Archive for August, 2021

September 2021 Must-Reads

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Are you ready for Fall reading? Here are nine incredible books to read in September. Be sure to pin today’s post for your next library day.

I do believe I have something for everyone in this month’s stack, including a riveting nonfiction selection, a great science fiction escape, a campy horror novel, and some contemporary fiction picks that I can’t stop thinking about. 

If you are intrigued, definitely scroll down for another great stack of books. I’m proud of most this month to discover a few under-the-radar reads that deserve your attention. 

I also launched my Book Gang Podcast this month, and I can’t wait to share it with you. The first episode is all about Spooky (Not Scary) Books that I think you should check out for Fall. You can listen to this episode for FREE today. 

Patreon subscribers receive my monthly reviews ten days early, and I’m now offering them ad-free in audio format, just for you. I am so thankful that over one hundred of you have decided to join me on this platform. 

A Book Gang membership is just $5 a month and gives you access to all the bonus material after each episode and what I’m reading in real-time. To top it off, our members receive a monthly bookish digital download, a themed Spotify playlist, and a printable newsletter with the latest book news and reviews.

Click here to Support My Patreon Community

(you can listen to today’s reviews ad-free!!)

Join Us for Our September MomAdvice Book Club Discussion and Get Your Book Club Shirt Today!

snag this month’s incredible book club book

Did you know that I offer a free virtual book club too? Be sure to join the MomAdvice Book Club, and you will never be without a book again!

You can check out the complete list of 2021 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews.

So many incredible books steals this week- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked!

Check this list daily here, or you can sign up for my daily deal newsletter, and I will send them right to your inbox!

Get a FREE Book Just for Being a Prime Member

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Yup, I always try to remind you of this fantastic little Prime perk!

Grab YOUR FREE BOOK FOR September over here. (please note: this will load tomorrow for you!)

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the September Book of the Month Club Selections:

The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo

Beautiful Country by  Qian Julie Wang

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

The Neighbor’s Secret by L. Alison Heller


Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

September 2021 Must-Reads

The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas

5 Out of 5 Stars

There are two themes that I can always get on board with: time travel and alternate lives.

This novel explores nine variations of one woman’s life, and it all is spurred by the fact that Rose Napolitano does not want to have children. She’s an academic who loves her career, but her husband’s one request is that she give that up to pursue having a child with him.

The reader then goes on different paths with Rose to explore what a motherhood journey might look like or what the course might look like if she declines.

I devoured this in one satisfying gulp and thought it would make a phenomenal feminist book club selection that would give you plenty to talk about.

I appreciated how all of Rose’s lives seem to lead her to the same unexpected path that I think any reader would understand.

I will count this book among my favorites for 2021 and recommend you run out and grab a copy for yourself.

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

5 Out of 5 Stars

This nonfiction book explores the opioid crisis in a new way by getting to the roots of Purdue Pharma and the owner’s role in the OxyContin epidemic.

Keefe approaches his story through three sections, outlining the motives of three generations in the Sackler family. It showcases how the reasons and greed switch through the generations and how the ad campaigns and distribution get slicker and slicker over time.

What may see as well-intentioned in the beginning becomes quickly burred as Keefe shares internal emails and financial motives that caused people to abuse the system and then the pill.

I have watched documentaries and big-think pieces on the scandal. That said, none have covered this as well as this riveting read.

This could have been a dense and dry read, but Steele keeps it moving through shifting viewpoints and explanations on the drug industry that had me flipping the pages quickly.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

4 Out of 5 Stars

The author of “My Lovely Wife” is back again with a new thriller and it’s a good one.

Set in an elite private school, Teddy is someone who appreciates the teaching accolades he’s received but is continually annoyed by the students and staff he is forced to work with. That’s why it isn’t so distressing when his coworkers start to fall ill and even die.

He’s got enough on his plate dealing with the entitled kids…oh, and slowly poisoning the staff.

Teddy ends each day victorious with a big glass of milk and absorbing the day’s headlines with the havoc he’s unleashed on his school community.

When other deaths start to happen, though, Teddy has to face the fact that he’s made a few enemies on the way and that someone else might be wreaking a little havoc of their own.

Dark, biting, satirical, and a few laugh-out-loud moments are peppered throughout this thriller, making it a fun and fast read.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

4 Out of 5 Stars

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I love a meta reading experience, and that’s what you will find in this book of comfort food literature, perfect for escaping the pandemic craziness.

A local library has a reading list that can be found tucked in books that encourage readers to read certain books if they need them. Within the list are several modern-day classics (Kite Runner, Life of Pi, Time Traveler’s Wife) and older classics (Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird) that are sure to bring so much to the reader’s life.

One librarian has struggled with reading until she discovers this list, and now she’s got the perfect reading recommendations for a frequent patron of the library.

Widower Mukesh remembers how much his wife loved reading, although he can’t remember what she read. Aleisha, the librarian, uses this list to make her recommendations and beautiful friendship blossoms between the two.

The mystery is, who has made this list that brings so much joy and vibrance to the library community?

If you love hearing about other people experiencing the books you love, you will adore this story.

There is something so comforting about how books bring us together, and I think this book really showcases the magic of that experience in a memorable way.

Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax

3 Out of 5 Stars

I didn’t know very much about Annie Oakley before reading this historical fiction book, but I was on quite the fact-finding mission after this one. This is one of the reasons I adore historical fiction so much.

Ruth McClintock has been researching Annie Oakley’s life for a decade. In particular, she is convinced that a traumatic childhood event may have been why Annie was on a mission to arm every woman in America.

In fact, Ruth’s obsession with Annie has cost her a doctorate, a book deal, and a marriage that could have been.

Ruth ends up getting a lead on a journal that may validate her research, and it’s through quite the unlikely research companion- a local tech-savvy high schoolboy.

As Ruth takes down Annie’s demons, she must confront her own. It’s here with the genre-bending really happens, and Romano-Lax leans more into science fiction than historical fiction.

Overall, I was hoping for more meat to Annie’s story that would have grounded it more for me, but I still found the premise unique, and it yielded a day of fun on Google that gave me a newfound appreciation for Annie Oakley’s life.

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

4 Out of 5 Stars

The book of the summer, for sure, seems to be this one! I listened to this story on audiobook and appreciated the beautiful narration on this brutal book journey.

Ike never expected to hear the news that his son has been murdered, along with his son’s husband. Ike never accepted his son’s sexuality, but the grief he is experiencing is undeniable.

Ike and Buddy Lee are two grieving dads that also happen to be ex-cons. They have little in common except for this loss, but vengeance can really bring people together, can’t it?

This book is very graphic, gory, and brutal.

My criticism is that I was hoping for more evolution with Ike & Buddy’s characters as they understand more about their sons and their community.

They seemed to fail to evolve, although I appreciated the unlikely nature of the duo and their shared mission.

Overall, this was really solid, and I can’t wait to read the author’s first book now.

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade

10 Out of 5 Stars

There is storytelling, and then there is STORYTELLING.

This novel is so exquisite, the characters are perfectly broken, and the setting is just so rich that I could not put it down.

I am moving this book up into my all-time favorites, and I just can’t believe that I haven’t heard more people talking about it.

Don’t you love those under-the-radar books that end up being your favorite in the stack?

This multigenerational story wrecked me, left me holding my breath in sections, and had me rereading passage after passage. But I really didn’t want my time with these characters to end, and I think you will too.

The three main characters in this story all are facing their own enormous battles. The father struggles with alcoholism, the daughter with the new role of motherhood, and the grandmother faces a terminal illness diagnosis that she’s kept from her family. Set in New Mexico, the author builds a fictional town that the reader can see unfold on each page.

It is hard to do this review justice to the writing, but how these characters evolve and grow makes this a journey experience for the reader.

I can’t say enough good things about this writer’s descriptive nature to make every ordinary moment feel extraordinary.

So many sections left me on the verge of tears because there was so much honesty in every word.

I discovered later that this novel was a short story that the writer expanded, so I will definitely have to go back and read what had inspired this original idea.

You don’t need to read this, though, to appreciate the beauty of this book.

Don’t let this book pass you by- it’s incredible.

We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker

4 Out of 5 Stars

When the real world starts to become too much, I love to escape with a good science fiction novel, and this one delivered.

The Pilot is the latest tech craze, and who wouldn’t want one? This device allows your brain to process more and multi-task with ease improving both work performance and school grades.

Although little is really understood about this device, David’s parents reluctantly allow their son to get one to help him fit in at school. Their daughter, Sophie though is unable to get one because of a seizure disorder.

However, David’s device doesn’t seem to be operating the way it should, and instead of streamlining his life, it ends up causing him chaos and noise inside of his head. Unable to cope, he decides to enlist instead of attending college.

Unfortunately, he’s successful enough that the company that manufactures the device wants to use his image in their ads.

His sister, however, is helping to lead the Anti-Pilot movement and is working tirelessly to try to destroy the Pilot company.

This book explores big themes like our dependence on technology, our need to multi-task to succeed, and what happens when access to tech creates societal hurdles.

Pinsker really makes some beautiful plot twists that add a lot of depth to these characters, and I always love a fresh exploration on tech gone bad.

Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

5 Out of 5 Stars

This YA thriller is the kind of read you schedule a day out on your calendar because you won’t want to put it down once you start it.

Class A felons are the ones that have the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profiles.

That is why these teen killers are recruited for a unique secret program to learn to become trained assassins.

First, they are removed from the prison population and are relocated to a sleep-away camp to prepare for their designated mission.

Our main character was accused of murdering her best friend, but she does not recall what happened that night. However, she knows she was framed for this murder, and one of her friends at the teen killers club believes her and wants to help her uncover who the real killer is. 

The reader gets to go on this fun journey as Signal Deere uncovers the real murderer, and, boy, does this have some clever twists.

As a seasoned thriller reader, it’s hard to pull a fast one on me, but I had NO idea where this story was going, and it was so much fun.

This has all the necessary ingredients for a great YA read- a misfit cast of characters that bond together, a great romance, a fun mystery, and (for me) lots of outstanding horror movie elements.

I can see this one becoming a movie or series because it was just so fun.

The author has written pilots for MTV, FX & Amazon, and CW’s Reign and Paramount’s Heathers. I think her background really adds a cinematic quality to this book that is guaranteed to pull you out of any book slump.

If you have a reluctant teen reader, this would also be a great one to share with them! I can’t wait to read what Sparks writes next!

Book Gang Podcast Episode 1: Spooky Book Season

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

Friends, I am so excited to share with you my brand new podcast, Book Gang.

I have to admit that I’ve been so intimidated to start this process and know that I’m learning as I go.

As our Facebook Book Club grew, I separated out a member space on Patreon that has challenged me in the best ways this year. This has been my digital playground to learn how to create printables and digital offerings that I didn’t think I could ever do I needed the creative push especially with the pandemic slump that I’ve been in. I decided to test the waters with a bonus podcast episode and fell in love with this format.

Who knew the little shed that we made over would end making the perfect space for starting a new endeavor.

Today I’m sharing my Episode 1 and it is all about Spooky Book Season. For some, that might look like October, but for me, spooky book season lasts ALL FALL. Of course, my favorite movies are horror films, and many of my most beloved books are also filled with creepy themes, especially as I head into the Halloween season. So today, I wanted to arm you with a stack of books that make my all-time list of riveting, scary reads.

Please have patience with me as we find a home for these episodes to live and as I get the podcast listed with all of the different formats. 

Book Gang Podcast Episode 1: Spooky Book Season

Listen to the Show Below:

Books Mentioned In Today’s Episode:

The Haunting of Hill House

The Woman in Black

Bird Box

The Girl With All the Gifts

In a Dark, Dark Wood

American Predator

Night Film

The Kingdom

Also Mentioned In Today’s Episode:

Join the Patreon Community For the Bonus Content

Bonus Patreon Episode: 9 Books I Read in August 

MomAdvice Book Club

How to Host a Reading Retreat

Full Interview with Josh Mallerman (Bird Box)

Full Interview with M.R. Carey (The Girl With All the Gifts)

Full Interview with Ruth Ware (In a Dark, Dark Wood)

19 Thrillers to Keep You Up All Night

I can’t wait to hear from you today about what you thought about today’s episode. Please tell me which book from today’s list piqued your interest this week? Happy reading, book gang!

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

Looking for a fast way to cook frozen chicken? Today I’m sharing my foolproof recipe to bake chicken—no need to thaw chicken for this recipe. Learn how to safely oven-bake chicken, cook frozen chicken in your slow cooker, and get tips for cooking frozen chicken in your pressure cooker. Try these foolproof methods on your next meal plan.

If I had to point the finger at where I began to realize the beauty in make-ahead meals, it would be at this bag of frozen chicken that I cook each week for our family. 

This easy cooking tutorial is just what you need for your sandwiches and wraps. The best part is that you can prepare chicken in bulk for your week right from its frozen state with my easy technique.

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

For our family of four, I prepare three pounds of chicken each week (one frozen bag of chicken breasts from ALDI, to be exact!), and we usually plow through these three pounds by Wednesday or Thursday of the week.

I can attest to the fact that we never have leftovers with this recipe.

I started making a habit of baking this chicken, on grocery day, as I put the rest of the food away.

For five minutes of prep work, it has saved us at least a hundred bucks a month. Just think how much I am saving by eating at home instead of a Panera visit!

Before we begin, here are a few commonly asked questions about cooking frozen chicken!

What are the guidelines for safely cooking frozen chicken?

It is essential to follow the USDA guidelines when preparing poultry. For example, the USDA states explicitly, “Do not cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker or the microwave; thaw it before cooking.”

Chicken can be cooked though from the frozen state in the oven or on the stove. Expect your cooking time to be about 50% longer if you do not thaw your chicken first.

Can you put frozen chicken in your crockpot?

The USDA advises NOT to put frozen chicken in your slow cooker because the internal temperature does not rise fast enough to meet food safety standards.

How long is frozen chicken good for?

A bag of frozen chicken from your supermarket should last approximately nine months, according to the USDA.

The prepared, cooked chicken, though, should be used within three months of freezing.

What is the safe internal temperature of chicken?

A safe internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit (75° Celsius) is recommended by the USDA. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken breast is always your best guide. This is my favorite meat thermometer.

How Can I Adjust this Cooking Technique for a Large Family or Gathering?

The best investment that I’ve made is buying two of these jumbo baking sheets! They fit perfectly in a standard oven! With these baking sheets, you can easily double this recipe.

How long can you keep cooked chicken in the refrigerator?

Properly stored, cooked chicken will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Glass containers with airtight lids are my favorite for storing. When taking to potlucks, I rely on these inexpensive plastic containers for transporting.

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

Here are 3 techniques to cook frozen chicken breasts!

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

Frozen Chicken in the Oven

Baked Frozen Chicken

Baked Frozen Chicken

How to Bake Frozen Chicken

I have had people ask me at potlucks and gatherings how I bake my frozen chicken. After testing different temperatures of cooking frozen chicken and spice combinations, I am thrilled to share my favorite recipe.

This is the recipe I rely upon for topping salads, making chicken wraps, or as an accompaniment to a brown rice bowl.

Spread your frozen chicken breasts on two cookie sheets.

Don’t love the clean-up?

Consider lining the baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick heavy-duty aluminum foil.

I love these parchment squares because they make the whole clean-up process a little easier.

Brush or drizzle your chicken breasts with olive oil, salt generously, and finish with your favorite seasoning.

My secret ingredient (and this is no endorsement- just a HUGE fan!) is this Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic seasoning mix.

I found this seasoning mix in the spice aisle, and it makes such a fantastic dry rub on the chicken that it tastes as good as anything you would get in a restaurant.

Since it is salt-free, I layer on the salt just the way I like, which helps enhance the chicken’s flavor.

Baking frozen chicken is safe, according to the USDA.

Frozen Chicken Breast Baked and Sliced

My secret ingredient (and this is no endorsement- just a HUGE fan!) is this Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic seasoning mix.

I found this seasoning mix in the spice aisle, and it makes such a fantastic dry rub on the chicken that it tastes as good as anything you would get in a restaurant.

Since it is salt-free, I layer on the salt just the way I like, which helps enhance the chicken’s flavor.

Baking frozen chicken is safe, according to the USDA.

How to Boil Frozen Chicken

Boiling chicken is another safe and effective way to prepare shredded chicken for your recipes. Add a cup of chicken stock (or broth) and 4-5 frozen chicken breasts in a large pot.

Bring this all to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until you have reached 165° Fahrenheit (75° Celsius).

Remember, if you are unsure if your chicken is done, a meat thermometer is a cook’s best friend. First, make sure the internal temperature of your chicken is 165 degrees.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken from


How to Pressure Cook Frozen Chicken

You may recall my tutorial for preparing frozen chicken in your pressure cooker. My Instant Pot Shredded Chicken recipe is one of our most popular and is my favorite meal prep technique.

You can read a full tutorial on pressure cooking frozen chicken (or fresh chicken) in this post.

This recipe calls for 1 cup chicken broth on the bottom and resting seasoned frozen chicken on top.

Once again, the cooking time on frozen chicken varies based on the size of the breast.

If the chicken breasts are small, 12 minutes of cooking time at high pressure works great.

Average size chicken breasts will take about 14 minutes. That means, in less than 30 minutes of effort, you will have chicken for a week’s worth of meals.

Large pieces are best at 16 minutes.

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken from

click on pictures or click here for tutorial

Be sure to visit the entire tutorial to learn more.

Once the Instant Pot beeps, make sure your pressure cooker turns off (and doesn’t start the, “keep warm,” setting. Allow it to release naturally for ten minutes.

Once the ten minutes of pressure release are done, you can open the pot and shred your chicken.

I like to pour a bit of the chicken broth (or stock) on top to help the meat retain its moisture.


Bake Chicken Breasts From Frozen
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 servings
An easy way to prepare frozen chicken in bulk for salads, wraps, and as the main attraction for your family’s week.
  • 3 pounds frozen boneless chicken breasts
  • Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Seasoning
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper
  1. Preheat the oven for 375 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the frozen chicken breasts out over one or two cookie sheets.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the chicken breasts and then sprinkle liberally with the seasoning mix, kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Allow the chicken to rest ten to fifteen minutes (to allow the juices to redistribute within the meat). Dice or shred for your recipes for the week.


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Looking for recipes that use shredded chicken? Check out these ideas!

Use shredded chicken for enchiladas use shredded chicken in enchiladas

chicken pesto frittata use shredded chicken in a chicken pesto frittata

chicken caesar pasta salad use roasted or shredded chicken in a chicken caesar pasta salad

Happy cooking!

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

August 2021 Must-Reads

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

If you need a 5-star read, I’ve got four this month! Get ten new recommendations for your book stack and try our book club Patreon community for FREE this month! Pin this post for your next library day! 

Are you ready for another fun stack of books? I am so excited to share ten excellent books that I read this month and guarantee that there is something for everyone in this stack.

Did I mention that I’m also giving you a chance to try out the MomAdvice Book Gang membership for free?

This month I’m offering all my Patreon subscriber bonuses FOR FREE for you to get to experience what I offer each month to my incredible community.

When the pandemic hit, I lost a substantial amount of income. I knew that I would have to think creatively, strategically, and (most importantly) authentically about how I grew my business during this time.

So I decided to start a Patreon community, and it costs just $5 a month to expand your reading experience with me. Each month I create an ad-free newsletter with all of my book recommendations plus all the book news you need for your month. In addition, you get the reviews in a vlog that you can watch/to listen to, a bookish digital download, and a themed playlist of music for your month. I am so, so proud of this pivot and want to share it with you.

I wanted to offer our readers a special treat this month, in addition to our reviews, and this month you can sample my Patreon community for FREE.

Click here to try our Patreon Community for FREE this month


Join Us for Our August MomAdvice Book Club Discussion and Get Your Book Club Shirt Today!

snag this month’s incredible book club book

Did you know that I offer a free virtual book club too? Be sure to join the MomAdvice Book Club, and you will never be without a book again!

You can check out the complete list of 2021 MomAdvice Book Club picks over here. 

Don’t forget to send me a friend request over on GoodReads for more great book reviews.

So many incredible books steals this week- don’t miss it!

Check Our Daily Book Deals List

I try to post a daily book deal list for you to keep your Kindle fully stocked!

Check this list daily here, or you can sign up for my daily deal newsletter, and I will send them right to your inbox!

Get a FREE Book Just for Being a Prime Member

Did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? 

Yup, I always try to remind you of this fantastic little Prime perk!

Grab YOUR FREE BOOK FOR August over here.

June 2020 Book of the Month

Check out the August Book of the Month Club Selections:

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena
Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy


Now let’s talk about this month’s stack!

August 2021 Must-Reads

August 2021 Must-Reads from

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

5 Out of 5 Stars

This laugh-out-loud novel is just the escape you need right now.

Not only is it the first in a new series, but it is also coming to Netflix.

When Meddelin ends up accidentally killing her blind date, she enlists her mother and aunties to help her cover up the crime and dispose of the body.

However, disposing of the body ends up being more complicated than they could ever imagine.

The hilarity intensifies as they attempt to do the dirty working of ridding the body at a wedding they are also scheduled to work.

The twists and turns just keep on coming, and the rivalry between these aunties shines in their adorable banter and love for one another.

Add in a great little love story, and you have all the ingredients you need for the perfect summer read. Fans of “Finlay Donavan is Killing It” will absolutely love this fun read. 

August 2021 Must-Reads from

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

3 Out of 5 Stars

I haven’t met a book by Choi that I haven’t liked, and Yolk is another solid YA story from this author.

Of course, it only helps that the book’s exterior is beautiful, including one of the most creative uses on the edge of pages that I’ve seen.

But, seriously, try to read this one in hardback format, if you can. 

This story is about two sisters (Jayne & June) that have a very complicated and challenging relationship.

The two do not want anything to do with each other until June gets a cancer diagnosis and finds herself at the mercy of her sister because of her lack of health insurance. Using her sister’s identification, she can get the care she needs, but her reliance complicates their dynamic, especially as Jayne battles her own issues with an eating disorder. 

Emergency Contact” still remains my favorite by Choi and is one that I would highly recommend.

For me, this one lagged a bit in the second half, and it may have been too bogged down by trying to weave in so many big themes.

If you struggle with disordered eating, I would avoid this one because it is filled with triggers.

I remain committed to reading anything this author writes and look forward to more of her books in the future. 

August 2021 Must-Reads from

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

4 Out of 5 Stars

This romance could be read as a standalone, or you can consider it the first in a series as it branches out into the love stories of other characters. 

A disastrous first blind date should have ended the relationship, but Elle pretends that it went well to get her brother off her back about dating someone. The date is such an epic disaster, in fact, that Darcy couldn’t be more stunned that Elle’s brother tells her just how thrilled he is to hear that Elle is completely smitten with her. 

It’s why the two conspire to pretend that their relationship really IS a success so that they can survive the many upcoming family and friend gatherings that they have coming up.

The two set an end date for the fake relationship, but sparks between these opposites start bringing into question just how much they might be falling for one another. 

This was a satisfyingly sweet romance with lots of steamy love scenes. I always love the opposites attract dynamic, and Bellefleur really makes it work with these two characters.

August 2021 Must-Reads from

The Guncle by Stephen Rowley

5 Out of 5 Stars

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I could gush about my love for Stephen Rowley all day, and his latest novel continues to embrace the sweet themes of love and family that I’ve grown to love about his work. 

Gay Uncle Patrick loves his niece and nephew, but he has never desired to be their caretaker.

When they lose their mother to cancer, Patrick’s brother is left in charge but unable to manage things due to his own health crisis.

He calls upon Patrick to step up while he is away at rehab and care for Maisie & Grant in his absence. 

Patrick’s single lifestyle is not conducive to children, and he is deeply overwhelmed with the commitment.  Rowley’s humor shines on every page in the hilarious miscommunications and dialogue between Patrick and these children.

The first half, in particular, offers big belly laughs, and then it evolves into the sweetest story as their relationship grows. 

The good news is that all three of Rowley’s beautiful books are being written for the screen, and this one should translate beautifully cinematically.

Definitely add this book to your summer bucket list, and now I’ll have to impatiently wait for my next Rowley fix.

August 2021 Must-Reads from

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

5 Out of 5 Stars

I have only read a handful of science fiction novels, but I attribute part of my openness to this genre to incredible writers like Andy Weir.

I was even lucky enough to get to interview him about his first novel “The Martian.”

His latest book, “Project Hail Mary,” is another epic space adventure that builds in a seemingly impossible mission to save Earth from certain destruction. 

Our unlikely hero that’s been tasked with this mission is a middle school science teacher, but he can’t remember that in the opening pages of our story.

The only thing he knows is that he is far from home and his two crewmates are now corpses.

As Ryland Grace pieces together what has to lead him to this moment, the reader gets to go back and forth through the beginning of this mission and witness Grace’s discoveries right along with him. 

What holds this all together is an unlikely bond and friendship Ryland could have never expected in this interstellar adventure.

It is this relationship that adds warmth and heart to a profoundly intense science fiction read. 

Weir’s genius shines as he crafts up so much science that it did slow my pace down a bit.

I was told by many that the first 200 pages might not grab me because the story was so rooted in these elements, but that it would be worth the wait. I completely agree with this statement and found myself enchanted, once again, by Weir’s storytelling.

Believe the hype on this one; it’s so worth the journey.

August 2021 Must-Reads from

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

3 Out of 5 Stars

Sally Thorne’s debut novel “The Hating Game” is one of my all-time favorite chick-lit books, and that’s why I couldn’t wait to dive into her latest book. 

Thorne’s story is set in a retirement community where Ruthie Midona has worked, at the front desk, for the last six years.

Ruthie keeps to a strict routine that includes caring for the wealthy residents, the rare tortoises that wander the property and keeping a tight ship in the office.

Although she’s thinking about dipping her toes back into dating, she enjoys her solitary life, including hanging out on a forum with friends that adore the same show.

Her predictable life is about to get really unpredictable when the owner’s son of the retirement villa comes to stay there.

When Teddy mistakes her for a “little old lady” resident, she exacts revenge on him and puts him in charge of the most challenging residents. 

The reader gets to watch each of these characters grow, just as their chemistry grows too.

This sweet little romance is a delightful little pick-me-up between your heavier reads.

August 2021 Must-Reads from

One Two Three Laurie Frankel

5 Out of 5 Stars

I always like to offer up one solid audiobook for your stack each month, and I cannot recommend enough “One, Two Three” as your choice for next month.  

(Curious to learn more about this author- check out my exclusive interview over here about her novel, “This is How It Always Is”).

Frankel decided to write this story after reading about the real-life consequences of a small town’s polluted water by a local factory. She wanted to explore this concept with a fictional city dealing with these health consequences decades later and tells this story through the eyes of three sisters. 

Triplets (Mirabel, Monday, and Mab) have faced numerous challenges due to the town’s water crisis.

Unfortunately, they are just three of many residents who have faced health and personal difficulties due to this tragedy.

Their town’s story, in fact, made national news when the water turned green, was declared unfit for use, and caused detrimental harm to the residents. 

That’s why it is so surprising when a moving truck arrives with a new family to take up residence there. The town’s residents discover that there is quite a history with this particular family and a shocking reason they have decided to return. Their presence could change everything and stirs up the past in significant ways that affect all three sisters. 

As an audiobook, this is a magnificent treat that really sucks you into the story.

The producer utilized three narrators to tell the story, and, notably, one of these sisters uses voice software that adds such a unique element to this story that I’ll be surprised if we don’t see this one winning an Audie this year.

In addition, Frankel has such strong writing chops that this would be an outstanding selection for any book club.

I can’t say enough good things about this story and know that it will be making my “best reads of 2021,” for sure! 

August 2021 Must-Reads from

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

5 Out of 5 Stars

If you are looking for a heartwarming memoir to add to your stack, Michelle Zauner’s book is just what you need this year.

In this coming-of-age story, Zauner returns home to care for her mother as she battles an arduous journey with cancer.

As with all mother and daughter relationships, it seems this relationship has a lot of complexity, and Zauner struggles with not meeting her mother’s expectations.

It becomes quite the role reversal when Michelle must care for her mother’s most basic needs, including feeding her. 

To bring comfort to her mother, she longs to recreate all of the Korean dishes she grew up with to comfort her mother (and herself) through this time.

Zauner brings much humor to the beginning of this book, as she shares her childhood memories of her mother’s younger days.

Later in the book, she writes of her grief with raw and heartbreaking honesty that left a lump in my throat.

I am so glad I read this one this month and would definitely add this to my list of all-time favorite memoirs.

August 2021 Must-Reads from

Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

4 Out of 5 Stars

West’s second novel will appeal to parents navigating the tween and teen years in the thick of the dumpster fire of social media.

This novel is told from alternate perspectives as the drama unfolds in a middle school. 

Alice Sullivan thought she had hit her pace with her career and family. That’s why it is so devastating to find out that her son has been bullying another boy at school.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as she uncovers his fake Instagram account and his mean commentary to other students.

Her son’s behavior isn’t just destroying him and his classmates, though, because these difficulties begin to have a ripple effect on her own career and relationships.

Then, to top it off, her mom unleashes a bomb that changes Alice’s life forever. 

West does an excellent job sharing the trials and tribulations of parenting teens, especially the challenges of constant monitoring and the exhaustion that comes with protecting your children online.

I can honestly say that I loved this one just as much as her debut novel.

August 2021 Must-Reads from

The XX Brain by Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D.

5 Out of 5 Stars

If you are feeling lost navigating the perimenopause and/or menopause stage, you are not alone.

I happened to stumble upon this phenomenal book, and I wish I could recommend it to every woman I know who is on the struggle bus with all of this hormone nonsense.

Mosconi is the Director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and brings her incredible knowledge base to this book to teach women how to maximize their cognitive health and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the biggest threats to women’s health, and there is so much that we *can* do to minimize our risks, especially during these hormone rollercoaster years. 

Mosconi covers everything from brain fog, memory lapses, depression, stress, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, and your increased risk of dementia.

In addition, she crafts a livable diet and exercise plan that will help you reduce stress and return to restorative sleep, helping to manage these hormonal swings. 

I’ve started implementing many of the strategies she has outlined and am already seeing improved sleep and stress levels. This goes beyond blanket advice and is the guidebook we all need to navigate this difficult patch in life.

August 2021 Must-Reads from