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.

Family and Life Updates

The corn field behind our house after the storm.

As I’ve mentioned, our town and really, the entire area, was ravaged by the Derecho storm that blew through on August 10. I wrote about it HERE. Our community and school district are still in recovery mode with getting buildings repaired and trees cleaned up. It still shocks me as I drive around and see all the damage to buildings and crops and the lack of trees. I will miss seeing the beauty of those trees this fall.

Both Patrick and Bennett are back in the college routine. We moved Patrick into a different dorm and he started his Junior year last week. Bennett started his sophomore year a couple of weeks ago. I’m praying they can continue with the college courses in person. Due to the storm, our school isn’t starting until September 8, so I’ll have pictures of Reagan’s first day next month. I however started August 27. I am doing a long-term substitute teaching job this fall, so I’ve been back at it getting the classroom ready, lesson planning, and preparing for all the changes due to COVID and our storm recovery. I wrote about this change HERE, which means the blog will be a bit quieter over the next few months.

My dad turned 88 and my parents celebrated their 64th Wedding Anniversary in August. Such huge milestones and I’m so grateful I was able to spend the day with my dad for his birthday. He hasn’t been in the best health for the last year and a half, but he is stable and doing well.

Thanks for reading my blog, sharing the books you read with me, making purchases through my affiliate links, and overall supporting my love of my family and of books here in my corner of the world. I really appreciate each of you and the fact that you take a few minutes out of your day to read what I write.

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.

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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.



By: Susan Meissner

Published: February 2, 2021

Publisher: Berkley

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: eBook

You already know I am a HUGE fan of Susan Meissner. I can’t wait to read her newest all about the San Francisco earthquake and the lives it affected.

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops a deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.


A Novel

By: Lenore H. Gay

Published: October 20, 2020

Publisher: She Writes Press


Format: Paperback

Our book club received copies of this book from The Book Club Cookbook. We are reading it this month.

Joss and Phil’s already rocky marriage is fragmented when Phil is injured in a devastating fire and diagnosed with Capgras delusion—a misidentification syndrome in which a person becomes convinced that a loved one has been replaced by an identical imposter. Faced with a husband who no longer recognizes her, Joss struggles to find the motivation to save their marriage, even as family secrets start to emerge that challenge everything she thought she knew. With two young daughters, a looming book deadline, and an attractive but complicated distraction named Adam complicating her situation even further, Joss has to decide what she wants for her family—and what family even means.


By: Karen Robards

Published: June 30, 2020

Publisher: MIRA

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: Paperback

This was a personal win from The Book Club Cookbook. I knew little about the book except that it was set during WWII, which meant I’d likely be interested in it.

A world at war. A beautiful young star. A mission no one expected.

Paris, 1944

Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance.

When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming Allied invasion. The resistance movement is tasked with silencing her by any means necessary—including assassination. But Genevieve refuses to let her mother become yet one more victim of the war. Reuniting with her long-lost sister, she must find a way to navigate the perilous crosscurrents of Occupied France undetected—and in time to save Lillian’s life.


A Doc Brady Mystery (Book 3)

By: John Bishop MD

Published: September 10, 2020

Publisher: Mantid Press


Format: Paperback

I’ve shared about the other two books in the Doc Brady Mystery series, HERE.

Plastic surgeon, Lou Edwards’s life is complicated by two major issues.

One, his wife has lupus, possibly due to leaking silicone from breast implants Edwards himself inserted. And two, his malpractice insurance has been canceled, as it has been for many other plastic surgeons, due to the burgeoning breast implant problem.

But it gets worse.

Shortly after Edwards threatens an insurance company president on national TV, the president is found murdered in his penthouse.

Dr. Jim Bob Brady once again finds himself doing a bit of investigating, this time on behalf of a colleague. But how well does he know this colleague? Is the investigation worth the threat to Jim Bob’s own life? Will he discover that it was a burglary gone bad? A lover’s quarrel? Or is this an act of revenge?


A Memoir of My Brain

By: Sarah Vallance

Published: August 1, 2019

Publisher: Little A


Format: eBook

This was free on Kindle with my Prime Membership so I snagged it because I love medical-related memoirs. It reminded me a bit of BRAIN ON FIRE and 23, I LOVE YOU TOO, which I liked a lot.

When Sarah Vallance is thrown from a horse and suffers a jarring blow to the head, she believes she’s walked away unscathed. The next morning, things take a sharp turn as she’s led from work to the emergency room. By the end of the week, a neurologist delivers a devastating prognosis: Sarah suffered a traumatic brain injury that has caused her IQ to plummet, with no hope of recovery. Her brain has irrevocably changed.

Afraid of judgment and deemed no longer fit for work, Sarah isolates herself from the outside world. She spends months at home, with her dogs as her only source of companionship, battling a personality she no longer recognizes and her shock and rage over losing simple functions she’d taken for granted. Her life is consumed by fear and shame until a chance encounter gives Sarah hope that her brain can heal. That conversation lights a small flame of determination, and Sarah begins to push back, painstakingly reteaching herself to read and write, and eventually reentering the workforce and a new, if unpredictable, life.

In this highly intimate account of devastation and renewal, Sarah pulls back the curtain on life with traumatic brain injury, an affliction where the wounds are invisible and the lasting effects are often misunderstood. Over years of frustrating setbacks and uncertain triumphs, Sarah comes to terms with her disability and finds love with a woman who helps her embrace a new, accepting sense of self.


Overcome Fear, Insecurity and Depression and Love Yourself BAck to Happiness, Confidence and Peace

By: Blake D Bauer

Published: March 21, 2017

Publisher: Watkins Publishing


Format: Paperback

I don’t know anything about Blake Bauer, but from the looks of it, I should have. He is quite a prolific speaker and is well-known internationally.

In this life-changing book, Blake Bauer explains why depression, addiction, physical illness, unfulfilling work, and relationship problems are caused by years of hiding your true emotions, denying your life purpose, and living in fear. Having already helped thousands of people find lasting solutions that conventional medicine, psychiatry, or religion couldn’t offer, You Were Not Born to Suffer will show you how to free yourself from these destructive thoughts, habits, and situations that keep you from being happy and well. 
In simple practical steps, you’ll learn how to slow down and create a healthier relationship to yourself that is based on acceptance, kindness, honesty, and self-worth. You’ll also find out how to transform the stress, anxiety, and insecurity that result from constantly trying to please others into lasting confidence, self-respect, and inner peace. 

Whether it’s negative thinking, financial worry, loneliness, guilt, or self-doubt that’s holding you back, Blake Bauer’s words will move you to take better care of yourself, heal old pain, and courageously move forward. If you’re ready to enjoy your life, feel passionate about your work, and create fulfilling relationships, this book will support you to live authentically, love wholeheartedly, and finally value yourself enough to put everyday health and happiness at the center of your life.


A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter

By: Lan Cao and Harlan Margaret Van Cao

Published: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Viking


I love that this is written by both the mother and the daughter and offers an insight into a world I know very little about.

A dual first-person memoir by the acclaimed Vietnamese-American novelist and her thoroughly American teenage daughter

After more than forty years in the United States, Lan Cao still feels tentative about her place in her adoptive country, one which she came to as a thirteen-year-old refugee. And after sixteen years of being a mother, she still ventures through motherhood as if it is a foreign landscape. In this lyrical memoir, Lan explores these two defining experiences of her life with the help of her fierce, independently-minded daughter, Harlan Margaret Van Cao.

In chapters that both reflect and refract her mother’s narrative, Harlan describes the rites of passage of childhood and adolescence, as they are filtered through the aftereffects of her family’s history of war, tragedy, and migration. Lan responds in turn, trying to understand her American daughter through the lens of her own battles with culture clash and bullying. In this unique format of alternating storytelling, their complicated mother-daughter relationship begins to crystallize. Lan’s struggles with the traumatic aftermath of war–punctuated by emotional, detailed flashbacks to her childhood–become operatic and fantastical interludes as told by her daughter. Harlan’s struggle to make friends in high school challenges her mother to step back and let her daughter find her own way.

Family in Six Tones is at once special and universal, speaking to the unique struggles of refugees as well as the universal tug-of-war between mothers and daughters. The journey of a refugee–away from war and loss towards peace and a new life–and the journey of a mother raising a child–to be secure and happy–are both steep paths filled with detours and stumbling blocks. Through explosive fights and painful setbacks, mother and daughter search for a way to accept the past and face the future together.


From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, A Story of America Looking for Love

By: Francesca Beauman

Published: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Pegasus Books


Format: Paperback

I couldn’t resist this one. The title and synopsis sold me!

A clever, thoughtful, and funny history that reveals how the Union of states was built on a much more personal union of people.

Have you ever used a dating app or website? Then you have more in common than you know with lonely homesteaders in 18th century New England. At once heartwarming and heartbreaking, Matrimony, Inc. reveals the unifying thread that weaves its way through not just marriage and relationships over the centuries, but American social history itself: advertising for

Amazingly, America’s first personal ad appeared in the Boston Evening-Post as early as 1759. A “person who flatters himself that he shall not be thought disagreeable” was in search of a “young lady, between the age of eighteen and twenty-three, of a middling stature, brown hair, of good Morals…” As family-arranged marriages fell out of fashion, “Husband Wanted” or “Seeking Wife” ads were soon to be found in every state in the nation.

From the woman in a Wisconsin newspaper who wanted “no brainless dandy or foppish fool” to the man with a glass eye who placed an ad in the New York Times hoping to meet a woman with a glass eye, the many hundreds of personal ads that author Francesca Beauman has uncovered offer an extraordinary glimpse into the history of our hearts’ desires, as well as a unique insight into American life as the frontier was settled and the cities grew. Personal ads played a surprisingly vital role in the West: couple by couple, shy smile by shy smile, letter by letter from a dusty, exhausted miner in California to a bored, frustrated seamstress in Ohio. Get ready for a new perspective on the making of modern America, a hundred words of typesetter’s blurry black ink at a time.

“So anxious are our settlers for wives that they never ask a single lady her age. All they require is teeth,” declared the Dubuque Iowa News in 1838 in a state where men outnumbered women three to one. While the dating pools of 21st century New York, Chicago or San Francisco might not be quite so dentally-fixated, Matrimony Inc. will put idly swiping right on Tinder into fascinating and vividly fresh historical context. What do women look for in a man? What do men look for in a woman? And how has this changed over the past 250 years? 



Paw Painters

By: Ann Ingalls and Sue Lowell Gallion

Illustrated by: Andre Ceolin

Published: August 15, 2020

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press


Format: Hardcover

I’ve shared a previous TIP AND TUCKER book as well as other books by Sue Lowell Gallion. Tip and Tucker, the classroom pet hamsters, are just the cutest!

Say hello to Tip and Tucker! These hamsters are best friends and like to stick together. But while little Tip is sometimes nervous about new situations, Tucker likes to explore and see new things. Everything changes when Mr. Lopez purchases them from the pet store and takes them to his classroom. In Paw Painters, the students in Mr. Lopez’s class are doing art projects, and Tip and Tucker don’t want to be left out of the fun. But hamsters + paint = a big mess! In this new reader series written especially for the K‒1 audience, Tip and Tucker will help beginning readers explore new feelings and learn to navigate classroom dynamics and relationships.


By: Vincent Kelly

Published: April 15, 2020

Publisher: Covenant books


Format: Hardcover

The author approached me about reviewing his book and based on the title, I couldn’t resist.

There are many great things in the world to see and love. So many things to like and try, so much that can pass you right by! Two is better than one, so let’s come together and share what brings us lots of cheer, from bedtime to playtime and people we hold dear. Family is great and friends are fun. Let’s explore airplanes, jungle gyms, and animal races…let’s all run! Insert pictures of your loved ones and make this a keepsake. Keep this for years to come and look back on all the memories you were able to make.


How to Speak Cat Training Guide

By: Tracey West and Gary Weitzman, DVM

Published: August 4, 2020

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books


Format: Paperback

I can’t resist a good National Geographic book. This one and the one for dogs look so fun for kids that have pets!

Whether you want to train your kitty to walk on a leash or are trying to teach your cat to scratch a scratching post instead of the couch, this comprehensive guide will take you through all the steps you need to know to get started. With the help of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman, kids will learn basic training, corrective training, and tricks they can do with their cats. Fun special features introduce readers to famous trained cats, felines in ancient Egypt, and so much more. This easy-to-use guide is perfect for families who are bringing home a kitten for the first time or just want to teach their longtime feline family member some new tricks.


A How to Speak Dog Training Guide

By: Aubre Andrus and Gary Weitzman DVM

Published: August 4, 2020

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books


Format: Paperback

Whether teaching a puppy the basics–such as “sit,” “stand,” and “stay”– correcting behavioral problems, or training your pooch to perform more advanced tricks, this comprehensive guide will take you through all the steps to have your canine answering your call in no time. With the help of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman, kids will bond with their pups through structured lessons that showcase easy-to-follow instructions and commands. Additional content introduces readers to Hollywood hounds, dogs on the job, and famous canines through history. This “paws-on” guide is perfect for families who are bringing home their very first puppy, or seasoned dog owners who want to teach their longtime four-legged family member a few new tricks. 

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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