Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez Five Star Review

I recently read Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez and it was a total five star read! It will be one that’s added to the stack of Five Star Reads of 2022! This historical fiction based on true events will completely captivate you.

I selected this as one of my Book of the Month picks a few months ago. If you’re not familiar with Book of the Month, it’s a fantastic subscription service. I’ve been a member for five years with no plans to stop. Some of my all-time favorites like Pachinko, The Poisonwood Bible, and The People We Keep have been discovered through this service. You can click here and get your first box for only $5!


Take My Hand

Take My Hand is one that will sit with you for a long time. Based on real events, this story takes place in Montgomery, Alabama. Civil Townsend is a young nurse who is determined to help her patients at the family planning clinic.

Two of her first patients are 11- and 13-year-old sisters that are being administered monthly birth control shots, despite not being sexually active. They are poor and Black, and for those in control of the family’s welfare benefits, that’s all that’s needed to justify mandatory shots.


One day, Civil discovers something horrific and irreparable has happened to the girls. She vows then and there to advocate for these girls and their family. They take their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

I was in the trenches for this one. Civil internally debates many of the issues that are still debated today, in respect to birth control and abortion. It broke me to keep remembering that this was based on real events.


It’s moving and emotional. It was absolutely an “I’m not stopping until it’s done” book. A one-day read. The narration is incredible. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend the audio file.

Check out my review on Instagram for more on this beautiful book!

You can purchase Take My Hand here.

You can also browse all of my favorite books in my Amazon Storefront.

Have you read Take My Hand? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!


The Bodyguard by Katherine Center Five Star Review

“Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.” That viral sound clip was the first thing that came to mind when I closed this precious gem of a book.

I read The Bodyguard on a plane ride back to Texas after spending a week in Colorado. Set on a Texas ranch, it was the perfect coming home novel.


Hannah is an Executive Protection Agent (a bodyguard) and she’s been hired to protect the household-name celebrity Jack Stapleton. Oh yeah, and he’s also the sexiest man alive. Literally.


The best way to protect “the principle” in this scenario? To act as his girlfriend. The more time they spend together, the harder it is to keep professional boundaries…

…and the harder it was for me to pace my reading because I couldn’t put this story down! It was a full sprint! I was sad when it ended because that meant I couldn’t keep living in this world with Hannah and Jack.


Center’s books are auto-reads for me and this one is no exception. I absolutely loved it!

I loved it so much that I decided to create an embroidery of the cover art. It was extremely fun crossing my two passions of reading and embroidery.


My fangirl level hit record highs when Center invited me to attend her Fort Worth tour stop at Monkey and Dog Books and I gifted her the embroidery. It was a bookworm’s absolute dream of a day!


The Bodyguard is Center’s latest novel and it’s out now. This is a must-read and also one of my Five Romance Recommendations of 2022. Grab your copy here and thank me later!

Other favorite books by Katherine Center: How to Walk Away and What You Wish For

Have you read The Bodyguard? I’d love to hear from you! 

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you thought!

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Top Five-Star Book Recommendations of 2022

Okay, okay, top five-star recommendations for the first half of 2022! I’ve done the vetting, so you don’t have to! Whether you’re looking for something sweet and sappy or criminally thrilling, there’s a five-star book for you on this list!


For me, this is more than just a stack of books I enjoyed. It’s a stack of memories throughout the first half of this year. I can look at each of these books that had a profound impression on me and recall where I was during that time- physically and emotionally. That’s a sign a story has really stuck with me.

While you’re here, be sure to check out my other recommendations here!

So, without further adieu, here are 13 five-star books I’ve read in 2022!

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait long to get my hands on it! Identical twins? Hollywood child stars? Mysterious cult disappearance? It’s a read that will keep you turning pages!

I’ve linked I’ll Be You for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


If you’ve never read any of Abby Jimenez’s books, start with this one! This is the fourth book of hers that I’ve read and it’s now my favorite. Trust me when I say that is SAYING SOMETHING. She is a master crafter of stories that discuss hard topics that are well balanced with humor and love. This one will have you feeling all of the emotions!

I’ve linked Part of Your World for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


If you’ve spent any time on this blog or my Instagram page, you know I love Elin Hilderbrand. Her latest summer read is perfect! A medley of characters working to revive an old hotel with a bad reputation in order to gain sought after notoriety from an anonymous online hotel reviewer. I LOVED everything about it, especially the resident ghost, Grace. She had me laughing constantly. Pick it up for a sunshine escape wherever you are!

I’ve linked The Hotel Nantucket for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


It takes a LOT for me to give a thriller five stars these days. The more of them I read, the harder it becomes for me not to guess the ending. If I can figure it out, it’s not getting five stars. This one earned all of my praises! I ripped through it in a day, couldn’t put it down, and the ending had me in shock. This one has gone surprisingly under the radar and I’m not sure why. It’s fantastic!!

I’ve linked The Children on the Hill for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


“Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.” were the words I used to describe the read. I am a huge fan of Katherine Center’s. She’s talented, genuine, and intentional with crafting her stories. Once again, an auto-buy author for me doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this is my new favorite of hers.

I’ve linked The Bodyguard for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


It’s rare that I choose to pick up a non-fiction self-help book and even more rare for me to give it five stars. I don’t think it’s happened until now. I listened to this book on audio in a day and then immediately purchased a hard copy so I could reread and annotate it. It is filled with logical reasoning for implementing positive habits and breaking bad ones. Absolutely enlightening!

I’ve linked Atomic Habits for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


I’ll start by sharing this is the second book in a series. You can find the first Finlay Donovan book HERE. If you’re familiar with Finlay, then you know how funny and quirky she is! She’s finally gotten herself out of being wrapped up in murder for hire, but now someone is out to kill her ex-husband. I have LOVED following this series!

I’ve linked Finlay Donvan Knocks ‘Em Dead for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


The Night Shift was a wonderful 90’s crime thriller! On New Year’s Even 1999, four employees at a Blockbuster Video were attacked and only one survived. Fifteen years later and in the same town, there’s been a similar attack at an ice cream shop. The lone survivor of the first attack must relive that terrible time in order to help detectives solve this case.

I’ve linked The Night Shift for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


Shadows of Pecan Hollow is looking like it may be my favorite read of the year. It took ahold of me and I felt like I was living through the gritty experiences of the main character, Kit. This is a book that carries some really hard topics, but it’s one that has stayed with me the entire year. If you read one book from this list, let it be this one.

I’ve linked Shadows of Pecan Hollow for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


Poignant, reflective, contemplative. Those are all common descriptors of Serle’s writing, but this one was special to me. There are lines of advice in this book that hit me square in the face. Set within the gorgeous scenery of Positano, Italy, One Italian Summer had me crying, laughing, and hopeful.

I’ve linked One Italian Summer for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


Told from the perspective of a young Maddie Sykes, this is a story of women standing up for what is right in a post-war tobacco industry. When Maddie sees unsafe and unethical practices in the town’s tobacco plant, she sets on a mission to expose the truth. But, the truth doesn’t come without costs.

I’ve linked The Tobacco Wives for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


Oh, wrap me up in a cuddly blanket and give me this book! It is cozy, joyful happiness with a refreshing dose of reality. The coworkers to lovers trope, the imperfections in personality, and the humor that Solomon brings in this book makes me want to read it again for the first time!

I’ve linked Weather Girl for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


Competing with Shadows of Pecan Hollow for favorite book of the year is Lessons in Chemistry. This historical fiction centers on a female scientist who becomes the nation’s first on-air cooking host. Through educating and empowering her audience of primarily women she breaks the status quo on more than one occasion and refuses to fit into the mold of homemaker.

I’ve linked Lessons in Chemistry for you at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Libro.fm


You can check out other recommendations at my Amazon Storefront!

I’d love to know which you pick up next! Leave me a comment and let me know!

This post contains affiliate links.

The Hotel Nantucket – Five Star Review and Cocktail Recipe

If you’re looking for the buzziest read of the summer, you’ve found it!


It’s no secret how much I love Elin Hilderbrand novels. Take a look at my Instagram page and you’ll quickly realize how much I love her work.

I once met her while on a beach in St. John, USVI! I felt like I was living in an Elin Hilderbrand novel at that moment!


I recently read her latest novel, The Hotel Nantucket, and it was a slam dunk! If this post doesn’t convince you to pick up your copy, know that it’s been at the top of the New York Times Best-Sellers list for hardcover fiction for weeks! If you need a sweet escape read, already know and love Hilderbrand’s work, or are actually packing your bags to head to the beach, this title needs to be on your list!


Here’s the synopsis:

Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map. 

And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?



I’m sure glad Elin wrote a guide to Nantucket at the back of this book because after reading The Hotel Nantucket, I just want to experience it all!

This book is filled with comfort, escape, and entertainment. I loved the passion and personalities of each character, but especially fell in love with Grace, the resident ghost.

There’s so much to love about Lizbet, Edie, Chad, Mario, Mrs. English, and Xavier. Hilderbrand crafted such a developed melody of characters. They worked together so well, not only to establish and run an immaculate hotel, but to bring the reader along for the ride. They’re an entertaining staff that I could have read so much more about!


I had several theories throughout the book and enjoyed being both right and wrong!

If you’re a Hilderbrand fan, there’s no doubt that you’re going to love every second of this novel.


You can purchase The Hotel Nantucket at the links here:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/a/55315/9780316258678

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3aB0Otz



This was a Five Star read, which means that I’m pairing it with a Five Star cocktail!


Below are the steps to make the drink that has taken over my summer: The Strawberry Basil Margarita

A little sweet with the perfect grounding of basil, this drink is perfect for these long hot days! You can make it by the glass or scale it and make it by the pitcher. This is one that would be so easy to serve at a summer gathering like a book club!



3 oz. tequila

½. oz. agave

5-6 strawberries

2-3 sprigs of basil

Juice from half a lime

Sparkling or mineral water



  1. Pour tequila, agave, and lime juice into a blender
  2. Add strawberries and the basil sprigs
  3. Blend until you have a juice consistency
  4. Pour over ice
  5. Top with sparkling or mineral water
  6. Garnish with basil sprig

This drink is TASTY! Plan ahead if you’re hosting, because your guests will be asking for more! 

Need to boost your cocktail game? Click here to check out my party and hosting essentials.

Interested in other Five Star Reads and Cocktails? Check them out HERE.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you thought of The Hotel Nantucket and The Strawberry Basil Margarita!


This post contains affiliate links.

Five Star Read: Shadows of Pecan Hollow by Caroline Frost

3 Reasons Why Shadows of Pecan Hollow Should Be Your Next Read


“Is it better than Crawdads?!”

That’s the question I’m still hearing in my head. Someone asked me this question on Instagram and my answer was. . . Yeah, I think it might be. This is not a comparison I make lightly.

It’s been a few weeks since I finished Shadows of Pecan Hollow and I’m still thinking about it. Here are three reasons why you should pick up a copy for yourself!

Shadows of Pecan Hollow by Caroline Frost

Reason #1: Rich Character Development

I was immediately enveloped by the characters. Frost had me feeling like I’d known them forever in the first 50 pages. How is that even possible?! To my delight, the characters only got deeper and deeper. Some I loved with my whole heart, and some, well. . .


Reason #2: Emotional Roller Coaster

Frost’s writing took ahold of my heart and did not let go. I got mad. I cried MORE THAN ONCE. My anger was resolved. I felt pride for these women. I even laughed through some tears. The suspense kept me gripped! I forced myself to read it slowly, in small bits because I didn’t want it to end.


Reason #3: Texas Setting

As a native Texan, it’s no surprise that I hold a high standard for the way that my state is portrayed. It’s my home, as it is Frost’s. I love living here. Our history is rich with blood, sacrifice, and strength.

Frost nailed it. She told me she was trying to win over the Texans with this one and she surely did. Aside from geographical accuracy, there was special attention to community.

Texas is called The Friendly State for a reason. Although there are inevitably bad people like Manny, there is no shortage of community to rally behind you through difficult times.


Order your copy of Shadows of Pecan Hollow here and thank me later!

This post contains affiliate links.

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