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The Best of 2023 list of what I am LOVING

The Best of 2023 list is a compilation of everything I watched, read, heard, and read and loved this year. 

The things that lasted, the things that fizzled, the things that never made the list. 

A collage of items from the list. A Red Bubble sticker of a cowgirl, an Ursula figuring, an iPhone with the podcast Killer Book Club on the display, a stack of the novel Mothers of the Missing Mermaid, an ad for a live reading for indie author Brandi Bradley, and a coffeeshop table with a copy of Killers of the Flower Moon on the table.

Each month in the Books and Boots Newsletter, I provide a quick list of all the things I am super-into that month. Sometimes it’s new things, sometimes it’s old things, sometimes it’s obscure, and sometimes it’s incredibly basic. But regardless, I mention it because I love it. 

The primary thing I have loved during 2023 that might not have made this list:

Having my debut crime fiction novel Mothers of the Missing Mermaid released this year! Seeing this book on the shelves as well as in the hands of my friends, family and readers has brought me so much joy, that I am addicted to it. 

In 2024, get ready for my next novel Pretty Girls Get Away with Murder – a Western Kentucky murder mystery with more details to be released soon. Available Nov. 1, but I am looking for beta readers – so contact me if you wish to be on the list.

I also got to read my work in public for the first time in years, which was so much fun. And I started hosting in person workshops! Be on the lookout for more in person events soon!

The Best of 2023 Round Up list:


I am a TV addict. I would rather hunker down in my cozies and watch hours of TV as opposed to sitting in the theatre. Hubs disagrees with me, and, yet, we’re still married.

  • Poker Face on Peacock – A human lie detector is on the run from the mob and helping solve murders along the way. It’s like a Murder She Wrote road trip! I can’t wait for the next season. 

  • Stolen Youth on Hulu. At this point, I have officially consumed all the content about the kids from Sarah Lawrence College Cult.

  • Still a Mystery on Max – This series has turned out to be an excellent background show in the tradition of Unsolved Mysteries.

  • Bosch Legacy is back on Prime! Well, technically on Freevee. My quest to live ad free is thwarted by Michael Connelly and Titus Welliver. Hubs and I are pacing our binge because we don’t want to burn through the episodes to only be sad it’s over. Only two at a time and only on Saturdays.

  • Call Me Miss Cleo on HBO Max – for all of us 90s teens who were tempted to phone the Psychic Friends Network to get answers to all our problems.

  • Outer Banks on Netflix. Most ridiculous show Hubs has ever forced me to watch, that I ended up forcing him to watch again.

  • Ted Lasso. It’s a can’t-miss show and is inspiring my potential teaching look for next fall.

  • Couples Therapy on Paramount+. If you have ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s couples therapy session, this is the show. All the drama, without all the “help” from production. For fans of Esther Perel's Where Shall We Begin

  • Atlanta Braves games! I can’t give a channel because I never know which one until it’s time for the game. Since we moved to Atlanta, I have become almost a super-fan and I am turning Behr into one, too. We’ve gone to several games and we watch them on TV in the studio. 

  • The Great British Baking Show. I am officially caught up and both Behr and I are watching some of the older seasons. I am super disappointed that I am unable to access the early days of Mary Berry as well as Mel and Sue.

  • Our Flag Means Death on Max. For some reason, I still find pirates irresistible. I binged it pretty quickly. 

  • Mammoth Club on YouTube. We are such Disney Nerds that we are planning yet another trip. Molly and Alan are adorable and their walk throughs, advice, and reviews of rides and food options are colorful, delightful, and so much fun.

  • Emily in Paris on Netflix! I am so late to the Emily in Paris party, but I do not care. This little confection of a program has been the perfect accompaniment to post-grading comedown. 


  • Killer Book Club on Audible. This true crime story based in Great Britain is about a secret relationship and a con artist targeting older individuals.

  • The Audacity to be Queen by Gina DeVee on Audible. This has become one of my go-to inspirational self-help listens about being bold and choosing your life. 

  • “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow. This song was one of our Music Bingo standouts which took me all the way back and reminded me that Liz Phair did the background vocals.

  • The Sunshine Place by C13. This true crime podcast tells the story of a drug rehab center in California in the late 1950s and its evolution into a creepy cult.

  • On the road trip leg of our trip from Boston to Portland, Maine, Hubs rekindled our childhood love of Phil Collins and Genesis. 

  • The Perfectionism Project Podcast by Sam Laura Brown. I have actively put some of Brown's planning strategies into play and it has made a huge difference in what I am getting done. Also, I recognize a lot of this behavior in my students, so it is helping my teaching.

  • Outlaw Cowgirl Playlist on Spotify. I was searching for renegade ladies of country music, but no pre-existing playlists were hitting that sweet spot of 90s country, wide open spaces, and unapologetic break up songs. So I made my own. 

  • I'm Not Nicholas on Audible. I found this podcast after listening to a Dateline episode titled "Dead Man Talking" at Thanksgiving. I immediately downloaded all the episodes of this Audible series for the flight back from Louisville. Do yourself a favor and do not google anything about this case until you've listened to the whole podcast. It's bonkers.


  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. I’m a huge fan of Lucy Foley. I’ll keep reading whatever she puts out. 

  • Affinity by Sarah Waters. Spiritualist con artist prisoners in Victorian England… uh…yes, please!

  • The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. I love, love, Ruth Ware. For fans of Pretty Little Liars … like me!

  • Unmask Alice by Rick Emerson. About the notorious “diary of a young girl”, this book introduced many young women to a world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll under the premise of it being a true story, only now as adults to learn it was completely made up. 

  • Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. This book was recommended in a course redesign workshop I took in May and then it came up again in a motivational podcast I was listening to. When someone comes up twice, I feel I must at least check it out. I am seeing how a lot of my perfectionism patterns are holding me back.

  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. I'm desperate to get through this before the movie comes out. I failed at that. It’s still unfinished on my bedstand and the movie is still unwatched.

  • Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier. This is an old book from my shelf that was previously holding up a lamp. When I rearranged, I flipped through it and was charmed by this early 00s interpretation of French life. 


  • Lemon Shrimp Pasta – We eat this when we want to tell ourselves we’re “eating light”.

  • Ham and Bean Soup – I make this for my lunch after the holidays when we have leftover Honeybaked Ham. It’s simple to throw together, even in a crockpot if you are so inclined, and so hearty.

  • In the Spring, I get Bagel Fever! Our neighborhood bagel spot is Bagel 101 and their cinnamon raisin with strawberry cream cheese is giving me life. Also, Goldburg’s sourdough and Einstein’s French Toast are my favs. Later, I started making my own sourdough bagels. And I purchased a bagel slicer because one of the reviewers said their purchase was inspired by the OC and they felt like it worked just as well as Sandy Cohen's.

  • Pineapple. I was buying Kroger out of pre-cut pineapple.

  • Special K Red Berries. I developed a craving in the summer and was burning through family-sized boxes.

  • Lobster Rolls. Ever since I had a lobster roll at The Porthole in Portland, Maine, I have been craving their lobster rolls.

  • Salads. Summer was all about fresh and cold lunches. I also have a fantastic vinaigrette recipe that I found on the Bon Appetite website.

  • Tomato sandwiches. I was reminiscing with my hairdresser about how much we loved eating tomato on white bread with a little mayo in the summer. Then I made it a reality! 

  • Turkey. It's not glamorous, but me and the deli section at Kroger are becoming well-acquainted. Deli turkey is zero Weight Watchers points, so when in doubt, I am making a quick turkey sandwich.

  • Pimento and Cheese. For some reason, the fall makes me crave pimento and cheese. I have been keeping Palmetto Spread pimento and cheese in my fridge for the past few weeks for an easy snack. I eat it on Triscuits with bread and butter pickles. I call it a “Tennessee Funeral Plate”. All it’s missing is a Zaxby’s chicken strip and a handful of Lays potato chips. 

  • Braised Chicken. It's all about the comfort food in the winter. And it's far more simple to make than one would think. The house smells amazing when I make this.


  • Moka pot coffee. Behr and I developed a routine where we’d fire up the Moka Pot with Cafe Bustelo for an afternoon snack.

  • 19 Crimes Snoop Cali Gold Sparkling White Wine. Yes, the Snoop one. It’s delightful and drinkable.

  • While in Boston, I lifted my beer ban and enjoyed several pilsners and IPAs. We sat around in the Sam Adams brewery and sampled fruity, juicy, and even smoky brews. I enjoyed the Wicked Hazy and the Wicked Easy the most.

  • At Kroger, they were running a special on French Blue Cremant de Bordeaux, Brut and now it's on my stock up list. If you like sparkling, this one is fantastic.


  • I needed a pen refill and it spiraled into a huge purchase on Jet Pens. I grabbed washis, pens, and a staple-free stapler. The staple free stapler was invaluable this semester and my students – who are mostly engineers and science nerds were obsessed with how it worked. 

  • Bingo Night! Our local pub now hosts Monday Night Bingo. We’ve learned how to play several different styles of games like small postage stamp and picture frame.

  • Music Bingo! Our local pizza chain hosts a games night that's part regular Bingo and part Name That Tune. So much fun! We made it our regular Thursday Night Thing for several months. 

  • Red Bubble stickers. A return to daily journaling has resulted in a return to ordering stickers from Red Bubble.

  • My boys bought me a Hot Topic Exclusive Funko Pop of Ursula which is so awesome, I lifted my ban on this grown woman owning any more toys.

  • I started multiple yarn projects in the fall, including a crochet baby blanket and a knitted pair of wrist warmers.

  • I have reached Peak Basic Broad this year, because I fell in love with a Yeti Tumbler cup. Just like all the rest, I am bebopping all over my campus with the well-known stainless steel tumbler. And you know what? It's totally worth the hype. The slide magnet closure makes all the difference. I got another one from Santa this year!

  • Pop Shelf is a fun store that I have recently learned was not a store that sold shelves. Instead it's inexpensive, fun, and cute home decor, beauty, crafts, and other fun non-essentials.

I include my Currently Loving list every month in the Books and Boots Newsletter, as well as announcements, offers, and exclusive content! Join the fun at

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