New Books This Month

This is my monthly roundup of books that were added to my shelves in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my life.

Oh, December….you always fill my heart with joy but the days go by much too fast. There was so much to enjoy in December.

Wrestling cheerleading wrapped up for Reagan.

Patrick had his first College Indoor Track Meet.

Bennett’s last Madrigal concert as well as several other Christmas concerts.

Of course, many wonderful family celebrations and gathering with friends to celebrate Christmas and the coming new year.


I have actually found some time to read or listen to books in the last month even in the busyness of the holiday season. You can see all my recent book reviews by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.



Currently Listening: ON WRITING and the Podcast He Read, She Read



If you would like to purchase any of the books in this post, click on the photo or title of the book to be directly taken to the product on Amazon. If you choose to purchase the book I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. 


Books I Gave as Gifts

These are books I gave as gifts this holiday. I didn’t get pictures of them before I gave them to my loved ones, but I still wanted to share them here.


Emotion in Motion by Rick Brown


The Life and Legacy of Chris Street

By: Rick Brown

Published: 2018

Publisher: Mike and Patty Street


Format: Paperback

This book is only available in Iowa Hawkeye shops or online, HERE.  This book tells the touching story of Chris Street, the University of Iowa basketball player whose life was cut much too short by an accident during his junior year of playing basketball with the Hawkeyes. I gave this book to my husband. We both remember well, the day Chris Street died and his legacy lives on in the hearts of Hawkeye fans.

Rick Brown, formerly of the Des Moines Register, has written a biography about the life and legacy Chris Street left behind after his life was cut short in the Junior year at the University of Iowa. We are currently taking pre-orders for this book. It is expected to be available at the end of January 2018, 25 years after his life was cut short.



Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

By: John Carreyrou

Published: May 21, 2018

Publisher: Knopf


Format: Hardcover

This was also a gift for my husband. I’ve heard several rave reviews for this book and I thought it sounded like something he would like.

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers. 

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes were widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.




By: Susan Orlean

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Simon and Schuster


Format: Hardcover

I gave this to my best friend from college. She is a book lover and avid reader like me and so I thought she would really like this one. Surprisingly, she hadn’t heard of it, so I hope she enjoys it. She was a history major in college and loves libraries like I do so I think she will appreciate it. The bummer is I didn’t by a copy for myself!

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.




The One About Friends

By: Kelsey Miller

Published: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Hanover Square Press


Format: Hardcover

I got this book for our son to give to his godmother who is also my niece. She is a huge “Friends” fan. In fact, I got her a shirt for her birthday that says “I’m a Monica”. ? She is totally a Monica and was super excited about getting this book. Again, I didn’t get one for myself but I’m currently on the waitlist for one from my library.

This definitive retrospective of Friends incorporates interviews, history and behind-the-scenes anecdotes to offer a critical analysis of how a sitcom about six twentysomethings changed television forever

When Friends debuted in 1994, no one expected it to become a mainstay of NBC’s Must See TV lineup, let alone a global phenomenon. In the years since, Friends has gone through many phases of cultural relevancy, from prime-time hit to 90s novelty item to certified classic. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe have entered the pantheon of great television characters, and millions of people around the globe continue to tune in or stream their stories every day.

I’ll Be There for You is the definitive retrospective of Friends, exploring all aspects of the show from its unlikely origins to the elusive reasons why we still watch it. Journalist and pop culture expert Kelsey Miller relives the show’s most iconic moments, analyzes the ways in which Friends is occasionally problematic and examines the many trends it inspired, from the rise of coffee-shop culture to Friendsgivings to the ultimate 90s haircut, the Rachel.

Weaving incisive commentary, revelatory interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes involving high-profile guest stars, I’ll Be There for You is the most comprehensive take on Friends and the ultimate book for fans everywhere.




By: Dan Egan

Published: April 10, 2018

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company


Format: Hardcover

I gave this to my nephew who lives in Minnesota, loves to fish, and loves ecology. I think it is something he would enjoy reading.

The Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior—hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.


I also gave away many of the children’s books I’ve written about here on the blog to my numerous nieces and nephews for Christmas. I tried to fit each of the books to their personalities and interests and they all seemed thrilled with the books they received. I didn’t receive any books as gifts, but I know it is hard to give someone like me books as I probably have already read it or it is sitting on my shelf.


December 2018 Kids Books



The Secret Valentine

By: Jonathan London

Illustrated by: Andrew Joyner

Published: December 18, 2018

Publisher: Two Lions


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I’m a huge fan of the DUCK AND HIPPO books. Check out my other reviews, HERE.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and something curious is going on. As the birds tweet their love songs, Hippo and his friends Elephant, Pig, and Turtle each receive mysterious, unsigned Valentine’s Day cards. Hippo wonders if his is from Duck; Elephant and Turtle think theirs are from Pig; and Pig dreams that hers is from Turtle. The cards tell the friends to come to the park at four o’clock to meet their valentines—so they’ll find out soon enough! As the clock ticks away, the friends wonder—and dream—about their valentines and make special preparations. But when they arrive…SURPRISE!

This Valentine’s Day might not go exactly the way they expected, but one thing is certain: being friends with Duck and Hippo is always a special treat!




By: Shani King

Illustrated by: Anna Horvath

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

The author wrote this as a note to his children. He wanted to be sure that they know they are loved and that they matter. It would make a great Valentine’s gift for kids.

“Have I ever told you that, for me, there is no one more special than you? That for me, you are the most special child in the world, and that I love you now and will love you forever? Have I ever told you that?”

Shani King wrote Have I Ever Told You? as a note to his children, to remind them that they are amazing in their individuality and that they have the power to choose who they want to be in this world. The illustrations create a masterful visual narrative: warm, witty, simple, profound, and as ferociously empowering as a children’s book can be.




By: Patty Prozo

Illustrated by: Ana Ochoa

Published: December 4, 2018

Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

This story features a homeless woman who carries everything in her purse. But, shows how children can remind us of kindness and caring for others. I’m looking forward to this one.

Generous and eccentric, Miss Pinkeltink fills her huge purse with everything from a toilet plunger to roller skates and then gives it all away. She offers tape to fix a flat tire and a bone to a kitty: Miss Pinkeltink’s gifts never quite hit the mark, / but she gave what she had, and she gave from the heart. And then, with nothing left to give or to shelter herself, she huddles on a park bench, trying to sleep in the rain. And that’s where Zoey sees her from her bedroom window and knows that something must be done. 




Colors and First Words

By: Judith Drews

Published: November 6, 2018

Publisher: Prestel Publishing


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I love books about color and this one is gorgeous.

Introducing children to colors and in the process of expanding their vocabulary, this book will delight young readers, who will recognize the myriad of things that make their world colorful. A sunny morning introduces the color yellow and leads young readers to a light bulb, a fuzzy baby chick, a lemon, and a friendly lion. A snowman, a sheep, an egg, and a soccer ball reveal that white has endless variations. Green takes readers outside to look at a leaf, a frog, and a caterpillar while a brown bear is surrounded by a wooden spoon, a basket, a girl’s braid, and a broom. Gorgeously illustrated, this engaging book is sure to capture a child’s imagination and is perfect for young ones to read with their parents.




It’s Not a Fairy Tale Book 2

By: Josh Funk

Illustrated by: Edwardian Taylor

Published: February 1, 2019

Publisher: Two Lions



This one looks like a fun retelling of the beloved fairytale.

In the fairytale mashup, Hansel and Gretel talk back to the narrator, refusing to play their roles.




Inspiring Activities to Try

Incredible Women to Discover

By: Ellen Bailey

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Portable Press


Format: Paperback

A neat compilation of great women from our history presented in a fun way for kids to understand.

I Am a Wonder Woman is an entertaining and inspirational look at some of the most influential women in history, from ancient times to the modern day. Each page is filled with amazing stories about the women who have shaped the world and inspired others to follow in their footsteps. Readers can step into the lives of these pioneers by completing unique activities and answering thought-provoking questions. Quirky artwork throughout helps bring each woman’s story to life. 




An Interactive Adventure

By: Jon Stone

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: SFI Readerlink Dist


Format: Hardcover

THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK was a favorite of mine and I still have my copy. I read it to our kids as well. This interactive book is super fun for little readers.

In this sequel, furry old Grover is still fearful of monsters–and he learns that there’s another one at the end of this book! Just who is the monster at the end of this book?




By: Sandra Ingerman and Katherine Wood

Published: July 27, 2018

Publisher: Moon Books


Format: Paperback

This book shares Shamanic teachings and Paganism. I have never read anything about either spiritual teaching. This children’s book is a chapter book with just over 100 pages.

Were those people in Isaiah’s dream the same people from school? Popular soccer star Magda? George, who he’d never heard speak because he always left classes for special services help? Angry Rose, the Chinese girl who was always in trouble for fighting? And why were there dead birds and fish everywhere? When the four encounter one another the next day by the same pond from the dream, they realize they’ve shared a dream and there really are dead birds and fish covering the ground! This leads to real-life adventures and more dreams as they discover a toxic waste plant disposing of poisons illegally. Not friends, in the beginning, romance blossoms as they work together with their Power Animals to close down the plant. 



December 2018 Books



My Mostly Comedic Journey through Marriage, Parenting, and Depression

By: Brett Grayson

Published: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Panman Press


Format: Paperback

This sounds like a pretty funny memoir that I’m sure I’ll be able to find plenty of ways to identify with.

There comes a time when couples decide to create and raise tiny helpless human beings, hoping they one day become non-tiny and less helpless.

This is one family’s journey through ten months of pregnancy (isn’t it supposed to be nine months?), the first years of parental cluelessness, the terrible twos, threenagers, and the few years that follow when they begin to learn about a world that’s even crazier than they are.

Join the author and his wife as they navigate those ten months, from the always romantic conception to her water breaking in the most unique way possible. Then watch them attempt parenthood, from the seemingly simple routine of dressing their kids for school to the complex experience of teaching them to use public bathrooms.

It’s mostly a breeze…

No, it isn’t. Pre and postnatal complications; battles with their own mental health; and those rapidly growing and irrational miniature versions of themselves. Some of it is devastating. Much of it is overwhelming. All of it challenges them to maintain their sense of humor.

And when they attempted to go on an airplane as a family… that was a sh*tshow.




Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

By: Randall Munroe

Published: September 2, 2014

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Format: Hardcover

My daughter got this book as a gift and I have actually listened to a bit of this book on audio. I had gotten it through my libraryAbsurd but then didn’t get very far before my loan expired and never got it back. It was a bit odd I remember but will be worth thumbing through and reading at my leisure.

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If. 




How to Live a Healthy Veggie Life…and Still Eat Treats

By: Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson

Published: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Chronicle


Format: Hardcover

This had been in my Amazon cart and the price kept dropping and dropping. When I didn’t think it would go any lower I snagged it for about $6. It’s a gorgeous cookbook with photos for every recipe and numerous ones I want to try.

A Beautiful Mess is one of the most popular DIY style blogs in the world, with more than 1 million readers. Co-creators (and sisters) Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson share their unique and approachable diet with fans and healthy eaters in this, their first cookbook. Their philosophy involves eating responsibly during the week—avoiding refined flours, sugars, alcohol, and dairy—and indulging on weekends. Vetted by nutritionists and divided into four parts (breakfast, meals, snacks and sweets, and drinks), each containing a weekday and weekend chapter. Featuring an attractive textured case vibrant photographs, this one-of-a-kind book makes a special gift for yourself or a friend looking for a lifestyle change—or simply more healthy and delicious go-to recipes! 




Black Dog Bay #5

By: Beth Kendrick

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Berkley


Format: Paperback

I have read all of the books in the Black Dog Bay series and this is number 5. See all my reviews of the other books in the series, HERE.

When everything has gone to the dogs . . .

When Jocelyn Hillier is named a legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an oceanside mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places. 




A Novel

By: Melanie Benjamin

Published: January 16, 2018 – Paperback: January 22, 2019

Publisher: Bantam

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I first heard of Melanie Benjamin as one of the authors of GRAND CENTRAL: ORIGINAL STORIES OF POST WAR LOVE AND REUNION.

An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.

Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.

Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous than Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.

This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship. 




By: Laura Benedict

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Mulholland Books


Format: Paperback


My book club was chosen to read and discuss this new book by Laura Benedict. We will be reading it during the month of January. The publisher sent books for each of us which was a treat!

Kimber Hannon’s belief that she has complete control over her life is shattered the night that she comes home from a trip to find her key no longer opens her front door. There is a stranger living in her house. A stranger who claims he has every right to be there, with the paperwork to prove it. When she confronts the man, he lets her get close enough to whisper, “I was there. I saw what you did.”

She doesn’t know how he knows her, but with those words, Kimber knows this stranger isn’t after anything as simple as her money or artwork or charming Craftsman bungalow. She has to find out exactly what he wants and get him out of her carefully orchestrated life before he ruins it.

There are plenty of people in her life who might help, but should Kimber trust any of them? Her lawyer, Gabriel, is also her ex-lover; Diana, her best friend, doesn’t know Kimber slept with her husband; her ex-husband has a new, happier life since leaving her; and her co-workers know she’ll do anything to get her next sale. And no one can know the real reason this man is in her house. Without trust, everyone’s a stranger.




By: Juliette Fay

Published: June 4, 2016

Publisher: Gallery Books

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: eBook


The was free thanks to Simon and Schuster for being a newsletter subscriber.  The publisher says it is perfect for fans of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and ORPHAN TRAIN, both of which I loved.  I’ve read a loved two other books by Juliette Fay. You can see my reviews, HERE.

It’s 1919, and the Turners are barely scraping by. When their father loses his job, their irrepressible mother decides that vaudeville is their best chance to make the rent—and create a more exciting life for herself in the process.

Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.




By: Josie Silver

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Broadway Books


Format: Hardcover

This was a choice from Book of the Month club. I’ve passed on the choices the last few months but this one piqued my interest. I was hoping to get it read over the holidays, but it didn’t happen.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.




By: Kimberly Rae Miller

Published: July 27, 2017

Publisher: Little A


Format: eBook

This was a Kindle Deal and since I loved Miller’s book, COMING CLEAN, I thought I would grab this one.

Like most people, Kimberly Rae Miller does not have the perfect body, but that hasn’t stopped her from trying. And trying. And trying some more. Her first attempt to use food to change her body came at age four when she learned that the Inuit ate fat to stay warm in the winter. If this diet worked in the Arctic, she reasoned, why not in Long Island? Postcollege, after a brief stint as a diet-pill model, she became a health-and-fitness writer and editor working on celebrities’ bestselling bios—sugarcoating the trials and tribulations celebs endure to stay thin.

But what is the ideal body? Knowing she’s far from alone in this struggle, Kim sets out to find the objective definition of this seemingly unattainable level of perfection. While on a fascinating and hilarious journey through time that takes her from obese Paleolithic cavewomen to the bland menus that Drs. Graham and Kellogg prescribed to promote good morals in addition to good health, to the binge-drinking-prone regimen that caused William the Conqueror’s body to explode at his own funeral, Kim ends up discovering a lot about her relationship with her own body.

Warm, funny, and brutally honest, Beautiful Bodies is a blend of memoir and social history that will speak to anyone who’s ever been caught in a power struggle with his or her own body…in other words, just about everyone.




By: Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Published: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Simon and Schuster


Format: Audiobook

I downloaded this from my library and listened on audio. I really enjoyed it and think anyone in any type of leadership role in an organization, business, or school should read this book. Lots of really great stories about the power of a moment changing lives.

While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. What if a teacher could design a lesson that he knew his students would remember twenty years later? What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers? What if you had a better sense of how to create memories that matter for your children?

This book delves into some fascinating mysteries of experience: Why we tend to remember the best or worst moment of an experience, as well as the last moment, and forget the rest. Why “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.” And why our most cherished memories are clustered into a brief period during our youth.

Readers discover how brief experiences can change lives, such as the experiment in which two strangers meet in a room, and forty-five minutes later, they leave as best friends. (What happens in that time?) Or the tale of the world’s youngest female billionaire, who credits her resilience to something her father asked the family at the dinner table. (What was that simple question?)

Many of the defining moments in our lives are the result of accident or luck—but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them? The Power of Moments shows us how to be the author of richer experiences.




A Memoir of the Craft

By: Stephen King

Published: 2000

Publisher: Scribner


Format: Audiobook

I downloaded this from my library and am currently listening on audio. It’s been on my list for a while and I gifted a physical copy to my sister-in-law last year.

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.


To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.


So many books, so little time!

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1 Comment

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy) on January 4, 2019 at 2:15 am

    What a wonderful December – in a bookish way and a personal way!

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