Posted in Books and Shows, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: Good Reads

Hello! It’s Tuesday Talk with Erika and Ashley!

Today, I’m talking about books, reading, and the Goodreads app.

It’s no secret that I love to read. In 2018, I started to keep two different notes on my phone. One note was an ongoing list of books I wanted to read, and the other list was for books I read. The list of books I wanted to read continued to grow and grow. I would typically just read the last few books on the list since they were the most recent additions.

In December 2019 and December 2020, I shared my favorite books that I’d read during those years. I’ve had a few people mention the Goodreads app through the years, but I never really tried it out. I downloaded it and added some books that I’d read, but didn’t really do much more.

Then, a few friends shared about the 2020 Reading Challenge on Goodreads, and for whatever reason, that was enough to make me take some time to use the Goodreads app to set up my 2021 challenge. In January, I created various books shelves other than “Want to Read” and “Read.” I wanted to be able to get book titles based on what I wanted to read and stay organized.

I can honestly say that I’m really enjoying the app. I’m assuming I’m not utilizing all features, so please share on what else I can do besides the reading challenge and shelves.

My bookshelves include:

  • Bio/auto bio/memoir
  • Christmas/holiday
  • Faith based/self-help
  • Historical
  • Light reads/chick lit
  • Mystery/thriller/suspense
  • Read ASAP
  • Serious Reads
  • Summer Reads
  • Young adult
  • Started but didn’t finish

How do you organize your Goodreads book shelves? Here are some books I have for a few of these caterogies:

  • Bio/Auto bio/Memoir: Life in Love (Lauren Akins), He Put My Buddha in the Freezer (Karl), Blood: A Memoir (Moorer)
  • Lit Reads/Chick Lit: The Friendship List (Mallery), Surprise Me (Kinsella), Talk Bookish to Me (Bromley)
  • Mystery/Thriller/Suspense: The Night Swim (Goldin), Survive the Night (Sager), Local Woman Missing (Kubica)
  • Summer Reads: Big Summer (Weiner), Here’s to Us (Hilderbrand), Under the Southern Sky (Woodson Harvey)
  • Read ASAP: Pack Up the Moon (Higgins), We Were Liars (Lockhart), Are We There Yet? (West)


So, my “Read ASAP” category just means those seem like books I would want to read sooner rather than later, and I wanted to have a way to access that list.

I know you can follow people on Goodreads and even like/comment on what others have read or want to read. Are there any other features that I’m missing?

For the 2021 Reading Challenge, I’ve read 19 of my 40 book goal which means I’m on track since we are halfway through 2021. I’ve read a lot of great books so far this year!

I really am enjoying this app over all, and I wish I started using it sooner. I like having my books organized, and seeing what others are reading. Plus, the app helps me remember what I’ve read!

Speaking of organization, I randomly found a new app over the weekend for my blog reading.

Probably five years ago, Shay’s blog was the first blog I started reading, and now I ready quite a few throughout the week. I used to always read them on my computer, and some I would receive via email. For my blog, I use the WordPress app, and have started a few more bloggers on WP!

Anyway, I found this “My Blogs” app in the App Store, and adding blogs to it is very easy. You just get on the app, search for blogs and add them. Then, the app tells you when that blog has a new post to read. Of course, I’ve only started using it, but I like having blogs in one place to read whenever I have time.

Let me know what else I need to know about Goodreads and what books I should add to my Goodreads book shelves!

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Posted in Books and Shows

May: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! How’s your week going? Ours is off to a great start! With the month of May wrapping up soon, I’m sharing the books I read this month.

I’ve been keeping up with my monthly average of reading three books…I hope next month to at least read four books!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Wife Upstairs:

The Wife Upstairs

Summary:

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates—a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie—not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past—or his—catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve seen a lot of people share this book, and, for me, it definitely lived up to the hype. It was a page turner, and I loved it. I figured out about halfway through the Bea situation, but there were still pieces of the puzzle to be explained until the end of the book. This book was a thriller, and I loved the nod to Jane Eyre.

Rating:

The Hurricane Sisters:

Hurricane Sisters

Summary:

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can’t talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.

Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.

So where is Clayton, Liz’s husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father’s love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who’s an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley’s precarious situation. Who’s in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?

Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

Quick Thoughts:

I don’t think I’ve read a book by Dorothea Benton Frank, but Elin Hilderbrand has paid tribute to her recently and then Sarah mentioned this book, so I checked it out from the library. I loved the setting of South Carolina, and enjoyed the characters in the book. The complex family and friend relationship weave together the plot which kept me reading. I really enjoyed this and am sure I will read more DBF books in the future.

Rating:

Where the Red Fern Grows:

Where the Red Fern Grows

Summary:

A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn. Little Ann had the brains, and Billy had the will to make them into the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. Where the Red Fern Grows is an exciting tale of love and adventure you’ll never forget.

Quick Thoughts:

I chose this book because Hayden’s class read it recently….and I hadn’t read it since the 7th grade. Hayden said everyone in his class cried at the end! That should have deterred me, but I just thought it would be a good time to re-read it. It was nice to be able to chat with Hayden about it, and I enjoyed it. And, much like Hayden’s fifth grade class, I cried at the end. We are dog lovers, so of course course Little Ann and Old Dan captured my heart!

Favorite quote: “People have been trying to understand dogs ever since the beginning of time. One never knows what they’ll do. You can read every day where a dog saved the life of a drowning child, or lay down his life for his master. Some people call this loyalty. I don’t. I may be wrong, but I call it love — the deepest kind of love.”

and… “It’s a shame people all over the world can’t have that kind of love in their hearts…” ❤️

Rating:

How can you give a classic anything less than 5 stars ? 😂

Summer Reading:

With middle school on the horizon, the kids’ new school is encouraging them to read two books from an approved list. Hayden is fully embracing this. Hadley…not so much.

The kids:

I had the kids choose two book each to read.

Hayden chose Strong Inside and Seas Apart.

Also, Hayden has been loving the Theodore Boone series by Grisham. I just requested books 4 and 5 of the series for him at the library.

Hadley has read a couple of the books in the Mother Daughter Book Club series. That series is on the list, so she *with some major prodding * chose Mother Daughter Book Camp and then seemed interested in Grace, Gold, and Glory (The Gabby Douglas story).

Hayden loves to read before bed, but I’m sure I will implement a designated reading time when needed throughout the summer. When we get home from the pool, it’s usually quiet/cool down time, so maybe they can get some reading done then.

Me:

I’m always altering my “to read” list, but I decided to choose a few “beach/summer” books to read this summer.

Here’s what I’ve chosen to read:

  • The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton
  • That Summer by Jennifer Weiner
  • Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer
  • Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Big Summer Jennifer Weiner

Not sure I will read all of them, but I wanted to try to read some “summer” books June-August. What books do you have on your list for summer reading??

Take care,

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

April: What I’ve Been Reading

Well, I keep thinking I will have more time to read, but that hasn’t been the case. That being said, I’m keeping up with my monthly average of reading 3 books. They were all pretty different reads; I thought one was fantastic, one was great, and one was good!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The first two books were ones that I couldn’t put down…

The Push:

The Push

Summary:

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.

Quick Thoughts:

The main characters are Etta, Cecilia, Blythe, and Violet, and was written in Blythe’s point of view. Because of that, she ‘s the character that the reader gets to know the most.

The chapters were pretty short, and this was definitely a page turner, I felt like I knew how it should end based off of what was going on, but as the book drew to an end, I wondered if it was going to end like I thought it would. It did. This was a heartbreaking read, and I can honestly say I’ve never read a book like it. The topic of motherhood is central to the story with snippets of how difficult life can be for some depending on their upbringing.

A quote that stood out to me was: “You know, there’s a lot about ourselves that we can’t change– it’s just the way we’re born. But some parts of us are shaped by what we see. And how we’re treated by other people. How we’re made to feel.”

Rating:

This is the book that I thought was “great,” as I’ve never read anything like it…I’d say that I actually rank it with 4.5 stars.

Firefly Lane:

Firefly Lane

Summary:

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness. 

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship—jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you—and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend

Quick Thoughts:

I loved how the parts of the book were organized by decade and have song for the title. For example, Part One: The Seventies Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen and Part Three: The Nineties I’m Every Woman, it’s all in me. The song titles fit the time period of their lives as well as the plot.

I always think it’s so interesting when two total opposites are best friends. Tully and Kate definitely balance each other out, are there for each other in the highs and lows of life, and treat each other like sisters. Proof that the “grass isn’t always greener,” they are envious of each other’s lives as adults when one chooses career and the other chooses family.

This book gutted me. I haven’t ugly cried at the end of a book like this since 2006 when I read Marley and Me. The last few chapters took me forever to read because I had tears in my eyes the entire time.

I can easily see how the book could be made into a series. I’ve heard the book is better than the Netflix series, but I did start watching it. (#duh) After three episodes, I can already tell the book is better, but I like the actresses who play Tully and Kate, so I’m sure I will see it though til the end.

I’m on hold for book 2: Fly Away…Thankfully, it won’t be my turn to read it for a few weeks…which gives me some time to recover!

Rating:

This was the book that I thought was fantastic. It will most likely be a top 2021 read for me.

Little Disasters:

Little Disasters

Summary:

A new thought-provoking novel exploring the complexity of motherhood and all that connects and disconnects us.

You think you know her…but look a little closer.

She is a stay-at-home mother-of-three with boundless reserves of patience, energy, and love. After being friends for a decade, this is how Liz sees Jess.

Then one moment changes everything.

Dark thoughts and carefully guarded secrets surface—and Liz is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her friend, and about herself. The truth can’t come soon enough.

Quick Thoughts:

This was another challenging book about motherhood. There was some suspense to it as I tried to put the pieces together of what happened after the “one moment that changes everything,” but as the book wrapped up, and the ending made sense, I still was left thinking the outcome felt a little odd and forced.

Rating:

So, that means this is the book that I thought was good, not great or fantastic!

What have you been reading lately? My reading list continues to grow, and I’m so happy that our libraries have opened back up, so I can pop in to peruse the shelves when I have time.

See you back here tomorrow for the Monthly Musings link up.

{this post contained Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

For the Love of Reading

Hello! Today’s post is inspired by my love of reading!

It’s no secret that I love a good book, so when Tanya shared her answers after reading Julie’s post, I thought it would be fun to reflect on my This or That: Books answers.

  • Buy or Borrow: I typically borrow books from the library. I probably make a trip to the library for book pick up or return at least once a week. I will occasionally purchase a book if I know it’s something I will probably read again or loan to a friend. For example, I purchased The Giver of Stars because I’d heard so many wonderful things about it, and I’m so glad that I have my own copy.
  • Print or Ebook: Well, I held off on ebooks for as long as possible, but two years ago, I purchased my Kindle, and I love the convenience of it. I still prefer to hold a book in my hands, but I always have at least one book on my Kindle that I can read when I have a few minutes to spare. I often keep my Kindle in my purse in case I have a few minutes to read if Travis is driving or if I’m waiting on one of the kids to finish up an activity.
  • Indoor Reading or Outdoor Reading: I’d say most of my reading take place while indoors. I always read a few minutes on my Kindle before bed. That being said, I love to read in the warmth of our sun room, and there’s nothing better than reading at the pool or at the beach with the sound of the waves in the background.
  • Classics or Contemporary: As a high school English teacher, I’ve read quite a few classics! That being said, for my own reading pleasure, I stick to more contemporary books.
  • Bookmarks or Dog-eared: Since most of what I read is borrowed, I use a bookmark to hold my place. Random, but a couple of years ago, the kids got a few bookmarks at the end of 3rd grade with summer book title suggestions for going into 4th grade. I still use that same bookmark two years later.
  • Marginalia or Clean Pages: Clean pages since I tend to borrow books. That being said, if the book is mine, I like to underline favorite passages or put a star by meaningful quotes.
  • Speed-reader or Slow and Steady: I’d say I’m a pretty quick reader. I don’t necessarily rush what I’m reading, but I do find myself reading quicker on my Kindle.

So those are my This or That answers. How would you have answered the categories?

Before I wrap up, I’m also sharing….

Funny Memes about Reading

Mom meme:

OMG! I loved when my elementary school would do this! I loved cashing in my reading coupon for a personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut!

This is me some nights…

This one…hahaha!

This “book-addict” meme is so true. I love the feel of a book and the convenience of the Kindle.

Fave Account:

Also, a fun share…

Do you follow @sorrythankyou79 {vintage books} on Instagram? I’m mesmerized by their photos of all of the beautiful books they share (and sell!) Go check out their Instagram page!

One last book note: I just finished Firefly Lane, and I couldn’t put it down. I read the last 50 pages through tears in my eyes. I couldn’t quit crying. I enjoyed the book so much and am on the library wait list for book #2: Fly Away. Looks like I have about four weeks until it’s my turn for the book…which gives me some time to recover from the first one!

{Also, after reading the book, I started the series on Netflix. I heard the book was better (shocker!), but I can’t resist giving the series a try too! Hadley said, “So, does that mean you’ll cry again?” 😂 Only time will tell!}

See you back here tomorrow for a Three Things post.

Posted in Books and Shows

March: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! How’s your week going? I can’t believe it’s already the end of March.

This week, I’ve been able to read a bit more than usual…I feel like I was slacking on my reading in March. With back to in person learning and after school activities, I felt like I was asleep before my head hit the pillow most nights.

Before I share about the books I read this month, I have to take a moment to remember Beverly Cleary.

My love for reading started at a young age, and I have my parents to thank for that! I can also thank Beverly Cleary. I remember going to my elementary school library, and perusing the bookshelves. One of the very first books that I checked out from Mrs. Jones, our school librarian, was Dear Mr. Henshaw. I read all of the Ramona books as well. Those books were classics and Cleary was a literary legend. She will be missed.

This month I read…

Two of the books I loved and will definitely be “Top Reads” for 2021. The other book I thought was just ok.

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

We Were the Lucky Ones:

We Were the Lucky Ones

Summary:

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.

As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.

An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive. 

Quick Thoughts:

This was an amazing book! I don’t typically turn to historical fiction, but I’d heard wonderful things about this book. It captured my attention from the very first page. I loved how the story was organized moving back and forth between family members. Needless to say, this book had some heartbreaking moments, but the Kurc family members certainly were the lucky ones.

Rating:

Layla:

Layla

Summary:

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Quick Thoughts:

This book was odd. I enjoyed it in the beginning as Leeds and Layla got to know each other, but I almost quit reading it once I started to piece together what was going on in the plotline. Also, as with many Hoover books, there are some “R rated” scenes.

Rating:

The Giver of the Stars:

The Giver of the Stars

Summary:

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

Quick Thoughts:

I don’t think I’ve read a Moyes book since Me Before You gutted me quite a few years ago. Giver of the Stars has definitely been a popular book. I was on the library waitlist forever, and so many people (including my mom) said how much they enjoyed reading it, so I bought it assuming it would be a keeper!

I loved the Kentucky references, and the fact that most chapters started with a quote, including…

…and best of all, the wilderness of books, in which she could wander, where she liked, made the library a region of bliss to her.” -Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

These strong-willed ladies and the relationships they form are extraordinary. The setting, their journey, and the obstacles they overcome are inspiring.

This book is one of my favorite books to date! I’m definitely glad that I’ve added this one to my bookshelf as I know it’s one that I will read again.

Rating:

For Fun:

I thought I’d share this book again that a former colleague of mine wrote…and used our family photo (from 2014) for the cover! I definitely hope to read it soon!

Megan‘s Miracles

What have you been reading lately? I’m trying to get my Goodreads shelves organized, and am making “summer reads” as a priority. What should I read this summer?

I hope you are having a great week.

{this post contained Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows, Clothes, Friday Favorites, Kids

Friday Favorites

Hello!…and Happy Friday! Shew…I made it…It’s the Friday before Spring Break, and I’m ready for it. Only about seven hours remain before I can not set an alarm and not pack a school lunch. I’m hoping to spend the next week recharging, getting caught up on some of my favorite shows, having fun with the kids, and reading a bit more.

Before I can get to break, I’m recapping this week by linking up with Erika and Andrea for this week’s Friday Favorites.

Favorite Photo(s):

Since it was a new experience for us, and I was so proud of Hadley, her dance competition photos are my favorites from the week…

The professional ones are even better 😉

Favorite Moment:

My favorite moment from the week was receiving the kids’ 3rd quarter report cards. Both of them had awesome report card grades which earned them…

the red plate!

For Hadley, we celebrated her grades and dance competition performance. For Hayden, we celebrated grades, basketball championship win and the start of baseball season.

Favorite Food:

I tried a new recipe this week…Shay‘s Easy Shrimp Fried Rice. We devoured it. Easy and delish!

Favorite Clothing Item:

Ok…so I saw Shelby share this Target dress in her Insta Stories recently, and I bought it thinking it could be a good option for Easter. It arrived, and I was soooo pleasantly surprised.

When I went to take this photo, I realized the dress has pockets!!! So, not only is it pretty and flowy, the pockets make me so happy. I can even see myself wearing this to school with a cardigan or denim jacket to “dress it down” a bit.

I saw that the price dropped to just $20, so I ordered the mint one as well.

I finally realized I should tote my mirror to the sun room…best light in the house! duh!

Favorite Kid Quote:

On Monday night, Hadley was tired from all the weekend activities. She begged me to stay home from dance, and I said, “No!” As she left for class she said, “Don’t be surprised if you get a phone call saying I fell asleep in class!” #sassysincedayone

Then, when she arrived home, she came up the stairs and said , “I survived dance, but my dogs are barking!” 🤣 I was like, “Where have you heard that?” She said her dance teacher sometimes says that. Her delivery of the line was exasperated and so funny.

Favorite Mom Meme:

Even worse…I’m trying to get my kids to go to bed and then squeeze my adult life into one hour. I’m always ready for bed…and they never are!

This next meme is so very true!

A couple of funnies this week:

English teacher humor…

One of my colleagues had an extra one of these, so I added it to one of the walls in my classroom.

and…I started a Zoom meeting yesterday with a student to find this as my profile pic…

I’d been #Hadleyed.

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday (Dance Edition)

The competition last weekend has me taking a little stroll down dance recital memory lane…

2016 was the first year at Hadley took dance. She was in kindergarten and took a tap and ballet class. For the recital she was in two ballet routines.

After taking a two year hiatus to try gymnastics, Hadley was back at dance and took Hip Hop.

For her 2019 recital, she was in one hip hop routine.

Last year’s recital was postponed and then videoed in studio at the end of August 2020. In 2020, Hadley took ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop, so she had four routines (3 costumes) in last year’s dance recital.

This year she’s in ballet, tap, and jazz. She dropped hip hop to do competition because I told her something had to give…and if you’ve seen her Tik Tok moves (she doesn’t have Tik Tok…just looks up the videos), well, you know she’s pretty much mastered hip hop. haha

One More Fave!

The kids opened some fun mail on Wednesday, and to their surprise, they saw that we are on a book cover! A colleague of mine that I taught with at my previous school is now an author in her retirement years. Her latest story includes twins, so she asked if she could use a family photo (from 2014!) for her cover.

I haven’t read it yet, but I sure hope to dive into it soon.

Megan’s Miracles can be purchased on Amazon.

Weekly Recap:

I posted 5 days this week, y’all! That hasn’t happened in a hot minute. Here are my posts in case you missed one!

Lastly, with Easter a little over a week away, I thought I’d share my Easter gift ideas for kids one more time.

I still hope to post some next week even though it’s Spring Break, but I guess I will just see where the week takes me!

I hope you have a great weekend. See you soon.

{this post contained Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

February: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! How’s it going?

Today I’m sharing the three books I read this month. They were all very different, and I enjoyed them all.

Friendly reminder that I’m using the Good Reads summaries of the books as well as a few of my thoughts and a rating!

This month I read…

The Lies that Bind:

The Lies that Bind

Summary:

It’s 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city–and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew.

As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it–you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours–and shots of tequila–the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn’t be worse–Grant is preparing to quit his job and move overseas. Yet despite all their obstacles, they can’t seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head.

Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up fast: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn’t who heseemed to be?

The Lies That Bind is a mesmerizing and emotionally resonant exploration of the never-ending search for love and truth–in our relationships, our careers, and deep within our own hearts.

Quick Thoughts:

This book takes place during 9/11 which kept me thinking about what I was doing on that day. 9/11 seems like yesterday when reading the description of events from the book. Overall, I thought this book was good, but the ending felt odd/unrealistic. I did read it quickly and thought the characters were interesting.

Rating:

A Hope More Powerful than the Sea:

A Hope More Powerful than the Sea

Summary:

Doaa and her family leave war-torn Syria for Egypt where the climate is becoming politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. She meets and falls in love with Bassem, a former Free Syrian Army fighter and together they decide to leave behind the hardship and harassment they face in Egypt to flee for Europe, joining the ranks of the thousands of refugees who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean on overcrowded and run-down ships to seek asylum overseas and begin a new life.

After four days at sea, their boat is sunk by another boat filled with angry men shouting threats and insults. With no land in sight and surrounded by bloated, floating corpses, Doaa is adrift with a child’s inflatable water ring around her waist, while two little girls cling to her neck. Doaa must stay alive for them. She must not lose strength. She must not lose hope.

Quick Thoughts:

I can’t remember who shared this book, but after hearing about it, I moved it to the top of my reading list. Much like when I read American Dirt, I was overcome with emotions thinking about what Doaa and her family went through to flee their country. I caught myself tensing up and reading quickly through the chapters where she was at sea. This book definitely provided such a vivid and gripping perspective on the determination and heartbreak so many go through to leave their homeland in search of a better life.

Rating:

4.5 rating

Troubles in Paradise:

Troubles in Paradise

Summary:

After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But a visit from the FBI shakes her foundations, and Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved.

With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence mounts that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold — including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family.

As a storm gathers strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles: help from a mysterious source, and a new beginning in the paradise that has become their home. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John — and the truth that transformed them all.

Quick Thoughts:

This is the third and final book in the Paradise series. Like with the other two books, I really enjoyed this one. I love the characters, the setting, the family connections, and the plot. I did think there was a little bit of a forced connection near the end with Mitzi Quinn from Hilderbrand’s Winter Street series making an appearance, but otherwise I enjoyed this book. I feel like the series was wrapped up quite nicely!

Rating:

Currently Reading:

I’m currently reading We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. While I don’t typically turn to historical fiction, this book has definitely captured my attention. I’m about 75% finished, so I will tell you more about it next month. That being said, I already think it may be one of my Top 2021 reads this year.

What are you currently reading? As always, I love book suggestions, so let me know!

Happy Reading,

{this post contained Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

January: What I’ve Been Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

This month I read…

{ book photo linked to Amazon.}

American Dirt

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

This was a quote that resonated with me:

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

Told ya…heavy stuff!

Rating:

Make Life Beautiful

Summary:

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

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

Inspirational topics include:

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

What Happens in Paradise

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Piece of My Heart

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

So those are my January books!

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

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

Happy Reading!

{ this post contained Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

Top 5 Books of 2020

Happy New Year’s Eve! I can’t believe it’s the end of 2020. Even in this crazy year, reading has still been an important part of my life and one of my favorite hobbies.

Truthfully, with quarantine and more time at home, I didn’t necessarily read more because I took the time to binge shows on Netflix. 😂 I did read 39 books this year which is as many as I read in 2019 as well.

Today, I’m recapping the books I read this year as well as sharing my Top FIVE reads of 2020.

I saw Tanya’s link up, and it’s perfect timing for today’s post.

Before I get to what I read in 2020, here’s my Top 5 books post from 2019.

My 2020 Reads:

January:

  • A Woman is No Man
  • The Wives
  • The Hate U Give

February:

I had the flu in January, and I think I got behind on reading and didn’t post in February…

March:

  • American Royals
  • The Broken Girls
  • Small Great Things
  • The Secret to Southern Charm

April:

  • Regretting You
  • Our New Normal
  • The Matchmaker

May:

  • Two Girls Down
  • The Southern Side of Paradise
  • Defending Jacob

June:

  • Little Fires Everywhere
  • Paper Ghosts
  • The Unhoneymooners
  • The Simple Wild
  • One in a Million

July:

  • Our Little Lies
  • Ugly Love
  • Feels like Falling

August:

  • The Family Upstairs
  • Maid
  • 28 Summers

September:

  • Wild at Heart
  • In Five Years
  • Two Can Keep a Secret

October:

  • The Flatshare
  • November 9
  • The Guest List

November:

  • The Jetsetters
  • Louisiana Lucky
  • Winter in Paradise

December:

  • Seven Days of Us
  • Mr. Dickens and His Carol
  • In a Holidaze
  • 25 Days ’til Christmas
  • Let it Snow
  • Jingle All the Way

Top 5 of 2020:

Before I share my Top 5 reads of 2020, these deserve honorable mention recognition 😉…

November 9 #crazylovestory

The Jetsetters #forcedfamilyfun

Little Fires Everywhere #likeditbetterthantheseries

and…

The Matchmaker #anotherEHfave

Here are my 5 favorite reads of 2020 in no particular order…

A Woman is No Man:

I started off 2020 with this powerful read…and I mentioned it would probably be a to pick for this year…and it is. This novel about arranged marriages, early motherhood, and silenced voices was a book that opened my eyes to other cultures and left me feeling grateful for the choices I have as a woman.

In Five Years

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle was the last book I read in 2018, and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. I was so excited to read In Five Years by Serle after being on the library wait list for a few months. This was definitely a page turner for me, I loved the characters, and it tugged at my heartstrings. The ending almost lost me with labeling this a fave as I thought, “Huh?!” when I neared the end. Then, as the story wrapped up, I thought, “Ohhhh!!” and those final pages redeemed this book for me as a favorite.

Ugly Love:

I love Colleen Hoover books, and Ugly Love is another fave for me written by her! Miles and Tate had a very complicated relationship with baggage to sort through as they grew as individuals and as a couple. You know I love a book when I share favorite quotes from the story like:

“…that God gives us the ugliness so we don’t take the beautiful things in life for granted.”

I loved this (R-rated at times) book a lot!

August was a great reading month for me with these last two books.

28 Summers:

Y’all know I love Elin Hilderbrand. I was so excited to read 28 Summers. As I mentioned in my August recap, while I’m not about the idea of “28 summers/same time, next year” in real life, I couldn’t stop rooting for Mallory and Jake. I know, I know. BUT…I just kept reading wanting to know how things would end up for them. Also, I loved the structure of the text with a recap of events from that year. It was amazing how time flies for them as well as how they navigated life the other 51 weeks of each year without each other.

Since The Matchmaker was another hit for me this year, Hilderbrand continues to be a favorite author of mine…and I love following her on Instagram!

Maid:

Maid had been on my reading list for quite some time. I was out for a walk this summer and saw it in a neighborhood library. I grabbed it and was excited to dive right in.

This book forever opened my eyes to poverty in America especially as it pertains to single income families. Land’s tenacity to make a better life for herself and her daughter while working at low paying jobs, putting herself through school, and navigating government assistance was inspiring. I literally re-read certain parts to try to fully understand what it must have been like for her choosing jobs based on proximity to where she lived, buying certain foods at the grocery store, and completing paperwork and applications for opportunities all seemed so overwhelming. I was so inspired by her story and amazed by her journey!

So, those are my thoughts on my favorite books from this year. Looking back at my monthly posts, I was really on with my guesses of top reads as I read throughout the year.

Maybe in 2021 I can read 40 books? That’s a good goal, I think!

What have you read this year that you have loved? I’d love to add more books to my ever growing list!

I hope you have a great last day of 2020…I know we all would like to end on a high note, right?

Happy reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

December: What I’ve Been Reading

I read 6 Christmas themed books this month, and I’m sharing them with you today!

Honestly, for the sake of time, I’m sharing the Good Reads summary and just a few quick thoughts.

Long story short, I enjoyed all of the books, and they were perfect reads leading up to Christmas. Not that you can’t read these books at any time of the year, but I will make sure to share this post next November leading into Christmas 2021. Next year, I may try to read a few holiday books in November in order to share titles sooner!

Seven Days of Us:

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.

As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.

In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

My thoughts:

I mentioned this book in a previous post about how odd the timing was to read while currently living through a pandemic. The family is in quarantine together at Christmastime because the daughter has just returned home after treating patients in Liberia who are experiencing a virus. This book was probably my least favorite to read and not necessarily because of the pandemic terminology. It was just kind of slow for me, but I did finish it and liked it.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol:

Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept …

My thoughts:

This charming take on how A Christmas Carol came about was such a fun read. Perfect read for the holidays.

In a Holidaze:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

My thoughts:

I’d seen many people share this book as a great holiday read, and it was. I loved the plot of Mae reliving Christmas over and over in a groundhog day like plot. This was such a cute read.

25 Days ’til Christmas:

Kate Potter used to love Christmas. A few years ago, she would have been wrapping her presents in September and baking mince pies on Halloween, counting down the days and hours to Christmas. But that was before Kate’s husband left for the army and never came home. Now she can hardly stand December at all.

Kate can’t deny she’s lonely, yet she doesn’t think she’s ready for romance. She knows that her son, Jack, needs a Christmas to remember—just like Kate needs a miracle to help her finally move forward with her life. So she’s decided if there isn’t a miracle on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

As Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever begins, she soon realizes that even with the best laid plans, you can’t plan for the unexpected. For when the path of the loneliest woman in town crosses with that of the loneliest man, these two destined hearts might find a way to save the holiday for both of them.

My thoughts:

Of the six books I read this month, 25 Days ’til Christmas was my fave! This was a heartwarming book about a mother doing whatever it takes to make the holidays special for her son. I loved the British references and and setting. This was such a sweet little read!

Let It Snow:

Christina Antonioni is preparing for the holidays at her Nantucket toy shop, unpacking last-minute shipments and decorating for her loyal Christmas shoppers. But when her Scrooge of a landlord, Oscar Bittlesman, raises her rent, it seems nearly impossible for Christina to continue business on the wharf.

Even so, Christina hopes there is a warm heart underneath Oscar’s steely exterior. When she bonds with Wink, his sweet, young granddaughter who frequents the shop, it becomes clear that perhaps he isn’t so cold after all. And with the help of Wink’s uncle, who happens to be a charming and very handsome bachelor, this may be the best Christmas any of them could have ever imagined. Nancy Thayer’s enchanting Nantucket setting provides the perfect backdrop for this holiday love story. 

My thoughts:

I love Nancy Thayer books, but I don’t know that I’ve read a holiday book by her. The Nantucket setting at Christmas always hooks me! The plot moved right along, and I loved the characters.

Jingle All the Way:

Trapped in the middle of five siblings, Everly Lancaster always had big dreams. Now a top real-estate executive, Everly finds her work is her life, leaving no space for anything (or anyone) else. Sensing her stress, Everly’s boss insists she take December off. At first, a month away seems crazy–how will the company survive without her? But Everly’s mother convinces her otherwise. She deserves a vacation–plus, when she returns, she’ll have no excuse to skip family Christmas like she did last year.

But after her vengeful assistant books a guided cruise in the Amazon instead of the luxury beach vacation she expected, Everly is horrified to realize that she’s about to spend the next two weeks trapped–with no Wi-Fi!–in the rain forest. Not even Asher Adams, the ship’s charming naturalist, can convince Everly that the trip will be unforgettable. Slowly but surely, she realizes he is right: the sights are spectacular. And with each passing day, Everly’s relationship with Asher deepens, forcing her to take a long, hard look at her priorities.

Everly and Asher begin to see magic in the possibility of a life together. But as the cruise nears its end, and Everly’s family Christmas approaches, both must decide if love is worth the risk. A merry surprise may be in store in Debbie Macomber’s newest holiday delight.

My thoughts:

Macomber seems to be the queen of Christmas themed books, but I think this may be the first one I’ve read written by her. Like the other books I read this month, a sweet plot, a hint of romance, and the December setting made for a perfect reading selection this time of the year.

That being said, the first half of this book wasn’t very “Christmasy,” but it was short read which also made it appealing as I finished up my reading list of the month.

There are so many great holiday themed books that I do think I will try to read a couple in November next year in order to enjoy them leading up to the holidays. I’ve even thought about reading a couple in July for a “Christmas in July” themed book list!

I plan on sharing my top 5 books that I read in 2020 either tomorrow or Thursday.

Happy Reading!