Posted in Books and Shows

Watching and Listening

With school back in session, I haven’t had as much time to read, watch TV, or listen to podcasts, but I’m sharing some of the recent shows I’ve been watching and podcasts I’ve been listening to lately.

Watching:

  • Virgin River: Travis and I are mid-way through season 2, and I still really love this show. It’s sweet and simple, and I’m always rooting for Mel and Jack.
  • Titletown High: Travis was watching the first episode of this series, and I started watching it too. Maybe it’s my love for all things Friday Night Lights and Coach Taylor, but I always end up interested in these types of shows that follow sports teams and players.
  • Mare of Easttown: This is another show that both Travis and I watched this summer. I had purchased a month of HBO to watch the Friends reunion, and then we also watched Mare. I love Kate Winslet and this dark crime drama kept us interested until the very last episode. By the way, I thought there were ten episodes, and at the end of the seventh episode, I turned to Travis and said, “Well, that seemed like the end!” Then, I realized, it was the end! haha
  • Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary: I love Luke Bryan, and binged his documentary a couple of weekends ago. He’s lost so many loved ones: his brother, his sister, and his brother-in-law. To see his musical career journey told by him as well as those who love and support him, was inspiring. His country, good ol’ boy accent is hard to resist! You can tell he loves his family deeply, and takes the responsibility of being there for his nieces, nephew, and parents very seriously.
  • The Goldbergs: As a family, we all love this show, but Hayden and I especially do. Somehow, we got very behind on last season. With the next season starting soon, Hayden and I watched quite a few episodes over the weekend. My family likes to joke that I have a bit of Beverly Goldberg in me 😉

…and…

  • House Hunters: Kind of random, but if I have a few minutes to kill, I will watch an episode of House Hunters. I’ve loved this show for years!

Listening:

  • The Bestie Breakdown: I read Erika and Shay‘s blogs daily, and their podcast is fun to listen to. They “break down” topics such as vacations, exercise, social media, friendship, Botox and more. I enjoy listening to their conversations!
  • Even the Rich: I’ve been an Even the Rich fan for a while, but I don’t listen to every season. I’ve just finished listening to the Back to Bennifer episodes, and enjoyed other seasons like: Free Britney, Beyonce’ and Jay-Z, Diana and Meghan and more.
  • Always Hungry: I love these short episodes with Bobby Flay and his daughter Sophie. They always talk about a food topic like pasta, cookbooks, tacos, and more! while cooking during the episodes. I like that most of the episodes are less than 30 minutes which makes them easy to listen to while making dinner or going for a walk.
  • Pod Save the Queen: This is a new podcast for me, and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s all about the Royal family, so that’s always of interest to me!
  • Calm Down: Lastly, I don’t miss an episode of Calm Down with Erin and Charissa. They are so fun to listen to. They always catch up with each other, interview guests, and have the guests give out a Calm Down award at the end of the episode. These two are funny and mildly inappropriate! haha I just always feel like I’m listening to a conversation between two really great friends!

What are you watching and listening to right now? I’d love to add to my list!

Posted in Books and Shows

August: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello…and Happy September 1st! I had hoped to post this yesterday, but this photo of Hayden kind of sums up my Monday, and honestly, most of Tuesday:

{he was safe, by the way} 😉

haha

So, the transition back to school kind of got in the way of my reading, but I was able to finish three books this month. (…and to my credit, one was pretty long! 😉)

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Local Woman Missing

Local Woman Missing

Summary:

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, 11 years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find….

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times best-selling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Quick Thoughts:

I enjoy Kubica books. I’ve read The Couple Next Door, Every Last Lie, The Good Girl and I think even more books by her. This one didn’t disappoint! This book is dark and suspenseful which made it a pretty quick read for me because it held my attention. I didn’t necessarily see the ending coming, but about halfway through there were a couple of red flags that really got me thinking about a couple of the characters. I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.

Rating:

Golden Girl

Golden Girl

Summary:

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she’s assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

With all of Elin’s trademark beach scenes, mouth-watering meals, and picture-perfect homes, plus a heartfelt message—the people we lose never really leave us—Golden Girl is a beach book unlike any other.

Quick Thoughts:

So, I’ve seen some conflicting reviews about this book. Some don’t like the supernatural element, but I enjoyed that perspective of Vivian looking down and watching over her family after she was gone. That being said some of Vivian’s exchanges with Martha seemed a bit hokey and a little unnatural. All that to say, I’ve enjoyed every Elin Hilderbrand book I’ve read, and I loved this one too. I liked the idea of Vivian having the three nudges combined with the evolving family and friends’ relationships after Vivian’s death. Those relationships combined with solving the mystery of who the driver was who hit Vivian provided for a really interesting plot. This book was on my summer reading list, and it was the perfect way to cap off my summer reading.

Rating:

The Four Winds

The Four Winds

Summary:

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression

Quick Thoughts:

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time, and I’m so glad that I finally read it. I loved it. Now, I knew it would be heavy. It’s set during the Great Depression. It was, in fact, a heavy read. There isn’t a lot of light or hope in Elsa’s life. That being said, she was inspiring to me. I can’t imagine being a mother who shoulders the responsibility of everything in today’s world, let alone having to be the sole caretaker and provider during Great Depression. Elsa is courageous. She is fierce. She is determined. I will say the ending crushed me. I was an invested reader, and I thought I knew how it would end…but I was wrong.

There are female characters in books that I will always remember. Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. Lydia in American Dirt. Kya in Where the Crawdads Sing. I can definitely add Elsa to that elite list of fierce females.

You know I love a book when I share some favorite quotes:

  • “Life went on, even in the hardest of time…”
  • “It wasn’t the fear that mattered in life. It was the choices made when you were afraid. You were brave because of your fear, not in spite of it.”

I’m sure we can all relate to Elsa’s grit and determination at some point in our lives even if we haven’t travelled across the country in a run down truck, worked tirelessly in a field, or pinched pennies to budget for basic necessities.

Rating:

Summer Reading Update:

These were the books on my summer reading list:

  • Here’s to Us: read!
  • Big Summer: started but couldn’t really get into it.
  • The Summer House: read!
  • Girls of Summer: read!
  • That Summer: had to return it before I could read it.
  • Golden Girl: read!

So, while I did a lot of reading this summer, I only read 4 of my 6 summer books. Honestly, this is also why I fail at book clubs. haha I did like having a plan on some books I wanted to read while mixing in other ones as they became available at the library.

What have you been reading lately? Let me know what I should add to my list.

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

July: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! Can you believe July is almost over? We are in back to school mode around here. The kids have been attending 6th grade (middle school!) orientation all week, and I’ve been helping with 9th grade orientation. Less than two weeks, and we’ll all be back in the classroom.

That being said, I’m definitely in a reading groove this summer, and today I’m sharing the books I read in July.

This month, I read 5 books…and have started one more. My mom sent this to me, and it’s so true:

Of the five books I read in July, a couple were just ok, but one book was my favorite of the summer (and wasn’t even on my Summer Reading list!)

This month I read…

For my Good Reads Reading Challenge, I’m up to 26 of 40 books read this year!

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Open Book

Open Book

Summary:

Jessica tells of growing up in 1980s Texas where she was sexually abused by the daughter of a family friend, and of unsuccessfully auditioning for the Mickey Mouse Club at age 13 with Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling before going on to sign a record deal with Columbia and marrying 98 Degrees member Nick Lachey.

Along the way, she details the struggles in her life, such as the pressure to support her family as a teenager, divorcing Lachey, enduring what she describes as an emotionally abusive relationship with musician John Mayer, being body-shamed in an overly appearance-centered industry, and going through bouts of heavy drinking. But Simpson ends on a positive note, discussing her billion-dollar apparel line and marriage with professional football star Eric Johnson, with whom she has three children.

Quick Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book at the library. I was actually in the library and saw it on the shelf. I took it with me on vacation, and it was a great beach read. I really enjoyed the book. Of course, I love reading and getting details on the lives of others, and it was interesting to read about Jessica’s childhood, her relationship with Nick Lachey, and her career.

Honestly, I’d forgotten how successful her Jessica Simpson line is, and she hadn’t started it yet when going through her divorce with Nick. I loved her mic drop moment when she told her dad she was tired of the back and forth about money during the divorce with Nick and to just pay him whatever he was asking. (When they married, he was the more successful one, but her career had picked up and was more successful at the time). She told her dad, “I will make the money back…and I did by billions.” Boom.

Anyway, I really did enjoy the book, and Jessica was so forthcoming with many details and she really has accomplished so much!

Rating:

Four…maybe five stars…depending on if she’s a person of interest to you.

We Were Liars

We Were Liars

Summary:

#A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Quick Thoughts:

I didn’t know this was a young adult book when I picked it up. The chapters were short making it an easy read for young adults. I didn’t really enjoy the first half but then I did get into the story line for the second half of the book. That being said, the overall story was pretty heavy especially once I realized what happened. I really enjoyed the “bonus” content. The author shares notes from her, notes from the characters, her writing process, her book proposal, why she called it “the liars” and more. I always love insight from an author!

Rating:

Apparently it was a Good Reads Choice 2014 Winner.

3 🌟 for the first half, 4🌟 second half and how the story wrapped up, 5🌟 for the bonus content 😂

The Cave Dwellers

The Cave Dwellers

Summary:

They are the families considered worthy of a listing in the exclusive Green Book—a discriminative diary created by the niece of Edith Roosevelt’s social secretary. Their aristocratic bloodlines are woven into the very fabric of Washington—generation after generation. Their old money and manner lurk through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Capitol Hill. They only socialize within their inner circle, turning a blind eye to those who come and go on the political merry-go-round. These parents and their children live in gilded existences of power and privilege.

But what they have failed to understand is that the world is changing. And when the family of one of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered, everything about their legacy is called into question in this unputdownable novel that “combines social satire with moral outrage to offer a masterfully crafted, absorbing read that can simply entertain on one level and provoke reasoned discourse on another” (Booklist, starred review).

Quick Thoughts:

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Similarly to We Were Liars, it took me some time to get into the plot, but the ending came together nicely. I did like the little excerpts of historical context sprinkled between chapters. The book shines light on politics, the upper class, and high society life. I’m glad I finished the book, but it’s not one that I feel like will stick with me.

Rating:

Three, mayb 3.5 stars

The Summer House

The Summer House

Summary:

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago—just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins—a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over—and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far.

Quick Thoughts:

The Summer House was a cute summer read. It reminded me of Virgin River with the small town setting, Lily coming to the small town for a fresh start. Lily’s love interest Rawlins, had a very Mel and Jack vibe of Virgin River. I loved the Village Vine newsletter updates sprinkled throughout the book.

Rating:

Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising

Summary:

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

Quick Thoughts:

Malibu Rising is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s definitely the best book I’ve read this summer (and it wasn’t even on my summer reading list!) This book caught my attention from the first page and held my interest until the very last page. The plot seamlessly moved between the past and the present which provided so much insight into each character and made this book an easy page turner. I love the relationship between the siblings. You could feel Nina’s sense of responsibility and sigh of relief when she was able to provide for her siblings and that they “made it.”

One of my favorite quotes (in part) from the book: “It hurt to leave…but most good things come with a pinch or an ache.” This rang true in a variety of ways throughout the book. Malibu Rising is definitely a book I will always remember.

Rating:

Hands down, 5 stars. This is definitely the best book I’ve read all summer…maybe all year.

Summer Reading Update:

These are the books on my summer reading list:

  • Here’s to Us: read!
  • Big Summer: started but couldn’t really get into it.
  • The Summer House: read!
  • Girls of Summer: read!
  • That Summer: just picked up from the library!
  • Golden Girl: on the library wait list

I’m definitely going to miss having as much time to read once I get back to school. I still have a couple more weeks of summer, so I’m trying to get my reading time in while I can.

I just started Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins. I’d been on the library wait list, so I’m reading it now since it’s my turn!

What have you been reading lately?

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

June: What I’ve Been Reading

Well, my summer reading is off to a good start! It’s been nice to have some extra time to read. Whether I’m at the pool, killing time between ball games, or reading before bed, I always make sure to have a book on my Kindle as well as a book to read.

I was able to read five books this month!

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Good Apple: Tales of a Southern Evangelical in New York

Good Apple

Summary:

Elizabeth Passarella is content with being complicated. She grew up in Memphis in a conservative, Republican family with a Christian mom and a Jewish dad. Then she moved to New York, fell in love with the city—and, eventually, her husband—and changed. Sort of. While her politics have tilted to the left, she still puts her faith first—and argues that the two can go hand in hand, for what it’s worth. 

In this sharp and slyly profound memoir, Elizabeth shares stories about everything from conceiving a baby in an unair-conditioned garage in Florida to finding a rat in her bedroom. She upends stereotypes about Southerners, New Yorkers, and Christians, making a case that we are all flawed humans simply doing our best. Good Apple is a hilarious, welcome celebration of the absurdity, chaos, and strange sacredness of life that brings us all together, whether we have city lights or starry skies in our eyes. More importantly, it’s about the God who pursues each of us, no matter our own inconsistencies or failures, and shows us the way back home. 

Quick Thoughts:

…or not so quick thoughts…I could probably write a whole post on just this book. I loved and appreciated it that much.

It was so funny, and Elizabeth Passarella certainly has a way with words! Passarella is a Southern Living columnist who was raised in the south but is raising her kids in NYC.

The book touched on raising kids, manners, education, religion and more.

Chapter 15 was one that hit home with me. I loved her perspective on minor issues like why she doesn’t pack her kids’ lunches and bigger issues such as how she came about making the decision on where to send her kids to school.

She talks about school lunches being free. She says, “They’re (Dept of Ed) trying to soften the lines between kids who have no other option and kids who show up with salmon sashimi.” She just puts a funny spin on something that’s so true…even school lunches show the who the “haves” and the “have-nots” are. She says, “I like that idea, everyone being in the same boat. There are ample other ways for kids to congregate into haves and have-nots.”

Honestly, for me in regards to lunch packing, I just don’t need one more thing to do. 😆 (I will offer to help my kids pack their lunches right after dinner…but it’s only during that window of time that I will offer to help if they want to take me up on it.) I really appreciated her thoughts and perspective.

She says, “The way I see it, for us, there’s no downside. School lunch is character building.” They have to stand in line in the cafeteria, practice patience and flexibility, and deal with disappointment. None of that can hurt.” *She does also acknowledge that her kids are good eaters and have no allergies, so she doesn’t have to stress about school lunch offerings.

She just provides a real and refreshing perspective with her thoughts.

As far as schools go, she referenced how sometimes parents make a decision based on nostalgia, feeling like they should replicate their childhoods for their kids based on how they grew up (which she had that frame of mind in the beginning as well). She shares her conclusion that God put them where they are supposed to be and they (kids and parents) can “bloom where planted.” It was just such an interesting take on school choice and perspective when making these decisions.

I’ve actually made decisions for my kids because I was nostalgic about things I didn’t experience in my childhood (although it was a good one 😉) We had kids in our neighborhood but nothing like what my kids have now which we thought about when choosing our current home. Also, we moved when I was in the 7th grade which was a difficult transition for me. So, Travis and I were intentional about moving to an area where we put trust in a solid k-12 school experience for our kids and are hopeful that path continues to be a great fit for them.

This book was funny, informational and insightful.

Rating:

The Good Sister:

The Good Sister

Summary:

From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

Quick Thoughts:

This book was just ok to me. I know a lot of people have read it and liked it, but it seemed rather predictable. I did breeze right through it, and the plot does provide a few twists and turns.

Rating:

Girls of Summer:

Girls of Summer

Summary:

Lisa Hawley is perfectly satisfied living on her own. Having fully recovered from a brutal divorce nearly two decades earlier, she has successfully raised her kids, Juliet and Theo, seeing them off to college and beyond. As the owner of a popular boutique on Nantucket, she’s built a fulfilling life for herself on the island where she grew up. With her beloved house in desperate need of repair, Lisa calls on Mack Whitney, a friendly–and very handsome–local contractor and fellow single parent, to do the work. The two begin to grow close, and Lisa is stunned to realize that she might be willing to open up again after all . . . despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior.

Juliet and Theo worry that Mack will only break their mother’s heart–and they can’t bear to see her hurt again. Both stuck in ruts of their own, they each hope that a summer on Nantucket will provide them with the clarity they’ve been searching for. When handsome entrepreneur Ryder Hastings moves to the island to expand his environmental nonprofit, Juliet, an MIT-educated web designer, feels an immediate attraction, one her rocky love life history pushes her to deny at first. Meanwhile, free spirit Theo finds his California bliss comes to a brutal halt when a surfing injury forces him back to the East Coast. Upon his return, he has eyes only for Mack’s daughter, Beth, to whom he is bound by an unspeakable tragedy from high school. Can they overcome their past?

As the season unfolds, a storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, forcing Lisa, Juliet, and Theo to decide whether their summer romances are destined for something more profound. Nancy Thayer dazzles again in this delightful tale of family, a reminder that sometimes, finding our way back home can bring us unexpected gifts.

Quick Thoughts:

This book was on my Summer Reading list. I’ve always enjoyed Thayer books, and this one didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed the character relationships; I thought it was interesting how the characters were “paired up” with parallel story lines. Also, for me, the story wrapped up nicely!

Rating:

The Last Thing He Told Me:

The Last Thing He Told Me

Summary:

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

Quick Thoughts:

This book seems to be a popular one, and I can understand the hype! This was a pretty good read and unlike any other book I’ve read in regards to how the story unfolds. Like the summary says, “Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity…” and that part kind of nagged a me a bit while reading and didn’t think some of it seemed feasible. Overall, I understand the hype of this book, and the ending had a moment, that as a reader, I enjoyed.

Rating:

Here’s to Us:

Here’s to Us

Summary:

Celebrity chef Deacon Thorpe has always been a force of nature with an insatiable appetite for life. But after that appetite contributes to Deacon’s shocking death in his favorite place on earth, a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage, his (messy, complicated) family is reeling. Now Deacon’s three wives, his children, and his best friend gather on the island he loved to say farewell. The three very different women have long been bitter rivals, each wanting to claim the primary place in Deacon’s life and his heart. But as they slowly let go of the resentments they’ve held onto for years and remember the good times, secrets are revealed, confidences are shared, and improbable bonds are formed as this unlikely family says goodbye to the man who brought them all together, for better or worse–and the women he loved find new ways to love again.

Quick Thoughts:

Of course, for me, Hilderbrand never disappoints, and I loved this book. I thought the best part was that the story centered around Deacon’s three wives (two ex-wives + current wife) after his passing. Each wife is so different, and holds a special tie to Deacon. Also, because he was a chef, Hilderbrand includes an occasional recipe of Deacon’s mixed in to the story which I thought was a fun touch. I really enjoyed this book, and it is another one I can cross off my Summer Reading list.

Rating:

Summer Reading Update:

Here are the books on my Summer Reading list….

I’m mixing them in with other books that I want to read.

  • Here’s to Us: read!
  • Big Summer: just picked up from the library!
  • The Summer House: just downloaded to my Kindle!
  • Girls of Summer: read!
  • That Summer: on the library wait list
  • Golden Girl: on the library wait list

What have you been reading lately?

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

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 {#60}

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.

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