New Books

This is my monthly roundup of books that came my way in the last month. I also share updates with you on other things in my and my family’s lives.

Family and Life Update

April was a full month that included lots of subbing for me as well as celebrating Easter and our oldest’s birthday. I also was sick AGAIN with a respiratory infection and we had a few more lasts with Reagan.

There have been a lot of lasts this month including the Speech Banquet, Thespian Banquet, and the final Band Concert. We have a few more lasts to finish up in May and before I know it graduation will be here!

Bennett is working as a server and bartender at a popular restaurant in the city he lives in. We love going there when he is working for a great meal. We took my husband’s sister and husband along last month.

Patrick turned 23 in April and we celebrated over Easter weekend. We attended their Good Friday service and spent the evening celebrating as a family which was so nice to all be together.

Reagan attended her last prom and had a blast celebrating her senior year with her closest friends.

I’m so ready for regular warm weather. We have had tastes of it here in Iowa, but then as soon as we get used to it, Mother Nature takes us back to cold and wind. I can’t wait to plant flowers and be outside!

Now on to the books! 

In April I read 7 books, including 5 audiobooks, one eBook, and one physical book. I was thrilled to remove one of those books from my shelves. I’ve been watching a little TV including American Idol and Survivor plus I started two new series, The Last Thing He Told Me and Dear Edward. Because of our crazy schedule lately, audiobooks have been the best way for me to read as my free time is very limited to be able to read an eBook or physical book. I can’t wait for summer so I can get back into my reading routine.

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.



The Emmy Lake Chronicles #3

By: A.J. Pearce

Published: August 8, 2023

Publisher: Scribner

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook through Netgalley for review

I loved the first two in this series and was thrilled to see a new addition coming this August. I adored DEAR MRS. BIRD and YOURS CHEERFULLY on audio so this one will be different reading it on my Kindle, but I’m excited to read it either way.

London, April 1943. A little over a year since she married Captain Charles Mayhew and he went away to war, Emmy Lake is now in charge of “Yours Cheerfully,” the hugely popular advice column in Woman’s Friend magazine. Cheered on by her best friend Bunty, Emmy is dedicated to helping readers face the increasing challenges brought about by over three years of war. The postbags are full and Woman’s Friend is thriving.

But Emmy’s world is turned upside down when glamorous socialite, the Honorable Mrs. Cressida Porter, becomes the new publisher of the magazine, and wants to change everything the readers love. Aided by Mrs. Pye, a Paris-obsessed fashion editor with delusions of grandeur, and Small Winston, the grumpiest dog in London, Mrs. Porter fills the pages with expensive clothes and frivolous articles about her friends. Worst of all, she announces that she is cutting the “Yours Cheerfully” column and her vision for the publication’s future seems dire. With the stakes higher than ever, Emmy and her friends must find a way to save the magazine that they love.


By: Amy Harmon

Published: April 1, 2023

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook purchase

This is our book club read for May. I’ve never read a book by Amy Harmon but the other gals in our book club have. I’ve already started it and am enjoying it.

In 1760, Deborah Samson is born to Puritan parents in Plympton, Massachusetts. When her father abandons the family and her mother is unable to support them, Deborah is bound out as an indentured servant. From that moment on, she yearns for a life of liberation and adventure.

Twenty years later, as the American colonies begin to buckle in their battle for independence, Deborah, impassioned by the cause, disguises herself as a soldier and enlists in the Continental Army. Her impressive height and lanky build make her transformation a convincing one, and it isn’t long before she finds herself confronting the horrors of war head-on.

But as Deborah fights for her country’s freedom, she must contend with the secret of who she is—and, ultimately, a surprising love she can’t deny.


By: Weina Dai Randel

Published: December 1, 2021

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook Purchase

This was a free Kindle read and since it was a Goodreads nominee for Best Historical Fiction in 2022, I figured it would be a good one to grab while it was free.

1940. Aiyi Shao is a young heiress and the owner of a formerly popular and glamorous Shanghai nightclub. Ernest Reismann is a penniless Jewish refugee driven out of Germany, an outsider searching for shelter in a city wary of strangers. He loses nearly all hope until he crosses paths with Aiyi. When she hires Ernest to play piano at her club, her defiance of custom causes a sensation. His instant fame makes Aiyi’s club once again the hottest spot in Shanghai. Soon they realize they share more than a passion for jazz—but their differences seem insurmountable, and Aiyi is engaged to another man.

As the war escalates, Aiyi and Ernest find themselves torn apart, and their choices between love and survival grow more desperate. In the face of overwhelming odds, a chain of events is set in motion that will change both their lives forever.


10 Friends Every Woman Needs

By: Laura Tremaine

Published: April 4, 2023

Publisher: Zondervan


Format: Paperback

I’m a follower of Laura Tremaine on social media and listen to her podcast, 10 Things to Tell You. I purchased this one and can’t wait to dive in this summer.

Offering a path for a new way to think about friendships,  The Life Council will inspire and equip you to be a better friend, make new friends, and appreciate how different types of friendships can bring a richness to your life like never before. You’d love to have a “ride or die” posse like you see on social media, but instead, you have a host of really good . . . acquaintances. After all, trying to find a soul friend in the midst of dirty dishes, deadlines, and, oh, a crazy busy life can be overwhelming. But what if developing great friendships was actually easier than we thought? And what if finding a “soul friend” wasn’t necessarily our highest goal? In The Life Council, Laura Tremaine–the writer and podcaster behind  10 Things to Tell You– tells us what we’ve been hoping was true all along: making, keeping, and even releasing friends doesn’t need to be as hard as we make it. The Life Council will give every woman the help she needs to think about friendships in a new way and find true connection, freedom, and joy in her relationships.


By: Jeannette Walls

Published: March 28, 2023

Publisher: Scribner

Format: Hardcover

This was my Book of the Month Choice for April.

A riveting new novel about an indomitable young woman in Virginia during Prohibition.

Most folk thought Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who’d amount to nothing. Sallie had other plans.

Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father’s daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother’s son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out.

Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That’s a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

You will fall in love with Sallie Kincaid, a feisty and fearless, terrified and damaged young woman who refuses to be corralled.



By: Bill Doyle

Illustrated by: Sarah Sax

Published: May 4, 2021

Publisher: Yearling

Middle-Grade/Non-Fiction/Activity Book

Format: Paperback

I purchased this one for my niece who will be visiting in May. She will have a long drive and I thought she would enjoy this on their drive back home.

Activity book meets adventure in this series that is Choose Your Own Adventure meets I Survived meets doodle book! Doodle, decide, and demolish your way out of history’s greatest events!

Reader, beware! Once you open this book, there is no turning back. You will have three chances to survive the Titanic ‘s fateful voyage. Decide which path to take first.

Exploring the ship is fun! Just don’t get caught on the wrong deck when there’s an iceberg ahead!

Crew You work for a family in first class. Can you persuade them to save you along with their beloved dog?

You snuck onto this ship. Can you draw your way onto a lifeboat?

In the Escape This Book! series, YOU are the star of history! Doodle your way through adventures as you decide the best path for survival. Don’t be afraid to rip or fold a page. . . . Your escape may depend on it!


By: L.M. Elliott

Published: March 28, 2023

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Middle-Grade Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I thought this sounded like such a great story that I wanted to read and share it with you.

This lyrical middle grade historical novel set during the Great Depression from award-winning author L. M. Elliott is a moving tale of the spirit of American persistence, found family, and the magical partnership between girl and horse.

Bea wakes to Daddy’s note in a hayloft, where he abandoned her with her little sister after the stock market crash took everything: Daddy’s job at the bank, their home, Mama’s health and life.

How is Bea supposed to convince the imposing Mrs. Scott to take in two stray children Mrs. Scott’s money and Virginia farm are drying up in a drought and the Great Depression, too. She might have to sell her beautiful horses, starting with a dangerous chestnut that has caused tragedy in the past and injures her stableman shortly after Bea arrives.

But wrestling with her own hurts and fears, Bea understands the chestnut’s skittish distrust. She sees hope in the powerful jumper—if he can compete at horse shows, they might save the farm, and maybe Bea can even win a place in Mrs. Scott’s heart.


By: Linda B. Davis

Published: June 27, 2023

Publisher: Fitzroy Books

Middle-Grade Fiction

Format: Paperback

As the mom of a picky eater, I knew I had to read and share about this one.

Ben Snyder is ready for middle school. But his super picky eating, which has never been a big deal before, is about to take him down. Suddenly everybody’s on his case about what he’s eating and what he’s not—his old friends, his new friends, his weird lab partner, the girl he’s crushing on, and a bully—and Ben finds himself in social free fall, sliding toward the bottom of the middle school food chain. Even worse, there’s an upcoming three-day class trip to a colonial campsite. Knowing he can’t handle the gag-worthy menu, Ben prepares for the outing like it’s a survival mission. Armed with new and unexpected information about his eating habits that could change everything, he sets out with three tactical goals: impress the girl, outsmart the bully, and avoid every single meal. But when epic hunger threatens to push him over the edge, Ben must decide how far he will go to fit in and if he has the courage to stand out.


By: Sendy Santamaria

Published: June 27, 2023

Publisher: Chronicle Books


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I first received the Spanish version of this book. Since our daughter is in Spanish V she was able to read through the Spanish version and let me know what it was about. Then a couple of days later, I also received the English version. I plan to donate these to the school because we have a good number of Spanish-speaking students in our district.

In a winning, sunny voice in a bright, friendly palette, debut author-illustrator Sendy Santamaria tells the story of one girl’s commute—a commute Sendy herself made growing up as an American citizen living in Mexico. Yenebi’s Drive to School takes readers on a trip to school that many will recognize as very similar to their own.


The Story of a Garden

By: Sarah Mackenzie

Illustrated by: Breezy Brookshire

Published: March 7, 2023

Publisher: Waxwing Books


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I chose to support this publication through a Kickstarter launch. I also received a Family Book Club Guide, a tote bag, and wild lupine seeds as part of my gift.

Sly as a fox and swift as a bird, Lou Alice is determined to leave each day a little more beautiful than she found it.

But when she moves away from her little house, no one in town notices she’s gone. No one, that is, except a little girl, who sets out to carry on Lou Alice’s work. But doing so is not enough.

Can the girl find a way of her own to make the world a little more beautiful?

A story about seeing and being seen for readers who love Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney or The Library by Sarah Stewart and David Small.

What will you do to leave the world a little more beautiful than you found it?


By: Marlene M. Bell

Illustrated by: Grace Sandford

Published: March 1, 2023

Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I was excited to read this one because it is about a girl and her pet lamb. As a young child, I also had a pet lamb that I bottle-fed and took care of. I named her Lambie and she was a special pet to me. This book has also received the Mom’s Choice Award and The Eric Hoffer Award.

In a read-aloud picture book for children who love baby animals, award-winning writer and sheep breeder Marlene M. Bell presents Nattie the lamb’s true story.

On a visit to her grandma’s farm, eight-year-old Mia discovers a newborn, orphaned lamb outside in the cold and takes her to the laundry room, naming her Nattie. As she tries to nurse the lamb back to health, Mia discovers that Nattie is different from the other lambs and struggles to fit in with them like Mia does with other kids her age. When her grandmother says she will sell Nattie to a neighbor, Mia must come up with a plan to keep her friend around—one that will show the family just how special Nattie truly is.


By: Julie Bliven

Illustrated by: Dang Khoa Tran

Published: May 23, 2023

Publisher: Beaming Books


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I’ve really enjoyed all the books I’ve received from Beaming Books. This one that explores shyness is a great message for kids that it’s ok to be shy and also ok to be bold.

A boy notices everything around him that can be shy–a seedling slow to sprout, a marker timid to let its color out. But no one accuses objects of being too shy. On a seaside stroll home from school with his older brother, the boy doesn’t feel shy at all. Because, like the ocean tides, sometimes we’re shy, and sometimes we’re like big, booming waves with a lot to say at the end of the day.

A lyrical exploration of situational shyness, and how sometimes inanimate objects can be shy too.


Turkey Trouble #7

By: Wendi Silvano

Illustrated by: Lee Harper

Published: May 9, 2023

Publisher: Two Lions


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I love the Turkey series of books and recently shared, TURKEY’S VALENTINE SURPRISE. There is always a lot of silliness and chaos when Turkey is involved.

Turkey is determined to have one out sanding beach day, even if Farmer Jake has other plans. Turkey is visiting the ocean for the very first time! But when he arrives, he has to stay in Farmer Jake’s petting zoo on the boardwalk. If only he could get to the beach for some splashing and surfing…Luckily, his friends are determined to help him have an utterly crab-ulous beach day, offi-shell duties or not―and they get to have some fun along the way. Packed with wordplay and clever costumes, this sun-splashed adventure is shore to entertain readers.


A Book About Big, Heavy Feelings

By: Melinda Szymanik

Illustrated by: Vasanti Unka

Published: April 11, 2023

Publisher: Flyaway Books


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Depression can be hard to describe to kids and this book does it well.

‘One morning I woke to find an elephant sitting on my chest. I found it hard to get up or move around, to breathe or talk. “I’m Blue,” the elephant said.’

This is a sweet and quirky picture book about a child who is stuck carrying around an elephant, wondering if they will ever feel light and free again . . .Full of humour and heart, My Elephant is Blue is a hopeful story about big heavy feelings.


By: Laura Gehl

Illustrated by: Udayana Lugo

Published: March 14, 2023

Publisher: Flyaway Books


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

It’s hard to find quality books that handle dying and grief. I really love Laura Gehl’s writing and attention to this important message for kids.

Daria comforts her grandpa during his final days and grieves for him after his death.


By: Jackie Azúa Kramer

Illustrated by: Raissa Figueroa and Niña Mata

Published: May 16, 2023

Publisher: Two Lions


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

This is a beautiful book that celebrates community and family.

From an award-winning author, a New York Times bestselling artist, and a Coretta Scott King Honor artist, lyrical text about how we are all one is paired with beautiful illustrations of two girls and their families. If you’re a star, I’m a moon. Together we dream. When we are together, we are one. Two girls―one from a city who lives with her mom, and one who lives by the beach with her dads and brother―come together at a lantern festival in a beautiful story of how we are all one, whether near or far, friend or newcomer. From an award-winning trio, this celebration of community, friendship, and the natural world features poetic, lyrical text paired with a vibrant visual tale of two characters, each illustrated by a different artist.


By: Helena Ku Rhee

Illustrated by: Stella Lim and Ji-Hyuk Kim

Published: May 9, 2023

Publisher: Candlewick Press


Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I recently shared ROSA’S SONG by the same author about a short, but special friendship. Her newest is also a beautiful story of a young girl missing her grandma and appreciating the lessons she learned from her.

“Sora means ‘seashell’ in Korean,” her mother said. “Halmoni always said finding a perfect shell is like receiving a wonderful gift. That’s why she suggested we name you Sora.”
Every summer, when Sora’s Halmoni, or grandmother, visits from South Korea, the two of them take the bus to the beach to search for seashells. While Sora likes to take all of them back with her, Halmoni always leaves the prettiest shell for someone else to find and treasure. As summer turns to fall, Halmoni returns home and Sora starts kindergarten, where some of the kids tease her about her “weird” name. One day, Sora’s parents receive a sad call about her grandmother, and Sora feels more lost than ever about who she is and how she fits in. But when her parents reveal the origin of her name, Sora channels a newfound pride and, inspired by Halmoni, combats her peers’ hurtful comments by sharing her shells with everyone in her class. This story, told by Helena Ku Rhee and illustrated by Stella Lim, based on art by Ji-Hyuk Kim, speaks to the prevailing power of kindness and will resonate with anyone who’s been made to feel different.


By: Jekka Kuhlmann, Krissy Kuhlmann, & Haley Hazell

Illustrated by: Manita Boonyong

Published: June 27, 2023

Publisher: Chronicle Kids


Format: Board Book

Who knew there were so many different kinds of dumplings in the world?

A mouth-watering, multicultural board book for little foodies and their loved ones, celebrating dumplings from kitchens all over the world!

There are so many different kinds of dumplings to love! In this sweet rhyming board book, the youngest of readers is introduced to traditional dumplings eaten all over the world, from bao to pierogi, samosa, and more! Featuring more than thirty different dumplings, plus an illustrated guide to pronunciation and associated regions, this multicultural board book is just right for sharing diverse culinary traditions and fostering a love of good food with little ones. Everyone is welcome at this dumpling celebration!

SPAGHETTI: An Interactive Recipe Book

Cook in a Book #5

By: Lotta Nieminen

Published: April 26, 2023

Publisher: Phaidon


Format: Interactive Board Book

This is the 5th book in this series for younger kids.

Cook pasta from scratch inside this interactive recipe book – fry, simmer, boil, drain, grate and more! A simple but accurate recipe takes young readers through the steps of cooking spaghetti, from chopping onions to serving up a plate of steaming hot pasta with tomato sauce, while the interactive novelty features invite them to participate in the process … without any chance of spilling anything. Move the tab up and down to add the onions and garlic, lift the flap to open the can of tomatoes, pull the tab to bring the water to a boil, use the punch-out fork to twist some spaghetti onto your fork to taste, and more. One hundred percent adult-free, danger-free, and mess-free – whether you are cooking outside or inside this book, spaghetti has never been so independent! 


Wonders of the Botanical World

By: Matthew Biggs

Illustrated by: Lucila Perini

Published: May 10, 2023

Publisher: Phaidon


Format: Oversized Hardcover Picture Book

As a plant mom, I think I will love this one too!

Journey across 40 incredible habitats around the world to discover the biggest, boldest, and stinkiest plants. Without plants there would be no life on Earth, but most people are blind to their impact. This stylish and informative introduction to plants sets out to cure ‘plant blindness’ by introducing children to 66 amazing plants from the six major climactic zones around the world. From the smelliest, such as the massive Titan Arum of the Indonesian rainforest, which stinks of rotting flesh to attract insects, to the hardest-working, including peat moss, an overlooked bog plant that helps protect our planet by trapping carbon dioxide, readers will learn about the vital role of plants in Nature through detailed, vibrant illustrations and fascinating facts. Children will also learn how to use their new-found knowledge of the plant’s natural environment to care for the plants around them and at home. Matthew Biggs’ research included consulting eminent botanists around the globe and referencing scientific papers. This book teaches children about plants in the context of their natural environment, and is ideal for geography and biology curricular tie ins, as well as being a book that will inspire children to love and care for the plants around them. This is the perfect compendium for plant-lovers, budding gardeners, and would-be botanists and nature-lovers alike. 

Which one (or two or three) of these books will you be adding to your list?

Click HERE to see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves.

So many books, so little time!

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