Top Books of 2021

Saturday, January 8, 2022

My top reads of the year post is one I love to share but feels like gathering every last thought and emotion I've experienced for the last 365 days into a pile. Considering I tend to be drawn to some darker fiction and heavy non-fiction, it's a lot to sift through.

My goal this year was to read 100 books and I made it to 83. Not too shabby. So here is how I'm choosing to break it down. I'll list my top four fiction and nonfiction, and if you want more, every last book I read has its own monthly reel on my Instagram.


Note * I never read, learn, or listen to anything about a book prior to reading it. I just dive in and see where it takes me and I quit if I don't like it.

1. The Push by Ashley Audrain: This was one of the most intense books I have ever read. I won't tell you what it's about because I don't want to ruin it, but it falls into a genre that really resonates with me that I like to call "dark motherhood." I love when an author can beautifully articulate the scary, unthinkable sides of being a mom. It's like the Steinbeck side of motherhood. Others titles like this are The Need, A Life's Work, Nightbitch, and Nothing To See Here. I'd also put the new Netflix movie The Lost Daughter (based on a book) in this category. This particular book had me needing to pause and take a break because it left me so on edge. I've heard it called predictable but it's only predictable in the way that you're just praying the whole time it can't be what you think it is.  It left me with goosebumps crying. One of the best books I've ever read.

2. Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson: I've read several of her books but this one, holy cow! She writes some pretty dark stuff but this one takes the cake in my opinion. I was reading this at a park watching my child play and I felt wrong for having these words filter through my brain at the same time. Again, I don't want to ruin it but if you want your jaw to be on the floor, read it. 

3. The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Epic is the word that come to mind when I think of this story. I legit yelled out loud at the story several times. It really puts you through the ringer emotionally. There is epic love, drama, spice, and just more DRAMA. After reading this, Circe by the same author is now on my list. An adventure of a read.

4. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover: I never would have imagined that a Hoover book would make my top four! Her books are usually the romantic fluff I need to break up some heavy non-fiction but this one she wrote from the heart. It was the most eye-opening perspective on how hard it is to break the cycle of domestic abuse and leave someone who is abusive. That was not a background I had any real experience with and I think so many people are quick to judge a woman and say that she should just leave a man who hurts her but it's not that simple. This perspective is just so important to have out there for others to gain some compassion into a really hard subject. At the end of the book Hoover shares her mother's experience and it was just so beautiful that she wrote this for her. I was bawling and emotionally wrecked by the end. 

Honorable Mentions: Fiction

*Clap When You Land: FUN and full of twists and turns. It's YA but I'm cool with that.

*The Things We Cannot Say: Gut wrenching historical fiction

*The Henna Artist: These characters really take up residence in your head by the end. Great story.


1. What Happened To You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing by Oprah Winfrey & Dr. Bruce D. Perry: As a teacher and mother this book hit me hard. Teaching in inner-city Chicago for 12 years, this book made me realize how deep and early trauma can start in children and how it impacts their education and ability to learn. It also brought home what I've always held in my heart as the most important part of teaching, which is to take time to establish a relationship of care and connection with a student before you can expect them to be a student and meet an academic expectations, or function in a classroom or social group. An amazing read for teachers as well as parents. And with the current state of the world, teachers need to be trauma informed to help kids moving forward.

2. More Than A Body by Lexie and Lindsay Kite PhDs: Moms of girls, READ THIS! It's so easy to think you're doing the whole "body positive" thing right with your daughters but this book really gives you all the answers and right words to say. If your daughter is older it would be such a great thing to read together. Written by sisters Lexie and Lindsay, this book shares lots of their own experience as well as stories from their work with women. Just a great way to really sit with the idea of not just trying to focus on accepting every body type but make it simply that your body is the least important thing about you. Body neutrality is the name of the game and knowing you are so much more than just a body!

3. How to Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LePera: Im a big fan of Dr. Nicole and her Instagram account. I was so pumped to read her book because it really breaks down trauma into its main types, how people get to the places they are in adulthood because of their trauma responses and most importantly, just like the title says, how to do the work to get you to the other side. Spoiler: it's not an easy read or journey but it's really really worth it in the end. I think this book comes at such a great time in life where a lot of us are suffering from differences of opinions with people we love. It gives you a very easy path to understanding and finding compassion but also how to set hard boundaries. It's the work we all needed to do most in 2021 and it helped me so much.

4. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski: The science of sex! It's presented in a super easy-to-digest way and is highly informative. It's stuff that is really important to know as adults so you don't think anything is "wrong with you" and helps you think about how to present sex and body knowledge to your kids so that they make smart informed decisions in their life. You will probably learn a lot about yourself and your experiences, plus reframe some of your previous thoughts along the way as you read. Also Emily just sounds like she would be the coolest friend to have to answer all life's weirdest questions. Wish her phone number came with this book!


Clean Makeup Alternatives

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Replacing all my makeup with clean alternatives required lots of research, ordering, sampling & returning. This post has been a process of trial & error that has taken me about a year to fine tune.  I'm really happy to have found brands that offer great products that have allowed me to have zero guilt about leaving some of my old toxic favorites behind for good. I'm going to share all my makeup favorites and the shades I wear in each, sorted by category below. 

As far as where to buy all this Credo is my favorite. It's like Sephora but EVERYTHING is clean. I love that so many of my favorite brands can be bought there at the same time. They offer 10% off your first purchase too.

Suntegrity buff, ilia super serum, Ilia True skin foundation, Kosas tinted face oil, Merit perfecting complexion stick bisque, Kosos Super Creamy concealer 3.5, Ilia radiant translucent powder
Tinted SPFs, Foundations, Powder & Concealer

Suntegrity Impeccable Skin in shade Buff- Mineral Matte tinted coverage with Broad spectrum SPF 30 coverage. This one is my favorite everyday base. I either wear it alone of make a little cocktail with a drop of my other non SPF foundations. I apply this one with my Artis oval 7 brush. Minimal coverage color-wise but feels very hydrating. 

ILIA Super Serum Skin tint SPF 40 in shade ST9 Paloma- This one is my second fav base that offers sun protection. Honestly the only reason I use it any less than the Suntegrity is that the eye dropper isn't as easy to use as the pump. It comes out a bit white which can make it seem like its going to be too light but it self adjusts just like when you apply sunscreen to your body and it looks a bit white at first. This has the coverage of a tinted moisturizer. Just a touch of color but makes your skin feel great because its a serum so the skincare is built right in. 

ILIA True Skin Foundation in shade SF3.5 Corsica- A medium to light coverage foundation. This is the one I mix with a little of either of the above SPF bases. Perfect for days you want to feel like you are wearing makeup but not too much. Just your real skin but better. 

Kosas Tinted Face Oil- This is one of those that just sounds like a disaster but holy cow is it good. I'm not sure how it works or what the magic is in it but its a dry oil that feels so silky and dreamy on your skin but doesn't look like oil like the name suggests. Unlike any other foundation I've ever tried. 

Merit Perfecting Complexion Stick in shade Bisque- The claim is that its not a foundation or a concealer but it will replace both. It's just so easy to use! I just use a few dabs in the spots I and it in and buff it with my Morphe buffer brush which is the most affordable and effective brush for your money in my opinion. 

Kosas Super Creamy Concealer in shade 3.5- Another fine Kosas product with the skincare made right in! What could be better. This concealer has zero cakey properties! Just lush, creamy and glowing.

ILIA Radiant Translucent Powder SPF- This acts like a mattifier. Its a white powder that goes on with no color but the best part of all is that its SPF 20. Its basically powder sunscreen. Even Athena likes to use this one. All the fun of using Mamas makeup brushes but gives her & I some extra sun protection.

Ilia nightlight,  novelty-drawn in, Glo in sunkiss, Kosas Tropic Equinox, beauty counter luminous highlighter topaz

Bronzer & Highlighter 

 ILIA Nightlite Bronzer in shades Novelty and Drawn In- I Love these two because they are truly matte bronzers which seems to be kind of tricky to find. Most have a touch of sparkle in them and I like to have the option of adding that on my own with a different product.

Beauty Counter Luminous Highlighter Powder in Topaz- This is my favorite highlighter I've ever used. A peachy bronze with the prettiest natural shine. Reminds me of that subtle sparkle of tanned cheeks. I use this one on my cheekbones as well as in any place you would use highlighter. 

glo Skin Beauty Bronze in shade Sunkiss- This is your all in one bronzer highlighter. Bronzer with a little hint of sparkle for when you want a little easy color and warmth. 

Kosas: Tropic Equinox Color and light creme- This is legit the best color I've ever used on my cheeks. I bought it as a bronzer but use it as a blush. It comes with the darker shade as well as a highlighter in a duo. The cream blends like a dream and is the perfect non-pinky blush that acts like a color corrector to take the reddish tone out of my skin. My favorite grab and go color. Some days this is all I wear and it wakes my skin right up. 

Billie super salve, Kosas wet oil jellyfish, Ilia Multi stick i put a spell on you, Ilia balmy gloss


ILIA Balmy Gloss Tinted Lip Oil in shade Only You- Pretty much the only actual lip color I wear. A great rich nude in a super luxe oil formula. Feels so lightweight that it's a wonder that there is any color in it at all. Just a nice touch of color.

Billie Super Salve- I got a holiday kit with all 3 colors in it and love them all. Each has just a slight wash of color but feel nourishing like a chapstick or lip balm. Rhubarb, which is an orangy-red, is my most used of the three followed by Sorbet, a light wash of creamy soft pink.

Kosas Wet Lip Oil in Jellyfish- Lish is just like the ILIA lip oil only with the faintest tint of pink. Really just like a clear lip balm in my opinion.


ILIA Multi Stick in shade I put a Spell On You- The only Blush I own. It's either this or the Kosas tropic Equinox from the bronzer section. Thats it! This one can be used all over hence the multi stick part of the name but I only use it on my cheeks.

clean mascara, mascara 101, Saie Beauty


Saie Beauty Mascara 101 in Black: This is the only one for me. I have repurchased this one so many times. Its just so good I don't even try any others. Good formula, Quality brush and smooth application. 

ilia clean line gel liner dusk, beauty counter outline brown, Jillian dempsey Khol eyeliner, Kat von D tattoo liner


ILIA Clean line Gel Liner in shade Dusk- A great dark brown with a twist up applicator. Easy application and no sparkle.

Beauty Counter color Outline Pencil in brown- this one is my favorite for everyday. Light coverage and natural look especially for the lower lid. it also has the teeniest bit of sparkle that really goes unnoticed on the eye but adds to its easy wearability. This one requires a sharper in case thats a deal breaker for you.

Jillian Dempsey Khol Eyeliner in WaterProof Rich Brown- Easy to wear dark brown. This and the ILIA are my most worn. i like that this comes with the little smudger on the end too. easy to apply and not at all dry like some waterproof colors.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in shade Trooper Black- I got this one as a sample and it said it was vegan but I'm not sure if this one is clean but it's the only black liquid liner I have and I don't use it much, you know, considering I haven't really needed a dramatic cat eye during a pandemic. 

Matte clean eyeshadow no bs pyt palette


p/y/t Beauty Day-to-Night No BS eyeshadow Palette- This is the only Eyeshadow I own now. I had a hard time finding one with neutrals that were matte and wearable. Every color in this Palette is an easy to wear neutral with colors that work for both day and night. All you need and really affordable!

artis, tweezerman sharpener

Can't live without Tools

Tweezerman tweezers- Took me a few years to get a pair but once I bit the bullet and stopped buying cheap drugstore tweezers and used these, there was no going back. I have had these for probably 10 years and they are still just amazing.

Tweezerman Slant scissors- My eyebrows were once referred to by a high school friend as a square root symbol. Since they have that naturally angular arch, these scissors help me get a really straight and precise line to knock out all those little hairs. i just brush up with a spoolie and trim. Ive had and used these for probably 5 years. Solid investment. 

Kevin Accoin Sharpener- YEARS ago, like 12, after thinking I could just use any old sharpener and it would be fine, someone hyped this one up and I was like, no way, it won't matter. Oh, but it did and there is no going back. Sharpens every pencil perfectly. No more wasted liner from failed attempts at getting a solid point. And it's only $4

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler- The best. Had it for years and all I have to do to freshen it up is buy the extra insert pads and swap them out from time to time. gives the most perfect curl with no weird dent.

Recent Finds

Saturday, February 27, 2021

I've been doing a little shopping for spring so here is a quick round-up of the things that I'm loving. 

maisonette-Emery-puff-vest, adult-scooter
This vest is full of happy colors! And this scooter brings me so much joy so I can scoot right alongside Athena on hers.

I bought this dress in 3 colors and love all of them. It's only $27 and I got them during the 20% off dress sale at Target.

Here is the same dress as the black and white gingham. This one looks like a solid light pink but it's actually a very subtle stripe.

smocked-skirt, Ribbed-tee
This $24 skirt has a smocked elastic back and a smooth front which makes it look like a real waistband but adds in comfort. This ribbed tee I grabbed in black and white and is only $8.

Athena's favorite color is purple so when this $25 Zara romper came, she wasn't taking it off. 

Got her this $18 umbrella for Valentines and I don't blame her for loving it. It's kind of every little girls dream come true.  I'm totally going to borrow it from her when I need it.

This is another Target dress. I'm loving the tan gingham the adjustable straps.

rust-joggers, koodker sweater
The famous $26 joggers! They are simply MAGICAL! So many of you have messaged me after you bought them too and told me how much you love them too. The most comfortable smooth waistband and super soft material that doesn't pill! I'm on pair three now. I have black, olive and this rusty red.

rust-joggers, Blue-fleece
The joggers in action at the Aviary with Athena. She's my new photographer in the wild and not bad at it. This fleece is a winner too. Not too heavy but super cozy and zippered pockets so I'm not dropping all of our stuff.

olive-joggers, Vintage-yellow-henley
This vintage look yellow sweatshirt is kind of cropped but I bought it in a Tall and it's perfect. Also, here are the joggers AGAIN in olive. 

Freda Salvador Eda look alikes
These are great Freda Salvador  knock offs Just don't buy them on the weekends because Amazon is jacking up the price to take advantage of when you have time off to shop. I bought them for $42 and last I checked they are now at $75!

quarter-zip-pullover, Vine Varley
I've been obsessed with the Varley Vine pullover but refused to pay $160 for it. I found this similar one recently at Aerie and got it on sale for $30! Its perfectly distressed and feels very high quality. Same shoes as above.

This turtleneck sweatshirt is so cozy. I stalked it until it went on sale and then got it for an extra 50% off! Its selling out quickly but if you use code SOCUTE it discounts it to $14! Comes in both black and white too.


Favorite Things of 2020

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Taking a look back at 2020, there were lots of positives mixed in with the terrible. I have been keeping a list in my phone of things that I am thankful for every day and used it to put together a compilation of the heros of the year that helped me find small bits joy broken up into entertainment, movement, beauty and clothing. 


Pop Apologists- This podcast is just what I needed while staying at home with Athena this year! The hosts, Lauren and Chanler are delightfully witty sisters who give their hot takes on pop culture and share family stories that are too good to be true, but they are! Their humor breathes life into my Wednesdays. Mondays too, since they offer a bonus episode each week on Patreon, and you know I am a subscriber! Basically I just want to be part of their family!

Libby/ Overdrive- My way to listen to audio books for free. Most larger cities use this app in collaboration with their library. You borrow audio files via the app and you do have to wait for titles to come in, but you can put up to 10 on hold so I just like to stock it full so there is always something coming my way. I was able to listen to over 50 books this past year and did an extensive round-up post you can find here.

Beats By Dre Power Beats- Where would I be without these wireless headphones! The only reason I can get through an audiobook or podcast ever. I literally have them in right now. They are always in my ears even if I'm not using them. I have incredibly small ear holes and these are the only wireless earphones that have ever fit me because they come with 3 sizes of inserts to ensure great fit. I bought them in the most bright shade they offered so they would be easier to find if lost. 


La Scoota- Early quarantine I saw how much Athena enjoyed her little micro mini scooter so I thought to myself I deserve that same joy so I looked into an adult scooter. Got myself this one and love it!

FP Movement- They have been amazing at offering free live zoom classes from their stores all over the country and IG Live classes from all over the world. Find the 37 days of free workouts that are saved to their page's "lives" to do whenever you want here! I have discovered some amazing teachers like Mallory, Bri and Sarah that I may have never had the joy of practicing with if it weren't for WFH, workout from home!

Dance Church GO!- Dance Church bring so much joy to my life. People think that because of the name it has something to do with actual religion and that couldn't be farther from the truth! It's basically the most fun lightly choreographed dance party you can do in your home with killer music and the best instructors. It's a donation based class live every Sunday and we love joining in and supporting them. 

Mad Fit on Youtube- Maddie has been so fun for Athena and I! We love her 15 TikTok dance workouts and I love that she uses the clean versions of songs so I don't have to worry about Athena picking up an F bomb here or there.

Melissa Wood Health- She offers short yet intense workouts you can really do anywhere. I have been able to squeeze them in while Athena plays at the park. I love that she releases new workouts each week and puts a suggested weekly schedule together so it takes the guesswork out for me. A membership for the year is right around $100. 


Dyson Air Wrap- Literally the best thing to have ever happened to my head. It's like the best salon blow out you've ever gotten, only you can do it at home. The price tag is quite hefty but I truly think it's worth it's weight in gold. I tell anyone who asks that if my house was on fire I would grab my child and my air wrap. This is how much love I have for it.

Face Forward- Truly the best moisturizer I've ever used. Every single person I've made use it or sent it to as a gift has become hooked. It's clean, natural and as toxin-free as it can get. You can use it on anything and everything. Lips, face, children, boo boos. Whatever. It works! Comes in this handy stick or jar options. At just 26 bucks you can grab a few to keep everywhere.

Dae shampoo and conditioner- Early summer they had a sale so I gave it a shot because my Beauty Counter set was coming to its end. I was so surprised how well this stuff worked. The deep conditioner is fantastic and all of it smells great. The most impressed I've been by a hair care line in many years and there is a noticeable difference in the texture and shine in my hair since using it. 

Floof- Seriously the best dry shampoo I've ever used. I was really loyal to Oscar Blandi until they discontinued their powder one which left me trying to find a solid replacement for the last two years. I also wanted one that was made from clean ingredients. Playa was pretty good, but once I got my little bottle of Floof with my monthly Billie razor subscription, I was sold. Makes my hair last 4-5 days and if I do my scrunchie trick I don't even have to touch up my curls at all. Incredible and just $14.


CJLA- I'm so happy I discovered this brand earlier this year. All their pieces are meant to be comfy, easy to mix and match and they always have such great sales! I have the Paris coat in two colors (wearing the beige pictured above), Kinney tie-dye pull over and Gwyneth Cardigan

Hill House Home Nap Dress- The launch of the year. An insane amount of sales were made on the day of the launch so much so that the Tartan Ellie Nap Dress that I scored (checking out six mins post launch) is long gone!

The Best Books I Read in 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

It's common knowledge that 2020 sucked, so I tried my best to make it a year of growth and learning. 

With that, even pre-pandemic (remember those two cute short months where everything was same old, same old?), I made it my personal mission to try to read as much as I could. Anything and everything, and here's how I did it:

What kind of books do I like?

My book taste is not very mainstream but I didn't rule those out. With my background as a reading teacher my main requirements in a book is to make you feel something. I've been known to pick books that make my students cry. I just don't think a book is worth my time if it doesn't give you a new perspective, an appreciation for the style of writing or make you think about life in a new way. So yeah, light and fluffy is not usually my thing.  

That being said, I have a really hard time abandoning a book. Especially if it's a book someone I know or admire has said was good. Just like classic literature we were made to read in school/college, I feel like there is always something you can gain from a book looking at the whole picture. Even if it's just getting a firmer grasp on what you don't like about a book.

How I picked what I read and where I get my recommendations?

This year, any time I saw someone I liked or admired say or post about a good book, I wrote it down in a big list in my phone. After that, I checked Libby (the local library's app where you can borrow digital and audio files for free) and added as many titles as it would allow to my hold list. That way when I was done with a book and a new one became available I always had one ready to go.

Since I mostly listen to audio books, I often go to Libby as my first option. They let you filter by popularity, new releases, and audio file only. I almost exclusively get my books off Libby so I don't have to buy them and have them gathering around my house.

The weirdest thing I did though, was never read the descriptions of the books before hand. I wanted to completely be surprised and come to my own conclusions about each book. I know this is a risky move but I liked that I never knew what to expect and my list of books was so long that I never remembered who told me to read it so I couldn't get any clues from that either. 

Where I get my books?

Libby! If you don't use Libby (or Overdrive) you're missing out and probably wondering how I afforded all this. I love the library and all its free resources. Libby is my favorite part. I can put in holds for up to ten audiobooks at a time and I always have mine full. It's the best free resource. I also hate having lots of stuff in my house so I like that I can give the book right back. I'm always surprised that almost every title is available in audio book format!

How I found the time?

If Libby is the MVP, Beats By Dre Power Beats are the runner up. It was always so hard to listen to books because I have really tiny ear holes and the only pair I had that fit were eight years old and not wireless. Let's face it, wires aren't easy when you are caring for a kid and don't have pockets. Enough people told me to try the wireless Power Beats because they had the same small ear problem and I was shocked that they worked so well that I could wear at least one all the time and not even feel it. I bought them in the brightest lime green so they would be easier to find if one went missing. Worth every penny!

They are insanely easy to use, have great wireless distance, and make it so easy to squeeze in five minutes here and there around the house. I also put on one on the opposite ear that I'm laying on at night time before bed and listen to my book until I feel sleepy. It all adds up in the end.

My top reads

Know My Name – Wow! I don't even know what to say about this. Chanel Miller's story of her own sexual assault. This book needs to be required reading for all young men and women. It's powerful, break-you-open and pour-out-your-insides good. You will be changed forever.

The Fuck It Diet  The book that started the biggest change of my life. The gateway book into intuitive eating and healing your relationship with food. A light, funny approach to saying a big F you to diet culture. It opened my eyes to the answers I had been looking for since age 10 and made me wish I had found it sooner.

Anti Diet Once you read and digest The Fuck It Diet, you will want more. More science and facts on the truth about how you have been duped and sucked in by diet culture your whole life and this book will give it all to you. Everything to help you solidify in your mind that this is the answer for healing your relationship with food for the rest of your damn life!

Leave the World Behind  Fun. Smart. Weird. Has you guessing what the hell is going on pretty much all the way through to the end. You are left wondering about the fragility of our society as we know it and how silly our priorities can be when seen through a different lens.

All Adults Here  A beautifully written story of real-life family drama. So many moments of resonation for me that made me ponder my own thoughts as a wife, mother, sister and daughter.

Three Women When at first glance you may think this book is just kind of racy, the lasting impact for me was it being a story of how those almost happened, could have happened, close call events of your life can change you just as much as if they actually did happen. Sometimes more because you are left to think on them for the rest of your life with no resolution. 

Untamed  This is a very cliche choice but what can I say, Glennon Doyle is just such a powerful force as a writer. It left me wanting to be her best friend and also be as brave as her. I wish I had my own paper copy of this one because there were so many parts I wanted to highlight. Just freaking wonderful.

Love Warrior Another Glennon Doyle book.  This was written a few years before Untamed but I read it after I read Untamed. Oops. This gives the backstory to her life, journey through her tough stages of early adulthood, marriage and then motherhood and beyond. So powerful. Glennon just always knows exactly how to say something so you not only understand her, you FEEL her.  

A Life's Work – On Becoming A Mother – I call this one the Steinbeck of motherhood. Brutal, real, raw and just so so beautifully written.  I even found it laugh-out-loud funny in parts but don't think it was trying to be funny. It was like laugh because otherwise you might cry forever type stuff. 

The Need If you are a mother or just want to know how seriously effed up having a baby can make you feel, act and react, read this. It's short but whoa.

The Untethered Soul This helped me realize the root of and how to let go of my anxiety. It was like free therapy!

American Dirt This one was super controversial about its accuracy with the Oprah crowd but I didn't care because the story was gripping and was so hard to walk away from.

Worth a Read

Maybe Someday – Not my usual book pick but it was a fun little love story.

The Two Lives Of Lydia Bird –  The story of Lydia who is trying to move on and cope with the loss of her boyfriend Freddie who dies on her birthday in a car accident.

The Happy Ever After Playlist – I liked this way more than I though I would. The best light and fun read/ love story I read all year.

When Life Gives You Lululemons – Fun Chick Lit beach read. I actually liked these women's characters for the most part which usually is hard for me in this kind of book.

How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen – Really great parenting book that gives lots and lots of concrete examples of what you should and should not say to kids in the 2-7 year old range.

When Breath Becomes Air – I put off reading this one for awhile because I knew if was going to break my heart but it was worth every tear. A memoir of a neurosurgeon dying of terminal cancer. 

Educated – The story of Tara Westover who overcame a chaotic, violent, isolated childhood in the mountains of Idaho.

Daisy Jones and The Six – Such a fun one to listen to as a audio book because each band member is told in a different voice. So well-done you would almost think this is a real band and a real story of the rise and fall of a famous rock group. 

The Alice Network – good storyline if you like historical fiction and girl power!

Shoe Dog – The memoir of the founder of Nike

Health at Every Size – An eye-opening science and research based look at the HAES way of life.

Drive Your Plow over The Bones of the Dead – This one will make you wonder if this lady is crazy or the most insightful old woman ever. 

Bunny Mellon – The Life of An American Style legend, Style Icon and american aristocrat. Fun glimpse into her elegant life, home and friendships. 

White Fragility – This book was in everyone's hands this year and it was full of worthwhile, self-reflective points on racial inequality.

Such A Fun Age – This captured such an important perspective in a fun and not overly heavy way.

City of Girls – Fun read! I feel like you could feel the glitz and fashion through the pages.

Oona Out of Order – Fresh, fun story of a woman and her life as she experiences the years out of order.

28 Summers – An unconventional love story with hints of the Notebook. 

Jessica Simpson's Open Book – Anyone who grew up with the Christina, Justin, Brittany and Jessica crowd as their stars will find her inside look satisfying to their inner tween.

Lady in Waiting – My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown – If you watch "The Crown," you will find all this inside dish and the life of Anne Glenconner so fascinating.

Books I found to be just Ok

Leaving Time – Wasn't expecting to learn so much about elephants but the story just didn't grip me.

The Light Between Us – Psychic medium who tells about her experiences connecting the living with the dead. 

Little Fire Everywhere – This is one instance that the mini series was better than the book. Once I saw that, I thought the book version was ok but the series was where it's at!

The Grace Year – Kind of a "Handmaids Tale" type story of repressed women.

An American Marriage – I almost gave up on this one but glad I went back to it. I think I disliked the wife character so much that it turned me off. And although it ended much how i thought it would, it was written in such a fresh way that it kept me going to the end.

The Last Mrs. Parish – Another that got a lot of recommendations. Full of of elaborate twists and turns but I think thrillers just aren't my thing.

The Proposal – Fun and easy chick lit beach read. 

Party of Two – Same author as the proposal (above) and same vibe.

The Vanishing Half – A 16 year old black girl who runs away and secretly lives her life as white. 

One To Watch – Basically "The Bachelorette" with a plus-size main character.

One By One – A thriller at a ski chalet in an avalanche.

The Guest List – I think I would have liked this one if there was even one likable character in the book and I didn't guess the ending halfway through. I did want to visit the island it was set on though. Sounded dark, moody and kind of magically spooky.

My Worst reads

Silent Patient – I thought this was so slow and the payoff wasn't worth the wait.

The Couple Next Door – Just didn't care about any of these characters.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – I must already be good at this because IDGAF!

Before We Were Yours – Just not my cup of tea although a lot of people recommended it. 

The Wife Between Us – Felt like a waste of time.

There, There – Though I did like all the stories from native communities and how they all came together somehow, something about this just made me wish it wrapped up a little quicker. It's like I could see where it was going and just wanted it to get there already.

Where The Crawdads Sing – I can't really tell you why so many people liked this.

The Escape Room – Again, thrillers are not my thing. I was wishing for this to be over as soon as it began. I kept thinking it might turn a corner but it never did.

Ali Wong – Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life – I like her and her stand-up all right, just not this book.

You Are Not Alone – This just bored me.

*Kids Book Tips

Read books you love with your kids! I know my students always liked a book more when they saw how excited I was to read it or told them about the deeper meaning or shared stories that connected to my life that came from events in the story. This right here will make a kid fall in love with a book that they might have never given a second thought to. They will remember the magic of experiencing it with you. And this right here is what gets me teary-eyed and passionate about being a teacher.

Newberry award winning books. These are for me what the classics from college are. You may not like the story or relate to the story, but they are THE BEST children's book of the year and there is always something you can appreciate from thinking about why this book might have won. It's always a good exploration into what's going on in the world in that particular year.