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.