Happy Mother’s Day!

Hi dear readers,

Mother’s Day is approaching and I wanted to post a blog in honor of mothers. Whether you are anxiously awaiting to be a mom, new to the season of motherhood, or have been traveling this journey for a long time, this blog is for you. I mentioned in my previous post that The Quirky Bookworm blog was my mother’s idea. My mom always encouraged my love of reading and she is one of the reason’s I’m a librarian today. For those that are new to the blog and don’t know me personally, I worked as an academic librarian at a community college located in Dallas County until 2021. I’m now working as a law librarian for Tarrant County.

I always had a book in my hands wherever I went, and in my mom’s jewelry box after her passing I found a miniature copy of this photo. It was her favorite of me. My mom was a stunning woman, inside and out. I’m so honored to share some of her favorite authors with you, as well as a few of her favorite things. Happy Mother’s Day, dear readers, and as always, happy reading.

I insisted on holding a book for the picture.
My mom and me. Isn’t she beautiful?

My mother’s favorite authors
Click on the author’s name below to visit their website and to purchase their books.

Devotionals
My mom loved devotionals and would always give them as gifts to family members and friends.

Sara Young, author of the best-selling devotionals Jesus Calling and Jesus Always. Sign up on the website for a free subscription of the Jesus Calling magazine to be delivered to your home, listen to the podcast and watch inspirational videos.

My mom always attended Women of Faith conferences when I was growing up. Her favorite speakers were Patsy Clairmont, Luci Swindoll and Thelma Wells. Click HERE to visit the Women of Faith website. Attend classes online for a monthly subscription and purchase electronic resources on over 100 topics regarding women’s spiritual, emotional and mental health.

My mom owned the Women of Faith Daily Devotional. Click HERE to purchase. Books that were popular (and some of her favorites) when my mom attended the Women of Faith conferences in the 90’s are available on Amazon to purchase as an audiobook (available through the Audible app), or to be delivered to your home in print: Outrageous Joy, We Brake for Joy, The Joyful Journey, and Extravagant Grace.

Christian Fiction
My mom loved to read Christian fiction that provided hope for everyday life. Click on the author’s name to visit their website and for links to purchase their books.

Mitch Albom
One of my mom’s favorite books was Tuesdays with Morrie, which is a non-fiction work written by Albom that chronicled his time with his college professor whom also served as a personal mentor. He found Morrie, the professor, twenty years after graduation and spent time with him weekly in his study. Tuesdays with Morrie describes the profound impact Morrie had on Albom’s life. Albom primarily writes Christian fiction. He’s a #1 NYT best-selling author. Tuesdays with Morrie is the #1 best-selling memoir of all time.

Melody Carlson
My mom introduced me to Melody Carlson when I was a teenager and then she started reading Carlson’s adult series. She writes chick-lit, romance and historical fiction. Carlson received the Romantic Times Career Achievement award and has sold over 7 million copies of her novels. Her novel, All Summer Long, was adapted into a Hallmark film in 2019. Additional works are currently being developed for TV and film.

Robin Jones Gunn

Robin Jones Gunn is famous for her Christy Miller series (inspired by teenage girls she was mentoring in the church youth group), Sisterchicks series for adult women and The Father Christmas novellas that were adapted into the widely acclaimed Hallmark movie trilogy. During a difficult time in my life I read her non-fiction book, Victim of Grace, and her writing really spoke to me. She has blessed millions of women around the world with her honesty and transparency. Visit her website to purchase books, learn more about her inspiration for writing and to read her blog.

Karen Kingsbury

I know many of you that are reading this are familiar with Karen Kingsbury as the #1 NYT best-selling author of the Baxter series, which will be airing as a TV series soon. (Fun fact: Roma Downey of Touched by an Angel fame is the producer.) My mom loved her books and was an avid reader of series, as you can tell by now, more so than I am. She loved family series, including the famous Baxter series.

Kingsbury wanted to give up on writing to become a prosecutor, until a college professor told her to stick with journalism, and hired her to work for the newspaper. Kingsbury’s husband came into her life after graduation and led her to the Lord. He encouraged her to write while staying home with their newborn son. She wrote true crime for awhile until she read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, which changed her life. She just knew God placed the same calling on her heart for ministry and writing. She submitted her first Christian novel, Where Yesterday Lives, to Multnomah Publishers in 1996 and has been writing inspirational fiction ever since. Visit the author’s website to learn more about Kingsbury, her best-selling novels and TV movies/series.

My mom on her wedding day.

Christian Non-Fiction
My mom was an avid reader of Christian/inspirational non-fiction. She found peace in reading works that provided encouragement and wisdom. Some of her favorite authors were also speakers and she would watch them on TV or listen on the radio. My mom had a genuine love for the Lord, and this is shown by how she loved her family, friends, and what she spent time studying.

Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn is the author of the bestselling book and study guide, Heaven, and the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries. His ministry focuses on teaching biblical truths and reaching out to people that need assistance the most. He is the author of over 50 books that teach biblical wisdom. Visit the author’s website to read the blog, purchase materials from the online bookstore and to learn more about Eternal Perspective Ministries.

Brene Brown

My mom loved Brene Brown, the internationally famous speaker, researcher and writer of Daring Greatly fame. She would call me and ask if I had read her latest book or watched the streaming TV specials. She found all of her works so encouraging, especially during the last few years of her life. Brown has spent two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She lives in Houston, Texas with her family and is a research professor at the University of Houston. Her latest work is Atlas of the Heart, which is also now streaming as a limited series on HBO. Visit the author’s website to learn more about her works, research, links to her podcasts, articles, news, and much more.

Linda Dillow

Linda Dillow wrote Calm my Anxious Heart and it was one of my mom’s favorites. She gave me her copy which I dearly cherish. Dillow is a talented writer who has helped millions of women through writing and speaking at women’s conferences around the globe. She now resides in Colorado after spending 17 years overseas.

Tony Dungy

I don’t think this blog post would be complete without mentioning Tony Dungy, America’s beloved coach that led the Indianapolis Colts to win the Super Bowl in February 2007. For those that don’t know, my mom was originally from Indianapolis and was a fan of the Colts. She loved watching Dungy speak on TV and read several of his books. Dungy is retired from coaching and is currently an analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016. Visit the author’s website to read the blog, purchase books and to listen to the podcast.

Elisabeth Elliot

My mom loved Elisabeth Elliot. She was a missionary and critically acclaimed author and speaker. She ministered to the Amazonian jungle of Ecuador tribe, Auca, even after they killed her husband in 1956 while he was attempting to make contact with the members. For more information on Elliot, click here to visit the official website.

Tony Evans

From the publisher: Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University.

Dr. Evans holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American.

His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on more than 1,400 US outlets daily and in more than 130 countries.

Click here to learn more information about the pastor and author.

Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs, author of the best-selling series, Bad Girls of the Bible, is known for her storytelling, speaking and writing. She was an award-winning contributor for Today’s Christian Woman magazine, has spoken at over 1,500 women’s conferences around the globe and spent a decade as a popular radio personality. Her heart is women’s ministry. She spoke at Women of Faith for years, which is where my mom first heard of her. She followed her writings and teachings for decades. Visit the author’s website to purchase books, read her blog, listen to her podcast and read about upcoming events.

Max Lucado

From the publisher: In just under two decades of writing, Max Lucado has accomplished more than most writers hope for in a lifetime. Most of his books have appeared on one or more best seller lists, including those published by the “New York Times,” “USA Today,” “Publishers Weekly,” and the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). Aside from hardcover books, Lucado’s writings have also been published as children’s books, videos, CD-ROMs, DVDs, music CDs, mass paperback booklets, apparel, giftware, bookmarks, calendars, study Bibles, workbooks, curricula, and plush products. In spring 2003, Hallmark/Dayspring Cards launched a new gift card line featuring excerpts from Lucado’s writings–and has already sold more than one million cards.

Priscilla Shirer

From the publisher: Priscilla Shirer is a wife and mom first, but put a Bible in her hand and a message in her heart, and you’ll see why thousands meet God in powerful, personal ways at her conferences and through her books and Bible studies.

She and her husband, Jerry, lead Going Beyond Ministries through which they provide spiritual support and resources to the body of Christ. They count it as their greatest privilege to serve every denomination and culture across the spectrum of the church.

Click here to learn more about Priscilla Shirer, speaker and author.

Dr. Charles Stanley

From the publisher: Dr. Charles Stanley is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of numerous books, including The Blessings of Brokenness and other titles in the popular A Touch of His… devotional series. His popular radio and TV program In Touch is heard and seen worldwide.

Charles Swindoll

From the publisher: Charles R. Swindoll is the founder and senior pastor–teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. But Chuck’s listening audience extends far beyond a local church body, as Insight for Living airs on major Christian radio markets around the world. Chuck’s extensive writing ministry has also served the body of Christ worldwide, and his leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation of men and women for ministry. Chuck and his wife, Cynthia, his partner in life and ministry, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. To visit the official website, click here.

Joni Eareckson Tada

From the publisher: On a hot July afternoon, Joni Eareckson Tada’s life was dramatically altered in a split second. A reckless dive into shallow water took an athletic young woman from health and success to life as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. In the forty-five years since the release of this book–which has more than five million copies in print in over forty languages–Joni’s earnest struggle to find hope has resonated with millions of readers around the world. The hard-earned truths she shares in this special edition reveal the power of God’s love to transform, as well as the triumph of faith over pain and suffering.

Joni’s message has inspired people facing all types of challenges, helping them overcome their own limitations with a determined smile. In this updated edition, you will discover how to stay satisfied in God through disappointment and affliction. Filled with practical insights, Joni will help you find hope in every hardship.

This commemorative 45th anniversary edition features updated photos, as well as an all-new afterword in which Joni describes her current battle against two different cancers, her daily struggle with chronic pain, and the joys of leading a global outreach to people living with disability.

Click here to purchase Joni’s book and click here to visit the official website of Joni and Friends.

Lysa TerKeurst
From the publisher: Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of more than twenty-five books, including It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way and the #1 New York Times bestsellers Forgiving What You Can’t Forget and Uninvited. She writes from her family’s farm table and lives in North Carolina. Connect with her at www.LysaTerKeurst.com or on social media @LysaTerKeurst.

Ann Voskamp

From the publisher:

Ann Voskamp is wife of one good farmer, mama to a seven exuberant kids, and author of the four New York Times Bestsellers,  The Broken Way, The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping The Greatest Gift, and One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times 67 week bestseller which has sold more than 1.5 million copies, and is translated into more than 20 languages.

Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, and a partner with Compassion International as a global advocate for needy children, Ann’s a regular loser of library books, usually has a sink full of soaking pots, sees empty laundry baskets rarer than a blue moon, and believes that the sky and fresh mercy over the farm is large and all is grace. Her blog, one of the Top 10 Christian blogs on the web, has become a daily well for the weary and soul-thirsty: www.annvoskamp.com.

Philip Yancey

Philip Yancey is the author of over 30 books, including his bestseller, What’s So Amazing About Grace? Click here to purchase and click here to visit the author’s website.

Children’s Literature

My mom with Ella and me, our last Christmas together

In the process of writing and editing this blog, I decided it just couldn’t be complete without sharing books that my mom introduced me to as a child. My mom would take me to the public library and I would spend hours reading, especially in my later years of elementary school. I always found comfort in a book. I think many authors do, which is why I love reading about them so much. There is something wonderful about quieting your mind from worries of life and getting lost in a book. I spent hours reading children’s series: Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Trixie Belden, Little House on the Prairie and Ramona are amongst my favorites.

I remember being in 4th grade and asking the teacher if I could borrow her copy of Harriet the Spy to take home and read. It’s still one of my favorites. I just loved the quirky character of Harriet. I would bring home my literature textbook from grades 4-12 (yes, even in HS) and read all of the short stories and excerpts from novels. I would read about the authors and their bibliography, which were always included before the author’s written works. I love authors and am ever so thankful for their ability to tell a good story.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery-click here to visit the official website.
Anne with an “E”-available to watch on Netflix-click here for more information.

Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter-click here to visit the official website.
This is one of my favorites. I still have the copy from childhood.

The Berenstain Bears’ by Stan and Jan Berenstain-click here to visit the official website.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell-click here to purchase.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner-click here to visit the official website.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton-click here to purchase.

The Diary of Anne Frank-click here to visit the official website.

Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel-click here to purchase.

Heidi by Johanna Spyri-click here to purchase.

Helen Keller: A Light for the Blind by Kathleen Kudlinski-click here to purchase.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom-click here to purchase.

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik-click here to purchase.

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey-click here to purchase.

Ramona by Beverly Cleary-click here to purchase.

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting-click here to purchase.

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan-click here to purchase.

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss-click here to purchase.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame-click here to purchase.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott-click here to visit the official site and click here to purchase.
Little Women was a favorite of my mom’s. My mom and I saw the Little Women movie starring Emma Watson at the theater. It’s one of my favorite memories with her. If you live in Texas and haven’t been to the Alamo Theater and Draft House, you should! The food is amazing! My mom loved the whole experience and I’m glad I have that memory of her.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder-click here to visit the official website to purchase books, read more about Laura, keep up to date with the TV cast, and sign up for the newsletter.
I used to watch Little House on the Prairie with my mom. It was one of her favorite TV shows.

The Annotated Secret by Frances Hodgson Burnett-click here to purchase.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams-click here to purchase.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin-click here to purchase.

My Mom’s Favorite Things

Favorite Scent: Amazing Grace by Philosophy-click HERE to visit the official website.

Favorite Leggings: Lauren Conrad @ Kohl’s-click HERE to purchase.

Favorite Teddy Bears: Bearington Bears- click HERE to visit the official website.

Favorite Makeup: Clinique-click HERE to visit the official website.

Favorite Dresses: Amazon maxi dresses (I love them too and always get compliments)-click HERE to purchase.

Favorite Nail Polish: OPI red shades-click HERE to visit and purchase.

Beach reads for your summer getaways 2022 (MEGA LIST)

Hi dear readers,

I’ve taken a long break from writing due to the thought of logging into my online book blog since my mom’s passing in November 2021. My mom’s comments were waiting for me, ones that I’ve already read countless times, but now bittersweet to read. The Quirky Bookworm blog was my mom’s idea originally and now I am continuing my blog in honor of her. I’ve struggled not only with writing, but also with reading. I’ve read only two books from start to finish since my mom passed away. I’ve decided to ease my way back into reading by focusing on beach reads, so this is a list I’ve created. I hope this helps you just as much as it’s helped me.

For those that knew my mom, you know that the beach was one of her favorite places to visit. Sunshine, sand, waves and a cold drink are always a good combination, along with an entertaining escape read.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com


Don’t miss the lists of soon-to-be-published summer reads for 2022 and a list of websites from readers across the web of their favorite beach reads. HAPPY READING!

Title: The Getaway Girls
Author: Dee MacDonald
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: July 2018
Page Length: 342 pages

Publisher summary:
Connie McColl is finally free to make her own decisions for the first time in decades. And when she meets glamorous Gill and downtrodden Maggie, at a rather dull flower arranging class, it seems that she’s not the only one dreaming of adventure. The three very different women all agree it’s about time they had a holiday to remember. So they make a pact for this summer to be their best yet – and drive off into the sunset together. As they meander their way along the beautiful beaches of France and onto the glorious delights of Italy in their luxury campervan, the new friends have plenty of fun and frolics in the sunshine. But the vacation isn’t quite what they expected…

In the end, all three women discover that the journey they thought would be their last really is just the beginning…

Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.


Title: The Mini-Break
Author: Maddie Please
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: March 2019
Page Length: 385 pages

Publisher summary:
Lulu has it all; a romance writer at the height of her career, she can often be found attending glittery parties or spending time with her good-looking, health-fanatic boyfriend, Benedict.
When writer’s block strikes she goes on a mini-break to Devon, which proves just the tonic she needs. But upon her return to London, she finds her usual perfect life in chaos. 
Will escaping back to the countryside be the answer? And will life become even more complicated when Lulu runs into handsome, brooding farmer Joe?
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: Chasing the Sun
Author: Judy Leigh
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: April 2021
Page Length: 364 pages

Publisher summary:
Molly’s seventieth birthday comes as a shock. The woman in the mirror looks every day of those seventy years, but inside Molly feels she still has so much more living left to do. Widowed and living alone with her cat, Molly fears she is slipping into a cliché of old age. When Molly’s sister Nell appears on her doorstep, distraught that her husband of more than forty years, Phil, has left her for a younger lover, the women decide to seize the day. By the morning, flights are booked, bags are packed, and they’re off to Spain.The sun, the sea, the new friends and the freedom are just the tonic for broken hearts and flagging souls. But even Spain isn’t enough to revive Molly’s spirit so she decides to head off for a solo journey to continue to chase the sun and to chase happiness. Will she find what she’s looking for in a new country, or will she discover that true contentment can’t be found on a map? But it might just be found in a new flame…
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: One Summer Sunrise
Author: Shari Low
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: June 2021
Page Length: 336 pages

Publisher summary:
Today, Maisie McTeer decides to track down the ex who jilted her at the altar. Today, she’ll find out that revisiting the past can also rewrite her future. After losing her husband, Harriet Bassett can no longer bear her lonely life. Today, a familiar face in a crowd will spark a quest to discover if there’s something and someone worth living for. Scott and Kelly Bassett’s daughter is leaving home. Today, Scott plans to tell Kelly that he’s ending their marriage to pursue his rock and roll dreams. However, Kelly, has a bombshell of her own. Between sunrise and sunset, there’s love, heartbreak, laughter and tears, but who will find happiness at the end of the day?
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: Secrets in the Sand
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 2021
Page Length: 338 pages

Publisher summary:
He left her alone in the sand that night
And has regretted it ever since
But maybe he can mend it
If only she’ll let him

Time doesn’t heal all wounds… Not when they are deep within the heart like Angela Conrad’s. Ten years ago, Clancy Morgan broke her heart and even though she’s made a successful life as a musician, she’s never gotten over that pain. Angel didn’t intend to ever go back home, but when she’s invited to return to her hometown to play for the high school reunion dance, she agrees, knowing full well that if Clancy sees her up on that stage, he’ll regret the day he ever said goodbye.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Bookstore on the Beach
Author: Brenda Novak
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: April 2021
Page Length: 465 pages

Publisher summary:
Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers, and she can’t imagine moving forward without him. But for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try. Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Beach House
Author: Jenny Hale
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: June 2021
Page Length: 318 pages

Publisher summary:
When her gram passes away, Melanie Simpson feels utterly lost. But her grandmother’s will gives her a purpose: an inheritance to buy a crumbling house in Rosemary Bay. They used to visit the village every summer, sit by the sparkling water on a beach the color of pearl, and daydream about turning the place on the corner into a bed and breakfast. On her first night in her new hometown, Melanie meets local contractor and landowner Josh Claiborne, whose eyes match the dazzling sea. Melanie plans to restore the beach house to its original glory, and Josh is the perfect person to help renovate the wrap-around porch weathered by the coastal breeze and the peeling white paint faded by the sun. But hiding in a closet is a yellowing stack of letters that could change everything. The looping handwriting reveals the mystery of the rickety house—a buried history that touches everyone in Rosemary Bay. Will its secrets bring Melanie and Josh together or tear them apart?
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: A Secret in the Keys
Author: Hope Holloway
Publication Date: February 2021
Page Length: 278 pages

Publisher summary:
The last thing Beck Foster wants to do is attend a party for her estranged aunt in the Florida Keys. One month earlier, Beck’s seemingly ideal existence imploded when her husband of thirty-four years announced he was leaving her. Now, so she has to sell her house, get a job, and somehow put her broken heart and life back together. She can’t do all that if she runs off to visit a woman she barely remembers. Or can she? Accompanied by her grown daughter who also longs for an escape, Beck heads to Coconut Key, where she’d lived the earliest years of her life. There, she forges a life-changing relationship with a woman she never really understood, dips her toes into the waters of a new romance, and begins the process of starting over. But when a secret kept for nearly fifty years comes crashing down on them, all of Beck’s dreams are once again threatened. Can she forgive the lies that have shaped her life, or will the past ruin her chance at a new beginning in Coconut Key?
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Un-honeymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 2019
Page Length: 429 pages

Publisher summary:
Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion…she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas. Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo. Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is…Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: Coral Cottage
Author: Jan Morgan
Publisher: Sunny Palms Press
Publication Date: July 2020
Page Length: 290 pages

Publisher summary:
When Marina Moore’s life blows up on national television, she seeks refuge at her grandmother’s beach house called the Coral Cottage. Now in her mid-forties with children in college, Marina is in dire need of her grandmother’s gutsy advice to a well-lived life. Marina meets an old friend, Ivy Bay, proprietor of the Seabreeze Inn, who encourages her to share her love of food at the local farmer’s market. Soon Marina’s sister Kai arrives on a summer break from her musical theater troupe. Together, the sisters discover that life might hold a second chance for each of them. Jack Ventana is on a six-month sabbatical to write his first book. The only company he wants is his inquisitive Labrador Retriever puppy, but when he receives a call from an old colleague, he finds his life altered in ways he never imagined—including the prospect of romance. What began as a short, reclusive holiday is destined to change Marina’s life, especially when Jack’s research uncovers her grandmother Ginger’s hidden past. Join the fun in Summer Beach, where the bonds of friendship and love prove unbreakable.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Younger Wife
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: April 2022
Page Length: 348 pages

Publisher summary:
THE HUSBAND
A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself.

THE DAUGHTERS
Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money.

THE FORMER WIFE
With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the
truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is.

THE YOUNGER WIFE
Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses
in all of them?

Click HERE to view additional details and to pay via Amazon.

Title: Blue Midnight
Author: Tess Thompson
Publication Date: November 2016
Page Length: 284 pages

Publisher summary:
A romantic small-town family saga…

A recent divorcee finally faces the consequences of having denied her destiny, following her heart to her blissful second chance in this mature standalone love story by USA Today bestselling author Tess Thompson. When Blythe Heywood left Finn Lanigan behind thirteen years ago, she was choosing a life of safety and security over true love. Little did she know how unfulfilled she’d be by the things she’d yearned for since she was a child.
Now, in the wake of her husband’s betrayal, Blythe will begin again — this time in the foothills of Blue Mountain, where her memories of the only man who ever weakened her knees will lead her — and finally take to heart that sometimes the road not taken is actually the path that is meant to be.
The first book in the Blue Mountain Series will have readers cheering for a set of lovable, complex characters as they explore the painful truths involved in accepting second chances and learning to love after loss.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: An Invincible Summer
Author: Mariah Stewart
Publisher: Montlake
Publication Date: May 2021
Page Length: 373 pages

Publisher summary:
It was a lifetime ago that recently widowed Maggie Flynn was in Wyndham Beach. Now, on the occasion of her fortieth high school reunion, she returns to her hometown on the Massachusetts coast, picking up right where she left off with dear friends Lydia and Emma. But seeing Brett Crawford again stirs other emotions. Once, they were the town’s golden couple destined for one another. He shared Maggie’s dreams—and eventually, a shattering secret that drove them apart. Buying her old family home and resettling in Wyndham Beach means a chance to start over for Maggie and her two daughters, but it also means facing her rekindled feelings for her first love and finally confronting—and embracing—the past in ways she never thought possible. Maggie won’t be alone. With her family and friends around her, she can weather this stormy turning point in her life and open her heart to the future. As for that dream shared and lost years ago? If Maggie can forgive herself, it still might come true.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Tanglewood Tea Shop
Author: Lilac Mills
Publisher: Canelo Escape
Publication Date: January 2019
Page Length: 295 pages

Publisher summary:
Patisserie-Chef Stevie is stuck in a rut. Her beloved Great Aunt Peggy has passed away and she’s lost both her job and the love of her life. Then she gets the call from the solicitor’s office about Peggy’s will, and everything changes. When Stevie sees a quirky tea shop up for sale in the beautiful village of Tanglewood, she decides to take Peggy’s advice and turn her life around. But the village isn’t as idyllic as it may at first have seemed, and when the gorgeous but grouchy local stable-owner, Nick, shows up he seems like just another fly in the pastry batter…
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Title: The Lost Girls of Ireland
Author: Susanne O’Leary
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: May 2021
Page Length: 286 pages

Publisher summary:
The picturesque beach of Wild Rose Bay is the last place Lydia Butler thought she’d be. But having just lost everything, the run-down cottage she inherited from her Great Aunt Nellie is the only place she can take her daughter, Sunny. Hidden away in a tiny Irish village, she can protect Sunny from the gossip in Dublin, and the real reason they have nowhere else to live…
The cottage is part of the old coastguard station and other eccentric residents are quick to introduce themselves when Lydia arrives. Lydia instantly feels less alone, fascinated by the stories they have about Nellie, and she’s charmed by American artist, Jason O’Callaghan, the mysterious man who lives next door.
But the longer Lydia relaxes under the moonlit sky, the more the secret she’s keeping from Sunny threatens to come out. And as she finds herself running into Jason’s arms, she knows she must be honest and face up to the past she has tried to forget. Has she finally found people who will truly accept her, or will the truth force her to leave the cottage for good?

Title: Deconstructed: A Novel
Author: Liz Talley
Publisher: Montlake
Publication Date: February 2022
Page Length: 331 pages

Publisher summary:
Antique-store owner Cricket Crosby’s life is turned upside down when she discovers that the rumors of her husband’s affair aren’t just leisurely southern gossip. Her plan: hire an investigator; find an attorney; enlist the help of her new assistant, Ruby; and make her husband pay. Ruby knows how quickly everything changes. After a dicey past, she’s determined to forge a new future by working for Cricket and reinventing herself as a designer, deconstructing vintage haute couture. If anybody can help mend a few tears in Cricket’s life, she can. But turns out Cricket’s life isn’t just a little torn. It’s wrinkled, stained, and falling apart at the seams. With Ruby and her ragtag relatives—a soused PI and a hunky tow truck driver—Cricket is sleuthing her way to the truth, no matter how dangerous it gets. Sure, Cricket’s life isn’t what she imagined. But she’s embracing change and figuring out what she really wants. And that’s kind of fabulous.
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Title: The Hideaway
Author: Lauren K. Denton
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 2017
Page Length: 352 pages

Publisher summary:
After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags’s ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering her grandmother’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there. Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected. Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.
When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.
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Title: The Little Shop in Cornwall
Author: Helen Pollard
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: June 2020
Page Length: 315 pages

Publisher summary:
It’s been two years since Claudia arrived on the beautifully rugged Cornish coast with nothing but a suitcase to her name. She’d walked out on the husband who had never loved her, ditched the corporate job she’d never wanted and vowed that no gym membership card would come within ten feet of her ever again.
Swapping boardrooms and cocktails for a little shop right at the end of the beach road should have been a bit of a shock. But from the moment she first laid eyes on the empty, run-down store, Claudia knew this was where she was meant to be all along.
After all that upheaval, Claudia was looking forward to a quiet summer, full of the usual holiday makers and long walks along the clifftops. But life in her patch of paradise is about to change in more ways than one.
Enter recently widowed Jason, dragging his sullen teenage daughter Millie in tow. Millie and Claudia immediately hit it off. And while Millie loves everything about Claudia’s free-spirited way of life, practical architect Jason is less than thrilled about his daughter’s new interests. He doesn’t shy away from telling Claudia exactly what he thinks and sparks fly every time they meet.
But as circumstances throw Claudia into Jason’s path in increasingly unexpected ways, she begins to glimpse what lies beneath his fiery temper and sharp tongue. Claudia was sure her new life was perfect in every way. But was there something missing after all?
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Title: Slightly South of Simple
Author: Kristin Woodson Harvey
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 2017
Page Length: 402 pages

Publisher summary:
Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley. Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open. Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Summer Getaway
Author: Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: March 2022
Page Length: 418 pages

Publisher summary:
Single mom Robyn Caldwell needs a new plan for her future.  She has always put her family first.  Now, with her kids grown, she yearns for a change. But what can she do when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could ruin everything? Take a vacation, of course. Press reset. When her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane to sunny California. But it’s hard to get away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she loves follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more possibilities she sees—for dreams, love, family. She can have everything she ever wanted, if only she can muster the courage to take a chance on herself.
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Title: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Author: Kelly Harms
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: May 2019
Page Length: 328 pages

Publisher summary:
Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City. Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind. But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: September 2020
Page Length: 299 pages

Publisher summary:
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
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Title: Run, Rose, Run
Author: Dolly Parton and James Patterson
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: March 2022
Page Length: 425 pages

Publisher summary:
Every song tells a story. 

She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her. 
She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past. 
Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny.  It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her.  And destroy her. 
Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire—a story that only America’s #1 beloved entertainer and its #1 bestselling author could have created.
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Title: The Chance (A Novel)
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication Date: March 2013
Page Length: 354 pages

Publisher summary:
The day before a teenage Ellie moved from Georgia to California, she and her best friend Nolan sat beneath the Spanish moss of an ancient oak tree where they wrote letters to each other and buried them in a rusty old metal box. The plan was to return eleven years later, dig the box up, and read the letters. But now, as that date approaches, much has changed. Ellie has abandoned the faith she grew up with, her days consumed with loving her little girl and trying to make ends meet. Sometimes she watches TV to catch a glimpse of her old friend Nolan, now an NBA star, whose faith is known by the entire nation. But few know that Nolan’s own personal tragedies have fueled both his faith and athletic drive. Despite his success, Nolan is isolated and lonely, plagued by a void in his heart that has remained since that night beneath the old oak tree with Ellie. For both Ellie and Nolan, the coming date is more than just a childhood promise. It’s the chance to make sense of it all—the chance to find out if it’s ever too late to find love again. Karen Kingsbury weaves a moving tale of heart-wrenching loss, the power of faith, and the wounds that only a forever kind of love can heal. She delves deeply into a theme that resonates within us all: Hope lives for those willing to take a chance.
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Title: The Family
Author: Naomi Krupitsky
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: November 2021
Page Length: 368 pages

Publication summary:
Two daughters. Two families. One inescapable fate.
Sofia Colicchio is a free spirit, loud and untamed. Antonia Russo is thoughtful, ever observing the world around her. Best friends since birth, they live in the shadow of their fathers’ unspoken community: the Family. Sunday dinners gather them each week to feast, discuss business, and renew the intoxicating bond borne of blood and love.
 But the disappearance of Antonia’s father drives a whisper-thin wedge between the girls as they grow into women, wives, mothers, and leaders. Their hearts expand in tandem with Red Hook and Brooklyn around them, as they push against the boundaries of society’s expectations and fight to preserve their complex but life-sustaining friendship. One fateful night their loyalty to each other and the Family will be tested. Only one of them can pull the trigger before it’s too late.
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Title: The Lowland
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: September 2013
Page Length: 354 pages

Publisher summary:
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, best-selling author of The Namesake comes an extraordinary new novel, set in both India and America, that expands the scope and range of one of our most dazzling storytellers: a tale of two brothers bound by tragedy, a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past, a country torn by revolution, and a love that lasts long past death.
 Born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up.  But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960s, and Udayan—charismatic and impulsive—finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty; he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother’s political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.
But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family’s home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind—including those seared in the heart of his brother’s wife.
Masterly suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate, The Lowland is a work of great beauty and complex emotion; an engrossing family saga and a story steeped in history that spans generations and geographies with seamless authenticity. It is Jhumpa Lahiri at the height of her considerable powers.
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Title: The Farm
Author: Joanne Ramos
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: May 2019
Page Length: 354 pages

Publisher summary:
Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here—more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child.
Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.
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Title: You Were There Too
Author: Colleen Oakley
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 2020
Page Length: 345 pages

Publisher summary:
Mia Graydon’s life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too—unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of it, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he’s been dreaming of her too. 
Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question—what if?
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Title: These Tangled Vines
Author: Julianne Maclean
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: June 2021
Page Length: 302 pages

Publisher summary:
If Fiona has learned anything in life, it’s how to keep a secret—even from the father who raised her. She is the only person who knows about her late mother’s affair in Tuscany thirty years earlier, and she intends to keep it that way…until a lawyer calls with shocking news: her biological father has died and left her an incredible inheritance—along with two half siblings. Fiona travels to Italy, where the family is shocked to learn of her existence and desperate to contest her share of the will. While the mystery of her mother’s affair is slowly unraveled, Fiona must navigate through tricky family relationships and tense sibling rivalries. Fiona both fears and embraces her new destiny as she searches for the truth about the fateful summer her mother spent in Italy and the father she never knew. Spilling over with the sumptuous flavors and romance of Tuscany, These Tangled Vines takes readers on a breathtaking journey of love, secrets, sacrifice, courage—and most importantly, the true meaning of family.
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Title: Heirloom Island Series
Author: Elizabeth Bromke

Publisher summary:
Head to Heirloom Island in this heartwarming series about three sisters and the charming small town they come to call home. With a dash of romance and a touch of mystery, The Boardwalk House is a sweet beach read by the author of the Birch Harbor series. 
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Title: South Carolina Sunsets (9 book series)
Author: Rachel Hanna
Publisher summary:

She’s 43 years old…

…and starting over from scratch.

How did this happen? She had it all together. A stable marriage of two decades. Two grown daughters. And now she and her husband, empty nesters, were moving to a beach house.

Until he showed up late one night and tore their marriage apart.

A secret life.

A different woman.

Another family.

Left alone, she has to begin again. 

And then her estranged sister and mother get thrown into the mix.

When she buys a house on a small South Carolina island, will she learn what life is really about?

Or will she find out that some relationships can never be mended?

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Title: The Year of Our Love
Author: Caterina Bonvicini

Publisher: Other Press
Publication Date: June 2021
Page Length: 400 pages
Publisher summary:
An extraordinary story of friendship and love across class lines, this rich, evocative novel traces the history of modern Italy, from 1975 to 2013, through the fate of one couple.
 Valerio and Olivia grow up together in the Morganti family’s opulent villa in Bologna, inseparable friends even though they come from vastly different worlds: Olivia, the Morgantis’ daughter, is the heir to a large industrial fortune, while Valerio is the son of their gardener and maid. Largely sheltered from the dangers rampant in the unstable Italy of the 1970s, the two share their first innocent kiss at five years old, which heralds the start of a decades-long relationship.
 From Valerio having to move to a poor neighborhood in Rome and Olivia making her entrance in high society, life tries to separate them at every turn, but without success, so strong is the bond between them. Year after year they meet only for a few moments, which feel like they’re eternal, and their friendship turns into something more intense, and scary. They take different paths: Olivia travels the world looking for herself, while Valerio devotes himself to a prestigious career that doesn’t satisfy him, in a country that is quickly losing its identity in the political crises of the Berlusconi era. Still, they keep meeting again and again at crossroads in life.
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: It Had To Be You
Author: Georgia Clark
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: May 2021

Page Length: 381 pages
Publisher summary:
For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love in New York, Brooklyn’s beloved wedding-planning business. When Eliot dies unexpectedly, he even more unexpectedly leaves half of the business to his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah. Liv and Savannah are not a match made in heaven, to say the least. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.
It Had to Be You cleverly unites Liv, Savannah, and couples as diverse and unique as New York City itself, in a joyous Love-Actually-style braided narrative. The result is a smart, modern love story that truly speaks to our times. Second chances, secret romance, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this sexy, tender, and utterly charming rom-com that is “so much fun” (Casey McQuiston, New York Times bestselling author).
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Grace Kelly Dress
Author: Brenda Janowitz
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: March 2020
Page Length: 336 pages

Publisher summary:
Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.
Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.
Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.
As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: Get a Life, Chloe Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: November 2019

Publisher summary:
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

  • Enjoy a drunken night out.
  • Ride a motorcycle.
  • Go camping.
  • Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
  • Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
  • And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job. Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit. But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: It Happened One Summer
Author: Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: July 2021

Publisher summary:
Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Hunting Wives
Author: May Cobb
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 2021
Page Length: 362 pages

Publisher summary:
The Hunting Wives share more than target practice, martinis, and bad behavior in this novel of obsession, seduction, and murder.
Sophie O’Neill left behind an envy-inspiring career and the stressful, competitive life of big-city Chicago to settle down with her husband and young son in a small Texas town. It seems like the perfect life with a beautiful home in an idyllic rural community. But Sophie soon realizes that life is now too quiet, and she’s feeling bored and restless.
Then she meets Margot Banks, an alluring socialite who is part of an elite clique secretly known as the Hunting Wives. Sophie finds herself completely drawn to Margot and swept into her mysterious world of late-night target practice and dangerous partying. As Sophie’s curiosity gives way to full-blown obsession, she slips farther away from the safety of her family and deeper into this nest of vipers.
When the body of a teenage girl is discovered in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet, Sophie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and her life spiraling out of control.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Guncle
Author: Steven Rowley
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: May 2021
Page Length: 336 pages
Publisher summary:
From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor comes a warm and deeply funny novel about a once-famous gay sitcom star whose unexpected family tragedy leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer.
Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. But in terms of caretaking and relating to two children, no matter how adorable, Patrick is, honestly, overwhelmed.
So when tragedy strikes and Maisie and Grant lose their mother and Patrick’s brother has a health crisis of his own, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled acting career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. Quickly realizing that parenting–even if temporary–isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.
With the humor and heart we’ve come to expect from bestselling author Steven Rowley, The Guncle is a moving tribute to the power of love, patience, and family in even the most trying of times.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: My Lemon Grove Summer
Author: Jo Thomas
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: July 2019
Page Length: 352 pages

Publisher summary:
Could the lemon groves of Sicily be the perfect place to start over? The irresistible new novel from Jo Thomas, the author of Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard, will transport you to the island of mountains and sparkling blue seas. When life hands you lemons … is it ever too late for a second chance? Zelda’s impulsive nature has got her precisely nowhere up until now. A fresh start in a beautiful hilltop town in Sicily looking for new residents, together with her best friend Lennie, could be just what she needs. And who better to settle down with than the person who knows her best? But the sun-filled skies and sparkling seas can’t hide the shadow hanging over Citta d’Ora, which means not everyone is pleased to see their arrival. The dreams Zelda and her fellow new residents had of setting up a new life might be slipping away. But a friendship with restauranteur Luca could be about to unlock the possibilities that lie in the local lemon groves. And there’s a wedding on the horizon that might be just what the town needs to turn it around…
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Summer of Broken Rules
Author: K.L. Walther
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 2021

Publisher summary:
When Meredith Fox lost her sister, Claire, eighteen months ago, she shut everyone out. But this summer she’s determined to join the world again. The annual family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard seems like the perfect place to reconnect. Her entire extended family is gathering for a big summer wedding, and although Meredith is dateless after being unexpectedly dumped, she’s excited to participate in the traditional Fox family game of assassin that will take place during the week of wedding festivities. Claire always loved the game, and Meredith is determined to honor her legacy. But when Meredith forms an assassin alliance with a cute groomsman, she finds herself getting distracted. Meredith tries to focus on the game and win it for her sister, but she can’t help falling for him. And as the week progresses, she realizes she’s not only at risk of losing the game, but also her heart.
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Photo by Alexey Demidov on Pexels.com

UPCOMING BEACH READS 2022

Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2022

Publisher summary:
An insightful, delightful new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation
One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: Something Wilder
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2022

Publisher Summary:
Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.
Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.
But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime. 
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The It Girl
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: July 12th, 2022

Publisher summary:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder. April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead. Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: Meant to Be Mine
Author: Hannah Orenstein
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Publisher summary:
What if you knew exactly when you’d meet the love of your life? Edie Meyer knows. When her Grandma Gloria was a young woman, she had a vision of the exact day she would meet her soul mate—and then Grandpa Ray showed up. Since then, Gloria has accurately predicted the day every single member of the family has met their match. Edie’s day arrives on June 24, 2022, when she’s twenty-nine years old. She has been waiting for it half her life. That morning, she boards an airplane to her twin sister’s surprise engagement, and when a handsome musician sits beside her, she knows it’s meant to be. But fate comes with more complications than Edie expected and she can’t fight the nagging suspicion that her perfect guy doesn’t have perfect timing. After a tragedy and a shocking revelation rock Edie’s carefully constructed world, she’s forced to consider whether love chooses us, as simple as destiny, or if we choose it ourselves.
*Click HERE to view additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: The Boardwalk Bookshop
Author: Susan Mallery
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: May 31, 2022
Page Length: 448 pages

Publisher summary:
When fate brings three strangers to a charming space for lease on the California coast, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born. Part bookstore, part gift shop, part bakery, it’s a dream come true for Bree, Mikki and Ashley. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are…not. Bree, wounded by brilliant but cold parents and her late husband’s ultimate betrayal, has sworn to protect her heart at all costs. Even from Ashley’s brother, a writer and adventurer who has inspired millions. He’s the first man to see past Bree’s barricades to her true self, which terrifies her. Mikki has this divorce thing all figured out—somehow, she’s stayed friends with her ex and her in-laws…until a new man changes how everyone looks at her, and how she sees herself. Meanwhile, Ashley discovers that the love of her life never intends to marry. Can she live without being a wife if it means she can have everything else she’s ever wanted? At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heartachingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.
*Click HERE for additional details and to purchase via Amazon.

Title: My Summer Darlings
Author: May Cobb
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 17, 2022
Page Length: 368 pages

Publisher summary:
A woman in the forest thinks she’s going to die.
                          I know he’s coming back for me.
 Jen Hansen, Kittie Spears, and Cynthia Nichols have been friends since childhood. They are now approaching forty and their lives have changed, but their insular East Texas town has not. They stay sane by drinking wine in the afternoons, dishing about other women in the neighborhood, and bonding over the heartache of their own encroaching middle age and raising ungrateful teens. 
Then Will Harding comes to town, moving into one of the neighborhood’s grandest homes. Mysterious and charming, he seems like the answer to each woman’s prayers. He’s a source of fascination for Jen, Kittie, and Cynthia, but none of them are ready for the way Will disrupts their lives. As Will grows closer with each of the women, their fascination twists into obsession, threatening their friendships and their families. When he abruptly pulls away, each woman scrambles to discover the source of his affection. But what they’ll uncover is far more sinister and deadly than any of them could have ever imagined.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Pexels.com

LOOKING FOR ADDITIONAL BEACH READS? VIEW THE LINKS BELOW.

BEYOND THE BOOKENDS: ULTIMATE BEACH READS 2022
https://www.beyondthebookends.com/ultimate-beach-reads-2022-the-hottest-summer-reads/
READER’S DIGEST: 20 BEST BEACH READS FOR THE PERFECT ESCAPE
https://www.rd.com/list/beach-reads/
THE BOOK GIRLS’ GUIDE: BEST 22 SUMMER BOOKS
https://bookgirlsguide.com/beach-reads/
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING: 20 BEST SUMMER BOOKS 2022
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/g3585/summer-reading/
SHE READS: BEST BEACH READS OF SUMMER 2022
https://shereads.com/best-beach-reads-of-summer-2022/
THE UNCORKED LIBRARIAN: 22 BEST BEACH READS OF ALL TIME TO CHILL OUT WITH
https://www.theuncorkedlibrarian.com/top-beach-reads/
REAL SIMPLE MAGAZINE: THE BEST BOOKS OF 2022 SO FAR
https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/entertainment/books/best-books-2022
THE QUIRKY BOOKWORM: BEACH READS 2019
https://thequirkybookworm.com/2019/05/10/beach-reads/

HAPPY READING!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery

My blog header today is one of my favorite quotes from L.M. Montgomery, writer of the famous Anne of Green Gables series. October is my anniversary month (11 years on the 1st!), and my birthday month. No, I’m not sharing my age, ha! I will say that I’m old enough to remember using the card catalog in the library, so there’s that.

If I could be anything other than a librarian, I would be a journalist. I have always had a fascination with journalism. I was senior editor of my high school yearbook and I love to write! Writing is very therapeutic to me, and also a way to connect with other people. I love to read crime blogs and posts. I will occasionally read news reports online, however, my absolute personal favorite is when reporters write memoirs or investigative journalism books. They are some of the BEST. I’ve very picky when it comes to writing at times, and these books just speak to my soul. I am providing lists from websites below of some that look amazing!

Right now, there are probably 40 books in a stack next to my bed, some I just glance through, others I read. I just read the latest one by Sally Hepworth, and I will write a blog post, once I get over the depression that was that book, SMH. One of my favorite authors crushed my high hopes.

Some of you saw my bookstack on Labor Day. I’m halfway through some of them. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr is a must! I just love her! I haven’t finished it yet, so I can’t write a fair review, but I will once I’m done. Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan is a most entertaining read that I’m making progress on. This was a Jenna Bush Hager Book Club Pick. It’s a perfect read for moms of any age. I also started Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. Oh goodness, this is going to take awhile to read. Joyce Carol Oates is one of those that writes creatively, and I have to be focused, in other words, not ready to fall asleep. I love her, I would just not count her a beach or light read. A beach read I would recommend, that I’m halfway through on as well, is The Turnout by Megan Abbott, who is an author I LOVE. Her psychological thrillers are always so sharp. This was also a Jenna Bush Hager Book Club Pick.

I’m also reading the Pulitzer Prize winner by Katharine Graham, Personal History, which is turning out to be all I expected, and more. Katharine Graham was the owner of The Washington Post for years, and so she has some good stories about all kinds of real life characters.

Eleni by Nicholas Gage. I just started this one today and it brings out all the feels. A mother sacrificed her own life during the Greek civil war in the 1940’s so her children could be saved and start a new life with their father in America. Gage was a top investigative reporter for The New York Times, and left his job in 1980 to investigate his mother’s story in Greece. If you are stuck with what to read next, and want a book based on a true story, I recommend beginning with this.

The Quirky Bookworm Recommends…

I wrote earlier about my love for books written by reporters, and even mentioned a few that I’m currently reading, so now I’m going to share a few lists I found online. I love to add books to my TBR, and lists are a great way to do that.

Penguin Random House selects their favorites. Click here for the list.

Are you a fan of Goodreads, and like book reviews from them like I do? Click here for a list of recommendations from fellow bookworms. The first on the list is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and yes, it is very well worth the read.

BookAuthority, a website that recommends top books based on leaders and celebs of our day, list some of their favorites here. Create an account to receive personalized lists to your inbox.

Celadon Books lists their recommendations. Click here.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo pt. 2

This week is my daughter’s last week of school and even though she isn’t ready for summer, I think I speak for all her teachers and myself when I say we are ready for a break. Two more half-days and she will be in 3rd grade. Crazy to believe. This past weekend we went to a Mary Poppins Tea. Mary Poppins sang and was practically perfect in every way, while Bert tried, but didn’t have the lyrics memorized, so I don’t believe this Mary Poppins had a jolly holiday with Bert. What would have been most entertaining for adults is to see how that played out behind stage afterwards.

My daughter is 8 so she is starting to get more into the preteen Disney selection (see Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo part 1), but still is young enough for the children’s books and movies if there is something that catches her interest. She loves Disney graphic novels and so if I want her to read, that’s what I choose from the library. You can also order copies from Amazon by searching “Disney Comics.” Click here for the selection.

In my previous Disney blog post, I discussed the Disney book website for teens. They do have several books to choose from for infants to adult. The website is organized by age and a search bar is available as well. Readers can also sign up to receive new Disney book alerts via e-mail. Click here to visit site.

Disney Products Our Family Loves

I love the Disney collection for newborns and toddlers. If you are looking for a perfect gift, this is a great place to start. I used to buy Ella the stuffed animals and bath toys, which was always a hit. I bought Mickey and Minnie large plush dolls and that is the two she kept after donating many of her stuffed animals. She also liked the Disney Baby series “Plush in Pouch” and kept Mickey Mouse. Click here to browse the infant and toddler Disney selection.

Mickey Mouse Plush in Pouch – Disney Babies – Small
Minnie Mouse Cuddleez Plush – Large – 23''

Ella always loved the swimwear and coverups. She has outgrown them starting this year, which makes this mama’s heart a little sad. The coverups have the option for name personalization, which is perfect for water park outings and school field trips. Disney swimwear is typically on sale. Click here for girls and click here for boys.

The Little Mermaid Cover-Up for Girls

Disney drinkware and mugs are a fun way to get your child to drink more water. Click here to purchase. Disney had a very nice set of Tsum Tsum dishes I bought when Ella was a toddler to encourage eating of healthy foods. They were her favorites. Disney now has a new collection, Disney Parks by Jerrod Maruyama, so if you splurge on anything for birthdays and holidays, this is a good choice. Click here to purchase.

Disney Parks Plate Set by Jerrod Maruyama

I love Hanna Andersson, which includes their adorable Disney collection. Note to moms: Hanna Andersson underwear is perfect for children with sensory issues. Mine did for a long time and she would only wear these. Click here to shop Hanna.

Hanna Andersson (@happyhannas) | Twitter

Kohl’s has a fabulous Disney line that includes clothing and toys for all ages. Click here to purchase.

Luca on Disney+

Luca was set to be released in theaters, but due to COVID will now be available on Disney+. I’m so looking forward to seeing this adorable movie for all ages about Luca and his best friend, Alberto, that takes place on the Italian Riviera.

Disney Story Realms

Disney has a new app out to encourage reading and Ella loves it. There is a subscription fee to access all the books and games in Disney Story Realms ($4.99monthly/$39.99 yearly). We did a trial and then subscribed. New books are added daily. App for ages 4-9. Click here for more information.

Cover art

Traveling to Disney soon? Click here for a Disney guide on visiting parks with your little ones.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo

Our family loves Disney and I’m willing to bet yours does too! We’ve taken Ella, my 8 year old daughter, to The Magic Kingdom for the day a few times. She loves the characters, parades, and a few of the rides. Her favorite part of the experience one year was dressing up as a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. If you haven’t done so with your little one, it’s worth it and the Disney staff work so hard to make it a special day. We aren’t going to be visiting Disney Parks this year, instead, we are bringing the magic to our house! The Quirky Bookworm invites you, dear reader, to come along as I share new Disney entertainment and products that will help bring Disney magic to your home as well.

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She’s so little! Why can’t it last?

When Will My Life Begin?

If you are a mom of a preteen/teenager, they have more than likely outgrown the Disney magic specially curated for children 6 and under. A Twisted Tale Series is here to help with that in between slump. Each book asks a question about the Disney fairytales we all know and love. For example, what if Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion from the wrong flower, or what if Meg had to become a Greek god? Authors take these classic tales and do a twist (ha!) so each story receives a more grownup ending. Click here to order a copy for the teen in your life, and you may even want a copy yourself! Would you like to browse additional Disney YA novels? Click here. Collection includes Marvel and Star Wars.

Unbirthday A Disney Twisted Tale Alice in Wonderland Review

Click here to visit the Planning for Teens, Tweens and Older Kids Disney Parks website for resources on creating an itinerary that is special for them!

My daughter will be 9 this summer so she’s turning into a preteen herself. We have movie nights where we watch favorites on Disney+. She still loves Mary Poppins and 101 Dalmatians, which reminds me that THE Emma Stone will be starring as Cruella de Vil this summer. We. can’t. wait. Our newest mother/daughter tradition is to make a trip to the Dollar Store, where I buy popcorn and candy, then we sit at home on our huge L shaped couch and watch a favorite movie. Cruella will be available in theaters or at home on your Disney+ app starting May 28, 2021.

Ella has never been on the Jungle Cruise at Disney World, but I have as a kid growing up in Orlando. This was always one of my favorite rides. Dwayne Rock and Emily Blunt star in this live action film based on the classic Disney ride. Jungle Cruise is set to debut in theaters on July 30, 2021.

Do you have teens that are into Marvel? Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz star in Black Widow, set to debut in theaters on July 9, 2021.

Click here for more Marvel series and movie release dates!

Click here for Star Wars movies and TV upcoming release dates!

Ryan Reynolds stars in Free Guy as a bank teller who finds out that he is a character in a video game. The film is directed by Night of the Museum’s Levy.

Part of Your World: Disney Accessories for the Teen(s) In Your Life

Need cool Disney shirts for a trip or just because? Click here to browse The Family Shop and click here to follow them on FB.

Photo: The Family Store Website

What girl doesn’t love purses? Snatch one of these cute crossbody passport bags from Hot Topic for her summer vacations and outings. Click here for additional bag designs, starting at $14.90.

Loungefly Disney Mickey Mouse Sweets Passport Crossbody Bag

Calling all Disney Chefs! The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook by Ashley Craft is a must have for your collection! Her cookbook has received over 6,000 rave reviews on Amazon! Click here to purchase.

Box Lunch features Loungefly Disney Cats mini backpack. Click here to purchase.

Loungefly Disney Cats Yarn Allover Print Mini Backpack

Disney bracelets by Lokai are available with designs including our favorite characters- Lilo & Stitch, Mickey & Minnie, Woody & Buzz, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Click here to purchase.

Silicone beaded bracelet with Lilo and Stitch pattern

Kohls Disney Line has hundreds of products for kids, teens and adults! Click here to visit the website.

Junior teen in fall outfit
Kohls Website

Visit Vera Bradley for exclusive Disney designs and merchandise. Choose from bags, purses, wallets, blankets and more. Perfect for your teen that would like their Disney collection to look older. Click here to shop.

Disney Collection-Vera Bradley
Vera Bradley website

These are a steal at just $10 each. Cute nickel-free Mouse earrings. Click here to purchase.

PYC Pick Your Color  Nickle-Free Mouse Ear Earrings image 0

Disney has a Star Wars collection that may be a hit with your teen. Click here to shop t-shirts, swimsuits, pajamas and more!

Galactic Snackin' Grogu – Star Wars: The Mandalorian – Pre-Order

Visit Amazon to purchase Disney coloring books for your family. Many designs are for teens and adults. Click here to shop.

My daughter LOVES makeup. These ColourPop Disney collections are a perfect buy for your makeup obsessed preteen/teen! Click here to shop.

Elsa

Thank you for reading my blog today! I will have a part 2 in the Disney series later this week for the little ones in your life! Happy reading and shopping!

Spring Fever

Hello, Dear Readers!! Happy Spring! I am so glad the sun is shining and we FINALLY have warmer weather. We are now getting ready for summer vacations and arranging schedules with activities so our sweet children won’t drive us to tears by asking every five minutes, “What is there to do? What is there to eat? Can we go somewhere?” While I can’t help with summer scheduling, what I CAN help with is summer reading lists for the whole family. Oh yes, my friends, I am making my child read an hour a day this summer. It is happening. This isn’t one of those, “I will think it, but won’t actually do it.” I refuse to let her brain melt by allowing her to stare at screens 12 plus hours a day. I’ve picked out books, podcasts, audio books and the list keeps on going. I am here to help and you can always e-mail me your suggestions and/or questions @ brittanyschick23@gmail.com. I would love to hear your ideas on books for summer!

One idea is to check your local library for summer reading programs by visiting their website or calling. Librarians are there to answer your questions, so never be afraid to ask! Sometimes public libraries will have reading programs where your child is able to earn prizes based on the amount they have read over the summer. Ella and I are joining Colleyville Public Library’s reading program for adults, teens and children. Yes, all ages are eligible to earn prizes, even you Mom! The program begins May 24th. For Quirky Bookworm readers that live in my area of FW and would like to participate, click here.
Please note: Books read for the Colleyville Public Library Summer Program must be checked out at CPL. Keep copies of your library receipt to show proof when claiming a prize. You are able to participate even if you are not a resident. Register your home library card at the CPL front desk.

Need lists of books based on age for summer 2021? Visit Imagination Soup, a blog created by Melissa Taylor, a former elementary school teacher, literacy trainer and award winning writer. Book lists are arranged by age and genre.

I will also be posting kids podcasts to my FB page. I recently posted Julie Andrew’s Library and my daughter has been listening on the way to school. Download these selections wherever you listen to podcasts.

Ladies, when you get a chance, scroll down to the end of this blog post for one of my most favorite book lists to date that is just for you!!!! I’ve got new book information on some of your favorites-Riley Sager, Grady Hendrix, Megan Miranda, Mary Kubica and more!!! Yay for summer reading!!! Quirky Bookworm tip-visit your local online library catalog and if a book has not yet been released, but already ordered by the library, you can sometimes place a hold in advance. Call your local library for additional details.

Quirky Bookworm Has Been Reading…

I have been hearing about Jenny Lawson for the past several years now via friends, college students, TV, etc. and so, I was very fortunate and thankful to receive a free copy of Lawson’s most recent book release, Broken (in the best possible way), through NetGalley. Many of you may know Jenny as The Bloggess.

Title: Broken (in the best possible way)
Author: Jenny Lawson
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Length: 304 pages
I didn’t know what to expect when reading Broken. Would I like her sense of humor? Would it be too harsh? Not only was I surprised by how much I loved her, but also surprised at how much I learned about her life and her struggle with anxiety. Lawson’s anxiety is so intense that there are many times where she is unable to leave her home. She hides in bed unable to face the world around her. She writes of hosting her book signing in NYC, and unable to leave the hotel after her engagement due to being overwhelmed. She watched people go by outside the window. Lawson writes “Becoming my own friend is hard and a struggle, but it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself,” (Lawson, 2021, Broken).
I found her writing to be relatable for those that struggle with anxiety and depression, which I myself do. I know what it is like to want to hide away and not leave a room, to practically pass out before needing to speak before a large group of people and the anxiety of having to talk to a stranger on the phone. This is a must read if you struggle yourself with anxiety and/or depression, or know a loved a loved one who does. Purchase a copy here. Want to hear more about Jenny Lawson? Click here to read her blog and for additional book titles.

How May I Offend You Today?: Rants and Revelations from a Not-So-Proper Southern Lady by [Susannah B. Lewis]

Title: How May I Offend You Today: Rants and Revelations from a Not-So-Proper Southern Lady
Author: Susannah B. Lewis
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 2020
Length: 224 pages

Oh Susannah, you’ve done it again! I love her writing and have been following her FB page for years. She talks so openly and honestly about her life. Her writings do include Biblical passages and she is honest about her faith, but not from a judgmental, preachy way that is off putting. I started following her shortly after having Ella. I saw a funny video on FB and clicked over to her page. I really liked how she not only saw humor in everyday life and situations, but also at her ability to laugh at herself. In her most recent book release, How May I Offend You Today, she writes about how we take ourselves too seriously at times. Reading her books is like chatting with a close friend. Click here to visit Susannah Lewis’ website.

HOT AUTHORS, HOT SUMMER: QUIRKY BOOKWORM PICKS FOR SUMMER 2021

HOT, NEW THRILLERS FROM YOUR FAVORITES!

Hostage: A Locked-Room Thriller by [Clare Mackintosh]

The Hostage by Clare Mackintosh will be available June 22, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

A Slow Fire Burning: A Novel by [Paula Hawkins]

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins will be available August 31, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Such a Quiet Place: A Novel by [Megan Miranda]

Such A Quiet Place by Megan Miranda will be available July 13, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Local Woman Missing: A Novel by [Mary Kubica]

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica will be available May 18, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Not a Happy Family: A Novel by [Shari Lapena]

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena will be available July 27, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Guilt Trip: A Novel by [Sandie Jones]

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones will be available August 17, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Survive the Night: A Novel by [Riley Sager]

Survive the Night by Riley Sager will be available June 29, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Final Girl Support Group by [Grady Hendrix]

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires) will be available July 13, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Drowning Kind by [Jennifer McMahon]

The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon is out now and is an Amazon Editor’s Choice for Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense! Click here to purchase and read a summary.

The Therapist: A Novel by [B. A. Paris]

The Therapist by B.A. Paris will be available July 13, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

For Your Own Good by [Samantha Downing]

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing will be available July 20, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth is available now and an Amazon’s Editor Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense! Click here to order and read a summary.

The Turnout by [Megan Abbott]

The Turnout by Megan Abbott will be available August 3, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Maidens: A Novel by [Alex Michaelides]

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (The Silent Patient) will be available June 15, 2021. Click here to pre-order and to read a summary.

Dark Roads: A Novel by [Chevy Stevens]

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens will be available August 3, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Stranger in the Mirror: A Novel by [Liv Constantine]

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine will be available July 6, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Malibu Rising: A Novel by [Taylor Jenkins Reid]

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid will be available June 1, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Lost Apothecary: A Novel by [Sarah Penner]

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner was named #1 Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Oprah, Bustle, PopSugar, Betches, Sweet July, Good Housekeeping, HELLO! Magazine and Newsweek. It was a #1 Indie Next Pick and #1 Library ReadsPick. Click here to purchase and read a summary.

OUR ALL TIME FAVORITE CLASSIC BEACH AUTHORS

Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty: A Novel by [Lauren Weisberger]

Where the Grass is Green and the Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada) will be available May 18, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

That Summer: A Novel by [Jennifer Weiner]

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner will be available May 11, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Newcomer: A Novel by [Mary Kay Andrews]

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews will be available May 4, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Golden Girl by [Elin Hilderbrand]

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand will be available June 1, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Family Reunion: A Novel by [Nancy Thayer]

Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer will be available May 4, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Summer of Lost and Found (The Beach House Book 7) by [Mary Alice Monroe]

The Summer of Lost and Found (The Beach House Book 7) by Mary Alice Monroe will be available May 11, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Stepsisters: A Novel by [Susan Mallery]

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery will be available May 25, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

No Way Out: A Gripping Novel of Suspense by [Fern Michaels]

No Way Out by Fern Michaels is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

Meant to Be: A Novel by [Jude Deveraux]

Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

The Path to Sunshine Cove: A Novel by [RaeAnne Thayne]

The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

Blush by [Jamie Brenner]

Blush by Jamie Brenner will be available June 22, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Break-Up Book Club by [Wendy Wax]

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax will be available May 18, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

If you liked Where The Crawdads Sing…

The Girls in the Stilt House: A Novel by [Kelly Mustian ]

The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

Learning to Speak Southern: A Novel by [Lindsey Rogers Cook]

Learning to Speak Southern by Lindsey Rogers Cook is available June 1, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

All the Little Hopes: A Novel by [Leah Weiss]

All The Little Hopes is Leah Weiss’s second novel, which debuts July 27, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Call Your Daughter Home: A Novel by [Deb Spera]

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera is available now and was featured on Oprah’s Summer Reading List for 2019. Click here to order and read a summary.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger was published in May 2020. Click here to order and read a summary.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Published by: Harper Collins

Publication Date: May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 321 pages

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is one of my favorite books, which tells you it must be good because I am not a huge fan of dogs. I was honestly skeptical when I read this book several years ago. The only reason I read the book is because the library where I am employed has a copy and I decided one afternoon to read it after reading good reviews. The Art of Racing in the Rain is a charming novel that will bring you to tears. The point of view is told from the dog’s perspective which is what makes the book so entertaining. Since it has been several years since I’ve read the book, I’ve included a summary below from Goodreads.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life … as only a dog could tell it.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3153910-the-art-of-racing-in-the-rain?from_search=true

Five Bookworms (Excellent Read)

Purchase the book here.

The movie adaptation is out in theaters now starring Milo Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girl’s and This Is Us) Amanda Seyfried, and Kevin Costner (voice of Enzo the dog).


From the author’s website:

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Seattle, Garth’s ancestry is diverse: his mother, a native of Alaska, is of Tlingit Indian and Irish descent; his father, a Brooklyn native, is the child of Jewish emigrants from Austria. Garth lives in Seattle with his wife and three sons. He got involved with “high performance driver education” in 2001, received his racing license with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), and went on to win the points championship in the Northwest Region Spec Miata class in 2004. He left racing after a serious crash—while racing in the rain.

https://www.garthstein.com/

*BOOKS TO FILM 2020*
What books are being adapted into film? CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.

What I’m Listening to Right Now…

The Dateline podcast was just released this year featuring current and classic episodes.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast featuring selected interviews from the leaders of today.

What I’m Watching Right Now…

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in Ozark, a Netflix series about a man who is a financial planner that is involved in a money laundering scheme gone wrong and has to move his family to make amends to a Mexican drug cartel.

Mindhunter is a Netflix series based on the true crime book, Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit, by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Two FBI agents delve into the minds of serial killers from the 1970’s and 1980’s.

AUGUST SHELF OF BOOKS…

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S. Lewis

Summer is here and I’m ready for a trip to the beach. A perfect day to me is sitting by the beach reading a book. Instead of doing my own written reviews today, I’m listing my favorite long novels perfect for summer vacation. I’m also including online lists below. What are your favorite long novels? List them below in the comments.

Book lists online…

20 absorbing door stop novels for your summer reading list
https://modernmrsdarcy.com/long-novels/
Big Fat Books Worth the Effort: Goodreads List
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3153.Big_Fat_Books_Worth_the_Effort
26 Very Long Books Worth Your Time
https://www.vulture.com/2016/11/long-books-worth-your-time.html
50 Must-Read Books of More Than 500 Pages
https://bookriot.com/2019/02/25/must-read-big-books/

My Favorite Long Books I’ve Read So Far…

Title: American Wife
Author Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 555 pages

From the publisher:

On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility. As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?

In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.

From the publisher:

Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the new novel Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (due out April 2016) as well as the bestselling novels Sisterland, American Wife, Prep, and The Man of My Dreams, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Curtis’s writing has appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Vanity Fair,Time, Slate, Glamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she currently lives in St. Louis, MO.

Title: Fall of Giants
Author: Ken Follett
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 28th, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Length: 985 pages

From the publisher:

It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, “Fall Of Giants” moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

From the publisher:

Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 165 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages. 
Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of the College in 1995. 

He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper the South Wales Echo and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Length: 415 pages

From the publisher:

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

From the publisher:

Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.

Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families,violence and self-harm.

In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.

Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Title: The Distant Hours
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria
Publication Date: November 9th, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Length: 562 pages

From the publisher:

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941. 

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. 

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling. 




From the publisher:

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

From the publisher:

Kate Morton was born in South Australia, grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and now lives with her family in London and Australia. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she realised that it was words she loved more than performing. Kate still feels a pang of longing each time she goes to the theatre and the house lights dim.

“I fell deeply in love with books as a child and believe that reading is freedom; that to read is to live a thousand lives in one; that fiction is a magical conversation between two people – you and me – in which our minds meet across time and space. I love books that conjure a world around me, bringing their characters and settings to life, so that the real world disappears and all that matters, from beginning to end, is turning one more page.”

Kate Morton’s five novels – The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House – have all been New York Times bestsellers, Sunday Times bestsellers and international number 1 bestsellers; they are published in 34 languages, across 42 countries. 

Title: The Thorn Birds
Author: Colleen McCullough
Publisher: Avon Books

Publication Date: April 1977
Format: Hardcover
Length: 692 pages

From the publisher:

The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, the Clearys. It begins in the early part of this century, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister; and it ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, the brilliant actress Justine O’Neill, sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots.

The central figures in this enthralling story are the indomitable Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, the stunningly handsome and ambitious priest Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph’s course moves him a long way indeed, from a remote Outback parish to the halls of the Vatican; and Meggie’s except for a brief and miserable marriage elsewhere, is fixed to the Drogheda that is part of her bones – but distance does not dim their feelings though it shapes their lives.

Wonderful characters people this book; strong and gentle, Paddy, hiding a private memory; dutiful Fiona, holding back love because it once betrayed her, violent, tormented Frank, and the other hardworking Cleary sons who give the boundless lands of Drogheda the energy and devotion most men save for women; Meggie; Ralph; and Meggie’s children, Justine and Dane. And the land itself; stark, relentless in its demands, brilliant in its flowering, prey to gigantic cycles of drought and flood, rich when nature is bountiful, surreal like no other place on earth.

From the publisher:

Colleen Margaretta McCullough was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and Tim.

Raised by her mother in Wellington and then Sydney, McCullough began writing stories at age 5. She flourished at Catholic schools and earned a physiology degree from the University of New South Wales in 1963. Planning become a doctor, she found that she had a violent allergy to hospital soap and turned instead to neurophysiology – the study of the nervous system’s functions. She found jobs first in London and then at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. 

After her beloved younger brother Carl died in 1965 at age 25 while rescuing two drowning women in the waters off Crete, a shattered McCullough quit writing. She finally returned to her craft in 1974 with Tim, a critically acclaimed novel about the romance between a female executive and a younger, mentally disabled gardener. As always, the author proved her toughest critic: “Actually,” she said, “it was an icky book, saccharine sweet.” 

A year later, while on a paltry $10,000 annual salary as a Yale researcher, McCullough – just “Col” to her friends – began work on the sprawling The Thorn Birds, about the lives and loves of three generations of an Australian family. Many of its details were drawn from her mother’s family’s experience as migrant workers, and one character, Dane, was based on brother Carl. 

Though some reviews were scathing, millions of readers worldwide got caught up in her tales of doomed love and other natural calamities. The paperback rights sold for an astonishing $1.9 million. 

In all, McCullough wrote 11 novels.

Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Zola Books
Publication Date: September 23rd, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Length: 500 pages

From the publisher:

A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn’t stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals—steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

From the publisher:

Audrey Niffenegger (born June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan) is a writer and artist. She is also a professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Columbia College Chicago. 

Niffenegger’s debut novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), was a national bestseller. The Time Traveler’s Wife is an unconventional love story that centers on a man with a strange genetic disorder that causes him to unpredictably time-travel and his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his constant absence. 

Her Fearful Symmetry (2009), Niffenegger’s second novel, is set in London’s Highgate Cemetery where, during research for the book, Niffenegger acted as a tour guide.

Niffenegger has also published graphic and illustrated novels including: The Adventuress (2006), The Three Incestuous Sisters (2005), The Night Bookmobile (2009), and Raven Girl (2013). Raven Girl was adapted into a ballet by Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor and the Royal Opera House Ballet (London) in 2013. 

A mid-career retrospective entitled “Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger,” was presented by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C.) in 2013. An accompanying exhibition catalogue examines several themes in Niffenegger’s visual art including her explorations of life, mortality, and magic.

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Publication Date: February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Length: 465 pages

From the publisher:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends, view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t. 

From the publisher:

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and creative writing, she moved to New York City, where she worked in magazine publishing for nine years. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughter. She is working on her second novel.

From the publisher:

Against the backdrop of an elegant Cornwall mansion before World War II and a vast continent-spanning canvas during the turbulent war years, this involving story tells of an extraordinary young woman’s coming of age, coming to grips with love and sadness, and in every sense of the term, coming home…

In 1935, Judith Dunbar is left behind at a British boarding school when her mother and baby sister go off to join her father in Singapore. At Saint Ursula’s, her friendship with Loveday Carey-Lewis sweeps her into the privileged, madcap world of the British aristocracy, teaching her about values, friendship, and wealth. But it will be the drama of war, as it wrenches Judith from those she cares about most, that will teach her about courage…and about love.

Teeming with marvelous, memorable characters in a novel that is a true masterpiece, Coming Home is a book to be savored, reread, and cherished forever.

Rosamunde Scott was born on 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall, England, UK, daughter of Helen and Charles Scott, a British commander. Just before her birth her father was posted in Burma, her mother remained in England. She attended St. Clare’s Polwithen and Howell’s School Llandaff before going on to Miss Kerr-Sanders’ Secretarial College. She began writing when she was seven, and published her first short story when she was 18. From 1943 through 1946, Pilcher served with the Women’s Naval Service. On 7 December 1946, she married Graham Hope Pilcher, a war hero and jute industry executive who died in March 2009. They moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she still lives today with a dog in Perthshire. They had two daughters and two sons, and fourteen grandchildren. Her son, Robin Pilcher, is also a novelist.

In 1949, her first book, a romance novel, was published by Mills & Boon, under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. She published a further ten novels under that name. In 1955, she also began writing under her married name Rosamunde Pilcher, by 1965 she her own name to all of her novels. In 1996, her novel Coming Home won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by Romantic Novelists’ Association. She retired from writing in 2000. Two years later, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

On my TBR list…

Title: “…And Ladies of the Club”
Author: Helen Hooven Santmyer
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: January 1987
Format: Hardcover
Length: 1,184 pages

From the publisher:

A #1 New York Times bestseller–and an American classic–now in trade paperback…

A groundbreaking bestseller with two and a half million copies in print, “…And Ladies of the Club” centers on the members of a book club and their struggles to understand themselves, each other, and the tumultuous world they live in. A true classic, it is sure to enchant, enthrall, and intrigue readers for years to come.

Title: The Wheel of Fortune
Author: Susan Howatch
Publisher: Fawcett
Publication Date: April 1985
Format: Hardcover
Length: 1,171 pages

From the publisher:

Oxmoon, the rambling old mansion on a sprawling estate in Wales, has been for generations, the dream, the downfall, and the destiny of the wealthy Godwin family. They are entranced by tales of glittering parties where young lovers waltzed beneath the chandeliers as the orchestra played “The Blue Danube Waltz”. They are ensnared by the family legacy of madness, murder, and doomed romance — the disastrous consequences of 19th-century Gwyneth Godwin’s scandalous affair with sheep farmer Owen Bryn-Davies.



Title: Empire Falls
Author: Richard Russo
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: April 2002
Format: Paperback
Length: 483 pages

From the publisher:

Welcome to Empire Falls, a blue-collar town full of abandoned mills whose citizens surround themselves with the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors and who find humor and hope in the most unlikely places, in this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Richard Russo.

Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

Title: Prince of Tides
Author: Pat Conroy
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback
Publication Date: March 2002
Format: Paperback
Length: 679 pages

From the publisher:

Pat Conroy has created a huge, brash thunderstorm of a novel, stinging with honesty and resounding with drama. Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born.

Filled with the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina low country as well as the dusty glitter of New York City, The Prince of Tides is Pat Conroy at his very best. 

Title: Roots
Author: Alex Haley
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Publication Date: November 1st, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Length: 729 pages

From the publisher:

When he was a boy in Henning, Tennessee, Alex Haley’s grandmother used to tell him stories about their family—stories that went back to her grandparents, and their grandparents, down through the generations all the way to a man she called “the African.” She said he had lived across the ocean near what he called the “Kamby Bolongo” and had been out in the forest one day chopping wood to make a drum when he was set upon by four men, beaten, chained and dragged aboard a slave ship bound for Colonial America.

Still vividly remembering the stories after he grew up and became a writer, Haley began to search for documentation that might authenticate the narrative. It took ten years and a half a million miles of travel across three continents to find it, but finally, in an astonishing feat of genealogical detective work, he discovered not only the name of “the African”–Kunta Kinte—but the precise location of Juffure, the very village in The Gambia, West Africa, from which he was abducted in 1767 at the age of sixteen and taken on the Lord Ligonier to Maryland and sold to a Virginia planter.

Haley has talked in Juffure with his own African sixth cousins. On September 29, 1967, he stood on the dock in Annapolis where his great-great-great-great-grandfather was taken ashore on September 29, 1767. Now he has written the monumental two-century drama of Kunta Kinte and the six generations who came after him—slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lumber mill workers and Pullman porters, lawyers and architects—and one author.

But Haley has done more than recapture the history of his own family. As the first black American writer to trace his origins back to their roots, he has told the story of 25,000,000 Americans of African descent. He has rediscovered for an entire people a rich cultural heritage that slavery took away from them, along with their names and their identities. But Roots speaks, finally, not just to blacks, or to whites, but to all people and all races everywhere, for the story it tells is one of the most eloquent testimonials ever written to the indomitability of the human spirit. 



Title: The Way the Crow Flies
Author: Ann-Marie MacDonald
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 2004
Format: Paperback
Length: 848 pages

The optimism of the early sixties, infused with the excitement of the space race and the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of high-spirited, eight-year-old Madeleine, who welcomes her family’s posting to a quiet Air Force base near the Canadian border. Secure in the love of her beautiful mother, she is unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in a web of secrets. When a very local murder intersects with global forces, Jack must decide where his loyalties lie, and Madeleine will be forced to learn a lesson about the ambiguity of human morality — one she will only begin to understand when she carries her quest for the truth, and the killer, into adulthood twenty years later. 

Title: Sarum
Author: Edward Rutherfurd
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 23rd, 1997
Format: Paperback
Length: 912 pages

From the publisher:

A masterpiece that is breathtaking in its scope, SARUM is an epic novel that traces the entire turbulent course of English history. This rich tapestry weaves a compelling saga of five families who preserve their own particular characteristics over the centuries, and offer a fascinating glimpse into the future.

Title: The Tea Rose
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2006
Format: Paperback
Length: 675 pages

From the publisher:

East London, 1888 – a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger’s son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

But Fiona’s life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan’s tea trade. But Fiona’s old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future. 

What Challenges You?

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend. I ate way too much (I had my cheat day yesterday) and spent my time burning off some calories at spin class this morning. This was my first spin class and it was a challenge. Challenges can be good. They keep us going. My current challenges are hot yoga, spin class and weight lifting. These are not only good for me physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I also need to get my daughter through her summer reading list for school. Send prayers. We currently are doing a tech free summer where she can’t have any mobile devices. None. She can watch TV. I find myself watching the most random videos on YouTube-makeup tutorials, hair tutorials, family videos and people playing video games. I watch everything with her except the video games. My challenge has been trying to keep up with everything she finds. What is she watching? Is it appropriate? My husband and daughter know way more about technology than me. I use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and MyFitness Pal . That is about as far as my use of technology goes. I usually read, watch TV, workout or listen to podcasts. I have a difficult time sitting still. I always feel I need to be moving unless I am reading. My husband will try to get me to binge watch TV and I make it through two episodes and I am just done. I need to be working on the house, doing errands or something other than just sitting still.

What challenges you? What keeps you going? If you struggle with depression, like myself, I encourage you to find an area of interest that challenges you or maybe even a project that needs to be done. It may also help to find a friend that will encourage you in your new journey.

List of things that challenge me:

  • Organizing the house and cleaning out closets
  • Yoga
  • Reading
  • Trying new recipes
  • Giving back to the community. We do local mission projects with our Sunday School class.
  • Raising my daughter
  • Finding books to order for our library
  • Making new friends
  • Following a budget. This can be difficult when it comes to shopping for clothes. I get a set amount each month, but I have been known to go over.
  • Scrapbooking. I love to scrapbook, but have fallen behind on this. I need to catch up.
  • Organizing a schedule/routine for our family to follow. I try to keep each week consistent, but sometimes life just happens.

Make a list of what challenges you so far. This will also help you realize how much you accomplish and that you are stronger than what you believe.

I went through a season of life a few years ago where I just found myself not on a schedule. I felt overwhelmed and was trying to do too much at once. This is very common with parents of newborns/toddlers. You just can’t do everything. I can’t volunteer for every project or attend every event. Lysa Terkeurst challenges you to set your priorities and to not be afraid to say no. Take time for you. I listed above challenges I face. Those are also priorities in my life right now. I do serve the community, but I don’t say yes to everything. Serving at VBS? I can’t. I work full time. What I can do? Serve an occasional Saturday in the community. Host meals for Sunday School a few times a year. As I read this book, I realized I was not prioritizing my schedule. Now I pick out a few things which also leaves room for personal challenges of my own that I need to accomplish. Terkeurst does an excellent job in explaining how to make the best choices based on your current family demands right now. I read The Best Yes and it helped change my life.
Purchase here.

From the author’s website:

Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times best-selling author of Uninvited,The Best Yes, Unglued, Made to Crave, and 16 other books.

Lysa was recently awarded the Champions of Faith Author Award and has been published in multiple publications such as Focus on the Family and CNN online. Additionally, she has appeared on the Today Show as one of the leading voices in the Christian community.

For more information Lysa TerKeurst and to follow her blog, click here.

Redeeming Love is one of the best reads and one that I read last year when I was facing numerous challenges. As women, we tend to be confused about love and what that looks like. Francine Rivers creates a story of fiction based on the book of Hosea in the Bible. God calls Hosea to love a prostitute. In this novel, her name is Angel. She leaves him, but God keeps calling Hosea to chase her, even though he is left brokenhearted. God loves us unconditionally and forgives. God uses Hosea’s story as an example of how he loves us. Redeeming Love is a good read for the soul that has felt abandoned, used or brokenhearted and will challenge how we love others.
Purchase here.

From the author’s website:

Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith.  First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered a classic work of Christian fiction and continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles; it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.

For more information about Francine Rivers, click here.

Blogs I Love

ModernMrsDarcy.com
A book and lifestyle blog that features podcasts, reading guides and Ebook deals.
TheEverygirl.com
A lifestyle blog that focuses on finances, wellness, style, traveling, shopping and living.
DailyDoseofLuxury.com
A blog focused on self-care.
GirlBoss.com
A blog on women and their careers.
EmilyMay.me
Emily is the #1 reviewer on Goodreads. She also has a good book review to share on her blog.l
SuperFoodsLife.com
A blog focused on nutrition.
Raisin-Toast.com
A blog focusing on art, home and garden.
APinchofCrazy.com
A blog that has healthy recipes for your whole family to enjoy.
ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com
A blog on marriage and family.
Unveiledwife.com
An encouragement blog and podcast for wives.
MessyMotherhood.com
A blog on motherhood from a Children’s Therapist turned SAHM.
MomentsaDay.com
A blog on personal growth for families written by a certified parent educator.
AMotherFarFromHome.com
Ideas on establishing routine and order in your home to take the chaos out of parenting written by a SAHM of 4.

The Mother of All Posts for Grandparents and Parents

The month of May has been busy for the Schick family. My daughter graduated kindergarten, we celebrated Mother’s Day and I have a new nephew. I enjoy celebrations and new life.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I went through a season of depression. I found myself not being able to find energy to make it through the day. I was going through the motions of arriving to work, going home, spending time with family and going to bed. There was little or no joy to be found. It was hurting my family and me. I knew I needed to let go of so many fears I had lived with for so long. The fear of not being perfect. The fear of being a failure. The fear of rejection.

Satan uses our fears to hold us back and rob our joy. We can’t carry out our purpose so he wins. Fear becomes our security blanket. We find ourselves not wanting to trust God, but holding on to fear because it’s comfortable. We feel control. Can we truly experience joy, hope and peace and let go of fear? Does God care about our hurts? How can we let go and be focused on today?

In Loving Natalee, there is a section of the book I read that stays with me. Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mom, visits a church in Aruba. There are crosses lined up outside on the ground. She has the taxi wait for her and kneels before each cross praying for peace. She is crying out to God in the midst of her brokenness and pain. God is speaking to her heart. He tells her that he has Natalee. He has been with her this whole time and has not ever let her go. In the light, in the darkness he has held her. Beth experiences the feeling of peace wash over her.

I can only imagine the guilt, fear and what-if’s that was going through Beth’s mind. God met her at the lowest point and held her. In her grief, he carried her. He doesn’t meet us at our darkest point to shame, question, or judge. He speaks right to our hearts when we call out to him.

I grew up as a pastor’s kid and thought I could be perfect. I wanted to please everyone. That was illogical thinking and an impossible goal. I was not able to meet everyone’s ideal of a perfect pastor’s kid. I march to the beat of my own drummer at times. I don’t always say the right things and I’m not an eloquent speaker. God didn’t call me to be perfect. If I would have let go of my fear, I would have realized that God made me perfectly the way I am. I wore a mask to protect myself from rejection, but what I didn’t realize is that I was causing myself more pain. My security should have come from God and not from what others thought of me.

Listed below are inspirational reads I found comforting during my season of depression.



Title: Victim of Grace: When God’s Goodness Prevails
Author: Robin Jones Gunn
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: April 27th, 2013
Format: Paperback
Length: 205 pages


From the publisher:
Robin Jones Gunn reveals poignant truths from her life as well as from the lives of women in the Bible as she flips the notion that we are at the mercy of circumstances. She asks, what if God has dreams for you? What if he is accomplishing those dreams in the midst of shattered hopes? When life doesn’t go as expected, it’s easy to feel like a victim. We look at the events that have gone wrong and view our lives as impaired. What if we could see our future as God sees it? Would our view radically change if we understood we are indeed victims rather than of happenstance? God, the Relentless Lover, has vigorously sought you. He has instilled dreams in your heart that are grander than you can imagine. But the route to their fulfillment often is through a path you wouldn’t seek. What if God wants to take the hopes that tug at your heart and enliven them? Are you ready to live inside the mysterious joy of being a victim of grace?
Victim of Grace is one of my all time favorite reads and was a huge help to me during my depression. I viewed myself and God’s grace differently after reading this book.
Purchase here from Amazon.



Robin Jones Gunn is the author of the beloved Christy Miller series for teens and Sisterchick novels. Find more about her here.

Title: If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
Author: Randy Alcorn
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Publication Date: September 15th, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Length: 512 pages

From the publisher:
Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.
In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God–Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist? 
These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God. 
In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise. 
Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear. 

Purchase the book here.

Randy Alcorn is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 books and the founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries.

Title: So Long, Insecurity: You’ve Been A Bad Friend to Us
Author: Beth Moore
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Length: 352 pages

From the publisher:
Perhaps one of the biggest issues all women face is their own insecurity. Beth Moore, one of today’s most admired and trusted Christian writers, wants women to be free from the insecurity trap. So Long, Insecurity will strike a chord with women everywhere, as Beth speaks truth into the lives of readers, showing them how to deal with their innermost fears, rediscover their God-given dignity, and develop a whole new perspective–a stronger sense of self. Women of all ages and backgrounds will resonate with this message of security and discover truths that will free them emotionally and spiritually and lead them to a better life as they walk with God.
Read more about Beth Moore here.
Purchase book here from Amazon.

Title: Enough
Author: Sharon Jaynes
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018″
Format: Paperback
Length: 274 pages

From the publisher:
Do the voices in your head say you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough…or just not enough, period? It’s time to stop listening to lies that sabotage your confidence and embrace the truth of who God says you are.
Popular author and speaker Sharon Jaynes exposes the lies that keep you bogged down in shame, insecurity, and feelings of inadequacy. By recognizing the lies and replacing them with truth, you’ll be able to silence the voice inside that whispers you’re just not good enough, accept God’s grace and move past failures that have defined and confined you.
Your confidence and faith will grow when you trade self-defeating thoughts for God’s truth. Today is the day to embrace your incredible worth as a woman who is uniquely fashioned and spiritually empowered.

Purchase the book here.

Sharon Jaynes is a popular speaker and writer. Jaynes has been in the ministry for over 25 years.She served as the Vice President of the Proverbs 31 ministry and is the co-founder of Girlfriends in God. Learn more about Jaynes here.

Parenting…

I carry lessons I learned towards my parenting. My parenting may look different than others, but that doesn’t mean I can’t parent Ella or provide her with what she needs. The same goes for you.

Mom Confessions and Tips:

  • I don’t like to cook all the time so we usually order food, eat sandwiches or I make a plate of fruit/veggies. Occasionally I will cook spaghetti, sloppy joes, casserole, tacos and breakfast for dinner.
  • I let my child watch TV each evening and on weekend mornings so I can sleep in.
  • On the weekends she occasionally stays up until 10:00pm.
  • Sometimes I bribe her with treats/TV time so she will listen.
  • I take her to Target way too much. I think she believes it’s her second home.
  • I buy crafts at the store because she loves them, but also so I can read/watch TV without distraction. I find them $10.00 or less at Hobby Lobby, the $1.00 store and the $1.00 section at Target.
  • I do not have the gift of teaching. I take Ella to museums, free educational activities in the community and read to her. That is about as much patience as I have. God bless all of you that have the patience. You are my heroes.
  • I just started going to the gym early in the morning. Joe gets Ella ready for the day and sometimes ready for bed at night. I hear you, mom that doesn’t want go the gym because I’m not super tiny and it’s oh so intimidating. I’m right there with you. Through several medical issues (okay, and also snacking) I too have found it hard to keep down my weight, but we’ve got this. It’s not only good for physical health, but for mental and emotional health. Do the best you can do with where you are at on your journey.
  • I don’t deep clean my own home. I skip eating lunch out so I can hire a cleaning service. If you have room in your budget or a place you can cut back to hire a cleaning service, I highly recommend it, even if it’s just once a month. You will save time and sanity.
  • I buy produce that is already cut at the grocery store. I place the produce in Tupperware when I get home and keep on a shelf Ella can reach. When she asks for a snack I let her go to the fridge and grab what she wants. This also goes for snacks in the pantry.
  • I use Dr. Teal’s bubble bath. If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s amazing. The lavender scent helps me relax and I usually have no issues going to sleep after my bath.
  • I buy all my makeup, hair products and hair tools at ULTA. You can collect points and use them for discounts on purchases. I have saved money by doing this. My favorite makeup brands at ULTA are Stila, Butter London and IT.
  • I buy all my maxi dresses on Amazon. They are usually no more than $25.00 so it saves money. If I shop in a department store, I download the app so I can use the coupons.
  • Find a foot spa in the area you live. You can get a half hour massage for $25.00 and a hour massage for $60.00. I skip my pedicure sometimes and go to a foot spa instead.
  • I keep markers/pens/crayons, construction paper and magazines stashed in the craft “bar” at our house, in my room and the playroom. When Ella says she is bored, I let her make a mess out of paper, glue, scissors and let her color as much as her heart desires.
  • Orbeez, slime and kinetic sand. Use large plastic containers. Hours of fun.
  • Have frizzy, wavy hair that drives you crazy? Ask your stylist about Keratin treatments. Mine have changed my life. My hair dries faster and I use less hair product. I don’t think I could have enough time to work out AND style my hair without losing my sanity if it weren’t for Keratin treatments. I get mine done every 6-8 weeks.
  • Best rash/eczema cream for kids I have found? Aquaphor. Best soap for sensitive skin? Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash. Ella is super picky about toothpaste. The only kind she likes is Tom’s of Maine Children’s Gel. I buy Ella’s clothes at Carter’s, Target, Belk and Nordstrom Rack. She loves to live in skirts and so I buy the scooter skirts available at Target for $8.00. Throw a t-shirt on top and it’s an easy play outfit.
  • I drive a minivan. I know. On the bright side, my 6 year old loves it and thinks IT’S THE BEST CAR EVER.

What are your parenting confessions? What are your strengths? What blessings are part of your life? What can you do to save yourself time and sanity? Listing all these things can help bring a new perspective. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t parent as well. I know this from experience. Maybe you are skilled in the area of cooking, homeschooling, or crafting. If you are, I am a little jealous. Your skills and talents make you the perfect mom for your kid(s). They allow you to make a difference in your child’s life whether you are a stay at home mom or work outside the home mom. That doesn’t mean every day or choice will be perfect, but it does mean that God chose you for your kids. He knows you have what it takes to raise them and be the primary influence over their life.

I mentioned last Monday that I was looking for parenting books to help me out on my journey. I fell into a reading slump and just couldn’t find any I would recommend. I finally found found a few enjoyed. These books served as a reminder that my kid needs me. Your kids need you. They need to see us living a life in abundance and without fear.

Title: More for Mom
Author: Kristin Funston
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Format: Paperback
Length: 224 pages

More for Mom is one of my favorite parenting books I have read. Kristin Funston discusses that we are already holy before God. It’s not our works that save us, including our works in parenting. We can’t be perfect. We can’t be all things to all people 24/7, including our children. Allowing grace for ourselves and others is what helps make for more joyful parenting. According to Funston, each of “us is a whole person with one whole life, and we were designed to experience the holy of this life, now on earth.” Our lives shouldn’t be compartmentalized, but instead flow all together. For example, I’m a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and employee. All my roles work together and I should be the same no matter what role I am fulfilling at the time. People should be able to see God working through me. We have a void that only Jesus can fill. Marriage, parenting, family, friends and work can’t completely fill that void. They can’t be all things to us either because they are human so just like us they become exhausted from day to day life. Funston writes in a clear manner to moms about how God designed us for parenting and the boundaries we need to set for ourselves.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

Kristin Funston is a speaker and blogger. She’s a contributor for the Today Parenting Team, Scary Mommy, The Better Mom and The Memphis Blog. Visit her website at www.kristinfunston.com

Title: Overcoming Grandparenting Barriers
Series: Grandparenting Matters
Author: Larry Fowler
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: April 30th, 2019
Format: Paperback
Length: 112 pages

Overcoming Grandparenting Barriers by Larry Fowler, founder of The Legacy Coalition, discusses geographical, relational and spiritual boundaries grandparents may face with their grandchildren. He addresses issues such as when the parents divorce and the grandparents are not allowed a relationship with the grandchildren, when parents will not allow the mention of Christianity and when grandchildren live far away. Fowler discussed these concerns in a practical way and the advice given was also helpful for parents as well.
The only disagreement I have with Fowler is that he mentions grandparent narcissism, which is where grandparents focus so much on themselves by taking trips and doing their own activities that they don’t babysit enough or take part enough in their grandchild’s life. I understand grandparents play a significant role in the grandchildren’s life and Ella can see her Papaw and Mimi as much as they would like. However, I think after decades of parenting, grandparents deserve to have enough “me” time as they want. Travel. Read. Join clubs. Spend days lounging around in pj’s while you watch TV all day. The beauty of no longer having children in your home is that you can do whatever you want and go wherever you want. (I say this because that is exactly what I plan on doing, just don’t tell Ella. Also, drink a margarita(s) for me while you are on vacation.)

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

Larry Fowler has served in ministry for over 40 years, with a majority of years spent working for the AWANA ministry. He founded The Legacy Coalition in 2016 as a resource for grandparents. You can find more information about him here and purchase additional books here.


Title: Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday
Author: Valerie Woerner
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Publication Date: April 9th, 2019
Format: Paperback
Length: 272 pages

Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday is an excellent read for moms of young ones. Woerner gives moms ideas on how to take care of themselves and their kids without losing their sanity. Her advice is practical and the book is a fast read, which is important for moms of young ones. I enjoyed the section on “Divine Interruptions.” Like Woerner, I’m an introvert with perfectionistic tendencies. If a plan gets interrupted during the day, I feel very frustrated. She writes, “If what we planned doesn’t happen, then it wasn’t God’s purpose for the time. Our frustration comes because feel we should be doing something different from what we’re doing in the moment. We struggle because what we think we’re supposed to be doing has been interrupted…if my plan gets interrupted, then it wasn’t his plan for that moment after all.” So GOOD! I really struggle with this and it’s probably where my main frustration as a parent comes in and causes most of my anxiety in life. Woerner gave very good advice on how to handle life as a mama when you are Type A like myself.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

Valerie Voerner is a blogger and founder of Val Marie Paper, a company that produces prayer journals. She is married and has two young girls.

What I Am Watching Now…

I love a good series to binge on the weekends. These are some of my favorites at the moment.

I love Christina Applegate and she’s perfect in her new dramedy, Dead to Me. Her character, Jen Harding, is looking for the person responsible for her husband’s death due to a hit and run. She meets Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini) in her grief support group and uses her to help find the person responsible for her husband’s death.
Genre: Comedy-Drama
Available on Netflix.

Schitt’s Creek stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy as the cast of the Rose family that loses their fortune after being defrauded by their business manager. The only option they have is to move to the tiny town of Schitt’s Creek, which the Rose family had purchased for their son one year as a joke. The cast is perfect together and makes for hilarious comedy.
Genre: Comedy
Available on Netflix and Pop TV.

Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterson and Martin Sheen. Grace and Frankie move in together after their husbands sit them down to dinner one night to tell them they are in love and getting married to each other. The husbands have worked together for years as attorneys and the wives have NOTHING in common. The show revolves around the two as they adjust to being on their own after so many years and dealing with adult children.
Genre: Comedy
Available on Netflix.

The Ranch stars Ashton Kutcher, Debra Winger, Elisha Cuthbert and Sam Elliot. The show revolves around the Bennett family who owns the Iron River Ranch in Garrison Colorado. Colt Bennet (Ashton Kutcher) returns to the town after 15 years away to help his dad work the ranch and marries his high school sweetheart, Abby Phillips (Elisha Cuthbert).
Genre: Comedy
Available on Netflix.

Northern Rescue stars William Baldwin (John West), as a search and rescue commander who moves his family from Boston to Turtle Island Bay, Ontario to live with his sister-in-law after the death of his wife.
Genre: Drama
Available on Netflix.

The Crown traces Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) from her wedding in 1947 to present day. Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey.
Genre: Historical Drama
Available on Netflix.

Stranger Things is set in Hawkins, Indiana during the 1980’s and focuses on supernatural events occurring in the town due to the scientific research from the nearby Hawkins National Laboratory. The cast stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and Noah Schnapp. Season 3 will premiere on July 4, 2019.
Genre: Science Fiction
Available on Netflix.

Three suburban moms are tired of trying to make ends meet and decide to pull an unlikely heist by robbing a supermarket. Good Girls stars Mae Whitman, Christina Hendricks, Reta and Reno Wilson.
Genre: Comedy-Drama
Available on NBC and Netflix.

Greenleaf revolves around the Greenleaf family and their mega-church, full of scandal and lies. Greenleaf stars Keith David (Bishop James Greenleaf), Lynn Whitfield (First Lady Daisy Mae Greenleaf), Merle Dandridge (Pastor Grace Greenleaf and the oldest child), Desiree Ross (Sophia Greenleaf and Pastor Grace’s daughter), Lamman Rucker (Pastor Jacob Greenleaf and the only son who pastors the rival church, Triumph), Kim Hawthorne (Kerissa Greenleaf and Jacob’s wife) and Deborah Joy Winans (Charity Greenleaf, Minister of Music and the youngest child).
Genre: Drama
Available on OWN and Netflix.

Podcasts I Listen To…

Serial is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koening. There are currently 3 seasons with each non-fiction story lasting all season long. The first season follows the disappearance of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee who disappeared in 1999 after school one day. 6 weeks later her ex-boyfriend and classmate, Adnan Syed is arrested for murder. He claims innocence. Season 2 follows Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of the Taliban held for five years. Soilders from his unit claim he purposely walked into enemy territory. Bergdahl is charged with being a traitor. Koening speaks to Bergdahl, who is opening up for the since the charges about his version of the story. Season 3 looks at the justice system in Cleveland and examines each court case week by week. Learn more here.

Dr. Laura Call of the Day features one phone call from her show on Sirius XM. Dr. Laura is America’s #1 Relationship Talk Radio Host. Learn more about Dr. Laura here.

Jenny McCarthy’s Celebrity Dirt Podcast features the latest news on celebrity dating, parenting, relationships and pop culture news.