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What I read: The Autumn 2020 Edition

Pssst! Are designer jeans worth it?:

Instead of mindlessly scrolling on Instagram and being listless, fatigued and dull-witted, I have been forcing myself to pick up my e-reader and to read instead.


Includes the books below:

The Blue Bistro

I. Loved. This. Book. Out of all the ones she has written, perhaps this one might be my favourite mostly because of the HEAVY references to delicious food, the descriptions of a chef life, etc. I’d start with this one first if you’re starting with Hilderbrand books.

The Art of Making Memories

A good, quick read on how to create lasting, happy memories. I learned a bit more (but not much), it mostly goes over what you know — that your memory is faulty, that you can only remember certain ones because they were either very positive or very negative, and smell/association of scent, noises, and observation, really seal the memory in for life.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Based on Chinese folklore, this was a children’s book (I had no idea, but I got the hint about a chapter into it), AND I LOVED IT.

It won an award so I was quite wary of it (award winning books don’t do well in my literary world), but this one lives up to all the hype. I’d read it, even as an adult. I’d read it again. It’s an easy one, it took me about an afternoon to finish it.

Why smart kids worry

Little Bun has not yet started stressing out about global warming yet, but he is aware of climate change, the virus and bad things. He just doesn’t seem to be worried about it at all. So.. I read the book but didn’t yet find it relevant to my life. If he starts asking those questions, I’ll re-read this again.

Beyond Intelligence

Another parenting book (haven’t read these in a while) on raising happy, productive kids. Hasn’t told me what I don’t already know about it which can be summed up in these points below:

  1. “Intelligence” is fluid – A kid can be super bright now and then not so much later, it’s a question of work, not genes
  2. What’s more important is hard work grit, perseverance and curiousity – I am working on encouraging Little Bun in this regard, and I will refrain from telling him how smart he is so that he thinks it’s all easy and he doesn’t have to work at anything
  3. Intelligence comes in various forms – artistic, kinetic, mathematic, etc ….
  4. Let kids be kids – Sometimes letting them sit and be silent to find themselves helps
  5. Don’t force introverts to fit into a mould – The story about the little girl sitting by herself to read, resonated with me because I was that little girl, and my teacher in Grade 8, called my mother concerned that I was a budding serial killer in the making because I always sat by myself, read books, kept to myself, and didn’t seem to make friends with anyone in my class (they were all catty, my real friends were in the other class…)
  6. Don’t expect or force perfection – My partner disagrees with this because he worries it will let kids be lazy and not be perfect, but this is something I know has happened to me — I have not wanted to be challenged as a kid because I didn’t want to fail, but I have to teach him and myself (even now) that mistakes are necessary and part of learning how to do better
  7. Don’t overschedule them – Check. I am not that parent who has them in 5 classes a night, or anything close.
  8. Make learning fun – Check. It’s how Little Bun has discovered a love for math and other subjects, he finds learning fun because I make it fun, and interesting.
  9. Don’t expect kids to be smart in everything – Just because they’re good at one thing, doesn’t mean they’re great at it all.
  10. Make sure they understand how to cope with disappointment, challenges from ‘smarter’ / ‘better’ kids – This is an important lesson. I need him to learn this, and I am working on finding ways to reframe what he sees / hears as failure, into lessons on how we ‘don’t give up and try again’. Or, to teach him to let go.

Good book, but sums up everything I’ve read in the past. Didn’t learn anything new, frankly.

The Magnolia Story

I did not think I could love them more, but I do after this book. It’s such a GOOD story starting from beyond broke, getting a glimpse into the way they both are in terms of personality, and learning more about them. It’s really inspiring and interesting.

“If I had to title our first year of marriage, it’d be: She Cried” – Chip Gaines (this was extremely funny to me.)

One S’more SummerS’more to Lose

LOVED these books. I was hesitant because I’m starting to get disillusioned with chicklit (my favourite genre), but these two are great. I’ve never been to camp, nor am a camper, but this made me want to try. My library does not have the third book in the trilogy and I’m annoyed. I WANT TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS. I may have to buy it – Love you s’more and the last one. That might be $12 well spent, or I can wait…….??

The Heineken Story

I love reading about how businesses started, their history, their ideas.. basically their origin story, so this is no different. I love biographies and memoirs too, so this is right up my alley.

The whole history is fascinating, the business acumen, the politics, and how it was almost gone from one family member mismanaging it. The marketing in particular is fascinating. The only part that started to get boring was after they stopped with the Freddy anecdotes and it was just pure business of who merged with what, and what happened. SNOOZEFEST. The last 40% of the book was very difficult to read.


I know everyone reads her first book Love Warrior first, but I read Untamed first, and was hooked. I like the short story format of the writing, little anecdotes and glimpses into her life with what she feels, rather than a book that rambles on. It’s definitely a self-help book, and a good one at that. I especially revelled in the clear, distinctive language separating what it means to be one of faith versus blindly following religion, and the way girls and boys are treated differently in all sorts of ways, from what they are marketed to, to how they are perceived.

A great, great read.

The cure for everything

An excellent book on… basic, common sense, really. I did learn some new things, like the fact that if you want a ripped, cut body, you’re likely going to feel hungry a lot (if you’re normal like me), and you will need to lose a significant amount of fat / weight to show those muscles….. which I am not willing to do. *looks down at my belly*

Still, a good read to give you some common sense kicks in the rear about health and fitness. It’s also a very witty book, as the author himself went through the diets and so on.

All the single ladies!

This book is going on Little Bun’s reading list for the future, along with Invisible Women and Fair Play. This is a GREAT book for men and women to read alike. I know “single ladies” doesn’t exactly appeal to men as reading material (trust me.. I get it), but if you proclaim to care about women and what they have faced historically that has shaped how they are treated NOW, you should read these books.

It touches on so many aspects of being a woman, and if you aren’t one, it’s one of the best ways to learn about what it’s like and what we face on a daily basis.

It will actually let you understand women in your life better and why they say / act / do the things that we do, even if you think we are ridiculous or overly cautious (like carrying car keys in our hands and using them like spikes through our knuckles like Wolverine).


Wow. I did not expect to like this book THIS MUCH.

See, whenever a book has an award of any kind, I wince inside because I have a feeling I am not quite as intellectual or as faux-brainy as some of these lists’ authors and readers (pretend) to be. Some of the books they suggest that have won awards, are simply terrible.

SURPRISINGLY.. by page one, I was hooked. Then again, I already have a penchant for Roman and Greek gods/goddesses, history and so on, so it helps that this is a ‘biography’ of Circe, the daughter of Helios. The writing though, is engaging, and it’s such a nice twist to read about the perspective (though fictional, of course) of a goddess.

The whole book is so interesting, not at all dry in a historical fashion, written from a first-person’s perspective (Circe’s), and full of interesting retellings of classic stories such as giving the “background” to when Icarus flew too close to the sun and died and what happened.

A Better Man

FINALLY getting into Penny’s books, and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of her before. A great crime thriller, set in Montreal, which made it a bit weird for me as I can actually imagine everything that is happening, know all the spots they’re talking about, as well as hear the French in the accent here.

I found the first third of the book quite boring. I almost gave up, but then by the second third, I was hooked. It left me hanging in suspense all the way to the end. EXCELLENT writing. I just am sad I read this one first because it is book 15 out of 16, but it wasn’t bad as a standalone piece, though I would rather start at the beginning of such sagas and not near the end, where it reveals a lot of what happens.

I couldn’t put it down after the second third.

Nantucket Nights

Another Easy to Read chicklit from Hilderbrand. I didn’t like this one as much as the others, as the ending was grossly dissatisfying to me. I won’t give the plot away, but it made me sort of angry with all the tied up loose ends and the lack of an Epilogue or chapter explaining the other story arcs’ endings, or giving some sort of bloody closure on the whole thing.

Still, I was gripped and held in the pages from Chapter One, so that says something about her writing.

A Paris Apartment

THIS IS AN AMAZING BOOK. It’s fictional, but MAN is it good. A great look into relationships, an unexpected ending, I could have used a little more for the ending and more history or background on all the characters with anecdotes, but man it doesn’t disappoint. I also loved all the descriptions of the items in the apartment, the historical writing from the perspective of someone in the past… this is truly a great, satisfying read.

Summer Wives

I wanted to finish the book to know the ending, but I am not sure I’d recommend reading it. It’s.. an oddly (to me), disjointed book of mini stories with too many names that didn’t seem clear to me. Every book should start with a basic introduction of the characters, and then go into the story, or at least a little bit of a back story… it just jumped right in, and I hate it when I have no reference.

It also had a dissatisfying ending.. for me at least. I like things neatly tied up, and I do enjoy happy endings. This one, just left me cold.

An Edited Life

If you feel disorganized, and want to have different versions of things to do (e.g. are you a paper planner? Or digital? What kind of digital?).. this book is very helpful. I already kind of have my life edited and together, so this didn’t teach me much. I did like that she used less formal language (she swears a lot) and talks about getting your BUDGET AND YOUR MONEY together, which a lot of books miss out on. It doesn’t go into detail, but I appreciate the mention.

Off the charts

This is a truly cautionary tale for amazing child prodigies. It covers a few children, the two main ones being those on the autism/savant spectrum, and then a few Tiger Children tales at the end. A good read, not at all what I expected, and a brutal, honest, RAW LOOK behind the scenes of these seemingly perfect children.

What I couldn’t finish reading

Surprise Me!

I love Kinsella books normally.. and now I am realizing I only like the Shopaholic series and a few odd ones, but this book was just… pure tripe. I made it through 50% of it and then deleted it in disgust when I got to the part where they fight about who gets to show their surprise. OH DEAR GOD… *DELETE*

No one can pronounce my name

The story factors around a plot where the mother has lost her child. I cannot read these books. It was well written, it wanted to draw me in, but I couldn’t help feeling just so sad .. and during these pandemic times, I cannot read this book right now. I need to be in a happier year to read this.

When genius failed

The Witches are coming


  • KC

    I’m a newer reader of your blog (came over from IG) and love these book recaps. The only one on the list I’ve read so far is Circe (which exceeded my admittedly high expectations). Just put a hold on several of these from my library – thanks!

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      WELCOME!!!! <3

      I have very high expectations myself, and I am not someone who wants to (or can) waste time slogging through terrible books. I have very specific tastes in genres as well, not liking sci-fi as much, etc. But I try to force myself into different genres (though I have exhausted my brain on money books)...

      Check out my other book roundups here, I have read a lot over the years and post reviews often.

  • Dublincalling

    Yes the actual finding of the apartments etc. I googled it. There was also an auction I believe it was Christie’s. I think it should be made into a movie. Would be great !

  • Dublincalling

    Happy you liked the Michelle Gable book. The actual story behind the book of finding the apartment is just fascinating! I have another of her books the summer I met Jack on my reading list
    Don’t give up on Beatriz Williams as an author she is quite good. Try Tiny Little Thing and see if you like that better. Thx for the recommendation of The Blue Bistro. Will add to my list !

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I am not going to give up on Williams! I will try her first book instead… I like to give authors another chance because you never know. Especially if I could read the book but maybe didn’t love it, it means there is something there. I am glad I did that with Sonali Dev (author), as I did not like her first book’s plot, but her second was great.

      That Michelle Gable book with the apartment is truly great, and there’s an actual story? I am so interested!

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