What I’m Reading: January 2017 Book Recommendations

With all the festivity of the holidays and a lot of hosting at our house, I didn’t have much time for reading in the month of December. Now that we’re settling back into our normal routine, I’ve been catching up on some good books. If you didn’t see last week’s post where I shared my selections for the 2017 Reading Challenge, be sure to check it out here.

Are you looking for a good book recommendation? Here's what I'm reading this month.

One of my reasons for taking part in the Reading Challenge is motivation. As much as I love to get lost in a great story, it can be easy to get out of the habit of reading. There are so many demands on my time during the day, and some nights I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to get through a few pages. Plus let’s be honest, sometimes at the end of a long day, Netflix wins the battle for my attention. Having a list of books that I hope to read by the end of the year will hopefully keep me motivated to make time for reading.

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately and what’s on my nightstand right now.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Although The Nest has been growing in popularity for a while, I didn’t have much interest until a friend recommended it and then it just happened to show up on one of the display shelves at the entrance of our library. The story begins with Leo Plumb getting into a car accident under scandalous circumstances. The aftermath of his accident drains the trust fund intended for Leo and his three siblings, the grown children of a well-to-do New England family. Each of the siblings has been depending on “the Nest,” as they have coined their anticipated inheritance, for a different reason. The rest of the story revolves around the impact of Leo’s poor choices on his family members. This one starts off fast and furious, but takes a dip into a slower analysis of family dynamics and the choices we make when faced with a crossroads. I really liked where Sweeney took these characters and felt she really explored the inner workings of sibling relationships.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Unless you live in a cave, you most likely recognize this author as the creator of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Scandal,” (my fave) among others. In Year of Yes, Rhimes recalls how despite running a wildly successful production company, she wasn’t really happy in her own life. When her sister called her out with six words, “you never say yes to anything,” Rhimes took it as a personal challenge and thus began her Year of Yes. In saying yes to all the things that scared her or pushed her out of her comfort zone, she was able to find her own voice among all those that she so cleverly puts on our screens each Thursday night. Reading through the different ways that Rhimes was forced to say yes, it’s easy to see the similarities between these pages and the characters I enjoy so much in her shows. It’s a quick read, full of humor and genuine insight. It’s definitely a great selection to kick off the new year.

Are you a reader in search of honest book reviews and quality recommendations? Check out what I'm reading now and what I'm planning to read next.

On my nightstand

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

I chose A Year in Provence for the 2017 Reading Challenge category “a book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit.” I happened to find it in a thrift shop for $1 and I’m looking forward to starting. From Amazon “In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs.” That just sounds like such a fun adventure doesn’t it?

Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson

The subtitle of Own Your Life reads, “living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love.” Umm… yes please. After listening to an interview with Sally Clarkson, I was so excited to read her newest book that I requested it for my birthday. And then I never actually read it. How did that happen?? I’m not really sure, but I feel like this will be another good choice for the start of a new year.

I’m still working on Food Freedom Forever and you can see my initial take in my November post. There are so many books that I want to start RIGHT NOW just because they’re on my list, but I’m trying to focus on just one or two at a time.

What are you reading this month??


*This post contains affiliate links. You can see my full disclosure statement here.

{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy}

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What I’m Reading: The 2017 Reading Challenge

If you read my 10 Goals for 2017 post, you know that one of my personal goals is to read 18 books this year. To clarify, I don’t want to just read 18 random books, but 18 specific books selected from categories outlined in the 2017 Reading Challenge from Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy. There are two tracks: Reading for Fun and Reading for Growth. I’m choosing a little of both.

18 books I'm planning to read for the 2017 Reading Challenge.

Reading for Fun

A book you chose for the cover: 

  • I haven’t picked this one yet but I’ll know it when I see it

A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able:

A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit:

A book you’ve already read:

A Juicy Memoir:

A book about books or reading:

A book in a genre you usually avoid:

A book in the backlist of a new favorite author:

A book recommended by someone with great taste:

A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet:

A book about a topic or subject you already love:

Reading for Growth

A Newbery Award winner or Honor book:

A book in translation:

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection:

A book of any genre that addresses current events:

An immigrant story:

A book published before you were born: 

A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner:

I know there will be books I read this year that aren’t on this list, but I’m excited to tackle some subjects that I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards.

What are you reading this year??


*This post contains affiliate links. You can see my full disclosure here.

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10 Favorite Christmas Books for Kids

If you’ve been around Sweeter Still for a while, then you know how much I love to read. If you’re new, you can check out some of my What I’m Reading posts here and here to see what I’m talking about. One of the traits I hope to instill in my children is a love of books. Christmas books are a treat for all of us, especially because we only take them out during the holiday season. Here are some of our favorites.

Our family loves to read together during the holidays. Here are some of our favorites.

*This post contains affiliate links. You can find my full disclosure here.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

It wouldn’t feel like Christmas in our house without this classic. We love reading about all of the grinch’s nasty ways and his change of heart when he realizes the truth about Christmas. It’s such a good message for little ones to hear, particularly when the focus is often on what they want and what they might get.

The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Our love for the Berenstain Bears runs deep and we have quite a collection. This story of Papa Bear’s quest to find the perfect Christmas tree helps remind us that it’s not the things that make Christmas special, but the act of showing others that we care.

Angelina’s Christmas by Katharine Holabird

My daughter loved the Angelina Ballerina stories when she was younger, and we continue to enjoy this sweet tale of the little mouse helping an elderly neighbor in her village. When she discovers the former postman is alone at Christmas, the whole family pitches in to make him feel loved and ensure he’s never lonely during the holidays again.

The Last Christmas Tree by Stephen Krensky

We just added this one to our collection last year and I already adore it. A small, oddly-shaped Christmas tree wants nothing more than to help a family celebrate the season, but it is ignored in favor of bigger, more traditional-looking trees. The little tree finds itself to be the lone tree left in the lot on Christmas Eve, only to be chosen by someone very special. I cry every time we read this one 😉

The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry

One of my best friends gifted us with this fun scented storybook of a little bear eagerly anticipating the coming Christmas day. You get to experience many traditions of the holiday season through the awesomely old-school scratch and sniff pages. My kids go bananas over this one!

The Pajama Elves by Hayden Edwards

One of the traditions we keep as a family is new pajamas delivered for the kiddos on Christmas Eve. This fun little story describes how elves create special pajamas that help children sleep soundly while awaiting the arrival of Santa. It’s a fun way to bring a little extra magic into the night before Christmas.

A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas by Ralph Covert & G. Riley Mills

This non-traditional spin on the classic story of The Nutcracker is lots of fun. A boy must help the nutcracker defeat the evil mouse king after he accidentally releases it from a video game. There’s all the magic of the original with some modern additions. In a fun twist, the nutcracker is a girl in this version.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Recently I shared my favorite Christmas movies and The Polar Express definitely made the list. We love the story version as well, although this is one case where the movie adds a lot of extra creativity and fun to the story. Regardless, the book is a lovely story of a boy’s desire to truly believe in Santa, leading him on a train ride to the North Pole.

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg

The kids love this story of the Jolly Postman delivering Christmas treats to traditional fairytale characters like Red Riding Hood. Each character gets a letter or treat that the kids can read or play with, making this book a little more interactive than it might seem at first glance.

An Otis Christmas by Loren Long

I picked this one up in the bookstore a couple years ago and cried as I read it aloud in the kids section. It’s a sweet story of how the little tractor helps save a horse on the farm where he lives, and the end just gets me every time.


The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore 

I couldn’t possibly have a list of favorite Christmas stories without including this classic poem. Our collection includes two different illustrated versions of the well-known story of Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve. We read it together as a family every year before the kids head off to bed in their new Christmas jammies.

We have many other Christmas books in our collection, but these are the ones that we come back to year after year. My kids love to choose a different book to read before bed each night during the holiday season, and I love to keep my eye out for new possibilities to add to our stash.

What are your favorite Christmas books to read together?


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What I’m Reading: November 2016 Book Recommendations

Thanksgiving is ten days away and the reality of the approaching holiday season is really hitting me. When life is full of long to-do lists and fun activities keeping us busy, it’s comforting to escape in the pages of a good book, even if it’s just for a short time before bed. Here are some top-notch book recommendations for you, and a few for the kids as well. (HINT: these would make great gifts too!)

Are you looking for a good book recommendation? Find some great choices for adults and for kids too.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my full disclosures here.

Books for you

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A lighthouse keeper and his wife are living alone on a remote island off the coast of Australia when a baby washes up on the shore in a rowboat, accompanied only by a dead man. The wife, unable to have a baby of her own, believes the child to be an answer to their prayers. The story that unfolds is both gripping and tragic, in a way that I haven’t experienced since Me Before You. M.L. Stedman has written a beautiful novel of love and loss on multiple levels. I cried more than once while reading this one. Consider yourself warned.

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

Aubrey Hamilton’s husband, Josh, is officially declared dead after the five years following his mysterious disappearance. Instead of providing the closure that she so desperately needs, the declaration sends Aubrey on a search to discover what really happened to her husband. I originally saw this book recommendation on the 2016 Summer Reading Guide from Modern Mrs. Darcy. It finally turned up at my library, and it took me all of three days to finish. While I thoroughly enjoyed the suspense throughout the novel, the author does a nice job of providing background into the characters and the Hamilton’s marriage, continuously leading the reader to question what really happened. The end was well worth the wait.

Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig

The premise is simple. “Food freedom” is found when we stop letting food control us through guilt, anxiety and bad habits. Co-author of The Whole30, Hartwig provides actionable strategies to create longterm healthy habits. I’m still in the middle of this one, but I couldn’t wait to pick it up after my first experience with the Whole30. It’s funny, relatable and offers a realistic action plan for improving your overall health.

Books for kids

Harry Potter & the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

It would be difficult to overemphasize how much I love the Harry Potter series. I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with my family when it was released in the theater and promptly went home and devoured the first four books. I’ve loved this series ever since, and now I get the added joy of sharing it with my children. We started reading this series as a family several months ago, making a pact that we would only read when all four of us were together. Both my 8yo daughter and 5yo son loved the first and second books, but halfway through this one, my son declared it “too scary” and no longer wanted to read it. As a family, we agreed that I would finish reading it with our daughter, and she continued to enjoy it to the end. I know that when he’s a bit older, my son will be able to return to Harry Potter and enjoy it far more.

A Note About Geronimo Stilton

I’ve been reading some of the books from this series to my 5yo son and he really likes them, but I recommend it with hesitation. Geronimo Stilton is a mouse, publisher of The Rodent’s Gazette, and constantly on the verge of his next adventure. The books’ use of illustrations and creative fonts enhance the shenanigans that occur in every story. My issue with this series is that Geronimo, himself, is pretty pessimistic and does a lot of complaining and whining. We try to teach our kids to have a positive outlook and Geronimo really doesn’t line up with our philosophy. For this reason, I’m reducing the frequency with which we read books from this series.

Take a look at some of our favorite Thanksgiving books HERE.

What have you been reading lately??


{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy, Tutorials & Tips}

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What I’m Reading: October 2016 Book Recommendations

I can’t believe that October is already halfway finished! The past six weeks since school started have literally flown by, but I’m so excited for fall and the holiday season. I’m always looking for great book recommendations, and mystery novels feel just right for fall days when you want to curl up on the couch.

Looking for some great book recommendations? Here are some of the mysteries I've been loving lately.

current favorite Mystery novel recommendations

Chief Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny

I’ve been tearing through this series centered around Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the head of homicide in the Quebec police force. Rather than review each book individually, I’ll tell you why I enjoy this series. So far I’ve read A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, and A Trick of the Light. I highly recommend reading this series chronologically. While each book focuses on an unrelated murder,  you understand the characters much better if you follow them in order.

What I appreciate about these mystery novels is the lack of grisly details that would keep me awake at night. Yes, there’s some element of brutality in the description, but it’s far from the CSI-style depiction of gory murders that seem to fill the shelves and the screen these days. My favorites so far have been A Rule Against Murder, The Brutal Telling, and Bury Your Dead. Each story is suspenseful and digs into the characters in a way that keeps you intrigued until the very end.

The Likeness by Tana French

The Dublin Murder Squad series is another that Anne Bogel strongly recommends on her blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. The first novel in the series is called In the Woods, but based on the description involving missing children, I chose to skip it. I really enjoyed The Likeness, and I so badly want this book to be made into a movie. The story follows Cassie Maddox, a former undercover agent for the Dublin police force, who unexpectedly joins a murder investigation. The victim looks nearly identical to Cassie, and her ID is that of an alias Cassie used during an undercover operation years ago. The police portray the murder as “attempted” and send Cassie undercover into this girl’s home and life.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I found this book on a list of recommendations for adults who liked the Harry Potter series. It’s a whimsical mystery that I really enjoyed. The story follows Clay, a former web designer who takes a job in a peculiar bookstore in San Francisco. Clay soon learns that this is no ordinary bookstore, and he sets out on his own personal investigation to determine its underlying secrets. It’s an unusual story, but that makes it even more intriguing. Stick with it and you won’t be disappointed.

What are you reading right now??


{Linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy}

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