Book Review: On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel

Once or twice a year, my mood reader heart craves a book that will rip me apart and leave me changed. On the Savage Side by Tiffany McDaniel took that as a challenge and grabbed ahold of my heart without mercy. 

I’m a huge fan of McDaniel’s writing. She authored Betty in 2020 and it was one of my favorite reads of the year. I’ve since been waiting (not so patiently) for her next heart-wrenching book.

Before I dive into my review, check out the synopsis of On the Savage Side below:


Six women–mothers, daughters, sisters–gone missing. When the first is found floating dead in the river, it reveals the disturbing truth of a small Ohio town. Inspired by the unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six, this harrowing and haunting novel tells the story of two sisters, both of whom could be the next victims, from the internationally-bestselling author of Betty.

Arcade and Daffodil are twin sisters born one minute apart. With their fiery red hair and thirst for an escape, they forge an unbreakable bond nurtured by both their grandmother’s stories and their imaginations. Together, they create a world where a patch of grass reveals an archaeologist’s dig, the smoke emerging from the local paper mill becomes the dust rising from wild horses galloping on the ground, and an abandoned 1950s convertible transforms into a time machine that can take them anywhere.

But the two sisters can’t escape the generational chaos that grips their family. Growing up in the shadow of the town, the sisters cling tight to one another. As an adult, Arcade wrestles with these memories of her life, just as a local woman is discovered drowned in the river. Soon, more bodies are found. While her friends disappear around her, Arcade is forced to reckon with the past while the killer circles ever closer. Arcade’s promise to keep herself and her sister safe becomes increasingly desperate while the powerful riptide of the savage side becomes more difficult to resist.

Drawing from the true story of women killed in her native Ohio, acclaimed novelist and poet Tiffany McDaniel has written a powerful literary testament and fearless elegy for missing women everywhere.

My spoiler-free thoughts:

It’s five stars for me, but in a “read this book, it’s going to completely wreck you” type of way. Clocking in at 464 pages, it’s one of those books that looks huge but you fly right through in some sort of ethereal experience.

In the same vein as Betty, On the Savage Side is not for the faint of heart. It goes deep into rough and painful topics such as drug addiction and sexual abuse of a child, but McDaniel’s writing is so mesmerizingly beautiful and writes about these topics with intention. If you have reading sensitivities, I would suggest looking up themes before diving into this one.

The one phrase that keeps coming to mind when I try to describe the weight of this story is heartbreakingly beautiful. It’s hard to read and sad, reminiscent of Demon Copperhead (review linked), but there’s this thread of hope woven throughout the story that kept me cheering for Arc and Daffy. The ending left me speechless, stunned, and with a little whiplash. 

Save this story for a time when you have the emotional capacity for a deep and powerful read.  

On the Savage Side is out now. You can order it and all of my other favorites from the Books list in my Amazon Storefront! Be on the lookout for a Five Star Cocktail in honor of On the Savage Side on my Instagram page soon!

Want more Five Star Cocktails?

Strawberry Basil Margarita for The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand

Strawberry Bourbon Smash for Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Spice Pineapple Margarita for I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

French 75 for Atomic Habits by James Clear

Spicy Passion Fruit Margarita for The Reunion

Large Batch Strawberry Margaritas for Maame by Jessica George

What are your thoughts on Tiffany McDaniel’s books? Do you have a favorite? Is On the Savage Side on your TBR? 

Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

Book Review: Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

I love a book that brings all of the warm fuzzies and Hello Stranger by Katherine Center is a contender for her sweetest love story yet!

In a recent Instagram Reel, Center shared her perspective on love stories. She spoke about the concept of hope within a love story. That knowing there will be a happily ever after isn’t a spoiler or predictable, but rather allows the reader to experience a rare emotional bliss of something to look forward to, hope. You can check out that reel right here.

Center is a master at creating stories that evoke hope. Huge thanks to her for sharing her joy with me and send an early copy of Hello Stranger my way!

Need another example of Center being the queen of love stories? Of course, you do.

Check out my book review of her 2022 novel The Bodyguard here. Spoiler Alert: I loved it so much that I made Katherine a custom embroidery. #fangirl

You can order these books and all of my other favorites from the Books list in my Amazon Storefront!

Before I dive into my review, check out the synopsis of Hello Stranger below:


Sadie Montogmery has had good breaks and bad breaks in her life, but as a struggling artist, all she needs is one lucky break. Things seem to be going her way when she lands one of the coveted finalist spots in a portrait competition. It happens to coincide with a surgery she needs to have. Minor, they say. Less than a week in the hospital they say. Nothing about you will change, they say. Upon recovery, it begins to dawn on Sadie that she can see everything around her, but she can no longer see faces.

Temporary, they say. Lots of people deal with this, they say. As she struggles to cope―and hang onto her artistic dreams―she finds solace in her fourteen-year-old dog, Peanut. Thankfully, she can still see animal faces. When Peanut gets sick, she rushes him to the emergency vet nearby. That’s when she meets veterinarian Dr. Addison. And she’s pleasantly surprised when he asks her on a date. But she doesn’t want anyone to know about her face blindness. Least of all Joe, her obnoxious neighbor who always wears a bowling jacket and seems to know everyone in the building. He’s always there at the most embarrassing but convenient times, and soon, they develop a sort of friendship. But could it be something more?

As Sadie tries to save her career, confront her haunting past, and handle falling in love with two different guys she realizes that happiness can be found in the places―and people― you least expect.

My Spoiler- Free Thoughts:

It was a total five-star read for me! Sadie struggles with stubbornness, difficult family dynamics, and a traumatic brain injury that reveals the need for immediate brain surgery. After discovering that surgery has led to (hopefully temporary) prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, she’s understandably struggling to make sense of her new way of life. We see her experience anger and frustration, determination, sadness, hope, and, yes, more stubbornness. 

While we get to walk with her through this process that the doctors say is temporary, she’s also found a new love interest in her dog’s veterinarian and friendship in her once obnoxious neighbor. The only problem? She has no idea what either of them look like. 

This book felt like a hug. It felt like coming home to a book that you know will be safe and fun, playful and memorable, and wrap up with a happily ever after no matter where the pages take you. It’s a welcomed escape from stress, fears, and anxieties. 

I tried holding onto this book for as long as I could before reading it to enjoy my own sense of having something to look forward to, but that lasted a whole three weeks.

It publishes 7/11/23, so plan accordingly! This is the perfect story to accompany you by the pool this summer or pack in a carry-on and enjoyed on summer vacation. 

You can order your copy here and have it in your hands as soon as it’s published. Be on the lookout for a Five Star Cocktail in honor of Hello Stranger on my Instagram page soon!

Want more Five Star Cocktails?

Strawberry Basil Margarita for The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand

Strawberry Bourbon Smash for Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Spice Pineapple Margarita for I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

French 75 for Atomic Habits by James Clear

Spicy Passion Fruit Margarita for The Reunion

Large Batch Strawberry Margaritas for Maame by Jessica George

What are your thoughts on Katherine Center’s books? Do you have a favorite? Looking forward to Hello Stranger? 

Leave a comment below and let’s chat!

Five Romance Books to Read in February

January is coming to a close and I am fully invested in building a February TBR full of fun and love! The five below are all at the top of my mind. I can’t wait to dive in!

If you’re looking to pick up a few light romances in February, take a look at the list below and let me know what you pick! Be sure to share with me on Instagram!

1. The Reunion by Kayla Olson

Read it, loved it so much! This will be The Bookcase Beauty Book Club’s read in February. Come join us!
When two former teen stars reconnect at the reunion for their hit TV show, they discover their feelings for one another were not merely scripted in this charming and heartwarming novel perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne. Read the full synopsis here.

2. The Man I Never Met by Elle Cook

In addition to a love story, this book also portrays heavier topics of illness. 
Is it possible to love someone you’ve never met? A young woman finds out in this sweeping will-they-or-won’t-they love story that begins with a chance wrong number dial. . . . Read the full synopsis here.

3. The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel

Hold the Valentines, maybe you need more of a Galentines read?

A wise and joyful novel that celebrates love, hate, and all of the glorious absurdity in between.
In the heart of Greenwich Village, three women form an accidental sorority when a baby—belonging to exactly none of them—lands on their collective doorstep. Read the full synopsis here.

4. Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

Chance encounter, when stars align kind of love? Yes please. 

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year comes a heartwarming and hilarious tale that asks: What if you pick up the wrong suitcase in an airport, only to fall head over heels for its unseen owner? Read the full synopsis here.

5. Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

I love that the main characters are a married couple working on their relationship. It’s refreshing to see some real life love, here folks! 
When a couple starts to feel like they’re married to a stranger, a flirtatious game of pretend becomes the spark they need to reignite their relationship. Read the full synopsis here.

I earn a (very) small commission from sales on these affiliate links at no additional cost to you. If this list is helpful to you, please consider purchasing through this post!

The Best of 2022

It’s no secret that ‘22 was a transforming year for this space. I said “goodbye” to what I thought was my lifelong career and jumped off the deep end into social media and content creation. It was a year of exciting highs and vulnerable lows, but when I asked for your most memorable shares you showed up in a BIG way.

Thank you for your input on your favorite things found on The Bookcase Beauty in 2022. It was an incredible year made possible because of YOU.

I’m looking forward to an even better 2023, but before I hit the ground running, I’ve rounded up all of our favorites from the past year!

If you find anything you love, I hope you’ll consider using my embedded links! I will earn a small commission from the brand at no additional cost to you!


Shadows of Pecan Hollow – Favorite book of the year! I raved about it for the majority of 2022. It’s all over my page! Grab a copy and read this amazing book please!

Lessons in Chemistry – Holy moley, talk about developed characters! On top of being a phenomenal story on strength, carving your own path, and love through difficult times, Bonnie Garmus made my personal reading experience even better when she joined our book club discussion. I could have listened to her talk for hours. I’m so glad this was a favorite of yours too! If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, now is the time!

The Book ornament – This was the highlight of the season for me! Never did I think that sharing a template would catch such fire. It was honestly thrilling and very fulfilling to see how many people found a tool I shared helpful. I’ll be making a few adjustments to this blog post before next year. 

Finding new favorite authors like Katherine Center – I LOVE KATHERINE. She has such a kind heart and is so open and genuine. She is one of those people you feel like you’ve known for years. No surprise her books are filled with joy and love and all things good! You can find all of her books and others I love right here

DNFing a book! – Say it louder, “LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO READ MEH BOOKS.” Meh meaning it wasn’t for you and that’s okay!! Not every book is for every person. That doesn’t speak badly to you or the book. Put it down and go find something you enjoy!


Drink pairings – I had so much fun crafting cocktails this year! My original source of enjoyment was to pair my favorite reads with some of my favorite drinks. Since, I’ve taken the approach that you don’t have to be a mixologist to make yummy drinks at home! I’m excited to share more with you in 2023!

Embroidery – Embroidery has become one of my favorite ways to relax. Pair it with an audiobook and I’m set for hours. I plan to share more of my passion for embroidery this year! If you’re interested in learning, I suggest trying some kits from @andotheradventuresco and @lemon_made_shop. Both are Texas-based embroidery artists and I love their work! You can also dip your toe in with a simple kit like this from Amazon. 

The Brie Bites – Y’all, I do not take credit for these, but I sure do love sharing them! They are insanely delicious and now that I’m typing this I’m craving them. Here’s a recipe from Delish! I make mine without the pecans.

Amazon Finds:

Lastly, the most popular purchases from my Amazon Storefront this year!

Cushionaire slides – These shoes are like walking on clouds! Even after several months of regular wear, they still feel as good as they did on Day 1.

The Fiamond Earrings – Such an affordable alternative with several stone sizes. I’ll say that these were worth every bit of the $38 I spent on them. I haven’t given them any special treatment. They’re my everyday earrings, they’ve been through chlorine pools, salt water oceans, and regular soap showers and they’re still in good shape! The gold plate on the tips of the prongs are beginning to chip, but for $38, I’ll buy another pair when it really starts to bother me!

Hobnail glasses – the best “treat yo self” upgrade! Also a fantastic housewarming or wedding gift. I love the quality to price ratio on these. Heavy duty, but don’t break the bank!

Glass container set – Are you tired of me telling you to put your fruit in glass?! This set has saved so much fruit from going to waste. Fruit lasts so much longer in these containers. Get them and thank me later!

Thank you!!

All of this to say, thank you for being here. Thank you for giving my dreams a pulse. My goal for 2023 is to share so much more for you! I want my presence across platforms to be a place you come to for refuge and calm, joy and encouragement.

Let’s chat! Leave me a comment below or send me a DM on Instagram! I’d love to know if I helped you find any favorites!

10 January Books that You Should Pre-Order Now

Happy New Year! 

If you’re feeling anything like me, you’ve been bouncing back and forth between holiday hangover and extreme motivation to get 2023 rolling. Wherever you’re at with this new year, I hope you’re taking strides to prioritize reading!

Speaking of prioritizing your reading, I recently released my 2023 Digital Reading Journal! It holds up to 100 books and is available in my Etsy shop along with some other fantastic reading trackers. Check out my Etsy shop here!

Here are 10 books publishing in January that you should pre-order now!

Think of these pre-orders as future presents to yourself. We know January can be a hard month, take care of your mind by lining up some fantastic reads! 

If you purchase any of these titles, I hope you’ll consider using my embedded links. I earn a small commission from sales at no extra cost to you. Using affiliate links is a fantastic way to support creators at no additional cost and it really does make a difference! 

1. Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman

Love under house arrest?! This contemporary romcom has adorable hijinx written all over it. After a prudish neighbor catches Jane having sex on their apartment rooftop, she’s sentenced to six months of home confinement. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s another resident in the apartment complex who’s also rocking an ankle monitor. 

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

2. Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano

This is the third and final installment in the Finlay Donovan series. It’s also one of my most anticipated reads of the year! See how the author-turned-hit-woman’s story ends! This is definitely one that needs to be read in order. Linking the first and second books here!

Read the full synopsis 

Purchase your copy here

3. Begin Again by Emma Lord

BIG FAN of Emma Lord’s over here! She writes the best YA titles! Her latest book, Begin Again, takes place at a community college. It has all of the found family, finding your own way, and Just Kiss Already vibes!

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

4. The Reunion by Kayla Olsen

Talk about SWOON. This book is getting tons of buzz and is sure to be one of the top contemporary romances of the year. The Reunion centers on two former child stars who reconnect and discover that their feelings for each other were not just scripted. Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne!

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

5. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

I LOVE wintery trapped thrillers. Something about the treacherous weather conditions and unreliable characters make me devour these novels. I’m extremely excited about Bartz’ newest release. I’ll be reading this one ASAP.

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

6. The Twyford Code by Janice Hallet

Strange markings inside a famous children’s book, secret codes, and an English teacher that disappears during a field trip… The Twyford Code takes us on a wild ride in this mystery thriller. Was she murdered? Was she mad? This book has my attention in a big way! 

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

7. All Hallows by Christopher Golden

If there’s a book that’s going to take away the January blues, it’s this horror drama! It’s got 80’s Stranger Things vibes and a group of children as the main characters. I’m in for this supernatural thriller!

Read the full synopsis 

Purchase your copy here

8. Jellyfish Age Backwards by Nicklas Brendborg

New Year, New You! If you’re looking to focus on more nonfiction reads this year, Jellyfish Age Backwards is a fascinating insight into how plants and animals already hold the secrets to immortality. From a 300+ year old shark to jellyfish that can literally age backwards and start their life process over again, this book feels like more magic than reality. 

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

9. The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

Hawkins is back with another twisty thriller! Two friends, both writers, take a writing retreat to an old villa turned holiday home. But, the Villa is holding onto secrets of its own. Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the birthplace of Frankenstein, The Villa takes readers on a wild ride!

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

10. Locust Lane by Stephen Amidon

For fans of Mystic River by Dennis Lehane and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Stephen Amidon’s Locust Lane is a taut and utterly propulsive story about the search for justice and the fault lines of power and influence in a seemingly idyllic town. Can anyone be trusted?

Read the full synopsis here

Purchase your copy here

I’d love to know if you read any of these titles! Leave me a comment or send me a message on Instagram or Facebook and let’s chat books!

Know some readers that could benefit from this list? Send them the link or share this post to your social media pages and tag me!

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