Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Girl Who Stayed

I am a sucker for books set in South Carolina.  I devour books by Dorothea Benton Frank and have savored Pat Conroy tales.  I will try just about anything to get a little Charleston / Sullivan Island / Folly's Beach in my life.  Which is super strange since I have never been there but have planned many vacations there that have yet to happen.

Description: Zoe Rutherford wasn't sure what she was expecting when she returned to Sullivan's Island. The house on Sullivan's hadn't represented home to her in decades. It was the place where she endured her father's cruelty. It was the place where her mother closed herself off from the world. It was the place where her sister disappeared. But now that her parents are gone, Zoe needs to return to the house, to close it down and prepare it for sale. She intends to get this done as quickly as possible and get on with her life, even though that life seems clouded by her past, both distant and recent. But what she discovers when she gets there is far beyond her imagining and will change her in profound ways.

This book sounded like my kind of book.  And it started out that way.  It had mystery.  It had beach.  It had a potential for danger.  It had a learning to be yourself aspect.  There was beer.  And wine.  And grandma's who told Gullah stories.  And somewhere after the first couple of pages it started to just fall flat.

I was even okay with it being a feel good story and not that horrifying or awful in the mystery/suspense aspect until the second to last chapter, I believe.  Then I was just annoyed with the ending.  I felt I deserved a better ending for reading the book.

Also? I wanted to like the main character.  Really did.  The components were there.  But just fell flat.  I was disappointed because I really wanted to love it.  Like I said, it possessed all the things I love, it just didn't jive for me. 

About the Author:  Tanya Anne Crosby is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-five novels. She has been featured in magazines, such as PeopleRomantic Times and Publisher's Weekly, and her books have been translated into eight languages. Her first novel was published in 1992 by Avon Books, where Tanya was hailed as "one of Avon's fastest rising stars." Her fourth book was chosen to launch the company's Avon Romantic Treasure imprint. Known for stories charged with emotion and humor and filled with flawed characters, Tanya is an award-winning author, journalist, and editor, and her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. In 2013, she penned her first romantic suspense novel, Speak No Evil, which appeared on the USA Today list. The Girl Who Stayed brings her full circle to work with Lou Aronica, President and Publisher of The Story Plant, who first published Tanya at Avon Books. Tanya and her writer husband split their time between Charleston, SC, where she was raised, and northern Michigan, where the couple make their home.

Is there a certain geographical area that you are drawn to read about? What types of descriptions make you want to pick up a book? Have you been to Sullivan's Island?

I received a copy of this book from TLC tours.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Double Knot

I am so glad that I got the opportunity to read Double Knot by Gretchen Archer! Double Knot is the 5th in the Davis Way Crime Caper series! And we all know how I love a series!!

Gretchen writes quick witted and funny dialogue.  Her categories may be outrageous but they are consistently outrageous! And I love them.  If you love Janet Evanovich you MUST try out her series.

Description: Super Spy Davis Way sets sail on a Caribbean cruise aboard the MS Probability with fifty billionaires, a boatload of Louis Vuitton luggage, Anderson Cooper, and her mother. (Her mother?) The weather is perfect, the seas are calm, and Suite 704 is spectacular. Until the door slams shut. For good.

Obviously, it’s a system glitch. Surely someone will show up to free Davis, Miss Hawaii, and the creepy staff. But when the minutes turn to hours and the hours stretch into a day, Davis knows it’s up to her. With $50,000 in casino chips, a pot roast, and a crash course in banking, she races against the clock to determine why they’re being held, stop the people behind it, and find a way out.

Secrets are revealed, antiquities are destroyed, and they’re running out of dishes. It’s mayday on Probability when Davis Way realizes that only the truth will set her free.



Just like the 4 books before it, Double Knot is laugh out loud funny! Davis is a riot and her mother is a hoot.  Fantasy also comes through with some great lines as well.  I will say I was not a fan of one of the characters but she was written to be annoying, and she was! ;)

Only thing I'd warn people is that there is pregnancy is in this book and some of it could be a little too much if reading about pregnancy can be a trigger.

The quick of it is that Davis and her entourage which includes her cat, Anderson Cooper, Fantasy, her mother and the suite wait staff arrive in their suite with the addition of Jessica who was in charge of organizing the cruise with her husband, when the doors clock in their fancy suite and their means of communication to the outside is knocked out.  Of course Davis Way isn't even supposed to be in this suite, Bianca  Sanders is supposed to be there for her pregnancy photo shoot.  But of course she has Davis doing her dirty work.  What, wait are you confused?  Little series back story... Davis is a dead ringer for her bosses wife and her bosses wife uses it to her advantage.  Especially now that they are both pregnant.

At first they assume it's the whole ship.  But then they realize something more sinister is happening and they need to work together to help themselves and their loved ones.

The book basically covers 2 days but it seems like they would be at sea much longer than that with all the action that is packed in!

Even though this book is part of a series you could probably read it as a stand alone but I would recommend you start at the beginning of this awesome series! Don't miss out, this book comes out April 12th! There is also a giveaway going on through goodreads! Take the time between now and April 12th and read the other four.  I guarantee you will read them quickly and be entertained!

What funny books have you read recently? Do you read cozy mysteries?

Thanks to Larissa for sending me a copy for review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Read Harder Update #1

I thought that I would post a few updates throughout the year on my Read Harder Challenge as a way to stay committed.  Unfortunately, since making my list I haven't really pushed my reading in a way to make sure I'm reading the books in the challenge.  Luckily, I've managed to fulfill some categories anyway.  Most are from my daily read alouds with my kid. ;)

What I've completed so far...

Read a collection of essays: Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang – Chelsea Handler

Read a book out loud to someone else: Pirates Past Noon – Mary Pope Osborne

Read a middle grade novel: Dolphin’s at Daybreak – Mary Pope Osborne


Read a book under 100 pages:  Ghost town at Sundown – Mary Pope Osborne


Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900: Wench –Dolen Perkins-Valdez

So I have four categories down and about a gazillion to go! ;)



I will say that The Magic Treehouse Series has been great for reading aloud with  my kiddo.  I have other books but she is HOOKED on this series!

I was going to say as my life slows down a bit I will focus more on picking up choices for specific topics as was my original plan, but who knows when it will actually slow down!  I will have to be intentional with my library trips that is for sure.

Are you participating in the Read Harder Challenge? How many have you completed? Which is the hardest task to complete?


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Five a Random Blog Survey


This crappy return of winter weather made me feel the need to do a little survey...
 
5 of my blog posts I Think You Should Read
 

 


5 podcasts I listen too
  • Serial
  • Get Booked
  • Criminal
  • NPR Pop Culture
  • Wait Wait Don't Tell Me

5 recent books I’ve read
  • The Girl in the Spider's Web - David Lagercrantz
  • Sunset of the Sabertooth - Mary Pope Osborne
  • Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang - Chelsea Handler
  • After the Storm - Linda Castillo
 
 

5 places I want to visit
  • St. Lucia
  • Boston
  • Savannah
  • Charleston
  • Washington D.C
 
 

5 foods I could eat every day
  • Nachos
  • Pizza
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Oranges
 
 
and I'd drink beer every day too...this is a delicious Saugatuck Amber

5 movies I can watch on repeat
  • Elf
  • Anchorman
  • Love Actually
  • Frozen
  • The Lion King

5 books I recommend
 
 

5 books I want to read
  • Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be your Own Person - Shonda Rimes
  • Etiquette & Espionage - Gail Carriger
  • Grand Central Station: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion - Kristina McMorris
  • The V-Word: True Stories About FIrst Time Sex - Amber J Keyser
  • The Queen of the Night - Andrew Chee

5 kids books I love
  • Punk Farm - Jarrett Krosoczka
  • Pete the Cat - Eric Litwin
  • Stand Tall Molly Lou Mellon - Patty Lovell
  • Magic Tree House Series
  • Brown Bear Brown Bear - Bill Martin, Jr
 
 

5 beauty products I use every day
  • Cetaphil lotion
  • brown eye shadow (right now avon)
  • brown eye pencil (super cheap at Meijer)
  • Pore Minimizer (mary kay)
  • primer (elf)

5 authors I love
  • Tess Gerritsen
  • Linda Castillo
  • Karin Slaughter
  • Laura Lippman
  • Gretchen Archer
 
Play along! Pick a few topics and share in the comments or on your own blog.  Or make up some of your own topics (like I did)
 

Friday, February 19, 2016

TGIF!

The high of my week was my day off on Monday! I got to do some shopping, some library browsing and some extra time with my girl!  It was a great day.  I could totally get behind a 4 day work week. ;)  Or a no day work week.  I also enjoyed the sun out more than it was behind a cloud this week! COME ON SUMMER!

 
this is my 'my office is roasting and I have to strip off my clothes face'

 
 The low of my week was the kiddo and the husband got sick again.  They both had head colds last week and lots of coughing and scratching phlegmy throats.  They were fine Monday-Wednesday and then last night this morning they seemed worse again! BOOO.  I'm hoping that we can air out the house and clean it out of yuckies this weekend.  Also, my daycare providers family is puking.  So let's hope we don't get that.  I went into work late yesterday to take her to school and my dad watched her in the afternoon and today my husband is working from home and they are being miserable sickies together. 


The book I’m reading is The Girl in the Spiders Web by David Lagercrantz It's the newest book in the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo series that Stieg Larson started. 


For my workouts, I completed umm this is sad.  But I only did Yoga once this week. 


The best money I spent was  my new curtains! LOOOVE THEM!  It makes me happy each time I look at them. 


they make me smile!
My plans this weekend include dinner tonight with friends at a fish fry.  Tomorrow I have a surprise birthday luncheon for a coworker.  Tomorrow night we are going to a hockey game.  Sunday we will have  my parents over for dinner.  Hoping we stay healthy the whole time!


What are your plans for this weekend? Do you have any yoga YouTube videos you recommend? What are you reading?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pretty Girls

OMG.  I can't believe it has been over a year since I read a Karin Slaughter book.  I flew through the Grant County series and the Will Trent series until I came to one book that wasn't at my library and I apparently couldn't be bothered with buying and I've been stagnant for awhile.  I read great reviews about Pretty Girls and so I added it to my Christmas wish list.  I got it and decided to dig in this weekend.  I flew through it!

Now, just know that her books can be graphic and they are crime/mystery/cop books.  I'm also thinking this may be her first stand alone book I've read.  I loved her Grant County series, which led me to her other series and I am a series loving fool.

Description: #1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia's teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that's cruelly ripped open when Claire's husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

This was just so good.  There were many ways the plot could twist and there were a few surprises but I like to pride myself in figuring it out by looking for clues.  There are clues, by the way, so if you are like me pay attention!

All the characters were well written and I only really had one minor complaint.

There is always a good cop / bad cop.  They are always written the same way.  It's not shocking.   Shocking would be to switch it up now and then and make the good cop really good and the bad cop really be bad.  I don't want to talk too much since this is a part that is connected to the suspense but it led to me complaining about it right before I went to bed on Sunday night to my husband ha. 

Just a really really great suspense book!

Do you like figuring out suspense novels or waiting for them to play out? What's the best suspense book you've read recently?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Long Weekend Recap!

I love that I got a PAID HOLIDAY OFF yesterday. (Sorry, I may have been a grownup with a grownup job for like a decade or so, but finally getting these lovely perks won't be old!)  For the past few years I've had a long February weekend, but I had to work to get paid or take the day off and not get paid.  So, it was lovely to be able to cuddle with my girl for 15 extra minutes yesterday morning before we had to get her ready for school!

Friday night started with my husband calling to tell me I needed to pick up dinner on my way home because in my Friday morning felt like a Monday chaos I had left the steak we were supposed to have for dinner out on the counter all day and it was warm.  Whoops.  So I picked up the pizza along with two six packs for a Valentine's Day present for us both.  There were so many choices I went with two we had already tried but were favorites, Accumulation and Peach County.  I was super stoked about the Peach County because we hadn't had it since last April and we didn't think it was sold around us!

 
So good!

 After pizza we watched Frozen with the girl child and then caught up on an episode of a show and I started a book, Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter and were in bed by 11.

Saturday morning I was up at 6:15 and my family kept sleeping until almost 8 am.  I was not a fan.  Could not sleep.  But we got ourselves around and then met cousins and aunts for breakfast and then we all went to the local Children's Museum together after all getting Rocketgrab deals around Christmas time.  We had all gone with the kids in October and figured we'd be there maybe 2 hours.  The kids went strong for almost 3 hours! We had to drag them out.  It was a lot of fun. 


She was very excited that her daddy came!
 
 
Car racing! My husband had just as much fun as the kids!


Silly fam pic! 

 


 We came home and had leftover pizza lunch and then I cleaned the house while she napped and I enjoyed some beverages and read some of my book.  My husband made an impromptu chili for dinner which we put on top of tater tots with cheese.  Afterwards we played some UNO and then I made a grocery list for the week and clipped some coupons.


Sunday we somehow all forgot to eat breakfast.  I went to Mejier and the child and husband went to Kroger.  I got the weekly supplies and they got dinner supplies plus milk and some canned soup that was on sale.  After I got home we ate leftover chili and made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.  During nap I enjoyed some beverages and then we had a crab leg snack.  Then for dinner my husband made us homemade Alfred (which I added imitation lobster bites too) and garlic bread with roasted asparagus.  Yummm.   We played UNO and I read my book some more.

Monday I got up and got my child to school and then I took my coffee and I went shopping.  I hit up Kohls where I got some new curtains and rods and then I hit Marshalls up and the library.  I was excited to find a Slaughter book at the library that they didn't have the last time I had checked since I need it to complete a series.  They also had Go Set a Watchman, the new book in the The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series and another Slaughter book I want to read.  Needless to say I was in book heaven.  It was also snowing out and it was yucky but I'm glad I got some me time! I had just enough time to get up, change the laundry before I had to go get her from school.  We went out on a mom-daughter lunch date and then came home for her nap and me to fold a huge pile of clothes.  And then I finished my book and checked out with Stitch Fix.  I made the Southwestern Chicken and Rice Skillet from Iowa Girl Eats while my husband hung up my new curtains.  Then we decided we needed to get more curtains and another rod so we took a family trip back to Kohls to secure the very last pack of curtains and the rod that we needed.  I ended the evening watching The Grammy's and catching myself back up to date with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series so I could start that book soon since I have to have that back to the library in 7 days.

 
Now, we just need to figure out a paint color and a new lighting fixture!



It was a great weekend and I'm glad I stopped in for a solo library trip because I saw a bunch of 'new' books that I want to read and I'm glad to see they were there for future reference.  I was a bit bummed I couldn't find a Sarah MacLean book to check out though. 


How was your weekend? What did you read?

Friday, February 12, 2016

TGIF!


The high of my week was book club! I love getting together once a week for book club and chatting.  We’ve definitely grown since July and we spend more time talking about whatever or random books other than the book we read for book club, and really, that’s fine with us.  It’s just good to get together, chat and relax.  I’m glad I have it in my life!  
 
 
A picture from a concert we went to a few weeks ago <3 em="">
 
The low of my week was being very slow at work.  A whole week of slowness is making me feeling blah and I’ve eating a lot of crap because of boredom.  Whoops.  I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately and I think being slow at work is actually giving me more anxiety and so many other things but the down time lets me harp on it more so that stinks.

The book I’m reading is I still have a few pages left in Ginny Gall and then I’m really not sure what I am going to read next.  We are reading Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valedez for next month’s book club, which was 1.99 on Kindle!

For my workouts, I completed so far 2 days of run/walk, and then 1 walk.  I am hoping to do a run/walk tonight.  I’ve also got a yoga mat arriving at my house today from Amazon and this weekend I plan on trying to do a beginner Yoga workout and a back ache Yoga.  I have been VERY tight lately and I have a hip issue so I’m hoping if I start very simple with youtube videos my uncoordinated self can accomplish this.  I also made up a circuit training work out that I’m excited to try next week.  Last week I had a set a goal of 10,000 steps M-Th and did that and this week I had a goal of 11,000 steps a day M, T, W, F and after today will have accomplished that.

The best money I spent was a baby gift for a coworker. Such cute things! Or possibly the yoga mat.

My plans this weekend include we are going to the local Children’s Museum with my sister-in-laws and their kids tomorrow.  Sunday we are cooking our own Valentine’s Day dinner and I have President’s Day off and plan on taking Isla to school and meeting a friend possibly for a walk.

What are your plans for this weekend? 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Podcasts, Books, Miles, and Looks of January

Let's pretend it's not like the middle of February when I'm posting about this, but just know I had the thought many times before now.  Also, totally stealing Lisa's topics. ;)

Podcasts: This month I've been catching up on The Longest Shortest Time, that Kelly introduced me too.  I have so many podcasts that I'm still catching up on. But this is one that I am actively trying to catch up on right now.  It's about stories in parenting and really interesting in the 10 or so episodes I've listened too. 

Books:  I am totally counting the read aloud books I read to my kid this year because it's a commitment and its taking time from my reading so yeah. ;)  My favorite book this  month was probably After the Storm by Linda Castillo.  It's in the Kate Burkholder series.

Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne - 3 stars
Defending Jacob by William Landay - 4 stars
Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robison 3 stars
A Hidden Secret by Linda Castillo - 4 stars
After the Storm by Linda Castillo - 4 stars

Miles: I didn't run at all this month as I was trying to heal my feet and they are much much better.  I did do some walking.  I only did 13.096 miles but per my usual when I was on a streak of days I did well and then when I dropped off, I really dropped off.  Whoops.

Looks:


I wore this to after holiday holiday party.  The dress is from Kohls and the cardigan is from Marshalls. 


I got this top in my last Stitch Fix box and I love it! I've worn it 3 times already.  I got the necklace from my mom from Christmas.  Excuse my kids messy room.  She has the mirror and lighting.


What was your favorite book read in January? What podcast have you been loving?


Monday, February 8, 2016

Ginny Gall


Description: A sweeping, eerily resonant epic of race and violence in the Jim Crow South: a lyrical and emotionally devastating masterpiece from Charlie Smith, whom the New York Public Library has said “may be America’s most bewitching stylist alive”

Delvin Walker is just a boy when his mother flees their home in the Red Row section of Chattanooga, accused of killing a white man. Taken in by Cornelius Oliver, proprietor of the town’s leading Negro funeral home, he discovers the art of caring for the aggrieved, the promise of transcendence in the written word, and a rare peace in a hostile world. Yet tragedy visits them near-daily, and after a series of devastating events—a lynching, a church burning—Delvin fears being accused of murdering a local white boy and leaves town.

Haunted by his mother’s disappearance, Delvin rides the rails, meets fellow travelers, falls in love, and sees an America sliding into the Great Depression. But before his hopes for life and love can be realized, he and a group of other young men are falsely charged with the rape of two white women, and shackled to a system of enslavement masquerading as justice. As he is pushed deeper into the darkness of imprisonment, his resolve to escape burns only more brightly, until in a last spasm of flight, in a white heat of terror, he is called to choose his fate.

In language both intimate and lyrical, novelist and poet Charlie Smith conjures a fresh and complex portrait of the South of the 1920s and ’30s in all its brutal humanity—and the astonishing endurance of one battered young man, his consciousness “an accumulation of breached and disordered living . . . hopes packed hard into sprung joints,” who lives past and through it all.

I really liked this book.  It describes the Jim Crow South in a way that I haven’t really read about in recently published books.  We follow Delvin from his dramatic earthly entrance throughout his life and the hardships he faces.

Sometimes the writing is gory.  It shares the truth.  There really isn’t any covering up the horrors that people did to other people just because of skin color.  And I mean Delvin does spend time living with an undertaker so there are some details that are a little icky.

My biggest complaint is the wordiness. It did give the reader a very clear vision and would make for a lovely movie, but as a book it could have eliminated a few pages.  I always find I prefer less is more when it comes to descriptive writing.  And I do admit to doing a little skimming at various wordy parts. 

Verdict - If you are interested in the Jim Crow South and enjoy reading about Depression era travels check it out.  If you need something light, stay away.  I do think it is worth a read, wordiness and all. 
 
What did you read this weekend? Any recommendations?

I received this book to read for review from TLC Book Tours but all thoughts and opinions are my own.