Adam and I just got back from visiting Tennessee and Kentucky, and I have big news: I like bourbon now! Also, we did our usual bookstore tourism and I did some great vacation reading that I want to tell you about too. But first, bourbon!

Historically I’m more a beer girl, but touring a couple distilleries and smelling the angels’ share in the beautiful rickhouses piqued my interest. Then going into the tasting room and trying bourbon alongside a dark chocolate bourbon ball...good heavens. I’m officially a fan.

We toured Woodford Reserve and Wild Turkey, and I’m glad we did both because we got to see the contrast between large and small facilities. Both tours included a tasting at the end, with chocolate at Woodford and nice glass tumblers at Wild Turkey. If you haven’t tried much bourbon or aren’t sure you like it, touring a distillery will probably sell you on it!

In Nashville we went to author Ann Patchett’s independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, where I did not take one single photo. I blame the oversight on the adorable shop dog, Bear, who greeted us on our way in. At one point I knelt down to check out some books on a lower shelf, and Bear, taking that as invitation enough, bustled over FROM ACROSS THE STORE for pets. So sweet.

I had a great time browsing the store. These days in the spirit of minimalism I’m not buying too many books in print, but I love supporting local businesses and couldn’t leave empty-handed. So I got a lovely Parnassus mug with a bookish quote on it! It’s my new favorite and all my other mugs are jealous.

Since we’d already driven so far east, I decided it would be criminal not to make a day trip to Cincinnati to try to get a peek at Fiona, the baby hippo born recently at the Cincinnati Zoo. Because you know how I feel about hippos!

Sadly, Fiona wasn’t out on exhibit while we were there, but my dad has a saying, “We didn’t come all this way not to get a T-shirt.” So I got a T-shirt!

And seriously, you should totally follow the Cincinnati Zoo on social media for adorable Fiona updates. SHE IS THE CUTEST.

Of course it wouldn’t be a vacation for me without reading! I had a very short attention span on the trip and found myself starting one book only to pick up another a few minutes later. Oh well--I was on vacation, and I decided I could read what I wanted!

My favorite books of the trip--hands down--were books 1 and 2 in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, Darkfever and Bloodfever. I checked both of them out as ebooks from my public library. It boggled my mind a little bit that I was able to check out library books from my local library from several states away. So fun!

Fair warning if you start this series--it is totally addictive! I actually finished the first book and intended to pick up a book by a different author that I’d purchased to read on the trip, but instead I found myself sneaking back over to my library’s website to check out the second book in the series and reading it instead. What is it that makes some books irresistible?!

MacKayla is a happy-go-lucky girl in her early twenties, living at home with her parents in Georgia, working at a bar, and not overthinking her life. But when her sister is murdered while studying abroad in Ireland, Mac heads overseas to find her sister’s killer. Oh, and while there, she discovers that she can see the fae, and that her sister was wrapped up in some crazy shit that Mac can barely believe is real, and if she pursues her line of questioning any further, her life will be in danger as well. Delightfully dark hijinks ensue.

The reviews I’d read led me to expect a super-smutty guilty pleasure read, but the reality of my reading experience wasn’t really like that. Maybe I’m just past the point where I feel much guilt over what I enjoy reading. Thankfully, there are nine books in the series so far, with more on the way. I have SO MANY unanswered questions from the first two books, I’m really glad I will get to spend more time with Mac in her messed-up fairy-infested world.

Maybe I was just in the mood for fantasy stories starring awesome ladies, because my chosen audio book for the trip was also a smash hit: Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz. It’s the first in a series as well, though it’s about three ladies living in the Hamptons who are witches but are banned from using their powers. No surprise--they can’t resist the temptation for long and end up casting spells all over the dang place, with mixed (but decidedly juicy!) results.

Freya is a sexy redheaded bartender who makes love potions for her patrons. Her sister Ingrid is a tightly wound, buttoned-up spinster librarian who specializes in old blueprints and can work magic by tying knots. Their mother Joanna mostly chills at home baking sweet treats for her housekeeper’s son, but eventually all three are enmeshed in an ancient struggle that began centuries before.

I’ve already started book 2 in the series, The Serpent’s Kiss, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next with these badass witches. Also, apparently Lifetime did a TV adaptation, and I’m going to need to add that to my viewing queue post haste.

I had a tough time staying awake in the car, which made listening to audio books a little tricky on our long driving days, so I picked out one of Adam’s favorite books that he’s read a million times: Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first book in the urban fantasy series The Dresden Files. That way, when my head inevitably drooped and I fell away into oblivion, I could just ask him what I missed. It worked for Adam, too, because he could concentrate on the road and still know exactly what was going on since the story is so familiar to him.

I read and reviewed Storm Front a couple years ago and enjoyed it, but listening to the audio version was like a brand-new, totally unique experience. I absolutely loved it. I’m very excited to continue the series in audio--I have it on good authority that the series just keeps getting better. ;)

So that was our trip! Good whiskey and good books, what more can you ask for?

I'll wrap this post up with my favorite photo from the trip, in which I captured that most elusive prize of all: a genuine smile from Adam. (He smiles all the time, just not when a lens is pointed at him! But once you get him in a room with copper stills and a bunch of oak barrels, he can't hold back.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some fabulous fantasy series that I need to finish!