Best Books of 2016




It's crazy to think about another year gone by. So many blessings and great memories made I can't even begin to wrap my head around! But there is one thing that I can keep track of, and that's this little hobby of mine called reading. So as if I could possibly name just a few (I tried!) here are my favorite books of 2016. Please let me know about your favorites in the comments below! 


All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood- I have found that this year, I tried to steer towards topics that were out of the realm of my usual reads (family drama, starting over, women in their mid-thirties). And this is the book that really helped me break that mold. It's about so many things- but mostly, it's about what forms of love are acceptable and how the outside world really has an effect on our lives. Situations, lifestyles, who we love and who we hate- they all create circumstances that make every person's life something you have to be able to understand, even if you can't accept it. There's a young girl, a lost soul of a young man, parents who are lost on drugs and a murder. Not to mention the writing, which was astonishing-raw, honest but not in a showy way. It was amazing. This book was the winner of the Lottie Award from Book of the Month Club. 



Faithful by Alice Hoffman - This is about a young girl who survived a car crash that left her best friend in a coma. The guilt she feels and the literal pause the accident puts on her life is a heartbreaking tale. However, the growth in the characters and the self reflection made me feel hopeful. I really, really loved this book. 

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker - I devoured this book. A high school girl is brutally attacked in the woods outside of a party. Told from the physcologist who is treating the girl after the attack, this viewpoint gives a very interesting outlook on the characters and their choices. There are many people at play here- the girl, her parents, who are both in messes of their own and many more outlying characters that make this story a thrilling page turner. My favorite part about this book is when I started to realize the narrator was not trustworthy in his storytelling, like he was lying right to my face about what happened to the girl. I felt like I was a part of it and it was thrilling. 


The Mothers by Brit Bennett -A book called “The Mothers” is automatically a book that gets my attention. As I age and especially as I make my journey through the various stages of life, I recognize that the one topic that strikes the biggest cord in my heart is the topic of motherhood. This one really hit home for me - mostly just because it dives into the sacrifices we make as mothers and how those choices will effect generations...  



Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler - This is sort of a guilty pleasure read. It got a lot of buzz- a first time author who was discovered as she waited tables in New York- it's a modern day Cinderella story. Stephanie creates a world we often don't realize has such a strong pulse- the back waiters of the hottest restaurants in NYC. Who are these people and what drives them to work these crazy shifts,  follow insane schedules and rules- and what do they do with their knowledge of worldly cuisine and expensive wine? It's sophisticated but juicy, starved but hungry and such a good read.


Siracusia by Delia Ephron Two couples, a vacation in Italy, two secret affairs and one dead body. Lots of great scenes. A definite thumbs up from me. 

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid - If you didn't see my going gaga over this on Instagram, then I will say it over and over again: This is the best love story I have read in a very long time. Is it the best book of the year worthy? Probably not, because at the crux of it, it's fluff but really, I think the author writes romantic fluff in a way that is indulgent but still believable. It was simply wonderful. 




Honorable Mention:
The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
Sound of Gravel by Wariner
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
The Marriage of Opposites
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This year was a wonderful year for books. Around every corner, there was yet another one I couldn't wait to dive into. What were your favorite reads of 2016?

To check out allll the books I read this year, check out my Goodreads Challenge!

#ShowUsYourBooks November

November...WHERE DID YOU GO? 

Seriously, 10 minutes ago I was making green bean casserole and lighting my pumpkin marshmallow candle and then BAM, December. 

My reading time was most definitely hindered by my Gilmore Girls binge watching in preparation for the revival, which I have to say, made me fall even more in love with Stars Hollow. I will continue to be in love, even if the writers totally left us in a cliff hanger. It was just so great to see the characters again, like I was meeting old friends! Loved every minute of it. 

Speaking of binge watching, I've lost my husband's attention due to a chronic condition called The Walking Dead. I tried to watch it with him, I really did. But just no. Those sounds?! I can't hack it. But now that binging has ceased, I can get back to my first real love: reading. 

And now back to the show: My #ShowUsYourBooks November Edition: 


Faithful by Alice Hoffman - Just yes. Yes allll the way around. Shelby, now in her  twenties, was just a teenager when she was in a terrible car accident that left her best friend's life changed forever. Shelby's guilt over the accident sets her life on a completely different and strange path; one that she has no idea how to navigate. The characters are amazing, the setting is described just right and the emotions are raw. It was and will continue to be one of my favorite stories I have read in a very long time. 

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik- Thanks to Gallery Books for this Advanced Reader's Copy! I really enjoyed the very fast-pace of this thriller, set in the rapid rivers and wilderness of Northern Maine. Five girlfriends, all with interesting back stories and reasons for why they need a trip away, set out on an adventure that turns deadly. It's very In a Dark, Dark Wood meets Misery so if you like twisted stories and Ruth Ware, you'd love this! 

Talking as Fast as I Can- Lauren Graham- (See binge watching paragraph above-I'm obsessed with Lauren Graham) and this book is so HER. I listened to it on Audible and it was awesome because it wasn't just Lauren Graham reading her book out loud. She read it TO you, like she knew you were listening and it was so funny and engaging. 

The Hating Game- Sally Thorne - This came highly recommended by @BookBaristas so I gave it a shot. I am usually not a huge fan of cutesy love stories but this one was really fun. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. They are enemies, competitors and co-workers and nothing else. She has her quirks-she's single and collect Smurfs and he's the most unapproachable man on the planet. But they say that the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference so maybe that hatred Lucy things she feels is actually an attraction that she can no longer deny. There are high stakes, lots of lust and humor in this story and I really enjoyed it! 

Podcast Recommendation: Up and Vanished by Payne Lindsay- If you like to listen to podcast, I highly recommend this one. It's a really great whodunnit and it's relatively recent. Very interesting, with lots of twists and turns. 

So that's it friends! 

What did you read in November? I want to hear about it, so leave your list in the comments or find me on Instagram! @Thatiswhatshereadreviews 

Linking up with my favorite bookworms: Steph and Jana for #ShowUsYourBooks Link Up! 



Bookstagram Round Up

Happy Saturday everyone! 
Today is a very relaxing day- a hair appointment, online shopping and lots of coffee. I am almost losing the battle against decorating for Christmas but I am restraining myself until after Thanksgiving. 

I didn't have any time to write reviews this week but I really wanted to share something with you that I've been enjoying lately. There's a whole world out there called Bookstagram and I have to admit, I'm a bit obsessed. There are so many creative, passionate bookworms out there that I have met and I want to make sure others are following along too. Not only is Instagram a great place to read reviews about books, but you get the scoop on upcoming releases and find recommendations based on books you love. 

Here is a round up of some of my favorite #Bookstagram accounts- there are WAY more out there so check it out- search tags like 
#bookstagram, #igreads and #bookstagramfeatures 














And don't forget to follow me!


Happy reading, everyone! See you on #Bookstagram

Show Us Your Books #October

Did another month seriously already go by? 

Thanks to my Gilmore Girls binge, I didn't think I would get as many books read this month but I managed just fine. And by managing I mean totally slacking on any household chores, laundry or proper meals. But hey, priorities. Am I right? But alas, a true book worm never gives up. So here it is, my list of WONDERFUL reads that happened in October. 

Happy Reading! 


Practical Magic: Because Halloween. As magical as the movie and its soundtrack. 

 Good as Gone: I passed on this one about 1/3 of the way through, for some reason it just didn't grab my attention and my ADHD forced me to moved on to other books that I was looking more forward to. 

The Wangs vs. The World: This is fun family trip with the Wangs, who are on the run from financial ruin. Listened to it on Audible and really like the easy-going storytelling and like-able characters. 

Today Will Be Different: Any Gilmore Girl fans out there? Because Luke's sister Liz is the voice on this Audible version and I though I really liked her voice, it was a little too "dramatic reading" instead of a narration. It was VERY similar in my opinion to Where'd You Go Bernadette, which means it was fun and quirky but kind of confusing. 

I saved the best books of October for less: 

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner:  Jennifer Weiner is everything I look for in a gal pal: Honest, funny, wry, brave and a little in your face. Her memoir doesn't disappoint. There is a lot of motivation in her chapters about the power of putting pen to paper and it's really motivated me to increase my focus on writing. She's a gem and I love her stories. 


My other favorite: The Mothers by Brit Bennett. This is everything. You can read my full review in my post yesterday. But just go out and read it already. 


And really the best for last, the book that knocked my socks of this month: 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. I can't really begin to describe it or even defend myself for loving it so much. Because of some of the really controversial topics: meth addicts, forbidden love, young love, betrayal, passion...it's just everything. There are so many conflicting feels wrapped up in this book that it was hard to describe whether I loved it or hated it because I think that any book that evokes so many emotions in me is worth every page. I really think you should read it. 


This has been another wonderful link up with my gals Jana and Steph. Be sure to hop over there to read everyone else's #ShowUsYourBooks posts! 

Are there any Litsy users out there? 
If you are on the bookish platform, come find me at JenniferJR, I would love to see you on there! 








Book Review: The Mothers by Brit Bennett


A book called “The Mothers” is automatically a book that gets my attention. As I age and especially as I make my journey through the various stages of life, I recognize that the one topic that strikes the biggest cord in my heart is the topic of motherhood.



I need to know more about how other women are handling motherhood. Not to compare myself necessarily, but to learn from them and to get reassurance that no matter what, each mother is living her own, unique experience. There are rights and wrongs, but there are never definite answers. There were many moments in this book that gave me peace of mind, one of them being that even after a wrong is done, a life can be made whole again. 

I am also obsessed with understanding how I came to be the type of mother I am. Did the situations that my own mother and grandmothers faced shape how I mother my children? 

The answer is always yes.

That’s why The Mothers by Brit Bennet grabbed my attention. Not only does it have this amazing cover that caught my eye, and the fact that The Book of the Month Club chose it for one of its October picks, it’s also written by a first time author. I love that because there must be a reason behind all of that buzz.

What happens when a rebellious seventeen-year-old young woman sets her eyes on the son of a pastor, a star football player and the apple of the church community’s eye?



Nadia Tucker and Luke Sheppard think they are in love. But much more than young love is needed to save them from their own demons. Luke struggles to find identity after an injury ends his sports career. Nadia is a broken soul whose life is set on a completely different track because of her mother’s suicide. The one thing they each have is hope. Hope for love, for a better future.

This is a story about how huge decisions and actions affect the lives of not just the immediate characters, but how it also moves the hearts of others- the best friends, the church elders, the community. Every little move can change the course.  


There are major life decisions, some devastating, some hopeful- that are made inside this story that will have you asking yourself “What if” and “What would I do?” and I think that’s the work of remarkable writing. I am always searching for the stories that make me walk in another’s shoes because that’s how I start to understand and reflect on how similar situations in my own life have changed me. 

I give this book a 5 star review and encourage everyone to read it! 

Show Us Your Books: September

It's Show Us Your Book Time! 



Here's what I added to my conquered books piles in September: 



Commonwealth by Ann Patchett - This was probably the most buzzed about book on my to-read list and I was a little disappointed. It was enough to hold my interest in order to finish the story and held so much promised but it was wasn't developed enough. It started out with two families, the Cousins and the Keatings, who are all attending a party. Bert Cousins and Beatrice Keating end up kissing in a bedroom... and that kiss sets off a mudslide of events that leave to two families separating and scattering across the United States, sending children this way and that unattended on red-eyes. I think that the balance and intricacies of that life would have been enough of an interesting story but then Patchett writes in a tragedy that happens to one of the children and that's where it started to unravel. I wish she would have focused more on the lives of the adult children and how their lives were effected by the actions of their parents. However, most of the story was just vague references to the tragedy, the details of which are being covered by most of the children. A lot of build up, but not enough to keep the momentum. 

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - This was an easy read, especially for a thriller. I liked the suspense, the interesting characters, the witty banter and the chilling, creepy setting. 

Leave Me by Gayle Forman - I was at first really fed up with the mother. How could you live through a heart attack and not want to make the most of your life? Especially with two beautiful twins to take care of? Instead, Maribeth flees. She's sick of her husband not helping around the house. She is sick of no one helping her in her recuperation. Everyone expects her to just pick up where she left off and she basically throws her her hands up in the air and says "I'm out!" It's very unimaginable, to take $20,000 out of your bank account, get an apartment in another town and try to find yourself, while your husband takes care of the children and doesn't hear from you for months. It's a little silly to even consider that, but that's what she does. Where she ends up will surprise you, but happily so. 

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown - Loved listening to this on audiobook, if not only just for the Parisian accents and the descriptions of Paris in the 1920s, through the eyes of a young woman discovering herself as a writer, with her French artist lover. Intermixed with her story is that of her granddaughter, Meredith, who is struggling with an unhappy marriage, reading her grandmothers diary 70 years later. Her story wasn't as interesting, I could have read about Margie in Paris all day, but the two women's stories were beautifully intertwined. 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover - I have seen Hoover's  books everywhere on Goodreads and Instagram so I thought I would give this one a try. I made it through but I thought that this was an ill attempt at making a dire situation seem sexy. It was pretty unbelievable and I didn't love it. I probably won't be reading any other. Too Lifetimey. 



The Marriage of Opposites  - Oh, this story was my favorite. It was 1824 in St. Thomas and Rachel Pomie is a girl who dreams. Dreams of Paris, of a world where women can be educated and run a business. But her reality is much bleaker than her dreams. This is the story about her long life as a very young widow and mother, forced into the rule of subservient woman in a very strict religious community. But Rachel's life takes many interesting  turns. It's a beautiful story that is based on true events and people. 



This month, I meant to also read The Underground Railroad (Thanks so much to Steph and Life According to Steph for sending me her copy!) But alas, it will have to wait. I can't wait to get started though! I started Behold the Dreamers but was so overwhelmed by the foreign language and talk of immigration trials that I lost interest pretty quickly. If you've read it and feel I need to give it another go, please tell me! 

This month was a GREAT reading month for me. Especially because I had this gal right there next to me, diving into her books as well: 



Thanks so much to Steph and Jana for hosting such an amazing link up for so many of us bookworms to get together and chat. I love it and look forward to it each month. Cheers to 2 years of Show Us Your Books! 




Show Us Your Books: August

It's Show Us Your Books time! Every time this post comes around I am always completely shocked that another month has gone by. 

This month was a great time for books and for being a bookworm in general. Some of my girlfriends and I are finally getting serious about starting a bookclub, which has me feeling all of the happy feels. Also, I had the most perfect of bookish day dates with a fellow bookworm last weekend. We drove near and far around Kansas City looking for great bookstores and we hit pay dirt: 



We found the KC Public Library's book sale at the City Market where we snagged current best sellers (in HARD back!) for $2 a pop. I was seriously walking around grinning life a goon.

Then we wandered over to Mission , KS and found Rainy Day Books, which I have been dreaming about visiting for a long time only to find out that it was closed. I shamelessly pressed my nose up against the glass longingly looking at all of the books calling my name. We made up for it by visiting Proposero's Books, which has the most eclectic collection of vintage books I've ever seen. SO much fun. We also fit in some amazing food and coffee along the way, because basically, you can't have a bookworm date without food and coffee. It was the best of days. 

My bookworm day haul: 


There were alot of beautiful books this month and I couldn't help but play around and have some fun for my bookstagrams (@thatiswhatshereadreviews




Because hubs has been begging me to binge Netflix with him and put up the laptop for once, I am keeping this review pretty short, so  forgive me if I'm too vague but here's a mashup up what I read in August: 


The Edge of the Orchard - Listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it. I listed this in my July as well because they overlapped. Oops! Still a great story if you feel like some Americal history. 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo - This is like cotton candy for the soul. I love Amy Schumer's wit and no bullshit cantor. Her stories are sometimes a bit too crass and I can't tell if she's really telling the truth or just telling a story for the shock value but I still enjoyed her stories about her family and rise to fame. She really doesn't take herself seriously and I felt like I was just having a gab sesh with a girlfriend. An easy read to pass the time. 

Siracusa- My favorite read of the month. Two couples, a vacation in Italy, two secret affairs and one dead body. Lots of great scenes. A definite thumbs up from me. 

The Regulars- Pass. 

Happy Family- I listened to this on Audible. It was a little blah for me, A family sage wrought with secrets, illicit pasts and sad marriages. I give it a "meh." 

Alice & Oliver- I bailed on this one. I know, that's terrible, but it was just too sad. 

It Ended Badly- A cute and campy mash up of short stories describing history's most ill-fated romances. I enjoyed it! 

Untethered: This was okay, but too slow to really keep my interest. I thought the storyline was promising: What would you do if the child you loved was only bound to you by your marriage to their biological parent? As as stepmother to Alli, Char doesn't quite know her place. She just knows that she loves her step daughter as if she was her own flesh and blood. But when Allie's dad suddenly passes away, the ties that bind Char and Allie were tested. Like I said, great premise but it didn't follow thru like I had hoped. 


Here's what I'm Currently Reading:




Oh and Reese asked me to share what she read in August too: 



Happy Reading!

And don't forget to read my Autumn Must Reads List! 

My Autumn Reading List

This list needs no introduction because we all know how wonderful it is to sit on the couch with a good book, with the cool autumn breeze coming in through the windows, a blankie on your lap, a hot cup of coffee with salted caramel creamer... fuzzy socks, James Bay on Pandora... a Yankee Candle Pumpkin Buttercream candle... 

Where were we? 

Oh yes, reading. Sorry, I drifted off an Autumn la la land for a minute there. 

The temps are finally going to dip below 75 and that means it's my favorite time of year. The perfect atmosphere for reading on the couch. Here are the many, many books I hope to get my hands on this Fall and you should too!





Karolina's Twins by Ronald Balson - Inspired by true events involving childhood friends who survived the Holocaust together, this is a story told in retrospect of the secrets and sacrifices two young women made and how those decisions effected the generations that came after them. 

The Wangs of the World by Jade Chang (One of Entertainment Weekly's Most Anticipated Titles of 2016) A rich Chinese immigrant family, a cosmetics empire....and a financial crisis. Which of the three doesn't belong? Family matriarch Charles Wangs wants to gather his children reconvene in New York to recover from losing their fortune. But with a wife still obsessed with her 1,000 count sheets, a son wound tightly in a love affair with a woman in New Orleans and a daughter who refuses to give up her Manolos in California, it's going to be quite the challenge. From their foreclosed home in Bel Air across the country, this promises to be a family saga full of wit and charm. 

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett - How does one kiss send an earthquake through the next 5 decades? Two families thrust together because the parents join their children into one blended mashup (gee, this sounds familiar) in hopes of living the life they've always dreamed. You know, one where the two people who are married actually like each other. The children grow up together, forming unbreakable bonds and kinship. Everything is fine until one of the siblings, Franny, begins dating a famous author, who, upon listening to Franny tell the stories of her childhood, decides to base his next novel on her family. Secrets, pasts long buried and old grievances will come to the surface and rewrite the history that the family had once thought was a perfectly happily ever after... 

The Story of a Brief Marriage by  




Leave Me by Gayle Forman- Let's be honest- if you are a mom, a wife, a woman with responsibility and obligation, there are times when you think about missing your exit and keeping your foot on the gas pedal in order to have just a few more minutes to yourself. You are so caught up in to-do lists, schedules, work and life balance that you've stopped noticing the world around you. That tunnel vision is large and in charge in Maribeth Klein's life. She's just like us- tired. So tired in fact, that  she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack. Once she realizes that her recuperation from the heart attack seems to be an inconvenience to her family, she actually does keep the metal to the pedal. She packs her bags and leaves in order to get a clear view of her life and what it means to be a woman, a mother and claim back the life that she let go to shambles. 

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman a forbidden love story, tropical St. Thomas and historically famous artist Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism. This story has all of the right ingredients: an amazing account of Pissarro's mother Rachel, a strong willed young girl who dreams of living in Paris, but instead, is married off to a much older man and forced to stay in her small, tightly knit community. Until her arranged marriage is suddenly over and she finds herself meeting the eyes of Frederick, the nephew of her late husband. That look will set the course for Rachel's new life... 

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue - It's 2007 and Cameroonian immigrants Jende and Neni are barely surviving with their son in Harlem. Until Jende gets a job as a chauffeur for a rich executive. Their lives take a turn for the better, especially when Neni even finds work for the family in their summer home. All is well...until the financial stability of the world is rocked and cracks form around the couple and their employers. Trust is challenged and the facades they were depending on start to crumble. Can their life in American, their marriage, their future, survive? 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - Imagine being asked "Are you happy with your life?" before being knocked unconscious, only to awake and find that the life you had is gone and replaced with a mysterious world where nothing you had before exists... Imagine being Jason Desson, who once was an ordinary college physics professor but now, is apparently a genius who has achieved something impossible and now is dealing with with its scary aftermath. This mystery is going to be the perfect October read, filled with dangerous foes and dark, terrifying battles. 



The Nix by Nathan Hill - What does the Democratic National Convention, an estranged mother and a small Iowa town have in common?  Samuel, a struggling writer, is about to find out. Because apparently, the mother who walked out on him as a child is also the same woman on the news who is being portrayed as a militant radical, shown throwing rocks at the presidential candidate. How those two can possibly be the same woman is what Sam vows to find out. And what better way to find out a person's true past than to write their biography?

Today Will Be Different  by Maria Semple - From the author of Where'd You Go Bernadette, this quirky and hilarious novel about Eleanor Flood promises to bring the same punch and humor as Bernadette, which has me signing up even before I read it's description. Semple's characters are wry, unique but also strange and I can't help but feel a kindred spirit in Flood, who just wants to have a nice, normal life. She vows that today will different. Today, she will shrug off her insecurities and be the mother and wife that her son and husband need her to be. No more lazy Eleanor. Except now life has different plan, one where her husband has up and gone, her son has a mind of his own and someone from her past shows up with a story that's going to make a lot of people very uncomfortable. 

Mischling by Affinity Konar - I have been in a book hangover with anything WWII related ever since reading Sarah's Key so this book holds a promising reprieve. Identical twin sisters Pearl and Stasha are prisoners of war at Auschwitz, with their parents.It's 1944 and in their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. Until one of them disappears...

The Mothers by Brit Bennett - This promising debut novel has me giddy with excitement. Young love, a small town and big secrets. I know I have a pattern with these types of storylines but I promise, these won't ever get old. The setting: a contemporary black community in California. The characters: A rebellious 17-year old, a pastor's son and an unborn child. See, I told you it'd be interesting!  





The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena - We can't all be Mrs. Kravitz, lurking behind the curtains and witnessing every indiscretion that goes on in the neighborhood. But that witness is exactly what Anne and Marco Conti are going to need when a terrible crime occurs and fingers are pointed at them. How could that happen? To everyone else, the couple is the idealistic pair, with their perfect lawn and angelic baby. However, nothing is perfect and the couple soon realizes that the other is keeping dark secrets that no one saw coming, even the people who live right next door. 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer - Never turn down the opportunity to laugh at yourself, which is exactly what comedian Amy Schumer does in this snarky, tongue-in-cheek memoir about her sexcapades, her rise to the top of entertainment and her life as a quirky young girl with jokes no one else gets. 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead- Growing up on a plantation was anything but easy. Added to that, growing up as a young girl, coming into womanhood would have presented a whole other slew of challenges. That's where you'l find Cora, an outcast, who struggles to find a place in her family's life. Until a new slave arrives and tells Cora about a movement going on she never dreamed could be real: the "Underground Railroad," and she is instantly overcome with a sense of purpose. These tails of what slaves endured during pre-Civil War American are rich, haunting and staunch with bravery and grit. 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - I've been captivated by Kendrick ever since Up In The Air and Happy Christmas and especially because of her wickedly funny banter on Twitter, so her memoir is hands down something I will devour page by page. 



Happy Reading!

Follow along as I review and react to my list: 







My Favorite Reads of Summer 2016

I can't believe the summer is over. Honestly, I am even a little relieved. I consider myself a die hard Autumn girl. The only thing I really like about the summer is how tired my kids get after a long day at the pool. And all of the coconut scented things, of course.

Maybe if I was the kind of woman who got that sun-kissed, olive  skin look after spending the afternoon poolside, but all I ever get is an arch of freckles above my upper lip that looks like a mustachio. I also don't "glisten" with sweat. I am a puddle. It's just not a cute season for me.

However, I do appreciate the sunshine, gardening and laying in the hammock watching my husband mow the lawn. And spraying the kids with the garden hose. And ice cream.

Our summer was pretty lazy. Lots of trips to the pool, a weekend of camping, and mostly just trying to find ways to spend fun time together. I was really focused on getting a lot of reading this summer so I wanted to share my favorite summer reads. The best books of the summer were hard to pin down so I am going to limit myself to picking just 6 but if you check out all the reads from the entire summer, you will understand how hard it was for me to pick.

My Favorite Summer Reads:



One True Loves - It must have been the summer of love for me because I fell for this love story. Hard. Mushy, sad, and all of the things. Your teenage crush heart will love you for it. 

The Girls - The perfect hot summer read. It's dangerous, it's secretive and a total guilty pressure. 

Sweetbitter - The food and wine descriptions alone had me at "I'll have the Pinot." 

Siracusa - Affairs, Italy, a dead body and once again, really good food. 

Eligible - A modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice...it was everything I hoped it would be. Nice and fluffy but still hit all the good parts. 

The Assistants -  I love meeting characters that make me feel like a slightly better person. Or even better, when you feel good about fighting for the "underdogs" of the world and they end up on top.

I feel like I have to put this out there: There are far, far better books to be had out there this summer. Honestly, I know this is just a tiny little tip of the iceberg of the amazing work that I could have gotten my hands on these past couple of months but there is just never enough time.  

Now, bring on the salted caramel and pumpkin scents, the leggings with over sized sweatshirts, the falling leaves and the dewy mornings of autumn! 

5 Must Reads for the Back to School Mom

How do we prepare for out littles going into the next grade, for putting up the pool bags and replacing them with backpacks waiting to be unpacked of their bursting loose leaf papers? It's such a transition, from not caring about bed time to bed time being the most important time of the day... 



This year, my littlest is off to kindergarten. I don't even know how that happened. Just yesterday, I was buying leggings for her chunky little baby legs on Etsy and now...she wants jeans from Justice and her PBTeen backpack is the best thing to happen since Christmas. 

The big kid is off to great places...third grade. I am so excited for him because that's really the grade where I remember big things happening and learning about the world and how it works. He'll be reading some of my favorites like Charlotte's Web and Percy Jackson... It's such an exciting age.   

I think the hardest thing for me about my kids going to school is the handing off of the baton. At school, everything I have tried to teach them-about respect, kindness, when to be silly and when to be calm- it all gets put to the test. And yes, they are not perfect, I don't expect them to be. But now there are witnesses who can attest to whether or not my children are what I secretly fear them to be, actual little tyrants sent from the clouds to torture me. But, I digress. I know they are just fine and they really never mean any harm. My kids are by far not the best children but let's just say I have been lucky enough never to be at the mercy of a Target aisle meltdown. Probably because they know I would quickly walk away and act like they weren't even mine. They'd know we could just meet up in our meeting spot- the boxed wine aisle. I've taught them well. 

But how do I get through the panic in my chest when I realize these children aren't really aren't just mine? They are their own people now.

I just have to remember that their teachers are also women I consider to be dear friends and I know they are kind-hearted people who will chuckle when my kids "say the darnedest things" and call me if they really have a problem. I trust them to give my children grace but to also set standards that will pull the best out of them. 

The most important thing I know in my heart is that all the other mothers out there are having mixed feelings as well. We are all relieved that summer heat and boredom is over, but also sad that another few months of relaxed schedules has come and gone. We are all excited for the challenge and invigorated by our "organized command center" Pinterest pins and our promises for meeting homework deadlines...and I think a little relieved that even though we know our attempts at organization are probably fruitless... that we will all be just fine in the end. At least, that's my hope anyway. 

As I always do when I am feeling anxious or like I am alone on my own little island of worry, I turn to a book for comfort. For the stories of other mothers who have been there, done that, or had it worse, and even reading about moms who have it way better is sometimes still fun and makes me smile. That's what got me thinking about this list of books for us moms to read during the back to school season. 

Here's a short list of stories that give me more perspective, or just a giggle right when I need it most as I stress about my kids going back to school and growing up faster than I ever imagined they would. Hope you enjoy!  




Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - A bunch of crazies who throw fits, compete against each other and throw food. And the kids are awful too. This twisted account of what happens with parents who have Type A personalities (on steriods) start competing in the PTA Olympics is addicting. I couldn't put it down. It's also becoming a mini series with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, which is going to be amazing! 

Where'd You Go Bernadette  - Just a mother who may be losing her mind and a daughter that is sweet, smart and can only begin to imagine what her mother is up to next. 

Prep - Just exactly how far will certain kids go in order to get into the best schools? You'd think an acceptance letter is worth more than a winning lottery ticket. This will make your stress over the next bake sale seem like child's play. 

Five Days Left - A mother fighting a terminal illness, a middle teacher who has adopted one of his students... just a really heartfelt story that is good for the soul. 

The Glass Castle This is one of the most poignant memoirs I have ever read. it just really stuck with me- a young girl and her siblings are forced to basically raise themselves in dire poverty because of abusive and neglectful parents. Wells eventually leaves her family and becomes a successful writer but its her perseverance and hopeful attitude that makes me admire her and her story so much. 

As I finished this, I was pelted in the face with a mini marshmallow from a PVC pipe marshmallow rifle. Is it August 17 at 8:00 a.m. yet??