Thursday, April 30, 2015

i hate everyone, and pants.

As someone who has had their share of trouble thinking of the glass as half full, and really doesn't like anyone, I kind of got Kim Korson and her autobiography titled I Don't Have a Happy Place which is filled with extremely honest short essays beginning with her child self hating the little girl next door for her Barbie collection. I totally get that. And hating everyone else at Disney World. I get that, too. Included are Kim's pivotal life moments from childhood to adulthood along with the constant struggle to find her happy place. It's definitely not a woe is Kim kind of book, it may appear that way by the title and how Kim portrays herself as being an all around negative human being. But really, she's super funny and just trying to live. And living is fricken hard.

In other news, can someone please buy me this shirt?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

rooting for the ref.

Being a referee has got to be the worst job ever in the world, next to being one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends or an Olympic drug tester (which actually is number 8 on the list, I Googled it). I mean, what an emotional rollercoaster. And the verbal abuse. No thank you! I come from a basketball playing family, and my late grandfather was escorted out by many the referee in his day. Gosh he made me proud. But anyways, referees are always going to be needed, it is America after all. So if you're going to do it, you might as well be Ed Hightower, elite NCAA referee who came from nothing and has now refereed some pretty intense games throughout the years during this tournament.


The Whistleblower by Bob Katz, who has always been intrigued by referees, is Hightower's story. Growing up in poverty. Landing the gig as a big time official. Katz put readers right inside Hightower's head. Feeling all the pressure, totally changing my view on refs in general. The writing was phenomenal, and there were times when I was like WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT BASKETBALL, RIGHT? It was that interesting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

let's get likable.

Since...forever, word of mouth is the best and purest form of marketing, especially now that everyone's mouths are all over Facebook and Twitter. Social media has made advertising much more simple and affordable, but only if you know how to use it. Enter Dave Kerpen and his book titled Likeable Social Media, Revised and Expanded: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Amazing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and More. People aren't listening to commercial or radio ads like they used to. A lot of people have XM Radio, many DVR their shows and fast forward through commercials. If you learn how to master the 18 strategies Kerpen shares for advertising your brand and yourself on social media in a likable way, you will be successful. It won't happen over night, but it will happen.

Just a little added advice:
We live in a world where people we know are constantly trying to sell things to us on Facebook. Beachbody, Young Living Essential Oils, Mary Kay, Thirty One, various jewelry. I have literally seen ads for ALL of these products in the last hour, without trying. As a consumer, I am looking for polished posts; little to no typos, no crazy run-on sentences, no swearing or sexually explicit content. If I see any of the errors listed above, you officially lost my business. So instead of getting all crazy excited about this new idea you have for advertising your products or telling your story, STOP. Take a breath and EDIT your posts/flyers before hitting "post". You're welcome.

Monday, April 27, 2015

just a man and his mom.

After spending his adult life in Manhattan, author George Hodgman returns to his hometown of Paris, Missouri to care for his aging mother in his heartfelt and funny memoir titled, Bettyville. Betty is a stubborn old broad, never been easy to live with, but much worse now that her mind is deteriorating. That being said, George has no intention of ever putting her in a nursing home, and this memoir is about how difficult it is to change roles from child to caregiver to your parents, and seeing them through until the very end. Although the childhood references were a bit over my head as a 90's kid, many of you a few decades older than I am will appreciate them. This is a memoir (or an outlet) for anyone who has or is currently caring for an elderly parent with dementia or Alzheimer's.

Friday, April 24, 2015

just in case you missed it.

*Repost because this one was just toooooo good. And because I'm leaving for a weekend in the big apple today and I'm busy.

I know I always say this about Jodi Picoult novels, but it's just TOO true to ignore. I get smarter while reading, and after I'm done, I am an expert on whatever subject Picoult has decided to invest herself in while writing. For Leaving Time, it was elephants. I now know that a baby calf under the age of two cannot survive in the wild without their mother, even though they are part of a heard. I learned that elephants truly never forget. I learned that Asian elephants and African elephants have two completely different personalities, just like the people. I also learned that Picoult just keeps getting better and better.

Leaving Time is written from four different perspectives. Thirteen-year-old Jenna's mother Alice disappeared ten years ago, and no one has any idea if she is alive or dead. Jenna has made it her goal to find her. Alice (who we hear from in the past tense) has spent her adult life researching elephants and how they grieve. Spending time in Africa before meeting Jenna's father and moving to New England where he owned an Elephant Sanctuary after she found out she was pregnant with Jenna. She continued the research with the elephants in captivity until tragedy struck. Jenna enlists the help of Serenity Jones, a former celebrity psychic who was famous for finding missing people, and Virgil Stanhope, the police officer who was there the night her mother disappeared, to help her solve the mystery. Jenna is single-minded in her search and will do whatever it takes to find her mother. I have to be honest, when the truth came out and slapped her in the face, I felt the sting.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

going up, every day.

I saw on instagram recently that Reese Witherspoon was reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. So like any normal blonde woman, I purchased it immediately. Because you should always be yourself, unless you can be Reese Witherspoon, then always be Reese Witherspoon.

I do agree with my girlfriend Reese when she said the story kept her on the edge of her seat. I couldn't put it down. It was a bit of a mystery, mostly narrated by an alcoholic woman named Rachel who wasn't super reliable. So I never knew what was going to happen next because who believes anything an alcoholic says? The other narrators were Rachel's ex-husband's new wife, Anna, who popped in here and there to make the story extra curious. And then Megan, the beautiful neighbor of Anna, and a woman that Rachel always saw on her train rides pretending to go to work everyday. Because you guessed it, alcoholics can't keep a job either. So Rachel would pretend to go to work and then look at the row of houses that used to be her neighborhood with her husband Tom before he had an affair with Anna, and they ended up married with a baby girl in the house Tom and Rachel bought together. Anyways, Megan lived a few doors down from Anna's old house, so she would imagine up these stories about her and her husband, to occupy her mind in her sorry life. When Megan ends up missing, and Rachel is the only one who saw her in her yard with someone who wasn't her husband AND also saw her the night she went missing, she is determined to get to the bottom of things. If only wine wasn't so delicious.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

mrs. berns is the new grandma mazur.

I am a huge fan of The Murder-by-Month Mystery series. And February Fever is a perfect addition. Town librarian and aspiring private investigator Mira James is excited to finally have a valentine for the big day, the only downer is that her boyfriend Johnny has recently accepted an internship in Portland. Mira's friend Mrs. Berns tries to lift her spirits by booking a trip by train from Minnesota to Portland for a romantic visit for Valentine's Day/a private investigator conference for the rest of them. Tagging along is the ever lovable, Jed, and all is going swimmingly until a woman is found murdered in the middle of the night. Her husband and daughter nowhere to be found. Mira and the other private investigators aboard the train heading to the same conference team up to solve this murder mystery. Minus the whole dead woman thing, there is a lot of passenger on passenger hilarity. And it's so nice to have a series to keep me busy while waiting for the next Plum novel.

Monday, April 20, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Win a FREE copy of Get Your Joy Back!
All you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 4/30 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Friday, April 17, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

Win a FREE copy of Sense & Sensibility!
All you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 4/22 at midnight!
Good luck :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

a novel for the every couple.

I enjoy reading novels that are close to home. Literally. The Tumble Inn by William Loizeaux is set on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains and is a real place. I looked it up. Mark and Fran Finley have left their jobs as teachers and their struggles conceiving behind them to begin again, as innkeepers, which wasn't exactly natural for either of them. They survived their first season, barely. And things start to really look up (for them, and for the story) when they conceive a child. Their daughter, Nat is born and all is right with the world. 

Rather quickly, we fast forward a decade and some odd years later. Nat is a teenager, and tragedy strikes. Loizeaux created a wonderful narrator in Mark, who is now left to wonder again if he should stay or if he should go.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

if pinterest was a book.

I am now twenty-nine and married. But before all that, I lived with my parents for a freakishly long time. I moved out for a short stint in my early twenties, but it wasn't until I was TWENTY-SEVEN that I moved out officially. And that was less than two years ago. When I moved out I had a rude awakening, and not just because I was living alone with a man. Since my husband (then fiancĂ©) is the major bread winner and works wayyy more than I do, I took on the role as homemaker. With no real prior training. I mean, during my first year of teaching my mom packed my lunch for me everyday. And it was delicious. But I had to get my life together before my man woke up one day and was like UMM WHY AM I MARRYING HER. Since I am almost six years younger, I still get to ride that little baby wave. But I had to make some major changes and learn a few things about separating lights and darks, proper grocery shopping for two, cooking healthy meals from scratch, and cleaning the toilets. Really keeping house in general. I had never kept a house! This is probably why during our first year of living together I plotted his murder daily. Ladies you need to be prepared!! Even if you are out there with your careers thinking to yourself that you will NEVER become Susie homemaker. Um, if you get married, yes you will. END RANT.

Homemakers: A Domestic Handbook for the Digital Generation by Brit Morin is AMAZING for those of you who are digitally inclined and domestically incompetent. It's a brand new world out there since our mom's were homemakers, especially in the kitchen. Brit's super gorgeously colorful spread includes must-have kitchen gadgets and apps for every millennial. Your mom can use them, too. There are tips for every room in your home, and a crazy organized index that will easily help you find what you are looking for. For example, photo editing, chalkboard walls, curtains, parties, recipes upon recipes, and 8403842 others. This book is packed, and super adorable, just like Brit. A great gift for the college graduate or bride to be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

don't expect jane austen.

Joanna Trollope's modern day version of the classic Sense & Sensibility is, like I said, MODERN. It is not going to be the same as Austen's as the times have changed a great deal since the 1800's. If this is going to bother you, then I don't suggest you read it. You'll be sitting there, comparing, contrasting, driving yourself mad. If you would like to experience a modern take on the classic tale, with characters that are very similar to the original cast personality wise, and great writing, then you should give it a try. The premise is the same, three sisters who are mildly bratty are to be watched over by their half-brother and his wife after their father dies. And the half-brother's wife wants nothing to do with them. 

I mean if there is a book that has Elinor, Marianne and Margaret checking Facebook, I want to read it. Just for fun. And what fun it is.

Monday, April 13, 2015

coaching you off the edge.

I truly believe that God doesn't give you more than you can handle. But that doesn't really make anyone feel better when they are having a discouraging day, or life. Laurie Wallin's Get Your Joy Back: Banishing Resentment and Reclaiming Confidence in Your Special Needs Family is a book written for the parents/caregivers of special needs kids as Laurie herself is one of those parents. A mom of four, two with special needs, she has been there. At the end of her rope, her joy gone, in relationships with people who just don't get it, and never will. The topics discussed vary from how to forgive yourself and your child to forgiving God, and everyone in between. How to let go of resentment and find your joy in life again. Although I don't have children yet, I got a lot out of Laurie's chapter on how to get passed the hurt when the people you think should be there for you don't step up. And how to lower your expectations so that you can keep yourself from being hurt in the future. This book is also great for those of you who are a friend or relative of a parent who has a child with special needs. Everyone needs a little compassion, and you'll find it here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

kick ass giveaway!

TGIF! I have THREE copies of Woman with a Gun to giveaway today!
All you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 4/15 at midnight!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

fairy-tales and folklore.

I love fairytales, and all things magic, really. So I was super pumped to receive The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales which is a collection of original Bavarian stories by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth. In 2012 it was reported that five hundred unknown fairytales (written by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth in the 1800's) were uncovered. Seventy-four of them made it into this charming book which is divided into six sections: Tales of Magic and Romance, Enchanted Animals, Otherworldly Creatures, Legends, Tall Tales and Anecdotes, and finally Tales About Nature. The stories are short as fairytales are. There are damsels, heroes, talking animals, and sinister plots. But there are also women heroines who are strong and clever. I will warn you though, this collection is more dark and twisted than happily ever after.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

peaks and valleys, mountains and beaches.

I love, love, LOVE California. I've been there three whole times and just fell in love...with the areas I visited and In-and-Out Burger. I've been to San Diego (it was my (now) hubby and mine's first vacation together), and I've also visited friends in Burbank/LA, went to Disneyland and visited Catalina for the day. That being said, I do feel that I am well equipped to handle my next review, Lonely Planet's Los Angeles, San Diego & Southern California Travel Guide.

If you want to make the most out of a vacation to somewhere new, you have to be prepared. Lonely Planet does a great job of telling you what you really NEEEEED to know about a place. Like how much money you are likely to spend and how to get around. One of the most fabulous things about Southern Cali is the beaches. There are beaches everywhere and Lonely Planet lists them all for you and shows you how to get there. If you like theme parks, they have a section for that. If you like wine, they have a section for that. If you want to try to run into a Kardashian, they have a section for that. You get the idea. I also think it's worth mentioning that Lonely Planet also includes any big happenings that are going on in that area monthly. For example, if you are visiting California in February, maybe you'd like to be around for the Academy Awards. I planned a trip during that time coincidentally (I am from Buffalo, the Academy Awards in LA are like our Super Bowl Sunday, I had no idea) and had the best time walking around the night before, looking at everything. Don't have an itinerary? Lonely Planet has one that will fit your needs. Want to know exactly what this travel guide covers? Well, let me tell you: Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Disneyland, Orange County, Laguna Beach, San Diego, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara. I took the liberty of bolding all of the places I've been, you won't regret visiting!

Love at first sight. And yes it does rain in Southern California.

The night before the Oscars. (I stole that umbrella).


Our trip to the Zoo, May 2012.

Monday, April 6, 2015

the best debut i have ever read.

Typically, books with male narrators aren't my favorite. There are always some exceptions, but I don't really get men. So I prefer to read stories with strong heroines narrating. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion has officially changed the way I feel about male narrators forever with genetics professor Don Tillman. Don is a thirty-nine-year-old associate professor at a prestigious college in Australia. He has two friends, does not understand social cues, and is fully aware of his faults as a human. Although he has not diagnosed himself as having Asperger's, it is clear to every teacher in all the land that he has some form of autism, and getting inside a head like that is one of the most interesting and hysterical things I have ever read.

Don is looking for love. He knows he is not an ideal partner because he is so strange, but he still thinks it's possible that there is someone out there in the world for him. Don takes time out of his very strict schedule to create The Wife Project. He created a sixteen page questionnaire to help him find his perfect match, and women actually fill it out. Although no one is perfectly suitable, Don goes on a few dates, which typically end in disaster. Then he meets Rosie. Someone who is the exact opposite of who he is looking for. They have dinner, which turns into the making of another project, The Father Project. Rosie wants to find out who her real father is, and since Don is a genetics professor, he is the man to help her. The project turns into a lot of time spent together, which is also hilarious because Don is so literal and takes everything literally, and Rosie's personality is so big and crass. It's so fun to read how they respond to each other. But is it possible that these two extremely different people can make a real relationship work? Don would say "Incorrect" but you shall see.

Friday, April 3, 2015

good friday giveaway!

Happy Good Friday! I have THREE copies of The Promise of Palm Grove, book one in the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series to giveaway today!

 All you have to do is email your name, address, and this book title to: to enter!
Giveaway ends on 4/6 at midnight!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

woman with a gun by phillip margolin.

While visiting a museum hosting photographs of a popular artist, receptionist/aspiring novelist, Stacey Kim is mesmerized by one of the pictures titled "Woman with a Gun" - she is even more interested in the photo when she discovers that the woman is Megan Cahill, suspected of killing her husband, millionaire Raymond Cahill on their wedding night. The murder was never solved. With the photographer refusing to talk, Kim digs into a mystery that has spanned 15 years, contacting everyone involved and managing to uncover histories and secrets between them all.

There is a lot of jumping around within the 15 year span. But if you pay attention, this isn't a mystery you will want to miss.