Posted in Books and Shows

What I’ve Been reading: February 2023

Hello! I can’t believe it’s the last day of February! Since the month is wrapping up, that means I shared my favorite memes yesterday and then today I’m sharing the books I read this month.

This month I continued with my monthly average of reading three books:

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Carrie Soto is Back:


Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed every Taylor Jenkins Reid book that I’ve read, and I enjoyed this one too. I was talking to a friend a couple of months ago about books, and I asked if she’d read this book yet. She said, “I now play tennis because of this book!” haha

After about the first 100 pages, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is quite a bit about tennis.” {duh} So while I was enjoying it, I wanted more from the characters and the plot. Well, I ended up getting that! Once the plot picked up and it wasn’t just all about tennis, I started to enjoy it more and more. I loved Carrie’s relationship with her father as well as Bowe Huntley. I liked the pace of the book with her working towards her goal, match by match. Anyway, overall, I thought it was a really good book….and my streak of loving books by TRJ continues.


*First part of the book 4 stars, and second half 5 stars (4.5 stars overall)

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post:


Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . .

So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.

Marjorie’s journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post’s Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.

And yet Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.

Bestselling and acclaimed author Allison Pataki has crafted an intimate portrait of a larger-than-life woman, a powerful story of one woman falling in love with her own voice and embracing her own power while shaping history in the process.

Quick Thoughts:

In the past couple of years, I’ve really enjoyed historical fiction more and more. Who am I even?! This book caught my attention on the first page. I so enjoyed reading about Marjorie’s life and her loves. Reading about her business decisions and her wealth were both so interesting. To me, this book felt like a mix of Becoming Mrs. Lewis and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

After I finished the book, I texted my mom and Gma and told them they’d like this book. When I shared the book title, my Gma’s response was “Oh…Dina Merrill’s mother…” and my mom knew Marjorie Post owned Mar-a-Lago. Anyway, my point is that Marjorie Post definitely lived a life that spanned many decades and is a point of reference for many. I just recognized her name from Post cereal!


I think this will be one of the top books I read this year, and I highly recommend it.

Bridge to Terabithia:


Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief.

Quick Thoughts:

So, one of my students asked if I had ever read this book, and I hadn’t. He told me that he doesn’t like to read, but his 4th grade teachers gave him this book to read, and he’d read it many times in the years since she suggested it.

When a reluctant reader suggests a book to me, I’m going to read it. He even told me the book had won awards (“like the one with the gold sticker on the book!”) This book was sweet and charming with a touch of sad. I’m glad I took the time to read it. He also suggested that I watch the movie! Now, I will need to do that.

The author’s note was touching, and I liked that in the 40th anniversary edition includes Katherine Paterson’s Newbery Medal acceptance speech.


Reading Challenge:

I’m making my way through this reading challenge…

So far— I’ve covered:

  • B –Bridge to Terabithia
  • CCarris Soto is Back
  • I- The It Girl
  • L- Live Wire (Kelly Ripa)
  • MThe Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post
  • RRemarkably Bright Creatures

I’m currently reading Spare which I think I will use for the “one word title” box instead of “S.”

How is your reading going so far this year?

Posted in Books and Shows

What I’ve Been Reading: January 2023


Well, I decided to use this A to Z Reading Challenge to guide my reading this year. So far, I’m just reading what I want and marking the letter. Eventually, as it fills up, I guess I will have to be a bit more specific with what I read.

This month I read three books which tends to be my average most months.

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories


An instant New York Times bestseller from Kelly Ripa–a sharp, funny, and honest collection of real-life stories showing the many dimensions and crackling wit of the beloved daytime talk show host.

In Live Wire, her first book, Kelly shows what really makes her tick. As a professional, as a wife, as a daughter and as a mother, she brings a hard-earned wisdom and an eye for the absurdity of life to every minute of every day. It is her relatability in all of these roles that has earned her fans worldwide and millions of followers on social media. Whether recounting how she and Mark really met, the level of chauvinism she experienced on set, how Jersey Pride follows her wherever she goes, and many, many moments of utter mortification (whence she proves that you cannot, in fact, die of embarrassment) Kelly always tells it like it is. Ms. Ripa takes no prisoners.

Surprising, at times savage, a little shameless and always with humor… Live Wire shows Kelly as she really is offscreen–a very wise woman who has something to say.

Quick Thoughts:

It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book…and I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a memoir of Kelly’s entire life, but really what the subtitle says: long-winded short stories. For example, there was no mention of the Michael Strahan years, which I was curious about.

I have fond memories of watching Regis and Kelly. I actually remember in college watching the day that she was a guest host and the psychic said she was pregnant. Of course, I was disappointed that Kelly and Regis weren’t as close as they seemed on tv. That being said, that might have been more of Regis (and his ego’s) doing…than Kelly.

Even sharing that she and Mark don’t have a perfect marriage which I kind of thought they did was interesting to me.

I think my favorite chapters were the ones where she sent her kids off to college. While I have a few years until that happens, it’s something that I think most moms can connect with…just giving your kids “wings to fly.”

If you like Kelly or the show, I’d say this is an interesting read. I used Christmas money to buy it, and my suggestion would be to borrow it from a friend or from the library.


⭐️ ⭐️⭐️1/2

The It Girl


April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide… including a murder.

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.

Quick Thoughts:

I started reading this book on my Kindle in November. I had read about 30% of the book when it had to be returned. So, once it became available in January, of course I wanted to finish it.

I’ve read a few books by Ruth Ware, and this one was just as good as the others. I enjoyed the characters, the flashbacks, and the pieces of the puzzle. With about 100 pages left, I thought I knew how it was going to end, but I was wrong…which actually makes it a better book.


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Remarkably Bright Creatures


After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

Quick Thoughts:

I could not have loved this book more. I instantly loved both Tova and Marcellus. This book will tug at your heart-strings and lift you up. It’s hard to imagine loving a book about an octopus, but he had such a sweet connection to Tova and their stories were woven together so beautifully. There were other characters and subplots as well.

I bet this will be one of my favorite books of 2023.


My first ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️book of 2023.

How many books do you hope to read in 2023? My goal is 40.

I hope your week is off to a great start.

Posted in Books and Shows, Currently


Hello! Well, all good things must come to an end…like this three day weekend. It’s back to school we go.

In December, I try to watch as many Christmas movies as possible. Now that it’s January, and I have a bit more time, I’m trying to get caught up on some of my favorite shows. So, here’s what I’m Currently watching…

On Hulu:

I love Abbott Elementary and am usually pretty caught up on it. Travis chuckles at it if I have it on when he’s around. Last week, a few of the actors were on a special edition of Wheel of Fortune (another fave!) which was extra fun to watch.

Abbott Elementary hits close to home with this public school educator! haha

I love The Rookie. Sometimes, Hayden watches it with me too. I’m a big Nathan Fillion fan…loved Castle when he was on it. Anyway, it’s another good one, but I’m usually a couple of episodes behind.

As a family, we still love The Goldbergs. This season is different with Murray off the show (and the death of Pops), but I love Beverly Goldberg and the rest of the cast. It’s a good one!

This is the second season of NCIS Hawai’i, and I really enjoy this show. Like with The Rookie, I get behind on the hour long shows, and try to get caught up in January and February. Also like The Rookie, I really like this entire cast!

And…I’m always have one (or more!) of the Real Housewives franchises to binge when I have time. I’m behind on Salt Lake City (and they aren’t really my fave anyway), but stay pretty up to date on Potomac.

On Netflix:

We don’t binge much, but Travis and I binged all of the Harry and Meghan docuseries. It was interesting…but I’m still “team Will and Kate.” At this point, I’m wondering if there’s an interview Harry won’t do. That being said, you know I’ll buy his book. haha

Have you seen this meme? I sent it to my *younger* brother. lol

If you want something quick and light-hearted, I always enjoy the season of Dream Home Makeover. There isn’t a single design of Shea’s that I haven’t loved.

I’m still chipping away at The Crown. The new cast has taken some getting used to, but I’m loving this season with Diana.

I’ve watched a few episodes of Wednesday, and really love it. Hadley and friends have seen all the episodes.

I also really like Buying Beverly Hills with Mauricio and Farrah from Real Housewives Beverly Hills franchise. Honestly, I just like looking at the houses more than anything.

Ready to Watch:

Dead to Me is back for the final season, and I definitely want to watch it.

I heard Kaleidoscope is good, so I’ve saved it and Break Point, a docuseries about professional tennis players, to my Netflix list.

As you can see, I have quite a few shows that I’ve started but haven’t finished yet. If I know I have a bit more time to watch over a few months (like right now and in the summer), I make a list and go from there. For example, I don’t think I will start the above three titles until I finish ones I’ve started like The Crown and Wednesday. Sometimes, I end up jumping around with what I watch, and I’d like to finish some series before starting others.

That being said, what should I add to my list ? haha!

Posted in Blog challenge, Books and Shows

Bloganuary 1.14.23

Happy Happy Saturday. See, Saturdays get an extra “happy” when it’s also your birthday.

I’m continuing on with some Bloganuary posts this weekend because I’ve really been enjoying writing about what pops up…

One of the suggested prompts this week was: has a book changed your life?

While of course some books immediately popped into my mind, overall, my first thought was: reading has changed my life

From the time I was little, I remember reading.

Both of my parents are readers. My dad always had a stack of books on the side table by his recliner, and my mom was the one to take us to the library.

In the summer, we’d go to the library pretty often, and we’d always complete the reading challenge…

Around 4th grade, I have memories of reading in my room. I had a little cozy corner (I started making things “cozy” early on!) where I’d sit and read.

I also loved my school librarian, Mrs. Jones. She made reading so much fun. A favorite elementary school memory was when I was in the intermediate grades, some of us would get to help on our class visits and scan books out to our classmates and then tidy up the libary.

Of course, there was the school reading program…

Ahh…I remember those Pizza Hut coupons like it was yesterday.

I feel like I naturally introduced reading to the kids. Even when they were babies, I’d rock them, read them a book, and then put them in bed.

In the summer, it was always a weekly activity to take them to the library. They’d sit and listen during story time, make a craft, click around on the computer, and check out books. The library was a great way to burn a couple of hours once a week in those hot summer months.

My mom, after she retired from teaching after 31 years, worked at the public library for ten more. She even did story time with the little kids, and we’d join her during our summer visits to KC.

Just like when I grew up, during the elementary years, the kids would complete the library summer reading challenge earning free books and stickers instead of pizza.

Hayden’s my reader. I will never forget listening to him read chapter books for the first time. Most nights, I would sit with him in bed, and we’d take turns reading pages of the Magic Treehouse series. There were many nights that I thought he was sleeping only for me to go to bed at 10:00 and see his little lamp light still on. I’d encourage him to finish a chapter and then turn off his light because he needed his rest.

Hadley always preferred shorter books and graphic novels.

She was a serious reader as a toddler…haha

I wish she enjoyed reading, but I think some of it is her attention span. She’s on the go, and it’s hard for her to settle in and focus. That being said, she loves a theme…and “Character Day” in elementary school was always her fave.

Reading through the years...

  • I loved Madeline.
  • I remember asking for Babysitter’s Club books, and even buying them as they came out one by one.
  • In 7th grade, we read Where the Red Fern Grows with Mr. Freeman, and I cried.
  • My dad gave me Tuesdays with Morrie when I was in high school, and I knew it would be a book I’d read time and time again.
  • I bought Cliffs Notes for every Shakespearean play I read in high school. Even as a high school English teacher, I dread teaching Shakespeare.
  • One of my favorite courses in college when we read one “classic” young adult book per week and created a lesson plan. I remember classmates grumbling because we “had” to read one book a week…but I couldn’t wait. We read Chocolate Wars, The Outsiders, The Giver, and more.
  • I hadn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird until I taught it my first year teaching…and couldn’t have loved it more. (*Side note: I wanted Hadley’s name to be Harper, but Travis nixed that suggestion from the start. That being said, we did have a dog named Scout!)

As an adult some recent books that have stuck with me…

  • The Giver of Stars
  • We Were the Lucky Ones
  • American Dirt
  • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
  • Where the Crawdads Sing

I feel like I said, “I remember…” quite a bit in this post, but I have such fond memories of reading, connecting with a story line, empathizing with a character, and having the best feeling of not wanting a story to end.

Reading has changed my life in more ways than I can count.

What’s a book that has changed your life?

Posted in Books and Shows, Gift Ideas

Fave Gifts: Book Edition


I received quite a few gifts that I love for Christmas, but today I’m sharing some of my favorite books that I received. It’s no secret that I love a good book, but I typically don’t buy books thanks to the library. I keep a list on Amazon to share as Christmas and birthday ideas when December rolls around.

Here are the books I received:

Brunch with Babs:

I follow Babs on Instagram, and I love all her tips and tricks. My mom bought me the Celebrate with Babs cookbook (per my suggestion), and I think I will use it quite a bit. It’s organized with recipes and tips through the year. From NYE to Easter to birthdays, Babs has you covered. (Plus, I think it will look pretty on the built in bookcase in my kitchen.)

Betty White:

This book was a pleasant surprise! My mom’s friend saw this at a yard sale, and thought of me. You know I love the Golden Girls and Betty White! This sweet little book tells about Betty’s life. I have some favorite books on my basement bookshelves, and I think this one will go there as a keepsake.

Story Worth:

For Mother’s Day 2021, my brother and I gifted my mom Storyworth. For a whole year, my mom answered the weekly prompts and was really good about adding pictures too. At the end of the year, she proofread it and received her copy. She got me an extra copy which I appreciate so much. I wish all my family members would do Storyworth.

The Queen:

This was another book suggestion I had as a gift idea. After Sarah shared about meeting Andrew Morton at an event for his new book, I knew I wanted to read this book. My aunt gave it to me along with the most regal bookmark that she made. I can’t wait to read this one. I’m already using the bookmark for my current book.

Recipe book:

This recipe book was such a pleasant surprise. My Gma gave it to me.

It’s filled with lots of recipes from the recipe.stamping club that my aunt hosted. She’s a Stampin’ Up demonstrator and has many classes throughout the year. I guess, over a period of time, different clients shared recipes, and they created these recipe books. So, my book has a variety of recipes, but it also includes some family recipes as well as a few family cooking/baking pics through the years.

It’s the perfect addition to my kitchen!

Kelly Ripa:

I used some of an Amazon gift card to purchase Kelly Ripa’s new book, Live Wire. I started it over the weekend. So far, it’s ok…which is what I’ve heard about it. That being said, I wanted to see (read) for myself. haha

I think I will go from the “Queen of Daytime” to the OG Queen’s book next.

Have you received any books as gifts recently? I’ve been spoiled!

Posted in Books and Shows, Family

Family Movie Night


Well, I often feel like my family is always on the go and that we spend very little quality time together. Honestly, I probably don’t give us enough credit, but I thought it would be a good idea to set an intentional goal to watch at least one movie a month together as a family…so we’d have less of this:

We started the year off strong, and then you know the saying…”best laid plans…” Anyway, in general, we did spend more time together watching movies this year. I will take what I can get.

This meme is for Hayden…lol:

Obviously, the main goal was to have all four of us watch the movie, and that did happen most of the time!

Here are the movies we watched this year:


On a snow day in January, the kids and I watched Sing 2. It was one of those movies that Hadley and I started watching and Hayden ended up joining us. We all loved it.


We watched Home Team. It was a funny movie that we all enjoyed.


The Cheaper by the Dozen remake was so good!


We watched the Adventures in Babysitting movie and enjoyed it.


May was a busy month. We didn’t even up watching a movie at home but we went to see the new Top Gun in the theater with friends. It was a definitely a must see movie! (especially in the theater)


In June, Hadley & I watched Sneakerella. It was a cute movie.

As a family, we went with a classic: Big Daddy. I think both kids had seen it before, but it’s still such a laugh out loud movie.

One evening, I watched Goonies with Hayden. We both have seen that movie many times and love it.


One night, while Hadley was at camp, I watched Jurassic Park (original) with Hayden. Again, it’s one we’d both seen before, but will watch it again and again.

Once Hadley got home from camp, she chose Family Camp for our family movie…and Hayden vowed to never let her choose a movie again! haha

It was just ok.


Well the busyness of back to school got to us, and we didn’t sit down to watch a movie together.


In September, we started off strong Labor Day weekend. We saw Grease at the drive in with friends, the kids saw Jaws (in 3D) with cousins, and Travis and I watched the Elvis movie at home. (Unpopular opinion: I didn’t like it.)


Well, this was kind of a random viewing month with not much time. The kids watched the new Hocus Pocus and The Addams Family on fall break.


On Thanksgiving night, Hadley chose Uncharted (because of her love for Tom Holland). I hadn’t heard of it, but we all loved it!


Of course, December is filled with some Christmas movies. Over break, I finally had time to watch a few, and Hadley watched some with me.

One of my favorite movies is While You were Sleeping, and Hadley watched it for the first time with me. Then, we watched another one of my favorites: You’ve Got Mail. (not a holiday movie, but one I always watch on break). Hadley enjoyed both, but said While You were Sleeping was better.

As a family, we watched Home Alone one evening…

….and A Christmas Story on Christmas night.

While in KC, we all watched Glass Onion at my mom’s house, and we all loved it.

While some months, we didn’t see a movie as a family, I think we still were pretty successful carving out time to hang and view some pretty good movies.

Fun fact: my favorite movie of all time is The Parent Trap (original) I watched it over break too.

What’s a great family movie you love?

Posted in Books and Shows

December Books + TOP 5 books of 2022

Hello! How has your week been?

Today is one of my favorite posts of the year. I’m sharing the books I read this month (Christmas reads!) as well as the Top 5 books that I read in 2022.

I love reading and always enjoy seeing what books others are reading.

For the past couple of years, I’ve read Christmas books in December. To me, these are usually pretty light hearted and perfect to read this time of the year.

December Books:

This month I read:

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

With such a long post, I’m just sharing the summaries and my rating. My quick thoughts are the fact that these are perfect reads for December. Most were light-hearted and festive while others did have a sad moment or two. That being said, I thought this was the perfect mix of books for my December reading.

The Holiday Switch:


Lila Santos is ready for her last winter break of high school. The snow in her small town of Holly, New York, is plentiful, the mood is as cozy as a fuzzy Christmas sweater, and she’s earning extra cash working at the local inn—AKA the setting of the greatest film of all time, Holiday by the Lake—while moonlighting as an anonymous book blogger.

But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss’s frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Rivera, becomes her coworker. Lila is type A; Teddy is type “Anything but Lila’s Way,” and the two of them can’t stop butting heads over tangled icicle lights and messy gift shop merch. But when they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they realize they’ve both been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets—and an unexpected snowstorm—bring these rivals together?


Always in December:


It started with a letter. It ended with a love story.

Every December, Josie posts a letter from her home in London to the parents she lost on Christmas night many years ago. Each year, she writes the same three words: Missing you, always. But this year, her annual trip to the postbox is knocked off course by a bicycle collision with a handsome stranger–a stranger who will change the course of Josie’s life.

Josie always thought she was the only one who avoided the Christmas season, but this year, Max has his own reasons for doing the same–and coincidence leads them to spending the holiday together. Aglow with new love, Josie thinks this might be the start of something special.

Only for Max to disappear without saying goodbye.

Over the course of the next year, Max and Josie will find that fate continues to bring them together in places they’d never expect. New York City. Edinburgh. The quiet English countryside. And it turns out, Max had every reason to leave and every reason to stay. But what does fate hold for Josie and Max as Christmas approaches again?

A devastating, romantic, life-affirming love story, Always, in December will stay with readers long after they’ve finished the last page.


Christmas in London:


A charming, glamourous love story set at Claridge’s in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and the Cooking Channel Producer who could change her life.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren’t hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge’s. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show’s beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew’s in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London’s most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season’s most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.


The Christmas Wedding Guest:


The Somerville sisters believe in love, but they’ve lost faith it will happen for them. Reggie hasn’t been home since the end of the world’s shortest engagement. When her parents decide to renew their vows, she buffs up her twinkle to help with the Christmas wedding. Unexpectedly, Toby, her first love, is back too, and the spark between them shines as brightly as ever. In the spirit of the season, will they let go of past hurts and greet the New Year together?

Done waiting for the one, Dena is pregnant and on her own—on purpose. But then a gorgeous, sad-eyed songwriter checks in to a room at her inn. Micah, unable to write since he lost his wife, finds inspiration in Dena’s determination to be a mom. One snowflake-speckled kiss and he’s a goner. But Dena is afraid to believe that a rock star could fall for a cookie-cutter small-town girl like her.

As the Christmas wedding draws closer, these two sisters just might unwrap the most treasured gift of all—love.


Christmas Shopaholic


Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It’s always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers.

And now it’s even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted!

But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky’s parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she’ll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong?

With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . .

Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?


Recap of Books 2022:

This year my Goodreads goal was that same as last year: 40 books. I was able to read 41! Thank goodness for a couple of vacations and winter break to get me across the finish line. There were a couple months this year that I only read two books, so I wasn’t sure I would hit that goal.

Here are my Goodreads stats:

  • 41 books read
  • 14,824 pages read
  • The shortest book I read (Lucky) was 232 pages
  • The longest book I read (Katie Couric’s Going There) was 736 pages (was it?! I really don’t remember it being that long of a book!)
  • Average book length in 2022: 361 pages

My 2022 Reads:

Looking back, I realized that I’ve read by the fire, in the mountains, poolside and with my toes in the sand. That definitely makes for a great year of reading.


  • Katie Couric’s Going There
  • The Royals Next Door
  • We Are the Brennans


  • Our Woman in Moscow
  • Becoming Mrs. Lewis


  • Lucky
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors


  • Such a Quiet Place
  • Pack Up the Moon
  • The Rent Collector


  • Save Me From Dangerous Men
  • A Stranger’s Game
  • The Summer Getaway


  • Summer Love
  • The Summer Job
  • Harry: Life, Loss, and Love


  • The Sweet Taste of Muscadines
  • One Italian Summer
  • Meant to Be
  • The Lifeguards
  • The Hotel Nantucket
  • This Tender Land


  • Under the Southern Sky
  • Book Lovers
  • Every Summer After
  • The Chain
  • This Time Tomorrow


  • The Younger Wife
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  • Twenty Years Later


  • Smells like Tween Spirit
  • The Beach Trap
  • The Masterpiece


  • The Things We Cannot Say
  • One True Loves
  • A Magical New York Christmas


  • The Holiday Switch
  • Always in December
  • Christmas in London
  • The Christmas Wedding Guest
  • Christmas Shopaholic

Top 5 books of 2022:

I felt like I started off 2022 strong with reading, but then wasn’t reading as much. From July on, I felt like I was reading more books that I enjoyed and was able to find a bit more time to read.

Before I share my Top 5 reads of 2022, these deserve honorable mention recognition:

  • One Italian Summer
  • This Time Tomorrow
  • Every Summer After
  • Our Woman in Moscow
  • Summer Love
  • Meant to Be

Here are my 5 favorite reads of 2022 in the order I read them…

Becoming Mrs. Lewis, (also my fave of the year, I think. My Gma recommended it to me.)

The Rent Collector.

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines

This Tender Land

The Things We Cannot Say

I clearly lean towards more serious books with a side of historical fiction.

Previous Top 5 Books:

What’s the best book you’ve read this year? I’d love to add it to my Goodreads list!

I have two more posts this week: a blogging and 2022 recap.

Happy reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

November 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hey there!

I was just talking about books with a few people recently, and said that 2022 hasn’t felt like my best year of reading. There were a couple of months when I only read two books, and while I’ve still read quite a few, it just seems like most have been ok.

That being said, this month I read three books and enjoyed them all!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Things We Cannot Say:


In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate. Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative that weaves together two women’s stories into a tapestry of perseverance, loyalty, love and honor. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it. 

Quick Thoughts:

This was a book that had been on my list for quite some time. It was certainly a heavy read with the topic of the Holocaust, but it was a mix of informative and emotional. I enjoyed the flashbacks with Alina more than modern day with Alice. The meaning behind “the things we cannot say” was embedded in many aspects of the storyline. This is definitely a powerful book and one that makes the top of my list of books so far this year.



In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve read a couple of books by Taylor Reid Jenkins (Malibu Rising and Seven Husbands), and have loved them both. This book was one of hers that I enjoyed too. It was an interesting storyline with Emma dealing with both her present and her past. Of course, as a reader, I wondered which love she’d choose. I felt like the story advanced organically as she wrestled with her decision. The idea of “true loves” and love changing as a person grows and matures was really interesting. In the end, I thought Emma made the right choice 🙂


4.5 ⭐️


It’s Christmas week when 26-year-old Sabrina Post knocks on the door of the Vanderbilt suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, ready to accept the ghostwriting position for the memoir of Grayson Westcott—a famous art dealer.

A struggling journalist, Sabrina can’t believe her luck: a paycheck and six nights in her own suite at the Plaza. She feels like Eloise, the heroine from her favorite children’s books. To make the job even more exciting, Grayson recounts how he worked as a butler at the Plaza sixty years ago for none other than the author of the Eloise books, Kay Thompson.

What promises to be a perfect week is complicated when Sabrina meets Ian Wentworth, a handsome British visitor, at the hotel bar. When Ian assumes Sabrina is another wealthy guest at the hotel, she doesn’t correct him —a decision she doesn’t regret after learning that Ian is a member of the British aristocracy. But, things are not what they seem. The truth is: Ian is not a wealthy lord; he’s actually the personal secretary of Lord Spencer Braxton.

As the week unfolds, will Sabrina and Ian learn the truth about one another?

Filled with the magic that can only be found at the Plaza Hotel during the holidays, and revealing facts about the author of the Eloise books, Anita Hughes’s A Magical New York Christmas is both a holiday treat and a heartwarming story that reminds us that falling in love is the greatest miracle of all.

Quick Thoughts:

I decided to kick off the holiday season with a Christmas book, and I sure feel like I picked the right one to read first. I’ve read A Christmas in Paris by Hughes and loved it. This book was a mix of whimsy and nostalgia. I loved the references to the Eloise books, the setting of New York at Christmastime, the flashbacks, and there was touch of British too. This was the perfect first Christmas book of the season for me.


Previous Christmas Reads:

Since 2019, I’ve made a point to read Christmas books in December. The last two years, I’ve read one in November to share in my November book review.

If you are looking for Christmas book recommendations, check out Sarah’s post yesterday…and here are some of the Christmas books I’ve read through the years:

I loved this entire series so much. I read all four in December 2019.

What are some of your favorite Christmas themed books to read? I’d love to add them to my Goodreads list.

Happy reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

October 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy Wednesday!

I fell back into my three book average this month. I finished a book on the way to the beach, read a book while at the beach, and then finished one more book this month.

Today, I’m sharing those three books with you.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Smells Like Tween Spirit:


Even with the cutthroat days of being Class Mom behind her, as a freshly minted mat mom of the Pioneer Middle School (PMS) wrestling team, Jen Dixon cannot catch a break.

This year, as her son joins the ranks of the PMS wrestlers, Jen faces mystifying new social dynamics with her trademark combination of reluctance and resigned acceptance. The sights and smells of her son’s wrestling matches are more than enough for her to deal with, but Jen also finds herself fully immersed in sports-mom competitiveness. These parents all seem perfectly unassuming until their kids start to wrestle, and then some become raging momsters.

Jen steels herself for the indignities of middle school life, but she cannot quite fathom the extents to which some kids (and moms) will go for the sweet taste of victory. Add to this some truly bizarre encounters with students from her spin class and deeper challenges managing her parents, and Jen has more gum than she can chew…and even her riotously funny one-liners might not get her through it this time.

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve read this entire series and really enjoy the books. The previous three books were relatable because the main character is Jen from KC…who is very sarcastic! {it could be me!} That being said, this book continued to be relatable because I am in the throes of tween life.

This book was so funny and Jen is so witty. Her relationship with other PMS Mat Moms, her work life/balance, and letters to the parents provide lots of humor and a good light-hearted read.



When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

Quick Thoughts:

Have I ever told you that my all time favorite movie is The Parent Trap? The Hayley Mills version, of course! I added this book to my Goodreads list at the end of the summer, and thought I’d save it for summer 2023. Then, I realized it would be the perfect read for our Fall Break beach vacay. I checked it out from the library before we left and waited to read it with my toes in the sand.

Even better…the beach house that was left to Kat and Blake was in Destin, and I was reading this book while in the Destin area!

This book was super cute with some nods to the Parent Trap plot but it was also a classic Chick Lit book. I definitely recommend it!



For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded—even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter—Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece—an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

Quick Thoughts:

My Gma suggested this author to me. Most of Davis’s books were available to download on my Kindle, so I chose The Masterpiece. I really enjoyed the plot as it moved back and forth between the 1920s and the 1970s. The two main characters, Clara and Virginia were very different, and both had their own struggles. The backdrop of Grand Central Station both as an art school and then as a landmark was interesting.

I really enjoyed this book and this author. Next, I’m going to read The Address when I can.


4.5 stars

What have you been reading lately? A couple of years ago, I only read Christmas/holiday books in December. Last year, I read one Christmas themed book in November to kickstart my holiday reading for December 2021, and I plan on doing the same thing this year.

I can’t believe next month when I share what I read, I will be the mom of two teenagers, Thanksgiving will be over, and we’ll be in full on Christmas mode. That’s just crazy talk!

Happy reading,

Posted in Books and Shows

September 2022: What I’ve Been Reading


Well, I wondered if I’d still have some time to read once we got back to school, and I was still able to carve out some time to get three books read. That tends to be my monthly average during the school year, so I’m glad to still have some time read.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Younger Wife:


A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve read a few books by Sally Hepworth, and I’d waited quite a while to read this one. I really enjoyed it. I loved the structure of the book with the viewpoints of the younger wife, former wife, and daughters. This was a good suspenseful read. I don’t have any experience with dementia and struggled a bit with idea of Stephen marrying while still being married to his first wife. That idea just felt a bit rushed. That being said, there was quite a bit going on in the story with family tension, shoplifting, health issues, and more. It was a quick read for me!


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo:


Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Quick Thoughts:

Again, I’ve ready quite a few books by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and have loved them all. This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and I was one the waitlist for the Kindle copy. I was intrigued by the idea of a glimpse into Evelyn’s life and her many marriages. That being said, I wasn’t expecting to each marriage to be so different and serve a different purpose. The underlying plot learning about Monique’s life and some parallels to Evelyn also made this book very interesting. There was heartache, happy, and lots of of husbands! Definitely put this one on your reading list.


Twenty Years Later:


Hiding her own dark past in plain sight, a TV reporter is determined to uncover the truth behind a gruesome murder decades after the investigation was abandoned. But TWENTY YEARS LATER, to understand the present, you need to listen to the past…

Avery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story—a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal—is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.

Emma Kind has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene was covered in Victoria’s DNA.

But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life just the beginning. And what Avery doesn’t realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past—one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried . . .

Quick Thoughts:

This book was one that Bev shared on Insta stories and blog, and I immediately added it to my list. It’s still so chilling for me to read books that reference 9/11, but this book was definitely a page turner. There were quite a few characters to keep up with, so it took a few chapters to keep things straight. That being said, the chapters were so short and I think that helped moved the plot along. This book had many twists and turns and I enjoyed seeing it all come together in the end.


Overall, it was a great month of reading! I’m hoping with Fall Break next week that I can read a bit more…I have the goal of four books this month.

What have you been reading lately?