April 2017 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, which means that it’s time for Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books link up!  I love being able to showcase the books that I read this past month as well as get lots of book recommendations  to add to my already too long to read list!  April was a slow month of reading for me.   Like, only five books read slow.  Fortunately, they were almost all great reads!  I realize now that most of them dealt with death and grieving, which did not make for light reading.  In order from least to most liked, here are my April 2017 reads:

3 Stars:


The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners #1) by Jennifer Bell – Imagine an underground world where ordinary objects have special powers.  This is where siblings Ivy and Seb find themselves after they escape from intruders who are looking for something in their grandmother’s house.  Down in Lundinor the two must try to save their parents who have been kidnapped by producing the Great Uncommon Good.  This is a fantasy, middle-grade fiction read that is being dubbed “part Tim Burton, part J.K. Rowling.”  While I wasn’t a huge fan of this one myself, I think it may appeal to middle school readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure books.

4 Stars:


Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough –  Louise meets David at a bar one night and they kiss.  A couple of days later she discovers he’s her new boss.  Soon after that Louise meets Adele and the two become quick friends.  But Adele is David’s wife.  There’s a twisted triangle of secrets that kept me interested in reading.  This was a quick, suspenseful read.  I debated between a 3 1/2 and 4 star rating but don’t want to give spoilers as to my reasoning.


Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Elsie is married to Ben less than 10 days, when he is killed in an accident.  Throughout their whirlwind romance of less than six months, she never met Ben’s mother, Susan.  Susan actually never knew that Ben was married or that there was an Elsie.  Susan and Elsie get off to a rocky start as they come to terms with Ben’s death.  The book is told in alternating chapters between the past and present.  Out of all the books about death that I read this month, this was the hardest for me to read.  I think Ben’s young age and the unexpectedness of his death had me freaking myself out imagining myself in this situation.  I am now caught up on reading all of TJR’s books and am looking forward to her new one coming out this summer!


I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi – Maddy is a stay-at-home mom to 16 year-old Eve and wife to workaholic, Brady.  As the book begins we learn that Maddy committed suicide and is looking for a replacement for herself.  With no note or reasons why, Eve and Brady grieve and try to come to terms with Maddy’s death.  I enjoyed that each chapter is told through Maddy (narrating from the beyond), Eve and Brady’s perspectives, so you get to see all the characters’ perspectives.

5 Stars:


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner – Carver Brigg sends a text to his three best friends that might have been the cause of the texting and driving accident that kills them.  Filled with guilt, he then discovers that he may be facing criminal charges.  Feeling alone, he and his friend Eli’s girlfriend Jesmyn become close as they grieve.  This was an emotional, YA read.  I think it sends an important message about the dangers of texting and driving.  I also love the concept of Goodbye Days.


March 2017 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s the second Tuesday of the month which means that it’s time for Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  This is where I share my monthly reads, visit a bunch of other blogs and add to my ever-growing to read list! I have to say I had a pretty good month of reading, with almost all of my reads being 4 stars.  However, after writing the summaries, I realized I read a lot of depressing, but good books!  LOL!    Here are my March 2017 reads listed in order of least to most liked.

3 Stars


It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman – If you have not seen Andi Dorfman on The Bachelor and then on The Bachelorette, then this book is not for you!  If you are a fan of the shows, then I recommend this read.  Dorfman spills about her broken engagement with Josh (#26).  I enjoyed learning about what happened to her relationship with Josh after The Bachelorette and getting behind the scenes info about the show production itself.


Westminster Abby by Micol Ostow – Abby is a high school student spending a semester studying in London.  She has overprotective parents and after a breakup with a cheating ex-boyfriend she’s looking for a little adventure.  This book is part of the YA series Students Across the Seven Seas (S.A.S.S.).  This was the first book I’ve read in the series and my daughter is currently reading the book now.  I felt it was a good intro to English culture but could have been more descriptive of places instead of being what felt like a laundry list of tourist stops.

4 Stars


Booked by Kwame Alexander – Told in verse,  this book is about 8th grader Nick Hall who loves soccer.  His parents are having marital problems, he competes against his best friend in a soccer league and he’s trying to impress April, a girl he has a crush on.  So, normal middle school stuff.  The poetry format makes for a quick read.  I’m always on the search for new books for my kids to read.  Although he’s only 8 1/2, I got this book with my son in mind, since he enjoys playing soccer.  While he didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did, I think it’s a great book for middle grade readers.


Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley – Jubilee Jenkins suffers from a rare medical condition in which she is allergic to human touch.  For nine years she has lived alone, never leaving her house. When she’s forced to get a job she ends up working at the town library.  It’s there that she meets Eric and his adopted son Aja, whom she forms a special connection with.  I knew nothing about this book before starting to read it, so went in with no expectations.  Some of the characters were definitely quirky but endearing, especially after learning their backstories.  It was an enjoyable read that interested me enough that I want to read Oakley’s other book Before I Go.  She also gets bonus points for commenting on my Instagram post!


Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein – The new town library is opening and 12, twelve-year-old children will be chosen for a library lock-in experience before it officially opens to the public. It turns out the lock-in is actually a game.  Using clues, the children have to find a way to escape from the library (not using the same way they came in), with big prizes for the winner. The book is filled with puzzles and lots of book references.  This book will appeal to children who love puzzles and reading!  My daughter owns this book and has read it several times.  My son and I read this book together over a course of about a month and we both really enjoyed it.  There are two other books in this series that we will be checking out soon!


Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid – At 29, not sure of what she wants to do with herself, Hannah returns to her hometown of Los Angeles where her best friend Gabby lives.  At a bar one evening she bumps into her old high school boyfriend, Ethan.  He offers to give her a ride home at the end of the night.  From there, two different story lines play out in alternating chapters.  One where she goes home with Gabby as planned and the other where she leaves with Ethan.  This was my third Taylor Jenkins Reid book.  I really enjoy her storytelling and she’s become a favorite author.  This wasn’t my favorite book of hers but was entertaining, nonetheless.


The Memory Book by Lara Avery – High school senior Sammie McCoy is valedictorian and a star member of the debate team.  She’s planning to attend NYU in the fall and life is looking pretty good.  But then she discovers that she has a rare genetic disorder Niemann-Peck (NPK) which will lead to her losing her memory, motor function and eventually death.  So, she creates this memory book to help her remember her life.  While coming to terms with her diagnosis she also navigates friendships and romantic relationships while trying to beat the disease.  This was another engaging, emotional YA read.


The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Natasha’s family is being deported back to Jamaica later in the evening and she’s doing everything she can including making a trip to an immigration attorney to plead her case.  Daniel is on his way to get his hair cut for an alumni admission interview for Yale  later that day when he first notices Natasha.  Of course, possibly by fate?, the two end up meeting and spending a perfect day together.  The story is told from multiple points of view over the course of the day.  While the idea of instant love is hard to believe, this story is so much more than a teen romance.  The book deals with immigration, race, having different life expectations from your parents and more.  A quick, enjoyable YA read.


When We Collided by Emery Lord – Jonah, one of six siblings, is helping to take care of his younger brothers and sisters.  Since their dad died, their mom rarely leaves her bedroom.  So, the older siblings have to juggle running the family restaurant and taking care of the house.  Vivi has moved to Verona Cove from Seattle and works in the local pottery shop.  It is here that she meets Jonah and his youngest sister.  The two form a relationship, with Vivi bringing spontaneity and fun to his life.  This YA book was a quick, emotional read. Although I’m not very familiar with bipolar disorder, I feel like Lord did a good job of depicting mental illness and the impact it has on others.

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel – Grace Bradshaw has been on death row for 17 years after being found guilty for murdering her baby son.  With her execution date set, her one wish is to reconnect with her estranged daughter Sophie.  But Sophie has created a new life for herself where even her husband knows nothing about her past.  When Sophie finally visits her mother, she has a lot of soul searching and decisions to make.  This was an emotional tearjerker of a read that had me engaged from the start.


February Reads {2017}

Life According to Steph

It’s time once again to link up with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  I love seeing what everyone’s been reading and add a gazillion books to my ever growing to-read list.  Here is look at my February reads.  I only read seven books, however, the majority of them were four stars, which I’m okay with!  Quality definitely rules quantity for me any day.

3 Stars


Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia – When Hattie Hoffman dies many secrets are uncovered about the high school girl when trying to find her killer.  Although this suspense book had the requisite twist at the end, I found it overall to be a slow read.


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Lucy and Josh work together at the same publishing company.  They are bitter rivals…..until of course, they weren’t.  This was an easy chick lit/contemporary romance read.  I wanted to like it more than I did…….but I didn’t.  It’s an okay read, especially for those who like the genre.

4 Stars


The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – This psychological suspense book is told via two different girls, Emma (the past) and Jane (the present).  Both women end up living in the same house at One Folgate Street.  Living at the modern, minimalist house comes with lots of rules, which the women accepted after needing fresh starts in their lives.  Although the book wasn’t great, I gave it four stars since it had me guessing until the very end.  It’s also being turned into a movie but a release date hasn’t been announced yet.


I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh – This book is centers around a hit and run, and is told from the POV of main protagonist, Jenna Gray and the lead detective. I’m hating that every new suspense book has been dubbed the best thriller since Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.  This book is one of them. I honestly almost gave up on this book since it started off so slow.  It picked up mid-way through and then became a page-turner, so I’m glad I stuck with it.


The One Thing by Gary Keeler –   I first listened to a couple of episodes of the podcast that is based on this book.  This is a great book on time management and productivity, focused more for those in the business sector.  However, I feel like I learned a lot from it and even recommended my husband read it.  The big take-away, no surprise here, is to focus on one thing and get it done.  They apply this to all different areas in your life – family, job, home, etc.


Unbelievable by Sara Shepard – This is book number four in the Pretty Little Liars series.  I am continuing to read this series, managing about a book a month.  Not much to say about this one except that it’s total brain candy.

5 Stars


Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult – Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  I hadn’t read a book of hers in awhile and after a long wait, finally got this book from the library.  This book is such a thought-provoking read about race and racism in America.  While race is a difficult subject it seems even more relevant in the current tumultuous times we are experiencing.  I highly recommend this read.


January 2017 Reads

Life According to Steph

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today on the blog it’s all about book love!  I am linking up with Jana and Steph’s monthly Show Us Your Books link up to share my January 2017 reads.  This month I read 12 books.  It seems like a lot, but several of them were middle grade fiction books.  I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s posts and adding to my goodreads list!  And speaking of goodreads, you can friend me if you’d like to see what I’m reading or what I’ve read.  So in order of least to most liked, here are my January reads:

2 Stars


Marvin and the Moths by Matthew Holm – This is a middle grade fiction book that I read and reviewed for Kiss the Book.  It involves a science experiment gone wrong and giant moths and a killer spider……yeah, not really my thing!

3 Stars


Autumn’s Wish by Bella Thorne – This is another book that I read and reviewed for a Kiss The Book review.  It’s the third book in a YA series that I was just “eh” about.  Not having read the first two books in the series wasn’t really a problem.  They give enough back-story about what happened in the previous books.  My issues with the series is that it is written about a group of high school kids.  However, it’s kids my daughter’s age (almost 11/middle school) who are fans of Bella Thorne from her Disney show Shake It Up.


Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo – Raymie starts taking baton lessons in hopes of winning the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition.  If she wins, her picture will be in the newspaper and she’s hoping that her father, who left town with a dental hygenist, will come back home.  She meets two other girls at the baton lessons who form an unlikely friendship.  My daughter read this book.  Since we no longer read together, like my son and I do, I like to at least occasionally read some of the same books as her.  This won the Goodreads Choice 2016 for middle grade and children’s books and has been nominated for other awards as well.  Having read some of DiCamillo’s other books, this book was just an okay read for me.

4 Stars
Home by Harlan Coben – Besides James Patterson, Coben is one of my go-to authors for quick, suspenseful reads. This is book number 11 in the Myron Bolitar series.  It had several unexpected twists.  While I prefer to read a series in order, I think that this book can be read as a stand-alone without feeling totally lost.


The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – I read this book with my son over the course of a couple of weeks.  Somehow I had missed ever reading this book on my own.  This is book #2 in the Chronicles of Narnia series, but I think the most popular?  Honestly I didn’t even realize there was a whole series and that I wasn’t reading the first book, until we had already started reading it.  This was a great fantasy read that we both enjoyed.  We then watched the movie which we both liked, even though it was a little different in parts.


Nowhere Girl by A.J. Paquette – I received this book and read and reviewed it on my blog for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  It tells the story of Luchi, girl born in a prison in Thailand.  It’s the only life she’s ever known.  But when her mother passes away, she is released into the real world.  As Luchi embarks on her journey, she learns secrets about her mother’s past.  This was a really great book that I had never heard of and would never have read if I hadn’t participated in Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  Our children need access to more diverse books, including this one!


Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake –  3 year-old Sophia disappears from a playground for a few minutes, scaring her mother, Jill.  When she is found she has a tiny needle mark in her arm, which everyone convinces Jill is just a bug bite.  But then  Jill feels like she’s being watched and has someone been in her house?!  When Sophia is later taken from her own house, the blame is put on Jill and her husband, David.  Jill has to prove her innocence and find her daughter.  This was a suspenseful read that had me guessing until the end.


Perfect by Sara Shepard – I finished the third book in the Pretty Little Liar series.  Since I started reading the series, it looks like I’m reading about one book a month.  These books are filled with lots of high school drama.  They are fun, brain-candy reads for me.


Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – I love Anna Kendrick!  In this book she talks about the beginning of her career, being a celebrity, romance and more.  It’s all told in her humorous, tell it like it is, down-to-earth style.  As I was reading, I could imagine her voice telling the stories.  If you’re a fan of hers, I recommend this book!


Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein –  Isaiah, known as mouse #97 was raised in a laboratory along with his other 96 siblings.  In an escape attempt, he is the only one who makes it out of the laboratory.  He eventually meets Mikayla, another mouse who introduces him to her family.  Can he convince them to help save his family?  This is Patterson’s newest middle grade fiction book.  My son is fan of Patterson’s other middle grade fiction series.  He borrowed this book from the library and loved it so much that he insisted that I HAD to read it.  I thought this was a cute read and had good lessons on accepting differences.


You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero – I’m going to be honest, this book isn’t for everyone.  But if you like self-help, inspiring books, then I recommend this one.  Sincero is a success coach who tells it like it is.  One of her biggest messages repeated throughout the book is “love yourself.”  This was a timely read for the new year as I try to figure my -ish out!

5 Stars


One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I have seen this book reviewed on so many Show Us Your Books blog posts that I finally had to read it.  I’m sorry I waited so long!  If you want a book that gives you all the feels, this is one of them.  I won’t give a summary since I think almost everyone in the link up has already read it, but I loved this tear jerker of a read!


December 2016 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s time for Steph and Jana’s first Show Us Your Books linkup of 2017!  I especially loved reading last month’s best of 2016 books posts, which made me move up some of the books on my to read list!  Today I’m sharing my December 2016 reads.  I read 10 books which all rated 3 or 4 stars, so a pretty good reading month for me.

3 Stars:


Flawless by Sara Shepard – I’ve been slowly making my way through the Pretty Liar series.  I’m not sure what took me so long to start this series but it’s perfect brain candy!  Plus, I’m enjoying watching the show on Netflix as well.  There’s only 16 books but 141 episodes and I’m already seeing how the show is different from the book. But, it’s fun!


Happy Endings by Adele Geras – This is a YA book that I received for review for the Kiss the Book blog.  Set in London, 16 year-old Mel spends her summer rehearsing in a youth theater performance of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.  With a small cast, they become close and Mel navigates new friendships, drama and romance.   Although this is a short book, at 170 pages, I felt it read very slow.


Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson – This non-fiction book provides, “21 essential strategies to sleep your way to a better, body, better health, and bigger success.”  Shawn Stevenson provides useful tips and insights on getting better sleep  and why it’s so important.  I’ve been interested in getting more sleep and know that sleep is important.  I found this book to be informative.


Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple – I wasn’t a fan of Where’d You Go Bernadette? so I probably shouldn’t have read this book.  This book is a quirky, family drama that I thought was okay.

4 Stars:


A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig – A cute, middle grade fiction book about the origin of Santa Claus.  You can read my full review in my 25 Books of Christmas post.


Matilda by Roald Dahl – Somehow, I never read this book until now!  My son and I read this book together over the course of a couple of weeks.  It’s a great Dahl read about a super smart little girl and her parents who don’t believe in reading or the importance of an education.  Luckily, her teacher Miss Honey realizes Matilda’s gift and encourages her learning.  We were unable to see the musical in NYC before it closed but will watch the movie soon.


Paris For One and Other Short Stories by Jojo Moyes – I’m normally not a big fan of short stories.  However, I really like Moyes’ books and enjoyed this collection.  It’s a book of nine short stories all about relationships.


Three Christmas Wishes by Sheila Roberts – I like to read Christmas books in December.  This was another book that I read for my 25 Books of Christmas feature.  You can read the review here.


Two By Two by Nicholas Sparks – This book was a little different than Sparks’ normal love stories.  This was actually more of a story of a couple falling apart.  There were a couple of other side stories going on as well including Russell, the main character bonding with his young daughter as he basically raises her as a single parent.  This was a tear jerker, as Sparks’ books usually are.


What Light by Jay Asher – I loved Asher’s 13 Reasons Why.  This book was very different but an enjoyable, holiday YA read.  This was another book I reviewed for my 25 Books of Christmas.



2016 Favorite Books

Life According to Steph
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  Today I’m sharing my favorite books of 2016 in a special link up with Steph and Jana.   Since this link up focuses on everyone’s favorite books of the year, I am really looking forward to adding to my never-ending to read list!  Although I read over 100 books this year, (as of today, goodreads has me at 117 books read!) only 10 of them earned a 5 star rating.  Several of them were rereads too! Here’s hoping that 2017 brings some better quality reading!
Five Star Reads of 2016 (listed in order read):
November 9 by Colleen Hoover – Colleen Hoover has come to be a favorite author.  Her books are New Adult romance books and aren’t for everyone.  However, I’m a big fan.  It doesn’t happen often but this book made me cry.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – My “one word” for 2016 was “happy” and this book just seemed fitting to read.  I first read this book in 2012 but decided to do a re-read this year.  It’s still a five star book after the second reading.
3        15881
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – These were rereads for me.  This time I listened to the audiobooks with my son.  We started our reading of the series with book one in April of this year.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – I love reading books about WWII and always end up learning something new.  I had no idea that there were all female concentration camps and knew little of the experiments that they conducted on prisoners  As sad as this book was, it was also enlightening.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – This is a YA historical fiction book.  It focuses on the Soviet takeover of Lithuania during WWII, which I hadn’t known about.  Hopefully I will read more of Sepetys’ books this upcoming year.
   5           6
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – After reading books three and four of the Harry Potter series this year, our reading has sadly come to a halt.  With the start of school and my son being busy with a bunch of different activities we haven’t had much time to sit and read the books together or listen to them in the car.  We are half-way through book five though and I hope to start up again in 2017 so we can finish the series (I never read the last two books) and go to Harry Potter World!
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover – Another Colleen Hoover book.  Heartbreaking and emotional = my kind of book.
The Choices we Make by Karma Brown – This book dealt with issues of friendship and infertility and tough choices.  This was another emotional book that had me crying!
What were your favorite books of 2016?

November 2016 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s time once again to link up with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  This is a chance for me to share my monthly reads as well as add to my ever growing to read list!  Here’s a look at my November 2016 reads:

2 Stars


Princess In Pink by Meg Cabot – This is number five in the Princess Diaries series, a YA series.  This book focuses on Princess Mia wanting to go to the prom.  Her mom is also super pregnant and ready to give birth to her new sibling.  It’s been awhile since I had read a book in this series and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue.  This book was just “eh” for me.

3 Stars


Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar – Lisa Sugar is the founder of POPSUGAR.  In this business/self-help book she talks about building her company and gives tips to the reader on different areas to help us create our “happy” like she did.  Overall an okay read.


Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber –  I read this book for my 25 Books of Christmas feature on my blog.  You can read the review here.


Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty – You know something tragic happens in this book but it takes forever to find out what.  I didn’t find any of the characters very likable and thought the book was too long.  Definitely not my fave of hers.

4 Stars


The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – Anne and Marco Conti go to their next door’s neighbor’s house for  a party, leaving their six month old baby home alone sleeping.  Although they were taking turns every hour checking on the baby, when they get home for the evening, she’s missing.  Now they must try to get their daughter back.  I found this book to be very suspenseful, with everyone looking guilty at some point in the story.


The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans – Another book for my 25 Books of Christmas.  You can read my review here.


Never Ever by Sara Saedi – This book is a modern YA take on the classic Peter Pan.  Wylie Dalton and her brothers meet Phinn at a party.  They follow him to a remote island where no one ages past 17.  It seems like paradise until Wylie discovers that Phinn has kept secrets from her.  There is a second book in this series coming soon which I am looking forward to reading.


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware –  Journalist, Lo Blacklock is going on a luxury cruise to the North Sea to see the Northern Lights.  While on the ship she sees a woman in Cabin 10, the one next to hers, but then never sees the woman again.  No one else on the small ship has seen her and Lo begins to think she’s going crazy.  I found this book to be a suspenseful read that kept me guessing.  I’ve heard Ware’s first book, In a Dark, Dark Wood is even better so I will be checking that one out soon.



October 2016 Reads

Life According to Steph

Today I’m joining Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup to share my October 2016 reads.  October wasn’t a great reading month for me.  I only read seven books, which is on the low end for me.  Recently, I’ve been struggling with finding time to read.  I have books that I want to read, but I’ve only been reading in snippets  – a few minutes in the car while waiting to pick up the kids from after school activities, a few chapters before bed, etc.  There’s just so many other distractions.  Darn you Netflix!  Add in podcast listening, magazine reading, cooking, cleaning and the whole parenting thing and reading has been relegated to the bottom of my list of things to do.  November is not off to a great start either, but I’m hoping my reading time will pick up soon!  Here’s my October 2016 reads, ordered by rating.

2 Stars


Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra – A young woman pretends to be Bec Winter, a girl who disappeared back in 2003.  Bearing enough resemblance to Bec, the girl thinks that this will give her a fresh start.  But soon she discovers that it’s difficult impersonating someone she doesn’t know, especially when her family is acting very strange.  The woman realizes that whoever took Bec may still be out there. This book is a psychological thriller and is a quick read.  I read that the movie rights have been sold for this book.  This might be a rare occasion where I like the movie better than the book.  I didn’t connect to or find any of the characters likable.  Plus, I found the whole premise that this woman could impersonate someone and no one questions it so unbelievable.

3 Stars


Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius – This YA book is a modern retelling of the story of King Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn.  The story takes place at Medina Academy in Washington, where Henry is President of the student council and dating Catherine.  But then Anne shows up and he becomes infatuated with her.  Romance ensues but things don’t end well.  Ever since reading Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction books, I’ve enjoyed reading about the Tudor period. I didn’t find this retelling enjoyable and the ending of the book was infuriating.  However, it may be a fun read for a high schooler, who is learning about the Tudor era.


It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm – This is a recent contemporary YA release.  You can read my full review of the book on the Kiss The Book blog.


London Bridges by James Patterson – This is the 10th book in Patterson’s Alex Cross series.  Somehow I missed reading this one when reading this series.  It’s a quick, suspenseful read but nothing special.


Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard – I was on a YA kick this month!  I finally read this first book in the Pretty Little Liars series.  If I was in high school I think I’d really like this series.  As an adult I think it was an okay read.  It has high school drama as well as some mystery and suspense.  Though not in a huge rush, I’m probably going to continue with the series.  I watched the first episode of the show on Netflix and it followed the book pretty well.


Private Paris by James Patterson & Mark T. Sullivan – This is the 10th book in the Private series, featuring Jack Morgan and his private, worldwide investigative firm.  I recently realized that I skipped some of the books in the series and have been trying to go back and read the ones that I’ve missed.  I find this series to be hit or miss and this book was just okay.  It fit my need for a quick, suspenseful book though.

4 Stars


The Girl Before by Kena Olsen -The only life Clara Lawson has known has been the one she’s lived with Mama and Papa G and her husband Glen.  Her husband took over his father’s business and Clara’s job was to groom and teach the new girls in preparation for their later life with clients.  But then their home is invaded and Clara is taken away and separated from Glen.  Institutionalized, she is questioned about her husband’s activities.  As information is revealed to her, Clara eventually starts to question the life she has lived and who she really is.  Told in alternating chapters between the past and present, this book was a bit on the disturbing side but engrossing.


August 2016 Books Read

Life According to Steph

It’s time once again to link up with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  This is the day that my Goodreads to read list grows tremendously!  August was a good reading month for me.  I read a lot of books and most of them were pretty good!  Here are my August 2016 books read:

3 stars


The Last Time She Saw Him by Jane Haseldine – When she was a child Julia Gooden’s brother was abducted and never found.  Thirty years later her two-year-old son ends up being taken on the anniversary of her brother’s abduction.  This is a suspense/thriller book that I found to be just an okay read.  Of course once you start reading, you want to finish to see how it ends.  However, I was disappointed with how it concluded.


The Leaving by Tara Altebrando – 6 Kindergartners went missing.  Fast forward eleven years and five of them return.  They are now 16 and remember little to nothing about their eleven years in captivity.  The story is told from three different perspectives – two of the abducted, Lucas and Scarlett and Avery, the sister of Max, the one child who didn’t return.  This is a YA thriller/mystery book that left me unsatisfied with the ending.


Modern Lovers by Emma Straub – I read The Vacationers and thought it was just okay, so luckily I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by this book.  Which was a good thing because I wasn’t.  This was another okay read for me.  College friends, once in a band, who are now adults with their own kids dealing with grown up things.


Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares – This is the fifth book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  It takes place ten years after the last book, where the four friends are adults now.  I’m not sure what took me so long to read this final book.  I finally read it and was a bit disappointed with the overall story.  However, it felt good to finally finish the series.

4 stars


15th Affair by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro – This is the 15th book in the Women’s Murder Club series.  This series and the Alex Cross series are my favorites.  As usual, this was a quick, suspenseful read with a cliffhanger of an ending!


Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo – My daughter entered 5th grade this year and this was her required summer reading book.  Since she was reading it, I decided to read it as well.  I had never read this classic before and I like to be a resource for her if she has any questions with school assignments.  This was an  enjoyable book for both of us.


The BFG by Roald Dahl – I love being able to enjoy books with my children.  Of Roald Dahl’s books, the BFG is one that I had never read before.  My son and I read this aloud together before we see the movie when it comes out on DVD.  This book had us laughing aloud at parts and enjoying the BFG’s nonsensical language.


The Crown by Kiera Cass – This is the fifth and last book in the Selection series.  It was not my favorite, but I was curious to see how the series ended.


Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino – Emiline’s roommate Cara tells her about the bestselling debut novel from author J. Colby and has her read it.  When Emiline finally starts reading the book, she realizes that the story she’s reading about Emerson and Jackson mirrors her own childhood with her best friend and first love, Jase.  Reading the book changes Emiline’s life and makes her confront her past.  This was an enjoyable read.   Although this was the first book that I read by this author, it won’t be my last.


You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott – In this book Devon is a gymnast who has the potential to make it to the Olympic team.  Her parents have sacrificed everything to support their daughter’s dream.  However, after a tragic death of someone close in the gymnastics community, their world is rocked.  This book shows the lengths a family will go to to protect one of their own.  Gymnastics has always interested me and been one of my favorite sports to watch.  This was my first Megan Abott book, but I’d like to read more of her work.

5 Stars


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – This is the fifth book in the Harry Potter series and a reread for me.   We listened to this book on CD in the car while my son followed along in the book.  This book focuses on the Triwizard Tournament.


It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – I am a huge Colleen Hoover fan.  This book was a heartbreaking, emotional story of Lily in two different times.  There’s the story of her and Atlas in childhood and then the story of Lily and Ryle in adulthood.  But her two worlds unexpectedly collide taking the reader for an emotional ride.


The Choices We Make by Karma Brown –  This book tells the story of Hannah and Kate, best friends since 5th grade.  Hannah has been trying unsuccessfully for years to get pregnant and have a baby.  Kate has two daughters of her own and wants Hannah to be able to experience motherhood.  So, when the opportunity arises, Kate volunteers to use her eggs and be a surrogate for Hannah.   But of course things don’t go as smoothly as they hope and their friendship is put to the test.  This was such an emotional book for me. Warning, have a box of tissues handy!


July Book Reviews

Life According to Steph

It is time once again for Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  I love seeing what everyone is reading and always end up adding way too many books to my goodreads to read list.  It was a good reading month in terms of number of books read – 13 in all!  It was also a pretty good month for quality in reading as well.  So here are my July book reviews.

2 Stars

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – While I enjoy Gaffigan as a comedian, I’m just not a fan of his writing.  The humor just doesn’t seem to carry over as well when I’m reading versus listening to his comedy.  This book focuses on parenting and I could relate to some of the book, but the 5 kids in a 2 bedroom apartment thing got a little old.  I enjoyed his other book Food:  A Love Story a little more than this one.

3 Stars


The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson – This is the first fiction book written by the Olympic gold medal gymnast.   In this book Charlie Ryland is living a double life.  She’s “Charlie” famous gymnast at the gym and the rest of the time “Charlotte” normal high school student.  Of course her double identity is eventually discovered.  I found the secret identity aspect of the story unrealistic.  I had to remind myself while reading this book that it is YA.  It seems a little young even for YA and although she didn’t read it, I think that it’s appropriate enough for my 10 year old to read.


Meternity by Meghann Foye – Liz Buckley works at  baby/parenting magazine Paddy Cakes.  Fed up with work and missing out on a Paris trip because she has to cover for all of the moms out on maternity leave, she decides to be pregnant and take “meternity” leave.  During this time, she will get paid time off to figure out her life.  I saw controversy on Facebook regarding this book with the argument that maternity leave is a time for a woman’s body to heal from giving birth and bond with their baby.  A woman is not having “me time” during this time.  Regardless, this book was just okay for me, as I found Liz not very likable and thought the ending was disappointing.


The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder – Penelope Marx tells the story of her heartbreak through 23 pieces in her Museum of Heartbreak.  This YA book includes friendship drama, boy drama and family drama.  Overall, just an okay YA read.


Turn Up the Heat by Kimberly Kincaid – Bellamy Blake takes a vacation to Pine Mountain for a weekend getaway with two girl friends.  When her car transmission dies on the way to the resort, she ends up meeting mechanic Shane Griffin.  Of  course there is instant attraction and they end up falling in love.  This book was a bit cheesy for me, with the romance being too convenient and set up for my liking.  I haven’t read a romance genre book in awhile and only read this one for a goodreads book reading challenge.  This was probably closer to a 2.5 rating on goodreads for me, but I gave it a 3 since they don’t let you give 1/2 stars.


When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti – This book tells the story of three women in three different time periods:  Anna (1890), Ivy (1950’s) and Becky/Lauren (present) who experience pregnancy out of wedlock.  I didn’t realize that this book was Christian fiction before putting it on hold and reading it, I found it a little to religious.

4 Stars


32 Yolks by Eric Ripert – This is the memoir of Chef Eric Ripert, of Le Bernardin.  After reading about his childhood in France and his culinary training, I have so much more respect for this man……and I need to eat at his restaurant!


Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy – This is a middle grade fiction book that my daughter read.  It looked fun so I gave it a read.  It’s a cute story of two step-cousins on a road trip with their grandparents.


First Comes Love by Emily Giffin – I am a fan of Giffin’s and hadn’t read one of her books in awhile.  This book deals with how a death in the family has various affects on the other members.  There is also sister drama, friendship, dating and motherhood.  I found Meredith to be a pretty unlikable character and Josie and Gabe’s friendship a little intense, but overall enjoyed the book.


The Games:  A Private Novel by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan – This is book #11 in the Private series by James Patterson.  This book is set in Rio during the Olympic games.   This was as usual, a suspenseful, quick read.  I read this book at the end of July and found it weird to be reading a book that takes place in the immediate future (Rio Olympic Games).


Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen – I have read several of Tess Gerritsen’s mystery/suspense books.  My husband and I used to enjoy watching the TNT series Rizzoli & Isles, which is based on this book series.  This is book #8 in the Rizzoli & Isles series.  The story focuses mainly on Dr. Maura Isles, which is nice since she tends to take a more minor role in the other books.  This was a suspenseful page-turner which I enjoyed.  Plus, it was a book that I finally read from my own bookshelf!


Summer House by Nancy Thayer – This is the story of a wealthy family and their drama spending the summer at the family house in Nantucket.   Thayer’s books tend to be summer reads for me, as they often take place in the summer on various island and beach locations.  This book kept my interest, however I didn’t like how some things were unresolved.
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins – I have read most of Hopkins books and am a fan of her YA books written in poetry form.  While I enjoy her writing style, I have to admit that this book’s topic was almost too much for me.  The books focuses on five teenagers with dysfunctional lives who end up turning “tricks” to survive.  It’s disturbing and heartbreaking to read but even scarier to realize that this kind of stuff is happening in real life.