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.

I was pretty quiet on the blog in December. Like everyone, life was full and I had to let some things go, including reading and writing book reviews. Subbing full-time, numerous concerts, dance team performances, and all the Christmas preparation left me with little to no free time. But, this month sure held many wonderful memories!

Patrick played in the annual Central College Steel Pan Carribean Christmas.

One of Reagan’s several concerts during December
Reagan performed at State Dance in Wells Fargo Arena and Hy-Vee Hall. They received an Academic Award as a team and a I rating for Lyrical.
Our family celebrating on Christmas Eve
My best friend from college and I were able to get together for a few hours. You’ll hear about some of the books we will be reading together in 2020 below.

Now on to the books! I have some really great books to share with you this month including children’s and adult titles. I have a few books that I purchased for myself as well as received as a gift, plus all the books that came for review purposes. I’m anxious to get back to my regular reading routine once this long-term sub job is complete.

Raycon Earbuds and Kindle Paperwhite

I received a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I’ve always just used the Kindle app on my phone or iPad Mini, but I really love the Paperwhite. I also received some Raycon Earbuds to make audiobook listening even easier.

If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

If you choose to make a purchase through any of the links I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.


50 Coffee and Espresso Drinks to Make at Home

By: Daniel Lancaster

Published: December 24, 2019

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Format: Paperback


I love me some coffee and I thought this would be a fun way to learn how to make my own coffee drinks at home. I don’t live in a city and the closest Starbucks or Dunkin is 30 minutes away.

The simple art and tradition of brewing the perfect cup―at home. Whether it’s a morning drip or an evening espresso martini, amazing coffee is an art form. The Coffee Recipe Book is your guide to understanding how everything comes together for an artisanal coffee drink.

With 50 different recipes ranging from classic cappuccino to specialty lattes, there’s a delicious option for everyone. Easily match the expertise of your favorite cafe, with the perfect mix of the techniques and tools needed to give your daily grind a good home.


Practical Advice from 23 Men and Women Who Shaped the World

By: Robert L Dilenschneider

Published: December 31, 2019

Publisher: Citadel

Format: Paperback


This is a great book for kicking off the new year. FSB Associates is so good about sending me awesome books that I am thrilled to share them here in case you might want to read them!

Sorting out our lives amidst chaos, confusion, and innumerable options is a process we all have in common. The decisions we ultimately make can affect our lives and the lives of others. It’s not always easy. In this empowering guide, an expert in business strategies shares the choices of notable, visionary decision-makers–from Harry Truman and Henry Ford to Marie Curie and Malala Yousafzai–and explains how you can apply their principles to your own personal and professional real-life scenarios.

Resolve, patience, and practical thinking–take it from these politicians, scientists, economists, inventors, entrepreneurs, theologians, activists, and commanders of war and peace. Their inspiring counsel will give you the tools you need to help change your life. Both big and small, your choices can shape the minutes, days, weeks, and years ahead. This book is the first motivating step in the right direction.


By: Anna Quindlen

Published: August 25, 1998

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Format: Paperback


This was part of a set of books I purchased for myself and my BFF from Page One Books. We will be reading these books together in 2020. She lives several hours away from me in Tennessee, so this is a great way for us to stay in touch. I loved Quindlen’s LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE, so I’m anxious to read another of her books.

A recurring theme throughout Anna Quindlen’s How Reading Changed My Life is the comforting premise that readers are never alone. “There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books,” she writes, “a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but never really a stranger. My real, true world.” Later, she quotes editor Hazel Rochman: “Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” Indeed, Quindlen’s essays are full of the names of “friends,” real or fictional–Anne of Green Gables and Heidi; Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen, to name just a few–who have comforted, inspired, educated, and delighted her throughout her life. In four short essays Quindlen shares her thoughts on the act of reading itself (“It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light”); analyzes the difference between how men and women read (“there are very few books in which male characters, much less boys, are portrayed as devoted readers”); and cheerfully defends middlebrow literature:

Most of those so-called middlebrow readers would have readily admitted that the Iliad set a standard that could not be matched by What Makes Sammy Run? or Exodus. But any reader with common sense would also understand intuitively, immediately, that such comparisons are false, that the uses of reading are vast and variegated and that some of them are not addressed by Homer.


40 Women, 40 Stories, 40 Pairs of Shoes

By: Bridget Moynahan and Amanda Benchley

Photography by: Melanie Dunea

Published: April 9, 2019

Publisher: Harry N. Abrams

Format: Hardcover


This is exactly the kind of book I love and I don’t know how I didn’t already know about it. But, thankfully, my BFF knew about it and gifted it to me for Christmas. I can’t wait to read it!

Ask any woman about her favorite pair of shoes, and you’re sure to get an answer that goes beyond their material design. In Our Shoes, Our Selves: 40 Women, 40 Stories, 40 Pairs of Shoes, actress Bridget Moynahan and journalist Amanda Benchley ask 40 accomplished women to recount the memories behind their most meaningful pair of shoes. This collection features stories from icons like Bobbi Brown, Danica Patrick, and Misty Copeland to intrepid reporters like Christiane Amanpour and Katie Couric to creative forces like Rupi Kaur, Maya Lin, and Gretchen Rubin. Beautifully illustrated with a portrait of each woman and her chosen shoes, the stories explore what most women already know: that what we wear can have power and significance beyond merely clothing our bodies. Our Shoes, Our Selves reveals these remarkable journeys, and the steps these inspiring women have taken to get there, with the hopes of encouraging all women to forge their own paths.


By: Elizabeth Letts

Published: February 12, 2019 – Paperback December 3, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Format: Paperback

Fiction/Historical Fiction

This was the Target Book Club choice for December. I’ve been passing on the choices the last several months and really considered canceling, but then this book came along, so we will see how 2020 goes with the subscription. I love The Wizard of Oz and this story has me intrigued.

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.


By: Julia Kelly

Published: January 16, 2020

Publisher: Orion

Format: Hardcover

Fiction/Historical Fiction

I haven’t read anything by Julia Kelly, but I did receive a paperback of THE LIGHT OVER LONDON, so I’m looking forward to reading both of these. I love the cover!

In August of 1939, as Britain watches the headlines in fear of another devastating war with Germany, three childhood friends must choose between friendship or country. Erstwhile socialite Nora is determined to find her place in the Home Office’s Air Raid Precautions Department, matchmaker Hazel tries to mask two closely guarded secrets with irrepressible optimism, and German expat Marie worries that she and her family might face imprisonment in an internment camp if war is declared. When Germany invades Poland and tensions on the home front rise, Marie is labeled an enemy alien, and the three friends find themselves fighting together to keep her free at any cost.


By: Juliet Blackwell

Published: January 21, 2020

Publisher: Berkley

Format: Paperback

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Yet another piece of war history that I had never heard of before. The author found out about these wine caves while visiting the area and felt moved to write about them. I’m anxious to learn about it myself.

Deep within the labyrinth of caves that lie below the lush, rolling vineyards of the Champagne region, an underground city of women and children hums with life. Forced to take shelter from the unrelenting onslaught of German shellfire above, the bravest among them venture out to pluck sweet grapes for the harvest. But wine is not the only secret preserved in the cool, dark cellars…

In present day, Rosalyn travels to Champagne to select vintages for her Napa-based employer. Rosalyn doesn’t much care for champagne–or France, for that matter. Since the untimely death of her young husband, Rosalyn finds it a challenge to enjoy anything at all. But as she reads through a precious cache of WWI letters and retraces the lives lived in the limestone tunnels, Rosalyn will unravel a mystery hidden for decades…and find a way to savor her own life again, inspired by the hope and defiance of the women who toiled to bring in the grape harvest during the war.


By: Marjan Kamali

Published: June 18, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Format: Hardcover


First of all, how can I not read a book with this gorgeous of a cover?!?! This was part of a set of books I purchased for myself and my BFF from Page One Books. We will be reading these books together in 2020. She lives several hours away from me in Tennessee, so this is a great way for us to stay in touch. I love books that move back and forth from the past to the present. This one will be a favorite, I’m sure.

A novel set in 1953 Tehran against the backdrop of the Iranian Coup about a young couple in love who are separated on the eve of their marriage, and who are reunited sixty years later, after having moved on to live independent lives in America, to discover the truth about what happened on that fateful day in the town square.


By: Alix E. Harrow

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Red Hook

Format: Hardcover

Fiction/Magical Realism

This is a step outside my reading box, but again…this cover is so gorgeous! This was part of a set of books I purchased for myself and my BFF from Page One Books. We will be reading these books together in 2020. She lives several hours away from me in Tennessee, so this is a great way for us to stay in touch. Since this has a book at the center of the story, I’m hoping I’ll love it.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


By: Peter Riva

Published: January 21, 2020

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Format: Paperback


This is the third in a series and sounds like quite a thrilling read. Depending on the scare factor, I’m not sure I’ll be able to read it. I seem to be more and more sensitive to scary thrillers lately. FSB Associates is so good about sending me awesome books that I am thrilled to share them here in case you might want to read them!

Expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar are filming on Lake Rudolf in Northern Kenya, East Africa, when they receive news that Mbuno’s son, himself an expert guide, has been kidnapped while on a safari five hundred miles away in Tanzania. After gathering the clues and resources needed to trek through the wilderness, they trace the kidnappers back to an illegal logging operation clear-cutting national park forests, manned by sinister Boko Haram mercenaries. There, they find not only Mbuno’s son but also a shocking revelation that has terrifying and far-reaching consequences.

Relying on Mbuno’s legendary bush skills, the pair must overcome the danger both from inside and outside the camp to bring Mbuno’s son out alive. In doing so, Mbuno and Pero discover that kidnapping and deforestation are only the beginning of the terrorist group’s aspirations, and they realize a threat that would herald an even more dangerous outcome for Tanzania—a coup. A rescue might just risk the entire stability of the region.


A Lady Hardcastle Mystery (Book 1)

By: T. E. Kinsey

Published: October 4, 2016

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Format: eBook


I’ve heard about this series several times on various bookish podcasts. After reading and loving THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE, I thought I would try this when I need a palette cleanser. I was able to get it for free, even though it was a Kindle Deal with the eBook credit for pushing my Amazon deliveries to later. Plus I got the audible version along with it for $1.99. I’m hoping it will be a fun read.

Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they’ve just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.

But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There’s a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation…

As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country. 


By: Jenna Guillaume

Published: April 1, 2020

Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company

Format: Paperback

Fiction/Middle-Grade/Juvenile Fiction

I love how smart and funny this book sounds. It reminds me a bit of DUMPLIN’ but for a younger reader.

The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she’d be doing over vacation is entering a beauty pageant. Not when she’s spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone. Not when her Dad is AWOL and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie’s already shaky confidence. And especially not when her best friend starts flirting with the boy she’s always loved. But Maisie’s got something to prove.

As she writes down all the ways this vacation is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn’t let anything, or anyone, hold her back.


By: Phyllis J. Perry

Published: August 12, 2018

Publisher: TCK Publishing

Format: Paperback

Fiction/Juvenile Fiction

This is a short, coming-of-age fiction story for younger readers with a good message.

A cloud hangs over Jack as e begins fifth grade. Two boys from his class are bullying him. They catch up with Jasck each morning, taking brownies out of his lunch sake, letting air out of his bike tires, and even stealing his baseball glove.

Jack and his fifth grade buddies welcome a new student, Hans, into their group. Hans speaks only a little English but is enthusiastic and a quick learner. All of them are baseball fans and thrilled that their Colorado Rockies team will be in the World Series.

Jack and his buddies must find a way to get his baseball glove back and celebrate at the World Series as a team.


A World War II Book for Kids

By: Carole P. Roman

Published: January 7, 2020

Publisher: Rockridge Press

Format: Paperback


Kids that like history will enjoy learning about WWII in a simple and informative book written especially for middle-grade readers. Carole P. Roman has written many books for kids teaching them about countries, careers, and all kinds of history. See all the books I’ve reviewed by Roman, HERE.

Discover World War 2’s hidden heroes and villains. Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents explores the intriguing world of spycraft and shows you what goes on behind the scenes in war.

From spy schools and ciphers to sneaky tools and secret armies, this guide takes you on a declassified tour of the undercover operations that helped decide the outcome of World War 2. There’s also more than a dozen short spy-ographies that cover some of the most famous (and infamous!) agents that were active during the war.


By: Alison McGhee

Illustrated by: Kate Alizadeh

Published: February 1, 2020

Publisher: Two Lions

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Non-Fiction/New Experience

This is a wonderful book to gift to someone with a new baby. I have this author’s book SOMEDAY as well from when our kids were little.

From the magic of a baby’s first sights and sounds to a wish for a far-off day, evocative text and gorgeous illustrations are imbued with the tenderness felt between parents and child. A perfect gift for new mothers and fathers and anyone who cherishes those unforgettable moments—or dreams of a time when their children will see their own little ones smile at them for the first time.


By: Stephanie Stansbie and Richard Smythe

Published: December 3, 2019

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Format: Hardcover Picture Book


This is a beautiful book to share with your little ones. This gorgeously illustrated book with unique die-cut pages will show them how much you love them.

Share the love between a parent and child in With All My Heart. This beautifully illustrated picture book showcases the lifelong love a parent has for their child. Each page features sweet text paired with shaped die cuts for a unique reading experience. With All My Heart is the perfect book to cuddle up with and to express the endless love between a parent and child. 


By: Ged Adamson

Published: February 1, 2020

Publisher: Two Lions

Format: Hardcover Picture Book


I love children’s books that teach a lesson.

Bernard isn’t like other birds. His wings are impossibly long, and try as he might, he just can’t seem to fly. He’s left wondering what his wings are good for…if they’re even good for anything at all. But a chance encounter with a dejected orangutan leads Bernard to a surprising discovery: that maybe what makes him different is actually something to be embraced.


By: Todd Tarpley

Illustrated by: Vin Vogel

Published: January 1, 2020

Publisher: Two Lions

Format: Hardcover Picture Book


Books full of imagination are so great for kids.

After crossing raging rivers and tromping through the jungle, Naughty Ninja returns to his secret ninja training camp for lunch. But when he gets inside, his parents tell him he needs a bath. Before Naughty Ninja gets in the tub, he notices poisonous flies and an angry alligator circling his dad, who doesn’t even seem to know he’s in trouble. Good thing Naughty Ninja is around to save the day!


Highest, Hottest, Deepest, Coldest – Explore the Extremes of Our Planet!

By: Simon Tyler

Published: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Pavilion Children’s

Format: Hardcover


I love learning along with kids about our amazing planet.

Follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous explorers and travel to the extremes of our environment on Earth–learn about the highest and deepest, hottest and coldest places on Earth. Discover the world’s most wild terrain–deserts, mountains, volcanoes, rivers, jungles, oceans, the polar regions and more and learn about how they were discovered and explored by human adventurers. Find out how these regions are under threat from global warming and other issues, and learn what we can do to conserve them.

Which one of these books will you be adding to your list?

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

So many books, so little time!

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