August Book Review

Okay friends, get comfy…I have six really good books to review today :).  Thanks to two long plane rides, three short plane rides and four hours total on the Eurostar, I had plenty of time to read this month…and two of the books came directly from your recommendations last month, so thank YOU!!
But…before we get to the books, I have a PSA for all of you sweet people who have been contacting me about my 2016 travel schedule.  At this time, I am opening up my calendar for specific dates and specific destinations.  As always, I only accept a limited number of trips each month so that I have enough time to focus on my clients PLUS have plenty of time for my family as well.  This is first come, first serve based on your travel dates.  So, if my month gets full, I will close it out. 
 Right now, I am accepting vacations to Walt Disney World and for Disney Cruise Line for the months of November 2015 through the end of April 2016.

After I get these trips set, I will open up my calendar for May through August of 2016 (but I’ll post it here so you know when it’s time to reach out!).  
If you’d like to book a trip to either Walt Disney World or if you would like to book a Disney Cruise, please contact me at  It’s first come, first serve, so I apologize in advance if I can’t get to everyone’s trips!  I love helping people make these memories with their families and I’m always honored when you allow me to work with you.
So…that’s that :).
Now, on to books!
Well, you know how I’m on an Elin Hilderbrand kick?  I read two this month.  The first book I read was Summerland…and if I’m being honest, it was my least favorite of her books that I’ve read so far (and I’ve read five).  I personally felt like there were too many characters and none of them were completely developed…plus, I felt like she glamorized topics that shouldn’t probably be glamorized.  That being said, my mom actually liked it…so, who knows?  Maybe you will too???  If you’ve read this one, please comment and let me know what you think!
Since I felt like I didn’t fully get my Hilderband fix this month, I immediately read The Island next to try and correct that.  And I loved The Island!  I thought this novel was easy to read, interesting, unexpected and charming.  Loved it.
The Royal We was FABULOUS!!  I mean…you know that I love all things Brit, so when several of you ladies recommended this to me last month, I bought it and read it on the way to Switzerland.  It was so good that instead of sleeping like I should have, I stayed up and finished it.  This is one of those novels that I’ll read again.  It’s a fiction book loosely based on characters who are very similar to Prince William and Princess Kate.  This book was just very entertaining and kept me turning page after page.  If you’ve ever kind of thought about Prince William’s courtship with Kate, this book is for you.  So cute, so witty and so fun to read!
Fractured Not Broken by Kelly Schaefer was the book I talked about the most this month.  I’m pretty sure Andrew feels like he read it too because I basically read it aloud.  This is a memoir by Kelly Schaefer who became a quadriplegic after a drunk driver hit the vehicle she was in when she was 19 (she’s now in her mid-30s).

I talked about it so much because the entire book was so thought provoking…so real…so honest…so tragic and yet so full of hope and joy.  After I finished it, I not only admired Kelly and her drive to succeed (y’all, she graduated college and teaches elementary school!), but I admired all of the people in her life that stepped in to help her after her accident.  It really makes you think.  If one of my friends or family members had a life changing accident like this…what would I do to help?  It was just really good.  This book will make you appreciate so much in life.

We were in the train station when I finished up my last book and needed a new one, so I went in the little store and just grabbed Always the Bridesmaid.  I had never heard of this book or the author before but let me tell you, I was a HUGE fan!  It’s very much a cross between Bridget Jones and a Sophie Kinsella book.  It was easy to read, funny, cute, and highly entertaining.  I went online and noticed this author has over a dozen books, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more reviews from her.  I really thought this was a fun little read!

And then the other recommendation I received from you ladies was Jojo Moyes Me Before You.  I mean…such a heart-wrenching, emotional, lovely, desperate, fabulous, wonderful book.  I already went online and pre-ordered the sequel After You that comes out in September.  Now, I see why you guys have been telling me to read it.  You should go ahead and order the sequel too :).

Whew!  Those are my books for the month!  Right now, I’m in the middle of reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, so that will be my first book to review next month!

Don’t forget, you can find all of the books I’ve read so far in 2015 here and keep up with me on Goodreads here.

As always, I love your book suggestions!!  Comment below :).

And don’t forget, if you’re interested in a Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line vacation, contact me at

And guess what today is?  My 100th Meal Planning Monday!  What, what?  That means I have 100 weekly menus on my blog to make your life easy.  100 weeks of simple suppers, easy recipes, family friendly, mom approved meals for your busy weeks.

To see this week’s menu…plus, the other 99, click here.

See you tomorrow!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Johannah August 31, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I love Erin Hilderbrand! I read both Summerland and The Island. I did like Summerland…was it my favorite of hers? No, but it was ok. I loved loved loved The Island =) I think I need to check out The Royal We next! =)

  • Sally Hepworth August 31, 2015 at 9:58 am

    The Nightingale is fantastic. I also loved Me Before You and have pre-ordered the sequel. As for recommendations, try The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. And read anything by Sue Monk Kidd — The Secret Life of Bees, The Invention of Wings.

    • Madelyn Parks September 5, 2015 at 4:33 am

      I second, third, fourth the nomination of The Rosie Project! Loved it so much I had to buy it for my cousin!

  • Erika Slaughter August 31, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Ooh!!! I love these posts!! The Royal We sounds good!! Can't wait to read it!! Happy Monday!

  • kelsey @ so much life to live August 31, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Oooh I can't wait to read The Royal We! I'm headed to London for the first time next week!

    Any other fave British books that you recommend?

  • Narci August 31, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Going to put these in my Amazon shopping bag!! Woohoo!

  • Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} August 31, 2015 at 10:29 am

    DANG you read a lot! Now that's all I have to say about that. Heading over to Meal Planning Monday…… πŸ˜‰

  • Not A Mom August 31, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I really want to work on making reading a priority, do you have any suggestions on it worked for you?! I love to read but I just can't seem to figure out how to start it now that I'm an adult. I want to try so many of your suggestions too!

    Linds @ Not A Mom

    • Mix and Match Mama August 31, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Toss a book in your bag and carry it everywhere! You'll be amazed at the little pockets of opportunity when you can read instead of looking at your phone. It really helps me!

  • Kathleen August 31, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for the heads up about the sequel to Me Before You. I had no idea and loved that book. Shall look for it next month!!!

  • Lauren McGreevy August 31, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Ahh I love to read! Such great ideas to add to my list!

    Happy Monday!


  • ACL August 31, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I am so excited to read Royal We. I picked up The Rumour by Erin Hilderbrand when we were back in Ireland (not a great selection of books in English around us- gotta put in an amazon order!) – I love her books!

    • Madelyn Parks September 5, 2015 at 4:32 am

      If you haven't picked it up yet…Royal We is on Kindle for $3.99 πŸ™‚

  • LeeLeeNoelle August 31, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Was it interesting to read "Me before you" and "fractured not broken" in the same month? I have only read me before you, but from your reviews it seems like these are completely opposite ways of dealing with the same life changing event. I loved me before you and now I want to read fractured not broken after seeing your review.

    • Mix and Match Mama August 31, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Oh my gosh! I also started watching the show Friday Night Lights too…which also deals with the exact same situation. It was all very interesting. And you're right…very similar situations handled very differently. You will love Fractured Not Broken. And the best part? It's a true story of hope…not fiction :).

    • Peg August 31, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      I also love Erin Hilderbrand – read them as fast as she writes them. I just finished "What Remains" by Carole Radziwill – a memoir of fate, friendship & love. I highly recommend this book!!!!!

  • Patrick&Selena Pallas August 31, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    How did you get started doing travel agent bookings? And how do you only pick one destination at a time? I'm very interested!! And The Royal We was such a great read!!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 31, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      I started several years ago. I reached out to someone I knew in the business and they pointed me in the right directions (with obtaining my credentials and such!). I'm going to see if my brain stays better organized by just focusing on a few destinations instead of the whole world (which is what I've been doing up until this point).

    • Mom of Multiples August 31, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      What type of credentials do you have? I didn't see that on your site and think it's a fair question before folks book travel with someone.

    • Mix and Match Mama August 31, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      I obtained all necessary training and licenses through my host travel company out of Florida. That's where my IATA comes from (that's what you need to be a travel agent!). πŸ™‚

    • Stacy August 31, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Who is your host travel company?

    • Mix and Match Mama August 31, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      I'd be more than happy to answer any other (not too personal) questions you ladies have if you email me!

  • K August 31, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    You might like a book called Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot. Meg wrote the Princess Diaries but she's also written books for adults. The book I mentioned is very funny (Meg is one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite memories is meeting her at the book festival in Austin as well as attending one of her book sessions). Another book that was very good is Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight. The Nightingale was excellent.

  • GlitteryKitchenTable August 31, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    I look forward to these posts all month long!! Here are a few I have read this year that I think you would enjoy:

    -The Bielski Brothers: The true story of 3 men who defied the Nazis, built a village in the forest, and saved 1200 Jews-by Peter Duffy
    -The Train to Crystal City by Jan Russell

    -Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
    -The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    -Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (not as good as To Kill A Mockingbird but still a must read).

    • Susan September 6, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      I love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society! I'm trying not to buy as many books, but that is one I did buy.

  • August 31, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Ooh me before you is one of my fav.. I can barely wait for after you!!!
    I'm just ordering the royal we!!!!… love book reviews!!!

  • Brooke @ A Retherford Realization August 31, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Just finished up After Perfect by Christina McDowell. It's a great memoir about a very wealthy family who's father commits fraud and sends their lives into a tailspin and how hard it was to overcome going from one of the richest families in America, to one dirt poor. Great book and I admire the author for telling her story!

  • Lynn Adwell August 31, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for these suggestions!! We are heading to Italy on our babymoon next week so I've been looking for some good books to read!! πŸ™‚

  • Leslie August 31, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I'm on a Elin Hilderbrand kick thanks to you! I've read like 5 of her books this past month. I'm reading The Island now πŸ˜‰

  • Claudia August 31, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Shay, I think you would like Kelly Corrigan. I read all 3 of her books this summer, Glitter and Glue, The Middle Place and Lift. They are all memoirs about family and motherhood and she has a great sense of humor. Hope you will try them. Thanks for your recommendations and sharing your book reviews with us.

  • Ranisa August 31, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I recently got three of Erin hilderbrans books. I enjoyed the first one-beautiful day. It took me three weeks to get to page 153 of silver girl before I figured out that it if I wasn't enjoying it yet I wasn't going to. Has anyone else read it? Does it get better? Should I pick it back up? I enjoyed summer affair-yet at the end felt betrayed myself. Can't decide if I liked it or not. I enjoyed reading and had trouble putting it down yet I don't want to enjoy a story that has an affair in it.

  • Leslie August 31, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I don't remember if The Girl on the Train was a book that you had read before. But, I'm reading it now, and I'm loving it!!

  • Megan Cauley August 31, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Ahh! We JUST booked a Disney Cruise for April 2016! Wish I had known – would've loved your help!!

  • Megan Cauley August 31, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Ah! We JUST booked a Disney Cruise for April 2016. Wish I had known – would've loved your help! πŸ™‚

  • Amy DeVito August 31, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Lindsey Kelk is one of my favorite authors. I love her books!

    Amy @

  • Courtney August 31, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I am so behind in my reading this year. I blame pregnancy. Whenever I get pregnant (third time around!), I temporarily lose interest in reading. It's been a month since I finished my last book! I will start back up in September because alot of these books look so good!

  • Dawn August 31, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Yay for book review day! Lots of new ones to add to my list!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt August 31, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I've read The Royal We and Me Before You! Both such good books and I cried so much in Me Before You! I would not have been able to read that one in public!
    Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  • Christy August 31, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Shay, I noticed you felt the Elin Hilderbrand book "glamorized topics that shouldn't probably be glamorized." I realize it is just your opinion of a book, but there are many people say a similar thing about the bachelor. πŸ™‚ The bachelor makes a game show out of real people getting married, but the book is just made up characters in a story. I am sincerely curious how you have those thoughts about the book, but totally promote the other!

    • Mix and Match Mama August 31, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      She glamorized adultery in this book…so trust me, whenever we have a married person selected for the Bachelor/Bachelorette, I won't like that either :).

    • Christy August 31, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      I have read the book πŸ™‚ My comment/question was not focusing on adultery, but on serious topics in general being glamorized, which the bachelor does with marriage. I actually lead a group of young girls at my church, and they have some pretty well thought out and mature views on this topic. It was a recent conversation on dating, etc. that brought it up. (so your comment about the book was very timely in my mind)
      I am not sure how different dating large numbers of people all at the same time – professing your "feelings" – and constantly making out with one person after another is ok… but adultery in a made up story would be worth mentioning.
      Good conversations always have more than one view, happy Monday friend!
      I forgot to add a book recommendation before: Now I See You, by Nicole C. Kear. A memoir of her journey with a degenerative disease in her eyes that cause her to go blind. It was really interesting and inspiring.

    • Mix and Match Mama August 31, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      You know…the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise has been an amazing blessing to our family. Not only did my brother meet his wife (who is amazing!!), but we were able as a family to share our faith in multiple ways. God can use any setting and any place for His glory…and I think that was proven with Sean's season…especially at Sean's wedding when my dad was able to share and proclaim the name of Jesus on live television without any editing whatsoever (when he performed their ceremony). Pretty cool for Christ, don't you think? The girls at your church should look at it from that perspective. What are they doing in the world that can shine a light for Jesus? That's the real question.

    • August 31, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      ITA shay…
      and we all fell in love with papa Jay!!

  • Katherine Madsen August 31, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    When you asked for favorite books of the year I hadn't read this one yet…. but Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson is maybe one of the best books I've ever read? It's a memoir about a woman who was in a plane crash in 2008 and was burned over 80% over her body and her husband was also hurt badly… but they both survived and have a beautiful life now…. It's an amazing story of hope and faith and family (they had 4 kids at the time who were cared for her by sisters for many months while they recovered). I highly recommend reading this book!

  • Lauren August 31, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    The Rumour by Erin Hilderbrand was great! You should pick it up soon if you haven't already. Also, I have read all of Liane Moriarty's books and loved them all! The Hypnotisit's Secret was my favorite!

  • Laura Parenteau August 31, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    I was also told to read Me Before You. When I started to read it (before his accident) I thought surely they made a mistake, but was soon really into it and thought it was a great book. I'm wondering if you have read any of T.K. Thorne's biblical historical fiction? They are meticulously research and she is a fabulous storyteller. Noah's Wife and Angels at the Gate which is the back story of Lot's Wife, the woman who turns to stone for looking back at Sodom. A note of warning that you do need an open mind. If you are fundamental about your bible, you might not like it.

  • Kristin August 31, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Might I suggest "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker and "Nobody's Cuter Than You" by Melanie Shankle.

  • A. Sparks August 31, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Love your reviews! I think you would enjoy Ann Mah's Mastering the Art of French Eating!

  • Kent Harms August 31, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Shay, I am quite certain that you will LOVE LOVE Tamar Adler's book "An Everlasting Meal!" It's actually a Jen Hatmaker favorite, and I found myself lost in the book! More than jus how to and recipes, it's almost like an essay to the value of cooking your food with thought and attention. She says things like "scrambling eggs should just be a series of persistent nudges" and that cooking is "a coherent story that starts with the lighting of a burner, the filling of a pot…" So good! -Sara Harms

  • Keisha Dawson August 31, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I have been loving Elin Hilderbrand books too, and I read Summerland this month. It was by far my least favorite book of hers, but that isn't going to stop me from reading more. She is a fabulous author. I also Nobody's Cuter Than You, Love Does and Happily Ever Before. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, and they were all so uniquely different!

  • Stephanie Jennings August 31, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    You're not alone… Summerland was my least favorite of her books also. The Castaways had some adultery also, but I really enjoyed that book. Thanks for all the book suggestions πŸ™‚

  • Bekah Bruce August 31, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I can't wait to check out some of these books! AND I am so glad you are opening up for Disneyworld (although we are needing October 2016). I was just raving to my husband that you are releasing dates so will stay tuned for that!

  • Meghan August 31, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I really want to read Fractured Not Broken!

  • Megan August 31, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    thanks for warning, I've been reading Elin Hilderbrand's books and I think I'll skip that one. I'm just not a fan of books about adultery. I've seen it destroy too many marriages and I don't find it entertaining to read. But I'll check out The Royal We! Sounds cute.

  • Kylee Edwards August 31, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    What are three books you'd recommend to a rookie who hasn't read a book since college?! πŸ™‚ your post pushes me more and more each month to actually read, and now I think you've done the trick! It's just super overwhelming narrowing it down and choosing a book! If I don't reAd something that totally pulls me in wanting more, then I'm doomed!! Hehe! Thanks in advance!!!

    • Madelyn Parks September 5, 2015 at 4:29 am

      I realize I'm not Shay, but I have read a lot of books.

      These are all pretty light reads, which I think is always helpful.

      1) The Rosie Project (even my guy friend liked this one). — Graeme Simsion
      2) Something Borrowed — By Emily Giffin
      3) Big Little Lies — By Liane Moriarty

      And a bonus, if you feel like reading Sci-fi fantasy: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (But I'd recommend reading one of the other 3 first).

  • Angela Pino August 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    I read Summerland and really enjoyed it. Granted, it was also my first Elin Hilderbrand book so I didn't have anything to compare it to. I read Beautiful day after that and loved it even more. My August book review can be found <a href=">here</a&gt;.

    Have you read any books by Lori Wick? I think you would really like her; she's a Christian fiction author. My cousin introduced me to her. The first book of hers that I read was Sophie's Heart and it was so beautiful. I passed her books along to my mom and grandmother and they loved her, too, and passed the books along to friends of theirs.


  • Lesley Ash September 1, 2015 at 12:15 am

    I just finished the best book I have read in a couple of years.

    It's "A Man Called Ove" by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. What a wonderful story with amazing character development!

    There were several chapters, I laughed so hard that I cried. And multiple parts that were so incredibly bittersweet I was crying with a smile. Definitely a book that stays with you a long while after you turn the last page.

  • Hilary Wheeler September 1, 2015 at 1:33 am

    Love love love Me Before You! Didn't know there was a sequel…ordering it now ! Have you read any other Jojo Moyes?

  • Love on the Lake September 1, 2015 at 3:11 am

    I just read Beautiful Day by Elin – I loved it so much, I gave it to my Mom for her 60th. I can't wait to read more. I am guilty too of finding a new favorite author and rabidly buying and reading all of their previous books. It's like binge reading. Elin, Emily Giffin, Jodi Piccault….

  • Kaitlyn Little September 1, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Shay, you're always so classy in your responses to others with differing opinions from yours. I respect and admire that! Love your blog!

  • Danika September 1, 2015 at 6:01 am

    I felt the exact same way about Summerland. She definitely did glamorize some topics that as you said, shouldn't have been glamorized. I also just read The Matchmaker and loved it! If you haven't already read that one, be sure to!! Happy reading!!

  • Jenn Menniti September 2, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Please add The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Fantastic book! Juat curious what you do with your books when you are finished? I'm a teacher and my colleagues and I pass our books around the school. It's a great way to get something new to read that your friends recommend! I have also tried to be better about using my local library but there is nothing like walking the aisles of Barnes and Noble!

  • Rayne September 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Two good ones to add to your list:
    Circling the Sun by Paula McClain
    For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

  • Lora G September 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    You know Elin Hilderbrand has a book set during Christmas called Winter Street? Saw it at the library and immediately thought of you!

  • Lisa Dunham September 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    A good follow up to the Nightingale is All The Light We Cannot See, same timeframe, set in Germany/France WWII. Because these books are so heavy you will have to follow up with another Elin Hildebrand πŸ™‚ All of Kristin Hannah's are good, Nightingale was the best followed by Home Front and Winter Garden.

  • Madelyn Parks September 5, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Has anyone read "All the Difference" by Leah Ferguson ? She's a new author and it looks like it's potentially an interesting read…Shay, it may be right up your alley! πŸ™‚

  • madhealthchick September 5, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Just wanted to say how much I love these book review posts! After reading this I picked up The Royal We (absolutely loved it) and Me Before You (just starting now). Thank you for all the great suggestions and keep them coming please πŸ™‚