Books – January 2023

Coming at you with some more book reviews! December was a super slow reading month for me. I did manage to close out the year reading 80 books! My goal I had set was 52, one per week. I never want to set anything too lofty, as it becomes less fun for me. This year I set my goal for 60 books.

M is for Mama by Abbie Halberstadt

Wow y’all. Just wow. Now listen. I know that this wont be for everyone, as it is a Christian based book…but it has so many good nuggets in it that I highly suggest it. Sometimes it is hard to hear the truth and follow what is right. Especially in today’s culture. This book really spoke to me. I took notes the entire time I was reading it. I only consumed one chapter at a time to really soak it all in. There were so many good verses to reflect on, and so much advice on how to raise up our children in the way that they should go. Plus, some very solid advice on how to model the behavior we want to see. I could share so much more about this book, but if I do, I will gush for days. This will be a book that I come back to and reread annually I think. I am so glad I purchased my own copy.

Bottom Line: A must read for women with littles.

Love Always, Christmas by Karen Schaler

This book reads like a Hallmark movie. It is cute, cheesy, and over the top Christmas. Things I enjoy in only a Christmas book. The characters were fun, I enjoyed Libby and Adam. I will say that the book got to be repetitive about Libby and Adam’s fears and some of their inner thoughts that were constantly repeated. Also, I didn’t love the way that Libby’s job as a social media manager was portrayed. Why was there so much focus on hashtags and a ridiculous campaign? I wish the characters had a little more depth, but that is expected of light Christmas reads like this. I did love the way the towns people were all willing to help each other out. There was also an element of mystery thrown in, which was fun. Overall, I enjoyed it.

Bottom Line: Cute to read at Christmas. I could definitely see this being a Hallmark movie.

**I received a copy of Love Always, Christmas from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

A Guide to Just Being Friends by Sophie Sullivan

This is the third (and I am guessing final?) book of the Jansen brothers series. You do not have to read the first two to enjoy this one, but you should to get the back story on Noah and Chris’s girls.

I loved getting to know Wes and Hailey. I loved Hailey’s salad shop business, and wished I had a local restaurant like that here. This is a slow burn friends to lovers, which is always fun. I felt like Hailey didn’t have to be so stubborn about accepting help from others, specifically Wes. And when the real conflict happened….I felt like Wes did a 180 in the wrong direction that almost felt out of character. But I absolutely loved the ending, getting to see how all three brothers ended up.

I consumed this as an audiobook, and truly enjoyed both the male and female narrator. It added to the fun of the book for me.

Bottom Line: Read it!

**I received an audio copy of A Guide to Being Just Friends from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

Going Rogue by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is back! You all know how much I love these. One of the first series that got me back into reading about 12 years ago. These are more of a comfort read for me than anything. I love the wacky cast of regulars who get into some ridiculous shenanigans. Of course we have the love triangle, cars blowing up, lots of donuts and buckets of chicken. Are these books repetitive? Yes. Are these books predictable? Yes. Are they highly unlikely to happen in real life? Yes. Yet I am still here for them, 29 books later. I LOL’d a lot in this one. I felt like Stephanie was more capable in this book than others, maybe she is turning a new leaf. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Bottom Line: If you are a Stephanie Plum fan, obviously you are going to read this!

A Confident Mom by Renee Swope

Another one that I recommend for my mom friends out there. I took notes while reading this one too, and will definitely look back on it in the future. I like the Renee took stories from her own family to get her points across. She isn’t trying to just make you a better parent, but a better person to anyone no matter the relationship. She is very character-focused, which I think is the most important train in a person.

I know someone is going to ask me if I can only pick one of the mom books from this post, which would it be. If you are only going to read one, I would go for M is for Mama…but this one is great and you should definitely add it to your list! It is less intense than M is for Mama though. So think about which style you want to follow.

Bottom Line: Read it!

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

I really liked Nora. I loved how perfectly imperfect her life is. I saw myself in her in a lot of ways and found this book so relatable. Her ex-husband was a total asshat and I loved watching her relationship with Leo start to bud. We can all see where it was going. I love that Nora sort of finds herself and happiness without love in the in between. And how good of a mother she is to her kids. Her friend Kate was such a good friend. We all need a Kate in our lives. I am sad this one is done. I feel like this is going to end up on my list of favorites for the year.

I consumed this one via audiobook, and Hillary Huber is one of my favorites. She did a fantastic job!

Bottom Line: Read it!

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

Full disclosure: I stopped reading this book less than 100 pages in. Already there were too many characters and too many plots going on. The style of the writing was not my favorite, as it was hard to tell which character’s view we were getting. To sum up, it was very chaotic. I didn’t even like any of the characters really, except maybe Millie. And then her sister like Millie’s husband? Like what? I cannot with this book. So I can’t really rate or review it fairly, seeing as how I didn’t get even half way through it.

Bottom Line: Pass


Books – December 2022

I wanted to read all the Christmas books this month, I have so many to get through!!! Unfortunately, I just ran out of time. Life got really busy and I went about two weeks without reading anything at all, which is rare for me. Here are the books I did read though, one of which definitely makes my list for top 10 books I read this year. Spoiler alert, it was Remarkably Bright Creatures.

The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch

This is supposed to be a second chance romance, a trope I enjoy. I was expecting this to be a fun nostalgic romance….but it was missing the nostalgia. And the romance. I felt like this book dragged at times. It weaved back and forth between current time and Ezra and Frankie’s past. It was almost like Hangover as they tried to piece together what happened the night before, but without all the laughs. I liked trying to figure out what happened, but the banter between the two wasn’t all that fun. And they argued so much, I didn’t really ever feel their connection. They were not the most likeable characters. I guess part of the books charm is that they are imperfect, and therefore a little more relatable? Still, I found myself not really caring what happened to them.

I listened to this on audiobook and Julia Whelan was amazing as always. I also really enjoyed the male narrator.

Bottom Line: I really enjoyed the narration of audio for this book. I am undecided about how much I actually liked the story. Maybe 2.5-3 stars? Like I said, I didn’t love the characters and the book dragged at times.

I’ll Start Again Monday by Lysa Terkeurst

When I saw this book on the shelf, I knew I had to read it. Who hasn’t said “I’ll start again Monday, and then continued to indulge as much as possible until then?” I really liked how Lysa talked about her own struggles with weight and how she applied verses from the bible to turn to when you are struggling.

My favorite verse is: You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north. – Deuteronomy 2:3 It just really clicked for me.

I saw a lot of negative reviews for this book, people talking about toxic diet culture and such. Here is the bottom line. The Bible tells us to treat our body as a temple for the Holy Spirit. Many of us turn to food for comfort and fulfillment and it will never truly fill a void in our lives. I don’t feel like Lysa is telling us to go on some mega strict diet and be miserable. She is giving us some truths to turn to when we want to focus on diet and lifestyle and are struggling. Diet and lifestyle is a major part of taking care of our bodies and staying healthy, so you can do the physical things you want to do. Live long enough to meet your grandkids, etc. There is nothing wrong with that.

Her strict approach to dieting isn’t for me, and it probably isn’t for most. But it is what works for her, You have to approach it however is best for you.

Bottom Line: Read it!

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

I loved this book so much. It is hard to believe that this is this author’s debut, as the characters are so loveable and well thought out. I listened to this on audiobook and the narrators are so good. My absolutely favorite character was  Marcellus. His chapters are my favorite, and I wanted more! I loved Tova’s devotion to her cleaning job at the aquarium. Her relationship with Cameron. And we can’t forget Ethan! Such amazing characters. I didn’t know much about this book before I read it, and I think that is the best way to approach it. So you can be utterly consumed by it as well.

Bottom Line: Read it!

One Last Gift by Emily Stone

Overall, I enjoyed this story. I liked Cassie and Sam and reading about the clues that lead Cassie to her last gift from her brother. It was sweet and heart warming. I felt like Cassie and Sam were super immature in the beginning of the book, and all their misunderstandings and miscommunications were frustrating at times, but I liked the way the book ended. I enjoyed Always December more.

Bottom Line: Read it.

**I received a copy of One Last Gift from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**


Christmas Wish List

I always love doing a Christmas wish list each year. They are so fun to look back on. Plus, I love getting ideas from wish lists.

This last year I have been working on cleaning up our food, cleaning/home products, body products, and now I am switching over all my makeup and beauty things. I am not perfect by any means, just trying to reduce my toxic load as much as possible. I have been switching things out as we run out. It is less overwhelming like that. So I have a lot of clean beauty I want to try out! Plus a few other fun things to throw in as well.

Stanley Cup // Kosas Ready in 5 Set // Tower 28 Lip Gloss // Henry Rose Perfume Set

Organizational Cart // Setting Powder – Shade Sheer Light // Olive & June Mani System -coupon

code MANI30 right now to save 30% //Sperry Boots (Dove color 10)


Amazon Favorites

Linking up with Tanya for our Amazon purchases for November. Several Christmas decor items, some restocks and a little something fun for me. I am sure we will all see the Amazon guy more as we remember things we forgot to grab at the store over the next few weeks. And then all the organization stuff in January!

Merry Christmas Sign

We ordered these for our front porch. They look so cute and are so easy to hang. (I twisted mine into our garland.)


I got this reindeer for a sleigh that I am going to redo for our front yard.

Christmas Projector

Ordered this projector light for outside too! Love all the festive Christmas things.


Love this shirt! Good quality for the price. It is especially nice for those of us in the south where it is December but is getting into the 70s a few days this week. Look the season without being hot! It fits true to size, maybe even a little big.

Hemp Hearts

Love hemp hearts for extra protein in smoothies, yogurt, acai bowls, etc. Easily adds 10 grams and delicious!

Unbleached Parchment Paper

I have the hardest time finding unbleached parchment paper in stores around here. Why have extra chemicals and garbage in your parchment paper when you don’t have to? I prefer the look of unbleached too. I love lining my cheeseboards with it for easy clean up!

Honest Antibacterial Spray

I don’t like using super harsh antibacterial products. For one, I have dry skin that cracks easily…and that stuff can burn!!! Also, less garbage in this one. No Triclosan, parabens, synthetic fragrances, or benzalkonium chloride. Win win. I love how easy it is to spray on Zoe too.


Zoe needed new tights for dance. I like this brand because they tend to last longer than others we have tried. We also love their ballet shoes the best.


Zoe’s class dyed and painted tshirts for Thanksgiving. This was a great value, I purchased two packages to cover the entire class.


Books – November 2022

Book review time! Getting ready for all the holiday books. I have a few in this post, December will definitely be full of them! What are you reading?

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

When I started reading this one, I didn’t realize there was going to be a supernatural aspect to it. I usually stay away from those books. But wow, I am so glad I stuck with it. This book was like a warm hug. I just loved all the characters, and especially Florence and Ben. I loved the dynamics of Florence’s family. Her relationship with her siblings was so realistic. I laughed, I cried, I figured out one major plot point of the book early on (or at least I was hoping I was right, and I was!!!) but there was still a twist I didn’t see coming and I loved it. While it is love story, it is more about loss, grief, family dynamics, finding yourself again, and a little love. Such a beautiful story that I think will stick with me for awhile. Maybe on my list of my favorites for the year.

Bottom Line: Read it! Seriously, so good.

Hook, Line and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

I was so excited to read Fox and Hannah’s story, after learning a bit about them in the first book of the series. I really loved watching it unfold in this book, but I have to say, it was quite repetitive. I felt like over and over we are reminded of Fox’s reputation and his insecurities. I am glad to see that both characters had development and growth throughout the book. I enjoyed it overall, especially the epilogue. Oh that epilogue!!!

Bottom Line: Read it!

Forbidden French by R. S. Grey

I feel like I have been waiting forever for a new R. S. Grey book to come out! I abandoned the book I was reading to get to this the second it was sent to my Kindle! I love how she writes her characters, they are always so interesting to me. I will say for the first time though, I wished she had developed them a little more? We get teases of Lainey’s relationship with her grandmother, and we know that Emmett has a half sister…but I wanted more from that. Also a little more of Emmett’s dad. This is sort of a modern day regency romance, I think? Regency romance is not something I normally read, but I found the plot very intriguing and it kept me wanting to know what was going to happen.

Bottom Line: If you are an R. S. Grey fan, read it!

**I received a copy of Forbidden French from R.S. Grey in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

This one had me hooked instantly. The long slow burn, as we switch from current to summers past. I felt like you really got the chance to know Percy and Sam and got to see them grow and change since the story starts out so young. I really enjoyed the writing of this book, and had a hard time putting it down. I will not share any spoilers, but I didn’t love the plot twist. I understand why and how, but still didn’t love it. I just loved the rest of the book so much, than I suppose it didn’t change my overall feelings for it. I felt like it made the book more realistic.

Bottom Line: Read it!

Embraced by Lysa Terkeurst

This is the first devotional book I have done in a long time. I started implementing quiet time with God early this year. While I did not do this devotional 100 days straight, but rather over several months, every time I picked it up from a break….it seemed the devotion for that next devotion was just the thing I needed to hear. I connected with so many of them that I started a prayer journal that I wrote in along with many of the passages. Highly recommend if you crave that quiet time, just a few minutes with God each day. It was definitely a starting place for me that has turned into a 90 day commitment to read the New Testament. This book is also gorgeous, and I have enjoyed it sitting on my desk with my bible and now Advent reading.

Bottom Line: Read it!

Just like Magic by Sarah Hogle

I wasn’t sure if I was going to stick to this book when I first started it. The main character was very unlikeable. I loved Twice Shy and You Deserve Each Other, so I wanted to stick with it. It was chaotic so much of the time. I was sitting there like what am I even reading?! Listen, I love a Christmas book. Cheesy, heartfelt, funny, whatever, I love it. With that said, this one was a bit much for meee. I found myself not wanting to pick it up, and so at about half way through, I straight up quit. I have never quit a Christmas book. Ever.

Bottom Line: Unfortunately, I am going to have to say pass. This book is chaotic and ridiculous.

**I received a copy of Just like Magic from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

Christmas After All by Cece Louise

This was such a cute, fast read. I love an enemy to lovers. While the story is set over Christmas, it didn’t feel overly Christmas-y, if Christmas isn’t your thing, you could still enjoy this. I enjoyed Tucker and Melissa’s story. It was really sweet. The writing was smooth and I felt like even though it was short, we had some well-developed characters. I really loved Tucker’s mom too!

Bottom Line: Read it!

** I received a copy of Christmas After All from Book Sirens in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

Currently Reading

The Rewind by Allison WInn Scotch