The 12 Best Books I Read in 2019

I read A LOT of books in 2019.  I haven’t counted them but I can assure you…I read A LOT.  I read many wonderful books, many not so wonderful books and even started reading a few that I never bothered to finish because they didn’t hook me. Here (in no particular order) are my 12 absolute favorite adult fiction (and 1 young adult fiction) books that I read (and LOVED) in 2019. Click on the book cover to purchase the book through my affiliate link (when you purchase through this link, I receive a small commission…xo). Click on my review to read each book’s synopsis as well as my personal thoughts.

What If It’s Us {Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera}

Read my review HERE

The Other Woman {Sandie Jones}

Read my review HERE

Somebody’s Daughter {Rochelle B. Weinstein}

Read my review HERE

A Spark of Light {Jodi Picoult}

Read my review HERE

The Unbreakables {Lisa Barr}

Read my review HERE

Convenience Store Woman {Sayaka Murata}

Read my review HERE

The Most Fun We Ever Had {Claire Lombardo}

Read my review HERE

The Bride Test {Helen Hoang}

Read my review HERE

A Simple Favor {Darcey Bell}

Read my review HERE

The Turn of the Key {Ruth Ware}

Read my review HERE

The Mother in Law {Sally Hepworth}

Read my review HERE

This is Not How It Ends {Rochelle B. Weinstein}

This book isn’t being released until 1/1/20.  I was fortunate enough to receive an Advance Readers Copy and I finished reading just a few days ago.  I. LOVED. IT.  Full blog review coming soon…

Have you read any of the above books?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

My Superhero Mind Giveaway Winners:

Congratulations to the following lucky readers 🙂  Please email me your mailing address ( within 48 hours to receive your autographed copy!  If I don’t hear from you in 48 hours, I will pick a new winner.  A big thanks to everyone who entered!  I have some fantastic giveaways already lined up for 2020, I can’t wait to share them with you…

Tracy (I would love this book to read to my own children AND all to read to in ALL the classrooms I work in! As an instructional coach, I am in so many classes and I think this book would be great for all students!
I love your blog Jenny! Thanks for sharing your love of reading with so many! Happy Holidays to you and your family!)

Becca (My 4 year old niece and my 2 year old nephew would absolutely love this book. One of the best and most meaningful things I do with them is read to them and share my love of books. This would be a great addition to the collection of books they have.)

Jess E (I’d love to have this book for my 2 year old boy/girl twins! It sounds like a great book that will be able to grow with them, teach positive lessons, and to show any and all of their dreams are supported!)

Melissa (At 2 1/2 years old, Addie would LOVE this book. She loves to read and right now she is obsessed with Spiderman so a super hero book would be great. She is a very independent, sassy and strong little girl!)

Kelley (I wish to share this book with my best friends grand daughter Carleigh! I think she would love it. Thank you)

What was your favorite book that you read in 2019? Please share in the comments below!



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Book Review: What if it’s Us {Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera}

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

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)

4.5 Stars

I absolutely loved this book.  One of my favorite books that I’ve read so far in 2019!

From page 1 I was hooked.  Everything about this book was awesome and REAL.  The sheer amount of storylines and characters in this book was insane…but in a good way.  I truly loved it all and simply couldn’t get enough of this book!  It was funny, heartwarming, sad, uplifting…it was everything.  I found myself smiling while reading though so many parts of this book.

I’m always so curious when books are co-written.  Do the authors take on specific characters to write?  Do they alternate chapters?  Sections of the book?  I had this thought in the back of my mind while reading and it was all written so smoothly that I truly have no idea how it was written by 2 people.  Mind.  Blown.

The only reasons I can’t give this gem 5 stars are because it was a bit predictable at times and the characters were VERY dramatic at times.  I understand that they are teenagers and teenagers are dramatic…but whoa.  Also, I felt that the conversations between them were spot on at times on how teenagers speak and not realistic at other times when they would become so reflective.  I would be curious to hear others weigh in on this topic if you’ve read it.

I also think it’s worth noting that if you haven’t seen Hamilton and HATE reading about any spoilers of any kind as much as I do, you might not want to read this book until you do.  There are A LOT of Hamilton references throughout this book and there is even a part where the basic story of Hamilton is told.  When I saw Hamilton in Chicago last fall, I went in completely blind…I wanted to know absolutely nothing about the story, the songs, etc.  I truly believe my Hamilton experience was better that way (everyone says to listen to the music first…I say do NOT)!  I would have been super annoyed by all of the Hamilton references in this book if I was planning on seeing the play blindly.  However, having already seen the play…I LOVED all of the Hamilton references!  In fact, I am playing the Hamilton Pandora station as I’m typing this because after reading this book, I needed to hear these songs again STAT.

Please, please, please tell me there is a sequel to this book coming out eventually.  I can’t say good-bye to these characters and storylines just yet!  Everything about this book is just begging for a sequel.

This book would also make a fantastic movie…

Bottom Line:


Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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 10:00-10:30! 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

***INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY*** Still Breathing {E.A. Fourier}

I am writing from the peace and quiet of my dining room.  I’m ALONE.  I haven’t been alone in a week and a half!  My daughter was on Spring Break and we had the best time.  We spent an entire day downtown, we watched movies, we ate ice cream, we got manicures, we did art projects, we shopped, we played outside, and so much more.  I’m EXHAUSTED but it was so worth it.  I now have a solid 2.5 hour chunk of time while both of my kids are in school and I can relish the sound of nothing except for Michael Buble’s voice from the Pandora station on my phone.  I even have a candle lit as I’m typing this!  Glorious.

In book news…I did somehow manage to read this entire book (full blog review and giveaway coming soon) over Spring Break.   I just started reading this book a few nights ago and I’m LOVING it!

I have a wonderful giveaway for you today!  Have you read this book?

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own.

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Newly widowed and on the threshold of seventy, Lizzie Warton questions the value of her remaining years. Uncharacteristically, she decides for the first time in her life to do what she wants, instead of what everyone expects.

Against the wishes of family and friends, she sets out for Africa to work at a Ugandan middle school. When she lands at night in the Entebbe airport, her hosts are not there to meet her. Near panic, she hires a local taxi. The driver drugs her, steals everything, and dumps her limp body in a slum. Waking in the dark, she feels someone tugging off her shoes.

Without money, a passport, clothes, or medications, Lizzie is forced to start over and find a way to survive.

Soon she learns that nothing in Africa is as it appears. The grind of daily life in the third-world is beyond anything Lizzie imagined. Nevertheless, encouraged by budding friendships in surprising places, and against every sensible instinct she’s ever developed, Lizzie’s own personal search for meaning becomes the grand adventure of a lifetime.

My Thoughts:

I’ve always been drawn to books which take place in different cultures. I find learning about other cultures and places fascinating and as soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I immediately knew that it was one I needed to read.

I found myself learning and researching a great deal while reading this book which is always such a bonus for me. I love when a book is so well written that it makes me want to learn more about the subject and/or place, and this book is a perfect example.

There were many different characters and storylines and all were interesting. I found myself being able to connect to many of these intriguing characters and truly became immersed into their lives.

My favorite parts of the book took place in Owino Market…what a fascinating place that must be! The descriptions of the market were so rich and colorful that I felt like I was there!

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with E.A. Fournier through social media and email quite a bit and he truly is such a kind person. Always such a bonus to learn that the person behind the words is as lovely as the words  are themselves.

I loved this wonderful book and the ending made me cry. Such a special story which begs for a sequel!

A Conversation with E.A. Fournier, in his own words:

How did you create the idea for your book?
I carried the beginnings of Lizzie’s story in my head for years. At one point, I wrote it out as the opening for a screenplay. An older woman sits alone at the bedside of her comatose husband. He comes conscious long enough to apologize for not sharing the major decisions in their life. It’s his biggest regret. He asks her to choose to do something, after he’s gone, that she’s always wanted to do. He slips back into the coma and a few days later he’s dead. I could never quite resolve what the wife would choose to do, so I put it aside.
Years later, I challenged myself to write women’s fiction. It seemed to me that the leads in most of that genre were young, smart and lovely. I wanted to feature someone significantly older: a woman with wide hips and grey hair, someone sensitive but not sappy, big-hearted but seasoned. I considered revisiting Lizzie’s story. Since I’m the wrong gender, I wondered if I could pull it off and make her character ring true. I decided I was willing to try. The question that remained was what Lizzie wanted to do. 
It turned out that the answer was right in front of me. My small church funded an orphan home in Kampala for street boys. The young founders were my friends. My son traveled there to teach art and make a film. His efforts not only helped the orphans, but won him a lovely Ugandan bride. It seemed clear to me that Lizzie had finally found her unlikely destination.  
What audience would be most interested in your book?
The special audience I had in mind when I first created Still Breathing was women over forty. At this point in their lives many of them question their own significance. I felt that this group would uniquely appreciate a determined main character like my 69-year-old Lizzie.
However, I’ve discovered that the power of the book’s characters reaches far outside my demographics. At one end, my granddaughter, a sophomore in high school, loved Lizzie and her journey. She posted a very perceptive review on Goodreads and promotes the novel to her YA friends. At the other end, my 70-year-old male acquaintance, John, begrudgingly agreed to give my book a chance. He only reads non-fiction. John called me a week later to say he’d finished. He would have called sooner, he admitted, but was crying so much that he didn’t know if he could talk on the phone. I reminded him that it was only fiction. He replied that it sure didn’t feel like fiction to him. 
So, the novel seems to be seeking out its own wider audience, despite what I think.
Where can your book be purchased?
The book’s available in digital, paperback or hardback from Amazon or Barnes & Noble
It’s also available in digital-only formats from Apple, Google Play, or Scribd
In addition, you can find it internationally at these sites: Thalia,, Angus & Robertson, or the Mandadori Store.
Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:
Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:
Most of the situations and events in the story come directly out of my research and from interviews with former Ugandan street boys, teachers and house fathers. For example, the plight of boys on the street, the scarcity of copper, the way boarding schools work, the corruption of customs officials, the perils of marriage for women, the new method to send money from the U.S.—these all came out of the research. 
I peppered the book with accurate local language and flavored it with open markets, tribal clothes and native foods. Many of these elements came directly from my Ugandan daughter-in-law, Diana. Luganda, the language used in the book, is the main dialect spoken in Kampala. Fortunately, most Ugandans also speak English.
I tend to write by the seat of my pants and let my characters tell me what comes next, but I’m enough of a plot and outline guy to limit their scope. People don’t understand that there are times when characters talk back, or refuse to say lines, or do the opposite of what you ask. Really. It’s why I laugh when people say a writer’s life is lonely. No, it’s not! It’s stuffed with noisy imaginary people who interrupt each other, argue and laugh and cry, and are certain of their own opinions—just like people in the everyday world.


I have 1 autographed copy of to give away (the autographed copy will be mailed to you if you live in the US or you will receive an electronic copy if you are located internationally)! 

To be entered, please complete these 3 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me one place in the world where you would love to visit.

3. Tell me in your comment if you are located within the US or if you are located internationally.

**You must complete ALL 3 of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway and you must complete them here on my blog (not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)**

Giveaway will close Sunday (4/7/19) morning at 6:00 CDT and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Monday’s blog post (4/8/19).

Make sure you check the blog on Monday to see if you’ve won (you will have 48 hours from the time I post the winner to email me your mailing address.  If I don’t hear from you within 48 hours, I will pick a new winner).

If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your 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!

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

Let’s Chat: Do You Treat Library Books Better or Worse Than Your Own Books?


Last week, a friend of mine emailed me with an idea for a blog post…bringing library books on vacation!  I immediately loved her idea and knew it would make for a great post.  She was packing for an upcoming trip and was unsure if she wanted to risk damaging library books by bringing them on her vacation.  She was nervous about the ocean water, sunscreen, tropical drinks, etc. getting on her borrowed library books.  She asked my opinion and I didn’t hesitate when I immediately wrote her back…

Bring them!

I LOVE LIBRARY BOOKS.  Like…a lot.  And while I’m definitely careful and respectful of borrowed library books, I do tend to not treat them as well than if they were my own.  I find myself resting my coffee mugs directly on the covers, tossing them into my car, etc.

If I spend money on a book, I treat it with much more care.  I would NEVER rest my coffee on it!  Coasters all the way.  I would NEVER throw it into my car!  It would be carefully placed on the passenger seat next to me.

Not to mention, library books DO have that nice protective coating over them sooooo….there’s that.

Having this attitude towards library books means I ALWAYS bring them on my vacations!  They get shoved into my seat pocket on the airplane, thrown into my beach bag, and packed away to return home buried under the souvenirs in my suitcase.  I never worry about damaging them!  In fact, just the opposite…I don’t worry about them at all, lol.

I’ve been very lucky that I’ve never damaged a library book.  I’m quite certain that my opinion and how I tend to treat them would very much change if I ever did…

Until then?  I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that the protective coating over the cover does it’s job. 🙂

Speaking of library books, here’s the one I am currently reading!  I started it last night and am absolutely LOVING it so far. Have you read this one?

I have an awesome book giveaway scheduled for Wednesday…make sure you check the blog! I can’t wait to share this wonderful book with you!

So tell me…Do you treat library books better or worse then your own books?

I’m traveling next month and would love to hear your book recommendations!  What should I pack to read during my trip???  I asked this question on Facebook yesterday and got some fantastic responses!  (If you missed my 2019 Spring Break Book Recommendations, you can read them here).

Do you have any suggestions for future blog posts?  I’d love to hear them and possibly use them!  Please let me know!

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 10:00-10:30! 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. 🙂


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!