First of all, thanks to all of you for understanding my need to step back for a time. Thanks to the publishers, the publicists, and the authors for supporting my decision and giving me the time I needed to focus on other things.

My dad is home and is improving more than we dreamed to expect. His goal was to be strong enough to attend our son’s graduation and party and he did both! He’s completed all his at home therapy and isn’t scheduled to see the doctor until August. I’m praying he continues to stay strong and healthy over the summer months.

Our son graduated from high school last month. May was a whirlwind month and some days I never imagined I would get everything done. But, we pulled it off and the party and all the ceremonies around graduation were so wonderful and joyous. We have been inundated with rain like much of the country, but thankfully, the day of his party was one of the nicest days we’ve had in a long time. Since the party was outside, we were so thankful for the gorgeous weather and all who came to celebrate with us.

I have just returned from a short trip to Northern Minnesota to celebrate a family member’s graduation and am now on my way to Florida with our band and choir students. I’m one of the chaperones riding on a charter bus with teenagers for hours and hours. I’ve got books and headphones to help me stay sane! I can’t wait to make some wonderful memories with our son, Bennett and of course, my dear mom friends.

Now on to the books…..bear with me, as I have two months’ worth of books to share with you. There is truly something for every reader in this post and I hope you find something you will want to add to your to-read list. Happy Summer Reading!


By: Amanda Quick

Published: May 7, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Format: Hardcover

I’ve never read anything by Amanda Quick before, but I know she is quite popular. I’ll likely pass on this one and give it to our library.

An unconventional woman and a man shrouded in mystery walk a tightrope of desire as they race against a killer to find a machine that could change the world.

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out. 


By: Wendy Wax

Published: May 14, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Format: Paperback

I’ve read WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY and A WEEK AT THE LAKE by Wendy Wax and enjoyed both. This would make a perfect summer, beach read.

Prized and stored away for safekeeping, the timeless ivory wedding dress, with its scooped neck and cleverly fitted bodice, sits gently folded in its box, whispering of Happily Ever Afters. To Kendra, Brianna, and Lauren it’s a reminder of what could have been, the promise of a fairy tale, and a friendship torn apart. But as Kendra knows firsthand: it wasn’t the dress’s fault.

Once closer than sisters, Lauren and Bree have grown up and grown apart, allowing broken promises and unfulfilled dreams to destroy their friendship. A successful author, Lauren returns home to the Outer Banks, fiance in tow, to claim the dress she never thought she’d wear. While Bree, a bookstore owner, grapples with the realities of life after you marry the handsome prince. As the former best friends wrestle with their uncertain futures, they are both certain of one thing: some betrayals can never be forgiven.

Now on the eve of her daughter Lauren’s wedding, Kendra struggles with a secret she’s kept for far too long. And vows to make sure the dress will finally bring Lauren and Bree back together–knowing they’ll need each other to survive the coming storm.


By: Juliette Fay

Published: April 16, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Format: Paperback

I recently read GIRLS IN THE PICTURE by Melanie Benjamin which was about two women who worked in “flickers”. Their story was fascinating and I’m interested in reading more about this piece of our history. I’ve read two books by Juliette Fay several years ago and knew that I wanted to read more by her. This one sounds like it’s one I would really like.

It’s July 1921, “flickers” are all the rage, and Irene Van Beck has just declared her own independence by jumping off a moving train to escape her fate in a traveling burlesque show. When her friends, fellow dancer Millie Martin and comedian Henry Weiss, leap after her, the trio finds their way to the bright lights of Hollywood with hopes of making it big in the burgeoning silent film industry.

At first glance, Hollywood in the 1920s is like no other place on earth—iridescent, scandalous, and utterly exhilarating—and the three friends yearn for a life they could only have dreamed of before. But despite the glamour and seduction of Tinseltown, success doesn’t come easy, and nothing can prepare Irene, Millie, and Henry for the poverty, temptation, and heartbreak that lie ahead. With their ambitions challenged by both the men above them and the prejudice surrounding them, their friendship is the only constant through desperate times, as each struggles to find their true calling in an uncertain world. What begins as a quest for fame and fortune soon becomes a collective search for love, acceptance, and fulfillment as they navigate the backlots and stage sets where the illusions of the silver screen are brought to life.


By: Renee Rosen

Published: April 30, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Format: Paperback

Rosen is one of those authors who have been on my radar, but I haven’t read any of her work yet. This one is receiving high praise and I’m anxious to dig in. I loved the movie, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, so this sounds like something I’d love to read.

Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada as Renée Rosen draws readers into the glamour of 1965 New York City and Cosmopolitan Magazine, where a brazen new Editor-in-Chief–Helen Gurley Brown–shocks America by daring to talk to women about all things off limits…

New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown’s world, a woman can demand to have it all. 


By: Melanie Benjamin

Published: May 21, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Format: Paperback

Historical fiction based on real events and people plus WWII means it’s a book I’m sure to love. I just finished reading THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE by Melanie Benjamin and she truly knows how to share the true stories of our past in a compelling story.

Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel’s director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests–and each other.

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For the falsehoods they tell to survive, and to strike a blow against their Nazi “guests,” spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone–the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.

Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war.


By: Claire Lombardo

Published: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Doubleday

Format: Paperback

I was thrilled to learn that Lombardo lives less than an hour from me and this is her debut novel. I’ll be reading and reviewing her book and interviewing her for my gig at The Gazette. Stay tuned to a piece on this book in July! I love sweeping family dramas and this one is already getting rave reviews.

A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.


By: Patti Callahan Henry

Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Format: Paperback

I have her book THE BOOKSHOP ON WATER’S END on my to-read shelf. I like family dramas and secrets so I’m quite sure I’ll like this one. Plus the cover is pretty.

Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home–until she learns of her dad’s failing health.

Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.


By: Roselle Lim

Published: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Format: Paperback

I knew nothing about this book when it arrived, but it certainly sounds like a fun read!

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around–she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.


By: Natasha Lester

Published: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Forever

Format: Paperback

Our book club received galleys of this one. This will be our August read. I haven’t read anything by Lester, but her backlist looks like something I would definitely be interested in.

New York City/Paris, 1942: When American model Jessica May arrives in Europe to cover the war as a photojournalist for Vogue, most of the soldiers are determined to make her life as difficult as possible. But three friendships change that. Journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules. Captain Dan Hallworth keeps her safe in dangerous places so she can capture the stories that truly matter. And most important of all, the love of a little orphan named Victorine gives Jess strength to do the impossible. But her success will come at a price…

France, 2005: Decades after World War II, D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to curate a collection of famous wartime photos by a reclusive artist. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but D’Arcy has no idea that this job will uncover decades of secrets that, once revealed, will change everything she thought she knew about her mother, Victorine, and alter D’Arcy’s life forever.


Murder, Accusations, and the System that Devastated A Family

By: Donald E. McInnis

Published: June 9, 2019

Publisher: J & E Publications

Format: Paperback

I knew nothing about this one before it arrived, but this true story sounds horrifying and unbelievable.

Think this couldn’t happen to your family? Think again. 

In the winter of January 1998, the small town of Escondido, California, was horrified when the body of 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe was found brutally murdered in her own bedroom. The police used psychological manipulation to force three 14-year-old boys to falsely confess to the murder. She’s So Cold traces the twists and turns of a real-life mystery which eventually changed the lives of fifteen people and cost a district attorney his job.

To protect children and teens from such manipulation in the future, McInnis proposes a new Children’s Miranda Rights Warning and a Bill of Rights for Children who are being questioned as suspects. These proposals must be adopted in order to prevent minors from making false confessions that could destroy their futures.

She’s So Cold is the story of a broken system. A system stacked against families and, most of all, against children. 


Koa Kane Hawaiian Mystery #2

By: Robert McCaw

Published: July 2, 2019

Publisher: Oceanview Publishing

Format: Paperback

I have recently been seeing this one in the bookstagram world. I didn’t know anything about the book or the author when it arrived. I’m not sure it is my type of book. I may pass this one on to the library.

A scrap of cloth fluttering in the wind leads Hilo police Chief Detective Koa Kāne to the tortured remains of an unfortunate soul, left to burn in the path of an advancing lava flow. For Koa, it’s the second gruesome homicide of the day, and he soon discovers the murders are linked. These grisly crimes on Hawaiʻi’s Big Island could rewrite history―or cost Chief Detective Koa Kāne his career.

The dead, a reclusive couple living off the grid, turn out to be mysterious fugitives. The CIA, the Chinese government, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, attempt to thwart Koa’s investigation and obscure the victims’ true identities. Undeterred by mounting political pressure, Koa pursues the truth only to find himself drawn into a web of international intrigue.

While Koa investigates, the Big Island scrambles to prepare for the biggest and most explosive political rally in its history. Despite police resources stretched to the breaking point, Koa uncovers a government conspiracy so shocking its exposure topples senior officials far beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores.


By: Brit Lunden

Published: January 12, 2018

Publisher: Chelshire

Format: Paperback

This is a novella to the following book THE KNOWING. I don’t typically read in the fantasy/paranormal genre, but this book is just over 100 pages so for those new to paranormal fantasy, it would be easy to give it a try.

Clay Finnes is the sheriff of a small town in Georgia called Bulwark. Recently separated from his wife, all he can think about is what went wrong, and will Jenna ever come back to him. He’s troubled by a bothersome reporter trying to build a story from what he thinks is a normal day in his life. Clay has to admit that the fantastical stories, told by an accident victim as well as unusual sightings of wolves, things are getting a bit strange. A visit to the ominous Gingerbread House makes him realize that his life as he knows it will never be the same. 


A Bulwark Anthology – Book 1

By: Brit Lunden

Published: March 13, 2019

Publisher: Chelshire

Format: Paperback

Bulwark- a wall or stockade that protects or sometimes hides the truth from the outside world.

Bulwark, Georgia, isolated, hidden. Who knows what strange things can happen when the rest of the world can’t see you? JB Stratton is alone in the world, and all he has left are the memories of his beloved Ellie. Dirt poor JB and wealthy Ellie feel an instant connection that is as intense and primal as the blood red earth of their home. Unseen roots connect them, pulling them into an impossible relationship. Will the memories of past lives help or hinder the path of their love? Based on the original novella Bulwark, by Brit Lunden, The Knowing continues the story of a town isolated from the rest of the world where the impossible becomes plausible, and logic is determined by reality.


A Bulwark Anthology – Book 8

By: Brittney Leigh

Published: March 13, 2019

Publisher: Brittney Leigh

Format: Paperback

Bulwark- a wall or stockade that protects or sometimes hides the truth from the outside world.

Bulwark, a quiet town… or is it? Four best friends, Sophia, Scott, Chloe and Chris, are just trying to manage their senior year at Bulwark high school when Sophia realizes that her feelings for Chris are really meant for Scott. Before she can deal with that though, the four friends then stumble upon Bulwarks darkest secrets when a spell is cast on Bulwark High. Students have been disappearing and no one has any clues as to their whereabouts. With a town curfew set and parents on edge, the four friends decide to take things into their own hands. Will they break the spell, or will Bulwark High and the town be changed forever?Based on Bulwark, a paranormal thriller by Brit Lunden, The Darkness is the eighth volume in the multi-author Bulwark Anthology. 


By: Fred Waitzkin

Published: May 28, 2019

Publisher: Open Road Media

Format: Paperback

Even though this is based on a true story, it doesn’t sound a bit too intense for what I like to read.

Charismatic expat Bobby Little built his own funky version of paradise on the remote island of Rum Cay, a place where ambitious sport fishermen docked their yachts for fine French cuisine and crowded the bar to boast of big blue marlin catches while Bobby refilled their cognac on the house. Larger than life, Bobby was really the main attraction: a visionary entrepreneur, expert archer, reef surfer, bush pilot, master chef, seductive conversationalist.

But after tragedy shatters the tranquility of Bobby’s marina, tourists stop visiting and simmering jealousies flare among island residents. And when a cruel, different kind of self-made entrepreneur challenges Bobby for control of the docks, all hell breaks loose. As the cobalt blue Bahamian waters run red with blood, the man who made Rum Cay his home will be lucky if he gets off the island alive . . .

When the Ebb Tide cruises four hundred miles southeast from Fort Lauderdale to Rum Cay, its captain finds the Bahamian island paradise he so fondly remembers drastically altered. Shoal covers the marina entrance, the beaches are deserted, and on shore there is a small cemetery with headstones overturned and bones sticking up through the sand. What happened to Bobby’s paradise?


By: Ken Honda

Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Format: Paperback

This book helps you tidy up your bank account as Kondo did with your dresser drawers. I’m intrigued.

Ken Honda knows that getting rich quick is no way to achieve happiness. Too often, money is a source of fear, stress, and anger, often breaking apart relationships and even ruining lives. Now, with practical and accessible language, the Zen Millionaire (as he is known in Japan) clearly explains how to achieve a peace of mind when it comes to money, and how to decide which path you should take towards happiness.

Learn how to change your relationship with money by treating it as a welcome guest—allowing it to come and go with respect without questioning its motives or resenting its fluctuations. Understand and improve your Money EQ, look behind the myth of scarcity, and embrace the process of giving money along with receiving it.


By: Patricia McCormick

Published: September 15, 2006

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Format: Paperback

My nephew is a high school English teacher and told me I should read this book. It was available at Half-Price Books so I decided to purchase it with the money I earned from selling other books.

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut in the mountains of Nepal. Her family is desperately poor, but her life is full of simple pleasures, like raising her black-and-white speckled goat, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. 

He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid working for a wealthy woman in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi undertakes the long journey to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution. 

An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family’s debt – then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave. 

Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s words – “Simply to endure is to triumph” – and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision – will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life? 

Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.


By: Kelly Corrigon

Published: January 9, 2019

Publisher: Random House

Format: Hardcover

I already read and reviewed this one. But, I listened to it on audio and I wanted a physical copy to read and reflect on again. I used my Half-Price Books money to purchase it. The paperback is available now as well.

It’s a crazy idea: trying to name the phrases that make love and connection possible. But that’s just what Kelly Corrigan has set out to do here. In her New York Times bestselling memoirs, Corrigan distilled our core relationships to their essences, showcasing a warm, easy storytelling style. Now, in Tell Me More, she’s back with a deeply personal, unfailingly honest, and often hilarious examination of the essential phrases that turn the wheel of life.

In “I Don’t Know,” Corrigan wrestles to make peace with uncertainty, whether it’s over invitations that never came or a friend’s agonizing infertility. In “No,” she admires her mother’s ability to set boundaries and her liberating willingness to be unpopular. In “Tell Me More,” a facialist named Tish teaches her something important about listening. And in “I Was Wrong,” she comes clean about her disastrous role in a family fight—and explains why saying sorry may not be enough. With refreshing candor, a deep well of empathy, and her signature desire to understand “the thing behind the thing,” Corrigan swings between meditations on life with a preoccupied husband and two mercurial teenage daughters to profound observations on love and loss.


By: Catherine Steadman

Published: June 5, 2018

Publisher: Ballantine Boooks

Format: Paperback

This was a Target Book Club choice. I probably would have canceled this choice, but I didn’t get to it in time. I may save it for a gift as I’m not sure I’d like it. It sounds gripping but maybe just a bit too intense for me.

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves. 


A Challenge to Journal, Pray, Reflect, and Connect with God

By: Scarlet Hiltibidal

Published: July 4, 2017

Publisher: Zondervan

Format: Hardcover

I saw this one at Target and skimmed it. I like the layout and journaling/prayer prompts and since it had a discount with it, I purchased it.

Are you ready for a project that will actually change your life?

Challenge yourself to journal, pray, reflect, and connect with God with The Weekly Prayer Project. Fifty-two scriptures, one for each week of the year, explore different types of prayers found in the Bible, from prayers of gratitude and thankfulness to prayers of lament and intercession. Each week’s journaling prompts will guide you to reflect on God’s work in your life and to pray with intention. Walk through this book, and see your faith deepen and your joy soar. 


By: Rachel Knong

Published: July 11, 2017

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co

Format: Hardcover

Another purchase from Half-Price Books with the money I earned. This one has been on my to-read list and I recently heard it mentioned again as a great read.

Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.


By: Richard Roper

Published: May 28, 2019

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Format: Hardcover

This was a Book-of-the-Month choice. It reminds me a bit of books like A MAN CALLED OVE or ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE which I loved.

Andrew’s day-to-day is a little grim, searching for next of kin for those who die alone. Thankfully, he has a loving family waiting for him when he gets home, to help wash the day’s cares away. At least, that’s what his coworkers believe.

Andrew didn’t mean for the misunderstanding to happen, yet he’s become trapped in his own white lie. The fantasy of his wife and two kids has become a pleasant escape from his lonely one bedroom with only his Ella Fitzgerald records for company. But when new employee Peggy breezes into his life like a breath of fresh air, Andrew is shaken out of his routine. She doesn’t notice the wall he’s been safely hiding behind and their friendship promises to break it down.

Andrew must choose: Does he tell the truth and start really living his life, but risk losing his friendship with Peggy? Or will he stay safe and alone, behind the façade? How Not to Die Alone is about the importance of taking a chance in those moments when we have the most to lose. Sharp and funny, warm and real, it’s the kind of big-hearted story we all need. 


By: Claire Gibson

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: William Morrow

Format: Hardcover

This was also a Book-of-the-Month choice. I have the hardcover, but the paperback is also already available. I loved the synopsis of this one.

Duty. Honor. Country. That’s West Point’s motto, and every cadet who passes through its stone gates vows to live it. But on the eve of 9/11, as Dani, Hannah and Avery face four grueling years ahead, they realize they’ll only survive if they do it together.

Everyone knows Dani is going places. With athletic talent and a brilliant mind, she navigates West Point’s predominantly male environment with wit and confidence, breaking stereotypes and embracing new friends.

Hannah’s grandfather, a legendary Army general, offers a stark warning about the dangers that lie ahead, but she moves forward anyway, letting faith guide her path. When she meets her soul mate at West Point, the future looks perfect, just as planned.

Wild child Avery moves fast and doesn’t mind breaking a few rules (and hearts) along the way. But she can’t outpace her self-doubt, and the harder she tries, the further it leads her down a treacherous path.

The world—of business, of love, and of war—awaits Dani, Hannah, and Avery beyond the gates of West Point. These three women know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But soon, that adage no longer rings true—for their future, or their friendship. As they’re pulled in different directions, will their hard-forged bond prevail or shatter?

Beyond the Point is a heartfelt look at how our closest friends can become our fiercest battle buddies. After all, the greatest battles we fight rarely require a uniform.


By: Kelly Harms

Published: April 1, 2019

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Format: eBook

I chose this book as part of the free Kindle First books offered through Amazon. You can choose a free book each month if you are a Prime member. I interviewed Kelly Harms back in October 2016. She was a delight to chat with. I’ve already heard great things about this book and I’m hoping to get to it soon.

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild-mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man, in particular, makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart. 


The Many Lives of Allene Tew

By: Annejet Van Der Zijl

Translator: Michele Hutchison

Published: April 1, 2018

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

Format: eBook

This was also a free book due to promotional credits through Amazon. From the choices I had, this was the most interesting. This woman has quite the history to share about her life.

Born to a pioneering family in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, Allene Tew was beautiful, impetuous, and frustrated by the confines of her small hometown. At eighteen, she met Tod Hostetter at a local dance, having no idea that the mercurial charmer she would impulsively wed was heir to one of the wealthiest families in America. But when he died twelve years later, Allene packed her bags for New York City. Never once did she look back.

From the vantage point of the American upper class, Allene embodied the tumultuous Gilded Age. Over the course of four more marriages, she weathered personal tragedies during World War I and the catastrophic financial reversals of the crash of 1929. From the castles and châteaus of Europe, she witnessed the Russian Revolution and became a princess. And from the hopes of a young girl from Jamestown, New York, Allene Tew would become the epitome of both a pursuer and survivor of the American Dream.


How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

By: Kathleen Flinn

Published: September 29, 2011

Publisher: Viking

Format: eBook

This was part of a Kindle Deal last week. I love the idea of the cooking school and think it will be a fun read and I’m hoping to get some cooking tips as well.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultraprocessed foods. Flinn’s “chefternal” instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School includes practical, healthy tips that boost readers’ culinary self-confidence, and strategies to get the most from their grocery dollar, and simple recipes that get readers cooking.


By: Courtney Acampora and Maggie Fischer

Illustrated by: Bonnie Pang

Published: May 7, 2019

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Format: Board Book

I first shared WILD BIOS: FRIDA CATLO with you and loved the concept of teaching about famous people from our history to our youngest readers.

Amelia Harehart never let any hopstacles get in her way!

Meet one of history’s greatest figures in this adorable board book with an animalistic twist! Dive into the life of the brave pilot Amelia Harehart, and the glass ceilings she flew through. Breaking records and always setting new goals to achieve, Amelia Harehart was an inspiration. With hilarious puns and colorful illustrations, this clever board book brings her legacy to life for babies and parents alike!


Adventures with Murphy McWoo

By: Michelle Schlicher

Illustrated by: Hanna Piepel

Published: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Michelle Schlicher

Format: Picture Book

This Iowa author has written her first children’s book. I previously read and reviewed two of her adult fiction books, HERE. I’m anxious to share this one with you.

A garden gnome comes to life for two imaginative young sisters. Little and big minds alike will enjoy this tale of finding your own creativity.


By: Charlotte Pence

Illustrated by: Karen Pence

Published: April 9, 2019

Publisher: Regnery Kids

Format: Picture Book

I reviewed Marlon Bundo’s first book, HERE. It was a great way to introduce kids to life with the Vice President. This one shares important landmarks around the capital all from the experience of the BOTUS (Bunny of the United States).

With the help of his “Grandma” Karen Pence, Marlon Bundo—also known as BOTUS (Bunny of the United States)—learns the true meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance as he tours the landmarks of our nation’s capital. On his adventure, he learns what makes our country so very special—and so will you!


By: Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by: Kirsten Richards

Published: January 15, 2012

Publisher: Parragon

Format: Picture Book

The much-loved author of GOODNIGHT MOON also wrote several other children’s books. With her recent 100th birthday, these books are being shared to encourage a love of reading her books with a new generation.

Mouse really wants to learn to count so he can find out how many fingers and toes he has. He’s spotted a hole in this counting book that’s just his size and has crawled inside to start his adventure with numbers. So, slowly and carefully, turn the pages and learn to count with Mouse!


By: Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by: Julie Clay

Published: August 12, 2012

Publisher: Parragon

Format: Picture Book

There was a big sleepy bear and a little sleepy bear. Go through the motions with sleepy bears in Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears, a sweet story from the hidden treasures of Margaret Wise Brown, author of the children’s classics Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny. Yawn, stretch, sing and sleep tight with this book illustrated by Julie Clay.


By: Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by: Antoine Corbineau

Published: March 19, 2019 (First Published in 1960)

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Format: Picture Book

Dig, dig, dig! A man and his shovel dig a tunnel under a river, into the country and through a mountain. Where will they dig to next?


By: Anna Kang

Illustrated by: Christopher Weyant

Published: April 1, 2019

Publisher: Two Lions

Format: Picture Book

I previously reviewed Kang’s book ERASER, HERE. It was such a great children’s book that I can’t wait to check out their newest book. This is part of a series titled You are Not Small.

Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can.


By: Esme Washburn

Photographer: Calista Washburn

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Prestel Junior

Format: Hardcover

As a child, I loved reading cookbooks and trying new recipes. I still have a children’s cookbook from my childhood.

Whether they’re helping stir cake batter or producing their own YouTube cooking channel, kids of all ages are getting
increasingly busy in the kitchen. This cookbook features twenty classic recipes that are fun, healthy, adaptable, and easy to prepare. From banana bread and the perfect grilled cheese to breaded chicken and apple pie, each recipe is written in a clear, accessible style that young cooks of every level will be able to follow. The author is a young chef whose love of cooking developed from her own family’s food traditions like baking popovers with her grandmother and Sunday-night pizza making. By teaching kids basic recipes that can be adapted in endless ways, this book is the perfect launching pad to finding their way around the kitchen–or launching their own cooking careers. 


Published: May 7, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Format: Paperback

I reviewed the 2019 Almanac last summer, HERE and the 2018 Almanac, HERE. I loved these books as a kid and still do as an adult.

Kids can have fun keeping up with our quickly changing world with the New York Times best-selling almanac, packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating features about animals, science, nature, technology, conservation, and more. There’s a whole chapter full of fun and games, including activities, jokes, and comics. Practical reference material, including fast facts and maps of every country, has been fully updated. Homework help on key topics is sprinkled throughout the book.

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

So many books, so little time!

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