Posted in Books and Shows

November: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! Happy December 1st! I can’t believe it’s already December. Sometimes I feel like 2021 has moved at a snail’s pace, and other times I feel like it’s flown by.

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

This month I read:

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Not a Happy Family:

Summary:

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Merton. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

Quick Thoughts:

This book had pretty short chapters, and there was an interesting dynamic between the siblings. All three of kids had motive for killing their parents because they’d all inherit the money, so, as a reader, I didn’t feel like they were very likeable. The ending fell a little flat for me because I expected there would be more of a twist.

Rating:

4 stars but maybe more like 3.5 because of the ending.

Christmas in Peachtree Bluff:

Summary:

When the Murphy women are in trouble, they always know they can turn to their mother, Ansley. So when eldest daughter Caroline and her husband, James, announce they are divorcing—and fifteen-year-old daughter Vivi acts out in response—Caroline, at her wits end, can’t think of anything to do besides leave her with Ansley in Peachtree Bluff for the holidays. After all, how much trouble can one teenager get into on a tiny island?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

As the “storm of the century” heads toward Peachtree Bluff, Ansley and her husband, Jack, with Vivi in tow, are grateful they’re planning to leave for the trip of a lifetime. But Vivi’s recklessness forces the trio to shelter in place during the worst hurricane Peachtree has ever seen. With no power, no provisions, and the water rising, the circumstances become dire very quickly…and the Murphy sisters, who evacuated to New York, soon realize it’s up to them to conduct a rescue mission. With the bridges closed and no way to access Peachtree Bluff by land or air, they set sail on Caroline’s boat, The Starlite Sisters, determined to rebuild their beloved town—as well as their family.

In “pitch-perfect tones” (Publishers Weekly) and written with her signature Southern charm, New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey explores the magic of Christmas, the power of forgiveness, and the importance of family in a tale that reminds us that, no matter the circumstances, home is always where we belong—especially during the holidays.

Quick Thoughts:

I loved this book so much. (I actually won the book from a Goodreads giveaway!) It was the perfect way to start the holiday season. I’ve read the entire Peachtree series, and this book felt like such a bonus! The family relationship is so special. The sisters, along their mother Ansley, all remain close through the challenges in life whether it’s death, divorce, or a hurricane. The town seems so charming and is the perfect backdrop to tell this Christmas story. This is definitely a must read this holiday season.

Rating:

The Girls in the Stilt House:

Summary:

Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to go but back home. And she knows there will be a price to pay with her father.

Matilda, daughter of a sharecropper, is from the other side of the Trace. Doing what she can to protect her family from the whims and demands of some particularly callous locals is an ongoing struggle. She forms a plan to go north, to pack up the secrets she’s holding about her life in the South and hang them on the line for all to see in Ohio.

As the two girls are drawn deeper into a dangerous world of bootleggers and moral corruption, they must come to terms with the complexities of their tenuous bond and a hidden past that links them in ways that could cost them their lives

Quick Thoughts:

Like Not a Happy Family, I got this book suggestion from Shay and Erika. I haven’t listened to their podcast with their thoughts on it because I only just finished it Monday, but I loved this book. I’d never heard of it before which was a bonus because I didn’t know anything going into reading it.

This story, set in Mississippi in the 1920s, grabbed my attention from the first page. The chapters focused on Matilda and Ada who were both strong and resilient women. Their relationship was distant at first, but then they grew to really rely on each other even as they kept their guards up. This book had the loneliness of Crawdads, the heartache of Four Winds, the solidarity of The Giver of Stars, and the empowerment of all.

These ladies will have you pulling for them from the first page. As Ada said, “You find a way, is what you do.”

This book is definitely a top read for me in 2021.

Rating:

I set a goal to read 40 books this year. I thought I may read more after reading quite a few this summer, but then I had a couple of slow months. At this point, I’ve read 37 books in 2021. So, I hope to meet my goal by wrapping up the year with Christmas reads.

Christmas Reads:

Like last December, I’m going to only read Christmas books this month.

Here are my Christmas book suggestions from previous years:

December is always a great time to read more light-hearted books, and I’m looking forward to doing so by the twinkle of my Christmas tree.

Tomorrow, I’m recapping the month of November with my Sentence a Day post.

Take care and happy reading!

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

October: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! Happy November 1st! How was your weekend? We had a good one, and the kids had a great Halloween.

Today, I’m sharing the books I read in October. I read two, and then as I sat down to write this post, I realized I could add in a book that I read with the English 1 students that I’ve regularly helped this month.

This month I read:

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Wrong Family:

The Wrong Family

Summary:

Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch.

Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore.

Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

She shouldn’t get involved.


She really shouldn’t.

But this could be her chance to make a few things right.

Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.

Quick Thoughts:

I loved this book. It had just enough suspense. I held my breath for Juno on many occasions. The last quarter of the book, when the action really picked up, I was kind of like “huh?…” I wasn’t expecting that character involvement. The ending was creepy but tied the plot all up nicely. I’ve read The Wives by Fisher, and I loved this one so much more.

Rating:

One Day You’ll Thank Me:

One Day You’ll Thank Me

Summary:

The fan favorite star of the Bravo hit series Southern Charm offers a witty and candid collection of essays on dating, pregnancy, and parenthood.

Growing up in South Carolina with a family that goes back ten generations, Cameran Eubanks knew from a young age that Southern women are expected to want the white picket fence life. But Cameran has never been your typical Southern belle, and she was always determined to flout expectations.

She set out to paint the town red, enjoy her single life, focus on her successful real estate career, maybe join the cast of a hugely popular reality show…and then she met her future husband, Jason. After falling in love and getting married, Cameran faced the same dilemma so many women encounter: whether or not to have kids. Ultimately, her own journey to motherhood was anything but simple.

Now, she takes you deeper into her life—from her first foray into reality TV on The Real World to dating in her twenties to the honest truth about her pregnancy and motherhood—to get to know the person behind the camera. Known as the voice of reason on Southern Charm, she’ll share the same honest advice she gives to her castmates and guide y’all through dating, pregnancy, and motherhood. Charming, hilarious, and a hell of a lot fun, One Day You’ll Thank Me is for anyone who has ever wondered if they should or can.

Quick Thoughts:

This book reminded me a bit of the Jenny McCarthy book, Belly Laughs, I read while pregnant with the kids. This wasn’t all about pregnancy, but it definitely was mostly about motherhood. Cameran is one of my favorite Southern Charm cast members (I love that show), and missed her during last season. She definitely tells it like it is on both the show and in this book. I appreciate her sense of humor, sarcasm, and truth.

I enjoyed reading about her days on The Real World. While I realize this isn’t a Southern Charm tell all, I do wish there was more Southern Charm insight.

This was a quick read for me, and one I’d been wanting to read for a while.

Rating:

Honestly, it should be more like a 3.5 star review, but I like her… 😉

Of Mice and Men:

Of Mice and Men

Summary:

An intimate portrait of two men who cherish the slim bond between them and the dream they share in a world marred by petty tyranny, misunderstanding, jealousy, and callousness. Clinging to each other in their loneliness and alienation, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie dream, as drifters will, of a place to call their own—a couple of acres and a few pigs, chickens, and rabbits back in Hill Country where land is cheap. But after they come to work on a ranch in the fertile Salinas Valley of California, their hopes, like “the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,” begin to go awry.

Of Mice and Men also represents an experiment in form, as Steinbeck described his work, “a kind of playable novel, written in novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands.” A rarity in American letters, it achieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play, and three acclaimed films. Steinbeck’s tale of commitment, loneliness, hope, and loss remains one of America’s most widely read and beloved novels.

Quick Thoughts:

I hadn’t read this novella since college, and I’ve never taught it. I enjoyed reading it with a small group of students because we were able to discuss so much…themes of lonliness, power vs powerless, friendship, character development, the American Dream, the setting and Great Depression time period.

A few favorite quotes:

  • “I got you to look after me, and you got me to look after you, and that’s why.” ~Lennie
  • “As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.” ~Of Mice and Men
  • “As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.” ~Of Mice and Men

Rating:

As an English teacher, it feels awkward giving such a classic a less than five star rating, but it was a pretty heavy read with a very heavy ending.

In November, I’m going to read at least one Christmas book, and decided to start with this one:

I won it from a Goodreads giveaway! I’ve enjoyed other books by Kristy Woodson Harvey, so I’m excited to start the holiday season off with this one.

What have you read this month? Next month, I will share the Christmas books I’ve read in the past during the holiday season! I know we are going to blink, and it will be 2022!

I hope you have a great week.

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows, Kids

September: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! As this month wraps up, I’m sharing what I read this month.

Well this is probably my saddest post to date. I read one book. One. I thought about saving this book for my October book post, but I like to share as I go. To be honest, I just haven’t had much of a desire to read lately. There’s been too much going on, and I’ve been too tired at night to even think about reading. I find myself choosing an episode of The Golden Girls before bed rather than reading a few pages of a book.

So, without further adieu, here’s the one book that I read:

Yoga Pant Nation:

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Summary:

Jen Dixon of Overland Park, Kansas—fearless mother of a fifth-grade boy and two thirty-something daughters—is used to juggling a lot, from her mission to become a spin instructor, to stepping in as the most acerbic class mom ever (again), to taking care of her two-year-old granddaughter. But when the PTA president throws her a mandate to raise $10,000 for the fifth-grade class, even unflappable Jen is going to need more than her regular spin class to get her through this final year at William Taft Elementary School.

In the midst of new complications—organizing the class overnight to Topeka, an unexpected spin class fan in the form of her husband’s crazy ex-wife, and trying to navigate her parents’ sudden descent into apparent delusions—Jen hardly has the patience to listen to yet another half-baked idea (come on, ladies, another wrapping paper sale?) from WeFUKCT (We Fundraise Until Kingdom Come Team), her fundraising committee. But if anyone can get elementary parents to pull off the impossible, it’s Jen Dixon.

With her always irreverent and laugh-out-loud humor—boldly holding forth on those things you’re thinking, but would never dare say out loud—Laurie Gelman shines a light on the indignities and hilarities of modern parenting.

Quick Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Class Mom series. (Book 1: Class Mom, Book 2: You’ve Been Volunteered), and I enjoyed it. The main character is Jen, a sarcastic mom from a suburb of Kansas City. I mean, she could be me. I am her.

Kind of like with most books in a series, the first book is the best and then it kind of tapers off from there. I enjoyed Class Mom so much! I loved it, and have recommended it to friends many times. I’d still recommend You’ve Been Volunteered and Yoga Pant Nation, but book one is definitely my favorite.

In this third book, it’s nice to get an update on all of the characters. Jen, her children, her husband, and even some of her friends. With her son being in the 5th grade, she’s wrapping up her time at the elementary school with the same funny and sarcastic class mom emails that she delivered in the other books. I like that there’s that common thread of the emails in all of the books, and it really shows her personality. By the end of the book, there seemed to be a sense of finality for the characters and the plot.

I wonder if there will be a spin off for her time as a parent of Max when he goes to middle school? 😉

Rating:

I’ve downloaded The Wrong Family to my Kindle, so I’m hoping to get into it soon.

Since I did very little reading this month, I thought I’d take the time to share some books that my kids have read lately. I’ve never done that before, and maybe I have a reader or two with a tween who needs some books ideas!

This summer, the kids chose two books from their school’s reading list. I’ve shared before that Hayden is my big reader, so this wasn’t much of a task for him. Hadley has always preferred shorter reads, graphic novels, and daily devotionals. Hayden loves to read before bed, and I think Hadley prefers something shorter to read because her attention span tends to be, well, short!

Also, new to them, is Accelerated Reader. They now have to read books and earn AR points by the end of each quarter in their Language Arts class. While the summer reading was a choice this year, I didn’t give them a choice. (Funny story: I didn’t tell Hadley it was optional and when they resent the list before school started, she said, “Moooom! It says the reading was optional!” 😂Well, she ended up thanking me because she was able to take two AR tests the first couple weeks of school and have all her points for the first quarter!

Also, the kids have a reading class this semester (math enrichment next semester), and they read The Hunger Games. Hayden loved the book so much, he asked me to check out book two, Catching Fire, for him from the public library.

Here’s what they’ve read lately:

Hayden

  • Summer Book 1: Fantasy League by Mike Lupica
  • Summer Book 2: Strong Inside about Perry Wallace.
  • The Hunger Games
  • Catching Fire
  • AR book: Lone Stars by Mike Lupica

Hadley:

  • Summer book 1: The Mother Daughter Book Club: Camp (She’s read other books in this series in 4th and 5th grades)
  • Summer book 2: Grace, Gold, and Glory by Gabby Douglas
  • The Hunger Games
  • AR book: Lila and Hadley by Kody Keplinger

What book suggestions do you have? …for me and for my middle schoolers? I clearly need some great reads to get me motivated again!

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

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…}