m hoping to sit down and look through my TBR list on Storygraph to find books coming out in 2022.

This is the start of my book collage spreads. I’m separating the book collages into months, and so this is going to be the start of my January collages. I am literally so excited right now about putting together these collages. My artsy side will hopefully thrive this year.


I will have a few more spreads for my personal use in this same journal. I like having a space for my blogging reference kit and hashing out post ideas. In 2022, I’m also hoping to keep track of my finances on a more regular basis, especially since I have ✨adult bills✨ to pay with living on my own post-college.

Do you have a book journal for 2022? How do you keep track of your reading?

live carefree,

Charley

december reading recap: wrapping up 2021 with holiday books mixed with smut

*Note: This post does include affiliate links to Bookshop.org, a book-selling website which supports indie booksellers. Affiliate links are a way to support me with no extra cost to you!*

Welcome to the Nook!

December truly flew by for me because of the holidays and catching up with friends/family over my week-long break. While those moments definitely filled me with joy and love, I’m glad I found some moments to sit and read. I ended up reading five books, three of which were on my December TBR list.

IN A HOLIDAZE by christina lauren

I actually posted a full review of IN A HOLIDAZE in December with all my thoughts, but I definitely recommend this book for any time of the year. The cast of parental characters made me fall in love with the family dynamics and plots events.

picture of young heterosexual couple playing in the snow as backdrop to book quote "You've never been for me, Maisie. It never occurred to me that you might be mine."

MATZAH BALL by jean meltzer

THE MATZAH BALL was highly recommended by one of my friends, and I could not have been happier with this recommendation. I loved how natural the romance felt between Rachel and Jacob even after years of being apart. The way Jean Meltzer built up the romance between them while primarily focusing on their individual flaws and insecurities made my heart happy. Focusing on the characters individually (in a dual POV 😍) resulted in the story being more authentic.

Since I love listening to book playlists while I read, I searched high and low on Spotify for a playlist for this book. I couldn’t find a Spotify playlist for this book AT ALL, so I made one for y’all.

THROTTLED by lauren asher

I picked up this book based on lots of TikTok recommendations and the fact that I loved THE FINE PRINT by this author in November. While I tend to watch racing solely for the crashes, I found myself enjoying the backdrop of the tense racing competition with this romance. I wouldn’t call this romance a slow-burn because the couple is interested in each other for the entire book. I love the character growth that occurs with Noah (the male love interest), though, especially with the amount of baggage he brings to the relationship. The dual POV allowed me to appreciate his perspective on life. If this wasn’t dual POV, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the romance as much. (That’s just a general thought, though, for almost every romance book.)

THE HOLIDAY SWITCH by tif marcelo

I originally picked up this book for my classroom and decided to add it to my December TBR as a quick read. I felt a reading slump coming during the month of November, so I knew this short read would help combat the potential slump. While I wanted to read this book before the holidays in order to have it as a book recommendation this year, I am glad I kept this book for myself during the holiday season.

THE HOLIDAY SWITCH is an adorable debut novel with a Hallmark-worthy town backdrop with a cozy romance between a book blogger and rock climbing competitor. This workplace enemies-to-friends-to-lovers had the best banter and overall fantastic relationships between characters. I absolutely adored the predictability and comfort this book provided during the holiday hustle and bustle.

TOUCH OF DARKNESS by scarlett st. clair

I nearly forgot I had this book on request from the library since it blew up on TikTok, so I was excited to see the hold finally come in right before I went on winter break. Any Hades and Persephone retelling makes me happy, and TOUCH OF DARKNESS did not disappoint. I adored how Persephone discovered her strength and powers throughout the book after connecting with several gods and goddesses.

The cast of characters kept me intrigued in this story. I know the author wrote this first book from Hades’ perspective with GAME OF FATE, but I wanted his POV woven into this book. I’m not sure if I want to read the entire first book again just from his POV. Maybe I’ll feel different after reading this entire series.

The world-building in this book didn’t really make sense in my mind despite Persephone repeating the stories a bajillion times. Somehow the gods and goddesses own territories in this modern world, but the connections between the old Athens and New Athens didn’t make sense to me. I did love the time Persephone spent in the Underworld with the thorough description and expansion on the different areas from mythology.


I may not have re-read the FALLING KINGDOMS series, but I did get a few more books off my physical TBR. I’m excited to see what my reading life will look like in 2022 since I now have a full-time job instead of being a college student with two part-time jobs while student teaching. I can’t wait to see all of what 2022 holds for me now!

What are some reading goals you have for 2022? Anything you’re looking forward to experiencing in 2022? Let me know in the comments!

live carefree,

Charley

in a holidaze by christina lauren: a holiday hug for any twenty-something going through it

*Note: This post does include affiliate links to Bookshop.org, a book-selling website which supports indie booksellers. Affiliate links are a way to support me with no extra cost to you!*

Welcome to the Nook!

Just a heads-up, this review will contain spoilers. I just can’t rant about this warm hug of a book without spoilers. Sorry!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

title: in a holidaze

author: christina lauren

category/genre: adult romance

rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I started reading IN A HOLIDAZE at the beginning of December for a quick, witty romance with a childhood-friend-to-lovers trope. What I found instead was a deeply moving book about a twenty-six year old woman struggling to figure out what truly made her happy in life and letting go of expectations.

The beginning of the book felt rushed in an attempt to convince the readers of the time-travel loop. With the premise being Mae, the main character, restarting the holiday week over and over again (like Groundhog Day), I figured she would relive the entire week a few times. Honestly, I wish she would have repeated the week a few more times before falling into the full holiday week replay. Then I would have believed more so the panic of feeling like she was going to repeat the week again. I could have done with this book being another hundred pages longer or so to develop this plotline a bit more before she got it right. Maybe this just comes from me loving BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver which always goes through the whole day before restarting.

With the Mae starting the book by kissing Theo, I severely wanted Mae to end up with Theo instead of her lifelong crush and his older brother, Andrew. I ended up falling in love with Andrew for Mae, but the lost opportunity of Theo dramatically confessing his love for Mae was devastating. And then by the end of the book Mae had a realization that Theo needs extra time to process new information and changes which she should have given to him in the first holiday week only kept open the idea in my mind that Theo and Mae could have been fantastic.

Everything about how Andrew and Mae’s relationship was built really didn’t feel authentic to me beyond just dream-Mae living out her childhood crush fever dream. I think Theo and Mae’s relationship would have felt more authentic for me because they didn’t fall into a relationship so easily. Plus Theo actually tried to talk with Mae’s younger brother, Miles. The only interaction I remember between Andrew and Miles is when they were forced to with a scavenger hunt which still resulted in them splitting up. Andrew as a character just felt really inauthentic and ridiculous.

The one main part that truly kept me reading was Mae’s discussions with Benny and the other adults about her life decisions, happiness, and expectations of her twenties. I loved the cast of parents and would honestly read an entire book about their college lives pre-kids and the beginning of this tradition with the cabin. I thoroughly enjoyed how all the older adults rallied around Mae, Andrew, and Theo when they needed it. The way Benny stepped in to take care of the cabin and take care of it made me so happy. I want to have that kind of a friend group now and when I’m older. The way these characters interacted felt like just the warm, guiding hug I needed to have in my early twenties (aka right now). Reading this book felt like the adults friend group was giving me the advice instead of Mae.

IN A HOLIDAZE is going to be a book I return every year like returning to an old friend.

live carefree,

Charley

background picture of a heterosexual couple playing in the snow with the text quote: You've never been for me, Maisie. It never occurred to me that you might be mine. (from in a holidaze by christina lauren)

november reading recap: my most anticipated reads of the year!

*Note: This post does include affiliate links to Bookshop.org, a book-selling website which supports indie booksellers. Affiliate links are a way to support me with no extra cost to you!*

Welcome to the Nook!

I feel like I always start these reading recaps by stating how surprised I am with the amount of books I read in the month, but I truly am surprised due to how stressful work has been with the holidays coming up. With November, I felt a reading slump coming on, but I made sure to mix in a few graphic novels to help. I only read one holiday romance, but I am excited to read more in December.

LORE OLYMPUS: VOLUME 1 by Rachel Smythe

Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

I started out the month with reading this graphic novel. It felt wonderful to return to this world of Greek mythology. I started reading LORE OLYMPUS online, but I prefer reading books physically. This graphic novel was definitely one of my most anticipated reads for this year. This was such a comfort read for me. I can’t wait for the next volume!

LOVE AT FIRST SPITE by Anna E. Collins

I read this as a buddy read with a few friends, and I absolutely loved this ARC. This book has the perfect workplace-enemies-to-lovers trope with revenge against an ex-boyfriend who cheated on the main character. I want to write a full review for this book before it releases in January 2022, so keep an eye out for it in the next few weeks.

WITCH PLEASE by Ann Aguire

Witch Please by Ann Aguirre

I started WITCH PLEASE at the end of October, but I’m glad I decided to finish it. I was reading multiple books while having this one half-finished. Normally, I’m a one book at a time type of person. This book, honestly, would be fun to read at any time of the year. I loved the banter between Danica and Titus as well as the whole cast of characters. The LGBTQIA+ rep throughout the cast of characters made it feel more welcoming than just having one random side character being gay. I appreciated, too, how the story wasn’t about any of the characters coming out and rather just simply falling in love.

YOU’VE REACHED SAM by Dustin Thao

You've Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

YOU’VE REACHED SAM was hyped up for months before the release online, and it did not disappoint. The book beautifully tells a story about grief with a back-and-forth of before and after the death. The ending of the book was the most heartbreaking and realistic. I wish I could read this book for the first time again. I’m going to cry just thinking about it.

TIDESONG by Wendy Xu

Tidesong by Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu has been a favorite of mine since I read MOONCAKES the first time. Her artwork is amazing, and I was excited to see her telling a story, too. TIDESONG is a beautiful story about a young witch who goes to live with her extended family and learn about the magic. I adored the magic system, the setting on a coastal village, and the family relationships. 10/10 recommend for every age.

WINDOW SHOPPING by Tessa Bailey

Window Shopping by Tessa Bailey

I knew I had to start my holiday reading with WINDOW SHOPPING because I adored IT HAPPENED ONE SUMMER by Tessa Bailey, which I read in September. TikTok also worked wonders with the quotes and scenarios mentioned. I loved how wonderfully the book mixes the spicy scenes with the sweet scenes while having character development. The way Aiden and Stella both work on being the best versions of themselves for each other made my heart melt.

THE FINE PRINT by Lauren Asher

The Fine Print Special Edition by Lauren Asher

Not going to lie: I thought this was a fantasy romance book, but it’s set in a Disneyland-esque amusement park. I wasn’t sure if I was going to love this romance because of the morally grey love interest as well as it being a TikTok recommendation. TikTok has not recommended me incorrectly, though. I adored the romance and the dual POV between Rowan and Zahra. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop because of their built-up tension. This book is not slow-burn in any way, but they still had plenty of tension between their POVs. I literally squealed at the epilogue (and bonus epilogue thanks to my special edition). Needless to say, I am intrigued to read the next book in the series, presumably about one of Rowan’s brothers.

THE GOAL by Elle Kennedy

The Goal by Elle Kennedy

I picked up THE GOAL at the end of November as a quick read to wrap up my month and finish out a holiday weekend. I held off on reading this book for a while after reading THE SCORE. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the romance between Sabrina and Tucker because of how Sabrina had been portrayed by Dean in the previous books. I’m actually glad I got a book from Sabrina’s POV. This book didn’t so much feel like a romance as much as a simple life story about two soon-to-be college graduates trying to figure out life after a curveball gets thrown at them. It wasn’t as steamy as other books, which I actually appreciated it. I still cried over the same character death as was mentioned in THE SCORE. The timelines overlap with THE SCORE and THE GOAL, but I still found it refreshing to read the first half of the book which gave more perspective to the whole group’s dynamics and experiences.


Next month is going to come with a full week of break time between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m planning on doing a re-read of the FALLING KINGDOMS series by Morgan Rhodes since I only ever read the first four books in the series. I will most definitely be writing a full post about it, but I’m also excited to read some more holiday romances.

live carefree,

Charley