August & September Highlights!

Happy Saturday everyone :) If you’re like me and you live on the east coast, it’s probably a rainy Saturday, but doesn’t that make for perfect reading weather? Today I’m hoping to finish Scarlet by Marissa Meyer while watching some college football. Yay for fall!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been pretty absent lately. Everything’s fine, just a little pregnancy fatigue (Little Baby French Fry is due in just over 3 weeks), but I did have some fun highlights from the end of the summer that I wanted to share!

August & September Highlights

I read 6 books:

Amelia Elkins Cinder senseandsensibility

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban The Duff

I still need to write my review for Sense and Sensibility, but I’m hoping to get to that this month before the baby is born.

Most Popular Posts:

Monday Updates
Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read the Most

What I Watched:

CSI

The past week or two I’ve been binge watching the latest seasons of CSI (one of my long-time favorite shows that just ended last weekend after 15 seasons). I liked how the show ended, and Ted Danson was a great show runner for the past few seasons. I’m gonna miss new episodes :( but I’m thinking about giving CSI: Cyber a try.

Highlights:

  • Friends & family visiting – In August my sister visited us for a weekend and it was fun getting to show her around town.

    Danielle

    Kilwins!

  • Meeting new friends! – Last month I was able to meet with my online friend Alise @ Read. Write. Repeat for lunch since we only live a few hours away from each other and it was so nice to chat with her for a bit! I don’t have very many friends in “real life” who are readers and/or bloggers, so it’s always a special treat when I can meet online friends who are also huge bookworms. She was also sweet enough to buy Little Baby French fry this book of nursery rhymes:
    Alise
  • Baby Shower! – My family & friends threw me a lovely tea party themed baby shower last month and it was absolutely beautiful! I’ve always wanted to have a tea party with friends and this one was extra special because we got to celebrate our little French Fry. He’s already loved so much!
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  • Maternity photo session with my best friend Jae – My wonderful friend Jae drove down from Pennsylvania to spend the weekend of my baby shower with me and right before she left she took some maternity photos for us. Jae also did our engagement pictures which are AMAZING, and the maternity photos she took are just as beautiful! Here’s her website if you live in the PA area.
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  • Fall & football – It’s finally football season! You can ask my husband, most Saturdays I spend in the living room with a game on. Sometimes I read at the same time, but if it’s a team I care about I’m usually cheering or yelling at the TV ;) Our dog doesn’t like football season for this reason…
    Football2
  • Final weeks of pregnancy – There are only 3 weeks left until I hit my due date! I’m hoping the little guy comes early because not only am I running out of room in my belly, but my in-laws are visiting the week he’s due and it would be really nice to have at least a few days to get used to parenting before we have visitors. No matter how happy I am to have friends and family visiting, I’m the type of person who will always gets stressed out about it. I’m just that type of person…

    35 Weeks

    35 weeks pregnant.

Challenges:

  • Hormones – This has been my biggest struggle the past month. I anticipated it, considering how the beginning of my pregnancy went, but it’s still hard when you start crying for no reason or have trouble falling/staying asleep each night. I’ve also gotten to that point where I really don’t like how I look. That’s what it means to become a mom, I guess.

Looking Forward to in October:

  • BABY MONTH!
  • Halloween, cooler weather, and fall festivities – It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
  • Matt’s parents visiting from France! – We haven’t seen them in over a year and they’re visiting us for a week, mainly to see their new grandson (hopefully he comes on time!).

Austen in August Giveaway: Set of 6 Jane Austen Tile Coasters!

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Hello fellow Austenites! Today is the last day of Roof Beam Reader‘s Austen in August event, and I’m very happy to say that I have a giveaway for you to celebrate!

This month, while listening to Sense and Sensibility on audiobook, I got a little crafty and made a set of tile coasters. Each one is themed after one of Jane Austen’s novels, so Emma‘s coaster is sweet and girly while the one I made for Northanger Abbey is more gothic-looking.

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Giveaway Rules:

  • This giveaway is open until 11:59PM Friday, September 4th. I will announce a winner on Saturday, September 5th.
  • To enter this giveaway, leave a comment telling me what your favorite Jane Austen novel is or which character you relate to the most. Mine are Pride and Prejudice and Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey.
  • You must be a participant of Roof Beam Reader’s Austen in August event. I will check this sign-up page to confirm.

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Good luck!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Syllabus if I Taught ‘Shakespeare Modernizations’

toptentuesdayI’m very excited about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) because it is a topic I’ve thought about a lot: what would be on my syllabus if I was a teacher. For years now I’ve told myself that if I ever taught a college class, it would be about Shakespeare adaptations because I love seeing those parallels between centuries-old plays and modern films (and now webseries!).

I’ve seen most of these modernizations, but I added a couple of new-to-me films because they really intrigued me. Ideally, if I was really teaching this class, we would read the play and then watch a modern adaptation of it.

Top Ten Adaptations on My Syllabus if I Taught ‘Shakespeare Modernizations’

The Lion KingThe Lion King (Hamlet) – The first Shakespeare adaptation I ever saw (also the first movie I ever saw in theaters)! The Lion King is a happy ending retelling of Hamlet, my favorite Shakespearean play, so I would definitely be including it. It would probably be the first assignment :)

10 Things I Hate About You10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew) – A 90s classic. I adore this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. When I first heard it was a Shakespeare adaptation I went and read the play on my own and began comparing the two. I really enjoyed how they kept Kat fiesty throughout the entire movie.

She's The ManShe’s the Man (Twelfth Night) – The red lettering on the movie poster describes this movie perfectly. I love that the original confusion and pandemonium of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is maintained in this modern film retelling. Plus I think Amanda Bynes is perfect for this role.

muchadofilmMuch Ado About Nothing – I’ve talked about how much I loved this adaptation before, so it would definitely be on my syllabus! One thing we would discuss is how it’s modernized even though the script is word-for-word Shakespeare (with the exception of one word). This is also my favorite Shakespearean comedy!

nmtdNothing Much To Do (Much Ado About Nothing) – In the past few years, “literary inspired webseries” have become very popular and pronounced. The first one I ever watched was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice where Lizzie is a communications grad student and Mr. Darcy is a young CEO of a media enterprise. Nothing Much To Do is a New Zealand based webseries that follows the lives of a group of high schoolers, namely Beatrice and Benedick who loathe each other. The first series was phenomenal, and for season 2 they are using the same characters to adapt Love’s Labour Lost, which I have not read yet but probably would before teaching this class :)

Romeo + JulietRomeo + Juliet – I would have to include Romeo and Juliet on the list, especially since there are so many different adaptations of it. The “forbidden love” theme alone has been repeated countless times. This 90s version of the play is one of my favorite adaptations, however, probably because it makes me as emotional as the play does. Plus it’s fun to study it as a film in itself.

MacbethShakespeaRe-told: Macbeth – Even though Macbeth is my least favorite Shakespearean work (that I’ve read), I would have to talk about it, because it is a great play (I just despise the main characters). About 10 years ago, the BBC released four Shakespeare adaptations in a series called ShakespeaRe-told. I’ve only seen the Macbeth adaptation and I remember it being gruesome (mostly because of “Macbeth’s” profession as a chef.

A Thousand AcresA Thousand Acres novel/film (King Lear) – The first of four adaptations on this mock-syllabus that I haven’t actually seen yet. King Lear was so incredibly sad to me that I’ve only read it once, but the story-line has always stuck with me so I would like to read/see A Thousand Acres one day. Side note: I realized while preparing this post that the relationships between King Lear and his daughters/his daughters with one another is mildly portrayed in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, with Anne Elliot representing Cordelia. That would also be fun to discuss!

The Black AdderThe Black Adder (MacbethRichard III, and Henry V) – I just discovered this TV series when I was researching for this post, but it has Rowan Atkinson and it received high reviews, so I think it would be an interesting addition to the syllabus.

OO (Othello) – Another film I haven’t yet seen! Othello is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies that has me face-palming over the characters’ blindness and stupidity instead of feeling sympathy for them. But it has plenty of good themes that I’m sure are relayed into this film as well. Plus, I love Julia Stiles :)

Alternative:

The Forbidden PlanetThe Forbidden Planet (The Tempest) – This movie just sounds so fun. A 1950s sci-fi version of The Tempest (another play I haven’t read yet). Maybe I would assign this as extra credit or something?

Do you know of any other Shakespeare adaptations I should add to this mock syllabus? Let me know! I love discussing The Bard and his endeavoring inspiration.

Jane Austen Book Tag

I was tagged by Deanna at Deanna Writes to do the Jane Austen Book Tag! I know I’m seriously behind in my Jane Austen posts for this month, but I’m back now with something fun and festive for Austen in August :)

Sense and Sensibility
A book with a dynamic sibling relationship

littlewomen

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I love the complex relationship between the March daughters :)

Pride and Prejudice
A book that didn’t seem interesting at first

MTLGTM

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link (part of My True Love Gave to Me) – This short story took me a  few pages to get into, but by the end it had become my favorite addition in this book!

Emma
A book in which two close friends fall in love

Little Dorrit

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens – I’ve only seen the miniseries adaptation of this book, and I know there is much, much more to the story than the romance, but I still enjoyed that aspect of the novel :)

Mansfield Park
A book with a ‘rags to riches’ storyline

janeeyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – I feel like the theme of “rags to riches” can be applied multiple ways in this story. Obviously Jane goes from having nothing besides her good conscience and kind heart to having everything that could make her happy and more, but Mr. Rochester also has a bit of this story line himself, he just has to lose all of his material possessions in order to realize it.

Persuasion
A book involving second chances

thetimekeeper

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom – most of Albom’s novels revolve around the theme of second chances, but this one also shows us the importance of each person’s life in the grand scheme of things.

Northanger Abbey
A book with an imaginative character

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Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – Let’s be honest…Anne Shirley’s Haunted Woods fiasco is right up Catherine Morland’s lane (and mine, too!).

And now I tag anyone else who wants to make their own Jane Austen Book Tag post :) Enjoy!

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

toptentuesday

It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish :) This week’s topic is about authors we’ve read the most books from. I have quite a varied list: some classic authors, a few YA authors, and even a children’s book author.

Top Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

Ann Brashares – I’ve read 5 of her books: the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series plus Sisterhood Everlasting.

Jane Austen – I’ve read all 6 of Austen’s completed novels: Sense and SensibilityPride and PrejudiceEmmaMansfield ParkNorthanger Abbey, and Persuasion.

Lee/Elle Strauss – I’ve read 6 of her books: ClockwisePerception, Sun & Moon, Flesh & BoneHeart & Soul, and East of the Sun.

J. K. Rowling – I’ve read (and re-read) all 7 books in the Harry Potter series.

Karen Witemeyer – I’ve read 7 of her novels: Short-Straw BrideA Tailor-Made BrideTo Win Her HeartHead in the CloudsStealing the Preacher, Full Steam Ahead, and A Cowboy Unmatched (which is really a novella).

L. M. Montgomery – I’ve read all 8 Anne of Green Gables books. I still want to read her other books as well!

Laura Ingalls Wilder – I’ve read her 9 Little House on the Prairie books.

Nicholas Sparks – Every now and then I go through a Nicholas Sparks phase ;) I’ve read 9 of his novels: Dear JohnThe Lucky OneSafe HavenThe RescueThe GuardianA Bend in the RoadThe Best of MeThe Choice, and The Longest Ride.

William Shakespeare – I’ve read 14 of his plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice, and Richard II (plus dozens of his sonnets).

Dr. Seuss – loved Dr. Seuss growing up (and I still do), and even though I couldn’t give you the exact number of books by him that I’ve read, I know it’s more than 14 :)

Austen in August: What I’m Reading

Happy Friday everyone! Since we are a week into August, I decided to talk about some of the books I’m reading for this month’s Austen in August events.

AustenInAugustRBR-ButtonAdam at Roof Beam Reader is hosting his annual month-long event dedicated to Jane Austen, and this is the first year I’ve participated. At the end of the month I’m hosting a giveaway for all pre-registered Austen in August participants here on my blog :)

Misty at The Book Rat is hosting her annual two-week event later this month, and this is the third year I’ve participated. Last year I contributed a guest post and the year before that I joined in her group read-along of Mansfield Park.

This month I’m hoping to read 1-2 Jane Austen novels plus a selection of Austen adaptations/inspirations:

senseandsensibilityLady Susan

Amelia Elkins

Jane Austen Book Club

For Darkness

Are you participating in any Jane Austen events this month? What books are on your reading list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Fellow Bookworms

toptentuesdayI didn’t get to do last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, so I’m doing it today in lieu of this week’s topic (favorite fairy-tales & fairy-tale retellings). This topic is all about book nerd characters.

As always, this meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Fellow Bookworms

Lizzie Bennet Jo March

Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jo March – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Hermione Anne Shirley

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Anne Shirley – Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery

Molly Gibson Catherine Morland

Molly Gibson – Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Catherine Morland – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

senseandsensibility meanttobe mara dyer To Win Her Heart

Marianne Dashwood – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Julia Lichtenstein Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Mara Dyer – Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin
Eden Spencer & Levi Grant To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Who are some of your favorite bookworm characters? 

July Highlights!

This year is flying by. I can’t believe it’s already August. Before I know it we’ll be in October and I’ll be a mom! I was a little bit busier this month so I didn’t get to read as much as I would have liked, but it does feel amazing to be a bookworm again.

I read 3 books:

The Martian Anne of Avonlea Wives and Daughters

Anne of Avonlea is a well-known favorite of mine, but The Martian and Wives and Daughters are new favorites that I LOVED reading! I am now on a Classics-craze which is perfect because I need to get a move on with my Classics Club list.

Most Popular Post

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Book Purchases

What I Watched

Wives and Daughters BBC Little Dorrit

I watched and loved both the Wives and Daughters and Little Dorrit BBC miniseries last month. Matthew Macfadyen is always lovely in a period drama and Andy Serkis will freak you out with his acting talents. And Wives and Daughters is a beautiful adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s unfinished last work. I watched the ending several times :)

July Highlights

  • Hanging out with friends! – We had several movie and game nights this past month. It’s been an important goal for Matt and I to hang out with friends as much as possible before the baby arrives, because then we probably won’t be able to for a while.
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    Playing Ticket to Ride for the first time :)

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    Spending a summer evening downtown with friends watching an 80s cover band (The Breakfast Club)

  • Reading! – Last month I finally felt like a bookworm again. I started a new book as soon as I finished an old one, I carried my Kindle around with me everywhere, and I had a “book hangover” for the first time in months :) I’ve really been into Classics lately and I wish I could be reading them all at once. I also finally organized the bookshelves in our living room:
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  • Surprise trip to Atlanta! – Last month I drove to Atlanta with my best friend Jae to surprise our other best friend McKenzie after she got engaged :) Her fiancé coordinated everything and he did a fantastic job. It was so thoughtful of him to ask McKenzie’s close friends to be there and I know it meant a lot to all of us.
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    After dinner selfies with my friends Caroline and Jae.

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    With my newly engaged BFF McKenzie!

July Challenges

  • Being uncomfortable – I was at the end of my second trimester in July, so things are starting to become more and more uncomfortable for me. I have such a short torso already so that doesn’t help. Bending over to put on shoes or pet the dog cuts off my circulation a bit and most nights I can’t find a good sleeping position. But as of today I have 12 weeks to go! Little Baby French Fry will be here before we know it :)

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    27 weeks & 1 day

  • Longing for autumn – I’m so tired of summer and I can’t wait for my favorite season to arrive! I’ve already seen so many autumn decorations out in the stores and last week I even bought a fall-themed monogrammed banner for our front door on sale at Joann’s :) I can’t wait for cooler weather, changing leaves, college football, Thanksgiving, and a sweet baby boy to arrive!

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    It’s hard to enjoy the lingering summer months when autumnal candles bombard me with their lovely scents.

Looking Forward To in August

  • Read-alongs – I’m participating in a read-along of Villette with my Goodreads group this month. I’m also joining a 4-month read-along of the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter) hosted by The Book Addict’s Guide. Both of these read-alongs just started so feel free to join in :)
  • Austen in August – This year I’m participating in two different Austen in August events! One is month-long and the other is a week-long. I plan on reading Sense and Sensibility as well as some modern Austen-inspired adaptations. I’ll be posting several Austen-themed blog posts, and I’m even hosting a giveaway at the end of the month :)
  • Preparing for my baby shower – It’s in just over a month from now and I can’t wait! My mom and my dear friend Robin are helping plan it and already I’m overwhelmed by all the love and support I’ve felt from them and from all my other friends during my pregnancy.

Walnut Spice Cake Inspired by Anne of Avonlea

Anne of Avonlea

“Poor Anne got her hat and her twenty dollars and was passing out when she happened to glance through the open pantry door. On the table reposed a nut cake which she had baked that morning…a particularly toothsome concoction iced with pink icing and adorned with walnuts. – Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 2

Yummmm. That was my thought when I read this passage from one of my all-time favorite books. Anne Shirley has many baking catastrophes when we first meet her in Anne of Green Gables, but every now and then she creates some truly delicious “concoctions” and pregnant me started craving this particular nut cake as soon as I pictured it with pink icing and walnuts. So I became inspired to bake my own! I know it’s summer and this cake has more of an autumnal taste to it, but it’s delicious all the same!

I found this recipe by Martha Stewart for an Applesauce Cake that I tweaked a bit

Walnut Spice Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey (I didn’t measure it out; I drizzled it)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • For icing: 3 tablespoons melted butter, 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (add more or less, depending on your sweet-tooth), 4 tablespoons water, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, red food coloring. Side note: next time I make this icing I will probably use a butter cream icing instead.
Messy Kitchen

I love messy kitchens while baking! (I also love cleaning it up as fast as I can once the cake is in the oven)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

  2. In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Beat in applesauce. Fold in walnuts.

  3. Generously coat a nonstick 9-inch tube pan with cooking spray. Spoon batter into pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (but slightly wet), 60 to 70 minutes (I moved the pan to the bottom rack after 60 minutes so the middle of the cake would bake faster).

  4. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Turn out of pan onto a cutting board or baking sheet; invert cake onto rack, top side up. Cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, or top with icing and chopped walnuts, if desired.

  5. For Icing: Mix melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, water, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add 1-2 drops of red food coloring to get the pinkness you desire. Stir until blended. Pour over cake and sprinkle chopped walnuts on top. Tip: reheat icing just before pouring. Halfway around the cake I noticed that my icing wasn’t “dripping” enough.
Walnut Spice Cake

Ta-da! Walnut Spice Cake, inspired by Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery.

Enjoy!

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Book Purchases

toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, features my most recent book purchases! This was a fun post to write because my books are rather diverse (science fiction, nonfiction, mystery & thriller, classics, and YA classics). Some of these books I have already read, some I’m in the middle of reading, and others are still waiting to be picked up!

Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession (I didn’t include library check-outs, because I honestly forgot about them!)


Amelia ElkinsAmelia Elkins Elkins
by A. M. Blair (via Kindle) – One of the bloggers I converse with regularly recently published a retelling of Jane Austen’s PersuasionAmelia Elkins Elkins is a modern “courtroom drama” version of one of my favorite Austen novels (I haven’t started it yet, so I may be exaggerating on the courtroom drama aspect, but it is a legal mystery/thriller!). Hop on over to The Misfortune of Knowing to read more about this Persuasion adaptation!

The Lost WorldThe Lost World by Michael Crichton (paperback)- After racing through Jurassic Park a few weeks ago, I went to Barnes and Noble to pick up the sequel. I had hoped to read it during my vacation two weeks ago, but I was immersed in another book on this list. The Lost World is still on my immediate TBR list, though!

Elizabeth GaskellCranford and Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (via Kindle) – I’m desperately trying to get through my Classics Club list, and I have just started Wives and Daughters after hearing about the Victorian Celebration event A Literary Odyssey is hosting this month. The only other Gaskell novel I’ve read is North and South, which I ADORED, so I’m hoping I like these two novels as well.

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir (paperback) – I’ve been trekking through this book for a few weeks now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s anything but boring, but it is highly technical and therefore I can only pay attention when I’m reading in absolute silence (which wasn’t easy to do when I brought this book along on my cruise vacation two weeks ago).

Jane Austen DevoA Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey (hardcover) – I picked this book and the succeeding one up from Lifeway the last time I was there a few months ago. Each entry starts with a page-long excerpt from an Austen novel, followed by an important moral lesson from the story. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with Austen :)

Marriage AdventureThe Uncommon Marriage Adventure by Tony and Lauren Dungy (hardcover) – My husband and I started going through this devotional together, but it’s been hard for us to find a consistent time to read it so we’ve been slacking.

IMG_0746What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Monroe (hardcover) – I mentioned this book on a non-fiction themed Top Ten Tuesday a while back and I am pleased to say this one was very entertaining and enlightening. If you like science or just like to ponder ridiculous hypothetical questions, please check out What If?!

Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green GablesAnne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery (paperback) – I bought these three personal favorites a few months ago, anticipating a spring reread. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to doing that, but I do enjoy admiring the gorgeous artwork every time I see these books on my shelf. I wish the whole series was published in this format, but there’s only these three plus Anne of Windy PoplarsAnne’s House of Dreams, and Anne of Ingleside.

What was the last book you purchased?