Book Review: Swear on This Life {Renee Carlino}

Oh do I have a lovely book for you today!  I honestly adored everything about this beautiful book.  If you haven’t read this one yet, you are in for such a treat!


Synopsis from Goodreads:

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

5 Stars

This is one absolutely beautiful book.  I loved everything about it from the first to the last page.

The characters, the settings, the plot, all of it…just beautiful.  So well written, so well developed.  Both stories told in this book (present and past) were equally interesting and captivating.  Usually I prefer one story to the other but not in this case…they both held my attention and kept me interested the entire time.

I couldn’t imagine how Carlino would be able to tie all of the complicated aspects of these 2 stories up in the end and she did it perfectly!  I loved the ending….and the middle….and the beginning.

I highly, highly recommend this book.  You will love it and and won’t be able to stop thinking about it long after you finish reading.

Bottom Line:

Beautiful.  In every way.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Donna Baier Stein Instagram giveaway will be posted shortly!  

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

A Book Blogger’s Instagram in an Instant {Part 2} and a Fun Book Coffee Happy Announcement

Hi Friends!

How was your weekend?  Ours was a perfect mix of relaxation, errands, and lots of fun.

Friday night the 4 of us went to my kids’ favorite pizza restaurant for dinner.  The restaurant has been around for a million years, is filled with taxidermy animals, peanut shells on the floor, and the most delicious pizza ever.  It’s crowded, small, loud, and perfect.  Our kids beg us to take them to the restaurant with the “animals”, lol.

Do you follow Book Coffee Happy on Instagram?  If not, head over there and join the fun!

Last month, I posted A Book Blogger’s Instagram in an Instant and it was such a hit, I decided to make it a regular addition to my blog!  Welcome to part 2 🙂

Here are a small sample of photos and videos that I’ve recently taken and posted to my Instagram account (see my account for photo explanations, lol).  Just like my blog, it has lots of posts about books with bits of my personal life sprinkled in. 🙂

If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, this is a perfect time to start because I will be hosting my very first Instagram Giveaway on Wednesday!  The winner will be able to choose 1 book from 3 amazing book selections.  I can’t wait!

A Fun Book Coffee Happy Announcement:

Local friends, I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be running storytime at the brand new and beautiful Whimsy Play in Buffalo Grove on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 10:00-10:45 starting this Tuesday! Local friends, bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, and lots of fun. Price will be included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up! If you are a blog reader and we don’t know each other in real life, please come and introduce yourself. 😍 I can’t wait to meet all of you and your little ones! ❤️

I hope you are all having a great Monday!




Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers {Liane Moriarty}


I am writing this from the peace and quiet of my living room. Husband at work, both kids back at school after winter break. Candle burning, Pandora playing. It’s so peaceful here on this rainy Monday morning.

I’m missing my family today. I haven’t been home alone like this in weeks! As nice and peaceful as this is….I would so much rather have everyone here with me. This morning it’s just me and the hamster.  And she’s sleeping.  Perfect time to work on my blog!

And now as previously promised…the book review of Liane Moriarty’s newest release:

**If you haven’t yet, I would suggest reading my previous post before reading the following review**

I heard such negative things about this book. In fact, I truly hadn’t heard any positive! So when I began reading, needless to say my expectations weren’t very high. Not high at all.


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

My Thoughts

4 Stars

I loved it.

Yes it was weird. Yes it was dark. Yes it was twisted.  Yes it made me uncomfortable.  But…It was so brilliantly written, so very interesting, and extremely captivating! The short chapters, the different perspectives, and the colorful characters came together to create a fascinating story.  I high recommend this one!  I know I’m in the minority here but I truly thought it was GREAT.  One of the best books she’s written.  Bravo, Liane!

The ONLY real criticism (and hence my 4 star review) I have is that there are just so many characters and as a result, certain characters were much more developed than others. It was hard to keep everyone straight, especially with their backstories. I found that I had to keep looking back at previous chapters for refreshers. I HATE when books make me do that. I think this book would have been better with say 5 or 6 perfect strangers rather than 9.

Bottom Line

After reading, I now never want to go to a health resort. Like…Ever. You shouldn’t, either. Nope. Not for me. Or you. Ever again. Hard pass.

Have you read this book?  Are you planning to?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

I will have FANTASTIC book giveaway for you on Wednesday morning!  Make sure you stop by, you won’t want to miss this one!



It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

My Love/Hate Relationship with Liane Moriarty

Oh Liane. You and I have such a complicated relationship. At times I absolutely love you, at times I absolutely loathe you.

*This post contains affiliate links. Click each image and link below to read the synopsis and order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo*

2014 was when I read The Husband’s Secret .  Like most people, I absolutely loved it!  Truly couldn’t put it down.  I have a very vivid memory of my daughter napping in her car seat while I was devouring this book for hours in the front seat…all while parked in our driveway.  Such a good book!  I was so sad when it ended.

The next book that I read was Big Little Lies.  I read it in 3 days, it was so amazing.   I remember eating meals while reading, reading long after I should have been asleep, and so many other times throughout the day.

(On a side note, I still haven’t seen the HBO miniseries!  Have you?  I’ve heard it’s fantastic!)

At was at this point that I declared Liane Moriarty to be my favorite author and my mission began to read every single book she had written.

Next up for me was The Last Anniversary. I really liked it. Not nearly as amazing as the previous 2, but it was very good.

And then…

I read Three Wishes.

Hated it. So much. It was just so BORING, painfully dull, and long.  I faithfully read until the last sentence because I had already declared Liane Moriarty to be my favorite author and how could I not read every word written by my favorite author??

My faith in Liane was 100 percent restored when I read What Alice Forgot. What a beautiful book that was! It gave me so much to think about and I truly loved everything about it.  Have you read this book?  I highly, highly recommend it!  I still think about that book’s message years after I finished reading.  Absolutely loved that book. Beautiful.

I read The Hypnotist’s Love Story during the summer of 2015. I was bored. Read half. Never finished.

HOWEVER, this was also the time when I was pregnant with my son and unless it was something about babies, breastfeeding, or nursery furniture, I wasn’t able to focus on reading anything else.  Looking back, I’m not sure if my review of this book is entirely valid. I probably should re read it at some point now that I can give it the full attention that it deserves….but I just remember being so bored with the first half that I don’t have the desire to try again.  Have you read this book all the way until the end?  What did you think?

When Liane announced that she was releasing her newest book (Truly Madly Guilty) in 2016, I immediately preordered my copy on Amazon. It arrived exactly on its release day and I literally tore the box as I ripped it open! I even wrote a Facebook status asking if anyone could get over here STAT to watch my children and dog so I could sit and read (nobody did. Apparently I need some new friends).

I hated that book. It was heartbreaking, depressing, and awful. Her attempts to lighten the story fell flat. I was so sad…I had been REALLY excited about reading this one for months. How could she do this to me???

And here we are, today. January 2019. Liane released her newest book Nine Perfect Strangers in October. The whole world seems to be reading this book right now! Have you read it?  I have. I have many thoughts. I’ll share them with you on Monday!

How do you feel about Liane Moriarty?

Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts on her books?



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11 Books I Want to Read in 2019

Thank you all SO MUCH for your kind and encouraging words from this post.

I’m doing ok!  Each day my elbow seems to be feeling a little bit better.  It’s still very sore but nothing compared to last week.

My sling is now officially stained with ice cream, teriyaki sauce, and smells like a mixture of Japanese steakhouse and Clinique Happy (which is the perfume I doused it in hoping to eliminate the Japanese steakhouse smell).  I’m scared to witness what this poor sling will look and smell like by the end of our time together, lol.

Happy 2019!  New month, new year, new goals.  I have personal goals that I’ve set for myself in the new year, blog goals, and of course…reading goals 🙂

There are SO MANY amazing books out there to read and I can’t wait to tackle many of them in this new year!

*This post contains affiliate links. Click each image and link below to read the synopsis and order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo*

I finished this book 2 days ago (LOVED IT) and started reading this book last night!

Here is a very small sample of the books that I’m excited to read in 2019 (in no particular order):

Have you read any of these?  If so, NO SPOILERS PLEASE!

What’s on your 2019 To Read List?



It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!

I Broke My Elbow.

Do you know what a roof rake is?  It’s basically a gigantic contraption designed to scrape ice off of roofs.  Also apparently designed to break elbows when tripped over.

The fall itself on the concrete floor was dramatic.  Everything hurt at the same time.  Scraped elbows, scraped knees, top teeth clamped against bottom teeth causing jaw pain, sore ribs, and sore back.

It was Christmas Day.  We had just returned from a fantastic getaway to The Great Wolf Lodge and were on our way to fulfill our Jewish responsibilities of eating Chinese food for dinner 🙂 My husband and children were in the car waiting for me.  As soon as I fell in the garage, my husband immediately came running.

It was so bad. Jon asked if I wanted to stay home but I really thought I was ok! It would take more than a fall to keep this Jewish girl away from her Christmas Chinese food.

I truly thought it was just bruised but somewhere between the crab rangoon and the pan fried noodles, the pain started to intensify. We came home.

I iced it.  I elevated it.  I was up all night in pain.

By morning, it was apparent that this was so much more than just a bruised elbow.  Jon called my parents and for about the millionth time since we bought our house almost 9 years ago, I thanked God that we bought a house only 1 mile away from theirs.  Exactly 7 minutes later, my father was hugging me in my kitchen and feeding my children breakfast so Jon could take me to the emergency room.

The emergency room staff were lovely to me as I sobbed.  A nurse hugged me.  The X ray technician was wonderful to me as I tried not to scream out in pain while she twisted and contorted my elbow in unnatural ways to get the pictures.  They offered me pain meds but I declined…I’m always very much against taking any kind of medication. I agreed to Advil but refused anything stronger. My poor elbow was so swollen and filled with fluid that they couldn’t even read the X rays but sent me home in a cast and a sling until I could see an orthopedic surgeon.

I was a mess.

We came home and I spent the entire day in bed.

I watched Fuller House with my daughter, laid next to my napping son, and ate the lox on a bagel which my girl had so beautifully presented to me all from our bed.  I lit my favorite Bath and Body Works candle on the nightstand next to me…and I cried.  A lot.  From the pain. From the frustration of how hard everything had suddenly become. From the fact that I had so been looking forward to having this glorious time with my husband home from work and my kids home from school and I was spending it like this. So many tears.

Thank goodness my very favorite hobby involves just sitting still 🙂 Recovering with a good book is exactly my kind of medicine! And the act of holding up a book only requires 1 working arm so there’s that.

Jon surprised me with my all time favorite treat after dinner. It was so delicious. It helped.

By the next day, my cast had shifted and was digging into my wrist.  Back to the emergency room I went but this time, my daughter insisted that she be the one to come with me for moral support. They put us into a room and I asked if I should remove my shirt.  They told me yes and at this point, my little girl tugged on my (good) arm and whispered, “Mom!  Are you wearing anything under your shirt?!?”  I explained that after you’ve given birth, a nurse seeing you in your bra is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. 🙂

The nurse loosened the cast and my poor wrist got some relief.

Another night of sleeping with my arm straight up. Awful.

As it turns out, my husband’s old fraternity brother is a wonderful orthopedic surgeon and I was given an immediate appointment the following day. He was kind, knowledgeable, and wonderful. More X rays and then he concluded that my poor elbow was indeed broken. The best news of the day (silver lining) was that he removed my cast! Now I just need to wear a sling. This alone makes everything better. I was honestly going crazy with that cast! I couldn’t do anything. Although I’m now still much more limited in what I can do, I already feel so much more like myself. My next appointment for more X rays is in 2 weeks. Until then, I need to wear the sling, ice it twice a day, and continue to remind my son that he needs to be careful around my entire left arm 🙂

Last night I changed his diaper for the first time since all of this happened and it made me cry because it hurt so much. How on earth does one change a diaper completely one handed?!? Just one of the many things I will need to figure out when Jon goes back to work in a few days…

Speaking of, here I need to give a major shout out to Jon. He has literally done EVERYTHING around here and I couldn’t be more thankful. “In sickness and in health” has definitely been the theme in our house this week and I’m incredibly fortunate to have him by my side. I would be so lost without him.

My best friends were (are) so worried about me! They bought me lunch, took me shopping, and made me smile. As usual, laughter really is the best medicine. We missed you, Beth!

Happy New Year 🙂 My plans tonight have definitely changed but still spending them with the same people is truly all that matters. It’s my dear friend Bari’s birthday today! We were supposed to go to a nice restaurant for dinner, ice skating, and then a super fun dessert all in a crowded and awesome area with our families tonight. Now our plans have shifted to something much more low key but still super fun…a Japanese steakhouse. Perfect and safer for one armed me!

2018 was an absolutely fantastic year in so many ways. I had planned on doing a yearly blog recap post today but I had also planned on having 2 working arms today so there you go 🙂

As we are heading into the new year, I am definitely taking time to reflect on all of the positive things and people in my life. Although clearly this is not how I was planning on ending the year, I do truly realize how much worse this could be. I’m thankful for so many things in my life…this will hopefully just be a minor setback and I’ll be able to move on from all of this soon.

Bring it on, 2019! I’m ready for you. Sling and all.






4 Books I Started but Didn’t Care to Finish {Part 1}

Hi Friends!

How was your weekend?  Remember on Friday when I was excited that we had 3 Hanukkah parties to attend this past weekend???  2 words: sick toddler.  1 party got rescheduled for next week (it was supposed to be at our house), 1 party was attended by my daughter and I, and the last party was attended by my husband and my daughter.  Not at all how I envisioned our fun family weekend to be but sometimes that’s life, right?  My little boy seems to be feeling much better today!  I hated seeing him like that.  Poor thing.

I posted a photo on Instagram from the 1 party I actually went to:

My best friend’s mom has this beautiful tradition where everyone who attends her party brings their own menorah and we all light them together.  There’s something so magical about watching the menorah candles glow and seeing so many at once is absolutely one of my favorite holiday traditions every year.  This year was extra interesting because one of the menorahs next to me fell over with all of it’s lit candles and I grabbed it just in time before anything or anyone got burned!  #hanukkahherojenny

After I wrote this post Let’s Chat: How Long Until You Officially Abandon A Book? I received so many responses and it got me thinking…There are SO many books that I have abandoned before finishing.  I hate doing that but sometimes it’s just necessary.  As I’ve said before, there are way too many amazing books out there to be stuck reading something you don’t love!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series I will be doing from time to time called “4 Books I Started but Didn’t Care to Finish”!


This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you purchase through these links. I obviously wouldn’t recommend buying ANY of these books but if you do…I would be thankful if you could do it through my links, lol 😉

Let’s dive right in…

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel

People RAVE about this book.  All the time.  I was so excited to read it!  I made it about 50 pages in before I called it quits.  Why do people love this one so much?  I absolutely hated the writing style.

One Day (Vintage Contemporaries)

I LOVE the synopsis of this book. I tried…so hard…hated it.  Everything about it.  From page 1.  Broke my heart because I so wanted to love it.  I even went back and tried again!  Still couldn’t get into it. Ugh.

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)

I liked it.  It was fine.  I didn’t LOVE it…and about a quarter of the way through, I called it quits.  Would it have gotten better?  I’m sure it would have!  I just was a bit too bored to stick around to find out.  Eh.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series)

Oh dear lord did I DESPISE this book from the very first sentence on the very first page.  Again, see this post for details: Let’s Chat: How Long Until You Officially Abandon A Book?  I’m going to go ahead and call this my LEAST favorite book I’ve ever read.  Of all time. In my entire life. And I have read A LOT of books.  I was so sure I would love it that I bought all 3 books in the series before I even opened the cover of the first one. I sold all 3 the following summer for $1 each at my garage sale. I will gladly take $3.00 over owning these 3 books any day!

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What books have you started but didn’t care to finish?  Have you read any of the above books?  Did you like them?  Let’s discuss in the comments!

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page ,  follow me on Twitter, and follow me on Instagram!