Tag Archives: book recommendations

2022 Wrap Up+

Here are the books I read in 2022, in order of my reading them. All books with a * I recommend, those with ** I highly recommend.

  1. *The Viscount Who Loved Me (reread) – Julia Quinn
  2. **Love and Other Words – Christina Lauren
  3. **The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab
  4. *To Sir with Love – Lauren Layne
  5. It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover
  6. Falling for Your Best Friend’s Twin – Emma St. Clair
  7. Falling for Your Boss – Emma St. Clair
  8. *At Last – Jill Shavis
  9. The Stopover – T.L. Swan
  10. *The Deal – Elle Kennedy
  11. *Glitter and Glue – Kelly Corrigan
  12. *Burn for You – J.T. Geissinger
  13. *We Shouldn’t – Vi Keeland
  14. **American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins
  15. *Book Lovers – Emily Henry
  16. *The Idea of You: A Novel – Robin Lee
  17. **Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garm
  18. Truth or Tequila – Donna Schwartze
  19. *Something Wilder – Christina Lauren
  20. *Shipped – Angie Hockman
  21. *An Offer from a Gentleman (reread) – Julia Quinn
  22. The Honey-Don’t List – Christina Lauren
  23. *Start Without Me – Gary Janetti
  24. **Nora Goes off Script – Annabel Monaghan
  25. *To Sir Phillip, with Love (reread) – Julia Quinn
  26. *Part of Your World – Abby Jimenez
  27. Romancing Mister Bridgerton (reread) – Julia Quinn
  28. Verity – Colleen Hoover
  29. *The Dead Romantics – Ashley Poston
  30. Only When It’s Us – Chloe Liese
  31. *The One – John Marrs
  32. Half-Blown Rose – Leesa Cross-Smith
  33. We Do What We Do in the Dark – Michelle Hart
  34. Meant to Be Mine – Hannah Orenstein
  35. The Midcoast – Adam White
  36. **Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin
  37. *This is How it Always Is – Laurie Frankel
  38. Scattered Showers – Rainbow Rowell
  39. *The Hotel Nantucket – Elin Hilderbrand
  40. *I’m Glad My Mom Died – Jennette McCurdy
  41. **Killers of a Certain Age – Deanna Raybourn
  42. *The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood
  43. The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
  44. **Bomb Shelter: Love, Time and Other Explosives – Mary Laura Philpott

I listed my favorite books of 2022 in my last post, but I’d like to add two:

  1. Killers of a Certain Age is a very fun read. Four women who work for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, are on a retirement trip when they foil a plan to assassinate them. Toggling between when they were first recruited, their missions and, ultimately, to them trying to survive is an exciting ride!
  2. Bomb Shelter I promoted before reading because I knew it would be great and it was. I laughed out loud, I teared up a lot, I commiserated and related to many things and I loved the book – it was terrific.

One more bonus book – our friends’ 11-year-old daughter self published The LGBTQ+ Handbook: How to Spot Rainbows (click title for link) to help simplify and explain the modern LGBTQ+ world. It’s well-done and very helpful to people of every generation.

Grammar help

I know you didn’t ask for it but here it is anyway. I saw this great article and thought I would share it. Are you using the past tense of some common verbs correctly? Bonus question, is it “I need to lay down” or “I need to lie down?” Check here.


Below are the movies I saw last year that I merited an A- or above:

  1. The French Dispatch A
  2. Coda A
  3. King Richard A-
  4. The Lost City A-
  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once A-
  6. Top Gun: Maverick A-
  7. The Eyes of Tammy Faye A-
  8. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On A-
  9. Bullet Train A-

My daughter and I went to see Avatar: The Way of Water (A-). If you have any interest in seeing it at all, go see it in the theater. Much like the new Top Gun, it is essentially a redux of the original but I loved the first movie when it came out and this one is great too. Also, if you like fish/aquariums this is your movie! It is visually stunning.


I feel like I’m always behind with the streaming shows, but I have finally caught up a little so now I have some breathing room. I haven’t LOVED anything so I’ll keep quiet until I do. Although I did really enjoy season 2 of “Only Murders in the Building” and am looking forward to season 3, especially after seeing the new cast members. And wahoo “Ted Lasso” is coming this spring!!

Let me say again how much I do enjoy “Ghosts” on CBS. So far so good with the new show “Will Trent” on ABC.

If you are a music fan, may I suggest you check out this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (on HBO Max). (Sidebar – the past shows are terrific too.) This year’s ceremony was in person and was incredibly entertaining, from the very professional filmed histories, the impressive live performances to the star-studded crowd – it is super fun. Inductees were Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Carly Simon, Lionel Richie and Dolly Parton. Also worth watching is an amazing speech by John Mellencamp (F**k antisemitism!) inducting his attorney Allen Grubman. It’s awesome and it’s linked here so you can watch it.


My daughter played me a lot of Lizzy McAlpine while she was home. I liked everything I heard but I especially liked “Hate to Be Lame” – click title to listen.

Thanks for reading and here’s to a healthy and entertaining 2023!!


2022 Holiday Recs

Happy December! People have been asking me for recs and I realized that the timing of my end of year summary blog posts has not been ideal. In January, I post all the books I’ve read and then list my top 5 or so. Since I pride myself on making recommendations to be helpful and THIS is the time people would actually be purchasing books, either for themselves or as gifts, I am going to change things around a bit. Below are my favorite books of the year that I’ve read so far. I know there are only a couple weeks left in December, but I always go on a family trip the first week of winter break and I save up for/bring lots of books on this trip, many of which I’m sure I will love (including one written by a good friend so I’m going to recommend it anyway because 1. I loved her last book 2. I love her so I know I will love it and 3. You should buy it because she’s awesome).

So here we go, my favorite books (linked below) that I’ve read in 2022 thus far:

  1. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin   Zevin also wrote The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and if you haven’t read that – please do. I wrote about it in a post a few years ago – it was my favorite book I read in 2017 (even though it came out in 2014). It’s also now a movie for rent on Amazon Prime but I haven’t seen it yet. This current novel is not as mainstream a topic (video game creators, don’t be afraid) but I loved it.
  2. Lessons in ChemistryA Novel – Bonnie Garm   I wrote about this one in my last post so please scroll down for my thoughts.
  3. American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins   I also wrote about this one in my last post.
  4. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab   This one was discussed two posts ago.
  5. The One – John Marrs   Take a simple DNA test and get matched with your soul mate thanks to the discovery of the gene that pairs you with the person meant for you. Test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships/marriages, but wouldn’t it be worth it? Depends on the secrets your true love has I suppose. Creepy and suspenseful and interesting to ponder. (The One is also a one-season series on Netflix from 2021 that I have not watched yet.)

Top Beach Reads (or lighter fare but still great):

  1. Love and Other Words – Christina Lauren   Also discussed two posts ago, but let me say again how much I loved this book. I know this style of books is not for everyone but do not discount a lighter read. Good writing is good writing; it should be appreciated and lauded.
  2. Nora Goes Off Script – Annabel Monaghan   Nora is a romance channel screenwriter whose latest script is picked up for the big screen and then filmed on location in her 100-year-old-home starring a former Sexiest Man Alive. I bet you can’t guess what happens next. Well, maybe you can, but it won’t be exactly what you think and who cares? It’s so so good.
  3. Book Lovers Emily Henry   Scroll down to previous post.
  4. To Sir, with Love Lauren Layne   A little You’ve Got Mailish but that’s ok. Still a fun read.
  5. Part of Your World Abby Jimenez   This is a sweet book about two very different people, a big city ER doc and a small town carpenter, who fall for each other.

Bonus rec that I haven’t read yet because I’m saving it for my trip so I can pass it around to my family members but think you should purchase as a holiday gift for everyone you know:

Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives – Mary Laura Philpott   I have linked it to her local bookstore so you can help support them when purchasing! Win win!!

Movies to watch on a plane if you are traveling or for when you’re just looking for some fun entertainment whilst hanging at home:

  1. Obviously Top Gun: Maverick
  2. Bullet Train  Five assassins aboard a super-fast train, including Brad Pitt, have interweaving missions. It’s clever, funny and super violent but in such an over-the-top way that it’s almost ok.
  3. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – SO sweet!!
  4. Tenet  This movie got upended by Covid. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should, and you really need to pay attention.
  5. The Lost City  If you love Raiders of the Lost Ark and Sandra Bullock, this is your movie.


I have two interesting (free and linked below) apps for you.

  1. Yuka – This one my friend Nancy’s son who lives in LA told me about. It allows you to scan personal care products using their barcodes and rates them from 0 (poor) to 100 (excellent) so you can see how healthy they are for you, based on their ingredients. Be prepared to feel like you should be throwing away everything currently on your sink counter.
  2. Soon – I have lists everywhere; on post it notes, in my (paper) calendar, and especially on my Notes app. These lists are for the books I’ve read, the books I want to read, the tv shows I “should be” watching, the restaurants that have been recommended to me, etc. My college friend Jenny told me she had the app for me! Soon has all these categories and more (hotels, stores, museums, etc), you just add your items to the appropriate list – all in one nice app.


The one show I’m going to recommend here because your whole family can watch together is “Be My Guest With Ina Garten” on the Food Network. Who doesn’t love Ina? In each episode she invites a (famous) friend over. First she prepares something for them, then they chat a bit, then they make something together. She had me at the first episode of season 2 wherein she made Frozen Palomas for Faith Hill. YUM.

I wish you all a wonderful, safe, healthy and super fun holiday!!

Better Late Than Never…

We’re just going to skirt past the fact that I sort of skipped the summer blog post and, instead, focus on the recommendations that I am making for your Labor Day weekend! (We had a fabulous summer and I hope you did, too!)


If you are looking for something to binge, you should try Dead to Me on Netflix.  Christina Applegate plays a widow who meets another woman, Linda Cardellini, at a support group and they become friends.  It is a dark comedy full of secrets and twists and turns and is very fun to watch. Applegate was just nominated for an Emmy, which is terrific, but I also really enjoy Cardellini, I wish she had gotten a nom too.

Last post I mentioned the podcast “The Daily.”  I still love it.  If you do too, you should watch “The Weekly” on FX and Hulu. Similar to “The Daily,” “The Weekly” focuses on one story per episode (30 minutes each) featuring a New York Times journalist’s investigation.  It is compelling and informative.

One final plug for “Jane The Virgin.”  I’ve already described it (a couple times) so I won’t again (because you can read past posts) but I will say that the final season was SOOOO good. It is quality television; heartwarming, suspenseful, surprising, thoughtful and really just lovely. If you never watched it, you should.

On a future television note, one of my favorite historical romance authors, Julia Quinn, has a series headed for Netflix thanks to Shonda Rhimes.  The Bridgerton Series is a collection of eight books, each featuring one of eight siblings.  I have read them all and they are all entertaining; laugh out loud funny, smartly written and so fun to read.  Not only is exciting that it is a Shondaland production but Julie Andrews has been cast as Lady Whistldown, who will serve as narrator.  I cannot wait.  For more info, read here.  Better start with book one, The Duke and I, now so you can get through all of them before they start airing in 2020.


(More) Books

Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir – Ruth Reichl

For some unknown reason, the only other book I have read of Reichl’s is Garlic & Sapphires which I also loved.  (If you haven’t read it, you should.)  This memoir, as the title suggests, chronicles her tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet magazine.  I love her writing, I also want to hang out with her and be her friend. This is a wonderful read and (bonus!) recipes are interspersed throughout.

Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is an “oral history” of the formation of one of the biggest bands of the seventies.  Daisy is a free spirit floating around LA who is beautiful, gets wasted, sleeps around, and can sing.  The Six is a band led by Billy Dunne, who is very intensely focused on his band, has a girlfriend, and goes a little crazy while on tour.  A producer puts them together and this is what happens.  If you love Fleetwood Mac, you’ll enjoy this novel.

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays – Mary Laura Philpott

My good friend wrote a book!!!!  And I loved it!!! (Thank goodness!  Can you imagine how awkward that could’ve been?)  My former neighbor, MLP, has compiled essays illuminating moments in her life; being a student, meeting her spouse, having a family, working, raising that family – and detailing the stress and pressure inherent in all of that.  So relatable, heartfelt, witty and charming – you’ll see that you aren’t alone when you realize you have felt the same way, that it’s never too late to re-invent yourself and that just because there’s a box, you don’t have to fit into it. You’ll want to share this gem with all of your friends, like I am sharing it with you. :  )

Evvie Drake Starts Over – Linda Holmes

One of the reasons I loved this book is that it is set in a small town in Maine.  Having spent a bit of time in Maine., I’ve often thought I could live there.  It’s quaint, it’s chill and the people are so nice.  Anyway, Evvie lives in Maine and is recently widowed. The crippling sorrow she feels regarding this life change is misunderstood by everyone around her.  Enter Dean, a New York major-league pitcher who can’t throw anymore.  Needing to get out of town, he moves into an apartment at the back of her house.  I love Maine and I love baseball so this book hit a sweet spot for me. If you are going on vacation, bring this.



“Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” is an hour-long weekly news-based radio game show where panelists (mostly comedians) and contestants are quizzed in humorous ways about that week’s news.  It’s hosted by Peter Sagal and announced by Bill Kurtis, both of whom are very funny and witty.  It may not sound that interesting but I laugh throughout the whole thing. Props to my sister in law, Janet, for introducing this one to us.


Song of the blog

I heard “My Cheating Heart” by Love Fame Tragedy on Alt Nation and loved it immediately.  I hope you do too.


Thanks for reading!

A Fall Harvest


In the Captain Obvious segment of movie recommendations let’s begin with A Star Is Born. The performances are all top-notch (I especially enjoyed Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay).  The singing was, not surprisingly, the best part for me.  Lady Gaga steals it with every performance; she is just so innately, effortlessly talented.  I really love that they recorded every song live, it gives the movie so much more power and authenticity. But can we just discuss Bradley Cooper?  I’ve been a fan since “Alias,” admiring his looks and acting chops but he is ridiculously distracting in this movie.  I’m not sure I have ever seen anyone better looking on the movie screen and I do not say that lightly.  Swoon.

Bohemian Rhapsody has not gotten the best reviews.  Critics complain that the movie did not delve deeply enough into Mercury’s hedonistic lifestyle or accurately portray his gayness. All that may be true but everyone I know who saw it looooved this movie.  Not only that, we all fell in love with Queen’s music again. Have you noticed “Bohemian Rhapsody” is on the radio more?  I enjoyed the movie and I thought Rami Malek was excellent.  As far as highlights go, that Live Aid scene is truly Killer Queen.

A movie I’d like you to consider seeing is Immediate Family.  For anyone who has harbored a desire to foster children, or at least an admiration for those who have, this movie is for you.  Or, if you appreciate a well-done family comedy, it is also for you.  It’s based on the director/co-writer’s own experience as a foster parent. My mom and I heard him speak at the screening, and he is very passionate about the subject.  The movie is not slap sticky or hokey; it is realistic in a loving way and definitely funny.  I really liked it.  It’s PG-13; your kids will like it, too.



Here are my top 5 favorite (network) television shows right now:

  1. “The Resident” – I’m a big fan of Matt Czuchry (“Gilmore Girls”), I love that it’s filmed in Atlanta and visually proves that it’s in Atlanta and I like that it shows us a different side to the medical drama than we are used to seeing. It’s a little more corporate and evil than I’d like to think it is but what do I know?
  2. “Manifest” – It’s filling my “Lost” void. I love the concept and I like the supernatural aspect of it mixed with everyday life.  They were missing for 5 ½ years?!  That’s so cool.
  3. “New Amsterdam” – It’s heartwarming without being schmaltzy. Don’t you want to assume that every hospital administrator would prefer focusing on exceptional care over bureaucracy?
  4. “FBI” – I’m not really a procedural girl (imagine the “Law & Order” BUM BUM in the background) but I am enjoying this show.  Smart, levelheaded people responsible for keeping us safe – again, what we all like to assume is truth.
  5. “The Good Doctor” – hmmm, I have a lot of medical shows on this list. What can I say? They are all good!  I liked this last year and I like it this year.  It’s very well acted and thought provoking while also entertaining.  In a recent episode of “CBS Sunday Morning” there was a story highlighting companies that hire people with autism because these are highly intelligent people who often have uncanny abilities and strengths, which can be utilized in many professions. After watching this show, I definitely believe it.


I’m in the middle of “Ozark” and “Bodyguard” on Netflix so maybe more on those later.  I was going to watch “The Good Cop” on Netflix because the reviews were so good but just saw that it got canceled so…maybe not?



Chemistry by Weike Wang:  I really enjoyed this book; I learned some things and I laughed out loud.  I saw this review which coincides with everything I feel about the book:  “Wang’s heroine, a young Chinese-American woman who is emotionally and professionally adrift, feels crushed by the expectations of her demanding parents, and by the pressures of her prestigious Boston university and her competitive male-dominated field, synthetic organic chemistry. She is also deeply ambivalent about marriage and committing to a career in synthetic organic chemistry. Chemistry is a sort of anti-coming-of-age story: Instead of figuring out how to be an adult, the narrator learns to live with uncertainty and indecision . . . In a deadpan voice, Wang drops in arcane chemistry trivia and captures the quirky, cutthroat subculture of science graduate students.” —Alexandra Alter, The New York Times

I did not find a corresponding New York Times review of Fight or Flight by Samantha Young, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good! It’s a romance, so if that’s not your thing, you can move on.  It is a quality read AND you can take it out in public because the cover is not embarrassing.  If you like it, I recommend all of her books, particularly Hero. You’re welcome.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by Gail Honeyman is deeper than you may originally think.  She is definitely quirky and not initially likeable but you soon begin to see how she came to be the way she is and you grow to care and hope for her; funny and heartbreaking.  (Side note, I just read that Reese Witherspoon’s company is turning it into a movie which is set to be released in 2019.)


Instead of a song of the blog this time, I am providing a recipe.  I’m not really a pumpkin everything fan, but I do love this recipe from Taste of Home magazine years ago.  I make it every fall because my kids love it (especially when I throw in chocolate chips) and I gift it to others as well.  I hope you enjoy.

Delicious Pumpkin Bread

5 eggs

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil

1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 pkgs (3 oz each) cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

In a mixing blow, beat the eggs.  Add oil and pumpkin; beat until smooth.  Combine remaining ingredients; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture. Pour batter into five greased 5” x 2 ½” x 2” loaf pans.  Bake at 325 for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks. Yield: 5 miniature loaves.  OR (and this is what I do more): Bread may also be baked in two greased 8” x 4” x 2” loaf pans for 75-80 minutes.


Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for reading!