Posted in Books and Shows

April: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! I can’t believe it’s the last day of April. How is that even possible?! I read three really good books this month (while balancing out reading with watching episodes of The Crown and Tiger King) 😉 I think one (or two!) of them may end up in my top 5 of the year.

Regretting You

I’d seen Regretting You recommended on other bloggers’ reading lists, and I’ve read other Colleen Hoover books. I was on the wait list at the library for a bit before I got the chance to read it.

One of the main characters, Morgan, gets pregnant at sixteen and commits her life to her daughter and husband. Morgan is worried her daughter Clara will make the same “mistakes” she made while Clara wants nothing to do with her mother’s advice. Then, a tragic accident happens that both pushes mother and daughter apart, but also forces them to figure out life together. The accident provides a twist in the plot that provides lots of questions that drive the story line to the end.

This was definitely a great book that I couldn’t put down! It lived up to the hype.

Our New Normal

Our New Normal was book I snagged off the shelf on the last day the library was open. This book was a slow start for me, but I did end up enjoying it.

Liz has been a stay at home mom for many years. Just as she is about to send her son off to college and start a new career, her teenage daughter, Hazel, shocks her with the news that she’s pregnant. The plot centers around Liz as she juggles this new development in her life, her aging parents as well as her strained marriage. All of these factors make up her “new normal.” That being said, the ending got me. It was a beautiful wrap up of the story.

The Matchmaker

I always love Elin Hilderbrand books, and keep meaning to tell Travis I want to add Nantucket on places I want to visit!

Dabney Kimball Beech has a full time job at the Chamber of Commerce, but she is also known for being a matchmaker. Even though Dabney is married and has a grown daughter, she still can’t escape her own romance troubles. One of my favorite parts of this book is that stories of Dabney’s successful matchmaking are interwoven within the plot of her life. The Matchmaker may be one of the most touching books I’ve read…and it was certainly one that brought a tear to my eye…a time…or two!

Currently Reading:

I’m currently reading Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna and Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey. Southern Side of Paradise is the third book in the Peachtree Bluff series that I’ve mentioned before.

Speaking of Kristy Woodson Harvey. I follow her on Instagram, and she’s been sharing about her new book Feels Like Falling which came out this week! I pre-ordered it on Amazon, and I believe it will arrive today! She mentioned on Instagram those who pre-ordered a book would receive a postcard and quote card signed by her. I received these in the mail last week, and they were such a fun surprise in my mailbox. I can’t wait to read this newest book of hers!

What have you been reading? I’ve love to add more suggestions to my list!

Also, did you see my Mother’s Day Gift Idea post from yesterday? Just didn’t want you to miss out 😉

Happy reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

March: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s the last Friday of the month, so I thought I’d share the books I’ve read over the last month or so! I definitely feel like I’m bouncing back from my “February Reading Funk.” Of course, with a little more time on my hands, I’m reading a bit more…BUT I’m also making it a priority to read more. When my kids are completing their daily 30 minutes of reading, I read too (plus other times in the day as well).

So…here are the four books I’ve read recently.

American Royals

I touched on this book in a previous post (before I had finished reading it)…

In this twist on history, the US won the revolution and Washington became king. Set in modern day, Princess Beatrice is being prepped for the throne. Of course, I’ve been watching The Crown and the parallel to that bit of history added meaning to this story. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and it was an easy read, for sure.

I think this book is technically “young adult,” but I loved it. The sequel, Majesty, comes out this fall; I can’t wait to read it too.

The Broken Girls

The story is set in Vermont with chapters taking place in 1950 and 2014. There is a girls’ home called Idlewild where girls who aren’t wanted or who are trouble makers are sent back in 1950. In the 2014 setting, journalist Fiona Sheridan is investigating the details surrounding her sister’s death twenty years earlier. Her sister’s body was found near Idelwild. When renovations begin on the property in 2014, it has Fiona wanting to learn more and put together the pieces of two different puzzles.

Small Great Things

Small Great Things was a book centered around the themes of hate and racism. The main character, Ruth, is an African American labor and delivery nurse. She cares for a newborn whose parents (Turk and Brittany Bauer) are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth caring for their child. Ruth ends up being arrested and put on trial after an emergency with the baby.

It took me some time to get into the book at first as it was difficult for me to connect with that level of hate. The title is in reference to quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

With the trial, Ruth’s relationship with her son, and the story line with the Bauers, this is certainly a story with many layers.

Another quote I loved from the book was, “Freedom is the fragile neck of a daffodil, after the longest of winters. It’s the sound of your voice, without anyone drowning you out. It’s having the grace to say yes, and more important, the right to say no. At the heart of freedom, hope beats: a pulse of possibility.” Freedom is another underlying theme throughout the book, and of course, freedom means something different to each character.

Again, it was a slow start for me, but I did end up enjoying this book, and it’s certainly one I will never forget.

The Secret to Southern Charm

After reading Small Great Things, I needed a lighter read. The Secret to Southern Charm is the second book in the Peachtree Bluff Series. I read the first book, Slightly South of Simple last summer and loved it.

The book picks up where the first one left off with the three sisters, Sloane, Caroline, and Emerson in a small coastal town in the south. Sloane’s husband is a POW, Caroline and her have had marital issues, and Emerson is an actress trying to figure out her next steps in life and in her career. The three girls are very close with their mother, Ansley, who is caring for her own aging mother.

Of course, there are family secrets, times of strife, and a close connection between these southern ladies.

The Secret to Southern Charm was a quick read that left me wanting to visit the south, hang out with some of my closest girlfriends, and sip a cocktail while sitting on a porch swing! I can’t wait to read the third book in the series The Southern Side of Paradise.

(**Side note: Kristy Woodson Harvey commented on my What’s Up Wednesday post, and it feels like the biggest high five of my life! Go check out the Peachtree Bluff Series. You’ll enjoy it!)

Well, that’s a wrap on what I’ve been reading and the month of March. I saw this meme yesterday, and it made me laugh!

I do feel like we got into a routine this week while continuing to find the balance between work, play, and social distancing! I will say that the highlight of this week was yesterday when the kids’ school had a Teacher Parade through the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful thing to see those teachers smiling, waving, and missing their kids…May have brought a tear or two to my eye!

I hope you have a great weekend. See you back here on Monday for a funnies with some March memes!

Take care,

Posted in Books and Shows

Watching & Reading

Happy Wednesday, y’all. We are trying to get in our new routine of a little bit of home school while I work from home as well this week. I’m at least making sure my kids read, practice math, and complete at least one other assignment as well each day. And…we are trying to get some fresh air when the weather allows!

So, since we are home pretty much 24/7, I thought I’d share some of the books I plan in reading as well as some of the shows I hope to watch on Netflix.

On Friday, I headed to the library after school to pick up two books I had on hold. As I walked into the library, I saw the sign that said they were closing at 6:00 until at least April 6. So, I picked up my on hold books and wandered the aisles looking for books that interested me. To be honest, it had been forever since I just casually hung out at the library! I usually place holds for books online and just go pick up the books when they are available.

The librarian helped me find a book I was looking for and said, “Honey, you know you can get up to 50 books? You might as well grab as many as you can!” So. I. Did. 😉

Here’s my stash!

On my Kindle, I’m currently reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

Also, one of my friends shared on Facebook a post from author Colleen Hoover. The post said (in part), “I think authors will be hurting the least when it comes to the financial impact this is going to have on the world. Because when people are stuck at home with nothing to do, boredom sets in and people buy ebooks. But I don’t want you guys to buy mine right now. Save all the bucks you can until we have a better grasp on how this will financially impact our households…”

She went on to say that for eligible books she has on Amazon, she enrolled them for free five days on those select titles.

The five days may be up soon, but the titles that are free for ebooks are: Verity, (which is SO good–I read it last summer in about two days!), Too Late, Hopeless, and Never Never series.

I’ve read All Your Perfects, It Ends with Us, and Verity by her. I’ve been wanting to read Regretting You and it was only $1.99 when I downloaded it on Monday!

I’ve had quite the Netflix list for some time. Shows friends have recommended or ideas from blogs that I’ve read. My list includes:

  • The Stranger
  • The Pharmacist
  • Murder Mystery
  • The Keepers
  • Unbelievable
  • The Innocent Man

Also, I believe that season 3 of Ozark is out now. Travis and I watch that show together, and I bet he’d love the above shows too!

Over the weekend, we completed a puzzle with my brother and sister-in-law. I will be honest, I’m not a huge fan of puzzles (mostly because I feel like we have to finish it…can’t just leave it and work on it over a few days haha), but I thought it would something fun to do since we were laying low. For Valentine’s Day, I bought this cereal puzzle for Hadley off of Amazon. It took us about an hour and a half to complete it. Although, we ended up losing two pieces along the way! (My brother found them the next day)

This puzzle should arrive today! 500 pieces will keep us busy.

So, these are just a few of the ways that I will be keeping busy with this forced time off.

Do you have any good book or Netflix recommendations? If so, let me know!

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you are having a great week.

Take care,

Posted in Books and Shows, Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites: Movies

Well, we made it to Friday!! I’m linking up with Andrea, Narci, and Erika for a Friday Favorites.

Since it’s almost the last day of the month, I should be posting about the books I read in February, but as I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, I’ve kind of been in a rut this month in the reading department. So, instead of reading, I thought I’d share some favorite movies that I (as well as the kids) have been watching lately…and they are all pretty family friendly depending on your kid’s age.

We got Disney + in December, and it’s allowed me to watch some of my favorite movies from my childhood….some of which the kids have enjoyed watching with me as well. Hulu and our Amazon Prime membership also provide avenues for us to watching great movies as well.

A few of our faves…

Disney +

Y’all, hands down, my favorite movie from my childhood is the original Parent Trap with Hayley Mills. I used to watch it on VHS so much that the tape must have worn thin because the part in the movie when Verbena realizes the girls made the switch, would always skip to the next scene! I don’t even acknowledge the Lindsay Lohan version as an option, but I do love Natasha Richardson, so I have seen that version a time or two.

Other movies we’ve watched on Disney + include:

  • Sister Act- Hayden watched this with me and I fast forwarded through a scene or two and danced my way around Sister Deloris’ lounge singing profession 😉
  • Turner and Hooch – Only I watched this one–and I’m thinking Hayden would like it if I could skip over when Hooch’s owner is killed—yikes!
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids – We all love this one!
  • While You Were Sleeping -I can watch this one on repeat! Such a sweet movie.

Amazon Prime

My brother had told me that Cool Runnings was on Disney +, but when I went to check it out, it said the movie would be available in July due to “existing agreements.” I had already told the kids about it and promised we’d watch it, so we paid $4 on Amazon to stream it—and that’s how we spent our New Year’s Eve! #wildnight Everyone enjoyed the film!

DVD

Another favorite that I love is Swiss Family Robinson. This summer, after we visited Disney World/The Magic Kingdom and toured the SFR tree house, the kids (especially Hayden) wanted to see the movie. I ended up buying in on DVD from Amazon, so we’d always have access to it. I loved that movie so much as a kid and would watch it on repeat as well. Besides the DVD, we now can watch it on Disney +, but we didn’t have that option in the summer. Travis had never seen it, and we all enjoyed it!

Swiss Family Robinson house at the Magic Kingdom

Over Christmas break, we watched The Mighty Ducks with the kids because Hayden had received it on DVD as a Christmas gift. Again, it will be on Disney +, but has the same “existing agreement” issue that Cool Runnings had. When we watched The Mighty Ducks, I had forgotten how great a movie it was…and who doesn’t love a comeback story?!

Hulu

An Affair to Remember

This movie was on Hulu last month while I was sick with the flu, so watching it was a great way to pass time in between naps! While An Affair to Remember wasn’t released during my childhood, I remember watching it as a kid. I loved Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant together. Her beauty and his good looks are timeless…plus the plot is so romantic.

Father of the Bride

I love this movie and watch it any time it’s on cable (or now Hulu, for us!) I remember, at 11 years old, thinking how cool it would be to have Kimberly Williams as an older sister. Of course, Steve Martin is a hoot…and the superfluous buns scene is hilarious! I also love the part where Annie calls her parents from the airport. So sweet. I love all the characters in the movie from the little brother to Martin Short as Franck. The movie is just so heartfelt. I watched it just last week on Hulu and Hadley loved it too.

Erika also shared family movies this week…Make sure to check out her post….She referenced so many good movies as well!

What are some of your favorite family movies? Or movies from your childhood?

I hope you have a great weekend.

Jen

Posted in Books and Shows

January: What I’ve Been Reading

We made it to Friday! This week has seemed to never end. Actually, I feel like January has been the longest month ever! I saw this meme on Facebook and it’s the truth 😂

Well, it’s January 31st, and I read three books this month: A Woman is No Man, The Wives, and The Hate U Give. All pretty heavy/intense reads….especially compared to my lighter reading in December with a focus on holiday books.

A Woman is No Man

I will be shocked if this book isn’t one of my top 5 reads of 2020….and it’s the first book I read in 2020. #offtoagoodstart

Good Reads summary:

This debut novel by an Arab-American voice,takes us inside the lives of conservative Arab women living in America.

In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.

My thoughts: This book caught my attention from the first page. The focus of the Arab culture and arranged marriages was so interesting to me. I loved the format of the book with chapters alternating Deya and her mother Isra. There were definitely some painful and gut-wrenching scenes to read, but I guess they were necessary to tell the full story. The twist in the plot with the note helped start putting together the pieces of the plot puzzle. This was a book I couldn’t put down even though it was definitely a heavy read.

The Wives

This book was a spur of the moment read. I follow Kristy Wicks on Instagram, and she mentioned her daughter had chosen a few books to start an online book discussion. So many people in the Facebook group for the book club were talking about how great the book was, so I actually bought it and downloaded it to my Kindle (I rarely buy books for my Kindle). I read the book in a few days.

Good Reads Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Tarryn Fisher delivers a pulse-pounding, fast-paced suspense novel that will leave you breathless. A thriller you won’t be able to put down!

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

My thoughts: It’s been awhile since I’ve read a good thriller/suspense book. The idea of the main character having multiple wives definitely hooked my interest from the start. The narrator is his second wife, Thursday, and I kind of just felt sorry for her. I kept thinking, “How does she have so much self-control as to not look up/find out more information about the other wives?” Well, it was only a matter of time! I enjoyed this book and it was suspenseful BUT the second half of the book didn’t sit right with me. Midway through the book there was a big shift…and after that, I wasn’t sure what to think about Thursday. Also, some of the plot from that point forward seemed rushed…including the ending. The book was good, and it was suspenseful, but I definitely liked the first half of the book way more than the second half.

Kristy and her daughter posted a book club discussion last week with a full summary (so…warning! if you click on the link below), their thoughts, and questions for their blog readers about the book.

The Hate U Give

I’m sure most everyone has heard of this book (or movie!). I may have been one of the last people to have read this book! I was prompted to read it because so many of my high schoolers have read it. It’s a young adult read that focuses on some hot topics and includes relevant and timely life examples.

Good Reads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My thoughts: This was a good read. I see why so many young adults/high school students would like the book. Unfortunately, I have students who live this life, who have seen things I will never see in my lifetime, and who have experienced these injustices first hand.

The book has classic elements for young adults like the characters, the setting, the language and the ongoing themes to hold the reader’s attention. This book definitely provides opportunity to spark conversation with not only young adults, but adults as well. I haven’t seen the movie, but my interest is definitely piqued after reading the book.

Those we my three January reads. I’m about halfway through with The Broken Girls, and it’s been a great read so far! I will share about it in February.

I hope you’ve had a great week.

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in Books and Shows

December Books + TOP 5 books of 2019

Happy last day of 2019! Even with the hustle and bustle of December, I was able to read 6 books this month! That being said, my first book, I started reading right around Thanksgiving and had the nine hour car ride home from KC combined with some extra time after Christmas to read as well.

I technically have a Good Reads account, but never really keep up with it. Instead, I have a note on my phone (I know, really high tech) with books I want to read (the list is getting too long) and then books I’ve read (2018 and 2019). When I looked at my list of the 40 books I read this year, my top 5 jumped right out at me! So, I thought I’d share those as well.

But first….the books I read in December.

I’m so glad I chose to read holiday books during this time. With the craziness of Christmas, I love the twinkle of the lights on the tree, peppermint mocha creamer, and the days getting darker earlier (I know, I’m weird). So, reading holiday themed books during this month, just helped the coziness creep in even more to offset the craziness of this time of the year.

One Day in December

This book was a sweet little read. It had been on my list for awhile, and I decided to start the month with it. The main character Laurie sees a man out the bus window and feels an instant connection. She then is on a mission to find him while not knowing his name, where he lives, etc. She ends up being reunited with Jack but not the way she would have preferred. The story follows the friendship and relationships of Laurie, her best friend Sarah, and Jack for over ten years…and I love how the month of December is a timeline reference throughout.

The Winter Street Series

  • Winter Street
  • Winter Stroll
  • Winter Storms
  • Winter Solstice

I get so many awesome book ideas from Mix and Match Mama and she had mentioned this series at some point. I had decided to at least read the first two. Then, another favorite (food) blogger, Bev Cooks, shared on her Instagram Stories that she was going to read all four of the books before Christmas. After reading the first book, I was hooked….and just kept chugging along while adding the next book to my Kindle. These books are fairly short, so they were easy to read somewhat quickly. Plus, I just fell in love with the Quinn family.

Like any big family, there are ups and downs, chaos, and celebrations. The Nantucket setting at Christmastime for each book, ties them together. Since I read each book back to back, the plot lines are all so intertwined. Overall, Kelley Quinn and his wife Mitzi run an inn on Nantucket. Each December, there’s a Winter Stroll through town. Kelley was married to Margaret for many years before Mitzi. Margaret is a CBS anchor and with Kelley, they have three adult children. With Mitzi, Kelley has a son named Bart who is a prisoner of war. Again, there are ups and downs, strained relationships, blended families, imprisonment and more. I seriously teared up at the conclusion of this series. I was sad to say goodbye to the Quinn family.

Christmas in Paris

This was a cute read with such a picturesque setting. Who wouldn’t want to visit Paris at Christmas time?

Isabel has canceled her wedding but decides to go on her honeymoon in Paris. While there, she meets Alec who also had wedding plans dissolve. Alec shows her around Paris, and they meet a fortune teller who tells Isabel she will meet and marry a French aristocrat. Isabel has been so unlucky in love that she’s adamant in pursuing whatever it takes to see those “dreams” come true.

This is a charming and light hearted read which was a perfect way to wrap up my December reading.

Top 5 books of 2019

Books #5 and #4 I read in January. I started the year off right! Actually, I ended 2018 reading on a high note. The Dinner List was the last book I read in 2018, and I loved it. (So, there’s a bonus reading recommendation if you’d like one.)

#5

All Your Perfects was a tough read. I remember picking this book right off the shelf of the library, reading the back, and thinking it would be a good book. BUT once I started to read it, such a main emphasis was on infertility and how it can impact a marriage. Since I’ve dealt with infertility , it piqued my interest and that part of the plot drew me in. Quinn and Graham had a great marriage and all the dreams in the world as any freshly married couple has in the beginning. As time goes on, the strain of infertility and the wondering of what the future holds gets to them. The book is structured in past and present which is a clear delineation in their happy and sad times. As a couple, they struggle to communicate. Quinn feels the grief and shame of not being able to start a family (I can relate). It’s not that Graham isn’t always there for her. It’s just that as a woman, she bears the burden on her own and they feel and process the devastation in their own ways. Honestly, the ending wasn’t what I expected, but I could appreciate why Hoover ended their journey the way she did.

If you are in the thick of infertility, it may be too soon to read this book, but Quinn and Graham and their relationship were certainly relatable.

This book hooked me from the beginning, had me in tears throughout, and definitely provides a perspective on a topic that very few people talk about.

#4

Swear on this Life was the first book I read in 2019. My goodness it was so good. Emiline is a writing instructor. She reads a book about two best friends, Emerson and Jackson, who are childhood sweethearts living in rural Ohio. Emerson has a very tough childhood and life and as Emiline reads the book, she realizes it bears a resemblance to her own upbringing. She then realizes the author, “J. Colby” must be Jase her childhood sweetheart. So, of course, she must find him and confront him for telling her story.

This book was so good, and I read it so quickly! I definitely recommend it.

Books #3-5, I’ve actually written about in my monthly book reviews, so I will share those posts as well.

#3

Ask Again , Yes was so amazing. The lives of two families over decades and how time can heal wounds made this book such an interesting read.

#2

Bread and Wine was an inspiring mix of food, recipes, stories, friendship, and nourishment (both for body and for mind).

#1

I put off reading Where the Crawdads Sing because I felt like everyone was reading it. I finally borrowed it from a friend to read on vacation; I read it in two days…and didn’t want it to end. For me, it had a To Kill a Mockingbird feel to it which is one of my favorite books of all time. Kya, “Marsh Girl,” is a fighter and a survivor and an outcast in her society. I loved the setting of North Carolina and Owens certainly paints a picture of that part of the country. The symbolism, the imagery, the characters, the plot, and the lessons learned made this book one that I will never forget…and I’m sure I will read it again.

One more bonus book—Verity by Colleen Hoover was a page turner!! I read it on vacation as well and a review of it is in the link above.

I can’t believe I’ve only been blogging a few months and that this is the last post of 2019. Thanks for following along on my journey. I hope you find a book or two that you’ll love. What was your favorite book that you read in 2019?

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in Books and Shows

November Book Review

It’s hard to believe that we are almost to Thanksgiving and wrapping up November. November and December are so hectic for most, so I tend to have less time to read, but I did read three books this month….and I’m almost finished with a fourth book, but I will save it for next month. In November, I read The Affair, The 13th Gift, and I finished reading The Residence which I’ve been reading off and on over the past couple of months.

The Affair

I read this book on my Kindle, and it was a quick read for me. The plot centers around, you guessed it, an affair. Kathy and Robert have been married for many years and while she raised the kids, he ran the business. Through the years, she suspects him of cheating, of which he’s denied. She does some investigating and finds out the truth. The book is also about other family relationships, growing as individuals and what that may mean for a relationship. I liked that the story was told from three points of view: the husband, the wife, and mistress. There are a few R rated scenes which isn’t surprising given the title and topic. The story did seem to kind of wrap up quickly for me…but as a reader, I also knew there must be more….hence the follow up, The Consequences, which I’ve already downloaded to my Kindle for future reading.

The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle

I loved this book. Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like random acts of kindness. In this true story, Joanne Huist Smith is struggling to find happiness and stay afloat after her husband’s death. She’s a full time working mom to three kids, and as the holiday season approaches, they are overcome with grief and wondering how they will get through the holiday while in their “new normal.” Then, twelve days before Christmas, gifts begin appearing on their doorstep each evening. As the days draw closer to Christmas, the family finds the spirit of the holiday and even come together to carry on traditions in the spirit of their lost loved one. This book was a quick read that just brings hope and restores faith in humanity!

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

This book is not necessarily something I would normally read, but I really loved it. I’m not one to read much about history, but the interviews and anecdotes woven through history made this book stand out to me. I did read this book over a couple of months…and not because I didn’t enjoy it. It was just easy for me to leave on my bedside table and read a bit at a time.

The Residence focuses on the service staff in the White House such as the butlers, maids, secretaries, and florists. The book provides the reader with insider information on the various Presidents and families who lived in the White House. I thought the traditions and relationships were interesting. For example, there was insight into the days following JFK’s assassination , how the family grieved, but also who the staff was there for them. Also, the protocol of moving one President out on Inauguration Day while moving the new President in was another great explanation. Also, the relationships between the staff and Presidential families as well as the formalities that come with living in the White House were all just very interesting. The reader learns about the Presidential eras of Johnson to Obama. While not usually a genre that I typically read, I’m glad that I took the time to read this book and learned quite a bit along the way.

Holiday Reads…

Last year, after reading one of Shay’s November blog posts, I decided to follow her suggestion and read holiday books in December. I’m doing the same thing this December, but thought I’d share my December list from last year.

In December of last year, I read:

  • Christmas Camp
  • Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
  • Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery

I kicked off holiday reading this year with The 13th Gift and I’m almost finished with the first book in the Winter Street series….Winter Street.

Also on my list for December are:

  • Winter Stroll (book 2 of 4 in the Winter Street series)
  • One Day in December
  • The Christmas Sisters
  • The Christmas Room

It may be wishful thinking to get four books read this month, but I’m sure going to try!

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday! I will be back on Friday with a post about kindness. ‘Tis the season (to be stressed, to be tired, to be over-scheduled, but to hopefully also enjoy the holidays with family and friends)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in Books and Shows

October Book Review

Happy Thursday! I feel like this month flew by! I read four very different books this month. I loved one of them and really liked the other three.

Sadie

I try to read young adult books occasionally, so I can recommend them to students. We have an awesome librarian at our school who is very enthusiastic with her book talks. She recommended this book during a book talk with one of my classes, so I added it to my list!

Sadie and her sister Mattie had a difficult childhood. When Mattie is killed, Sadie sets out to find her sister’s killer. A radio personality becomes interested in the story and discusses it on his podcast as he tries to find Sadie.

I really enjoyed the format of the book with Sadie’s point of view alternating with the podcast. This was a quick and easy read with a good ending!

Ask Again, Yes

This was a book suggested for my book club. I knew the wait would be long to check it out from the library, so I ordered it for my kindle. I loved this book. So. So. Much.!! I was immediately intrigued by the neighborly relationship of the Stanhopes and the Gleesons. The plot continued to build piece by piece with a traumatic event between the neighbors. My heart ached for one of the main characters, Peter, as he had to navigate life on his own after his parents let him down, each in their own way. Of course, there’s love in the story along with agony and major life decisions and battles. The timeline of events and character relationships are interwoven together in such a way that, as a reader, you are very invested in the plot. I couldn’t put this book down. Loved it.

The Other Woman

This is the first book I’ve read by Sandie Jones, and I liked it. The main characters, Emily and Adam, are in a relationship that is complicated in a variety of ways including dealing with Adam’s mother. There are lies, betrayal, and tense moments between all of the main characters. While it was pretty clear who “the other woman” is, there’s more to it than that, and I certainly wasn’t expecting the ending. This is in the “thriller” genre, but I didn’t necessarily think it read that way to me. I enjoyed this book, and it was a quick read…but I’ve certainly read more suspenseful books.

If Only You Knew

I listen to Jamie Ivey’s podcast, The Happy Hour, every once in awhile, and I enjoy listening to her. She’s full of wisdom and a woman of deep faith but doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s a mom and wife as well as podcast host, author, and motivational speaker.

If Only You Knew focuses on moments in life that you aren’t necessarily proud of or moments that others don’t know about because they didn’t know you in the past. Jamie lets her guard down while sharing her struggles, her ups and downs in life, and her failures, but encouraging her readers to know that there’s no such thing as perfection and that we are on a constant journey as people to be the best versions of ourselves. Since I read this on my kindle, it was easy to highlight some of my favorite passages. So many quotes resonated with me, and some of my favorites include:

  • “I often hear people repeat that every wound and scar in your life becomes part of your story, and as humans, we spend too much time covering our scars instead of using them as an opportunity to tell our story.”
  • “When seen through the eyes of the gospel, our stories are not obstacles to our freedom; they are actually the key to unlocking it.”
  • In reference to those who start attending church once they have kids (hits home with me), she says, “I see them as sweet parents who want something better for their children. They sense this yearning inside of them (hello, God yearning!) to build a foundation of faith that, even if they’re not so sure they believe in it for themselves, they do believe in it for their kids. It’s so amazing to see God put desires in parents that could only come from Him. On their own, they couldn’t even begin to dream up such a desire.”
  • “I had no concept of church as a place where broken people could show up, be their real selves, and still receive love.
  • And many other quotes…I could go on and on…

I feel that sometimes we read a book at just the right time in our life…and that’s how I felt about this book. Like Bread and Wine, I see this being a book I turn to occasionally when I need a reminder or two about growing as a person, accepting failures, and celebrating successes.

I hope you find a book or two that you enjoy from this list. Fingers crossed I can keep my reading streak alive this month…but November is always so hectic that my goal is to read at least two books!

See you back here tomorrow for a fun Flashback Friday.

Have a great day,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in Books and Shows, Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Yeah for Friday! Linking up with Narci, Erika, and Andrea for their Friday Favorites.

Now that shows are back on tv, I thought I’d share a few family favorites that we can actually watch together.

Young Sheldon

We all love Young Sheldon. I watched The Big Bang Theory for years and the last couple of seasons, the kids would watch some of the episodes with me…especially Hayden. Hayden has some Sheldon-like tendencies, so it’s no shock to me he likes both of those shows. Sheldon is a hoot, and by being the smartest in his family provides for another layer of comedy. Besides Sheldon, his grandmother (MeMaw) played by Annie Potts makes the show for me. I love her, and she adds a lot of sass to the show. Young Sheldon is definitely a hilarious show that has something for everyone.

Goldbergs

The Goldbergs is one of my favorite shows. The whole family is hilarious. The show is produced by Adam F. Goldberg, and it’s based on his life and his family growing up in the 80s. They often show true footage of videos that he made during his childhood which are hilarious. The 1980’s references alone are enough to keep my attention. How they dress, how their home is decorated, and every part of their day to day life reminds me of my childhood. The mom, Beverly Goldberg, makes the show! She’s loud, overbearing, and embarrassing! She’s obsessed with her kids and often calls them by loving nicknames like schmoo….and now I’ve started doing that to my kids and Homer…but never in public 😉 . One time, I got fired up a Hayden’s basketball game, and my brother said, “Sit down Beverly Goldberg!” So funny! The seventh season just started, and I can’t wait to watch!

Fresh off the Boat

I’ve watched every season of this show, and the kids enjoy it too. It’s loosely inspired by the life of chef Eddie Huang (who apparently has an autobiography by the same name (I didn’t know that) thanks to the info on Wikipedia #bloggingresearch) 😉 The Huangs moved from D.C. to Orlando and opened Cattleman’s Ranch restaurant in the 90’s. #lovethe90s The kids are all very different but funny together and Louis and Jessica are opposites in parenting and personality. She’s the tough cookie to his softer side. Their neighbors as well as Louis’s mother Jenny provide even more comic relief. Like I said, I’ve watched all five seasons and feel like it’s a pretty good family show. My only complaint so far is with season 6, episode 1…we watched it earlier this week, and it was a little more “middle school” in content (for my liking while watching with two almost ten year olds). I’m hoping the rest of the season is like the first five seasons.

Kids Baking Championship

My kids (and myself) love all kinds of competition shows. The kids watch American Ninja Warrior, game shows, Top Chef, Food Network Star, Guy’s Grocery Games among others. But…Kids Baking Championship is one that we love and watch together. The kids always end up rooting for two different kids to win which amps up the competition from our living room! haha. I’m always amazed at what these kid competitors can do in the kitchen!! Also, my heart breaks each week when one gets sent home. I think Duff and Valerie do an awesome job both critiquing and encouraging the kids!

Just a few favorite shows that are pretty family friendly! What do you watch with your kids and family?

I hope you have a great weekend; we are still enjoying our fall break (and fingers crossed, I think the temp is starting to drop this weekend!)

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in Books and Shows

September Book Review

This picture of Hadley is one of my favorites, and it recently popped up in my Facebook memories. She’s verrry serious about her reading. Thankfully, both of my kids enjoy reading…especially Hayden, but if Hadley gets into reading a series (like The Babysitters Club), she loves to read at bedtime.

This month I read four books. I enjoyed them all, and each one was very different. I read suspense, comedy, inspirational, and heartfelt…and the inspirational one was my favorite by far.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I thought The Art of Racing in the Rain was a great read. Of course, I knew it would tug at my pet lover’s heartstrings, so I kind of read it with my guard up. Besides the thoughts and actions of the pup Enzo, there’s also drama and illness within the main characters. Along with Enzo’s love for the family, the reader sees Denny, the main character, do whatever it takes to help his family.

To be honest, it did take me some time to get used to reading from the point of view of the dog…as he has some random thoughts, but once I continued reading, I didn’t find it distracting anymore. I had a friend ask if the ending was sad, and well, as a reader, you are there for Enzo’s journey through life. Therefore, I tried to prepare myself and I left the book feeling what I already know: dogs know what their owners need and are unselfish with their time here on Earth. I’d definitely recommend this book, and I’m curious how the movie is in comparison.

The Mother-in-Law

I had been on the library wait list for The Mother-in-Law for quite some time. When it arrived, I read it in a few days. I’ve read at least one other book by Sally Hepworth: The Family Next Door, and this book had the same vibe. All of the characters’ relationships with the main character Diana are different and the reader sees those relationships evolve throughout the story. Like most families, the connections and relationships are complicated and when money is involved, those relationships become even more complicated. It was definitely a good read with an unexpected (in my opinion) twist.

Bread & Wine

This book was suggested by one of the book clubs I’m in (but failingto attend). I’d never heard of it before, but I will go out on a limb and say that it’s a book that was life changing for me as I now view friendship, food, and faith in a different way.

I know food can bring people together whether it’s making a feast of appetizers for the Super Bowl, baking cookies to welcome a new neighbor, or bringing soup to a sick friend. But…the way the author, Shauna Niequist, weaves the importance of food to build relationships, soothe the soul during the ups and downs of life, or offer condolences to a friend was so powerful. Her reminder of the meaning and importance of communion while forgiving sins was also so heartfelt and inspiring.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book included:

(On making changes in your life…) “Healthy people in your life will respect those (choices). And the unhealthy people in your life will freak out, because you’re making a healthy choice they’re not currently free to make. Don’t for one second let that stop you.”

(In regards to parenting…) “It’s our job to let them grow up, to let them become big and smart and grown-up, but it’s so tempting to keep them little forever, or at least to try.”

“That’s what shame does, though. It whispers to us that everyone is as obsessed with our failings as we are…”

“When you offer peace instead of division, when you offer faith instead of fear, when you offer someone a place at your table instead of keeping them out because they’re different or messy or wrong somehow, you represent the heart of Christ.”

“We live in a world that values us for how fast we go, for how much we accomplish, for how much life we can pack into one day. But I’m coming to believe it’s in the in-between spaces that our lives change, and that the real beauty lies there.”

And I could go on. And on. And on.

This book provided an inspiring and positive outlook on life, food, relationships, and faith. I purchased it on my Kindle, and that’s my only regret. I wish I had a hardback copy to keep on hand as I know it’s one of those books I would turn to throughout my life in good times and in bad….and I know I’d make a recipe or two! (She shares so many good ones!)

Can you tell which book was my favorite this month? 😉

You’ve Been Volunteered

When Laurie Gelman wrote her first book, Class Mom, I couldn’t wait to read it…and I loved it! The main character is named Jen, from Kansas City, and she’s very sarcastic. What’s not to love?! #itcouldhavebeenme When friends ask me what humorous book I would suggest, I always mention Class Mom.

So, needless to say, I was so excited to see that Gelman had written a second book titled You’ve Been Volunteered that I immediately requested it from the library. After a month or so on the waitlist, I finally picked up a copy of it a couple of weeks ago and read it pretty quickly. Jen’s son Max is now in third grade, and she’s class mom again. Her emails are hilarious, and some had me laughing out loud. In this plot, there’s still some family drama and her older daughters need some of her attention as she tries to juggle their needs with the needs of her aging parents. I didn’t find this book as good as Class Mom, but I would still recommend it…I just thought there were some random plot elements that seemed odd. Where I’d say Class Mom was a 10/10, this one is more like 7.5/10.

After movie night on Friday, followed by a late dinner and even later bedtime, I peeked into Hadley’s room and found her reading her newest Babysitters Club book, Boy Crazy Stacey that she bought at the book fair. Some of the BSC books have now been turned into graphic novels which has been perfect for Hadley. My two proudest accomplishments with my kids are the fact that they are generally kind and that they love to read. #myworkhereisdone right?!

I hope you enjoy at least one of these books. What have you been reading lately?

Happy reading.

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea