2018 Book ReviewBook ClubBookslive better

Thinking, Playing, Reading {the latest book recommendations!}

By September 19, 2018 June 20th, 2019 7 Comments


My friend Kate brought us the most beautiful bouquet of flowers “just because.” Patty sent my daughter a bouquet of flowers when she got her mission call Taiwan. Such a small – but big – gesture that makes me happy every time I enter the house. Happiness tip: Send the Flowers!


Two of my girls are using matching planners from BAM, because, like their mother, they cannot survive life for one day without a physical, hand-written calendar (Google calendar is great for sharing schedules, but I also gotta write!) It makes me a bit giddy to see them planning and organizing their lives. Check.

Also: these pens with the planner. Goodness, I love them.


Wasn’t I going to post books more often? Well, here you go – 8 books I read this summer and into fall as I try to hit 50 reads for the Goodreads Reading Challenge (I’ve always loved reading challenges 🙂 )

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain: Historical fiction. McClain (The Paris Wife) writes the story of Martha Gellhorn and her infamous relationship with Ernest Hemingway. Gellhorn was one of the first and most well-known female war correspondents. RESPECT.

Where There’s Hope by Elizabeth Smart: Nonfiction, adult. I took notes upon notes reading this book. We know Smart’s kidnapping story, but here she offers more: hope moving forward. I’ve become a huge fan of this woman, watching her take control of her life and empowering women of every age. One of the most powerful stories is her father bringing Elizabeth and her little sister into his study to practice, “screaming” after a woman cornered Elizabeth in the bathroom at church (after she was returned from the kidnapping she still didn’t know how to fight back!) Elizabeth froze, not knowing what to do or react. It’s wonderful to be polite and have manners when the occasion calls for it – but do our children (esp our girls!?) know how and when to scream and bite and kick when needed? Really great book.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: Middle grade, fiction. Take it from Paige: the movie does not do this book justice! Read the book! My girls read it over and over and over, especially when they need to curl up with an old favorite. I loved it, too.

Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin: Middle grade, fiction. Baldwin makes a lovely debut with her middle grade read about Della, the ups and downs of family and farm life, and a mother’s mental illness. Really well done! Just thinking about this book makes my mouth water and my body break out into the damp sweat of summer (that’s a compliment – Cindy brings great voice and language to this story.)

Calypso by David Sedaris: Memoir, adult. I’ve never read memoirist Sedaris before. He’s really funny, even when writing about family tragedy. He’s also extremely irreverent. Geez. You read a sentence and think did he really just write THAT? But no doubt, I get what all the fuss is about. He’s a great writer and I want to learn from him.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone Young Adult, fiction. This was my freshman daughter’s summer reading. She read it fast and said, “you should read this.” I casually picked it up and couldn’t put it back down. Real, sad, important. Justyce, a young black scholar is trying to balance two worlds – his old neighborhood and an elite prep school. It’s present-day, but he writes letters to the great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, trying to figure out his place in a racist America. Head’s up: language.

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What are you reading? Do tell!



  • Looking at your 2018 list, we’ve read a lot of the same books this year! Where the Watermelons Grow, Educated, The Great Alone, and Little Fires Everywhere (well, not maybe a lot but a handful). I’ve been meaning to tell you I saw your book at a Costco in LA this summer. Looking forward to hosting you on my blog in December.

  • Kim says:

    I LOVE when you write your recommendations. They all sound amazing!

  • Thanks for the recommendations! I’m about to start reading Where the Watermelons Grow!

  • Julia Tomiak says:

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE the Paper Mate Ink Joy pens!!! One is sitting next to me right now!! (Are you surprised?) Also, I use both Google Calendar and a good old hard copy, because i just need to. I have started using the Google Calendar app (as well as the Gmail app) on my iPhone instead of just the Apple calendar and mail apps– they are more colorful and visually appealing.

    This is the third time I’ve seen Calypso recommended. Will add it to the TBR list.

    Your Dear Martin sounds a lot like the review I posted today: The Hate U Give. I guess we should “swap”.

  • Dana says:

    Like Julia, I love those pens! I only have them in black, but I may have to get the colors. I haven’t read any of the books you reviewed, but I’m going to add a few to my list.

  • Nina says:

    Oh my gosh you need to read earlier Sedaris to fully appreciate Calypso. I insist!! Anything but the diaries which is a bit much.

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