What’s On Your Nightstand? | Book Recommendations & More | Melissa

 The Book Friends Series

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Hello & Spring in Vermont:

Good morning and happy Friday! How was your week? Spring is in the air around here and yesterday we finally had one of those beautiful sunny April days we have been waiting for! Spring in Vermont can be a rollercoaster ride and it isn’t uncommon to still have a mix of winter weather like we did earlier in the week.

We are used to this but it’s tough to welcome snow with the same feelings as we did back in November…its a long 6 months! Someone asked me on Instagram yesterday why we still have baseball practice inside right now for the kids. If you haven’t been to Vermont this time of the year(you are not missing anything!) we are currently experiencing the 5th season of the year…mud season…which if you can guess from its name, is quite the mucky mess! So they try and keep everyone off the fields until it dries out a bit more and usually, by the end of April, we are in the clear, but you never know!

Welcome, Melissa!

Today I am super excited to welcome my friend Melissa to my blog! She was one of my very first book friends on Instagram and it is quite amazing how much we have realized we have in common. She is truly the most wonderful and genuine person and I am inspired by her not only as a reader but as someone who is always trying to try and grow to be the best person and parent she can be.

She also has two boys that are a bit older than my own so it is helpful to have someone who has “been there and done that” when I need some advice or perspective on parenting(which is a lot!) 😉

I hope you enjoy getting to know Melissa today and be sure to follow along on her Bookstagram Instagram feed. She posts the most amazing book chatter and recommendations and is just a lovely person to know!

Nightstand Series Introduction:

Hi, I’m Melissa. I live in Illinois with my husband, our two boys (15 and 12), our old puppy, and our two cats. I work in the field of medical documentation and you can often find me running my kids somewhere or attending one of their meets or games. Free time is a rarity, but when I have downtime I like to do something relaxing, as I tend to get overwhelmed by too much stimulation.

As an 80s kid, I devoured the typical fare of Sweet Valley and Babysitters Club books, one summer reading about 70 of the Sweet Valley High books. However, reading at that pace, you run out of books pretty quickly, so I read just about anything I could find. This included Stephen King, V.C. Andrews, and, once when I was desperate for something to read at my aunt’s house, Hollywood Wives. None of them were really appropriate for a preteen, but that never stopped me!

During college and the early years of adulthood, my reading for pleasure slowed down drastically. It wasn’t actually until my youngest was a toddler that I picked up reading anything besides parenting books and articles again. We were visiting the library and, as my kids played, I noticed someone had left an adult book in the children’s section. After realizing no one was coming back for it, I took the book, Lauren Weisberger’s Chasing Harry Winston, home with me, finished it that night, and rediscovered the thing I had loved so dearly as a child. I would love to say that my reading took off again after that, but things tend to get in the way, especially when you’re a parent, so I continued to read but probably only a dozen or so books a year.

The last couple years, as my children have gotten older, I’ve found myself with a little more free time and discovered a little corner of Instagram where people are positive, kind, and happy to geek out with you over books fondly referred to as “Bookstagram”. I quickly fell in love, started my account @readalotwritealot, made some great friends and have grown my to-be-read list exponentially!

What are you currently reading?

The books on my nightstand only represent a few of the books I’m reading in April. I began There There last fall as a library book but only made it three chapters before having to return it. I’ve since picked up my own copy and am determined to find out what happens in the rest of the book! Bird Box was a Christmas gift and my husband keeps asking if I’m ever going to get to it so he can finally watch the movie, so I know I need to read that one soon!

The Silent Patient is one I’ve only heard good things about and I’m always up for a good psychological thriller. WITCHDOCTORPOET is the only book I’ve actually started so far. April is National Poetry Month and I was gifted this copy by the author and saved it to read this month. I’m loving the poems! Last, but certainly not least, is On The Come Up. Last year, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give was one of my favorite books and I’m very excited to dive into her sophomore novel.

I jumped on the e-book bandwagon when they first became popular but quickly went back to regular books and hadn’t actually read any until this year. This month I’m working on some ARCs which include Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything and Fredrik Backman’s Things My Son Needs to Know About The World as well as my Amazon Prime First Reads Pick One Word Kill. I’m rediscovering the ease of reading on a tablet and enjoying not having to wear my reading glasses!

What are you listening to?

I had never done audiobooks before last year, but it was actually at Genevieve’s suggestion that I finally started listening to them and I never looked back! I’m currently listening to The Good Neighbor which is about Fred Rogers and read by LaVar Burton. I don’t think it gets any more 80s than that! I’m also planning to listen to Glenn Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior for my book club later this month.

What else is on your nightstand?

My nightstand, which is actually a piece of furniture that used to be in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, currently looks a lot more organized than it normally does! The Hello Kitty bin holds my reading paraphernalia, favorite candy, and odds and ends. My visor is from one of my favorite vacations and my IKEA reading lamp is perfect because I can set it on the bed and it moves with me as I stretch from one reading position to another. I love to write and I don’t idle well, so notebooks and a coloring book are a must.

Also pictured is a little jewelry dish that a friend gave me. I love earrings, bracelets, and necklaces and almost always have bobby pins in my hair, so this is the easiest way to keep the cats from stealing those things. Not pictured are the million little things that are sentimental to me stashed below, the water glass I always have at night, and many oils, lotions, and lip balms. I’m a very pale girl with dry skin. Hydration and multiple applications of moisture-retaining agents are a must for me!

Thank you so much for inviting me to do this, Genevieve! You’re one of my favorite people on Bookstagram and I’m so glad we’ve gotten to know each other in real life, too! <3


Thank you so much for sharing today, Melissa!! xo

Coffee Talk Wednesday | Currently…Libraries, Afterschool Popcorn & Audiobooks

Coffee Talk Tuesday:

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Checking-in:

Today it’s another edition of Coffee Talk Wednesday! How is your week going? It has been a busy one work wise and I can’t believe we only have one week left of school before April break. After that, the rest of the school year flies right by…it snowed last night so it doesn’t feel like spring here in Vermont but I know warmer weather will be here eventually…

Currently Loving…

library, gen the bookworm, library books

Our local library!! I had a great meeting this morning with Susanna at the Charlotte Library and I am excited about the project we are working on together to teach more people about the Libby App. I am talking about the Libby app in my next column for the Charlotte News and we are also planning a Libby Q&A in May.

I am so grateful to our town library for making reading so accessible for our family. We may live in a small town but the library love is strong here and so many people use it and appreciate it which makes me so happy.

It is also pretty amazing how much libraries have grown with the times to accommodate the ever-changing ways we consume content and media. Hard copy books aren’t going anywhere but the Libby app is such a wonderful way to read ebooks and listen to audiobooks, for FREE! One of the things I love about reading is that is really is accessible for almost anyone, and there are so many amazing people and resources that make this possible.

Currently eating…

There is nothing that makes me feel like more of a parent than when I prepare an afterschool snack for a group of hungry kids. I wouldn’t call myself super domestic, but I can make a mean bowl of popcorn. 😉

popcorn popper

I love our Nordicware popcorn popper and it makes it so easy! I pop this thing in our microwave and 3 minutes later we have perfect popcorn that just needs a little salt! I like making it with oil and it reminds me of the popcorn maker we had in our high school lobby…so many memories!

Currently listening to…

Molly Millwood

I am still working my way through To Have and To Hold by Molly Millwood on Audible and I am just loving it. It is so relatable and she has the perfect balance of her professional experience mixed with her own life as a parent. I am excited to share my full review soon!

Currently trying…

Green Lipstick

No this isn’t a late April fools joke…I have been trying and loving Lipstick Queen Lipstick in Frog Prince. Now before you think I have gone way out of my comfort zone, this isn’t actually a green lipstick…but it adapts according to your PH and skin tone to create the perfect rosebud pink shade!

I love tinted lip balm and lipsticks that are moisturizing and this is another one I am adding to my lipstick arsenal. Its the perfect color and I love that it feels like a balm with the perfect amount of color.


I hope you have a great rest of your Wednesday! xo

Trophy Life | Lea Geller | Lake Union Publishing | Book Review

Trophy Life by Lea Geller

Book Summary:

“For the last ten years, Agnes Parsons’s biggest challenge has been juggling yoga classes and lunch dates. Her Santa Monica house staff takes care of everything, leaving Agnes to focus on her trophy-wife responsibilities: look perfect, adore her older husband, and wear terribly expensive (if uncomfortable) underwear.

When her husband disappears, leaving Agnes and their infant daughter with no money, no home, and no staff, she is forced to move across the country, where she lands a job teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. So long, organic quinoa bowls and sunshine-filled California life. Hello, processed food, pest-infested house, and twelve-year-old-boy humor—all day, every day.

But it’s in this place of second chances (and giant bugs), where Agnes is unexpectedly forced to take care of herself and her daughter, where she finds out the kind of woman she can be. Ultimately, she has to decide if she prefers the woman and mother she has become…or the trophy life she left behind.

Authentic and sharply witty, Trophy Life is proof that granny panties and mom coats might not be the answer to everything; they’re simply comfortable (if slightly unattractive) reminders of what happens when one life ends…and real life begins.”

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

Trophy Life is a fun and entertaining read that had a lot more depth than I initially expected. I was thinking that Agnes might be vapid or unrelatable but she was anything but. This book covered motherhood, friendship, disappointment, self-discovery and finding your own path in life.

When Agnes was “forced” to make her own way after 10 years of living “the good life” she (slowly) rose to the challenge and I couldn’t help but root for her along the way. This book was quite funny and Agnes was endearing as she navigated her way through the highs and lows of her new path in life. It was surprisingly relatable and I loved the powerful moments Agnes had her daughter Grace and how much she learned from the rambunctious group of middle school boys she was teaching.

I also enjoyed the “cliffhanger” of what happened to Jack and it was a great addition to the story. I thought this was such a great book to curl up with on the couch on weekend afternoon. Although I would consider it an easy read there was a lot of meaningful lessons with Geller’s storytelling and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future!

A big thank you to Lea Geller for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Emotional Advantage: Embracing All Your Feelings to Create a Life You Love | St. Martin’s Press | Book Review

Emotional Advantage by Randy Taran

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Summary:

“In recent years, there has been an overwhelming interest in the science of happiness and positive psychology, and many books on the subject. There is a good reason for this: it is a core, universal human drive. And while happiness has opened the door for many to move forward, there is a burgeoning curiosity about the full range of human emotions, all of which factor into the human experience. What do we do when life does not go as planned?

Neuroscience reveals that to understand and utilize any emotion, we need to “name it to tame it.” It turns out that even negative emotions have something to offer if we know how to learn from them. Have you ever woken up in a fog of feelings and felt directionless? Or maybe it was hard to pinpoint exactly what you were feeling, but it wasn’t where you wanted to be? What if we could actually use our feelings as a pathway to guide us back to our inner compass? What if, like alchemists, we had the tools to transform our emotions to take charge of creating our very best life? What if we could comprehend how even the most troublesome emotions are sending messages to alert, protect, and fuel us forward?

Emotional Advantage is that guide. It will show us how a new perspective on fear can move us to courage, how guilt can clarify our values, and how anger can help us create healthy boundaries.”

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

Emotional Advantage is an in-depth look at how feelings, both positive and negative, can help us move forward to be our best possible selves. Many people have deeply challenging life situations that can, at times, feel like huge hurdles or stumbling blocks. This book offers the reader valuable and researched information about how even these tough times can offer us a chance at learning and growing from them.

Negative experiences can feel debilitating and Taran’s advice is wonderful at sharing how much power we can have over our emotions and reactions. How we respond to even to the most challenging situations can let them guide us to be a more informed and empowered person.

As we learn and grow from situations and interactions, we are able to be more proactive in the future, set better boundaries and have the courage to be our best selves. I learned so much from this book and I know I will refer back to it again and again.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone | Lori Gottlieb | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Book Review

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Book Summary:

“One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.

With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt, and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is rev­olutionary in its candor, offering a deeply per­sonal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly reveal­ing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.”

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

My Review:

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

I was blown away by this book. Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who shares her insights not only about her professional experience but her own journey through therapy. This book helps normalize therapy for everyone, and her ability to share the profound growth both she and her patients experienced was so honest and refreshing.

While Gottlieb includes many important psychological concepts, her writing is clear and conversational and easy for anyone to engage with. I found that there was a perfect balance with the personal stories that will also help her readers become more aware of their own obstacles and moments of growth as they move through this book.

As someone who has had therapy as part of my life since I was a child, it was amazing to see the progress and relatability of Gottlieb and her clients. Sometimes it is hard to see small changes in your own life, but as I read this, I connected with so many of the stories and struggles that were shared in such an approachable and real way.

I found I connected the most with Julie and John’s stories and their stories of loss resonated with me so so deeply even if I couldn’t relate to their exact situations. I rooted for them and I felt for them I didn’t connect as much with the other patient’s stories, but everyone has a different reaction and that was just my personal experience.

I especially enjoyed the chapter about her own therapy with Wendell and their journey together was so heartwarming and also so very real. Being able to see so many of these stories through two different lenses(therapist & patient) just made this such a masterpiece and I know I will continue to think about it for a long time to come.

As soon as I finished this ebook I order a hard copy edition to add to my personal library and I know this is one I will come back to again and again.

Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain | Book Review | & Other Chamberlain Suggestions

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The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain

Summary:

“Maya and Rebecca Ward are both accomplished physicians, but that’s where the sisters’ similarities end. As teenagers, they witnessed their parents’ murder, but it was Rebecca who saved Maya from becoming another of the gunman’s victims. The tragedy left Maya cautious and timid, settling for a sedate medical practice with her husband, Adam, while Rebecca became the risk taker.

After a devastating hurricane hits the coast of North Carolina, Rebecca and Adam urge Maya to join them in the relief effort. To please her husband, Maya finally agrees. She loses herself in the care and transport of victims, but when her helicopter crashes into raging floodwaters, there appear to be no survivors.

Forced to accept Maya is gone, Rebecca and Adam turn to one another—first for comfort, then in passion—unaware that, miles from civilization, Maya is injured and trapped with strangers she’s not certain she can trust. Away from the sister who has always been there to save her, now Maya must find the courage to save herself—unaware that the life she knew has changed forever.”


My Review:

I am a huge Diane Chamberlain fan. I actually thought I had read every single one of her books from the last decade already but I guess not. I grabbed The Lies We Told when it was a Kindle Book Deal a few months ago. It had become lost in my sea of Kindle books until recently when a friend asked me if I had read it because she wanted to discuss it, and was irritated by it!

There is nothing I like more than discussing a book with a friend, especially when they have some strong feelings about it! 😉 And after reading it this past week, I can see why!! This book was engaging and I NEEDED to know what was going to happen…

Chamberlain is a gifted storyteller that is able to create unique and enthralling storylines that always pull me right in. I loved the first 75% of this book but the ending, oh the ending!!! One of Chamberlain’s gifts is the ability to write believable storylines and this one was just totally out of her norm. The main characters had a total change of heart and the ending was just way too unbelievable for me as the reader. There were so many interesting parts of this book but the ending had me like “NOOOOOOO!!!!” and it just totally fell short…at least for me!

You can’t win them all and I am still a die-hard Diane Chamberlain fan, but I wouldn’t call this one a favorite considering how amazing so many of her other books are. She is my go-to author suggestion when someone is looking to get back into reading or get out of a book rut. If you are looking for ones I would suggest, check out the following…

Breaking The Silence

The Silent Sister

Necessary Lies

The Stolen Marriage

The Dream Daughter

Pretending to Dance 

Have you read any of Diane Chamberlain’s work?

I would love to know if you are a Diane Chamberlain fan too! Which one is your favorite? Do you ever have a book fail with an author you normally love?

Amazon First Reads | April Book Selections & My Book Choice

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Amazon First Reads:

Last month I talked about one of my favorite (and affordable!) ways of having access to Kindle ebooks through the Amazon First Reads program. You can read more about that HERE.

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My March selection, I’m Fine and  Neither Are You by Camille Pagan, was one of my very favorite books I read last month.

April 2019 Book Selections:

Below are the April First Reads book choices…

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I love that there is always a wide array of genres to choose from and it is a great way to be exposed to new authors! I choose The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms and I can’t wait to check it out!

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.”

What book did you choose?

Are you an Amazon First Reads member? What book did you choose this month?!

 

March 2019 Reading | Book Recap & Ratings

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Book recaps and star ratings:

Happy April 1st! How was your last month of reading? I read some amazing books during the month of March that were all 4 & 5-star reads! I did have one book that I really didn’t enjoy but you can’t win them all!

I don’t normally give a star ratings with my actual book reviews, but I do use them when rating books over on Goodreads and NetGalley and when I am sharing my monthly recaps on Instagram. Last month I thought it might be fun to start regularly posting my monthly recaps here too because it is a great and quick way to give book recommendations. You can see what I read in February HERE if you are interested.

Do you like star ratings? I love them although I wish Goodreads would allow half stars as well because I think it is a lot easier to rate them that way!


 Here is what I read during March:

⁣I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

my review can be found HERE.

⁣Maybe You Should Talk To Someone ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

my review can be found HERE.

The Scent Keeper ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

(full review to come. You can see my Goodreads mini review HERE)

I’m Fine and Neither Are You ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

my full review can be found HERE.

Mrs. Everything ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

(full review to come. You can see my Goodreads mini review HERE.)

⁣Little Lovely Things ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

my review can be found HERE.

Because You’re Mine ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

my review can be found HERE.

Girl, Stop Apologizing ⭐️⭐️⁣

my review can be found HERE.


What did you read?

Did you have any books you loved this month? What about any that you would NOT recommend? I would love to hear!