What’s On Your Nightstand? | Reading List & Book Recommendations {Stephenie @Reads.On.Wednesdays}

Nightstand Series

Welcome back to another edition of The Nightstand Series!

I am super excited to introduce you to my friend Stephenie AKA @reads.on.wednesdays today. She is a fellow boy mom and we have such a similar taste in books.

Continue reading “What’s On Your Nightstand? | Reading List & Book Recommendations {Stephenie @Reads.On.Wednesdays}”

What’s On Your Nightstand? | Reading List & Book Recommendations {Susanna The Librarian}

book recommendations

What’s On Your Nightstand Book Friend Series

Welcome to another edition of my reading list and book recommendations guest post series. Today I have my first guest poster that is a librarian! While I consider myself a big reader, librarians are on a whole other level of reading awesomeness.

Continue reading “What’s On Your Nightstand? | Reading List & Book Recommendations {Susanna The Librarian}”

Coffee Talk | Currently Loving…Winter Blues, My First Podcast Interview, Cozy Must-Haves & Book Giveaway!

Currently Loving

Happy February & The Winter Blues…

Gen The Bookworm

I have been meaning to check in with a coffee talk blog post and now we are halfway through February! How is your month going?

It has been a more challenging winter for me personally. The weather has been particularly dark and gray and I know that adds to the overall feeling of sadness and increased anxiety for me personally (and also many other people…)

Continue reading “Coffee Talk | Currently Loving…Winter Blues, My First Podcast Interview, Cozy Must-Haves & Book Giveaway!”

The Best Books of 2019 {Gen The Bookworm Book Recommendations}

favorite books 2019

Best Books of 2019…

Hello! I have been planning on doing this post for weeks and I am so happy to finally be sharing it today. For some reason, figuring out which books would make this list was much harder than I initially anticipated. I think this is partly because I read so many amazing books last year that it was just hard to narrow it down, which is NOT a bad problem to have.

Tracking My Reading:

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After overthinking it for weeks, I decided I was going to look back at all the books I read and then decide which ones were the most memorable. Does anyone else have a hard time remembering exactly what happened in a book? I am always super impressed when someone tells me in detail about a book they read many books ago..While I can remember basic things, mostly I remember how they made me feel. All the books that I picked for this list were ones that stuck with me long after I finished them.

So How Do I Remember The Books I Have Read?

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  1. The Bookworm Life 2. So Many Books, So Little Time. 3. Book Journal (*Etsy shops -these are not affiliate links)

I am not a super-organized person and I definitely don’t have one of those cute reading tracker journals  (but how amazing are the ones pictured above?!) or an excel spreadsheet of all my books.

I would love to be one of those people but at this stage of my life, I am just not.  For me, if tracking my reading doesn’t happen pretty much automatically, it probably is not going to happen! Enter Goodreads!

Goodreads Year in Books!

Goodreads year in books

Goodreads has been a savior for me and helps keep track of all the books I read whether they are hard copies, ebooks or audiobooks. It’s what I use when I do my monthly reading recaps and it also makes it easy to look back and sort by date or rating.

Picking My Favorite Books of 2019…

top books of 2019

In July I recapped my favorite books from 2019 (so far!) and it was interesting to see how everything stacked up six months later. You can read that blog post HERE.

2019 was a GREAT year of reading which made making this final decision not easy! While some of these books remained on my favorites list I read a lot of amazing books in the second half. When I reflected on my “favorite” books of the year, the ones that came up are the ones I still think about today, even if I read them many months ago.

favorite books of 2019

My list of favorite books from 2019!

Claire Lombardo

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

I kept seeing The Most Fun We Ever Had on #Bookstagram and I put it on my TBR list but I  wasn’t sure if summer was the time to read it. I was a little nervous about the length and I didn’t know if I was in the mood for a family saga piece of writing during this more hectic time of the year. After seeing yet another raving review I decided to read it on a whim and boy was I wrong!

When you are reading a 500+ page book it is a real commitment. Your reading experience is more like a marathon and just not a sprint to the finish. Author Claire Lombardo pulled me right into the lives of the members of the Sorrenson family and I had a hard time putting this one down. The writing was both captivating and completely absorbing. I ended up going back and forth between both reading the hard copy and listening to this on audio. This made it an absolutely amazing and engrossing reading experience and was perfect for this style of writing.

While there were a lot of well-developed characters and the narration jumps back and forth from present (2016) to the past I never felt confused or that it was hard to keep track of it all. This is all such a testament to Lombardo’s skilled writing ability.

The story was compelling and the characters were both raw and relatable. I loved that their relationships with each other and themselves showed the intricacies of both families and just being human. The nuanced history and complexities of relationships that have spanned decades were presented in such a completely compelling manner. There were humorous parts and so many memorable quotes that I will never forget.

When I wasn’t reading or listening to this book I was thinking about it.  It was difficult to leave this fictional family at the end of my reading journey, which for me, makes this truly a remarkable read. I highly recommend this debut(!!) novel and I can’t wait to read what Lombardo shares next.

You can read my full review of The Most Fun We Ever Had HERE.

Cara Wall

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

I wasn’t sure what book should follow The Most Fun We Ever Had but I knew I wanted to read another family saga. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall fit into this category so I decided to give it a go.

Wall introduces us to two couples, Charles and Lily and James and Nan. The beginning of the book gives us a rich background for each character starting from their childhoods through early adulthood. These couples lives then become intertwined when Charles and James become pastors at a New York City Presbyterian church. Over the years we see them struggle with their faith, beliefs, marriage, parenthood, and friendships.

This book is a deep dive into these four characters, who navigate many joys and heartaches over the decades we follow along with them. I loved seeing their evolving relationships with both themselves and one another and having the rich backstory to these multi-dimensional characters made this storyline even more rewarding.

While there are religious themes in The Dearly Beloved, Wall presents them without judgment or bias toward any belief system and the writing never feels preachy. I appreciated that it showed the struggles of all four characters at some point within their own belief systems.

You can read my full review for The Dearly Beloved HERE.

Know My Name

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

While I knew she was a great writer from reading her victim impact statement (you can read it on Buzzfeed HERE) when she was known for so many years as “Emily Doe”, I was blown away by Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Her voice is strong and her writing is filled with details, reflection, humility, and even hope. I listened to this one on audio but I also purchased a hardcopy because I knew it was one that I needed to have in my own collection.

I loved how poignantly Chanel Miller shared what it is like to deal with very private grief while at the same time needing and move forward with daily life…I loved learning about her amazingly supportive family unit and her ability to see the good in people, like the men who stepped in to help the night of her attack. While she only speaks for herself, she really is speaking for a generation and I can’t recommend this one enough.

“We don’t fight for our own happy endings. We fight to say you can’t. We fight for accountability. We fight to establish a precedent. We fight because we pray we’ll be the last ones to feel this kind of pain.”

You can read my full review of Know My Name HERE.

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She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

I followed Know My Name with She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey and the timing couldn’t have been more timely for me. She Said is a fascinating and powerful look at what it means to bring a story of this magnitude and sensitivity to life through journalism.

Told step by step, She Said shares what journalists Kantor and Twohey learned, uncovered, and reported on in the early stages of the Weinstein investigation.⁣
I was greatly impacted by the power of women coming together and sharing their stories and this book is one that I just cannot stop thinking about. It was absolutely my favorite audiobook of 2019 and I highly recommend it.

time management fable

Juliet’s School of Possibilities by Laura Vanderkam

I love Vanderkam’s nonfiction books about time management and this is her first novella. In Juliet’s School of Possibilities, Vanderkam incorporates her knowledge and expertise into a short fable about a woman named Riley who is “spread too thin”. ⁣⁣⁣I wasn’t sure how this would work but I was definitely intrigued and it ended up being a small book that packed a big punch.
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In a society where “busy” reigns supreme, Vanderkam’s books are a wonderful reminder about how we get to choose how we spend our time and energy and this book is such a fun spin-off. We meet Juliet who shares profound wisdom and helps Riley rethink this balance.

“I don’t have time’ means ‘It’s not a priority.’ We always have time for what matters to us.”

This book is a quick read but it one that I think back to all the time. I love the idea that we are in control of our time and we choose what we prioritize and how we react to the chaos life can sometimes throw at us.

When I am having one of those days where I feel I am feeling rushed and stressed, I think back to Juliet and how she would react. I love how much this quick read has really stuck with me in my day to day life and I highly recommend it!

“Expectations are infinite. Time is finite. You are always choosing. Choose well.”

You can read my full review of Juliet’s School of Possibilities HERE.

book of the month club

Beyond The Point by Claire Gibson

Beyond the Point is narrated by three women who come to West Point to play basketball. We follow Dani, Hannah, and Avery over the course of seven years through their introduction into West Point and as they navigate early adulthood. The writing is beautiful and makes you just want to keep reading and I was fully immersed in the lives of these three women.

The aspects of military life were powerful and a great reminder for me as a civilian about the sacrifices so many thousands of women and men make that serve our country every single day. While this was a powerful piece of this book the story really is about their interpersonal lives.  The characters were flawed and real.  Gibson did an amazing job speaking to their strengths and resilience as individuals and also weaving their stories together. I loved learning about their pasts and how they played a part in who they are and who are yet to become.

The story is a journey of their relationships both with themselves and with each other. There are aspects of love, loss, discomfort, growth, and forgiveness. As someone who does not know a lot about military life, I learned so much about cadet life in an academy.

I also connected personally with their three women.  As someone who started adulthood around the same time as they did, I love the flashbacks to life in the early 2000s. The references to technology and how different life was not even 20 years ago was spot on. There were some Christian themes but it felt natural and worked for me as a reader. Faith was a part of the storyline for one of these characters in particular and I thought it added another thoughtful dimension to this writing.

You can read my full review of Beyond The Point HERE.

motherhood narrative

To Have and To Hold by Molly Millwood, PhD

While I am lucky to have had many conversations with the people in my personal life, never have I read something that explains the complexities of motherhood and marriage in such a profound manner until I read this book. The highs and lows of parenthood, the immense love and also the intense quest to reclaim ourselves as women and partners when our lives will never be the same are so real and valid.

To Have and to Hold spoke to me on so many levels. Millwood’s ability to write with both her voice as a professional and her voice as a mother was a perfect balance. This book was a favorite by so many that we picked it for our first Better Together Book Club selection this past fall.

It was the perfect book to start off our book club that focuses on motherhood. While we are all in very different stages of parenthood (from babies and toddlers to college-aged children), we could all relate back to the adjustment of new motherhood. And not only did we get to discuss the book with each other but we also had the most wonderful guest, author Molly Millwood herself! 

James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

This book was the last book I started in 2019 and was the perfect way to welcome not only a new year but a new decade. After seeing Atomic Habits recommended by some of my nonfiction loving book friends, I knew I had to pick this one up. This book does an amazing job of explaining the framework for how habits are formed.

Clear’s writing is relatable and accessible and in this genre of writing, this is definitely not always the case. He provides insightful feedback and approachable and practical steps towards making a new habit or breaking an old one. So much of this book spoke to me but I especially appreciated his sections discussing compound effects and how small changes over time can have a very big impact and how the best make to make a change is to make the habit part of your identity.

Atomic Habits was helpful to me both personally and professionally and I can’t recommend it enough!

Kelly Rimmer

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

I enjoy the historical fiction genre but it can be a hard one to really wow me as a reader. This book ending up checking all the boxes of a memorable historical fiction reading experience. Told in a dual narrative format, we meet Alina, a girl who is growing up in Poland during World War II and Alice, a mom who lives in present-day Florida with her husband and two children. We quickly realized that these two storylines are connected and the story unfolds beautifully over these 400+ pages.

“Not for the first time, I wish just once when I asked my grandmother about the war, instead of her telling me “that was a terrible time, I don’t want to talk about it,” she’d been able to say something more. Anything more. Maybe if she could have shared some of her story, I could have learned from it, I could have taught my children from it—we could have built a better world from the hard lessons she surely learned.”

This was my first book by Kelly Rimmer and I was blown away by her ability to share multi-faceted characters that felt so real and raw while also diving into a heartbreaking part of our not so distant history.  I love the dual storylines and how they wove together and kept me guessing until the end. Rimmer captured the power of sharing our stories while also reminding us that so many people have a history we might know nothing about.

As well as being completely enthralled by Alina’s harrowing and heartbreaking time in Poland, I connected so much with present-day Alice and her struggles to find herself amidst the daily challenges of family life.

“I can’t wait to tell him how much of a revelation it has been to do something like this – standing on a mountaintop for no reason other than the sake of the experience. This moment is an investment in myself. I’m giving myself permission to make a memory that benefits no one but me. I love being a mother, and I love being a wife. I even love being a daughter and a granddaughter. But as I stand here on the mountaintop, I’m not any of those things. I am simply Alice, and for one breathtaking moment, I’m completely present.”

This book captures heartbreak, resilience, persistence and the power for standing up for what is right, not only for yourself but for those around you.

Sometimes a book comes along at just the right time and this was the case for me and The Things We Cannot Say. Not only did I read a book that I connected with so deeply but I also found a new author to follow along with. Her April 2020 book release Truths I Never Told You was another 5-star read for me and I am excited to dive into her backlist now!


I hope you enjoyed seeing my favorite books of 2019. I would love to hear which books made your list! <3

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!

December 2019 Book Recap & Ratings {Gen The Bookworm Monthly Reading Wrap-Up}

Gen The Bookworm reading wrap-up

Hello January!

Who else is feeling so good to be getting back into the swing of things? I love structure and routines and the fresh start to a new year. This is our first full week back at school and work and I am here for it!

One of the hardest parts of juggling parenthood and work-life is when your schedule is all thrown off because it ends up feeling like you aren’t doing any of it well…which is pretty much how the last three weeks have felt for me…

I am happy to be getting back into the swing of things and we have lots of exciting work events coming up in the next couple of months.

Photography Workshop & Book Club Update

This week we are teaching our first photographer workshop of 2020 (you can read more about what that looks like in my photography life blog post HERE)  and we also have our first Better Together book club of 2020 where we will be discussing The Gift of Failure with THE AUTHOR Jessica Lahey! If you live in the area, we would love to have you join us!

December Reading

I am slowly but surely getting caught up with the last month of blogging and I am excited to be sharing about December 2019 book wrap-up today.

I like to try and do some “catch-up” reading during the month of December and read highly recommended titles of the year that I hadn’t gotten around to yet which included The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna and The Dutch House.

I also had quite a few nonfiction ARCs with the end of December publication dates that I was looked forward to reading. This past month my reading was either really great or disappointing…there wasn’t a lot of in-between!

December Highs

5-star books

The Power of Showing Up, Long Bright River, The Gift of Failure and The Dutch House were my very favorite books I read in December.

December Lows

do not recommend

Meg & Jo and Saint X were both books I highly anticipated and were disappointing reads for me.

December 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

Dear Edward book summary

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

Dear Edward was a surprisingly touching read and the perfect book to end to 2019 for me. While this book centered on loss and tragedy, it is also a book full of hope. We neet 12-year-old Edward, who is the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed one-hundred-plus passengers including his own immediate family members, his mom, dad, and brother.

We follow Edward on his path through grief which includes flashbacks to the passengers who were also on board the flight that day. While this book sounds like it would be quite depressing to read, I really found it to be quite inspiring in so many ways.

You can read my full review of Dear Edward HERE.

Iona Grey

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

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This past fall I was invited to participate in the St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books Blog Tour for the upcoming December release, The Glittering Hour. One of the wonderful things about reading advanced copies of books is that a lot of times I get to read books before they have been super hyped up, which means I go into it without a lot of expectations either way!

I went into this book not really knowing anything about the plotline or author’s previous writing (Letters to The Lost in 2015). I was immediately entranced by the vividly detailed characters and storyline and loved being immersed in the mid-1920s and 1930s.

Told in a dual storyline, we meet the main characters Selina, and her daughter Alice. I love getting the backstory to themes and storylines and so this back and forth really worked for me.  I so enjoyed following along on this treasure hunt of secrets alongside Alice. This book was not only beautifully written but totally engaging from the very beginning.

You can read my full review of The Glittering Hour HERE

Kate Murphy nonfiction

You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

“When all we crave is to understand and be understood, You’re Not Listening shows us how.”⁣

In You’re Not Listening, author Kate Murphy explains what listening truly is and isn’t, and how important it is to our connection with ourselves and one another. Not only is this book super fascinating but it is always making me rethink so many things!

In our technology-filled world, there are so many new ways for us to interact, yet we are all longing for connection more than ever before. Many of us long for the days of simplicity and meaningful face to face conversations. When we do interact, it is often rushed and interrupted by the distractions of the fast-paced world around us.

I loved the balance of informative research and relatable text that made You’re Not Listening both engaging and thought-provoking. I also appreciated that Murphy emphasizes that listening skills are learned through implementation and practice and that it is something we can always learn, no matter how old we are.

You can read my full book review of You’re Not Listening HERE

Little Women retelling

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

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I think expectations tend to be rather high when taking on a retelling, especially one like Little Women. For many people, Little Women is a book that was foundational for their love of reading. When I saw that Meg & Jo was a contemporary retelling of this classic novel, I was intrigued but also a little worried about my own expectations of it.\

I ended up enjoying the modern tale of family, work, love, and siblinghood but I  struggled when comparing it to Little Women itself. For me, this story was entertaining as a stand-alone contemporary fiction novel, but it just didn’t work with its goal of retelling of Little Women.

You can read my full review of Meg & Jo HERE.

Liz Moore book of the month club

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

Long Bright River alternates between past and present and shares the lives of Mickey and Kacey, two sisters who each are involved in the opioid crisis in very different ways. When Kacey goes missing, Mickey starts unraveling the clues of her disappearance while also bringing us back in time to share how each of them got to the places they are in.

This book was thought-provoking and sometimes was uncomfortable to read, which is a good thing in my opinion! It is part mystery and part family drama, which I think is why it worked for me so well…because we really get to know these women and their stories. I had a hard time putting this one down and can’t stop thinking about it now.

You can read my full review of Long Bright River HERE

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The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey

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Our first 2020 Better Together Book Club selection is The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey! This book has been on my TBR list FOREVER and I was so excited to finally get around to reading it, and it did not disappoint!

Jessica will be joining us for a Q&A and book discussion of her book which we are super excited about and I am excited to share my full review soon!

Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had a lot of anticipation about Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin and it was just one of the 2020 books I was the most excited about. Unfortunately, after a really great start, it ended up being a reading letdown for me.

I think my lack of connection with this book has to do a lot with what my expectations were when I read the book summary compared to my actual reading experience. I was just expecting something very different!

You can read my full review of Saint X HERE

Sarah Knight

F*ck No! by Sarah Knight

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

I enjoy Sarah Knight’s books so much. Her blunt wisdom and practical techniques are approachable and relatable. I am working on being less of a “yes” person and one of the biggest things I have learned(and am still working on!) is that saying “NO” can actually help you say “YES” to the things that really matter to you.

In F*ck No, Knight offers practical ideas that can help you say “no” in a variety of circumstances while also being realistic about it which I really appreciated. Saying “yes” all the time sounds like a good thing, but then you just feel spread too thin and aren’t really there for the people and things that you really want to be prioritizing.

You can read my full review of F*ck No HERE

parenting book

The Power of Showing Up by Daniel Siegel M.D. & Tina Payne Bryson Ph.D.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

When I saw that authors Siegel and Bryson were releasing a new parenting book, I couldn’t request The Power of Showing Up fast enough! Their past writing has been such a formative part of my own parenting.

Siegel and Bryson always share their knowledge, research, and experiences in an accessible and compassionate way. While they have decades of work in this area they make brain development and psychology approachable and easy to understand have the ability to write in a way that makes you feel heard while also empowering you with new tools and ideas.

The Power of Showing Up is another wonderful addition to their collection of books that speak to you whether you are a parent, caregiver, teacher, etc. They take on attachment theory and share the powerful reminder that the most important thing we can do for our children and to be there for them.

You can read my full review of The Power of Showing Up HERE

Juliet Grames

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

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From Calabria to Connecticut: a sweeping family saga about sisterhood, secrets, Italian immigration, the American dream, and one woman’s tenacious fight against her own fate.

Stella Fortuna came highly recommended by some of my book reviewing friends and I thought it would be a great way to round out my 2019 audiobook reads.

*My full review of Stella Fortuna is coming soon. 

The Dutch House book review

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder, comes Ann Patchett’s most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love, and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are.

After raving reviews from some of my Book Reviewing Buddies, I listening to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett on audio. I love a family saga that spans decades so The Dutch House was right up my alley.

Even better, it was narrated by Tom Hanks, who was just perfect! This book is a slow burn but completely enthralling and Patchett’s detailed writing portrayed these multifaceted characters was spot on.

*My full review of The Dutch House is coming soon but I highly recommend this book especially on audio

Dr. Kathleen Smith

Everything Isn’t Terrible by Dr. Kathleen Smith

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I am a big fan of self-help books in general but I am especially drawn to the idea of confronting our own anxieties. In Everything Isn’t Terrible, author Kathleen Smith presents an approachable explanation of the Bowen theory of therapy which involves not only looking at ourselves as individuals but also at our relationship systems…

“Because when we feel anxious, we often try to make other people change. We try to calm everyone else down so we can finally relax. But if you can work on managing yourself in these relationships, it’s likely that your family, your workplace, and even the greater world will calm down a little too.”

Smith uses this approach in the work she does with her therapy clients and shares valuable examples in her writing regarding this methodology then gives us questions and ways to put these ideas into practice.

You can read my full review of Everything Isn’t Terrible HERE

Colleen Oakley

You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley

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You Were There Too is a unique take on the regular contemporary romance novel and I was very excited when Berkley asked me to be a part of the Blog Tour this past fall.

It was one of those books that when I saw that it included elements of dreams I wasn’t sure exactly where it was going to go. Anything that takes on a more fantastical side can sometimes lose me quickly as a reader. I am so glad I hung on though!

This book was so much more emotional and the characters had a depth that made this book one of those ones I felt super connected to. The dream elements added so much to the storyline, I think because there were so many “real life” issues and situations that pulled it into reality for me.

You can read my full review of You Were There Too and learn more about my BOOK GIVEAWAY HERE


Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin | Celadon Books {Gen The Bookworm Book Review}

Saint X book review

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Book Summary:

Hailed as a “marvel of a book” and “brilliant and unflinching,” Alexis Schaitkin’s stunning debut, Saint X, is a haunting portrait of grief, obsession, and the bond between two sisters never truly given the chance to know one another.

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local menemployees at the resortare arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truthnot only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

Publication Date:

February 18th, 2020

Genre:

Domestic Thriller/Fiction

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

Saint X book summary

I had a lot of anticipation about Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin and it was just one of the 2020 books I was the most excited about. Unfortunately, after a really great start, it ended up being a reading letdown for me.

I think my lack of connection with this book has to do a lot with what my expectations were when I read the book summary compared to my actual reading experience. I was just expecting something very different!

I love a slow burn with highly detailed characters but this one totally threw me off with the fast-paced beginning. I think if I knew it was going to be less plot-driven I would have had very different expectations for it.

I don’t need twists and turns but this was ending up being so wordy and after a dramatic beginning just lacked any oompf for me after the beginning set me up with so many questions I needed answers for.

Because the characters weren’t likable and even though it was rich with text, I never ended up feeling like I “knew them” which just made me feel uninvested in the storyline. I think this book did have some powerful messages regarding race, class, and privilege, but these fell flat for me with the particularly wordy writing style.

I think Saint X is going to be one of those books that there are strong feelings about. Even just reading the initial ARC reviews on Goodreads, there is a whole range of reactions, some that are very positive. I think, all in all, this just was a case of being the wrong timing and expectations for me as a reader.

Thank you to Celadon Books, NetGalley and LibroFM for advanced copies. All opinions are my own.


Disclosure: Some of the links on this blog are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog (at no cost to you). Thank you!

The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey | Better Together Book Club | January 2020 Selection {A Motherhood Book Club}

The Gift of Failure

Better Together Book Club!

Last week we had our final Better Together book club of 2019. Although our book club has only been going for a few months now, I am feeling so excited about the bonds and connections we have already formed, the amazing discussions we have had and the exciting things that are to come!

Our First Three Book Selections

Motherhood Book ClubOur first three books were all impactful in very different ways and each of them resulted in such fascinating conversations.

To Have and To Hold by Molly Millwood was the perfect book to start off with as it discusses the transition to motherhood.  While we are all in very different stages of parenthood (from babies and toddlers to college-aged children), we could all relate back to the adjustment of new motherhood. And not only did we get to discuss the book with each other but we also had the most wonderful guest, author Molly Millwood herself!

Small Animals by Kim Brooks was one of my very favorite books from 2018 and I couldn’t’ wait to see what our group thought of it. Our conversation really helped us all realize how much we think about judgment from one another in modern parenting and really inspired a lot of connection with one another.

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza inspired a lot of great discussion because people either loved it or strongly disliked it!! I was (and am) a huge fan, but it was fascinating to talk about the reasons why it didn’t work for some readers.

January 2020 Book Selection

motherhood book club

Our first 2020 Better Together Book Club selection is The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey! Jessica will be joining us for a Q&A and book discussion of her book which we are super excited about!

If you are local (Chittenden County Vermont) and would like to join our group, please contact Susannah at the Charlotte Library at (802)425-3864 or email me at genthebookworm@gmail.com

You can also follow along on our brand new Instagram feed @bettertogetherbookclub


Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!

What’s On Your Nightstand? |Reading List & Book Recommendations {Mandi}

Book Recommendations

What’s On Your Nightstand?

Welcome to another edition of The Nightstand Series! It’s been so fun to have this series back in the swing of things and today I have another book-loving friend sharing her reading list and book recommendations!

Today I am Excited to Introduce you to Mandi!

Mandi and I have known each other since our early 20s and she has been a part of my adult reading life for almost as long as I can remember. We have always swapped books and it has been fun to watch our reading tastes grow and change over time. Mandi has always had an impressive amount of books and I could always count her to have a bookshelf full of amazing recommendations…and she is still that way today!

I hope you enjoy getting to know more about Mandi today!

Nightstand Series Introduction:

My name is Mandi AKA @mandireads and I live in South Burlington, Vermont with my husband and our yellow lab Chance.

I enjoy being active (hiking, spinning, group workout classes, walking), being on the lake in the summer, music (if it’s live, even better), spending time with friends and family, eating candy, true crime, podcasts and obviously reading.

I love traveling both within the US and abroad and have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel to some incredible places. I have a real soft spot for our annual trip to Maine every fall and after our destination wedding in April, Barbados is my favorite island that I’ve traveled to.

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, hands down. (I LOVE FOOD!) Growing up my parents would make whatever we wanted as a birthday dinner; my request was always a full Thanksgiving meal (thanks Mom)!

What Kind of Reader Are You?

I have always been a reader. I had to take a little hiatus during grad school (there just weren’t enough hours in a day with school, a full-time job, and life), but once I graduated I jumped right back into reading!

I have been known to read a book cover to cover in a day. In the 7th grade, we had to do a book report on a trilogy or three books by the same author. I was the kid that read three John Grisham books!

Favorite Genres & Ways To Read

I love a lot of different genres, some of my favorites being true crime, mysteries, thrillers, romance and military (true stories or works of fiction). I am a mood reader and try to be open to different types of books and joining #bookstagram and Book of the Month has helped with that. That being said, I can’t seem to get into or enjoy time travel, sci-fi, and dystopian type books.

For a long time, I was strictly a physical book reader and put off getting an e-reader for a long time. When I finally cracked and got my first Kindle I understood all the hype! You can read anywhere and anytime without having to carry around a ton of books. You never have to worry about running out of something to read when you’re traveling either!

What Time of Day do you do Most of Your Reading?

During the week I get most of my reading done in the afternoon and evenings. I don’t watch a ton of TV and can tune out background noises so I can read while my husband watches sports or one of his shows. On the weekends it always depends on our plans, but rarely is there a day I don’t get some reading in.

What Books Are You Currently Reading?

Daisy Jones & The Six

I am currently listening to Call Me God, about the DC Snipers in 2002, through Audible. I just finished Daisy Jones & The Six (thanks for letting me borrow it Gen!) and need to figure out what to start next.

book recommendations

Some books I loved so far this year have to be Beyond The Point by Claire Gibson, Verity by Colleen Hoover, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. I could add so many other books that are worth picking up, but I’ll try and keep this short 😉

What Are You Reading Next?

TBR list

Off the top of my head, the books I’m most looking forward to reading in the next few months have to be The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff, Regretting You by Colleen Hoover, Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin and The Swallows by Lisa Lutz.

Are There Any Books You Read and Didn’t Love?

don't recommend

Lock Every Door was a miss for me. I loved Riley’s other books (Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied especially) but this one fell short for me. My Friend Anna is a book I went into with really high expectations (the overview sounded so good) that also fell short. It was an interesting read but I had a hard time connecting to it.

What Are You Listening to?

podcast series

I love podcasts and listen to a few. I get my morning news highlights from ABC’s Start Here and my True Crime fix by listening to True Crime Garage and Crime Junkie. My foray into podcasts was Serial (again, thanks to Gen) and I was instantly hooked. A few other true crime podcasts that I always recommend are Dirty John, Up and Vanished(especially the first season on Tara Grinstead), 22 Hours: An American Nightmare and The First Degree.

Audiobooks are something I got into this summer. I typically listen to them when I walk the dog, which is a lot and has helped pass the time with all those miles and sniffs and pee breaks and on solo car rides (when I’m not giving a concert anyway)!

What Else is on Your Nightstand?

Nightstand Series

You will always find my kindle, whatever physical book I’m reading, lotion, chapstick, water and my apple watch charging up for the next day. Sometimes you’ll find a book sleeve, books I want to read soon and whatever hair tie or clip I used that day. For the most part, I am pretty minimal and don’t handle clutter well (especially on my nightstand!)


Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Mandi! You certainly made my TBR and podcast list even longer!

 

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you.

 

Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Bookworm | Favorite Things… {Gen The Bookworm}

holiday gift ideas

Gift Guides Galore!

It’s that time of the year when holiday gift guides are going around the internet like wildfire. While I have found some that are super helpful, it can also get very overwhelming and can sometimes feel a bit..insincere.

As a blog reader myself, I often struggle with wanting to support bloggers, who do put in a lot of time and energy behind the scenes to share content online, AND the idea of super overconsumption and also authenticity.

Tried & True

I wanted to put together a gift guide of tried and true things that I have purchased and loved myself. There is nowhere I would rather be than cozy at home, reading a book!

So if you are shopping for a book lover, or are one yourself, I am hoping these suggestions come in handy! They are not holiday-themed, as they are things that I have used and loved all year round and have also stood the test of time which I think is super important.

A Disclaimer

To be upfront, some of these links are Amazon affiliate links (you can read more about this on my FAQs page HERE) and some are not…but they are ALL things I have purchased myself and am sharing because I think they are awesome!

Since I began using affiliate links this past spring as a way to help support the costs of running this blog, I have included a disclaimer at the end of my book posts when I share links to purchase the book yourself. In this instance, I wanted to be very clear about it and am happy to answer any questions you have in the comments below or by email genthebookworm@gmail.com

Now Onto The Bookworm Gift Ideas which basically is a list of some of my very favorite things!

lip balm

  1. This Lipmask is my favorite! While I still am a big fan of the Laniege lip sleeping mask, I purchased this off of a recommendation from a skincare loving friend and I love so much too! Both of these stay on forever and are super hydrating, but I love the very mild scent and flavor of the balm and it is perfect for applying before bed or when reading in the bathtub!

Hair Ties that Hold!

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2. These hair ties have been my go-to for years! I have to have my hair up when I am buried in a book and they are great for thick hair, stay put and come in so many different color combinations! Sometimes I even double them up for heavy-duty things like a workout class.

Skida scrunchie

I am also not bummed that scrunchies are back! As part of their Skida Scraps Project to help create even less waste, they are now making scrunchies! They can hold up to whatever you choose to do, whether that is lazing around your house or going outside for an adventure. I love this Adele print so much!

A Powerhorse Portable Charger

Bonai portable charger

3. This portable charger is a powerhouse! Between listening to audiobooks and podcasts on my phone ALL the time, and being an overzealous iPhone photographer, I go through my phone charge pretty quickly. After reads dozens of reviews, I settled on this guy and it is everything I hoped it would be!

I have had a portable charger before but it only recharged my stuff a few times before it needed to be plugged in again and as someone is a little disorganized, it defeated the purpose because I was always forgetting to actually charge the thing.

This charger can connect to up to four USB compatible devices at a time which makes it perfect for charging your phone, someone else’s phone, your kindle and wireless headphones all at the same time! I used it all week long on our recent vacation there were not a lot of outlets nearby in our hotel room and it was amazing!

BeyondBooked BookSleeves!

Beyond Booked booksleeves

4. Beyond Booked Booksleeves! I didn’t get introduced to book sleeves until this past summer and now I am wondering why I waited so long!! Tancy is one of my Bookstagram buddies and when she shared that she had opened an Etsy shop I couldn’t want to check it out. I have to admit, I was totally sold when I saw she had lots of floral prints because that is my jam! But if florals aren’t your thing, she has lots of other fabric choices to choose from, like these geometric ones HERE.

Not only are booksleeves fabulous for keeping your books safe when you toss them in and out of your bags, but they also are awesome for protecting other things like your Kindle and phone. I brought them on our last two vacations and they were the perfect way to transport things around and also hideaway items I didn’t want laying out when we were at the pool. And as a #Bookstagrammer, they make super cute backdrops for your books as well. 😉

Tancy’s booksleeves are beautifully made and she is just so wonderful to work with. She now offers multiple sizes as well for your even larger hardcopy books.

*I just looked and today for Black Friday she is having 20% off storewide! (not an affiliate link!)

A Pillow Stand for Handsfree Ebook Reading!

Moku pillow

5. Have you ever heard of a pillow stand? We have three kindle readers in our house and we all have different methods of propping them up. Lucas uses the rails of the headboard on our bed, our older son usees a stuffed animal and I use a pillow stand!

It allows you to have your Kindle (or other small tablet devices) propped up so you don’t have you hold it up. I like to fall asleep reading so this is my ideal way of reading!

The Most Comfortable Jogger Pajamas Bottoms EVER!

modal joggers

6. There is nothing better than changing into your comfy clothes and having no plans but curling up with your current read. I found these modal joggers (not an affiliate link) two years ago and they are lifechanging!

They are the softest fabric ever(but don’t make you overheated), they don’t ride up on your calves because of the jogger style cuff, and they come in so many patterns choices(that also change seasonally if that is your thing, it is mine!)

You can get deals on them year-round because Gap always has sales but if you are shopping Black Friday deals, you can get them for 50% off right now with code (BLKFRIDAY) and they are SO worth it! These are true to size and I wear a size large for reference.

A Tank to Lounge & Layer

breathe tank

7. I don’t buy a lot of things at Gap for myself but their breathe tank tops are my go-to to for sleeping in EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! They also are the best layer tanks under sweaters and sweatshirts. I don’t have any affiliation with Gap, I just love their loungewear so much. I have worn these for years, and I hope they never stop making them! I also buy a large in this tank.

A Tumbler That Tops My List!

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8. I love a good tumbler for water and I also love straws! This Sip by S’well tumbler is THE BEST! It holds a lot of water so you don’t have to refill it all the time, keeps you drink cold (or hot!) and the straw bends and doesn’t clink around all the time like most stainless steel straws out there. I keep one of these on my nightstand every single for easy access while reading. You can find them on Amazon HERE or also at your local Target(pictured above on the right).

My Favorite Wireless Headphones EVER

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9. I get very excited to share about things that I love, but I am totally serious when I say that these headphones are one of the best things I have EVER purchased. They changed my audiobook and podcast listening life for the better, but they have also become a household staple for when I just need to tone down the noise level at my house (see the photo above!)

best headphones

In addition, they make wonderful and cozy winter earmuffs to walk to the school bus while also listening to your current audiobook! And the best part of these, if that you can be listening to something and then when your phone rings, you can answer it through these and it is not super complicated to do! And they stay connected as you walk all around the house and your phone is not nearby.

I clean, unload the dishwasher and fold laundry and even walk buzz, all hands-free, while talking to my friends and if that doesn’t sound amazing, well you haven’t tried it! And they are under 30 dollars! You can read more about them HERE.

A Comfortable and Cozy Sweatshirt!

Amazon sweatshirt

10. Alright, the next staple of my perfect cozy outfit are these sweatshirts! I love a good sweatshirt and this one meets all my specifications. It is substantial without feeling too heavy to wear inside and it’s fitted a bit up top but the hi-low cut makes it butt-covering without pulling. The fabric feels so nice (and washes and dries amazingly well) and they remind me of the Alo Yoga top in a very similar style minus the heavier price tag!

I am not a big Amazon shopper for fashion choices but I tried these on a whim and then saw my friend Jenny AKA @dreamalittledreamvt wearing it in the charcoal stripes at Pure Barre and she knows what’s up in that department! These sweatshirts are perfect whether you are lounging around your house or running errands around town.

Hand Cream from the Heavens!

hand cream

11. I am beginning to think from making this list that I am a high maintenance reader…but I just like being comfortable! Having dry skin is the worst and this time the year it is hard to avoid!

Another thing I keep on my nightstand(and by my computer, and on the kitchen counter…) during the colder months is hand cream. And if you haven’t tried this little gem yet you are missing out!

I first found Gramp Lyford’s Country Salve at our local grocery store. It is amazingly moisturizing without being greasy AT ALL, and it is doesn’t have a strong scent, which I really appreciate. Just go read the raving reviews and you will see what I mean!

The Best Bubble Bath Recommendations

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12. Reading in the bath feels like the ultimate luxury these days. Now that the boys are bit older, they stay up A LOT later, so gone are the days where they were in bed and we had some time alone! (This is also why my early morning coffee time is so sacred to me!)

Because of this, Lucas and I are both are needing to find some new ways to have some downtime amidst the hustle and bustle of family life, which sometimes feels like it never ends these days…

2019-11-28_0002.jpgOne of my very favorite things is handing over the parenting reigns, closing the bathroom door and sinking into a nice, hot bubble bath. The boys also like taking baths and so I like finding bath products that work for our entire family. All three of these recommendations create the perfect amount of bubbles and smell amazing without being too strong…they also are moisturizing without feeling greasy!

Puracy bubble bath is the mildest in the fragrance department and creates a ton of bubbles from just a very small amount! The Honest Bubble bath has a great price point (there is often a “save $X amount at checkout deal)and The Alaffia coconut strawberry bubble bath makes you feel like you away at a tropical destination. We love and purchase all three of these regularly and you really can’t go wrong!

Cozy Candlelight Suggestions

Vermont made candles

13. Candles are one of my favorite ways to feel cozy this time of year. With the lack of daylight, the evenings can feel pretty long right now. I love using candles and table lamps to create warm light that also feels a lot less harsh than our overhead ceiling lights.

I have many favorites but there are some that really top my list! The Bee’s Nectar is a local business(that also has an Etsy shop) and she makes the best soy candles scented with essential oils and she is just so lovely in general. Gillian is often at local craft fairs(that’s where I first found her!) but you can almost always find her candles at the Blue Cottage if you live locally. The grapefruit scent is my very favorite!

capri blue

This past week Julia talked about these Volcano Candles over on her Nightstand Series guest post HERE. While we don’t have an Anthropologie around here, I learned about these at our local Pure Barre studio!

I often find the scents of a lot of candles too overwhelming but there is something different about this one! The scent is clean and fresh and I love being able to repurpose the smaller container for knick-knacks around our house.

Frostbeard Studio

My friend gifted me this candle last year for my birthday and not only it is perfect for bookworm but is also has the most beautiful scent. I have been burning it for only special reading occasions because I just love it so much! They have so many more book-related candles on their Frostbeard Studio Store on Etsy.

Darn Tough Socks!

winter socks

14. I talked about Darn Tough socks the other day in my Currently Loving post, but they really are the best! Not only do they have a lifetime guarantee are made in Vermont and make for super warm, cozy, and happy feet!

The Best Kindle Paperwhite Price EVER!

Kindle Paprewhite deal

15. I couldn’t have a Bookworm Favorite Things post without talking about my beloved Kindle Paperwhite. This year I upgraded to the newest Paperwhite and it continues to be everything I loved about my previous one. It has a long battery life, a glare-free reading screen, and even better, it is now waterproof!

The lowest I have ever seen the newest Kindle Paperwhite was $89 and right now, you can grab one for under $85 HERE!!

With just our library cards and the Libby App, everyone in our family has access to thousands of ebooks, for FREE! And with the addition of great kindle deals that are available every week, we always have something to read, day or night! You can read my blog post related to how to get started with your Kindle HERE.

Kindle Covers That Protect!

kindle case

16. Finally, if you have a Kindle, you probably will want a case for it! Not only does it help protect your ebook, but it also makes it automatically turn on when you open it. I have had great luck with the Fintie Slimshell case (I love the Z-Jungle Night pattern).

There are many great options available and when you are browsing around, just make sure to get the case that fits your generation of Kindle. The newest Kindle Paperwhite (2018 & 2019 editions) are considered the 10thg generation. Just like iPhones for example, each release is a little bit different in its dimensions so a cover that is for the previous models will not fit the newest Kindle Paperwhite.


Whew!! If you lasted until this point, I am impressed, this was a long one! I hope you found at least some part of this post helpful and if you have any other suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments below. <3

Disclosure: Some of the links above are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!