Posted in Books and Shows

July 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello!

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

Favorite Quotes:

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

Rating:

4.5 stars

One Italian Summer:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Meant to Be:

Summary:

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

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

Rating:

The Lifeguards:

Summary:

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

Or so they think.

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

Rating:

4.5 stars

The Hotel Nantucket:

Summary:

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

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

Rating:

4.5 stars

This Tender Land:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Summer Reading Update:

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

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

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

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

Posted in Books and Shows

June 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

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

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

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

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Summer Love:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

The Summer Job:

Summary:

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

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Harry: Life, Loss, and Love:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

Rating:

Also, this month:

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

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

Summer Reading Update:

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

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

What are books have you read this month?

Posted in Books and Shows

May 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello!

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Save Me From Dangerous Men

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

A Stranger’s Game

Summary:

A wealthy hotel heiress.

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

A suspicious death.

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

A fight for the truth.

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

The Summer Getaway

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

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

Summer Reading

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

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

Posted in Books and Shows

Summer Reading 2022

Hello!

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

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

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

My 2022 Summer Reading List:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Books and Shows

April 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Such a Quiet Place:

Summary:

We had no warning that she’d come back.

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Pack Up the Moon:

Summary:

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

Rating:

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

The Rent Collector:

Summary:

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

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

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

Fave Quotes:

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

Rating:

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

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

March 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

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

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

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Lucky:

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

Rock Paper Scissors:

Summary:

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

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

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

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

Quick Thoughts:

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

Rating:

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

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

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

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

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows, Not Just a Mom

Not Just a Mom: Reading Habits

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We had a super low key Friday night and woke up to 4 inches of snow on Saturday. Thankfully, our Saturday activities were pretty light which gave me time to run some errands and finish my book. I hate springing forward although I know the benefit is that it will be lighter outside longer. I think I just feel like I have so few hours to accomplish things and now I lost one! Oh well…

Today, I’m hosting this month’s Not Just a Mom post with my fellow blogging friends:

So far this year, we’ve discussed:

This month, we are sharing about reading habits.

So far this year, I’ve read:

Some of my reading habits are:

1.

I keep a list of books I want to read. I used to use the Notes app on my phone, but I’ve been using the Goodreads app for over a year, and I really enjoy it! I have different bookshelves (chick lit, mystery, bio/auto bio, etc.) to keep my book list organized.

2.

I always have a stack of books to read and at least one book on my Kindle. What if I start reading a book and don’t like it? I want to have a back up book just in case. Also, I keep my Kindle in my purse, so I like to have a book on the Kindle as an option to read while waiting on kids’ practices to finish or any other spare time I may have.

3.

I try to have a cozy atmosphere when read if possible. I will light a candle, grab a blanket, and sip my coffee or glass of wine while reading.

4.

I try to read for a bit every single day. It’s honesty pretty rare for me to have a solid chunk of time to read; that seems to only happen in the summer while at the pool…

…or on vacation.

I at least try to read a bit before bed; sometimes I drift to sleep in only a few minutes, but at least I tried!

On Saturday, I carved out 30 minutes because I knew I wanted to finish my book. I love when I’m able to do that.

5.

I keep track of what I read and set a goal for the year. I always had an idea of how many books I wanted to read in a year, but 2021 was the first year I set a Goodreads goal of 40 books.

I never want reading to feel like a chore, but it’s nice to have a goal in mind. That being said, I’m “behind” for 2022, and I’ve never been behind in reading. Hopefully, I can make up for it over Spring Break, and I know I always read more in the summer.

Reading Habits:

I grew up with two parents who read a lot. My dad always had a stack of books on the side table by his recliner. My mom, a former English teacher, always took us to the library, and of course she loves reading too. {After she retired from teaching, she worked at the public library for ten years!)

When my kids were little, I loved taking them to the library. We’d go at least once a week for story time, and every summer we did the Summer Reading Program at the library. They were always so excited to get the book they earned at the end of the summer.

Once the kids started elementary school, they loved bringing home books from the school library as well.

Hayden has always been my avid reader, and Hadley has to be reminded to read. They’ve enjoyed so many wonderful series like the “Who was” books, Diary of Wimpy Kids, Magic Tree House, Babysitter’s Club, and so many more. Hadley loved graphic novels. (I think they were perfect for her attention span.)

Until middle school, Hayden would read every night. He still loves to read, but now he has homework to juggle or activities that go later into the evening, so he doesn’t read every night.

Last summer, they both read books from the 6th grade reading list because they knew they’d need to start the year earning AR (Accelerated Reader) points. They have to have 20 AR points each quarter. (After reading a book, they take a test to earn the points.)

I hope my reading habits are rubbing off on my kids and that they look back with fond memories of all the great books they read in their childhood.

For the love of reading…

What are some of your reading habits? Do your kids like to read?

We hope you’ll join us next month when we talk about “what’s for lunch.”

Well, this week, the weather is going to feel more like spring, and we only have a four day school week! Yippee!

Thanks so much for reading,

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Posted in Books and Shows

February 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Happy Friday Eve! My book posts are always some of my favorite to share, and this is currently me:

I wish I had more time to read. My “to be read” list is ever growing, and I’m over here just trying to keep up.

I only read two books this month, and I blame that on all my Olympic watching! That being said, both books were pretty lengthy, but they both were also so good.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Our Woman in Moscow:

Our Woman in Moscow

Summary:

In the autumn of 1948, Iris Digby vanishes from her London home with her American diplomat husband and their two children. The world is shocked by the family’s sensational disappearance. Were they eliminated by the Soviet intelligence service? Or have the Digbys defected to Moscow with a trove of the West’s most vital secrets?

Four years later, Ruth Macallister receives a postcard from the twin sister she hasn’t seen since their catastrophic parting in Rome in the summer of 1940, as war engulfed the continent and Iris fell desperately in love with an enigmatic United States Embassy official named Sasha Digby. Within days, Ruth is on her way to Moscow, posing as the wife of counterintelligence agent Sumner Fox in a precarious plot to extract the Digbys from behind the Iron Curtain.

But the complex truth behind Iris’s marriage defies Ruth’s understanding, and as the sisters race toward safety, a dogged Soviet KGB officer forces them to make a heartbreaking choice between two irreconcilable loyalties.

Quick Thoughts:

I’m not sure if I’ve read any other books by Beatriz Williams, but this one was amazing. The sisters are twins, and they are very different, both in appearance and in actions. I enjoyed that the chapters were told from each sister’s point of view. The historical references, actions, and love interests made this book an overall good read. I was on the edge of my seat with how I was hoping it would end, and it didn’t disappoint!

Rating:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice—and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story—a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.

Quick Thoughts:

My Gma suggested this book to me over a year ago, and she said how wonderful it was. She wasn’t wrong! I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it. (Long story…but I’ve had it checked out from the library for quite some time.) I honestly didn’t know much about C.S. Lewis besides some of his more notable works like The Chronicles of Narnia. I most certainly didn’t know anything about Joy Davidman.

I love how each chapter starts with a quote from Joy’s sonnets. I truly couldn’t put this book down. C. S. and Joy correspond through letters for years before meeting. (How romantic is that?) While together, she inspired some of his best works. They connected as writers, then they became friends, and finally their relationship turned to a deep love. Since Joy was divorced, they spent years as only friends because of how their relationship would be viewed in the church. Joy was such a strong woman who left her alcoholic husband, started a new life for herself and her boys in a new country, while also trying to prove herself as a writer.

Did I shed a tear or two at the end? I sure did. I knew their fate, and I still didn’t want to turn the page to see the finality of their lives and their love story.

Favorite Quotes:

You know I love a good quote, and here a some of my faves from this book:

  • “See?” I lifted my glass. “We’re connected everywhere. Even before we met, we were all of us tied together with these funny little threads. I love those small hints that God brings people together and says, “Here you go. This one’s for you.”
  • “Happiness was the greatest gift of expectancy.”
  • “As it’s always been—we use stories to make sense of the world.”

Rating:

I’ve shared before that I don’t think I’m much of a Historical Fiction reader…but maybe I am? Both of these books could land in my Top 5 of the year, but I’m almost 100% certain Becoming Mrs. Lewis will make the cut!

Even though I only read two books this month, they were definitely proof of “quality over quantity!”

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links…}

Posted in Books and Shows

January 2022: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello and Happy Monday!

Before I get started with today’s post, I have to share that Ronda is the winner of the Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag. I will be in touch soon!

I can’t believe it’s the last day of January. I saw this meme, and it felt so true!

Honestly, January gets a bad rap, but it’s one of my favorite months. January is for a fresh start, it’s a calmer month coming off the holidays, it’s my birthday month, and we usually get a snow day or two which is my fave.

Before we turn the calendar to February, I have to share the books I read this month. I’m hanging on to my monthly average of reading three books.

This month I read…

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Going There:

Summary:

For more than forty years, Katie Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest, hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she reveals what was going on behind the scenes of her sometimes tumultuous personal and professional life – a story she’s never shared, until now. Of the medium she loves, the one that made her a household name, she says, “Television can put you in a box; the flat-screen can flatten. On TV, you are larger than life but smaller, too. It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.

Beginning in early childhood, Couric was inspired by her journalist father to pursue the career he loved but couldn’t afford to stay in. Balancing her vivacious, outgoing personality with her desire to be taken seriously, she overcame every obstacle in her way: insecurity, an eating disorder, being typecast, sexism . . . challenges, and how she dealt with them, setting the tone for the rest of her career. Couric talks candidly about adjusting to sudden fame after her astonishing rise to co-anchor of the TODAY show, and guides us through the most momentous events and news stories of the era, to which she had a front-row seat:  Rodney King, Anita Hill, Columbine, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Iraq War . . . In every instance, she relentlessly pursued the facts, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way.  She also recalls in vivid and sometimes lurid detail the intense pressure on female anchors to snag the latest “get”—often sensational tabloid stories like Jon Benet Ramsey, Tonya Harding, and OJ Simpson.

Couric’s position as one of the leading lights of her profession was  shadowed by the shock and trauma of losing her husband to stage 4 colon cancer when he was just 42, leaving her a widow and single mom to two daughters, 6 and 2. The death of her sister Emily, just three years later, brought yet more trauma—and an unwavering commitment to cancer awareness and research, one of her proudest accomplishments.

 Couric is unsparing in the details of her historic move to the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News—a world rife with sexism and misogyny.  Her “welcome” was even more hostile at 60 Minutes, an unrepentant boys club that engaged in outright hazing of even the most established women.  In the wake of the MeToo movement, Couric shares her clear-eyed reckoning with gender inequality and predatory behavior in the workplace, and downfall of Matt Lauer—a colleague she had trusted and respected for more than a decade.

Couric also talks about the challenge of finding love again, with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right.  Something she has never discussed publicly—why her second marriage almost didn’t happen

If you thought you knew Katie Couric, think again. Going There is the fast-paced, emotional, riveting story of a thoroughly modern woman, whose journey took her from humble origins to superstardom. In these pages, you will find a friend, a confidante, a role model, a survivor whose lessons about life will enrich your own.

Quick Thoughts:

Shew! That was quite the summary! My friend let me borrow Katie’s book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love a good autobiography, and Katie definitely went there. This book is filled with tons of short chapters. I enjoyed reading about how she grew up, and my heart broke as she shared about losing her husband and having to be a single working mom to two young girls. I thought her professional journey was really interesting, and she did a great job owning up to mistakes and discussing being in the news business as a female. I always had Katie, Matt, Al, and Ann on in the background during my college and early teaching years. I always assumed they were one big happy family. Through the years, when she moved on, Ann awkwardly left, and then, of course, the Matt Lauer scandal came to light, I knew going into the book that the Today show wasn’t all sunshine and roses. She definitely talked about the Matt Lauer situation, and I will say those chapters made me cringe. Anyway, she found love again, enjoys time with her two grown daughters, and is definitely living a great second chapter of life. This book didn’t disappoint.

Rating:

The Royals Next Door:

Summary:

Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day–avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.

And she’s happy with how things are–really–until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she’s a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person’s fairy tale is an ordinary woman’s nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison’s no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who’s sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.

But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she’ll need more than Harrison’s strong arms to shield her–she’ll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they’re willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.

Quick Thoughts:

This book. Sigh. When I started this book, I was really enjoying it. It had a very “Meghan and Harry move to the United States” vibe. It was even a bit predictable from the beginning, but I’m ok with books like that. Then, in the middle of the book, it went left real quick and become R rated. I think at that point, I realized I didn’t even like how it was written. I became picky about word choice and simplistic sentences and was kind of over it. It may be the first book I’ve read that I wanted to take my English teacher red pen and mark it up! Anyway, if you’ve read it, I’d love to know what you think, but this book was a bust for me.

Rating:

I give it three stars for first half and two stars for second half of the book. My first ever two star book rating!

We Are the Brennans:

Summary:

When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all—and her high school sweetheart—five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.

Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets—secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes—and ultimately find a way forward, together.

Quick Thoughts:

I can’t remember who shared about this book, but I added it to my Good Reads list a couple of months ago. I really enjoyed this book. The big Irish family aspect provided dynamic characters and interesting family relationships. As the secrets of the family members unfold, I was invested in seeing just how the book would end. I liked how each chapter picked up with the last line of the previous chapter making the ideas flow. This was a good one!

Rating:

I always feel like after the holidays and reading light-hearted books, I want to read more serious books. Two of the three books I read this month were just that. I’ve started Our Woman in Moscow, and it took me a bit to get into it, but I think I’m going to like it.

*sigh* these posts from the KC library were fun while they lasted. We have some sad Chiefs fans in the house today. The better team won, and I guess there’s always next year.

I hope you have a great start to your week. See you back here tomorrow for my *short* Prime Purchases post.

Posted in Books and Shows

December Books +TOP 5 Books of 2021

Hello! Today is one of my favorite posts of the year. I’m sharing my Christmas reads in December as well as the Top 5 books that I read in 2021.

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To me, there’s nothing better than a good book. With the hustle and bustle of each day, I try to find some quiet time to read. It’s a gift to find that time and so special to find a book that I enjoy.

December Books:

As with the past couple of years, I read Christmas books in December. I really enjoy doing this, and I think reading these types of books helps me appreciate the holiday season.

This month I read:

{As always, book summaries are from Goodreads…}

Per usual, I’m sharing the summary, but as far as the “quick comments” are concerned, really, I enjoyed all the books I read this month. They are all 4 or 5 stars! I do think my order of preference would have to be: The Holiday Swap followed by The Twelve Dates of Christmas and then A Nantucket Christmas.

A Nantucket Christmas:

Summary:

Holidays on this Massachusetts island are nothing short of magical, from the jolly decorations on the Brant Point lighthouse to the much anticipated Christmas Stroll, in which merrymakers promenade through quaint streets adorned with Yuletide cheer. The season’s wonderful traditions are much loved by Nicole Somerset, new to Nantucket and recently married to a handsome former attorney. Their home is already full of enticing scents of pine, baking spices, and homemade pie.
 

But the warm, festive mood is soon tempered by Nicole’s chilly stepdaughter, Kennedy, who arrives without a hint of holiday spirit. Determined to keep her stepmother at arms’ length—or, better yet, out of the picture altogether—Kennedy schemes to sabotage Nicole’s holiday preparations. Nicole, however, is not about to let anyone or anything tarnish her first Christmas with her new husband.
 
Nancy Thayer’s wonderful tale reminds us that this is the season of miracles. Before the gifts are unwrapped, surprise visitors appear, and holiday joy comes to all, both naughty and nice.

Rating:

The Holiday Swap:

Summary:

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over.

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician’s assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

Rating:

The 12 Dates of Christmas :

Summary:

When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say “Bah, humbug.” The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn’t exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate’s found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt’s neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?

Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before–and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures–Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it’s least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it’s been right under her nose all along. . . .

Rating:

Recap of Books 2021:

This year, felt like a weird reading year. I did read so many good books…It’s more that I think I spent so much of this year feeling tired. There were nights that I couldn’t even keep my eyes open or the school day was so crazy that I just wanted to watch mindless TV instead of sitting down with a book.

That being said, reading is still one of my favorite past times, and I still enjoy having an ongoing “to be read” list!

My 2021 Reads:

January:

  • American Dirt
  • Make Life Beautiful
  • What Happens in Paradise
  • Piece of My Heart

February:

  • The Lies that Bind
  • A Hope More Powerful than the Sea
  • Troubles in Paradise

March:

  • We Were the Lucky Ones
  • Layla
  • The Giver of Stars

April:

  • The Push
  • Firefly Lane
  • Little Disasters

May:

  • The Wife Upstairs
  • The Hurricane Sisters
  • Where the Red Fern Grows

June:

  • Good Apple
  • The Good Sister
  • Girls of Summer
  • The Last Thing He Told Me
  • Here’s to Us

July:

  • Open Book
  • We Were Liars
  • The Cave Dwellers
  • The Summer House
  • Malibu Rising

August:

  • Local Woman Missing
  • Golden Girl
  • The Four Winds

September:

  • Yoga Pant Nation

October:

  • The Wrong Family
  • One Day You’ll Thank Me
  • Of Mice and Men

November:

  • Not a Happy Family
  • Christmas in Peachtree Bluff
  • The Girls in the Stilt House

December:

  • A Nantucket Christmas
  • The Holiday Swap
  • The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Top 5 books of 2021:

I really had a hard time choosing some of my Top 5 books because quite a few stood out to me on my initial list.

Before I share my Top 5 reads of 2021, these deserve honorable mention recognition:

Here are my 5 favorite reads of 2021 in the order I read them…

American Dirt:

I started off 2021 with this (after light hearted Christmas books, I typically want to read something more serious in nature). I could not put this book down. I was on the edge of seat the entire time. This book had violence, tension, difficult decisions, and so much more. I guess I was reading this entire book thinking about myself as a mom. I can’t imagine what Lydia experienced on a daily basis while trying, above all, to keep her son safe and start a new life for them.

We Were the Lucky Ones:

This was another powerful read. I don’t typically read historical fiction, but this book hooked me from the first page. Set in Poland in 1939, I was immediately invested in what would happen to each member of the Kura family. This was a book of strength, of hope, of loss, and of survival.

The Giver of Stars:

My mom recommended this book to me, and I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. This was another historical fiction novel, set in Kentucky during the Great Depression, I loved getting to know this fierce group of women. Margery leads the pack horse librarians, and this book isn’t without sadness and strength, heartbreak and triumph.

Malibu Rising:

Those who read Malibu Rising seemed to either love it or hate it. I was clearly “Team Love It.” I read this book in July, and it was the perfect summer read. What’s not to love about California in the ’80s? The Riva siblings were all so different, and I love how the plot moved between the past and the present. This was a quick read for me, and one that I would definitely recommend.

The Girls in the Stilt House:

Well, The Girls in the Stilt House sure was a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t even heard of this book until Shay and Erika shared it on their podcast. It was available at my library, and I was excited to dive in. This story is set in Mississippi in the 1920s. I loved reading from the point of view of both Matilda and Ada. As I said in my November review, “This book had the loneliness of Crawdads, the heartache of Four Winds, the solidarity of The Giver of Stars, and the empowerment of all.” And I meant it 😉

This year…

This was the first year that I used the Good reads app to track what I read. I set a goal to read 40 books, and, well…that’s exactly how many I read!

I think I will set a similar goal for 2022. I never want reading to feel like a chore or something I have to do. Reading about three books a month is a good pace for me, knowing that I will probably read more in the summer months.

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Previous Top 5 Books:

In case you’re interested, here are my Top 5 books posts from the last two years.

I have one more post for 2021. I’m taking a look back on 2 0 2 1, and I will share that on Friday. Only a few more days until 2 0 2 2! That’s so hard to believe.

We’ve been having a great break. I’ve enjoyed sleeping in a bit, catching up on shows and movies, reading, and just having a more easy going schedule!

See you back here on Friday!