My Monticello
Author: Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
Publication Date: October 2021
Genre: short stories, historical fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

Ugh, it’s hard to rate a collection of stories. This collection starts out this a bang with Control Negro, performed live by LeVar Burton (yes, from Reading Rainbow). It was incredible, so gripping, eerie, and unsettling. The audio experience made for a very chilling and unnerving experience. The tone and intensity reminded me of Black Buck – which was fantastic in it’s entirety. I was nervous going into the collection but was so excited to continue after the first story was such a power house

Unfortunately, the rest of the collection fell flat for me. I found myself speeding through the back half of the book. I think this is just the case of ‘not every book is for every reader’, and that’s okay! I’d be more interested in a full length novel by this author. I think I’m learning that a collection of unrelated stories isn’t for me right now, much like The Office of Historical Corrections

This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work
Author: Tiffany Jewell, Aurelia Durand (Illustrations)
Publication Date: January 2020
Genre: nonfiction, race, young adult
Method: paperback borrowed from TPL

Accessible, beautiful, and informative. I set out to read at least 5 non-fictions text about race, racism, and the work of anti-racism, and it was a nice change of pace to throw in a book targeted towards a younger audience!

Author: Blake Crouch
Publication Date: July 2022
Genre: science fiction, thriller
Method: audiobook via TPL

The more that I’ve sat and reflected on this story, the more I want to open the book back up and reread it! Gene targeting and manipulation – what a fascinating premise and concept. Of the 3 Blake Crouch novels I’ve read, I had the easiest time following this story line specifically given it’s emphasis on genes, biology, and anatomy, versus his prior books centered around time and space. Let me tell you the ear to ear grin I had when the main character Logan references the brachial plexus, cricoid cartilage, rectus femoris, and the flexor pollicis brevis, because as a graduate student who literally dissected a human cadaver, I was squealing

Equally as exciting were the handful of references to our nation’s National Parks and diverse, beautiful landscape, many of which I have the honor of enjoying this time last year on our 3 month National Park road trip. Crouch makes a point to mention in his novel, Glacier National Park had no more glaciers, and the near reality of that is truly heart breaking to me, as it should be for you as well. However, can’t give it a perfect 5 star rating because I didn’t find it that thrilling, and maybe that’s due in part to listening to the audiobook versus reading my physical copy, 4.25 stars

Author: Amy McCulloch
Publication Date: May 2022
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: BOTM hardcover
I was so excited to dive into this after loving, loving, loving the snowy setting of Rock Paper Scissors. And while I was very intrigued for the first few chapters, given I know absolutely nothing about the world of alpine mountaineering, the story telling kind of just fell flat for me. For a thriller set on a literal mountain, I thought there would have been more snow related references. I mean, the main character definitely complained about being cold but I just had a hard time picturing in my mind the sherpas and the various campsites and the equipment, etc etc etc. And maybe that’s on me, like I could have googled Manaslu, Mountain in Nepal, a dozen times by the time I finished the novel, but never felt motivated enough to do just that. And the big reveal was so incredibly obvious to me. I didn’t guess all of the motives and connections that tied into the reveal but I wasn’t by any means shocked. All in all, it was fine, a standard 3 star thriller for me

Wash Day Diaries
Author: Jamila Rowser, Robyn Smith (illustrations)
Publication Date: July 2022
Genre: graphic novel, contemporary
Method: paperback borrowed from TPL

My first graphic novel, yay! And it was so beautiful, both in art and in story telling. I loved the sex positive and body positive messaging, both overt and suggestive. I loved learning about these four women, their friendship, and at the center of the stories, their hair

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


Less than 2 weeks until we move into our first home. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of everything I’m excited for, and the idyllic, perfect life I think homeownership will bring

I’m excited to:

→ just listen to and have music playing
[ can’t tell you the last time I’ve listen to The Wombats, The Format, or Young the Giant ]

→ have an overflowing candle collection to burn year round

→ showcase my collection of art

→ more drawing, more writing, more painting

→ display and utilize our cookbook collection

→ organize and style my books

→ create a home bar with thrifted and vintage glassware

→ dive into the art of craft cocktails

→ drink more ice water

→ meal prep and meal plan weekly

→ Soup Sundays
[ aka football Sundays ]

→ hang bird feeders and and bird watch

→ make thoughtful and ecosystem-conscious decisions for garden and landscaping
[ the monarch butterfly is now deemed endangered ]

→ keep a clean and tidy home

→ purge school papers and streamline file folders

→ organize and keep a home binder

→ monthly check ins, personal, financial, house

Until next time, Meryn


The House Across the Lake
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: June 2022
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: signed hardcover

Regardless of rating, this book will always have a very special place in my heart. I will read anything and everything Riley Sager writes and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him during his book tour stop in Cleveland. Riley, thank you for signing all 6 of my books and personalizing my edition of The Mouse Across the Cake, IYKYK

I destroyed this book. I’ve never dog eared so many pages in my life. From reveals, to suspenseful moments, to easter eggs sprinkled throughout refencing his prior novels. While I enjoyed the setting, the characters, the dual timeline, the easter eggs, etc, etc, I just can’t give this a perfect 5 star rating when I was truthfully disappointed by the “banana pants” plot twist. I didn’t hate it by any means, it’s just that I read this (almost exact) plot twist in a thriller in the month prior. I can’t imagine Riley didn’t have this book that shall not be named (for fear of spoiling the entire book) in mind while writing this story

Main character Casey wasn’t my favorite, but I almost never love an unreliable narrator with a drinking problem. Please, Riley, please, I’m begging you, bring back worthwhile heroines with some street smarts, dignity, who aren’t overtly stupid (e.g. my OG queens Maggie and Jules). Riley did hint at recent literary inspiration related to an art heist, which may or may not influence his writing. Fingers crossed we get a quick witted, clever main character in one of his next releases

I did really enjoy the almost historical component with the lake and its legends, very reminiscent of The Last Time I Lied, but I wanted more. Here’s the summary: more history, less drinking, more flashbacks, less drinking, more suspense, less drinking

Definitely not my favorite Riley Sager, but not a flop by any means. I was entertained, shocked, and surprised. I had a good time! It’s a 4 star for me. Would obviously recommend, would obviously continue to read whatever he releases next

Know My Name
Author: Chanel Miller
Publication Date: August 2020
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL, annotated paperback

Incredibly powerful and thought provoking. My heart constantly aches when I think about Chanel and her story. I can’t write a review of this book, I don’t have any of the right words inside of me, at least not now. Just know this should be required reading for all

The Flatshare
Author: Beth O’Leary
Publication Date: April 2019
Genre: romance, contemporary
Method: audiobook via TPL

Look, it’s rare I give a romance written by someone other than Emily Henry a 5 star rating, but I did what must be done. I was just so charmed, chuffed to bits, as a Brit might say. Finally, a couple that I loved and cared about both as individual people and as a couple. Even the side characters and secondary plots I found interesting, crazy! O’Leary mentioned in an interview that the inspiration struck when she moved in with her boyfriend when he was working nights and how she felt they were “ships passing in the night” and wondered, “what if you fell in love like that?” That hits close to home when Kyle and I were navigating opposite scheduled 2 or so years ago in our relationship. I’ve got a feeling I’ll be reading more from Beth O’Leary this year, this was just so cute and fun

Rock Paper Scissors
Author: Alice Feeney
Publication Date: September 2021
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

Not to be dramatic but I loved this book. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Can’t stop thinking about it. Already texted 2 friends about it, begging them to read it. So glad my first Alice Feeney was such a success and now I’m even more hyped to read her new release next month, Daisy Darker

The intrigue was there from page 1, chapter 1. First off, the setting: a creepy, abandoned, possibly haunted, chapel in the Scottish Highlands, in the middle of winter, yes yes yes. Next, a marital dispute and/or marriage on the rocks. Wasn’t my thing last year, but getting more and more into them this year. Also, so many unanswered questions or leading statements and clues, yes give me more. Additionally, multiple timelines presented in a unique story structure aka letters from one character to another, genius. Also again, jaw drops, many of them

It was everything I needed in the middle of summer, apparently. It was smart, well crafted, misleading, surprising, it hurt my brain at times. Dare I say favorite thriller of the year? Dare I say favorite book of the year?
Buzzword Readathon: July selection

The Layover
Author: Lacie Waldon
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: romance
Method: audiobook via TPL

Picked this up solely based on the cover and vibes alone and didn’t really have high hopes for it, to be honest. And it was okay at best. I was hoping for a fun, beachy romance but I just didn’t really care for any of the characters, like not a single one. I appreciate a flight attendant romance written from an actual flight attendant, like I don’t doubt the knowledge base or accuracy of this story, it just fell flat. Would I read from this author again? Only if I had the audiobook and an entire day of mindless chores during a summer month

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


Two quarters down, two to go!

General stats

Fiction: 36
Nonfiction: 16

Audiobooks: 27
Physical books: 25

Borrowed books: 29
→ Library savings $612.81
Personal collection: 23

2022 TBR: 16
2022 Release: 16
Book of the Month: 11
Buzzword Readathon challenge: 15
Debut Work: 16

5 stars: 14
4 stars: 17
3 stars: 9
Not rated: 12

General Goals

☐ 70 books → 52 books
☐ 25,000 pages → 15,356 pages

Genre Goals

☐ 5 books about race/antiracism
What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
☐ 4 classics
☐ 3 translated works
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Henning Koch (Translator)
The Girl Who Died by by Ragnar Jónasson, Victoria Cribb (Translator)
☐ 2 comedy/humor
☒ 1 poetry collection
Counting Descent by Clint Smith
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Author Goals

☒ S.A. Cosby
☐ Joan Didion
☒ Alice Feeney
☐ Roxane Gay
☐ Elizabeth Gilbert
☐ Kristin Hannah
☐ Grady Hendrix
☐ Lisa Jewell
☐ Lars Kepler
☐ Audre Lorde
☐ Jennifer McMahon
☒ Liane Moriarty
☐ Toni Morrison
☐ Jo Nesbø
☐ Jodi Picoult
☐ Peter Swanson
☐ Colson Whitehead
☐ Ashley Winstead

Book Review Round Up // 2022 Q1 Update linked here

Until next time, Meryn


The last week of June 2021, we announced our resignations from our full time jobs with a plan to travel the US for 3 months, embarking on what affectionately became known as our National Park road trip

One year later, during the last week of June 2022, we closed on our first home

Wild what can happen in a year’s time

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’ve done literally the most impossible thing in 2022

We bought a house at asking price

In a post pandemic market dominated by bidding wars

Where houses are under contract the same day as listing

Selling 30 to 40k over asking

With buyers waiving home inspections



Incredibly, we didn’t have any of that

And we did it on our own with no financial assistance

My second greatest accomplishment in life

And now the count down until we take possession in mid August

While I dread the thought of packing and moving

We both are so excited for this next chapter in our lives together as homeowners

Winning lottery numbers would be much appreciated

We have a lawn mower, washer, and dryer at the top of our to buy list

(Because we already bought a smoker)

Until next time, Meryn


APRIL – a book with LITTLE or BIG in the title

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
A Little Hope by Ethan Joella
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 

MAY – a book with a direction in the title

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

JUNE – a book with ALL in the title

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell, Aurelia Durand (Illustrations)

AUGUST – a book with an item/object in the title

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead
Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

SEPTEMBER – a book with LIGHT or DARK in the title

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

2022 FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
2022 Introduction linked here
Goodreads group linked here

Until next time, Meryn


Another month and another couple memoirs, thrillers, a romance, a contemporary, and a poetry collection. The stand out favorite, without a doubt and as expected, is Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake, which was a solid 4 star mystery-thriller. Pleasantly surprised by It Ends With Us, much better than the last few Colleen Hoover’s I’ve read, and by All Adults Here by Emma Straub. It goes without saying that Know My Name was exceptional, my heart still hurts, Chanel is a force


Total: 7 books
Pages: 2,320

Fiction: 4
Nonfiction: 3

Audiobooks: 3
Physical books: 4

Borrowed books: 3
→ Library savings $64.98
Personal collection: 4

2022 TBR: 2
2022 Release: 3
Book of the Month: 2
Buzzword Readathon challenge: 1
Debut Work: 2


In July I hope to read The Layover, which looks and sounds like the perfect summer romance. The state of the world is crap, so maybe it’s time I read The Handmaid’s Tale because I’m seeing a lot of refences to it lately. For the #buzzwordreadathon prompt of bookish and book related words, I want to pick up Rock Paper Scissors and The Paper Palace. Lastly, hoping to throw in squeeze in The Song of Achilles and Fates and Furies from by 2022 TBR

Until next time, Meryn


The Hunting Wives
Author: May Cobb
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: hardcover BOTM

I can’t help myself, I love rich white women and their unrelatable drama. It’s giving Big Little Lies and Desperate Housewives vibes. Fast paced, juicy, over the top, salacious, and scandalous, jam packed with a cast of selfish and idiotic characters who are just fun to read about. This isn’t the world’s most clever or well crafted mystery novel, but it was easy to fly through which it’s insanely short chapters. I didn’t really see the twist coming, but it also didn’t really impress or shock me. Like I remember thinking, “oh, that makes sense.” Not a new all time favorite, but nothing wrong with it, 3.5 stars. Definitely interested in picking up May Cobb’s newest release, My Summer Darlings

Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up
Author: Selma Blair
Publication Date: May 2022
Genre: memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL

Picked this up on a whim knowing next to nothing about Selma Blair, aside from hating her in Legally Blonde as a preteen. I went into this memoir knowing I was less interested in her experience and fame in Hollywood and more intrigued by Selma’s experience with multiple sclerosis

Definitely an emotional read, Selma crying while narrating equates to me crying while driving. I was fascinated by Selma’s ability to articulate her MS symptoms, even decades before her diagnosis, “It was a fitting role for me because, for years of my life beginning in my twenties, I often had the sensation that my arms were on fire. The feeling would come and go inexplicably: a tingle all the way down to my fingertips like tiny electric shocks, then a burning so intense I felt I might combust, then gone. Though it nagged at me, I never said anything about this to anyone, not even my mother. It was just one more mystery about my body I didn’t understand.”

Selma is very up front and honest about her mistakes in life, “I’ve come to understand its all part of the process of learning how to be human, and no repeats. Please.” And her experiences with grief, “Someone once told me, that grief is love you can no longer express.” Overall, a classic celebrity memoir, full of growth, beauty, struggle, and triumph

And We Rise
Author: Erica Martin
Publication Date: February 2022
Genre: poetry, young adult
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

This poetry collection exploring the Civil Rights Movement is powerful, impactful, and packs a punch with beautiful and brilliant use of white space that serves as both a history lesson and jumping off point for much needed conversation in the 2020s

Favorite piece, 1960: The same people who mock, beat, & kill us, slater on sticky lotion and fry their pale skin, outside, in the sun, inside, under a lamp, just to look dark, like us

All Adults Here
Author: Emma Straub
Publication Date: May 2020
Genre: fiction, contemporary
Method: audiobook via TPL

I love these slice of life stores. It’s like we the reader have been dropped into someone’s life, peering through a small window, given permission to observe and learn from the characters for a short while. This just feels like real life, I don’t know how else to articulate. I loved the commentary on aging, death and dying, self discovery, identity, and normative gender roles

I just finished annotating my physical copy, having listened to the audiobook, and I’m realizing I just love this author’s writing style. The praise at the end of the novel says it all, and more eloquently than I ever could: “Emma Straub is master of human emotion. From her debut story collection to her latest New York Times best selling novel, Straub’s fiction is defined by a thoughtful balance of warmth and with that makes it at once sharp and addictive, entertaining and wise. With prose that is funny, tender, expertly observed and packed with wisdom; and characters suffused with humor and humanity, their relationships flawed and resilient and ringing with truth.”

Comparable titles: A Little Hope, A Man Called Ove, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and Olympus Texas, all of which I’ve rated 4 to 5 stars
Buzzword Readathon: June selection

It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication Date: August 2016
Genre: romance, contemporary
Method: paperback

I was hesitant to pick up this book given the last two Colleen Hoover books I read were 2 and 3 stars, yikes. But this is extremely hyped up across book tok, bookstagram, even friends in my life super love this book. Literally, 7 people I know gave in 5 stars on Goodreads. But hot dog, happy to report I liked this one, I like I even loved it!

Here is where I acknowledge I’m a hypocrite because I claim to have hated Ugly Love because I couldn’t stand the primary relationship/romance, preferring a side romance more, thus the low rating. But with It Ends With Us, I have to put my foot in my mouth because the primary romance was problematic and the secondary romance was heart flutters. I think this Colleen Hoover reading experience was better for me this time around for two reasons. Firstly, I skipped the audiobook and opted to just read the paperback copy I had and secondly, this novel isn’t a male-female dual perspective, which is what I really didn’t like in Ugly Love and November 9

What this story gave me that other romance novels don’t, is a male character to fall in love with and root for. It’s rare that I ever ~feel~ much for a character, but Atlas Corrigan, we are ready for your happy ending. And we don’t have to wait very long because the follow up novel, It Starts With Us, releases in October! I’m 1000% picking that up

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


Half way into the year and I’ve read over half of my 2022 TBR!

Officially half way through 2022 and I’ve read 16 of the books of my 2022 TBR, making my completion percentage 53.33%. In my first quarter update, I predicted my completion percentage would be between 60-70% at this point, yeah no. But I’m on track to finish by the end of the year, so it’s all good. Of the 5 I read this quarter, there was one 5 star, two 4 stars, one 3 star, and one non-fiction I will not give a star rating.

My predictions for what I’ll have finished by end of Q3:

1 | The It Girl by Ruth Ware

2 | Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

3 | Upgrade by Blake Crouch

4 | In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

5 | Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

6 | The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

7 | Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

What book should I pick up next?

Until next time, Meryn

2022 TBR – FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
2022 TBR – INTRODUCTION linked here
Goodreads 2022 Bookshelf linked here
READING GOALS + TBR LIST // 2021 linked here
Goodreads 2021 Bookshelf linked here