Posted in Books and Shows

Top 5 Books of 2020

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

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

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

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

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

My 2020 Reads:

January:

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

February:

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

March:

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

April:

  • Regretting You
  • Our New Normal
  • The Matchmaker

May:

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

June:

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

July:

  • Our Little Lies
  • Ugly Love
  • Feels like Falling

August:

  • The Family Upstairs
  • Maid
  • 28 Summers

September:

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

October:

  • The Flatshare
  • November 9
  • The Guest List

November:

  • The Jetsetters
  • Louisiana Lucky
  • Winter in Paradise

December:

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

Top 5 of 2020:

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

November 9 #crazylovestory

The Jetsetters #forcedfamilyfun

Little Fires Everywhere #likeditbetterthantheseries

and…

The Matchmaker #anotherEHfave

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

A Woman is No Man:

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

In Five Years

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

Ugly Love:

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

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

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

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

28 Summers:

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

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

Maid:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

December: What I’ve Been Reading

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

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

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

Seven Days of Us:

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

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

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

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

My thoughts:

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

Mr. Dickens and His Carol:

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

My thoughts:

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

In a Holidaze:

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

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

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

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

My thoughts:

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

25 Days ’til Christmas:

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

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

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

My thoughts:

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

Let It Snow:

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

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

My thoughts:

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

Jingle All the Way:

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

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

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

My thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

November: What I’ve Been Reading

Hey, y’all! Before I take a little break for the holiday, I wanted to share the books I read in November. I know we still have a few days left in November, but I wanted to go ahead and share the three books I’ve read so far this month because….I loved them all!

Here are the books I read this month:

The Jetsetters:

I was a on the library wait list for quite some time waiting on this book, and it was certainly worth the wait.

The matriarch of the family, Charlotte Perkins, submits an essay to the “Become a Jetsetter” contest. She hopes to reunite her family for the trip of a lifetime if she wins…which, of course, she does! Charlotte cruises to Athens, Rome and other fantastic places with her two daughters and one son. The family is somewhat estranged until the trip, and Charlotte is hoping to reunite her family.

The family has lots of baggage to unpack (haha) while sharing family secrets, milestones, and heartache.

I truly loved this book so much. It was a quick read with endearing characters on a journey of a lifetime and reconciliation.

Louisiana Lucky:

Louisiana Lucky was such a charming read. Three sisters, Lexi, Hanna, and Callie, grew up in small town Louisiana. They buy lottery tickets every Saturday night in hopes of winning, of course. Well, one night they do!

They split their $204 million fortune three ways. Lexi starts planning her dream wedding, Callie continues to chase her dream career, and Hanna buys a new house and focuses on family needs.

They find, that with money comes responsibility, and the need to reflect on life choices while chasing dreams.

This was a sweet little read with relatable and endearing characters. It was nice to read a light-hearted book and dream of winning the lottery! 😉

Winter in Paradise:

So…I’m kind of late the the Elin Hilderbrand game! Only in the past couple of years have I started reading her books. I’d say The Identicals is the first book of hers that I read followed by The Matchmaker, The Perfect Couple, and the entire Winter Street series. That being said, I didn’t know anything about the Paradise series until I saw others talking about the third, and final book in the series: Trouble in Paradise.

So, I had to start at the beginning with Winter in Paradise. I loved every page of this book!

Irene Steele travels to St. John after learning of her husband’s death while on the island. She’s shocked to discover that he was even on that island because she thought he was just out of town for work. When she arrives, with her two sons, she discovers that her husband has a whole life that she didn’t know about in St. John as well as a huge home with stunning views.

Irene and her sons meet some of the locals, learn more about the people Russ knew during his visits to the island while trying to piece together the parts of his life that existed while he was there.

This book was written from the various points of views of the characters which I always love. The pace of the plot moved quickly and there was plenty of suspense as the characters work to find answers while enjoying the picturesque setting of St. John.

The ending most certainly left you wanting to read more!

I definitely plan on reading What Happens in Paradise and Trouble in Paradise in January.

Also…

If you don’t follow Elin on Instagram, I highly recommend you do so. She often shares Instagram stories and photos showing her followers around Nantucket and also her apartment in Beacon Hill. I just think it’s fun to see her point of view of Nantucket since so many of her books are set there, and she also talks about her writing process. For example, she’s currently at her Beacon Hill apartment to make edits to her (final?) book Golden Girl that will be out in the summer. And…I believe she spends a few weeks in St. John (or some other glorious island) each spring making edits to whatever she’s writing. She seems to fun, smart, and focused!

Currently Reading:

I’m currently reading Seven Days of Us.

I have a few notes on my phone with book titles: books I want to read, books I’ve read, and a Christmas book list. I added Seven Days of Us to that Christmas list last year based off a recommendation of Shay. It’s really not that Christmas-y of a book, but it’s set at Christmas time.

I will share about it in my December book recap…but, you guys! ….it’s such weird timing because the reason they are together at Christmas time…and for seven days…is because they are having to quarantine.

Excerpt from Goodreads summary:

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

Seeing words and phrases like “quarantine,” “no vaccine,” “epidemic,” “asymptomatic,” “number of cases,” “PPE,” and “health officials,” is hitting a little too close to home.

It’s crazy to me that I wrote this book title down over a year ago, and now I’m reading this book and living through a time that seems to parallel our current real life.

To be honest, I almost quit reading, but those references aren’t in every aspect of the plot, and I want to see how it all ends up, of course!

Christmas books:

Like last year, I’m going to read Christmas books in December. I’ve already picked up these books from the library:

  • A California Christmas
  • 25 Days ’til Christmas
  • Mr. Dickens and his carol

Here are the books I read last December:

and my blog post about them…

Lastly, Sarah shared an awesome Christmas book reading list recently. I’ve already read some of the books, and I also added so many titles to my ongoing Christmas book list.

I’m going to take the rest of the week off from blogging to enjoy Turkey Day, rest, and hopefully decorate for Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Here are my other posts from this week:

Happy Reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

October: What I’ve Been Reading

Hey! It’s the end of the month, so I’m sharing the three books I read in October. The Flatshare and The Guest List have been on my reading list for a long time which meant I was on the library wait list for a few months. I’d say both were worth the wait. I love Colleen Hoover’s books, but hadn’t heard of November 9 until I read about it on another blogger’s list.

So here are the three books I read this month:

The Flatshare:

The Flatshare was a sweet read with short chapters. The main characters are Tiffy and Leon. Tiffy’s boyfriend has broken up with her, so she needs a cheap place to rent. Leon works nights and knows sharing the flat will be a way for him to help his finances. So, Leon sleeps in the flat during the day while Tiffy occupies the flat the rest of the time.

Tiffy and Leon haven’t even met as his girlfriend interviewed Tiffy for the placement. So, Leon and Tiffy get to know each other with notes left as their form of communication. They do get to know the ins and outs of each other’s lives as well as other aspects of life such as crazy ex-boyfriends and the drama going on with Leon’s brother.

This was definitely a cute, at times predictable, read, but definitely one that I enjoyed.

November 9:

November 9 was a great read full of emotional moments and a twist or two as well. I really enjoy Hoover’s books, and I can say the same about this one.

Ben and Fallon meet right before Fallon plans on moving from LA to New York. They have such a great few hours together that they decide to meet each year on the same day for the next five years. While they don’t communicate the other 364 days in the year, Fallon becomes the inspiration for the novel Ben has always wanted to write.

Fallon deals with personal insecurity while Ben has family issues that complicate his life. Of course, with each passing year, there is the suspense of if each one will arrive at their agreed upon location. Then, there’s a major twist in the plot that definitely kept me turning the page.

November 9 is an important date for a few reasons in this book.

I enjoyed this book, and it was one that had me wanting to see how it ends. That being said, I’m not sure the ending was realistic for me…but I see why Hoover wrapped up the story how she did.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

  • “Why didn’t you tell me that the foundation you taught me to stand on is made from quicksand?”
  • A body is simply a package for the true gifts inside. And you are full of gifts. Selflessness, kindness, compassion. All the things that matter.”
  • Youth and beauty fade. Human decency doesn’t.”

The Guest List:

The Guest List is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club choice, and I can see why! This thriller was told through various points of view as guests gather on a coastal island in Ireland to celebrate Jules and Will’s wedding.

The first person perspective of the chapters alternate between the bride, groom, best man, bridesmaid, wedding planner, the plus one and others. Some of the wedding guests have been a part of the bride and groom’s lives for many years while others are just meeting and making connections the weekend of the wedding. The ominous setting of the rocky coastal island where it’s dangerous to be outside at night pairs well with the underlying suspense of doom. Then, during the reception, someone is found dead.

I really did enjoy this book, and I like books written with various perspectives with pretty short chapters. It was slow for me in the beginning, but the last quarter of the book was really good once pieces of the puzzled plot started falling into place.

Reese knew what she was doing by adding this book to her book club 😉

So, there’s a little recap of what I’ve been reading. Are there any books you’ve read lately that I should add to my list? Let me know!

Happy reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

September: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy October 1st! ….one of my most favorite days of the year. October is the real beginning of fall (in my mind) which makes it my favorite month.

Lately, I’ve been feeling “a day late and a dollar short…” and this September book review on October 1st is kind of what I’m talking about.

I do feel like I’ve had less time to read lately…and by the time my head hits the pillow, I’m out! So, I hope to get back into reading a bit more soon, but today, I’ll share with you the three books I read in September.

Wild at Heart:

Wild at Heart is the follow up to The Simple Wild which I shared about in my June What I’ve Been Reading. In Wild at Heart, Calla returns to Alaska after Jonah shows up in Toronto, and they decide to give their relationship a chance in Alaska.

The plot of this story is Calla getting acclimated to the Alaskan way of life. Jonah is a pilot, so he’s gone a lot. That leaves her home alone, trying to build relationships in the community, renovating and decorating their log cabin on a huge piece of land while also trying to grow as a couple in a new relationship.

This book, like the first, could be deemed R Rated at times. I did enjoy this book, but probably liked the first book a bit better. I felt like the plot of this one moved a little slowly at some points. That being said, there’s a third book, Forever Wild, that comes out in December, and I definitely plan on reading it as well.

In Five Years:

Listen, y’all. I’d been wanting to read In Five Years since it came out in the spring. Then, the pandemic threw everything out of whack…including the library wait list because our library closed on Friday, March 13 like so much of the world.

Anyway, the library started curbside pickup at the end of the summer, and it was finally my turn to read this book. It’s by the same author as The Dinner List which is one of my favorite books…ever.

In Five Years is about the main character, Dannie, who is asked where she sees herself in five years during an interview. Later that night, she falls asleep and wakes up in 2025 to a different life. Then, when she wakes up again, she’s back in 2020. Dannie is very career driven and settled in her life with her longtime boyfriend. The plot of the book is the next 4 1/2 years as Dannie navigates the ups and downs of life and then finds herself meeting the man that she saw when she awoke in 2025.

This isn’t your average love story. This book is pretty short and a quick read. I loved it! I don’t want to give anything away, but I wasn’t a fan of the ending…until I was. I went from “huh?” to “ohhhh,” real quick!

From Goodreads: “Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.” Yep. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I definitely think this will be a top read for me in 2020.

Two Can Keep a Secret:

One of my friends recommended Two Can Keep a Secret. I didn’t realize until I picked it up from the library, that it’s a teen fiction novel. I actually like to read TF sometimes, so I can give recommendations to my students! Also, I didn’t realize until I picked it up that it’s written by the same author One of Us is Lying which is another teen fiction fave of mine.

Two Can Keep a Secret is set in a small town. Ellery and Ezra end up there living with their grandmother while their mother works through some personal issues back in California. Ellery and Ezra always wondered about Echo Ridge, the town their mom, Sadie, grew up in, because their mom was always hesitant to go back.

Sadie’s sister, Sarah, went missing in 1996 and Sadie left town the next year. In October 2014, another girl is killed at Murderland, an amusement park nearby. In 2019, after Ezra and Ellery arrived in Echo Ridge, they are trying to get used to small town life. Then, there are anonymous threats that something will happen at the high school homecoming…and then, you guessed it, another girl disappears.

So, much of this book is Ezra and Ellery trying to get to the bottom of the missing girls in the community. I did enjoy this book and can certainly see why teens would like this mystery. I wasn’t necessarily on the edge of my seat trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle, but it was a good teen fiction read.

So…those are the three books I read this month. I’ve already picked up a book at the library to read this month and have downloaded a few to my Kindle as well. Now, let’s hope I can find a bit more time to read.

I’m taking tomorrow off, but I hope to be back with a blog post on Monday! I hope you have a great rest of the week and weekend.

Happy Reading!

Posted in Books and Shows

August: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

I started the weekend Friday afternoon with “closing my eyes for a few minutes,” to waking up from a 2.5 hour nap! There’s no tired like teacher tired at the beginning of the school year! 😉

We had a much needed slow Saturday, but Sunday was filled with the usual of cleaning the house, and picking up the groceries. Travis and Hayden got in a round of golf, and Hadley had volleyball. Now we’re ready to start our first full week of school!

For today’s post, I’m sharing the books I read in August!

Unfortunately, I feel like I haven’t had as much time to read lately, but I did read three books this month. I thought I’d only read two…but remembered I finished The Family Upstairs right after last month’s post.

I rarely read a book I don’t like. I get so many book ideas from reading other blogs and keep an ongoing list. It’s pretty rare for me to choose a random book to read (and, obviously, I’m not hanging out in books stores or libraries right now). So, I just keep checking books off my list as I can.

The three books I read this month were all so different. I liked one and loved the other two. One blew my mind. One opened my eyes and my heart. One pulled me in and tugged at my heartstrings.

This month, I read: The Family Upstairs, Maid, and 28 Summers.

The Family Upstairs:

The Family Upstairs was crrrraaaazzzy! I actually described it to someone as twisted. Twisted as in twists and turns in the plot but twisted in regards to some of the things the characters did. My mind was blown, and I often caught myself reading with my mouth open because I couldn’t believe the words on the page.

On her 25th birthday, Libby Jones is ready to find out her real identity. When she was just a baby, the police found her at home in her crib, and there were three dead bodies dressed in black downstairs next to a note. So, Libby is adopted and goes on about her life until she’s able to find out more answers after her 25th birthday.

From Goodreads: “The can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.”

Tread lightly while reading this book! It keeps you on your toes.

Maid:

I like to think of myself as an empathetic and sympathetic person. I try to consider all walks of life, be mindful of what others have going on, and keep enough perspective in my own life to know that some of my daily problems pale in comparison to those who are single parents or in a lower socioeconomic class. I mean, I see it every day with my own students who have divorced parents, a parent that lost a job, students working two jobs themselves or helping raise younger siblings. I definitely keep those factors in mind while working with my students and extending them grace when needed.

In Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid, she tells the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. This book explores poverty in America, shows what it’s like to be a single mom, as well as provide insight into what government assistance looks like.

Land lived in a homeless shelter; her daughter learns to walk there. She eventually moved into to assisted housing and then a studio apartment for herself and her daughter. While working as a maid, she applies for programs and assistance, uses her resources, saves her money, works when she’s sick, suffers at the hands of abuse, and continues to strive for a better life for herself and her daughter.

The light she sheds on government assistance programs was eye-opening. She had to be careful not to make too much money, for example, or she would lose the loan that paid for her daughter’s daycare. When she would wander the grocery store to find the right brand of food in order to use her WIC checks, I could feel her stress as she retold those stories.

She says, “Even though I really needed it, I stopped using WIC checks for milk, cheese, eggs, and peanut butter–I never seemed to get the right size, brand, or color of eggs, and correct type of juice, or the specific number of ounces of cereal anyway. Each coupon had such specific requirements in what it could be used for, and I held my breath when the cashier rang them up.”

She even applied for loans for college and continued to chip away and her credit hours toward earning a degree while working and caring for her daughter. “My only real hope was school: an education would be my token to freedom.”

Her resilience and grit amazed me from page one. She remained positive and kept the goal in mind of a better life for herself and her daughter.

“When a person is too deep in systematic poverty, there is no upward trajectory. Life is a struggle and nothing else. But for me, many of my decisions came from an assumption that things would, eventually start to improve.”

This book had been on my reading list for a while. While on a walk a couple of months ago, I saw the book in one of our neighborhood libraries. When I read this book, I marked it up. I couldn’t help myself from underlining quotes and putting a ⭐️ next to ideas that were impactful and inspiring…like this one:

“I was never out for anyone’s sympathy. Besides, they couldn’t know unless they felt the weight of poverty themselves. The desperation of pushing through because it was the only option.”

I think this book may end up as a top read for me in 2020.

28 Summers:

I saw so many people talking about this book, and I love Elin Hilderbrand books, so I actually purchased this book. It takes a lot for me to buy a book, but the library wait was very long! Also, the Kindle version was just about the same price, so I went ahead and ordered the hardback version.

This book definitely seems to be the book of the summer, and I didn’t want to miss out! #fomo

28 Summers is based of the idea from the movie, Same Time, Next Year. Mallory and Jake met in Nantucket in the summer of 1993. After their Labor Day weekend together, they vow to meet every Labor Day weekend without any communication throughout the rest of the year.

Of course, the whole “same time, next year” mentality would be a big “no no” in real life, but I was all about this book in the fictional “same time, next year” sense. The characters were charming and complex, things happened each year that made you wonder if Mallory and Jake would keep their Labor Day visit, and life gets complicated!

I loved that each summer chapter started with a recap of what was really going on in that year. For example: “What were we talking about in 2020? Covid, Kobe Bryant, Zoom, TikTok…, What were we talking about in 1995? the Macarena, Windows ’95, O.J. Simpson, found innocent by a jury of his peers…, What were we talking about in 2003? space shuttle Columbia, the Atkins Diet, Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War, pumpkin-spice latte, “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.” Those examples at the beginning of each summer were such a good reference point and actually kind of hooked the reader into making a connection to their own life during those years.

In the movie, Doris says,” I knew…that no matter what the price, I was willing to pay it.” Jake and Mallory lived that quote to the fullest, and I was in tears at the end. #shocker #imasofty.

28 Summers will most likely be another top read for me this year.

I really enjoyed this month’s books so much, and I hope one (or more!) will be of interest to you. What have you been reading lately?

Happy Reading!

Posted in Books and Shows, Currently, School

Currently…

Hello! How is your week going? This week has been filled with activities (baseball games and dance classes) as well as many hours of learning for me (online professional development). In some ways, it feels like life is kind of normal again. BUT…I know that it’s not. We are living in far from normal circumstances, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. For me, some days, that can feel overwhelming. That being said, I know the day will come where I don’t have to remind the kids to bring a mask or stress about what school will look like.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written a Currently post, so I thought I would do so again. These posts are a way to share what’s going on, but are also a way to to share a little bit of what’s on my heart or in my mind.

I’m Currently…

Marveling:

I’m marveling at the fact that yesterday was my blogiversary! I posted my first ever blog post on August 4, 2019. This week, I will write my 200th blog post. Writing three days a week was pretty manageable for me, but since April, I’ve been writing a post almost five days a week…Once we get back to school, I may have to scale back again, but while I can find time in the day, I’d love to write as much as possible.

In my first post, I mentioned wanting to start a blog as a way to do something for myself and have a creative outlet to share about family, recipes, books, and more. Show Me and Sweet Tea as provided me with just that…and so much more.

I’ve “met” so many people along the way. I’ve read a few blogs (Mix and Match Mama, A Little Bit of Everything, Momfessionals, Bev Cooks and more) for a few years. BUT…interacting with other bloggers, finding new blogs to follow, and reading comments on my posts from readers has been so rewarding for me.

I don’t get all caught up in the stats of my site, but WordPress makes it easy to take a peek at site activity.

  • This is my 199th post that I’ve written.
  • This year, I’ve had 12,400 visitors and 27,800 views on my site.
  • My most read post had 694 views.

My mind is just blown by those numbers. Again, I don’t get too caught up in the numbers game as there are people who have thousands of views every single day, but again, it’s just gratifying to be a part of this blogging community.

Thanks for following along on this journey!

Planning:

I’m currently thinking about and planning our back to school breakfast. I started this tradition a few years ago, and even though we start from home, virtually, on August 26th, I will still make that first morning back special for the kids.

I always luck out and find books on Amazon with the kids’ grade (5th) in the title.

Last year’s books were Fourth Grade Rats and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

This year, I found Tales of a Fifth-Grade Knight for Hayden and President of the Whole Fifth Grade for Hadley!

Reminiscing:

I’m reminiscing about the kids when they started kindergarten. How in the world will they be in the 5th grade already? That means next year is middle school. Start praying for me now, y’all.

This pic popped up in my Facebook memories…Hadley with the crossbody purse and Hadyen’s toothless grin…⚾️

I clearly remember taking them into their school, having them meet their teachers, and praying that they’d remember how to count to 20 and spell their name, so I wasn’t a total failure as a parent who is an educator 😉 Now, flash forward to today when I had to watch a You Tube video to help them with their math in their summer workbook.

Watching:

I’m watching Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi. Travis found this show, and I’m hooked. I love food and learning about other cultures and cuisine. Padma explores food and culture across the United States. It’s on Hulu and most episodes are 30-40 minutes long. I’ve seen the first few episodes which focused Mexican food in El Paso, hot dogs and German food in Milwaukee, Indian cuisine in New York, the Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina, Chinese food in San Francisco, and Persian food in Los Angeles.

Every episode is so informative, interesting, and inspiring.

Ordering:

I’m ordering baseball and dance photos. I don’t always order the photos, but I’m realizing how big my kids are getting, and I loved the pics. With that combo, it was hard to say no to placing a picture order!

Laughing:

I’m laughing at this meme that I saw on Instagram. I have a “note” on my phone where I keep a daily schedule and “to do” lists. It’s become really easy for me to move some of my least favorite “to do” items to the next day!

Trying:

I tried something new at Sonic last week. I always get a Cherry Limeade or (diet version) at Sonic. This time, I had them add in Nerds candy because Hayden and Hadley get that option in their Sonic slushies. Y’all! It tasted SO good!

Snuggling:

We are all snuggling with Homer any chance we get. I know Homer loves having us home so much!

Reading:

I’m currently reading Maid. I’ve had this book on my list for a while, and I finally started it. In Stephanie Land’s memoir, she shares about being homeless, a single mom, and working to do whatever it takes to provide for herself and her daughter. This book explores poverty in America and shines a light on the inequities of working, middle, and upper class societies.

I’m about halfway through with the book, and it’s an interesting and eye-opening read so far.

Praying:

I’ve been (worrying and) praying about the start of the school year. At this time, our district is starting with virtual learning on August 26th. Usually, our first day of school would be a week from today. Teachers will start back August 10th and prepare for the start of the year.

I’ve had to let go of some of the things I took for granted like walking my kids to school on the first day which is what we’ve done every first day of school since kindergarten. This is my kids’ last year of elementary school, and it saddens me that this year will look so different for them. Kids are resilient, but honestly, they shouldn’t have to be.

Last year, I realized all the fun privileges the intermediate grade level students receive like being in chorus, on academic team, and so much more. My kids are going to miss out on some of those opportunities, not to mention simple pleasures like lunch and recess with their friends. It hurts my heart just thinking about it.

Parents are having to make decisions about school that they never thought they’d have to make. Classmates that Hayden and Hadley have had for five years may be educated virtually when we go back to face to face instruction. Some friends may enroll in private school for this year. It’s heartbreaking to me that elementary school will look so differently for them compared to what they’ve experienced in previous years.

And, of course, there’s the weight, worry, and burden that teachers carry thinking about their students and preparing for the school year with so many unknown factors.

I’m always positive when talking about the upcoming school year with my kids, but some days it is hard to put a smile on my face, answer all their questions, or wipe away a tear when they are sad or frustrated.

That being said, I’m trying to keep this in mind moving forward…

So, that’s a bit of what’s been currently going on. As always, thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Books and Shows

July: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello! I read three books this month, so I thought I’d share a bit about each one. I loved all three books. I’m almost finished with a fourth book, but I will have to save it for next month!

Our Little Lies:

Our Little Lies was such a good thriller to read. Marianne seems to have the perfect life. She lives in a beautiful home, has three kids, and her husband, Simon, is a surgeon. There are references to Marianne’s past as the plot continues. Marianne becomes obsessed with finding out the truth behind Simon’s relationship with his colleague Caroline.

This was a quick read as the plot moved quickly, and the ending was one that all came together in a way which was unexpected as I read the book.

Ugly Love:

I’m a huge fan on Colleen Hoover books and Ugly Love did not disappoint. Ugly Love may end up as one of my favorite reads of 2020.

The theme of “ugly love” certainly applies to relationships, love and life in this book. Miles is a pilot and in a relationship was his friend’s sister, Tate. This book is definitely “R rated” due to the nature of their relationship. Miles has two rules for Tate:

  • Never ask about the past.
  • Don’t expect a future.

Of course, at times, those rules are hard to follow. Their relationship has highs and lows and there’s a dance of push and pull as they navigate their relationship. “Life and love and people can be so perfect and beautiful. Then it’s not. It’s so ugly.”

My heart broke for both Miles and Tate at different times throughout the story.

Other favorite quotes from the story are:

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

“It’s the beautiful moments like these that make up for the ugly love.”

Feels Like Falling:

I’ve shared about the Peachtree Bluff series by Kristy Woodson Harvey that I enjoyed very much.

Feels Like Falling was similar to those books with the picturesque setting and strong female cast. Gray and Diana are the main female leads, but Gray’s sister, Quinn, and friend, Marcy, also add to the bond that these women have.

Gray and Diana help each other through trying times while Diana lives in Gray’s guest house. Gray is going through a divorce and Diana has ended a long term relationship. Both women are very different, but grow as friends who lean on and support each other throughout the book. As Gray said, “She’d made me feel like I had somebody again, like I had a person to count on no matter what to turn to with anything…and now I knew I could trust her.”

I really loved the ending with each woman growing as they needed to but also growing closer in their friendship.

A favorite quote from the book:

And I realized that sometimes when you’re speeding through thin air, the brakes worn out and the engine shot, maybe it feels like you’re falling. But, in reality, that’s when you’re learning to fly.”

I hope one of these books is one you can add to your list! What have you been reading lately?

Weekly Recap:

Happy Reading!

Posted in Amazon, Books and Shows, Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Hey. Hey. Happy Friday.

This week was a mix of crossing things off my “to do” list, working on school stuff, running a few errands, going to Hayden’s baseball games and much more.

We’re glad it’s almost the weekend.

As always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post.

Favorite Moment:

Definitely a favorite moment this week has been seeing some of my family that we haven’t seen in months. It’s been good for all of us.

Favorite Kid Quote:

Wednesday, 8:30 am in the Starbucks Drive-thru: Hadley said she would like a hot chocolate. I looked at her kind of surprised since it was 85 degrees outside, and she said, “Well, I doubt you’ll let me get a vanilla bean Frappuccino in the morning, right?” 😂 Good point.

Favorite Homer Pic:

Homer often hops up on the stool in the kitchen. It’s like he’s bellying up to the bar. He’s so funny.

Favorite Clothing Item:

These pjs I purchased from Amazon are definitely a fave. They are lightweight, comfy, and perfect for summer! I got the “galaxy” color/style.

Speaking of tie dye, Hadley is embracing this style too. She tie dyed a t-shirt with a friend recently, and even tie dyed a pair of socks too. I’m not sure about the socks and sandals looks, but “you do you, girl!”

Favorite Book:

I finished Our Little Lies the other day. My library didn’t have it, so I purchased it from Amazon for my Kindle. I try not to buy Kindle books often, and when I do, they are less than $5. This one was $2.99 and worth every penny. Definitely a great read.

Favorite Mom Meme:

I love to cook…but I struggle with cooking motivation in the summer. This meme definitely applies to me!

Bonus Favorite: Flashback Friday

Facebook continues to bring some favorite gems in “memories.”

This pic is from July 2010. We’d visited family in KC and made it just outside of St. Louis during our car ride back to Lexington. The kids were eight months old and kind of fussy….so we got a hotel room for the night. They were so cute sitting up in the bed with their pacis. The Run DMC onsie was a gift from my brother and one of my favorites.

Then, this pic is from July 2011 when we were in South Carolina. It was the kids first time at the beach. Such a sweet pic. They definitely don’t hold hands anymore!

Weekly Recap

That’s a wrap on this week’s faves. Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts too!

Have a great weekend.

Posted in Books and Shows

June: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy July 1st!! Some days, the summer seems to move at a snail’s pace, and other days, summer feels like it’s flying by!

I read 4 books this month and really enjoyed three of the four! The other one was just ok.

Little Fires Everywhere:

So, this book had been on my list for a while, but there was always a hold at the library. Then, I decided to watch the miniseries on Hulu and loved it. My Gma said she really enjoyed the book, and the Kindle version finally became available.

Anyway, I really did love this book. I honestly do think I liked the book more than the miniseries, but I did feel like miniseries did the book justice.

Quick Good Reads recap: “… riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.”

and…

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.”

This book may definitely be one of my top reads of 2020.

Paper Ghosts

Paper Ghosts was a pretty quick read due to the short chapters and suspenseful plot.

The narrator’s sister was killed many years ago, and she’s convinced that Carl, a celebrated photographer, was the one who killed her sister. Carl is living in a home for those with dementia and she convinces him to take a road trip with her through their state of Texas. On the journey, she’s hoping to find answers and possibly even a confession from Carl.

While I thought the book was ok, it just didn’t hold my attention like most suspense novels do. The flashback parts of the story captured my attention more than when they were on their road trip.

The Unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners was a fantastic book that I read in a couple of days.

After her newlywed twin sister Ami and husband get sick, Olive goes on their honeymoon with the best man, Ethan, who she sees as her enemy. Since her sister won the all expenses paid honeymoon, Olive and Ethan have to pose as Ami and her new husband. Olive always considers herself the unlucky one compared to Ami, but hopes that her luck has turned with a new job and dream vacation.

This was a very cute and quick read…but just FYI: There were a few “R-ish” rated scenese.

The Simple Wild

The Simple Wild was another really wonderful book.

The main character, Calla, was born in Alaska, but Calla and her mother left for Toronto when she was young. Through the years, Calla lost touch with her dad, Wren, who remained in Alaska until one day, many years later, she received a phone call prompting her to go visit her dad in Alaska.

She’s a fish out of water in Alaska. While she adjusts to the frontier, she’s met with challenges, difficult relationships, and the uncertain future for herself and her dad.

This book tugged at my heartstrings and brought a tear to my eye more than once. After finishing the book, I immediately downloaded the sequel: Wild at Heart. I can’t wait to read it this month!

Well, y’all, after having this post mostly written, I did finish one more book…

One in a Million:

This was the book I picked up at curbside pick up from the library a couple of weeks ago. One in a Million was a sweet and quick read. The main character, Annie, owns a digital marketing agency. Annie has given up on love and ends up placing a bet with the ad agency across the hall that she can get 20,000 followers on Instagram in a month for anyone they choose.

Dr. Samuel Page walks in the coffee shop just as they make the bet. His character reminded me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Once Annie gets to know Sam, she realizes he’s in the midst of a breakup, so she tells him she will help him win back his girlfriend.

When Annie asks him what he’ll say when he sees his ex, he replies, “I’m going to tell her that I love her and I miss her…And then tell her she needs to stop being so ridiculous and that I need my hay fever medicine. I’m not paying for another prescription, they’re exorbitant these days. Also, I very much miss my cat.” haha See…very Sheldon-like.

Anyway, her quest to win the bet allows her to get to know Sam even better. While the plot was pretty predictable, I loved the London setting and the British vernacular.

So there’s a little look at what I read in the month of June.

Happy reading!