Posted in Books and Shows

November 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hey there!

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

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Things We Cannot Say:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

4.5 ⭐️

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Previous Christmas Reads:

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

October 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy Wednesday!

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

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Smells Like Tween Spirit:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

Rating:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

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

Rating:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

Rating:

4.5 stars

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

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

Happy reading,

Posted in Books and Shows

September 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello!

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Younger Wife:

Summary:

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

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Twenty Years Later:

Summary:

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

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

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

What have you been reading lately?

Posted in Books and Shows

August 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello!

I’m happy to report that I finished strong with my summer reading! With back to school and less pool (and zero vacay) time, I wondered how many books I’d get read. The answer is five! Today, I’m sharing about the books I read this month, and almost all were so good.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Under the Southern Sky:

Summary:

Recently separated Amelia Saxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker—and dredging up old wounds in the process.

Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.

Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Cape Carolina. The journey of self-discovery leads them to an unforgettable and life-changing lesson: Family—the one you’re born into and the one you choose—is always closer than you think.

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve loved every Kristy Woodson Harvey book I’ve ever read, and this one was great too. I loved the characters, the setting, and the storyline. This book provided all kinds of emotions from sad to happy and everything in between. It’s definitely a great book to read!

Rating:

Book Lovers:

Summary:

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Quick Thoughts:

This chick lit book gets an A+ from me. First of all, the title Book Lovers…what’s not to love? I loved the small town setting, and I kind of kept picturing Virgin River on Netflix. The fact that both Nora and Charlie are book agents/editors and were living so many “chick lit” book clichés, made this book a sweet little read.

Fave quote: “Is there anything better than iced coffee and a bookstore on a sunny day? I mean, aside from hot coffee and a bookstore on a rainy day.”

Rating:

Every Summer After:

Summary:

They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.

Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.

When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.

Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.

Quick Thoughts:

This book may just end up in the top 5 books I’ve read this year. Every Summer After was the perfect summer read (and it wasn’t even on my summer reading list!) I loved how the plot was organized with flashbacks to previous summers along with the the present day reunion for Percy and Sam. The idea of a summer love is such a sweet one, and, as a reader, I enjoyed watching their relationship blossom with each summer. Throw in a few other characters, miscommunication, a bit of drama, and other complicated relationships, and you have the making of a great book. I loved this one so much.

Rating:

The Chain:

Summary:

It’s something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it’s a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a ransom, and find another child to abduct. This is no ordinary kidnapping: the caller is a mother herself, whose son has been taken, and if Rachel doesn’t do as she’s told, the boy will die.

“You are not the first. And you will certainly not be the last.” Rachel is now part of The Chain, an unending and ingenious scheme that turns victims into criminals—and is making someone else very rich in the process. The rules are simple, the moral challenges impossible; find the money fast, find your victim, and then commit a horrible act you’d have thought yourself incapable of just twenty-four hours ago.

But what the masterminds behind The Chain know is that parents will do anything for their children. It turns out that kidnapping is only the beginning.

Quick Thoughts:

The plot idea of this book is what made me pick it up at the library. Honestly, the first half was a 5/5 to me, but then the second half felt more like a 3. Some parts just didn’t seem realistic and other parts were predictable or forced. Everything came together in the end, but I felt like I had to force myself to finish this book. It just fell flat for me in the end.

Rating:

This Time Tomorrow:

Summary:

What if you could take a vacation to your past?

On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?

Quick Thoughts:

This book was another win for me. Like Shay mentioned yesterday, this book had a 13 Going on 30 mixed with Groundhog’s Day vibe, and I agree. Honestly, that’s what I liked about it. While reading this book, I also kept thinking of One Italian Summer that I read in July. In One Italian Summer, Katy goes to Italy after her mother dies and ends up seeing her mom when she was younger. This book felt similar in that way in regards to Alice and her father, Leonard.

I loved the connection to Leonard’s books about time travel and then that being an essential part of Alice’s life. This book tugged at my heartstrings in parts, and I loved the father/daughter relationship. Reading about how Alice’s life was, could have been, and how she was living also kept my interest. While I knew how some parts of the book would wrap up, I wanted to see how everything would end for Alice. While I don’t think this book would be a top 5 read for me this year, I think it would be a top 10 for sure.

Rating:

Summer Reading Update:

I wasn’t tied to this list, but it was a good guide for me. When I started the summer, I was on a long wait list for most of these, and then they started to become available just around vacation time….which was perfect timing!

I predicted that I’d read five of these books, and I ended up reading six of them.

  • Read: Summer Love, The Summer Job, The Summer Getaway, One Italian Summer, The Hotel Nantucket
  • Read this month: Under the Southern Sky
  • Didn’t read: Boardwalk Bookshop and Out of the Clear Blue Sky

The two I didn’t read were both in my possession at some point in the summer, but I never got to reading them. Others were waiting for them, so I did my civic library duty and returned them without reading. I didn’t want someone else to miss out! Maybe I will get to read them next year.

I ended up reading 14 books this summer (June-August), and it’s just what I needed. Going into summer, I was behind in my Goodreads goal of 40 books this year, and now I’m back on track (one book ahead!) with 27/40 books read.

What was the best book you read this summer? I will add it to my “summer list” on Goodreads.

Posted in Books and Shows

July 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello!

Well, nothing makes me happier than the fact that I have been able to get back on track with my reading. This month, I was able to read six books due to a bit more downtime and vacation time. They were all so different, but I would recommend them all!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines:

Summary:

A woman returns to her small southern hometown in the wake of her mother’s sudden death–only to find the past upended by stunning family secrets–in this intimate debut novel, written with deep compassion and sharp wit.

Lila Bruce Breedlove never quite felt at home in Wesleyan, Georgia, especially after her father’s untimely demise when she was a child. Both Lila and her brother, Henry, fled north after high school, establishing fulfilling lives of their own. In contrast, their younger sister, Abigail, opted to remain behind to dote on their domineering, larger-than-life mother, Geneva. Yet despite their independence, Lila and Henry know deep down that they’ve never quite reckoned with their upbringing.

When their elderly mother dies suddenly and suspiciously in the muscadine arbor behind the family estate, Lila and Henry return to the town that essentially raised them. But as they uncover more about Geneva’s death, shocking truths are revealed that overturn the family’s history as they know it, sending the pair on an extraordinary journey to chase a truth that will dramatically alter the course of their lives. The Sweet Taste of Muscadines reminds us all that true love never dies.

Quick Thoughts:

I’d been on the library wait list for quite a while, so I downloaded this as soon as it became available.

This book caught my attention on the first page. It’s beautifully written; the setting in the south coupled with the description of Wesleyan allowed the words to flow on the page. The family dynamic of Lila and her sister and brother was also interesting to me. The sadness and uncertainty of their mother’s death brought them together but showed how people respond differently in times of sadness. There’s also some suspense and family secrets too. I loved how this book ended.

Favorite Quotes:

  • Truth, like beauty, reveals itself as you notice it; the more you see, the more you see.
  • Maybe your home is more something you carry inside you than the ground on which you stand.

Rating:

4.5 stars

One Italian Summer:

Summary:

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Quick Thoughts:

I love The Dinner List and In Five Years, so I had hoped that I would enjoy this one too! Newsflash: I did. Like her other books, this one tugged at my heartstrings a bit. There were definitely a couple of twists and turns that made me stop and re-read to keep up with the plot, but I really did love this book. I actually finished this book on the plane on the way to Mexico, and it was a great way to start my vacay reading.

Rating:

Meant to Be:

Summary:

The Kingsley family is practically American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. When Joseph S. Kingsley III is born in 1960, he inherits the weight of that legacy. Growing up with all the Kingsley looks and charisma, Joe should have no problem taking up the mantle after his father’s untimely death. But he is also a little bit reckless, and can’t seem to figure out how to channel the expectations of an entire country.

No one ever expected anything of Cate, on the other hand. She, too, grew up in a single-parent household—just her and her mom scraping by in their small apartment. As a teenager, though, Cate is discovered for her looks. Modeling may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, her face is everywhere, though she is always aware that she’d be a pariah in her social circles if anyone knew her true story.

When Joe and Cate’s paths cross, their connection is instant. What remains to be seen is whether their relationship will survive the glare of the spotlight that follows Joe everywhere. And just as they find themselves in the make-or-break moment, the tragedy that seems to run in Joe’s family right alongside all that privilege will repeat itself.

In a beautifully written novel that recaptures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells a story of a love that may or may not have the power to transcend circumstances that seem arrayed against it… and the difficulty of finding your way to the place you belong.

Quick Thoughts:

When I saw this book was coming out this summer, I immediately requested it from the library. I also told myself that if I didn’t get the book before vacation, I would buy it. That’s exactly what I did. I love the cover, and I’m happy to have it on my bookshelf!

The plot is loosely based on JFK, Jr.’s life and his romance with Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy which had me excited to read the book. Of course, I had the time to read it since I was on vacation, but I flew through this book. I think I felt like I could read quickly because there were so many similarities to his life that I already knew. To be honest, at one point, I kind of thought it was too much like the real life version, but then I embraced it and kept reading. This book did live up to the hype and is a great, quick read.

Rating:

The Lifeguards:

Summary:

Austin’s Zilker Park neighborhood is a wonderland of greenbelt trails, live music, and moms who drink a few too many margaritas. Whitney, Annette, and Liza have grown thick as thieves as they have raised their children together for fifteen years, believing that they can shelter them their children from an increasingly dangerous world. Their friendship is unbreakable–as safe as the neighborhood where they’ve raised their sweet little boys.

Or so they think.

One night, the three women have been enjoying happy hour when their boys, lifeguards for the summer, come back on bicycles from a late-night dip in their favorite swimming hole. The boys share a secret–news that will shatter the perfect world their mothers have so painstakingly created.

Combining three mothers’ points of view in a powerful narrative tale with commentary from entertaining neighborhood listservs, secret text messages, and police reports, The Lifeguards is both a story about the secrets we tell to protect the ones we love and a riveting novel of suspense filled with half-truths and betrayals, fierce love and complicated friendships, and the loss of innocence on one hot summer night.

Quick Thoughts:

I read The Jetsetters last summer and really enjoyed it. I honestly hadn’t heard of this book, and then someone shared it (I can’t remember who), and I requested it from the library. It was available on Kindle right as we were leaving for vacation.

I loved the idea of the three moms who were all very different, but had a strong friendship. Their boys also were very different, but had a strong friendship. There was just enough action combined with “who done it,” and background that this was a great read that came together nicely in the end.

Rating:

4.5 stars

The Hotel Nantucket:

Summary:

After a tragic fire in 1922 that killed 19-year-old chambermaid, Grace Hadley, The Hotel Nantucket descended from a gilded age gem to a mediocre budget-friendly lodge to inevitably an abandoned eyesore — until it’s purchased and renovated top to bottom by London billionaire, Xavier Darling.  Xavier hires Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton as his general manager, and Lizbet, in turn, pulls together a charismatic, if inexperienced, staff who share the vision of turning the fate of the hotel around. They face challenges in getting along with one another (and with the guests), in overcoming the hotel’s bad reputation, and in surviving the (mostly) harmless shenanigans of Grace Hadley herself — who won’t stop haunting the hotel until her murder is acknowledged.
 
Filled with the emotional tension and multiple points of view that characterize Elin’s books (The Blue BistroGolden Girl) as well as an added touch of historical realityHotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this summer drama for the ages. 

Quick Thoughts:

Again, this was another “book of the summer” that I was hoping to read on vacation. I almost purchased it to take on vacation, but I realized I probably had enough books to read. Well, a couple of days before vacation, it was available at the library.

I started this book on our last full day in Mexico and was also reading The Lifeguards at the same time.

I really loved all of the characters. I was rooting for the hotel to succeed and for Lizbeth’s love life. I did like the multiple points of view and sense of history in the story. This is another EH book with a ghost…which I know is a polarizing topic for readers. Sometimes the bits with Grace felt hokey, but obviously EH knows how to tell a story. I did love the ending and there were definitely a few surprising moments.

Rating:

4.5 stars

This Tender Land:

Summary:

In the summer of 1932, on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River, the Lincoln Indian Training School is a pitiless place where Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to Odie O’Banion, a lively orphan boy whose exploits constantly earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Odie and his brother, Albert, are the only white faces among the hundreds of Native American children at the school.

After committing a terrible crime, Odie and Albert are forced to flee for their lives along with their best friend, Mose, a mute young man of Sioux heritage. Out of pity, they also take with them a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy. Together, they steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi in search for a place to call home.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphan vagabonds journey into the unknown, crossing paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, bighearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

Quick Thoughts:

I can’t remember where I saw this book title, but again, I had to wait a bit on the library waitlist. This book felt like a mix of Where the Crawdads Sing + Four Winds + The Girls in the Stilt House, and I loved it. It did take me a the first few chapters to get hooked but after the inciting incident, the plot picked up. I loved the characters and the bond that they had together. My English teacher heart loved the nods to The Odyssey which also connected the parts of their journey together. There was suspense and heartache, but also moments of joy and accomplishment. This was a book that wasn’t on my radar and all, but I’m so glad I read it. It could be a top read of 2022.

Rating:

Summer Reading Update:

Of course, I’ve read other books too, but I’ve made a serious dent in my SRL.

  • Read: Summer Love, The Summer Job, The Summer Getaway, One Italian Summer, The Hotel Nantucket
  • Just checked out: The Boardwalk Bookshop
  • On the wait list: Out of the Clear Blue Sky & Under the Southern Sky (the last two titles have been available on Kindle, but I’ve delayed the checkout because I was already reading other books. Hopefully, I can get one more of these read this summer!)

I was behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, but now I’m caught up. I hope to have another good reading month because I know once I get back to school, I won’t have as much time to read at first.

Have you read any of the books I read this month?

Posted in Books and Shows

June 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! Well, I feel like I blinked, and it’s already Wednesday. Same with the month of June…How did it go by so quickly?

Today, I’m sharing the books I read this month.

While I did have more time to read, I also made a dent in my summer tv show list thanks to being quarantined in my room, and I have also spent some time actually crossing things off my “to do” list.

I think I will have even more time to read in July which makes me excited!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Summer Love:

Summary:

When four strangers rent bargain-basement rooms in an old hotel near the beach, they embark on the summer of their lives. First there’s Ariel Spencer, who has big dreams of becoming a writer and is looking for inspiration in Nantucket’s high society. Her new friend Sheila Murphy is a good Catholic girl from Ohio whose desire for adventure is often shadowed by her apprehension. Then there’s small-town Missourian Wyatt Smith, who’s immediately taken with Ariel. The last of the four, Nick Volkov, is looking to make a name for himself and have a blast along the way. Despite their differences, the four bond over trips to the beach, Wednesday-night dinners, and everything that Nantucket has to offer. But venturing out on their own for the first time, with all its adventure and risks, could change the course of their lives.

Twenty-six years after that amazing summer, Ariel, Sheila, Wyatt, and Nick reunite at the hotel where they first met. Now it’s called The Lighthouse and Nick owns the entire operation with his wife and daughter. Ariel and Wyatt, married for decades, arrive with their son, and Sheila’s back too, with her daughter by her side. Life hasn’t exactly worked out the way they had all hoped. Ariel’s dreams have since faded and been pushed aside, but she’s determined to rediscover the passion she once had. Nick has the money and reputation of a successful businessman, but is it everything he had hoped for? And Sheila has never been able to shake the secret she’s kept since that summer. Being back together again will mean confronting the past and finding themselves. Meanwhile, the next generation discovers Nantucket: Their children explore the island together, experiencing love and heartbreak and forging lifelong bonds, just as their parents did all those years ago. It’s sure to be one unforgettable reunion.

This delightful novel from beloved storyteller Nancy Thayer explores the potential of dreams and the beauty of friendship.

Quick Thoughts:

I could not have loved this book more. It is the quintessential summer book. I really enjoyed the characters and their history with one another. The chapters alternated between “this summer” and “that summer,” which I really enjoyed. This book was actually on the shorter side, and it left me wanting a bit more.

Rating:

The Summer Job:

Summary:

What if you could be someone else? Just for the summer…

Birdy has made a mistake. Everyone imagines running away from their life at some point. But Birdy has actually done it. And the life she’s run into is her best friend Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather.

The summer job at the highland Scottish hotel that her world class wine-expert friend ditched turns out to be a lot more than Birdy bargained for. Can she survive a summer pretending to be her best friend? And can Birdy stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked, but who thinks she’s someone else?

One good friend’s very bad decision is at the heart of this laugh-out-loud love story and unexpected tale of a woman finally finding herself in the strangest of places.

Quick Thoughts:

This was a cute read. My mom actually read it too…and even listened to some of the chapters while driving to visit us. She said she liked the audio because of the characters’ accents. I loved the premise of the book that Birdy acted as Heather for the job. There were actually a couple of twists with the characters that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. This is a great, fun, and quick summer read.

Rating:

Harry: Life, Loss, and Love:

Summary:

From his earliest public appearances as a mischievous redheaded toddler, Prince Harry has captured the hearts of royal enthusiasts around the world. In Harry, Britain’s leading expert on the young royals offers an in-depth look at the wayward prince turned national treasure. Nicholl sheds new light on growing up royal, Harry’s relationship with his mother, his troubled youth and early adulthood, and how his military service in Afghanistan inspired him to create his legacy, the Invictus Games.

Harry: Life, Loss, and Love features interviews with friends, those who have worked with the prince, and former Palace aides. Nicholl explores Harry’s relationship with his family, in particular, the Queen, his father, stepmother, and brother, and reveals his secret “second family” in Botswana. She uncovers new information about his former girlfriends and chronicles his romance and engagement to American actress Meghan Markle.

Harry is a compelling portrait of one of the most popular members of the royal family, and reveals the inside story of the most intriguing royal romance in a decade.

Quick Thoughts:

When I went to pick up a book at the library, I took a few minutes to wander the aisles. I love the Royal family, so when I saw this book about Harry on the display, I decided to read it. The book had a quick pace. Nicholl gave lots of info, but it wasn’t a complete deep dive into all the things. I actually realized how much I kind of already knew about Harry, but this filled in some of the blanks. Of course, this was written before Harry and Meghan moved to the US, so I’d love an update on the family dynamics now!

This same author (who I do recognized from tv interviews) has a book about Kate that I’ve picked up as well.

Rating:

Also, this month:

When I looked at my June list and saw that I “only” read three books, I kept thinking that couldn’t be correct. Well, then I remembered that I started a book (now I can’t even remember the name), and quit after about 100 pages.

I’m also halfway through this book, and I’m loving it. I will share more about it in July.

Summer Reading Update:

  • Read: Summer Love, The Summer Job, The Summer Getaway
  • Kindle: I have One Italian Summer downloaded on my Kindle, and I hope to get to it soon.
  • On the wait list: Under the Southern Sky, The Hotel Nantucket, The Boardwalk Bookshop, Out of the Clear Blue Sky

I’m also excited to read Emily Giffin’s new book Meant to Be. It seems to be one of the books many people are reading this summer. While I don’t often purchase books, I went ahead and ordered it from Amazon.

What are books have you read this month?

Posted in Books and Shows

May 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello!

I’m a bit late sharing my May books, but this week has been a bit hectic with summer school.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Save Me From Dangerous Men

Summary:

Nikki Griffin isn’t your typical private investigator. In her office above her bookstore’s shelves and stacks, where she luxuriates in books and the comfort they provide, she also tracks certain men. Dangerous men. Men who have hurt the women they claim to love. And Nikki likes to teach those men a lesson, to teach them what it feels like to be hurt and helpless, so she can be sure that their victims are safe from them forever.

When a regular PI job tailing Karen, a tech company’s disgruntled employee who might be selling secrets, turns ugly and Karen’s life is threatened, Nikki has to break cover and intervene. Karen tells Nikki that there are people after her. Dangerous men. She says she’ll tell Nikki what’s really going on. But then something goes wrong, and suddenly Nikki is no longer just solving a case—she’s trying hard to stay alive.

Part Lisbeth Salander, part Jack Reacher, part Jessica Jones, Nikki Griffin is a kickass character who readers will root for as she seeks to right the world’s wrongs. S.A. Lelchuk’s Save Me from Dangerous Men marks the beginning of a gripping new series and the launch of a fabulous new character

Quick Thoughts:

A friend gave me this book to read, and I really enjoyed it. The main character was definitely a force to be reckoned with and it was fun keeping up with her. She definitely didn’t shy away from dangerous situations and Nikki was definitely a character to root for!

Rating:

A Stranger’s Game

Summary:

A wealthy hotel heiress.

Torie Bergstrom hasn’t been back to Georgia since she was ten, but she’s happy to arrange a job for her best friend at one of the family properties on Jekyll Island.

A suspicious death.

When Torie learns that her best friend has drowned, she knows this is more than a tragic accident: Lisbeth was terrified of water and wouldn’t have gone swimming by choice.

A fight for the truth.

Torie goes to the hotel under an alias, trying to find answers. When she meets Joe Abbott and his daughter rescuing baby turtles, she finds a tentative ally.

But the more they dig, the more ties they find to Torie’s mother’s death twenty years before. Someone will risk anything—even more murder—to hide the truth.

Quick Thoughts:

This book was a good mix of suspense, romance, and “who done it?” I loved the setting of Jekyll and the Torie’s background as a wealthy heiress who wants to blend in. I read this one pretty quickly, and I loved how events from the past and the present were woven together.

Rating:

The Summer Getaway

Summary:

Single mom Robyn Caldwell needs a new plan for her future.  She has always put her family first.  Now, with her kids grown, she yearns for a change. But what can she do when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could ruin everything?

Take a vacation, of course. Press reset. When her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane to sunny California.

But it’s hard to get away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she loves follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more possibilities she sees—for dreams, love, family. She can have everything she ever wanted, if only she can muster the courage to take a chance on herself.

Quick Thoughts:

I still have a few pages left of this book, but I wanted to go ahead and share it. It was my first “summer” book, and I really enjoyed it. (Warning?) There were a few “R rated” references/moments. The main character Robyn had so much going on as a mom trying to figure out the next steps of her future. Her aunt Lillian was a sweet addition to the story, and the various characters all played off of each other nicely. This was a good light-hearted read with a few predictable parts.

Rating:

I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a solid 4 star month…there’s usually at least one five star book, but overall these were pretty good!

Summer Reading

Just a reminder….here’s my Summer Reading List…and I can already check one off that list!

I hope the summer is off to a great start for you. See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Posted in Books and Shows

Summer Reading 2022

Hello!

My Summer Reading title made me laugh when I typed it out. Students see “summer reading” and groan…I see it and get excited for sunshine and reading by the pool!

Last year was my first year sharing books I wanted to read in the summer.

This was my 2021 list, and I read four of the six books. The two I didn’t read were Big Summer and That Summer.

My 2022 Summer Reading List:

  • Summer Love
  • One Italian Summer
  • Under the Southern Sky
  • The Hotel Nantucket
  • The Summer Job
  • The Boardwalk Book Shop
  • The Summer Getaway
  • Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Some of these books were already on my “Summer Reads” list on Goodreads, and others I added to that list thanks to Sarah’s extensive book list!

Now, I highly doubt I will read all eight. My goal is to read five of these. I love a list, but I also don’t want to feel forced to read. Some of these books aren’t even out yet, and some I’m on a long wait list at the library.

That being said, I did pick up three of them at the library on Friday.

So, I will just continue to see what becomes available and read as I go. Of course, I will read other books too, but I’m sooo looking forward to lounging by the pool and getting caught up on reading.

What are you reading this summer? I’d love to add it to my Goodreads list!

Tomorrow is the last day of school…and we are ready for it! Like really, really, really ready for it!

Posted in Books and Shows

April 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Well, I was going to share this post last week, but when Hadley got sick, I had to skip a day of posting! #momlife

Anyway, today I’m sharing the three books I read in April. Honestly, I read two them at the beginning of the month during Spring Break. I’ve been a slow reader so far in 2022.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Such a Quiet Place:

Summary:

We had no warning that she’d come back.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

Quick Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. Doesn’t “Hollow’s Edge” sound like a place where there would be trouble?! The plot line with Ruby showing up unannounced immediately caught my attention. There were various layers to the story with many of the characters keeping secrets that are eventually revealed as the plot and conclusion come together. This was a good one.

Rating:

Pack Up the Moon:

Summary:

Joshua and Lauren are the perfect couple. Newly married, they’re wildly in love, each on a successful and rewarding career path. Then Lauren is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

As Lauren’s disease progresses, Joshua struggles to make the most of the time he has left with his wife and to come to terms with his future–a future without the only woman he’s ever loved. He’s so consumed with finding a way to avoid the inevitable ending that he never imagines his life after Lauren.

But Lauren has a plan to keep her husband moving forward. A plan hidden in the letters she leaves him. In those letters, one for every month in the year after her death, Lauren leads Joshua on a journey through pain, anger, and denial. It’s a journey that will take Joshua from his attempt at a dinner party for family and friends to getting rid of their bed…from a visit with a psychic medium to a kiss with a woman who isn’t Lauren. As his grief makes room for laughter and new relationships, Joshua learns Lauren’s most valuable lesson: The path to happiness doesn’t follow a straight line.

Quick Thoughts:

Based on the summary I knew this would probably be a tear jerker. As I started to read it, I kept thinking it sounded so familiar. So much so that I went back and looked at my reading lists from 2018 on, but didn’t see the title. Then, I checked my Good Reads list — I even have a list for “started but didn’t finish” and it wasn’t on there. As I continued reading, I knew that I had started this book…I must have previously quit on it knowing that the story line seemed sad?

Anyway, I started this book on the drive to Asheville and just kept reading. At around page 100, I stopped feeling like I’d read the book before, so that must have been when I quit on it.

I loved how the book was organized with letters from Lauren. There were monthly letters to Joshua for the first year after Lauren’s passing. Also, occasionally, there were letters to Lauren’s father who had passed away when she was twenty years old. The letters to Joshua were heartfelt, bittersweet, humorous, encouraging and more. The chapters that weren’t letters shared about their lives leading up to her death: dating, proposal, marriage, honeymoon, life as newlyweds, her diagnosis and illness progression, and her death.

I cried ugly tears at the end. Good thing I was alone when finishing this book.

Rating:

This book was probably 4.5⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me just because it was such a tear jerker, but it was really good.

The Rent Collector:

Summary:

Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the bad-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money–a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past.

Quick Thoughts:

The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman’s journey to save her son and another woman’s chance at redemption.” This was such a touching book, and I couldn’t put it down. A friend shared in on Facebook, and I immediately added it to my reading list, and I was actually on the library waitlist for a bit.

I think anyone would enjoy this book, but I especially did so as an educator (and lover of reading). I believe it was inspired by real life as far as the people living near a garbage dump in Cambodia.

I can’t imagine living conditions for Sang Ly, Ki, and Nisay in Cambodia. I loved the grumpy temperament of the rent collector, Sopeap. She holds such a powerful gift of being educated and ends up changing Sang Ly’s life. Sopeap’s past could have been its own book and is such a key piece in the plot. This story is beautifully written and as the story continued to unfold and the pieces fell into place, I was in awe. This may be one of my top reads of 2022.

Fave Quotes:

  • “Life will not always be so hard or cruel. Our difficulties are but a moment.”
  • “Peace is a product of both patience and persistence.”
  • “Education is almost always good, especially when it brings us to an understanding of our place in the world.”
  • “In literature, everything means something.”
  • “Stories teach us to not give up hope because there are times in our own journey when we mustn’t give up hope. They teach endurance because in our lives we are meant to endure. They carry messages that are older than the words themselves, messages that reach beyond the page.”
  • It doesn’t matter where you live, Sang Ly, it is how you live.”

Rating:

What have you been reading lately? I’m almost finished a book that a friend suggested, and then I hope to pick up my reading pace just in time for summer!

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

March 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! As March wraps up, I want to share the books I read this month.

It was another slow reading month for me, but I enjoyed the two books I read this month.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Lucky:

Summary:

A thrilling roller-coaster ride about a heist gone terribly wrong, with a plucky protagonist who will win readers’ hearts.

What if you had the winning ticket that would change your life forever, but you couldn’t cash it in?

Lucky Armstrong is a tough, talented grifter who has just pulled off a million-dollar heist with her boyfriend, Cary. She’s ready to start a brand-new life, with a new identity–when things go sideways. Lucky finds herself alone for the first time, navigating the world without the help of either her father or her boyfriend, the two figures from whom she’s learned the art of the scam.

When she discovers that a lottery ticket she bought on a whim is worth millions, her elation is tempered by one big problem: cashing in the winning ticket means she’ll be arrested for her crimes. She’ll go to prison, with no chance to redeem her fortune.

As Lucky tries to avoid capture and make a future for herself, she must confront her past by reconciling with her father; finding her mother, who abandoned her when she was just a baby; and coming to terms with the man she thought she loved–whose dark past is catching up with her, too.

This is a novel about truth, personal redemption, and the complexity of being good. It introduces a singularly gifted, multilayered character who must learn what it means to be independent and honest … before her luck runs out. 

Quick Thoughts:

My friend let me borrow this one, and it was a very quick read. I liked how it was organized because each chapter has both current day and then flashback as well. The premise with the lottery ticket and Lucky not being able to share her identity definitely hooked me from the beginning. There were times that I felt sorry for Lucky and kept pulling for her. I was satisfied with the ending for sure!

Rating:

Rock Paper Scissors:

Summary:

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve seen a few share this book, and I was on the library wait list for a while. Finally, it was available to read on my Kindle. To me, it took a few chapters to get into this book, but definitely by the midway point I couldn’t put it down. There was definitely a creepy and sinister feeling portrayed from the start. A blizzard, a chapel in the middle of nowhere, and a main character with face blindness…I mean, you know there are going to be some twists and turns. There are anniversary letters sprinkled throughout the story, and some of them seemed a little odd to me. About 3/4 of the way through the book, my mind was blown. I wanted to go back and re-read certain parts. This was definitely a great, suspenseful book!

Rating:

I would say a 4, but then a 5 about the mid-way point to the end. So, let’s settle on 4.5 ⭐️ 😉

I’m not sure what my deal is, but I just haven’t prioritized reading as much lately…I’m hoping to pick up the pace in the spring and summer.

The good news is I’ve been able to read more this week which has been nice.

What book are you reading right now? Soon it will be time for me to choose what books I want to read this summer. Can’t wait!

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}