Category Archives: Books

Just Read: The Teenage Brain + 10 more

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book recap and it’s long overdue. I try to ping-pong back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, just to break up my intake. The year started off impressively with All The Light We Cannot See and you can add me to the long list of people who loved this book. If you haven’t read it yet, you can believe the hype.

Scanning the list of books below, you might gather that my non-fiction reading has been hijacked by parenting topics. Maybe this is what happens when one’s child is leaving the cozy nest of elementary school and about to enter the wilds of middle school. It’s my first time, so don’t laugh too hard.

books read in 2015

2015 Books

Since we’re traveling to Amsterdam, Berlin and Iceland this summer, I added Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts & Jon Krakauer to my reading list. After finishing Anne Frank, I passed it along to our daughter to read and will be very interested in her thoughts on it. She knows how the story ends already — I felt like I need to tell her that from the get-go.

Quick Reviews:

  1. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. (Darkly funny, dysfunctional family, death + divorce, made into a movie)
  2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. (WWII historical fiction, told through two characters, a German soldier and a blind French girl)
  3. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. (foster care system, a flower whisperer and the chance to heal old wounds)
  4. The Teenage Brain by Frances Jensen (what kids do during these years has a lasting impact on their brains, i.e. alcohol, drugs, technology habits and sports concussions)
  5. The Myth of the Spoiled Child by Alfie Kohn. (Are modern parenting practices really making a generation of spoiled kids? The evidence says NO.)
  6. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. (Great book for setting boundaries around digital creep. Excellent reminder and strategies for carving out time for renewal. Spiritual/Religious but not overly so.)
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. (Powerful and incredibly well-written.)
  8. The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato. (Armchair travel to Venice with semi-interesting love story + historic intrigue)
  9. Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts. (A younger John Krakauer supplies the photography for this book. Part history, part travelogue. Just so-so)
  10. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. (10 years on this book seems very relevant to today’s news. Perfect for music lovers. A slow burn.)
  11. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart with Money by Ron Lieber. (Excellent book with thoughtful ideas on how to help kids navigate money, responsibility and sense of self in the broader world.)

My favorites of all of these was All the Light We Cannot See, The Opposite of Spoiled, and Sabbath. The rest were plain good, except for The Glassblower of Murano. That one just didn’t do it for me at all.

Lastly, if you have any recommendations (books, sights, restaurants) for Amsterdam, Berlin, and/or Iceland, please let me know! I would love to hear them.

x Laura


Just Read: Cold Earth + Eight More

Book Collage - 2014

Sometimes my reading choices are right in the thick of the mainstream, and very book-of-the-moment (i.e. Gone Girl, Divergent) and sometimes I’m off doing my own thing. The books I’ve read so far this year (which included Divergent, but you don’t need me to talk about that one), have been a mixed bag.

I absolutely loved Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe, because I am such a child of that era, growing up at the same time, seeing the movies that he’s starring in. If you think he’s just another pretty-boy-airhead, you will be convinced otherwise and if you only know him from The West Wing, you’ll get a taste for his geeky-to-golden-boy early years. He narrates the audio book, which is how I read it, and it’s a treat to have his voice telling his story.

Quick Reviews

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss. Archaeology, haunted dig site and a race against the clock before the winter weather seals them off from the helicopter pick-up. Do not read while camping.

The Smartest Kids In The World by Amanda Ripley. Revealing thesis to why some countries have better prepared kids for success than others, and how we can learn from them.

When Wanderers Cease To Roam by Vivian Swift. Where do I start with this gorgeously written and illustrated seasonal journal? Vivian Swift has been a global nomad for twenty years and has finally set down her backpack. Now she roams her small village and finds a world of beauty within its smallness. Received a copy for my birthday from my mother-in-law and loved it enough to buy another one as a gift to my mother.

Are We Nearly There Yet? by Ben Hatch. Crazy, adventurous, funny, poignant, and a 5-month snapshot of what middle-age looks like for some. Sandwiched between young children and family illness, Ben Hatch ping-pongs between sippy cups, hospital visits, and a 5-month road trip with two kids under age four. Madness. Glad to have read it.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. See paragraph above.

Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift. For Francophiles, the newly coupled, or those who are interested in the musings on being a traveler rather than a tourist. Gorgeously illustrated with her watercolors and written with her unique observations. Liked it less than When Wanderers Cease To Roam, but still good.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  Mother and son get through cancer treatments, dismal diagnosis and family dynamics with a very personal book club. Not my favorite book this year, but might be good for others.

Currently Reading


The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski (children/YA fiction – my daughter loved this book and insisted I read it. Also got a thumbs up from her teacher.)

Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Fiction – received rave reviews, so I’m on the bandwagon once again.)

 Hope your summer allows for reading time. Let me know what books you’re reading and what you like/didn’t like. I’m all ears.

x Laura


Just Read: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore + 9 more

Somehow I’ve already read ten books this year and I’m not quite sure how that happened. Must have been a combination of bad TV, wintery weekends, one day nursing a cold, and a couple of plane trips, because that is not normal for me.

The good news is that a few of these books are really good and I’ve done reviews on all of them. My favorites being Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (fiction), The City of Ember (YA fiction) and Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself (non-fiction, health).

books just read in 2013

Here are all ten books recently read (ordered from top to bottom picture-wise):

  1. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (smart, techie + old-world)
  2. The City of Ember (YA fiction that is a real page-turner)
  3. Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself (change your diet, change your life. Gwyneth follows this, so there’s that, and Dr. Oz approved)
  4. The Last Letter from Your Lover (right love, wrong timing + amnesia!)
  5. The Curse of the Good Girl (tips for raising girls with high self esteem)
  6. The Runaway Princess (beach read, sort of Bridget Jones meets yummy heir to the throne)
  7. Cesar Milan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog (naughty dog? reset the behavior + tips for picking the right puppy)
  8. Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future (easy adds to your diet)
  9. The People of Sparks (sequel to Book of Ember, YA fiction)
  10. The Secret Lives of Wives (want to stay married? Anecdotes on longevity)

Click over to 2013 Books and Reviews to see more info and detailed reviews. I’d love to hear what you’re reading and liking. Please tell me what’s good. We all need good books in our lives.

x Laura

More like this:

Just Finished: Gone Girl + 4 others

If you’re ready for a modern mystery with egotistical characters, unfathomable plot lines and a wild ride that will keep you on edge, grab Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for your next read. I tore through this book in August and knew that it would most likely be the best book I’d read in 2012. That’s high praise given I still have a lot of reading to do, but so far it’s holding up. My mom is reading it right now and I can’t wait to see what she thinks of it.

Today I’m reviewing:

  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
  • 500 Places To Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up, by Holly Hughs
  • When It Happens To You, by Molly Ringwald
  • The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
  • Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick

For my full reviews of all of these books go to the 2012 Books and Reviews page. I’m lucky to have read a lot a good books this year, but they are all so different. See which ones strike your fancy.

Got a Tween? If you’re looking for a visually stunning book and heartfelt story for your tween reader, please check out Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. He’s the author who wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret (which was made into the movie Hugo) and it does not disappoint.

Currently Reading

When God Was A Rabbit, by Sarah Winman

We’re all so busy and increasingly our spare moments are being shifted to our iPads, TVs and streaming media. When on earth do you fit in the time to read? Or do you?

x Laura

Catching Up

Time flies when you’re having fun, so I guess that’s a good sign. July sped by with family time, hot days and travel, but I missed you guys and my blogging. With my kiddo out of school, I get wrapped up in summer activities and spend much less time at the computer, creating, writing and hunting down fashion. But now that August is here with fall fashion issues hitting the stands, I’ve been scouring my favorite magazines and dog-earring a bunch of great things.

As a parting shout-out to summer, here are a few shots from our day at Elitch Gardens amusement park in Denver this summer: me on the carousel horse, the big ferris wheel and the Twister roller coaster sign. The Twister is a wooden roller coaster modeled on the original design of the roller coaster I rode as a kid, then called Mister Twister. Riding it took me straight back to my youth. What a rush. I would rather go on a roller coaster than anything that spins.


elitch gardens ferris wheel

twister 2 roller coaster

I managed to get some reading done too, which is great. My 2012 Reading Challenge goal of 30 books is alive and kicking, although I’ve got to get moving on it. At my current pace (13 out of 30 read), I’m four books behind. Gotta get crackin’!

I enjoyed all three of these books and they were vastly different, ranging from fantasy to mystery to humor. Click here to see my reviews.

The Night CircusThe Brutal TellingLet's Pretend This Never Happened

  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)
  2. The Brutal Telling by Louse Penny (mystery)
  3. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (humor, blogger)

More to come soon, with lots of fashion ahead. I hope your summer went well!

x Laura

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.
John Barrymore