Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

another hit.

There is never a great time for a girl to go missing, but a Jewish girl going missing in 1940 was especially stressful. Alizée Benoit, a Jewish-American painter living in New York City randomly vanishes, and no one has any idea where she went. Not her parents, not her friends, and some seventy-years later, not her great-niece, Danielle who is dying to solve the mystery.

In The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro readers are able to meet TWO brilliant female artists, generations apart and watch as their stories intertwine, the past becomes the present, shedding new light on the future. I am pleased to say that The Muralist is just as good as The Art Forger which I reviewed exactly three years ago today, here. Both blend fact with fiction which make her stories extra interesting.

Now I am off to prepare my home for family and lots of wine this Christmas Eve. Happy holidays and happy reading!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

beauty and enlightenment.

We ALL want our beauty to be as timeless as the middle-aged (and older) supermodels we worship. I mean, get a load of Cindy Crawford and Christie Brinkley. WOW. Really wow. And speaking of Christie Brinkley, in her new book, Timeless Beauty: Over 100 Tips, Secrets, and Shortcuts to Looking Great, she divulges it all along with personal stories and photos fans have never seen. If you want to look as beautiful as Brinkley does at 61, you are going to have to do a few things. Like change your eating habits and your attitude. I am not a huge believer in genetics. I truly think that the skinny adults in the world watch what they eat and just pretend they don't. Brinkley works for what she has. She exercises regularly, eats the rainbow, and has found her inner peace. Knowing how to de-stress can be half the battle. I was pleasantly surprised by the healthy recipes and how likable Brinkley is.

Monday, December 21, 2015

rooting for the underdog.

Lucky for us, Jerry Gladstone hangs out with some pretty cool people. Rappers, actors, sharks. Through his interaction with said people (Snoop Dogg, Quentin Tarantino, Mark Cuban, etc.), he has created some guidelines on how to be successful when facing extreme adversity. In The Common Thread of Overcoming Adversity and Living Your Dreams, Gladstone dedicates each chapter to a different celebrity who has made something of themselves when they had (next to) nothing to begin with. Each chapter also includes advice from the celeb him/herself, which I found to be super encouraging. It's all about being resilient, persistent, and hard work. You have to want it, like REALLY want it. Honestly, I didn't care for some of the celebs who were featured, but each one had something useful to contribute.

Friday, December 18, 2015

merry christmas gamers.

I review video game guides solely to impress my students. I read it, let them look through it, talk to them about it. I am the coolest, they know it. Everyone's a winner. They cannot say enough good things about the Assassin's Creed Syndicate Official Collector's Guide by Tim Bogenn, and they would know. Christmas is coming and this is a must have collectible. But the book won't only look good on their night stands (like boys even care about that kind of thing), it will prepare them for the latest series in the game, Syndicate. Which only came out a few months ago. This Assassin’s Creed takes place in 1868 London and follows the adventures of two siblings. As a teacher, I love the historical context and the real life monuments represented. AND THERE'S A FEMALE PROTAGONIST. WHAT?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

a gift for your bestie.

Day four of my foolproof book-lovers Christmas gift guide is all about your best girl(s). Your people. Your clique. You're the Best: A Celebration of Friendship by the Satellite Sisters is the PERFECT bestie gift and all that gushy stuff. This is a book filled with short essays dedicated to the special friendships only women can have. There is no funny like sisterhood funny, and the Satellite Sisters really capture the essence of those relationships. Pair it with a bottle of wine and you're done. Ya-ya!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

for the dog lover.

Everyone has an animal lover in their life. If you don't you should probably get some new friends. Me? I'm a cat lover. And absolutely believe in rescuing over pet shop buying. Gift idea #3 is My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts by journalist Laura T. Coffey who has finally said what everyone has been thinking. What is so good about puppies? They pee wherever they want and mess with your REM cycle. I honestly feel the same way about babies, but we can talk about that another time.

The point is. Older dogs have A LOT of love to give. And you will completely fall for the rescues you meet in this collection of stories (the photos are fabulous as well). A little warning, My Old Dog gets super emotional, even for a Grinch like me. But the sappy dog lover in your life is going to LOVE it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

travel bug.

Today we are going to chat about gifts for the wanderlust traveler in your life. I review a ton of Lonely Planet travel guides because I've used them, love them, and trust this company. These guides make the PERFECT gift for the person in your life who has a trip planned or needs a little push to make their dream a reality. Most recently I read the Lonely Planet Hawaii Travel Guide which covers The Big Island to Maui and everywhere in between. I've actually been to Oahu, which I've mentioned in previous posts. I loved Hawaii so much and cannot wait to go back to see more of it (and bring my husband this time).

One of the things I love about Lonely Planet travel guides is that they tell you EXACTLY what you need to see. In the Hawaii installment, they have a Top 20 which is super helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed about what to fit into your itinerary. Everyone has different goals when they travel and Lonely Planet is great at accommodating all types of travelers. I did Hawaii differently with my girlfriend who was living there at the time than I would had I been vacationing with my husband. We got up every morning at 5:30 (I was still on mainland time) and hiked something. I chose paddle boarding in Lanikai and sea turtle watching on the North Shore over paying for and traveling during rush hour to the most popular luau. There is no wrong way to do Hawaii, unless you pass on the Kuala pork, but Lonely Planet will help you plan whatever your version of the perfect trip is, wherever that may be.

Monday, December 14, 2015

blog to book.

It's the week before the week of Christmas, and all you procrastinators really need to get it together. Amazon Prime has two-day shipping, so this week I will be reviewing some fabulous gift giving books!

First. Sally's Candy Addiction: Tasty Truffles, Fudges & Treats for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix by Sally McKenney (who also wrote Sally's Baking Addiction) is the PERFECT gift for the sweet toothed DIY lover in your life. It's pretty (like Sally), and there's a recipe for everything you find at those specialty chocolate shops. But you can make it at home. Chocolate covered potato chips. Peanut butter balls. Cake pops. Fudge. TRUFFLES. The recipes are super easy and look festive enough for every occasion.

Friday, December 11, 2015

southern roots.

I LOVE southern food. My mom and I travel to Myrtle Beach once a year, half for the beach, half for the food. Only God knows what would happen to me if I ate biscuits and gravy for breakfast every morning, but for a week? I'll risk it.

Speaking of being risky, The Southerner's Cookbook: Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories is sitting on my kitchen counter right now. Instructions on how to make biscuits and gravy AND fried chicken right in my home? That is dangerous. I can't really stomach the whole pork situation yet, but I have loved attempting the baked goods and fried pickle chips. There's an entire section devoted to chicken that has my name all over it. But as a girl who loves to read (yes, even though I'm a Yankee), the essays are what make this cookbook special.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

1996 expedition.

I don't really get the draw of thrill hikes. And when I say thrill hikes, I mean climbing mountains. I have a friend who I visited in Hawaii, she took me to the top of this crazy mountain, and I literally almost fell off. Probably because getting to the top required a rope and my legs, none of which I trusted. But, I did it, it felt good, and when I called my mom after, she was all NO MORE THRILL HIKES. And I was all, OKAY. And meant it. Reading After the Wind: Tragedy on Everest - One Survivor's Story by Lou Kasischke definitely did not change my view on mountain climbing.

I love a good expedition narrative, I just wish it didn't involve the death of eight climbers. The year was 1996 when Lou witnessed the worst tragedy in Everest's history. Other survivors have written accounts (Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air), but Lou's definitely stands out. I did feel a little uncomfortable that leader, Rob Hall isn't here to defend himself. But Lou being a highly experienced climber made this story smart and his perspective important.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

just wow.

Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking through Suffering Together written by Kara Tippetts and her bestie Jill Lynn Buteyn tells the story of friendship during tragedy. These two women somehow made such a beautiful book and tribute to friendship out of the heart wrenching situation of Kara's stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis. All through her treatments, and eventually hospice, chapter by chapter Kara and Jill tell their story one after the other. It's honest, and very much a memoir rather than just a self-help on how to be there for your friend during difficult times (but it is that, too). I just wish that Kara's life didn't have to end to help share this message.

Monday, December 7, 2015

therapy for everybody.

As I'm sure you know, adult coloring books are the new black. And I'm not mad about it. I've reviewed a few that I've enjoyed, but I definitely have a new favorite in the form of Thaneeya McArdle's Follow Your Bliss Coloring Book. Let me explain, so I've been getting my grandma into the whole adult coloring scene, and since she's had a stroke, her vision is off and she can't really focus on the novels she used to love, which makes me sad. She literally sits at home and watches daytime court shows, which is extra sad. When I gave her a coloring book that had a lot of different designs, but no real picture, she liked it, but what she really wanted was to color something less abstract. McArdle's coloring book was so perfect because there's a lot of detail, BUT you can see your subject clearly (like a tea cup or a cat). And grandma likes that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

if you want to live forever like on fame.

When I was younger and seemed to be always trying to lose weight in one way or another, it was all about how I looked, not how I felt. Since turning 30, things have changed. Like caring about what size jeans I am buying, and eating "healthy" (or nothing) for the sole purpose of losing weight. Now, I care about my heath. My heart. My blood pressure. Yes, losing weight is cool, but I want to put foods in my body that will make me healthy.

The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, MD is totally advertised as a weight loss diet because that's what grabs people's attention, but I don't see it that way. I see it as a way for people to change their lives around. Those headed for diabetes town can turn that train right around (I've seen it happen). So instead of thinking of it as a diet, let's think about it as eating to NOT get sick. And Dr. Hyman tells you everything you need to eat to accomplish this goal in his six-week healthy-living program.

Yes. It's more work. You'll be going to the grocery store more frequently to stock up on veggies. Yes. supplements are expensive. But I guarantee all of your co-pays cost more.

Monday, November 30, 2015

fact or fiction?

I hope everyone had a splendid holiday weekend filled with only people you actually like. Since I literally do nothing to contribute to Thanksgiving, minus arriving hungry, I had a lot of spare time to read Judy Blume's In the Unlikely Event which dates back to the early 1950's, when aviation was up and coming. This book follows 15-year-old Miri Ammerman along with her friends and family in the small town of Elizabeth, New Jersey. During an 58-day span, THREE planes went down out of Newark airport, killing people near and dear to not only Miri, but her friends as well. These crashes changed every character we met in some way or another, and while I did enjoy the book, even though I was constantly nervous, waiting for the next crash, I didn't love how it ended. I didn't love how families were broken, and young love spoiled. But I get why Blume went all dark. Nothing super joyful can come out of three plane crashes.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Giveaway.

Because it's Black Friday, I am giving away another FREE copy of the very hilarious mother/daughter anecdote collection, Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?

....all you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 12/1 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

happy thanksgiving!

This is 100% fact, I cook NOTHING for the holidays. But on a more serious note, I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Turning 30. A brand new nephew. A (most of the time) happy marriage (don't judge, marriage is fricken hard). And a healthy family. Oh, and eyes so that I can read 3204832 books a year. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

i can't wait for the next adventure.

The Postman Always Purls Twice is the seventh installment in the super popular Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series. If you are looking for a mystery that is a little more light and fluffy rather than gruesome and grotesque, this is absolutely the series for you.

A Hollywood film crew arrive in the small town of Plum Harbor, bringing with them famous actresses....and murder. Maggie are her knitters clique are likeable. And the plot is solid. A great addition to my collection.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

gangs all here.

I LOVE short stories and I LOVEEEE Mary Higgins Clark. Her collection titled Death Wears a Beauty Mask: And Other Stories plucks from past work, spanning over the course of her long and successful career. Since I haven't ready any of MHC's short works or novellas in the past, this book was perfect for me. I have no idea how this author manages to write such unique and heart pounding stories after all this time (no offense MCH but you're a little old). Some are better than others, of course, but both lovers of her old and new work will be pleased.

Monday, November 23, 2015

oddly compelling.

In Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomas, the main character, Katherine (who also narrates) is a 19-year-old vagabond. She lost her mother at a young age, and this story is about the profound affect that losing a mother and being an IVF embryo can have on a person. Since people today are often going to extreme measures to have children, Thomas brings readers a very unique yet modern storyline.

Having no father figure, and no mother to tell her not to, Kit takes off without telling anyone. Instead of going to college she wanders around Rome, then Berlin, and just keeps wandering. Secretly hoping her father is searching for her. Katherine Carlyle is a beautifully written novel about a girl with some serious daddy issues. She isn't the most likable character I have ever met, but as a girl who also needed some time at the age of 19 to deal with her emotions and find herself, I'm glad her story was told.

Friday, November 20, 2015

a painter and his muse.

Paris is one of my very favorite cities, and with all of the tragedy happening there, and around the world, I am honored to recommend a kick ass novel set in The City of Light (La Ville Lumière). I love a sizzling love story as much as the next girl, and Paris Red by Maureen Gibbon is just plain sexy.

It's the year 1862 when the young Victorine Meurent meets the wealthy artist, Édouard Manet and quickly becomes his model and his muse. A model and his muse seems like a tale as old as time, but really it's a coming of age story about a girl who unapologetically lives life and takes risks, and I respect that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

bossladies and gents.

This past year I began a photography business, so Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, or Start Over in Your Career by Carla Harris spoke to me. It was written for the twenty-two-year-old college graduate, those of you who are finding careers after the military, and people like me. The people who got a degree that they are barely using and JUST got the guts to pursue something they are passionate about. I am not the kind of person who can do the same thing everyday. That's why I quit teaching fulltime and started subbing. That's why I take photographs. In her book, Harris points out that it's no longer best to stay at the same company for decades, and I'm like RIGHT!? Because I just can't. I found all the chapters to be helpful, but the chapters on building relationships and communication were the best for me.

Don't know exactly what you want to do? Read this book. Harris made me feel much more comfortable sorting out the next move in my career journey, and I know she can do the same for you.

Monday, November 16, 2015

what drives you crazy?

My husband has to say this to me on a regular basis. I have been known to be a little ridiculous at times, but comedian Ruby Wax definitely made me feel better about my life with her book Sane New World: A User's Guide to the Normal-Crazy Mind. The idea of this book is to help EVERYONE have the best possible experience on earth, tame your internal critics, and live your life feeling at home in your own mind. Wax is hilarious and such a talented writer, which makes her own issues with depression extremely relatable. But like I said, this is not a book designed solely for people who are depressed, or crazy, or schizing all over the place, Wax is looking to help every level of crazy improve their mindfulness and focus on what's important rather than what's driving you mad.

Friday, November 13, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Win a FREE copy of the super delicious Einkorn: Recipes for Nature's Original Wheat!

....all you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 11/17 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

what's next?

Bittersweet Dreams by V. C. Andrews is the very first novel I have read by this author (both alive and dead) that had absolutely nothing to do with the Dollanganger Series. Which made me sad because I have LOVED every installment (prequels, sequels, modern day interpretations). Although it was not the same, I don't fully understand the bad reviews about the latest novel. It was far from perfect, but I still flew through the pages, wondering where the author was planning to take me. And I would absolutely read a sequel.

Narrator and main character, Mayfair Cummings was born gifted. She has always been brighter than her peers, even her teachers, and could never find a place to fit. Currently a junior in high school, she was just allowed back into classes, rather than spending the entire day doing independent study, because her father was afraid she was missing out on certain social aspects of growing up. Which was true. Mayfair's mother passed away unexpectedly years before, and when her father remarried three years ago, it did nothing to make them a family again. When Mayfair decided to ask Julie (her stepmother) for a makeover, things start to change at school. Mayfair begins to get attention from the most popular boy at school, and the most handsome teacher. Until, she doesn't anymore.

I understand how many readers may have disliked Mayfair at first. She was very matter-of-fact about her brilliance and her beauty. It was a little annoying sometimes. But she grew on me. And her situations throughout the novel made her seem a little more human. I do hope that the author writes another installment, giving Mayfair someone more her own speed to fall in love with.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

something familiar mixed with something new.

Since my mama became a first-time grandmama last week (and me a first time auntie!), I thought it was appropriate to finally get my review of Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories by Jocelyn Delk Adams published. My baking skills are seriously lacking, so Jocelyn's book was pretty much made for me. She introduces readers to baking tricks and techniques right at the beginning, giving advice on kitchen equipment as well (I have none). I love how Jocelyn combines her stories from Big Mama’s kitchen with her delicious recipes from pound cakes to shortcakes. So many delicious cakes. Grandbaby Cakes includes beautiful photographs and Jocelyn truly reaches her goal of inspiring families to reconnect.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

make time for number talks.

I do think parents are hesitant to teach their children math because of all of the recent changes with Common Core. They don't want to confuse their children even more by attacking problems differently than their teachers. And I get that. Many parents have never heard of Number Talks, or how highly effective they can be in helping your child develop a deeper understanding of the math they are learning. Making Number Talks Matter can help.

In Making Number Talks Matter, Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker offer practical ideas for using Number Talks to help students learn to reason numerically and build a solid foundation for the study of mathematics. In the very first chapter they explain what Number Talks are and why they are important. Number Talks are when children solve problems in their heads and then talk about the strategies they used. Students are constantly mixing up rules because they are so busy trying to memorize one way to solve a problem, and when they forget, they get the problem wrong. Number Talks show children that it's OKAY to solve math problems in different ways. There are a lot of examples in this book on how to use Number Talks in all grade levels. Math is such a struggle in our country, adding something as simple is Number Talks is worth a shot.

Monday, November 9, 2015

kissinger the war criminal.

For those of you like me who don't know a whole lot about Henry Kissinger, here is a little background: Henry A. Kissinger was sworn in on September 22, 1973, as the 56th Secretary of State, a position he held until January 20, 1977. He also served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from January 20, 1969, until November 3, 1975. Serving in the times of Nixon and Ford. Kissinger is currently alive and well, and still being relevant, according to historian Greg Grandin and his new book titled Kissinger's Shadow, which is an analysis of Henry Kissinger's diplomatic career and post career influence on foreign policy. Or BAD influence, as Grandin is definitely not Kissinger's biggest fan. He goes into great detail explain why he's as responsible for Iraq and the Middle East as Vietnam. The book is well researched, but still an interpretation. Compelling, but still an interpretation. Factual, but still an interpretation. I think a lot of you will find it interesting, but you'll have to decide if it's the right read for you because it's definitely an acquired taste.

Friday, November 6, 2015

a scientific thriller.

Lucie Henebelle and Inspector Sharko have teamed up again in Bred to Kill, the sequel to Franck Thilliez's Syndrome E. Thilliez does a great job tying up lose ends before going ahead one year in this second installment. Sharko's latest case is the brutal death of Eva Louts, a graduate student working at a primate research center outside of Paris. It looks to be an unfortunate animal attack at first, but what seems to be an open and shut case becomes more after Henebelle and Sharko realize Eva was deep into her own investigation that they will have to travel as far as the Amazon to uncover.

Bred to Kill is definitely a unique thriller that you won't want to miss.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

me, me, me, and then you.

As a human, I am mildly selfish. I do think about my feelings A LOT. Not to say I don't also do things I don't want to do for other people, I do. But day to day life? I'm my number one priority. How am I feeling? Do I need some alone time? Could I use a workout more than my husband needs a lunch packed? It's how I can function in society. There is a quote I saw recently, and the gist pretty much is, when you think about all the things you love, how long does it take until you mention YOU. Me? I'm number one. Loving myself and giving myself what I need helps me love others the way they need to be loved. That being said, there is a difference between loving myself and thinking that I am entitled to the moon and the stars and everything I see on etsy. That is the idea behind Amy McCready's The "ME, ME, ME" Epidemic. It's healthy for kids to think about themselves, but it's important that they aren't assholes.

Growing up, we had about zero dollars. I wanted for nothing. It got harder when I was in middle school and had a friend who's mom would take her on $500 shopping sprees to Abercrombie, and I was over here trying to make my only-pair-for-the-year name brand sneakers last as long as possible. But. I wanted for nothing. McCready is rightfully insisting that we break the cycle of entitlement among this young generation. They expect to get their way because you give them their way. DON'T HANDICAP YOUR CHILDREN BY MAKING THEIR LIVES EASY. Someone really smart said that. And McCready's program implements what you need to do to raise confident and independent, but also compassionate kids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

if you don't laugh, you'll cry.

I know that times are changing, and there are more work-from-home dad's taking on a domestic role than ever before. That being said, many of you will be able to relate to Tim Dowling's family situation that he sometimes hilariously and sometimes seriously details in his book, How To Be A Husband. I can't relate to much about his life. But I can relate to being married and the challenges that follow. That being said, I got a kick out of most of his tidbits, especially the Twelve Labors of Marriage. Dowling reiterates that this is not a self help book, but I did find a lot of wisdom in his words.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

an iconic writer's youth.

Joyce Carol Oates shares with fans, the people and places that have shaped her in her more-than-just-a-memoir, memoir titled The Lost Landscape: A Writer's Coming of Age. This isn't her first memoir, but it is the first time that Oates discusses the memories of her childhood. In a collection of 28 stories, Oates takes readers home to western New York (my hood), where she grew up on a farm as the oldest child. She writes of her siblings, her friends, tragedy, how Lewis Carroll introduced her to the magic of literature. Oates shares her journey, her ghosts, the good and the bad. As a reader who appreciates great writing, I enjoyed her story.

Monday, November 2, 2015

fashion and retribution.

Myrtle "Tilly" Dunnage gets a sweet, sweet revenge on the people of her hometown in Australia when she returns after twenty years a successful dressmaker that no one can resist employing. You see, Tilly was banished from this place as a small child, and when she returns to help her ailing mother, she decides to stay, and sell her dresses anonymously. But once tragedy strikes, and the town shuns her again, Tilly won't leave until everyone who has wronged her has paid.

Set in 1950's rural Australia, The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham is the epitome of small town life, and all of the quirky characters that you find in them. A fun read with a great ending. And I cannot wait to see Kate Winslet as Tilly.

Friday, October 30, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Happy Friday! Here's your chance to win a FREE copy of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings!

....all you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 11/5 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

for the visual gamers.

Although I am a non-gamer, I do think the Batman Arkham series is pretty cool. This gaming series began in 2009 and was significantly influenced by the DC Comics. There are storylines and everything, each ending with Batman saving the day, if you're a good enough gamer that is.

Enter Batman: Arkham Universe by Matthew Manning, a visual guide that is to work as a companion for those who enjoy the Arkham series. Manning gives fans an inside look into the Arkhamverse, with cool images and fun facts on the characters you will come across while gaming. Now when your mom kicks you off your Xbox and tells you to pick up a book, you'll have it covered.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

food and books, my favorite things.

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I love EVERYTHING about Cara Nicoletti's Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books. I love books more than I love pretty much every person I have ever met, and then Cara goes out and pairs delicious recipes with some of my very favorite novels. Bah, it's so magical. Especially To Kill a Mockingbird's Biscuits with Molasses butter's recipe. I mean, I named my cat Atticus, so you can image. Just think of all of the classic books you've read and enjoyed in your life. A few of them are bound to have made it into Voracious. The Secret Garden? Charlotte's Web? Anne of Green Gables (another one of my favorites) paired with a Salted Chocolate Caramels recipe. And of course stories from Cara's childhood were icing on her poppy-seed cake.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

faking it by elise lorello.

Remember that time when I was super picky and couldn't find a novel I wanted to read? Well I found one, and I'm still pretty surprised at how much I liked it considering it's about a writing Professor who trades writing lessons for sex advice from a male escort. Or maybe that's exactly why I liked it?

After a pretty harsh breakup, Andi Cutrone moved back home to Long Island and started working at a university in Brooklyn. While attending faculty events, she meets Devin, an escort who goes on dates with many of the women Andi works with. After she meets Devin, Andi just couldn't stop thinking about him. And she knows she definitely can't afford him. So she calls to make a deal. She will givev him lessons on writing rhetoric, and he will give her advice on sex because she has about zero experience on the subject. Sounds like a fair trade. Devin's beauty is a bit distracting, and Andi obviously falls for him (I expected that), but what I didn't expect is how this little arrangement turned into a pretty adorable friendship making BOTH of them more confident and ready to follow their dreams.

Monday, October 26, 2015

a book lovers book.

If you enjoy reading about romance, adventure, and mystery, but also like a laugh or two, First Impressions by Charlie Lovett is perfect for you. Take my word.

First Impressions is a novel with two storylines. Half of the book takes place in Jane Austen’s time and the other half of takes place in present day London with a book lover named Sophie Collingwood who works at an antiquarian bookshop, a job she took to solve the mystery of her uncle's death, which she does not believe was an accident since his precious book collection disappeared. The other story follows Jane Austen and her unlikely friendship with the 80-year-old Richard Mansfield in 1796. Both stories were good, I just liked Sophie's better.

Friday, October 23, 2015

a psychological thriller for kids? yes.

I am loving all of these middle grade books I've been reading recently. I love even more that they are all spooky, with amazing illustrations will make getting a book in your kid's hand that much easier. The Nest by Kenneth Oppel is a psychological thriller written for grades 5-7, and it is super haunting and a little unsettling, probably in a good way.

Steve isn't your typical hero. He's a kid with some serious anxiety and maybe some OCD thrown in there. He's definitely on the spectrum. But anyways, his baby brother is sick which begins to cause stressful dreams for Steve. Dreams about wasps, and their queen, and his only solution, their offer to save the baby. When things start going south, and with actual wasps in a nest at the house, Steven worries about what the wasps will do to his brother. The story is definitely creepy, but there are morals, so I recommend reading the book before your child to help them understand the author's message.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

a day in the life of a nurse.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE medical shows. Every one that's on television right now, I am watching weekly. Theresa Brown is a practicing nurse and a columnist, and her book, The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives is better than all of the medical shows put together. Because it's riveting AND real. Oh my goodness is it real. The Shift overs a day in the life of Theresa Brown and the four very different patients she is in charge of during her twelve hour shift as an oncology nurse. I am not going to get into too much detail, but I just love how Brown keeps her cool and advocates for her patients. I have always known how precious nurses are, and even I have more respect after reading this book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

everyone has a voice.

When a tragic house fire takes the lives of her entire family on the day of her daughter's wedding, June is left to pick up the pieces, alone. In Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg's debut novel, the story is told by mostly secondary characters, as the main ones have almost perished entirely. With the exception of June of course, who takes off in an attempt to heal from the tragedy. The novel is a wonderful drama, but also a mystery because that fire may have not been an accident.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

an eerie expedition.

The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York by Kory Merritt is EXACTLY the kind of book that will get kids reading. It's comic-like, lots of amazing graphics, little blurbs of the story on teach page, AND it's mildly sinister. When Jonathan York finds himself lost in the woods, he is put in quite the predicament (or four) to get himself out. Merritt nails it, and this work won't overwhelm your slower reader, but is entertaining enough for your confident reader.

Monday, October 19, 2015

not the best, but still good.

I have NEVER went on this long of a hiatus from blogging, and reading. But apparently fall is the biggest time of year for us in the on-the-side photography business, so I have been neck deep in sessions and editing. Not that I'm complaining. Since my last post, I am no longer a twenty-something. I am officially 30. And while celebrating all week, and then the week after at the beach was a blast, I am now sitting here at my kitchen counter, being 30, and that's not easy. I did get to read the latest Nicholas Sparks novel the day it was released, which made things a little better. Other than the fact that the main characters were 28, and I am now officially older than Nicholas Sparks characters.

See Me was definitely more on the thrilling side of things compared to Sparks' typical plotlines, although he has become more suspenseful as of late. Colin is an ex-con, on a five year probation period that will end with him in prison if he gets into one more fight at a bar. He is in college trying to get a degree in elementary education, changing his life around. And Maria is a lawyer, daughter of Mexican immigrants, who hasn't had much luck in love. They meet by chance, and immediately realize that despite Colin's past, and how wary it makes Maria and her family, they are meant to be. While there relationship blooms, neither realizes that Maria is in fact being stalked by someone who held a serious grudge about a case Maria was on when she was assistant to the DA in Charlotte. Once the stalker reveals themselves, and the police have little they can do about it, will Colin throw his life away to protect Maria?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

defeat the undead.

Happy first if October y'all! It's that time of year when all things scary come out to play, and the perfect time for your child to begin reading the How to Banish Fears series, if they haven't already. The installment I will be reviewing today? How to Zap Zombies by Catherine Leblanc and illustrated by Roland Garrigue. Why it's important? Because the idea of zombies is terrifying, yet they are super popular right now.

With the help of this book, your child will learn how to get rid of any zombie that may cross their path, even zombie princesses, all while also enjoying fun activities. And if it keeps you from having to look under their beds for monsters every night, that is just a bonus.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

no peace in the middle east, cher.

Being obsessed with Homeland and equally terrified that everything about the Middle East displayed in this fictional show is true, I thought The Knife by Ross Ritchell would help get me geared up for the next season which airs in October, and I was so right.


Dutch Shaw has barely anytime to mourn the loss of his grandmother before he is deployed once again to Afghanipakiraqistan (no really though), along with his special ops team who just want to stay alive, leading to the idea of morality and how it plays a huge role in war. Fathers, sons, husbands, killing people to save their comrades and themselves. Being loyal to their country and nothing else. Honestly, Ritchell took me to some places I really didn't want to go to give readers insight on the horrors of war. But I'm glad I read it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

peacefull & effective parenting.

Being super close in age, I drag down fist fought with my older brother for years. I was obsessed with my baby brother, so fighting wasn't an issue there. But a lot of my friends, especially ones with sisters, fought incessantly with the older or younger sibling their entire childhood, and it wasn't until they both became adults that they actually started to like each other. It could be because their sibling was an asshole. Or there could be more to it than that. Well IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. Ask Dr. Laura Markham.

Peaceful Parenting, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life is a parenting guide to help you build strong connections with all of your children, to eliminate sibling rivalry and the idea that you love anyone better than anyone else (even though you probably do). What I found especially interesting? Getting rid of apologies. Kids (and adults) think that saying their sorry can fix anything terrible they have done. Well, it can't. So encourage your children to problem solve and "repair" the situation to the best of their ability. This book is geared toward families with young children (for example, adding a new baby to the family), so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that Dr. Markham is a parenting expert with other books that could fit your family right now.