Are those photos not the most adorable?! They’re not actually from July, but I couldn’t resist. I took these pictures of Annalyn before taking her to her first play (The Lion King). She was amazing with her two lines, by the way. Have I mentioned that?

Normally I save my What I’m Into posts for Saturdays and try to post a “serious” post on Wednesdays. But when I sat down last night and looked at my editorial calendar (yes, I’m fancy like that), I just couldn’t handle the heavy (no – inspirational! really! they will be! when I write them…) topics I had on deck.

So – this month’s What I’m Into it is!

What did I do this past month? I CAN’T REMEMBER.

Oh, right. That’s because my parents and our babysitter went on vacation for the first half of the month, leaving me to [try to] work from home and entertain Annalyn at the same time I decluttered and cleaned like a MAD WOMAN before listing our house for sale. It was a busy month!

Lucky for us and What I’m Into, I read to escape deal with stress. So I still have plenty to tell you about!

What I’m Reading:

After admitting that I didn’t love A Discovery of Witches last month, I went ahead and read the sequel. Because, of course. And just because I didn’t love it doesn’t mean I hated it. Plus, so many people DID love it that I wanted to give it another try! Well, I gave it another try. A long, million-page try.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness still doesn’t make it to my list of favorite books. But I persevered through the whole [LONG] thing, and it was very interesting. And of course it’s a dang trilogy, so I’m sure I’ll read the final book.

But, guys, I didn’t love it.

Now, I did love this one! Defiance by C.J. Redwine is a great dystopian YA novel. So if you like that sort of thing, do not pass go – just buy it now. (It’s only $1.99 on Kindle right now, so seriously. Get it. Read it.) The book is the first in a series (gah!!! Why can’t anything be a standalone book anymore???) about a teen girl whose father disappears and her journey to find out what happened while fighting an evil ruler and a scary dragon thing, all the while falling in love. Of course. It’s good. Gutsy heroine, interesting world and plot, and a sweet romance.

One of the things I took away from not LOVING the 600+ page book about vampires and witches is that maybe, just maybe, I’ve gotten too used to the easy reading pace of YA novels and need to read more grown-up books. So, this month I also read Grave Consequences by Lisa Tawn Bergren, the second of a trilogy (of course.), and even though I don’t normally love historical fiction, I continue to really enjoy this series. The idea of a grand tour is fascinating, and the characters in Bergren’s books are (as always) realistic and clever.

Next up? Three more books I LOVED.

Last fall at Allume Conference, I received a copy of Dani Pettrey’s debut novel, Submerged. It carried an endorsement from Dee Henderson, one of my all-time favorite authors (minus her last [disappointing] book that we WILL NOT SPEAK OF), so I wasn’t surprised to love it. I’ve been anxiously waiting for my library to get the next book in the series, and FINALLY it did.

Shattered by Dani Pettrey (which is only $3.99 on Kindle right now, ahem, ahem) was just as great as Pettrey’s first book. The McKenna family is just as lovable as Henderson’s O’Malleys. I can’t wait to read stories about the rest of the siblings.

Last, but not least at ALL, I read the first two books of a YA trilogy by Rae Carson. The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers are fantasy novels about a girl given a special gift by God. (Although, not our God. The books have an interesting quasi-Christian religious tone, thanks to a fictional belief system that’s almost-but-not-quite Christianity.)

I really like this series so far. The main character is flawed but strong, and the supporting characters are just as interesting. The idea of one person being given special powers once a century – and the implications of everyone wanting to use those powers, no matter what it does to the person carrying them – is not unique to this series, but I like the way the author writes about this theme.

Oh, also? The Crown of Embers is just $1.99 on Kindle. Which is convenient if you check out the first book from your library and then realize you’d have to wait days for the next one and JUST CAN’T. For example.

So in summary, I read some grown-up books this month. And some YA. And lots of fantasy. And every single one of them is part of a series. It is driving me straight up the wall.

What I’m Watching:

It’s prime summer TV time right now, with some of my favorite cable shows airing throughout the week. Suits, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, Franklin & Bash, and Perception are all going strong – and I’m not too proud to admit I’ve gotten sucked into King & Maxwell and Rizzoli & Isles. I’m not sure why TNT has so many shows with two names in the title. But I don’t really care, since it seems I like them all.

After pushing like crazy to get our house cleaned and fixed up and listed, Mark and I needed a date night. BAD. So we went and saw Red 2. It stars the same actors as the first one as retired (but dangerous) spies, and they have a new mission this time. And Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins. Like the first movie, Red 2 wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was funny. And I like my action to be funny.

What I’m Eating & Cooking:

Look. I haven’t eaten or cooked anything too interesting this past month. (Although when I went to northwest Arkansas for a (in)courage staff retreat, I did eat a LOT of good food. Emphasis on “a lot.” And on “good.”)

But I need your help. I’m on the hunt for a great coffee cake recipe. One without nuts or any fancy ingredients or steps. Do you have one?

The Best of This Blog:

And don’t miss this video. A company making Missouri t-shirts made this video as part of its Kickstarter campaign. And like my home state, it’s awesome. [Click here to watch the Missouri is Awesome video.]

So, let’s talk books and movies and TV and food and music. What were YOU into in July? Tell us about it in the comments!

This post will be linked up to What I’m Into at HopefulLeigh. And this post includes affiliate links.

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