Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Holiday Book Gift Guide: Romance Edition

 I'm always asked by friends and family for book recommendations.  It's so hard because people have such vastly different tastes, but based upon my recently (last yearish) read books here is what I'd recommend for those looking to gift a book!

For those that love humor, romance, or Helen Hoang:

Drunk on Love
by Jasmine Guillory or, if you know they haven't read anything by her start with The Wedding Date!

Drunk on Love can be read without reading any of the others, there is at teeny tiny cameo of characters from the other books, but if you havent read the others you won't even notice! Drunk on Love is also a good gift for a wine loving or book club friend.  It's about a winery owner who accidently has a one night stand with her new employee.  Hilarious, sweet, a little steamy.

Book Lovers
by Emily Henry is another funny smart romance! It takes a poke at small town romance tropes and book lovers.  With a taste of a dysfunctional family backgrounds, cute men, smart women, humor, and romance, it's a great vacation or summer read for a romance lover!

Heart and Seoul by Jen Fredrick is another humor filled romance.  It's about Hara, an adoptee who is searching for her birth parent/family information in Seoul after her adopted father's death.  She lands in Seoul with barely any Korean knowledge and bumps into a very attractive man who becomes a confidante and helper as she navigates a culture and language she doesn't know but is surrounded by people who look like her and assume she does know it.  Doesn't sound humor filled from this description but rest assured Hara is very awkward and makes many comical errors in her quest to find out about her homeland and family.  It also has a sequel, Seoulmates that you should just pick up too!

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey is also the first in a series set in the pacific northwest.  Piper is a rich spoiled wild child who gets shipped off to her biological father's hometown to learn how to survive on her own after one too many jams that her step dad had to bail her out from.  Her sister comes with her and they learn some valuable life skills, meet a grandma, and town full of handsome fisherman.  The sequel is Hook, Line, and Sinker!

Others to check into:

The Charm Offensive - Alison Cochrun

Love at First Spite - Anna E. Collins

What books would you add to this list?

Monday, November 28, 2022

The It Girl

 I love a good mystery and Ruth Ware knows how to write them! I could not put down her latest while trying to figure out who did it.

The book flashes from before and after.  The before is before Hannah's best-friend and roommate was killed in their dorm room towards the end of their freshman year at Oxford.  The after is what happened after Hannah reported seeing a creepy porter named John Neville, leaving her staircase shortly before walking up and finding her roommate on the floor.  

She had me guessing, I was pretty sure twice but then I was wrong.  She's the queen of dropping the clues so when you are at the end and it's revealed you know exactly what she was telling you at certain points but you did not know what to do with it at the moment! This isn't a slasher, nor is it gory, but I found the delightful England / Scotland setting lovely and the book kept me in my chair for four hours as I flew through!  

I am slowly going through her books as I read One by One and immediately was hooked.  This book ranks right up there with that one, I read two others that were just so so, but I feel she is a reliable read when you need a mystery!

What's the last book you flew through?

Tuesday, November 15, 2022


Welp, we got our first real snow of the year today.  Here enters the worst 5 to 6 months of the year! Cheers! Dark, cold, wet, wind, fun fun fun!!!

Reading:   Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Loving: My current grocery shopping plan.  I've been able to keep our grocery bill about the same and I love it.  I typically only shop at Aldi or Kroger and the occasional other store if there is a sale or I ran out of something and I had to run in.  But I look at the ads when we get them on Monday and decide if any of the weekly digital coupons that Kroger are offering are things we need to stock up on / use.  If there's enough to get a pick up order I'll do my shopping there and literally only by the things on sale or items I have coupons for.  My fruits and vegetable purchases are whatever is on sale.  If I do Aldi, I run in and just get what we need plus extras that we may need to stock up on.  I try not to have to go to both stores but if I happen to by Aldi and did a Kroger run, I will if there is something we reallly need.  But I meal plan on Friday's based upon what we are doing the next week and what we have in the freezer, that way when I shop the next week there should hardly be any items I'll need for our meal plan.  It's been working out really well.  We do get our beef from a local farmer and we buy our chicken at Costco.  Most of the time I keep us around 70 bucks for the four of us.  We freeze things if we need to and if I run into Kroger I love buying the marked down stuff.  Just call me a bargain shopper.  It's my fun game to play.

Feeling: pretty good.  I made a list of November goals that I've been plugging away at.  Which updating this blog is one of them and I am on par to completing all but one of them, so that's pretty darn good.  I need to keep this up because it motivates me to do things.

Anticipating: booking our summer camping trips soon and plotting out our spring break trip and our great wolf lodge trip.  So anything that escapes winter.

Struggling: my patience.  i have none.

Grateful: that my mom has finished her cancer treatments and is getting stronger each day.

Working: on finishing up my class this month, organizing, walking more...

Listening: Podcasts... Friendlier, The Mom Hour, Culpable, etc...

Watching: Miss Scarlet and the Duke

Wishing: that my basement could organize itself

What are you reading/listening/watching?

Monday, November 14, 2022

Beautiful Country

I flew through Qian Julie Wang’s memoir.  She was born in China and then when she was seven she came to America.  She and her parents overstayed the visas they had to enter the country and began a traumatic existence avoiding being caught.  

In China, her dad’s family was shamed because his older brother dared speak out about the government.  This brought poverty, shame, and trauma to her dad’s life that he never could escape.  In China, her parents were professors, but in America they were, as a “friend” told Qian no-income.  

In New York Qian worked alongside her mom in a sweatshop making pennies for her work and looking forward to the bowl of rice provided during her twelve hour shift!!! In Chinese the word for America, MeI Guo, translates to beautiful country.  It’s very hard and rightfully so, for Qian to find the beauty in the America she lives in.

She was able to attend a public school and had to figure out how to navigate the second grade without speaking the language.  They put her in a special needs classroom where she was largely ignored and taught herself to read in English.

Her story was heartbreaking, vivid, and a story that needs to be read and discussed.  

What books on immigration have you read?

Friday, November 11, 2022

Midnight in Delta County

 Midnight in Delta County was a fantastic conclusion to Delta County and Summer of ‘99 by J.L. Hyde.  There were times in the book where I’d read a line and go, “YESSSSS,” because of the insights she drops in her writing.

So, do NOT read this UNLESS you have read Delta County and Summer of ‘99, or you will be a sad panda.  However, once you read both of those, PLEASE read this one! I loved her main characters in the other two books, Heather and Quinn, and in this book you get both!

Both Heather and Quinn have become friendly after their paths cross based upon the two previous books.  Other characters in the previous books appear and you get more peaks into their personalities too.  And that’s a thing I really appreciate about J.L. Hyde.  Her characters each have a unique personality and you easily keep them separated and enjoy their character specific quirks and comments!

A quick synopsis while trying to not spoil…   People in Escanaba start dying.  In an eerily similar way to Quinn’s latest book.  People start avoiding Heather and Quinn because of the ending of Quinn’s book and the assumption that maaaybe they are behind these deaths in a way to make more money for the book, or just because they are THAT demented.  

What I liked about the previous books continues with twists you don’t see coming and keeps you frantically turning the pages to find out HOW THIS ENDS.  

Do yourself a favor and pick these three books up! We have a long winter ahead!

Monday, November 7, 2022

The House Across the Lake


The House Across the Lake is my first book by Riley Sager and I think I’ll try another.  Casey is an alcoholic actress who has been banished to her family’s lake house after one too many embarrassing episodes (according to her mother).  Slowly, but surely the reader finds out Casey’s husband is dead, she’s definitely picked up on the drinking, and she may not be the most reliable narrator.

She meets her neighbors across the lake and becomes obsessed with watching them through the binoculars.  She decides that the wife is in danger and when she goes missing, she immediately assumes the husband did it.

In the backdrop of this, we find out that there are missing girls from around the area, there is a hurricane coming, and a possible wife killer also around this lake.

So there is a lot going on.

But if you gut through the excessive bourbon drinking and hang tight, this book will take you on a wild ride!

Have you read this or any other books by Riley Sager? If you have read others, what would you recommend? Thanks!

Friday, November 4, 2022


 And just like that we are in November.  Holy cow. Time to start prepping for Christmas gifts so I don't have to be searching at the last moment and maybe wrap other peoples early this year.  I also need to change out my two Halloween specific decorations and bring out my one Thanksgiving sign.

Photos from the week: 

Heading out to trick or treat

One of the houses we saw decorated

New glasses!

Current Read!

Beautiful November weather to read outside! Barefoot!

The high of my week was : taking the oldest trick or treating with her friends, watching her in her first choir concert of the year, and the gorgeous weather getting us outside more than we would!

The low of my week was  nothing that I can think of.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday -  frozen pizza and salad before trick or treating
Tuesday -  Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper via Iowa Girl Eats one of our fam faves.. I added a red pepper to it this time and we also had queso/chips, salad and fruit on the side.
Wednesday -  We went out for Steak Sandwiches at a diner that is a local hot spot.  We've been talking them up for the last two years as we made homemade ones at home so the oldest has been beginning to try the real deal, and we were going to be nearby the diner (it's 30ish minutes away) to pick up her new glasses.
Thursday - Chicken Fajitas, queso/chips, raspberries
Friday -  chili dogs, fruit, veggies/dip

The best money I spent was on BIG GIRL underwear to try to keep convincing the youngest that using the toilet is the way to be.  

What I’m listening to  Counter Clock, Crime Junkie, The Mom Hour, Culpable...

What I’m watching Winter House

What I’m reading:  The House Across the Street by Riley Sager

My plans for the weekend watching football, clearing up leaves and putting away the rest of the pool floats that need to be cleaned off.

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

What I'm Excited to Read Soon


Today, I was very happy to find in my mailbox the newest book by author J.L. Hyde! I first found out about her while stalking my friends goodreads TBR to find her a new book for her birthday last year.  I read the description for her book Underground, and found out in the blurb she had an Instagram account (bookandbeerreview) and she was from the U.P. and a CMU grad.  So I had to buy that for my friend who is a CMU grad. And then I began stalking her on her insta page.  Pretty soon, I had to buy her newest (at the time) Delta County for myself.  I took it with me to Mexico, and devoured it.  And I think that might have been when I first sent her a comment as her internet creeper and sent a picture of me reading it in Mexico. Since then, I've been her non-murdery insta creeper.

In January, I decided I needed to buy Underground for myself, so I did, and then when her other book, Summer of '99, came out, I of course had to get that as well.  And I've been anxiously awaiting her very latest book, Midnight in Delta County since I stalked her in person this last May when she did a book signing at a winery about an hour away and said she was making a sequel that ties in Delta County and Summer of '99.

If you are like sure, that's fine, but what are these books about? Let me tell ya.

Delta County
is about Heather Matthews who after being gone for 10 years returns to her hometown, Escanaba.  10 years ago the worst thing in her life happened and she barely looked back. Now back in her hometown she is finding out things she never knew before, does this change everything she's ever known about the incident and the people she is closet too? 

Summer of '99 OMG as someone who grew up in the 90s she nails the time period.  This is also set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I read this book in less than 24 hours.  So soo soo good.  

"For over four decades, Camp Shady Oaks was the premiere youth camp for a summer filled with nature, survival skills, and fun in the remote woods of the Hiawatha National Forest. In 1999, it was forced to close abruptly when tragedy struck.

What is now the abandoned location of one of Michigan’s most notorious unsolved mysteries gains national attention when former camper Quinn Harstead pens a best-selling account of the events that occurred.
The camp remains empty and frozen in time for twenty-three years before Quinn receives an invitation for its grand reopening. Will she return to the place that continues to haunt her memories in search of answers, or will the secrets of Shady Oaks stay buried forever?"

Midnight in Delta County is a sequal to both of these books.  So if you are interested read them in order of Delta County, Summer of '99, and then  Midnight in Delta County.

Then her very first book is a standalone, Underground.  

"After suffering for years in her thankless and stressful role working for a restaurant group in Illinois, Lindy Michaels finally catches a break when her husband, Hayden, receives a promotion that will allow her to quit her job. The only catch? It requires them to move to Oklahoma City.

After relocating, Lindy spends more and more of her newfound free time with her online group of true-crime enthusiasts and even makes a real-life friend from the group, who happens to live in Oklahoma.

The women quickly become close as they meet weekly to drink coffee and discuss their lives and the latest headlines. The peace is short-lived when they find themselves in the middle of their own true crime nightmare after a terrifying encounter connects them to the case of a local missing woman. Just how far will they go to find answers?"

Let me tell you, the twists at the end of these books are sooo good.  Sometimes I hate super dumb twists, but THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  These twists are amazeballs.

And at bare minimum you should follow her on Instagram to follow along with what she's reading and drinking and the other funny stories she shares!

Have you read any of these books by J.L. Hyde??

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

What I Read in October

When I was looking through my books to remember what I finished this  month, I'd almost forgotten about three of them! It had seemed so long ago, but they were just at the beginning of the month!

 Murder on Cold Street was better than the last in this Lady Sherlock series and I'm still intrigued by it!

Book Lovers cracked me up and was much better than People We Meet on Vacation.  I was sad because I had ADORED Beach Read by Emily Henry and this just as adorable/laugh out loud goodness I needed.  If you also loved Beach Read, feel free to skip over People We Meet on Vacation and just say yes to Book Lovers!

Beneath A Ruthless Sun was soo soo soo good.  It was a hefy read but I flew through it.  It is based on the true account of a corrupt sheriff in Florida.  Three Supreme Court cases came from this county.  It was horrific to read about how badly things were rigged against Black people and the scariest part, is how not that far in the past this all was.  HIGHLY REOCMMEND.   

Middle School Matters is a book written by a middle school counselor.  My daughter's school hosted a book club to discuss this and I found it easy to read and had great conversational starters that parents can easily add into their repertoire as they are navigating middle school / adolescents with their children.  

The Diamond Eye was also a pretty hefty book but sooo good by Kate Quinn.  I confess to not being able to finish The Alice Network because it was giving me too much anxiety, but this one I really enjoyed about a woman sniper in the Russian Red Army.  It's based on a real person and I am still googling to learn more.

What was something you enjoyed reading in October?