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 thrilled to find out I was ranked #70 in a list of the Top 300 Book Blogs. The complete list can be found HERE. A number of blogs I love are on this list and I’m so honored to be among such great company.

Family and Life Updates

My daughter and I had a fun day touring the Amana Colonies for a day. The Amana Colonies are just a half hour from our home and there are so many great antique shops and stores as well as fabulous restaurants. We had a blast shopping and, of course, had to get ice cream cones before we headed home.
Patrick has been interning at a church all summer in their music ministry department. We were able to attend a service in person and I was so proud seeing him in his element.
Bennett turned 19 in July. We were so glad to have him come home and celebrate quick before we headed out for our vacation.
We took a trip to Branson, MO. It’s about 7 1/2 hours from our house and was a nice get away for our family. We stayed in a VRBO condo and had a great time playing mini-golf and lots of card games in our condo. It was just so good for the five of us to be together for a week without distractions of home. We would love to go back to Branson and do more of their activities and attractions when COVID is over.
I had to share this view from Top of the Rock in Branson. It isn’t all tourist attractions and shows. There is a lot of beauty around Branson as well. You can see Table Rock Lake in the far center of the photo.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.

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.

This month is a mix of physical books and eBooks. Some publishers are sending physical books if they have them, but some are still just sending eBooks.

Non-Fiction and Fiction


An American Memoir

By: Kiese Laymon

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: Scribner


Format: eBook – purchase

This is our book club read for August. I know nothing about this memoir, but gosh, it must be good because so many people that I trust their opinions have raved about it and it has a 4.7 rating on amazon and a 4.46 on goodreads which is hard to get.

Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion, and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been.

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.


A Survivor’s Story

By: David Thibodeau with Leon Whiteson and Aviva Layton

Published: September 9, 1999 – reprint January 2, 2018

Publisher: Public Affairs – Hatchette


Format: eBook – Purchase

My husband and I watched “Waco” on Netflix during the quarantine. I didn’t remember as much of the details about that event as I should have and I was horrified and yet, intrigued by the story. This book went on Kindle Daily Deal one day this month and I snagged it. It’s written by the young man who was drawn into David Koresh’s teachings and one of the few to survive the siege.

For the first time ever, a survivor of the Waco massacre tells the inside story of Branch Davidians, David Koresh, and what really happened. When he first met the man who called himself David Koresh, David Thibodeau, who had never been religious in the slightest, was drumming for a rock band that was going nowhere fast. Intrigued and frustrated with a stalled music career, Thibodeau gradually became a follower and moved to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. He remained there until April 19, 1993, when the compound was stormed and burnt to the ground.

In this book, Thibodeau explores why so many people came to believe that Koresh was truly divinely inspired. We meet the men, women, and children of Mt. Carmel. We get inside the day-to-day life of the community. Thibodeau is brutally honest about himself, Koresh, and the other members and the result is a revelatory look at life inside a cult.

But Waco is just as brutally honest when it comes to dissecting the actions of the United States government. Thibodeau marshals an array of evidence, some of it never previously revealed and proves conclusively that it was our own government that caused the Waco tragedy, including the fires. The result is a memoir that reads like a thriller, with each page taking us closer to the eventual inferno.


By: Liz Roby-Miklus

Published: April 4, 2020

Publisher: lulu


Format: Paperback – purchase

I found this author on Instagram while searching for fellow Iowa Bloggers. Liz is a delight and I love her positivity. Her journal is available by clicking the photo above.

The Joy Bar Journal is a tool for you to use in your joy journey. Building a joyful mindset is not easy. This journal allows you to build a firm foundation that increases the joy you have in your day to day life.


Her Disappearance – 13 Days

By: Barron Steffen

Published: May 7, 2020

Publisher: Yoga of Mindset Press


Format: Paperback

I don’t know anything about this book, but it sounds like a heartbreaking, yet inspiring read.

If you could leave your true love one final gift, what would it be? This intense, moment-by-moment chronicle begins with the officer’s words, “She is deceased.” For the next thirteen days following the fatal automobile accident of his wife, renowned thought-leader Dr. Seana Lowe Steffen, the author draws on nearly forty years of study and training with gurus and meditation teachers to discover ecstatic love, save fractured relationships, and glimpse a greater arc and purpose for being alive.

The Final Gift of the Beloved: Her Disappearance–13 Days is the story of one man’s sudden, astonishing brush with devastation and the Divine under the most heartbreaking of circumstances.

A love story disguised as a tragedy, Steffen weaves extraordinarily poignant and powerful experiences with honesty and revelations that will change lives. Along with intense pain and emotion, prepare yourself for great beauty and transcendent insight, for nothing is as it appears.


How We Keep Each Other Close

By: Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Published: July 14, 2020

Publisher: Simon & Schuster


Format: Hardcover

I love all things friendship and I can’t wait to dive into this one. It was my choice from Book of the Month.

A close friendship is one of the most influential and important relationships a human life can contain. Anyone will tell you that! But for all the rosy sentiments surrounding friendship, most people don’t talk much about what it really takes to stay close for the long haul.

Now two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming Big Friendship in this honest and hilarious book that chronicles their first decade in one another’s lives. As the hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, they’ve become known for frank and intimate conversations. In this book, they bring that energy to their own friendship—its joys and its pitfalls.

An inspiring and entertaining testament to the power of society’s most underappreciated relationship, Big Friendship will invite you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved. It is a call to value your friendships in all of their complexity. Actively choose them. And, sometimes, fight for them.


A Memoir

By: Michele Harper

Published: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Riverhead Books


Format: Hardcover

Since I couldn’t choose, I also added this to my Book of the Month shipment. I love medical memoirs and couldn’t resist this one.

An emergency room physician explores how a life of service to others taught her how to heal herself.

Michele Harper is a female, African American emergency room physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Brought up in Washington, DC, in an abusive family, she went to Harvard, where she met her husband. They stayed together through medical school until two months before she was scheduled to join the staff of a hospital in central Philadelphia, when he told her he couldn’t move with her. Her marriage at an end, Harper began her new life in a new city, in a new job, as a newly single woman.

In the ensuing years, as Harper learned to become an effective ER physician, bringing insight and empathy to every patient encounter, she came to understand that each of us is broken—physically, emotionally, psychically. How we recognize those breaks, how we try to mend them, and where we go from there are all crucial parts of the healing process.

The Beauty in Breaking is the poignant true story of Harper’s journey toward self-healing. Each of the patients Harper writes about taught her something important about recuperation and recovery. How to let go of fear even when the future is murky. How to tell the truth when it’s simpler to overlook it. How to understand that compassion isn’t the same as justice. As she shines a light on the systemic disenfranchisement of the patients she treats as they struggle to maintain their health and dignity, Harper comes to understand the importance of allowing ourselves to make peace with the past as we draw support from the present. In this hopeful, moving, and beautiful book, she passes along the precious, necessary lessons that she has learned as a daughter, a woman, and a physician. 


Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done

By: Kendra Adachi

Published: August 11, 2020

Publisher: WaterBrook


Format: eBook

I’ve already started reading this since I am part of the launch team. I already loved Kendra Adachi from Instagram and her podcast, but I am learning even more from her in this book. She has awesome pre-order bonuses if you order before August 10th on her website. I even ordered my own physical copy even though I was sent the eBook.

The chorus of “shoulds” is loud. You should enjoy the moment, dream big, have it all, get up before the sun, track your water consumption, go on date nights, and be the best. Or maybe you should ignore what people think, live on dry shampoo, be a negligent PTA mom, have a dirty house, and claim your hot mess like a badge of honor.

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the mixed messages of what it means to live well.

Kendra Adachi, the creator of the Lazy Genius movement, invites you to live well by your own definition and equips you to be a genius about what matters and lazy about what doesn’t. Everything from your morning routine to napping without guilt falls into place with Kendra’s thirteen Lazy Genius principles, including:

– Decide once
– Start small
– Ask the Magic Question
– Go in the right order
– Schedule rest

Discover a better way to approach your relationships, work, and piles of mail. Be who you are without the complication of everyone else’s “shoulds.” Do what matters, skip the rest, and be a person again.


How to Discern His Voice and Direction

By: Lysa Terkeurst

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Harvest Pocket Books


Format: eBook

I have always loved Lysa’s writing. This is a very short book and the paperback is only $2.99 if you are interested in pre-ordering.

Living with a deeper awareness of God’s leading isn’t just for a select few…it’s for you too! Have you ever wondered if God still speaks to us today? Or do you worry that what you’re perceiving as God’s voice is really just your own thoughts? You’re not alone.

In Is God Speaking to Me?, Lysa TerKeurst shares her own wrestling with these questions and how God has taught her to more clearly discern His direction in her everyday life.

Using Scripture, encouraging personal stories, and practical application, Lysa will help you:

Stop merely going through the motions of life by learning how to recognize and respond to the Lord’s divine appointments for you.

Uncomplicate the idea of listening to God as you use five key questions to help you determine if what you’re discerning is from Him or not.

Discover the joy of truly walking with the Lord as you learn how to live in expectation of hearing from Him.

Is God Speaking to Me? is both an invitation to a life of adventure with the Lord and the tender reminder that we serve a God who loves us deeply and longs to speak to us personally.


By: Laila Ibrahim

Published: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: eBook

I absolutely loved Ibrahim’s YELLOW CROCUS. This is the follow-up to it and both books are free eBooks if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Oberlin, Ohio, 1868. Lisbeth Johnson was born into privilege in the antebellum South. Jordan Freedman was born a slave to Mattie, Lisbeth’s beloved nurse. The women have an unlikely bond deeper than friendship. Three years after the Civil War, Lisbeth and Mattie are tending their homes and families while Jordan, an aspiring suffragette, teaches at an integrated school.

When Lisbeth discovers that her father is dying, she’s summoned back to the Virginia plantation where she grew up. There she must face the Confederate family she betrayed by marrying an abolitionist. Jordan and Mattie return to Fair Oaks, too, to save the family they left behind, who still toil in oppression. For Lisbeth, it’s a time for reconciliation. For Jordan and Mattie, it’s time for liberation.

As the Johnsons and Freedmans confront the injustice that binds them, as well as the bitterness and violence that seethes at its heart, the women must find the courage to free their families—and themselves—from the past. 


A Novel

By: Susie Orman Schnall

Published: June 16, 2020

Publisher: Griffin

Fiction/Historial Fiction

Format: Paperback

This was a win from Book Club Cookbook. Don’t you just love the cover? This one sounds delightful.

At the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two ambitious young women—a down-on-her-luck actress and an aspiring journalist—form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of possibility and find out what they are truly made of during a glorious summer of spectacle and potential…

Gorgeous Vivi is about to begin filming her first starring role in a Hollywood picture when the studio head ships her off to New York as a favor to a friend. She’s assigned the leading role in the heralded Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair, a fate she believes will destroy her film career. If she performs well, she’ll have another chance at stardom, but with everything working against her, will her summer lead to opportunity or failure?

Plucky Max dreams of becoming a serious journalist, but when her job at the New York Times doesn’t pan out, she finds herself begrudgingly working for the daily paper of the World’s Fair. As her ideas are continually overlooked by her male counterparts and her career prospects are put in jeopardy, Max must risk everything to change the course of her life.

When Max and Vivi’s worlds collide, they forge an enduring friendship. One that teaches them to go after what matters most during the most meaningful summer of their lives.


By: Len Joy

Published: August 1, 2020

Publisher: BQB Publishing


Format: Paperback

I love stories set in small towns, especially in the Midwest. A good Midwestern storm and tornado mixed with family secrets and drama sounds like a good combo to me.

As a tornado threatens their town, a stubborn old man who has lost his son teams up with a troubled young soldier to deliver a jukebox to the wealthy developer having an affair with the soldier’s wife.

It’s July 2003 and the small town of Maple Springs, Missouri is suffering through a month-long drought. Dancer Stonemason, a long-forgotten hometown hero still grieving over the death of his oldest son, is moving into town to live with his more dependable younger son. He hires Wayne Mesirow, an Iraq war veteran, to help him liquidate his late son’s business.

The heatwave breaks and the skies darken. Dancer tries to settle an old score while Wyne discovers the true cost of his wife’s indifference and turns his thoughts to revenge. When the tornado hits Maple Springs, only one of the men will make it out alive.

“Everyone Dies Famous” is a story from the heartland about the uncommon lives of everyday people – the choices they make, how they live their lives, and how they die. 


A Novel

By: Christina Clancy

Published: June 2, 2020

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Format: Hardcover

Good Morning America named this one of “25 novels to read this summer”. I won this from Book Club Cookbook. Siblings and family secrets are right up my alley.

After a disastrous summer spent at her family’s summer home on Cape Cod, seventeen-year-old Ann Gordon is left harboring a secret that changes her life forever and creates a rift between her sister, Poppy, and their adopted brother, Michael.

Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, and Ann and her sister Poppy are left to decide the fate of the old Wellfleet home that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. While they both love the house, they decide to sell it and move forward. But then Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to a third of the estate. He wants the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about that long-ago summer.

Reunited after years apart, these very different siblings are forced to decide if they can continue to be a family–and in the process, they’ll discover that the house might be the glue that holds them together.

Children’s Non-Fiction and Fiction


A First Book of Geography

By: Sue Lowell Gallion

Illustrated by: Lisk Feng

Published: July 22, 2020

Publisher: Phaidon Press


Format: Hardcover

If you are looking at homeschooling this fall or just want your youngest kids to know more about their world, this is a cool book. This is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

A read-aloud introduction to geography for young children that, when opened and folded back, creates a freestanding globe

Children are invited to identify and experience the Earth’s amazing geography through rhyming verse and lush illustrations: from rivers, lakes, and oceans deep, to valleys, hills, and mountains steep. The secondary text offers more detailed, curriculum-focused facts and encourages readers to consider their own living environments, making the reading experience personal yet set within a global backdrop. This informative homage to Earth is sure to inspire readers to learn more about their planet – and to engage with the world around them.


A Hanukkah Story

By: Rabbis Kerry and Jesse Olitzky

Illustrated by: Jen Kostman

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Kalaniot Books


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

An adorable picture book for Jewish and non-Jewish families to enjoy and learn about Hanukkah.

Little Flicker is always cheering his friends on with words of encouragement and support. But as the smallest candle in the box, why should he be chosen to be the shamash in the Hanukkah menorah? Isn’t the job of lighting all the other candles too big for him? As it turns out, it’s the size of your heart that matters, and in that department, Little Flicker is huge! This book’s bright and quirky illustrations make it easy to imagine the possibility of a world where candles walk, talk, dance, and sing. Kids will love exploring the details of Little Flicker’s life inside his cozy drawer. 


By: Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by: Niroe Nakata

Published: August 1, 2020

Publisher: Two Lions


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Do you have a child going off to Kindergarten? It can be scary during “normal” times, but even more so during this current pandemic, especially with a sensory overload when they go back to the classroom after being at home for nearly six months. Calm their fears and make Kindergarten fun with this book.

Clover Kitty does NOT want to go to kittygarten! Although she might like a friend to play with, kittygarten feels overwhelming for a sensory-sensitive kitty like Clover. And when she arrives, it is exactly as she fears: her classroom is too loud, the lights are too bright, and everyone comes too close. So Clover throws a fit…and decides to quit kittygarten. But when a classmate comes to check on her, she begins to reconsider. Maybe it’s time for Clover to give kittygarten another chance.


By: Lauren H. Kerstein

Illustrated by: Nate Wragg

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Two Lions


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I love bedtime story books and this one looks so fun!

Rosie the dragon’s bedtime routine has been a little bumpy lately. But not to worry! Charlie is prepared with his lists, rules, and fire extinguisher—everything a boy needs to help guide his pet dragon (and best friend) to a peaceful night’s sleep. But with bath-time bubble trouble, fiery-hot pajamas, and stuffed animal search-and-rescues, tucking this dragon into bed is not an easy task. And what happens when thunder strikes? Snuggle up with this adorable duo as they conquer bedtime the best way: together! 

Which one (or two or three) 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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