What’s On Your Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Kari

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Happy Friday! Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? We don’t have a lot planned but we are going to a pond hockey tournament which is always a good time. The kids love collecting all the flying pucks and it is a fun way to enjoy the winter weather with friends.

Today I am excited to introduce you to my friend Kari! Kari and I met when our kids were in kindergarten together and this is the 4th year they are in the same class together. She was my first real “school mom” friend and I will never forget the first time I emailed her asking her for a recipe (she is a fabulous baker and cook) and I was so nervous! I really wanted to be her friend but I wasn’t sure if the feeling was mutual…she wrote back though and the rest is history. 😉


Introduction: 

Hi, I’m Kari! I live in Vermont with my husband, our 8-going-on -18 year-old daughter and our ferocious cat named Oscar. By day, I’m a programmer working for a company located in Charleston, SC. I also have recently started a home-based bakery, specializing in vegan sweets and treats! When I do get some free time, I love to travel with my family, see as many Avett Brothers concerts as I can, hike Mt. Philo, draw & paint, and try to play the banjo. Oh, I also like to read and sleep!

Reading is something I never really appreciated until well into the adulting phase of my life. Throughout high school and college, I quite literally never read a single book. I have no idea how I managed to write papers or pass any of my English classes. Once my husband and I started traveling, I needed to find something to do on overnight flights, while everyone else was sleeping. This was before iPads and iPhones and endless seatback entertainment, so books became my new friend. I used to carry around ridiculously large novels in my backpack and then complain about how heavy my bag was. But, oh how times have changed! I am strictly a Kindle reader now – the mere thought of having to hold up a big old book makes me cringe.

What’s on my Kindle:

I try not to spend any money on books; so most of my reading list comes from the Libby app (library books), amazon prime reading, amazon kindle lending library, and Amazon first reads (yay for Amazon!). I’m sort of a panic reader, meaning I don’t have a list of books I want to read or plan to read. Instead, I finish the book I’m reading, then panic that I don’t have another book to read and search any one of the above-mentioned places for something that looks interesting.

While I do love my Kindle, it does make it difficult for me to remember what I’m reading or have read. I truthfully could not tell you the names of the last few books I read or who wrote them, simply because I don’t look at the book cover each time I pick it up. Thank goodness for Goodreads, though, because there I am able to see what I’ve read!

There are a few genres I stick to, but occasionally, on the recommendation of others, I’ll branch out. I love historical fiction and tend to gravitate towards WWII novels. I recently started reading Who Will Write Our History by Samuel Kassow, which is incredibly powerful and such important work.

I’ll read anything about ancient Rome and hope to find Splendor Before the Dark (A Novel of Emperor Nero) for free at some point in the near future. I also enjoy a good mystery and started getting into the Mary Russell series by Laurie King. I’ve read the Harry Potter series 9 times, and also enjoy books like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and the Game of Thrones Series. But, if you asked me if I like reading fantasy books, I’d probably tell you I don’t. Some of my other favorite past reads include All The Light We Cannot See, The Goldfinch, Fates & Furies and The Nightingale.

What’s on my Nightstand:

If I’m being honest, my Kindle actually isn’t on my nightstand, as I like to read on the couch. But, I do have some other fun stuff on my nightstand! When going to bed, I always have to have a completely full container of water that is ice cold. I will probably only take one sip throughout the night, but I need to know that it is completely full, for some neurotic reason! I also have a baby monitor on my nightstand (yep, I still use a baby monitor for my 8 year old). It makes it easier to hear her if she yells to us, and I get a kick out of hearing her talk in her sleep every once and a while.

I also can’t live without my Korres Guava body butter. I’ve been using this stuff for like 13 years now, and it is hands down the best lotion ever made. No joke – I’ve tried tons of other lotions and nothing comes close to this stuff. I can’t live without it. I’ve also got my lip balm that I put on every night before bed, because chapped lips are no joke during the long VT winters! Lastly, I have my journal that I use to write down all my goals. I try to do this on a regular basis just to keep myself motivated and as a reminder of all the ways I want to better myself!

Ok, well, that’s enough from me. Thanks for reading, and thanks Gen, for inviting me to share!


Thanks so much for sharing, Kari! <3

What’s On Your Nightstand Series| Book Recommendations & More | Katy

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Hi everyone, happy Friday! Today I am excited to introduce you to my friend Katy. Katy was one of my roommates and best friends in college and she is one of the most wonderful and kind people I know. She and I have also always shared some of my most treasured hobbies… reading and drinking coffee.

Katy actually introduced me to lattes and Starbucks when we were in college. This was in the early 2000s when Starbucks was just making it’s way to Vermont. They used to have a Maple Latte (with real maple syrup!) and they were amazing. We would drive there together and both order this…and it was quite the exciting outing and treat for us in those days.

Katy is wonderful and always has a new stack of books she is just waiting to dive into. I hope you enjoy hearing about what she is reading. <3


Introduction:

Hello, I am Katy. I live in Connecticut with my wife and our two rescue tiger cats, Leo and Dragon. We are newly married but we want to start a family very soon. I work in early childhood education as a teacher and I have been an avid and voracious reader since the crib, where I would sleep with my books. I was an English and Education major at SMC and since I went the education route for a career, reading is one of my favorite hobbies. I always have stacks of books on my nightstand from the library and my nightstand has a second level that contains all the books I own that I want to read at some point and just haven’t gotten to. I live across the street from a library, so I frequent there once a week or so and get new stacks for my nightstand. I am much more of a hard copy book reader, and since I live so close to the library, I can get the bestsellers, and “hot” books that are out. I do have a Kindle and I like reading on that as well, but I prefer hard copy books. I use my Kindle more for travel or on the go reading.

What’s on my Nightstand:

On my nightstand are usually two stacks of books; the TBR pile, and the books that I am currently reading. I sometimes like to alternate between fiction and non-fiction (yes, I am that person), or other book genres, depending on my mood when I settle in for the night to read. I read a wide variety of genres, from non-fiction and realistic fiction to YA and fantasy novels so anything can end up in my stacks. I also have my kindle and a bullet journal on my nightstand.

My TBR pile is:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: I like to read YA when I am in the mood for something light and fluffy. I have heard that this book was cute and also that the Netflix movie was fun as well, so I wanted to give this one a try.

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena: I love thrillers, and I loved A Couple Next Door by this author so when I went to the library I picked up two more books by this author to read when I was in the mood for some suspense. Other thrillers I recently read and recommend that are similar are, The Other Woman, There Is Something In the Water and The Last Mrs. Parrish.

Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood: This story is another thriller that was on the new book shelf at the library so I grabbed it not knowing much about it on the recommendation of the librarian.

Room by Emma Donoghue: This is probably the heaviest book in my stack as far as subject matter. I have always wanted to read this book because I have heard that it is fantastic, but I would have to be in the mood to read this kind of story, especially because it is from the narrative viewpoint of a five-year-old and working with that age group it might be a sad one for me to get through.

Books I am currently reading:

A Stranger In the House by Shari Lapena: I started reading this last night and I have been flying through it. It was a little slow to start but I was hooked pretty quickly and now I have to know what is going on in this story. It reminds me of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty because the main character has amnesia, and I am a fan of books with what is called the “unreliable” narrator. I think they are fun.

I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller: Friends has always been one of my favorite shows to watch reruns. This nonfiction book is about the behind the scene information about the show and its characters has been a very interesting read so far. I am enjoying it.

On my Kindle:

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan: I LOVED Crazy Rich Asians, so I was anxious to read the second book once I heard there were three books in the series. So far I haven’t liked it as much as the first book, but I haven’t given it much of a shot yet.

What else is on my nightstand:

I have a bullet journal of books that I have read so far in 2019 ( I love to make lists) and I also will write books that I want to read in this journal as well. I like to have something to grab if I want to make a list, books to read or otherwise. I cannot keep a water bottle on my nightstand or cup or water, because LEO (my 14-pound tiger) is always on my nightstand wanting attention and he will knock over water onto all of my books. I learned that the hard way. I do keep a container of Sleepy lotion by Lush because I love the way it smells and the scent is perfect for relaxing. Buddha hangs out on my nightstand as well, but he sometimes ends up on the floor because of Leo or Dragon deciding they want to rearrange things. I also have my Burts Bees Chapstick (favorite brand), and my book light for night reading.

This was so much fun to write and share, I love reading Gen’s posts and I am so honored she asked me to write something for her blog. 🙂


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

Vacation Reading | Book Recommendations

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Are you heading away to escape from the cold anytime soon? Or maybe you are like me and are just looking for something engaging to cozy up with on a February weekend afternoon…either way, you are in the right place.

One of the most frequent questions I get is “what should I bring to read on vacation?!” For me, reading on vacation should be enjoyable but there is a fine balance between an easy read and a cheesy one. I love “pleasure” reading but it needs to strike the right balance. All of these books were super engaging and easy to get lost in, but also made me think…


All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

This book was timely and I flew through it. I really enjoy that Giffin is starting to take on more “serious” topics in her writing while also still keeping them somewhat light-hearted and predictable.

“Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. 

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.”


Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win was one of my top books of 2018. It was the perfect balance of women’s issues, double standards for women in the workforce and political world, marriage, parenthood and more…all in a super engaging read that was hard to put down. The characters were imperfect which I think made this book even more relatable and powerful.  We are discussing this one soon in our book club and I can’t wait!

“From Jo Piazza, the bestselling author of The Knock Off, How to Be Married, and Fitness Junkie, comes an exciting, insightful novel about what happens when a woman wants it all—political power, a happy marriage, and happiness—but isn’t sure just how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it.

Charlotte Walsh is running for Senate in the most important race in the country during a midterm election that will decide the balance of power in Congress. Still reeling from a presidential election that shocked and divided the country and inspired by the chance to make a difference, she’s left behind her high-powered job in Silicon Valley and returned, with her husband Max and their three young daughters, to her downtrodden Pennsylvania hometown to run in the Rust Belt state.

Once the campaign gets underway, Charlotte is blindsided by just how dirty her opponent is willing to fight, how harshly she is judged by the press and her peers, and how exhausting it becomes to navigate a marriage with an increasingly ambivalent and often resentful husband. When the opposition uncovers a secret that could threaten not just her campaign but everything Charlotte holds dear, she has to decide just how badly she wants to win and at what cost.

A searing, suspenseful story of political ambition, marriage, class, sexual politics, and infidelity, Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win is an insightful portrait of what it takes for a woman to run for national office in America today. In a dramatic political moment like no other with more women running for office than ever before, Jo Piazza’s novel is timely, engrossing, and perfect for readers on both sides of the aisle.”


The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain can do no wrong in my mind but this is one of my very favorites of hers. She is able to engage her reader with all different kinds of topics and characters with such ease and I was drawn into this one so quickly.  I love to read Chamberlain’s books on vacation because they truly are the perfect balance of in-depth characters, real issues mixed with a little mystery and intrigue.

“It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love―and the life―she was meant to have?”


Winter In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand 

Hilderbrand is what many would call “the perfect beach book author”. I have read so many of her books while on vacation and I would agree! Welcome to Paradise is the first book in her new Paradise trilogy and it takes place on St. John USVI. I loved meeting a new cast of characters and I am excited to see where she takes us with these books…which is also her first series based in a tropical location.

“Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a plane crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John.

After Irene and her sons arrive at this faraway paradise, they make yet another shocking discovery: her husband had been living a secret life. As Irene untangles a web of intrigue and deceit, and as she and her sons find themselves drawn into the vibrant island culture, they have to face the truth about their family, and about their own futures. 

Rich with the lush beauty of the tropics and the drama, romance, and intrigue only Elin Hilderbrand can deliver, Winter in Paradise is a truly transporting novel, and the exciting start to a new series.”


Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain 

Necessary Lies is another favorite of mine by Chamberlain.

“Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain delivers a breakout book about a small southern town fifty years ago, and the darkest—and most hopeful—places in the human heart

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm. As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.
When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed. She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband. But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed. Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong. 
Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy. Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?”


Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge 

Castle of Water is one of those underrated books that I am surprised more people aren’t talking about. Huckelbridge’s writing was extraordinarily beautiful and it is so much more than just a “castaway” story.

“Two very different people, one very small island.

For Sophie Ducel, her honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of life. The proud owner of a thriving Parisian architecture firm, co-founded with her brilliant new husband, Sophie had much to look forward to―including a visit to the island home of her favorite singer, Jacques Brel.

For Barry Bleecker, the same trip was meant to mark a new beginning. Turning away from his dreary existence in Manhattan finance, Barry had set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world―just like his idol, Paul Gauguin.

But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded hundreds of miles from civilization, on an island the size of a large city block, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another’s strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.

Told in mesmerizing prose, with charm and rhythm entirely its own, Dane Huckelbridge’s Castle of Water is more than just a reimagining of the classic castaway story. It is a stirring reflection on love’s restorative potential, as well as a poignant reminder that home―be it a flat in Paris, a New York apartment, or a desolate atoll a world away―is where the heart is.”


The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

I read every book that Hilderbrand writes but wasn’t blown away by her releases from the last few years. The Perfect Couple changed this streak for me and I enjoy this one so much! It was the perfect mix of mystery/thriller/contemporary fiction and it kept me guessing until the very end.

“It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer-the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.

But it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony-and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom’s famous mystery-novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect. Featuring beloved characters from The Castaways, Beautiful Day, and A Summer Affair, The Perfect Couple proves once again that Elin Hilderbrand is the queen of the summer beach read.”


You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart

You Were Always Mine was my first Nicole Baart and it won’t be my last. I was hooked from the beginning and it was completely engrossing. I love that it focused on the issue of adoption but it was so much more than that. I loved the mystery about Jessica’s husband and it kept me guessing until the very end.

The characters were incredibly detailed and I felt like I could totally connect with what they were going through on this journey of what makes a family and who the people around you really are…

“Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.”


The Lake House by Kate Morton

I adore Morton’s writing but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a lot of her books for vacation reading because the writing is so rich and detailed. The Lake House is a hefty one too but it was super captivating and I raced through this one. This was a complex mystery that left me hanging on her every word.

“Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.”


 The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo 

I got lost in this book and connected so deeply with the characters. It was a surprise hit for me as I wouldn’t classify myself as a big fan of “romance” novels but this was so much more.

“Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story–their story–at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated–perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.”


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book took me by surprise with not only with its depth but also how much I was reeled into this story of perseverance and success, survival and love.

“In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.”


On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

I read this book years ago but it still sticks with me now. Graves words flow so easily and I always feel so connected to her characters because of her amazing ability to draw you in from the first few pages of her books.

“Sixteen-year-old T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. With his cancer in remission, all he wants is to get back to his normal life. But his parents insist that he spend the summer catching up on the school he missed while he was sick.

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher who has been worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere. To break up the monotony of everyday life, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring T.J.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahans’ summer home, but as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens: their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, and as birthdays pass, the castaways must brave violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the worst threat of all—the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. With only each other for love and support, these two lost souls must come to terms with their situation and find companionship in one another in the moments they need it most.


Do you have any vacation reading recommendations? I would love to add them to my list! <3

 

What’s On Your Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Kristy

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I am so excited to introduce you to one of my favorite people today. You may recognize Kristy because I feature her a lot on here as she is not only my friend but my co-worker.

I first met Kristy almost 9 years old when our oldest children happened to be in the same baby playgroup. We bonded over having the same wedding photographer and our friendship blossomed from there. We love that we met through photography because that is what we do together now.

We spend a lot of time together and we have the same taste in books which makes for great lunchtime conversations. We often read the same books at the same time but I read them on my Kindle and she is a hard copy book lover. I hope you enjoy “meeting” Kristy, today!

The Nightstand Series Intro:

Hi, I’m Kristy! I live in Vermont with my husband and two daughters and I work as a family photographer. I was an avid reader as a child but like many, lost the habit when I had children. As my kids have gotten a little older, I have rediscovered my love of reading.

Anytime I did have for reading in the last several years was dedicated to non-fiction and for the most part, business related. Although I still love a good non-fiction read, I have most recently enjoyed reading for pleasure and have found so many new favorite fiction authors. This past fall I discovered Diane Chamberlain and quickly devoured all her best sellers. Kristin Hannah was up next and now I have moved onto T. Greenwood.

I am a hardcore hard copy book fan and I have never read a book in a digital format and I don’t have plans to change. I love our local library, sharing books with friends and visiting our local bookshops.

What’s on my nightstand for books:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I just finished this enjoyable read it was definitely one I looked forward to reading every night. It was much different than I expected, engaging and while it kept me on my toes it was easy to follow. I polished this one off in under three days which is a definite sign that it was a hit for me.

Two Rivers by T. Greenwood

I am currently reading Two Rivers and this is my second book by T. Greenwood. I finished Rust & Stardust last month and was captivated by her storytelling. I also enjoy that she is a Vermont native and many of her books connect to local areas. I am excited to see how this one unfolds.

Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

This book is an easy to read guide to mindfulness and meditation. I have been slowly exploring both of these practices and found this to be a very helpful resource. It is definitely a book that I have read a little at a time and while I haven’t finished it yet, I have enjoyed the moments I have picked it up and read a couple of chapters.

Pretending To Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending To Dance is next up on my fiction list and this copy was loaned to me by my future neighbor. I have heard great things about this one and I already know I love all things Diane Chamberlain.

The Art of Money by Bari Tessler

This is my current non-fiction read and I have been enjoying reading one chapter at a time. I love how Tessler is able to incorporate mindfulness and awareness into how past experiences with money can affect you today.  Her approach is practical and relatable without being overwhelming.

What else is on my nightstand:

I love Bee Love Herbals Lavender Herbal Body Oil. I first connected with this local business at a Burlington craft show this past fall. I struggle with extremely dry winter skin and this is the first thing that I have found that is keeping my skin happy all winter I also love knowing that I am supporting a local handmade business. My kids have also started using it and ask for it after every shower.

I am a sucker for salt lamps and have several in our home. I love the soft light that it produces and supposedly it helps with allergies and keeping your air clean.

I love my Tabbatha Henry luminary. I had seen these at many local businesses and treated myself to two last year. Unfortunately, only one is left standing because my husband likes to toss his socks long distance into our neighboring laundry basket and doesn’t have perfect aim. 😉

I love Gen The Book Worm and my renewed love of fiction. Thank you for including me in your series! <3


Thank you so much for sharing, Kristy!

Sunday Kindle Deals | E-Book Deals

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Sundays seem to be the best day of the week to find great Kindle book deals! I picked up In Pieces by Sally Field and enjoyed all of these other books previously…

The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe

In Pieces by Sally Field

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Meet The Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

 

 

What’s On Your Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Molly

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Happy Friday everyone! I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Molly, today. She is my first friend to share in my new book sharing series. Molly is the best! She is so smart and I love talking about books with her because she always has great opinions and also likes a wide array of genres. She has the cutest family ever and she seriously is one of the funniest people I know…I also love that she can never have too many books because I am the same way! Alright, Molly is taking over below…enjoy! <3


The Nightstand Series Intro:

Hi, I’m Molly.  I live in Vermont with my husband, two kids ages 4 and 7, and an awesome elderly labradoodle. I work in higher education administration and have always been an avid book fan and reader. I have stacks and stacks I need to read but am always on the hunt for new titles. I recently discovered the Libby library app (thanks to Gen!) and just got my first Kindle, so my reading game has totally changed for the better!

What’s on my nightstand for books:

On my Kindle: On my Kindle, I have downloaded a few books that are up next: The Other Woman, How to Walk Away and a few kids’ novels to read aloud to my daughter. It has been so nice to have access to books at all times since I don’t always have a paper book with me. I am also in love with the Libby app and it has made the most significant change to how often I read since I often will catch chunks of time here and there.

 I like to read on my phone when putting the kids to bed, waiting for appointments, etc. Highly recommend! Not pictured, but also up next, on the Libby app: I am waiting patiently “in line” for The Good Girl, The Breakdown and Then She Was Gone. I’ve been on a bit of a suspense bender!

Hard Copy Books: I always have stacks that I intend to read.  On my nightstand (which is currently a dresser so can accommodate too much stuff!):

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan:  I had read her memoir and loved her style of writing and family relationships.  Definitely, a must read … soon!

One Day in December, The Winters and And Now We Have Everything – all three were recommendations from Gen and other book blogs as well.

What else is on my nightstand: 

Stacks of books to read, my Kindle and a BKR water bottle. I also have an orange & rose hand cream by John Masters, Skin Trip coconut lotion for my dry hands (Vermont winters!), and a few of my very favorite Lunaroma products.  I love their lemon lavender spray and often use it after making the bed or just before sleep. Also pictured in the children’s novel, The Unicorn In the Barn, which we’re reading with my daughter. Highly recommend and great cover!

Not pictured:  my alarm clock!  I discovered it went missing when my kids stole it for their America Ninja Warrior reenactment game  🙂


Thank you SO much for sharing Molly!!

3rd Grade Book Series | Book Recommendations & Early Reading Discussion

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Do you remember when you fell in love with reading? I think it is easy to look back and feel like reading was always something that I loved but I can’t actually remember the process of learning to read. As a parent to two grade school aged children, we are still in the earlier years of having readers. With our first son, I remember being stressed in kindergarten with him learning how to read. It isn’t a process that comes naturally to everyone and we often worried that he would not love it because it sometimes was such a battle. He loves reading now, but that really didn’t happen until the past couple of years.

The hardest thing for me about parenting is you don’t know in the moment if what you are doing is working. You do your best, but so much of it is trial and error. Now that we have our younger son in kindergarten, we have that perspective that we didn’t have the first time. He will learn how to read, and most likely, he will love it too. We know that just by supporting what he is interested in, reading with him daily and exposing him to books is all we need to be doing right now.

I think it is easier to worry about how you are parenting your first child just because you haven’t done that parenting stage before. Our kids are definitely different in SO many ways but I love knowing that most things will work out with time. And if they don’t, there are so many resources and supports available to help in our schools and community, and we are so lucky to have that.

Our 8 year old is an early riser like me and often helps me with reading kids book on NetGalley and giving his feedback for my reviews. He recently decided it would be fun to recap his favorite books from last year. 2018 was the first year where he really wanted to read independently and he has really gotten into some book series from the town and school library.  He has been keeping track of his favorites and we thought it would be fun to share on here because I know it is always helpful to have some recommendations for different ages and stages of reading.

Dog Man by Dave Pilkey

The Flying Beaver Brothers by Maxwell Eaton III

The 39 Clues by Rich Riordan

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John

The Fire Within by Chris D’Lacey

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Winning Season (The Roar of the Crowd) by Rich Wallace

The Contract by Derek Jeter

What’s On My Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Genevieve

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I have been very inspired by the New Year and I love using it as a reflection time of what worked last year and also what I might like to implement during this next year. I have been thinking that I really would like a regular series on here that show you not just what I am reading and loving but what my some of my friends and reading buddies are up to.

I love seeing what people’s everyday spaces look like. I am not talking about house inspiration in magazines or on Pinterest but really what people’s home look like when they live there. If this is something that fascinates you too then I think you will find this interesting.

I love making book suggestions but I also think it is helpful to see other perspectives and genres and I thought this might be a fun way to do this and also share a little more variety. I am going to share mine below and I have some friends lined up to share in the next couple of weeks. If you would like to be a part of this (and I would love that!!) please send me a message or leave a comment below.


The Nightstand Series Intro:

I am Genevieve and I live in Vermont with my husband, our two sons and our Springer Spaniel named Buzz. I am a photographer for my job and photography is also one of my very favorite hobbies. I have been a reader all of my life but really got back into it again once both of our kids slept through the night a few years ago…I love reading fiction, memoirs, self-help and personal development books the most. I primarily read on my Kindle but I love hard copy books and I will never stop buying them.

What’s on my nightstand for books:

On my Kindle: I am currently reading an advanced reader copy from NetGalley of Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood and I am loving it so far! I am enjoying her writing so much that I took out a copy of her book Rust & Stardust on my Libby App to read next. I always like having a plan for my next book even though it doesn’t always go as planned.

Hard Copy Books: I love to have books on my nightstand. It is a mixture of ones I just love a lot and like to look at (I am looking at you Brene Brown!) and ones I am planning on reading in the next month or so.

A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne. This was was my Book Of The Month selection for November. I got this before I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies and now I want to read it even more. But I also want to wait because I don’t want to compare the two, so I am trying to find the right balance…

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen. I think books like this are so important to help normalize what so many people deal with everyday.  I am so glad there there is so much more awareness of mental health issues now even compared to 5 years ago.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I read this in December it and it was AMAZING. It is story telling at it’s finest and shares the life of Cyril Avery, both the peaks and the valleys and how life can really come full circle. It was such a satisfying read and is a book that I know I will never forget.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) by Brene Brown. This is one of my very favorite self-help books and it was life changing for me. Brene talks about and vulnerability and so many important things that a lot of people feel but don’t always want to discuss. She is real and honest and has impacted me in such a big way.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and it is the perfect time of year to read it. This will be released at the end of this month in paperback so I am hoping to read it soon so I can do a review!

What else is on my nightstand: 

I wear contacts and hardly ever wear my glasses which I really should be better about. Anyway, I am nearsighted so I mostly just use them to watch TV once we are in bed, and I don’t watch a lot of TV so they are usually just sitting there looking quite dusty…

I have to have a cup of water on my nightstand and it always has to be full before I go to sleep. I love using tumblers and I have had great success with the Simple Modern ones and this Hydroflask one which I found at Homegoods.

I love this table “tray” (I am not sure what else to call it) because it is quite heavy and so it doesn’t slip around at all. It is a great place to put smaller items that would normally fall off and get lost under our bed.

I only take one kind of medicine and for a while I could never remember if I had taken it or not… Finally I realized that that is probably what these weekly pill containers are for (besides just traveling) and all my problems went away. I fill it on Sundays and I have it on my nightstand because I know I will see it as soon as I wake up. I have a terrible memory anyway but I feel like I am the worst in the morning because there is so much to do before we leave for school at 7:30am. Now if only I got that doormat that says “did you turn off your hair straightener?” I would really be all set!

I have already talked on here about my love for Laneige lip balm(or as they call it, a sleeping mask) but i will say it again, this stuff is the best! It lasts forever, doesn’t have a strong flavor and it works so well. I use it every night and I use The Burts Bees tinted lip balm in red dahlia or rose during the day.

My jewelry dish is a soy sauce bowl (I think) but it works great! I like to take my rings and jewelry off when I am cleaning or sleeping so I like to have a specific place I put them because I would definitely lose them otherwise…

I always like to have a spare bookmark because I will totally fold the pages over otherwise and I know that makes some book lovers just cringe!

I hope you enjoyed this random glimpse into my life. <3

Cozy Reading Suggestions | Gen The Bookworm Book Recommendations

Gen The Bookworm weekend reading list

Cozy Reading Suggestions…

This is my very favorite time of year to read. I love snuggling up on our couch and reading by our woodstove. Winter is long here in Vermont but I do love the slower pace of life during this time of the year…well at least after the holidays.

I get asked about book recommendations quite a bit and recently some friends have asked about books I would suggest for cozy winter reading. For me, books like that are easy and enjoyable to read and nothing too heavy or stressful. I love reading for all different reasons but sometimes I just like it as an escape and these books fit that bill.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

How to Find Love in a Bookshop was a surprise hit for me. When I picked this one up at the library I was worried it could be cheesy because of the cover…I try not to judge a book by its cover in a negative way but it’s hard for me!

I was pleasantly surprised that not only was it not cheesy but it ended up being such a delightful and enjoyable read. There is a great mix of characters and a great balance of loss, hope, and love within the different storylines. This book was filled with charm and warmth but also some depth and I enjoyed how the ending wrapped up in the most perfect, non-perfect way.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop Book Summary:

“The enchanting story of a bookshop, its grieving owner, a supportive literary community, and the extraordinary power of books to heal the heart.

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers–a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father’s death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia’s loyal customers have become like family, and she can’t imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.

There’s Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there’s a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage–she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.

Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future–and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.”

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I wouldn’t say I am a huge fan of romance novels but this is definitely in that genre. It reminded me a lot of a Judy Blume book and had the perfect first romance and coming of age storyline that just got me and I was hooked.

I think the thing I think of with “romance” books is predictability. I found Love and Other Words to have a depth I was not expecting and it was just such an enjoyable and satisfying book.

Love and Other Words Book Summary:

“Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.”

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away was my first ever Book of The Month club pick and it was such an enjoyable read. The storyline is semi-predictable but it is the character development that Center just does so well and that makes her books so satisfying.

I enjoyed watching Margarets journey towards healing and she had the perfect mix of vulnerability and strength that kept me rooting for her while also being relatable. Katherine Center excels at infusing both humor and also resilience into her characters and I just enjoy her books so much.

How to Walk Away Book Summary:

“From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment. 

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. 

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture the reader’s hearts with every page.”

The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

I first found The Mother’s Promise when I was searching for a book to read in the middle of the night on my Libby app and it quickly got me hooked on her books in general. It is an easy and engaging story that also beautifully shows the power of connection and relationships. This story is heartbreaking but also gives you so much hope. Hepworth really excels at getting you so connected to her characters and I could relate to them so much while I was reading this.

The Mother’s Promise Book Summary:

“With every book, Sally Hepworth becomes more and more known for her searing emotional portraits of families—and the things that test their bonds. In The Mother’s Promise, she delivers her most powerful novel yet: the story of a single mother who is dying, the troubled teenaged daughter who is battling her own demons, and the two women who come into their lives at the most critical moment. 

Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works—until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and is given a grim prognosis. 

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, her oncology nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets—secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the power of love and forgiveness.”

The Winters by Lisa Gabrielle

I found this to be the perfect escape reading. I loved the twist of family drama, mystery and suspense and I had a hard time putting this one down. For what it’s worth, I have never read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca so I didn’t have that to compare this to, and maybe that helped me just read this for what it is. The creepiness factor with the characters made this super engaging and I just needed to know what was going to happen.

Book Summary of The Winters:

“Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a spellbindingly suspenseful novel set in the moneyed world of the Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that can’t be escaped

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.”

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

This was my first Liane Moriarty book I ever read and it made me into a big fan. This story is told from 3 separate points of view that become intertwined. I always love Moriarty’s character development and she does such a great job of showing the complexities in relationships. The Husband’s Secret has mystery along with incredible wit and I just found this one so satisfying.

Book Summary of The Husband’s Secret:

“At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read.

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.”

One Day In December by Josie Silver

I chose this book expecting a lighter “rom-com” type feel. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a little more than that and enjoyed the story of love, loss, and friendship. The story is told over a period of 10 years and I enjoyed that even though I didn’t love the characters all the time I could relate to their challenges and enjoyed the concept of falling in love with someone vs staying in love and what that really means in the long term.

Book Summary of One Day in December:

“Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love, at first sight, doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and an immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.”


Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand (Book #1 in the four-part Winter Series)

I don’t read a lot of book series but last year I was looking for a holiday-themed book and this came highly recommended. Winter Street is book #1 of a four-part Winter Series and is the introduction to the Quinn Family and takes place on Nantucket. Elin Hilderbrand is known for her “summer book” so this series was a departure from that and makes this the perfect cozy winter read.

I found this whole series to be light but not super fluffy and just a great escape. I loved getting to know this family and going through their ups and downs with them over the course of this series. It definitely has aspects of a Hallmark movie so it may not be for everyone but I found it thoroughly enjoyable and really missed the Quinn family when it was over.

Winter Street Book Summary:

“In bestseller Elin Hilderbrand’s first Christmas novel, a family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.

Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket’s Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can’t get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who’s playing Santa at the inn’s annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley’s ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.”


Do you have any cozy reading book suggestions? I would love to hear in the comments below. <3