Posted in Books and Shows

January: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! Even though there are a few days left in January, I’m sharing the books I read this month. I’ve used the Good Reads app a bit in the past, but I’m trying to use it more frequently now. I even signed up for the 2021 Reading Challenge with a goal of reading 40 books this year. The past few years, I’ve read 40ish books, so I figured I could do that again in 2021…and maybe even read more!

For now, I think I’m going to change my What I’ve Been Reading format. While so many people ask me what books I’ve read, and I love reading, writing these posts kind of stressed me out for some reason.

For example, sometimes I’m cutting it close to finish a book before writing my post. Also, I struggle with not wanting to give anything major away when sharing about the characters and the plot.

Also, I’m not a book critic. haha I just want to share what I’m reading and get ideas on books to read from you all too!

So, I’m going to share Good Reads summaries, a few quick thoughts, and give a review based on one to five stars!

So, here we go! I’m off to a great start in 2021. I’ve already read four books, and they were all so different!

This month I read…

{ book photo linked to Amazon.}

American Dirt


Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Quick Thoughts:

This book had been on my reading list for quite some time, and I think I wondered if I would like it. Wow! I did. It was a POWERFUL read. I finished reading it within a week because I couldn’t put my Kindle down. I will say, I had dreams (borderline nightmares) a couple nights in a row while reading this. In the dreams, I was always with my kids in some kind of heavy situation where I had to make a decision for their safety. Needless to say, this book will stick with me (and I won’t be shocked if it’s one of my top 2021 reads!)

This was a quote that resonated with me:

“This is a cycle, she thinks. Every day a fresh horror, and when it’s over, this feeling of surreal detachment. A disbelief, almost, in what they just endured. The mind is magical. Human beings are magical.”

Told ya…heavy stuff!


Make Life Beautiful


For the one million-plus followers who turn to Syd and Shea McGee for advice on building a beautiful home and life, Make Life Beautiful is a behind-the-scenes look into how the couple transformed Shea’s small room of fabric samples and big dream of becoming a designer into one of the most successful and fastest-growing interior design businesses in the country.

Both long-time and new fans will not only gain insight into how the McGees built such a successful company but also be inspired to apply design principles to their lives.

Inspirational topics include:

*Renovate your life
*Visualize the outcome
*Listen to your gut
*Elevate the everyday

Quick Thoughts:

I love Syd and Shea’s Netflix show: Dream Home Makeover, so I was very interested in their life, how they grew their business, and their design process. I loved how the book was organized by alternating between Shea and Syd’s point of view. They just shared some very exciting news on Instagram: They are expecting baby #3 in the summer!


What Happens in Paradise


A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life — and death — of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of America’s most beloved and engaging storytellers.

Quick Thoughts:

I loved the first book in this series, I loved this one, and I can’t wait to read the third (and final) book in the series. The characters, the setting, and the plot all hit the spot for me and have kept me hooked when reading this series. I’m a big fan of Elin Hilderbrand, and I love following her on Instagram.


Piece of My Heart


In the latest thrilling collaboration from #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, television producer Laurie Moran must solve the kidnapping of her fiancée’s nephew—just days before her wedding.

Television producer Laurie Moran and her fiancée, Alex Buckley, the former host of her investigative television show, are just days away from their mid-summer wedding, when things take a dark turn. Alex’s seven-year-old nephew, Johnny, vanishes from the beach. A search party begins and witnesses recall Johnny playing in the water and collecting shells behind the beach shack, but no one remembers seeing him after the morning. As the sun sets, Johnny’s skim board washes up to shore, and everyone realizes that he could be anywhere, even under water.

A ticking clock, a sinister stalker, and fresh romance combine in this exhilarating follow up to the bestselling You Don’t Own Me—another riveting page-turner from the “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and her dazzling partner-in-crime Alafair Burke. 

Quick Thoughts:

I know Mary Higgins Clark has written a ton of books, but this may be the first one that I’ve read by her?! I have read The Better Sister by Alafair Burke and enjoyed it. I read this book in a matter of days. It’s a super quick read with short chapters. As a reader, I enjoyed the organization of the plot with pieces of Laurie’s past combined with her present day life to move the action forward. Also, the book reads with a sense of urgency due to the focus on finding Laurie’s fiancée’s nephew, so it can’t help but be a page turner!


So those are my January books!

I made graphics for 3, 2, and 1 stars as well. That being said, I get so many books based off of other bloggers who read or suggestions from you all, so I’m assuming I won’t have many (or any?!) 2 or 1 star reviews. Only in the past few years as a reader have I gotten to the point where I won’t force myself to finish a book if I don’t like it! I finally realized that my reading list is so long that I might as well move on to another book on my list if I’m not enjoying what I’m reading! 😉

I hope one of these books is of interest to you! What have you been reading lately?

Happy Reading!

{ this post contained Amazon affiliate links…}

13 thoughts on “January: What I’ve Been Reading

  1. Glad you loved Dirt! I agree with it sticking with you. I think I liked the third Paradise the most and did you see they are making a show about it? I had not heard of Studio McGee until a week ago when I heard about their Target launch. I had heard of Dream Home Makeover but haven’t watched it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just saw that there’s going to be a paradise show ! I’m very interested in that! 😀 I haven’t bought anything from the target line, but I enjoy the show. Honestly, their style is clear and doesn’t really change from house to house but I still always like the final outcome. Quick episodes so Viewed both seasons pretty quickly

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh! I love Syd and Shea too! I noticed they are on the cover of People magazine this week too. I didn’t know the had a book. I’m going to have to grab that. I’m so glad you mentioned it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was on my Christmas list that I gave my mom. Bonus- it’s a pretty addition to my bookshelf. The only thing that bummed me out about it was there were no pics! I love when there are pictures in the middle of a book


      1. Also- I don’t buy many books but don’t mind doing so if I know I will like it and it will look good on a book shelf 😂 my mom bought me that one and the home edit book.


      2. Yes! It worked! Do you get some kind of credit for it if I buy it through your link?
        If so, I’ll make sure to do that! My credit hasn’t hit my account yet, they haven’t got my return. 🙁

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes! I just started doing the Amazon affiliate program, so most anything I post from amazon is linked to my account for credit . Hopefully you will get your credit soon. I always taking my things back via the UPS store but it’s usually a quick credit


  3. I read American Dirt, and I’m currently reading a similar yet different own voices book called Sanctuary which I’m liking even more! I read the first Paradise book but not sure I’ll read the others. I know what you mean about book reviews being stressful! I started doing mine by the month, so if I finished in Jan, I reviewed it in early Feb, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked the third EH book in the series the best…hope you will too! I recently switched to a similar book post format. I was stressing over writing great reviews, but realize most people just want to know if I recommend the book or not. My books post comes out tomorrow. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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