Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Virgin of Small Plains

One snowy night in January changes the lives of three close knit families.  Fast forward to present day and once again their small Kansas town is blasted by a cold winter storm and the three families lives are altered once again.

I love unreliable narrators.  You're just reading along and all of a sudden you're like, what? So and so didn't mention THAT? How did that situation happen again? I also love mysteries and I also tend to lean towards more realistic fiction/mystery than the absurd.  The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard was my kind of book, until the last little bit.  Then it took a turn into a ridiculous land and irritated me.

Description: Small Plains, Kansas, January 23, 1987: In the midst of a deadly blizzard, eighteen-year-old Rex Shellenberger scours his father’s pasture, looking for helpless newborn calves. Then he makes a shocking discovery: the naked, frozen body of a teenage girl, her skin as white as the snow around her. Even dead, she is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. It is a moment that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone around him. The mysterious dead girl–the “Virgin of Small Plains”–inspires local reverence. In the two decades following her death, strange miracles visit those who faithfully tend to her grave; some even believe that her spirit can cure deadly illnesses. Slowly, word of the legend spreads.

But what really happened in that snow-covered field? Why did young Mitch Newquist disappear the day after the Virgin’s body was found, leaving behind his distraught girlfriend, Abby Reynolds? Why do the town’s three most powerful men–Dr. Quentin Reynolds, former sheriff Nathan Shellenberger, and Judge, Tom Newquist–all seem to be hiding the details of that night?

Seventeen years later, when Mitch suddenly returns to Small Plains, simmering tensions come to a head, ghosts that had long slumbered whisper anew, and the secrets that some wish would stay buried rise again from the grave of the Virgin. Abby–never having resolved her feelings for Mitch–is now determined to uncover exactly what happened so many years ago to tear their lives apart.

Three families and three friends, their worlds inexorably altered in the course of one night, must confront the ever-unfolding consequences in award-winning author Nancy Pickard’s remarkable novel of suspense. Wonderfully written and utterly absorbing, The Virgin of Small Plains is about the loss of faith, trust, and innocence . . . and the possibility of redemption.

The book switches narrators between Abby, Rex, Patrick, Verna, etc.. and gives you glimpses into the different views about that night in 1987 when everything changed.  This is nice because things pop up that the last narrator neglected to share or the lies that others told each other were slowly revealed.

“It had come as a relief when she had been forced to go into the hospital in Emporia, where she could be given drugs that made her sleep, sleep through an investigation that did not include her sons, sleep through the quiet departure of her older boy to another town, another college, and sleep through the funeral and burial of a beautiful girl who'd had a name, who'd had a family, who'd had a life.”  

Needless to stay, it was a bit of a letdown after having enjoyed The Scent of Rain and Lightning!

Have you read The Virgin of Small Plains? Have you read any other books by Nancy Pickard? Do you like books by unreliable narrators? Which was the last good one you read?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Double Whammy & Double Dip

I love having this blog.  If it weren't for this blog I would not have had the opportunity to learn of some pretty fantastic authors.  Gretchen Archer is no exception.  It's been documented that I'm not huge on chick lit and I tend to read heavier books or gory murder books.  I also have that series obsession problem.  I am SO glad I was contacted about the Davis Way Crime Caper Series! I mean my love, Janet Evanovich, is quoted on the cover, and the descriptions are HILARIOUS, so of course, SIGN ME UP!

You guys, I want to be Gretchen Archer's BFF.  She is hilarious.  I like the character of Davis and might I say, I may like this series almost a bit better than the Stephanie Plum series? I have to say I've been leery of the 'cozy mystery' genre, but I may have to check out the series that were in the back of  Double Dip, because if they are half as funny as this one, I may need to get on it!

Davis is smart, funny, has man issues but actually uses her brains to solve her crimes.  And it is so freaking funny!

Double Whammy is the first book and I took it camping with me last weekend and devoured it.

Description:  Davis Way thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she lands a job as the fifth wheel on an elite security team at the fabulous Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. But once there, she runs straight into her ex-ex husband, a rigged slot machine, her evil twin, and a trail of dead bodies. Davis learns the truth and it does not set her free—in fact, it lands her in the pokey.

Buried under a mistaken identity, unable to seek help from her family, her hot streak runs cold until her landlord Bradley Cole steps in. Make that her landlord, lawyer, and love interest. With his help, Davis must win this high stakes game before her luck runs out.

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all! DOUBLE WHAMMY is the first book in the Davis Way humorous mystery series. Bonus: Includes book club discussion questions.

The ex-ex- husband storyline makes for some hilarious stories and her job at the casino is quite intense but very interesting.  I'd love to have it myself! Also, let's all laugh at me for a moment.  Davis is from a town called Pine Apple, Alabama.  I paid little to no attention until the end of the book until I was like OMG PINEAPPLE. HAHAHAHAH.  Yeah, not one of my finer moments.

My only complaint with this book was that the ending felt super rushed and the Bradley Cole love affair was ridiculous and made me question if she should be in a looney bin.  But, that's part of the hilariousness I suppose.

Double Dip I read this week in a day as well.  I liked this one better than the first! Sometimes the second book in a series is a letdown and the third one is better, but it will take a lot to beat this one! It's hilarious! I laughed out loud multiple times and wanted to share it with someone, but I we as all alone because I stayed up until 1 am to finish!

Description: It's Davis Way's first slot-tournament season. And it may be her last.

Things are dicey at work. A personal assistant goes missing, a little old lady goes on a suspicious winning streak, and a Bellissimo executive goes gaga for Davis. She follows a disappearing slot-tournament player trail to the So Help Me God Pentecostal Church in Beehive, Alabama, then jumps headlong into a high stakes holy scandal.

She's on a losing streak at home, too. Her days, nights, and dinners run together, as Davis juggles a revolving door of uninvited guests, namely her rotten ex-ex-husband, Eddie Crawford. And Bradley Cole thinks three's a crowd.

The worst? Davis doesn't feel so hot. Maybe it's the banana pudding, or maybe it's a little bundle of something else.

DOUBLE DIP. A reckless ride in the fast lane, and Davis Way can't find the brakes.

This book had a little foot shooting, duct taping big large men named Baylor, crashing cars, a poisoning and lots of laughs!  If you are looking for a laugh, I do highly recommend this series.  There is a bit of mystery and a lot of laughs.  I can't wait to read Double Strike, which comes out in October!

Definitely recommend if you are looking for a beach read!

What was the last laugh out loud book you read? Can you imagine marrying the same person twice? Do you like going to casinos? Are you friends with funny people?

I received this book to review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A day in the life: Summer Edition

7:17 - Mama.. mama... I need Mama...  We ge up and go to the bathroom and a certain three year old asks if she can get Daddy's remote so she can watch Dora.  I say yes and stumble out to make coffee while she gets the remote.

7:30 - 9ish We watch Dora and Olivia.  Our new favorites in this house.  I think Olivia may be a bad idea but so far no negative effects of that one.  I made Isla her usual breakfast which is two waffles and a side of fruit.  This morning the fruit consists of green grapes she picked out as her 'treat' at the grocery store this week and some pineapple leftover from dinner.  I had a cup of coffee.  We get dressed, play a memory game and I mess around on the Internet.

9ish - We go on a walk and we were going to stop at the park next to our house but they were mowing the lawn and my child HATES lawn mowers so she decided we should go home and play.  We played on her swing for approximately 5 minutes until I talked about checking the garden and she wanted to do that too, right then.  So we picked 2 zucchini and 2 sugar snap peas to snack on until they started mowing by our yard and she freaked out and we had to go play inside.  We played one more memory game and then she watched a Dora while I got ready to go story time at Barnes  & Noble.

10:50 We get there a little early so of course we have to play at the train set.  And then she found all the Dora stuff so we had to look at all of those books.  I can't stand Barnes & Nobles blatant commercial marketing at the train table area.  They put all the crap books aka character books and toys right there, almost forcing toddlers into tantrums and meltdowns on the daily.  Boo to you Barnes & Noble and also boo to you about your seriously overpriced books.  Anywho, at 11:00 we had a minor meltdown when I told her it was time to go to story time and promised we would be back after story time and reminded her that we came BECAUSE of story time.  Now, I haven't been to story time there in about a year (last August) because of work.  We used to love it.  They had great interactive books and a craft or a coloring sheet and a snack for the kids.  Well they had a new girl doing it and she read a Batman book.  And she read a Batman book HORRIBLY.  I was so annoyed.  One, Batman is not great literature and if you ARE going to read a violent Batman book to a bunch of toddlers at least DO IT RIGHT and good.  I told my husband later that she was trying to beat him out on the worst read aloud reader ever.  The point of read alouds are hooking kids.  That did not hook anyone.  Not even kids who liked Batman.  Another thing that irritated me was that apparently now they want to take kids pictures and put them on their facebook page.  Yeah, no.  I did not sign a consent that went around and got us out of there before they had some Batman costumes for kids to try on. I saw a sign about video taping in that area and basically it said that you consented to being video taped if you were in that area.  I didn't read it too closely and don't know if it meant that story time is recorded or what, but that may very well be the last time I go to Barnes & Noble story time.  /endrant

picture of a book I sent to my friend while at Barnes& Noble

11:20 - Isla read all the Dora books and then had to read allllll the Elmo books while I checked out some books that I want for my classroom (Llama, Llama misses Mama (can't remember if I have that), Don't Push the Button, Dragons Love Tacos...) we miraculously left without purchasing a book and no tantrums.  Stupid character books.

12:00 We arrived at our local gardens just in time for their lunch time music.  Sadly, we missed out on the free hot dogs that they were apparently giving away for national hot dog day. (They ran out as we walked in).  But Isla doesn't really like hot dogs and I didn't want one, so I guess it wasn't all that sad. ;) The guy singing was decent and played a lot of songs from the 60s/tv jingles and popular oldies so that was nice.  Isla enjoyed a PBJ, cheese stick, grapes/raspberries, fruit snack and teddy grahams and I munched on a cheese stick, grapes/raspberries and some broccoli salad.

1:00 He went on intermission and I convinced Isla he was done and it was time to go home for a nap.  One memory game and some library books later she was down for a nap around 1:45.

1:45 - Zucchini is coming out of our ears so I cut one  up and put some spaghetti sauce on top and then some pizza toppings and covered with mozzarella cheese and popped in the oven.  It was delicious!  Then I watched a Rizzoli & Isles episode, caught up on some Internet, started a Pretty Little Liars episode and just about the time I went to start reading a book she woke up because she rolled over and bonked her head in bed.

4:00 Cuddled with Isla and watched an episode of Olivia.  Then we turned on music and colored some Mickey Mouse pictures and Isla played with playdough while I read my book.  Then Isla had a snack of green pepper and grapes.

5:00 I started making baked chicken fingers, so I got to cut up chicken breasts and put the breading on them.  Then I decided to try out the zucchini tots recipe I found and got those ready to go.  With my multiple interruptions from my 'helper' I had it in the oven about 5:50.

6:10sh We ate the baked chicken fingers, zucchini tots, broccoli and cottage cheese for dinner.

7-7:30 We played memory again, Isla did playdough again and we read library books.

7:30 I went on a bike ride and did about 2ish miles but it was breezy and I got chilly so I headed home.  I saw two rabbits and about 5 HUGE turkeys.

8 -We played Doggy Doggy Where's Your Bone and Isla did more playdough and I read my book.

8:30 Isla got her pjs on and we each read books and then she went to the bathroom and went to bed.

9 - 9:30 I played around on my phone while I half watched an episode of Graceland with my husband.

9:30 - 1030 I read Double Dip by Gretchen Arched on the couch.

10:30 - 11:30 I read in my bed.

11:30 Lights out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Endangered is a novel by Jean Love Cush that will make you think.  Malik is a 15 year old black boy in Philadelphia when he is arrested for murder.  As, his friends ran, he did what his mother had told him to do and put his hands up and did not resist.  Of course, the police officers claimed he did after they slammed him into the ground and made him bleed.  By a stroke of luck, Malik is taken to the juvenile detention center for processing instead of immediately going through the adult legal system.  Because in Philly, it doesn't matter how old you are, murder one means you are tried as an adult.

Another lucky break for Malik occurs when the Center for the Protection of Human Rights takes over his case and wants to use Malik as the figurehead in their plight to overturn the criminal justice system, since his mother, Janae can barely afford to feed and house them, forget about paying for a decent lawyer!

"Okay, okay.  I believe we can make a solid argument that African-American boys ought to be deemed legally endangered.  Their very lives are threatened with extinction or at least any meaningful existence, and thereby ought to be afforded certain protections base on their classification as such."

This book definitely highlights the awfulness of human nature and brings up some very interesting questions about how our justice system works and how black males are treated within that system.  It was a very interesting story that brings up some interesting thoughts.

"If we were anywhere else but the United States of America, I might agree with you," Robert countered.  "But here, in this country, prison and race are inextricably tied together.  How else can blacks make up less than thirteen percent of the entire population but account for forty percent of prisoners? And when you look at juvenile defendants like my client, nearly fifty percent of all juveniles waived to adult court are black.  The question we have to ask ourselves is, "Why is this happening? Judge, do you think they are really more culpable because they are black? Do they deserve harsher sentences because they are black? Should their lives be destroyed because they are not he right color?"

I will say there were a few jumps that bugged me and the character of Janae sometimes sounded like an uneducated woman from the ghetto and other times she was using some very educated words and thinking in ways that didn't vibe with how she was initially portrayed. And not to say that people don't change, it just didn't really bode with what you'd come to expect from her character.  I'd say there were some kinks, but the story is thought provoking!

What book last made you question certain practices or beliefs? Do you think the juvenile legal system should focus on rehabilitation or should teenagers move up to the adult legal system?

I personally feel that the juvenile system should focus on rehabilitation and that teenagers are incapable of adult reasoning to be held accountable the same way an adult can.  Their reasoning isn't even matured until mid-20s! There is so much more that needs to be done on the matter but ruining their ENTIRE life at 12 or 15 isn't the answer!

I received this book from TLC Book Tours.  All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Jean Love Cush's Website

Monday, July 21, 2014

August's Group Read is...

...The Pearl that Broke it's Shell by Nadia Hashimi.

Description: Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

This sounds so good and I cannot wait to read it!

I will post discussion questions on August 29th! Who will be joining? Have you read this book already? Have you read any books by Lisa See? Jumpa Lahiri? Khaled Hosseini? Did you enjoy them?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What I'm loving...

Peach - a- Berry Cobbler!!! Yum Yum Yum.  I've now made this twice and it is delicious!  You cannot GO wrong with Iowa Girl Eats!

Michigan Beaches - Huffington Post had the Top 10 Great Lake beaches in Michigan to help encourage tourism and with photos like those included, what are you waiting for??? I'm hitting up a Lake Huron beach this weekend in Caseville! One of my favorite spots, Manistique, is mentioned as the best place for kite flying.  I just remember the awesome waves as a kid and visiting the ghost town that the article mentioned! Also, Sleeping Bear Dunes IS beautiful.  Basically, I will vouch for almost any spot on the Lake Michigan coastline!!! I love it!

Making faces with this cutie...

Eating far too much ice cream!!!

Watching these two together..

Reading, reading reading!! I am rocking the reading in June (7 books!) and so far in July I am at 5! Woot woot.  If only work didn't get in the way during the school year.

What are you loving?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Ooops, I did it again...

(stuck in your head? I hope.. teehee)

I started another series.  I've heard about Patricia Cornwall's series for like ever and I mean, why not? I almost picked up Postmortem from the used book sale last month but wasn't sure if it was the first book or not, but the time I got back to that pile someone else snatched it up.  So I waited a month and checked it out from the library.

Description: Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it's being sabotaged from within and someone wants her dead.

The thing I found interesting, kind of like when I started Johnathan Kellerman's series, is that this series started way before our current technology.  This started in 1990.  So imagine no cell phones and the introduction of DNA and computer technology to crime solving.  It makes for a neat read in that perspective.  I did enjoy this book more than I liked the first book in the Kellerman series so that has me happy for the next one! ;) It wasn't too gory but it DID make me think about my open windows as I slept at night!!!
I also thought it was interesting that the lead character, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, feels she is being discriminated by all the males around her because she is female (good observation ha) but then judges some other people herself.  For example, asking a black woman if her sister talked as good as she did, meaning did she talk 'white' and then admitting if she knew one of her assistants was gay when she hired him she probably wouldn't have.  It did make her a real person and for an intriguing character.

Dr. Kay definitely puts herself into an investigation and was acting like a detective more so than a medical examiner, but that's what makes it a book.  She clearly has horrible taste in men and is a very strong woman, that is evident in this first book.

Basically, I liked her characters and I will be checking out the next in the series.

Have you read any books by Patricia Cornwall? Have you read the Scarpetta series?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Secret Twenty One

When I was browsing through goodreads last week trying to see which series had books out for me to catch up on, I was super excited that there were two books in the Stephanie Plum series! I seriously read them each in a day.  That's what I love about them.  They are hilarious, quick and then you are on to the next.  It's a great in between books grab. 

Description:  Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.

To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.

All of my complaints of the last few were taken care of with this book! There was more action, it was a tad more serious, a tad more action and it made me laugh a tad bit more! So there is hope! Yay.  As always, I wish she would lose her morals and have a nice fling with Ranger.  Morelli and her are a due a blow up fight. ;)  I mean it's not like they are super serious.  I suppose Morrelli could propose to her. ;)

Ranger smiled. “There are times when I seriously consider marrying you, but then I get yet another black mark on my path to enlightenment and forgiveness and I scratch marriage off my bucket list.” “Really? You think about marrying me?” “Marrying you might be extreme, but once in a while I think about sharing my closet.” “You have a really great closet.”  

“Ranger stood and stretched, his black T-shirt rode up, and I caught a glimpse of two inches of brown skin and hard abs and almost had an orgasm. “Babe,” he said. “Are you okay?” “Yep. Why?” “You sort of moaned.” “Gas.” “Understandable.”

My favorite thing in this book was Grandma Mazur! She was killing me with her bucket list items.  She wanted to take down a bad girl, 'get' Morelli's Grandma Bella and see Ranger naked.  Seriously! Most hilarious grandma around!

What's the last funny book you read?

Monday, July 14, 2014

August Group Read Suggestions

It's that time of the month again! What are your suggestions for August?

We've already read...

On the Island
Eleanor & Park
Jane Eyre
The Rent Collector
Labor Day
Orphan Train
The Death of Bees
Liberating Paris
Life Sentences
Looking for Me
Ladder of Years
Where'd You Go Bernadette?
Beach Music
The Dinner
The End of Your Life Book Club
Still Alice 
The Song Remains the Same
Those Who Save Us
We Are All Welcome Here
Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

I hope you can join us in August for another discussion! I will take suggestions until the 18th and then use random.org to pick a winner!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Catch Up!

We have been packing so much into our days since Isla got over her yucky first two weeks of break cold!  We pretty much went into break on full out retirement party planning mode and then right into camping preparations and then we came home and my best-friend was home from out of state so we went into hang out mode and then 4th of July festivities and then just summer fun activities! Holy run on sentence!

We work best with slow entrances into the day and then a morning activity, rest-time, snack, dinner, play outside with daddy as our man components of our summer.  I have to say this is the first summer were I haven't immediately wanted to go back to work so I feel like I've got this down a little bit!  We can do so much more and I feel like I have a better grasp on the individual she is now that she's a bit older so that makes things easier too.  I do however know that if I were to stay at home allll the time, we'd need to severely restrict some of our morning lazy/tv time and add more crafts and probably go to more kid friendly activities which is always my goal, but I suck at that whole social interaction thing so I tend to only attend things where I may not have to talk to others even though I really would like a new friend or five to hang out with!

We have been making sure to hit up the library once a week so she can get new books, play and get a summer reading prize.  I've been able to grab one book each time but occasionally sneak back later at night alone to get my personal selection.  I've been a reading machine and I love it! I've sucked myself back into the series I enjoy in the summer and I'm almost caught up with the new releases and I am contemplating joining a local mommy book club to discuss parenting stuff.  I even purchased the book but we will see if I chicken out or not!

I had been doing so well with working out in June and then we went camping and it all went to heck.  I've been recorded once a day since then.  The good news is that my eating habits are way better than they were last month even so that has even out stuff.  I came home from vacation the same weight so that is always a plus! And my body finally went back to my, "hey it's summer I don't want to eat as much," mode so that's great.  I do need to get better at drinking water, but for some reason it's soo hard for me to drink things! I know I do better with straws so I have a camelback straw cup that goes everywhere but I just seem to forget to drink until I'm dying!  I've battled some headaches lately and I don't know if it was a combo of dehydration/hormones/weather or what.  But not cool! Ever since giving birth my headaches immediately make me nauseated and I pretty much have to drink a coke to settle my stomach and take care of the headache with medicine.  I follow the coke up with a glass of water but if I do water first I still feel icky!

This morning is our first true super lazy morning all week.  Monday we went to two parks in the morning and then I went to the library by myself that night and did a 2 mile walk in town in a beautiful old neighborhood that was awesome.  Tuesday we went to Target to get some snacks and a gift for my friend's new baby, Isla had an appointment, then we went to Subway for lunch and stopped quickly at the library before we headed home for lunch because she was craaaanky but really wanted a new Elephant & Piggie book from the library.  I have a hard time saying no to books! Hence why she got her Imagination Library book in the mail, a new book at Target and a whole bag full from the library this week.  Between the two of us we have 5 bookcases full plus more in bags and boxes of books.  Yikes.  Wednesday we had a play date with a college friend and her three kids.  I thought hey, two hours outside playing will really knock her out.  Yeah, shortest nap ever.  Thank you neighbors yelling and swearing and using your chainsaw.  Wednesday night the husband and I had a date night at our local wine bar.  He had gotten me a gift card for Mother's Day so we used it on ourselves.  We got there for happy hour and it was buy 1 get one for 1 cent.  So of course we participated.  And then we had to use all 50 dollars at once so we got a ridiculous amount of food (they specialize in food to share) so we shared an olive oil bread tray, perch tacos, russet fries and some sweet and spicy shrimp.  Delicious.  We still needed one more purchase so to accompany my two Malbec's I had a yummy dark beer, I think it was  a stout, but it was vanilla something and it was yummy! Then we decided to go to our local taproom and have a Michigan beer and I tried a new Short's Red that I hadn't had before and it was delicious.  Thursday I woke up at 8:53 and I was supposed to meet my parents at 9 for breakfast because they had my kid! Whoops, got myself around in 10 minutes and managed to not be too late.  Then we headed out on the lake for awhile, hung out for nap time there and then came home for cheeseburgers with the husband.  Today we are going to a store, park and then tonight we are getting pizza and having dinner at a park.  Phew!

Thankfully, this is the only weekend in July we have no concrete plans but I think we may end up going back out on the lake but if not, the pool will be calling our name!

What have you been up to this summer?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Takedown Twenty

I started reading the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich in 2009.  I devoured the first 9 books shaking with laughter until late into the night because she is flipping hilarious! I know if you read reviews on goodreads people get all irritated because the same crap happens in every book repeat now onto 20.  Here's the thing, that's the point.  They are made to crack you up.  In every book, you know Stephanie will do something stupid and klutzy and get hurt.  You know Grandma will make a poor decision which will make something hilarious happen and most likely put them in danger.  You know Ranger will save her.  You know Stephanie's car will blow up or be stolen.  You know these things and that is why you read.  Not to say, that I'm not as frustrated as all the participants are by the actual lack of hooking up lately.  If I could make a suggestion, there would be lots of Ranger sex in the next book.  I felt that way at the end of the last one too.  Darn Stephanie and her better morals than me.

Description: New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.

It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.

With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.

The hilarity I speak of?

“I think I got a bruise from landing on you. I hear bacon is real good for healing a bruise.”   - Lula, after tumbling down a flight of stairs and landing on TOP of Stephanie and not for the first time...

“And here's the good part: He got a tongue could measure twenty-one inches. Bet Mrs. Giraffe likes that one.”   - Lula, while discussing the giraffe facts she learned after looking them up, after they encountered a giraffe running down the road while they were on a stakeout...

“Eleanor Krautz pushed her way through the crowd and stage-whispered to Grandma, "Who's the hottie with your granddaughter?"

"That's Ranger," Grandma stage-whispered back at Eleanor. "I don't think Stephanie knows what to do with him."

"I'd know what to do with him," Eleanor said.

"Jeez Louise," I said. "We can hear this conversation."

Ranger looked down at me. "I could make suggestions if you're really in the dark.”

I mean, come on! Get with the dude already! ;)

It's predictable but hilarious and always a CHANCE of a Stephanie/Morelli encounter or a Stephanie/Ranger encounter.  I mean things are shaping up, Stephanie won a slow cooker and tried to cook dinner and bought a vacuum, soooo...

What series/author do you tend to read a lot even though you know what is going to happen? Have you read any books in this series? Have you seen the movie One for the Money?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Say Goodbye

I am a series junkie which is well documented.  Usually I am very strict on reading series in order and then other series I just say to heck with it and read as I can get my hands on them...such as the Alex Cross series and The FBI Profiler series by Lisa Gardner.  And honestly, both of those happened by mistake but I was too far off the order that I had to throw my OCD to the wind and just continue reading because I was hooked.  Now, I've been off Alex Cross for a few years but every summer I keep checking out Lisa Gardner.  It made me sad to see that this was the last one in the Rainie & Quincy series as I've come to love that group but since this book was written in 2008 it seems she is done with them and I will have to get serious about the DD Warren series by Gardner.

Just a pre-warning if you CANNOT handle spiders, DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK.  Every chapter started with a fact about spiders which I just ignored myself but this book is chock full of spiders.  You've been warned! ;)

Description: Lisa Gardner, the New York Times bestselling author of Hide and Gone, draws us into the venomous mind games of her most terrifying killer yet.

Come into my parlor . . .

For Kimberly Quincy, FBI Special Agent, it all starts with a pregnant hooker. The story Delilah Rose tells Kimberly about her johns is too horrifying to be true, but prostitutes are disappearing, one by one, with no explanation, and no one but Kimberly seems to care.

Said the spider to the fly . . .

As a member of the Evidence Response Team, dead hookers aren't exactly Kimberly's specialty. The young agent is five months pregnant - she has other things to worry about than an alleged lunatic who uses spiders to do his dirty work. But Kimberly's own mother and sister were victims of a serial killer. And now, without any bodies and with precious few clues, it's all too clear that a serial killer has found the key to the perfect murder . . . or Kimberly is chasing a crime that never happened.

Kimberly is caught in a web more lethal than any spider's, and the more she fights for answers, the more tightly she's trapped. What she doesn't know is that she's close - too close - to a psychopath who makes women's nightmares come alive, and if he has his twisted way, it won't be long before it's time for Kimberly to ...

This book is sickening so that is your other warning if the spiders didn't scare you off. There are details about child sexual abuse in here that are highly disturbing.  It's also full of a bunch of loser liars who have had some shit dealt to them in life.

I did read this one day.  I started it around 3 and finished it before bed at 10:30, I love that I can wrap up the whodunnit books in one day so there isn't a reason to keep me up at night thinking about it.  And it gave me time to get the yucky thoughts out of my head before bed!

If you like Karin Slaughter or Tess Gerritsen books this gruesome one is for you!

What was the last book you read in 24 hours or less? Do you sometimes wonder how people can write about such horrific things? Do you wonder why you read them?

Monday, July 7, 2014


The last few years I have wanted to read a book by Hemingway.  I have yet to do so but have many on my TBR list.  I've even checked some out from the library only to return them unread because I ran out of time.  So, Internet people, if you've read Hemingway, what would you suggest I start with?

I've been leaning towards...

The Sun Also Rises
Description: The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway;s masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style.

A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.

First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

A Farewell to Arms
Description: In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war, to the 'war to end all wars'. He volunteered for ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of his experiences came A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway's description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer and the men and women he meets in Italy with total conviction. But A Farewell to Arms is not only a novel of war. In it Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion.

A Moveable Feast
Description: Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

So what say you, Internet? Which should be my first Hemingway? One on this list? Another one? Please help!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I will be honest, I had no desire to read this book.  I saw it as one of the overly hyped books that everyone reads and therefore I stayed away from it.  Then at the library's used book sale it was there and well, I am filling my bag for $6.00 so in it went.  Then the first few pages were hard to figure out who was who and I JUST read a book written in letters and I was about to call it a loss but I gave it more time and ended up reading it in like a day!

Description: “ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

I just found so many gem of quotes in this book that I related too.

“I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with.”  

How lonely.  Sometimes sitting in the same room being quiet, is the best.  How awful to not feel that content or feel you NEED to talk.  Or worse, when you do talk feel like the other person thinks your crazy or weird, which I'm sure Juliet and Markham would deal with for life because of their different views.

“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”  

I mean especially with goodreads, I feel like I really enjoy a book and immediately click on other books like that one and more like that one and my TBR list grows.  I really enjoy when books have lists in the back of other books you may enjoy and I especially like the website What Should I Read Next?

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.”  

This sums up my inability to actually enjoy a good smut book most days.

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”  

“Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person's name suddenly pops up everywhere you go? My friend Sophie calls it coincidence, and Mr. Simpless, my parson friend, calls it Grace. He thinks that if one cares deeply about someone or something new one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and "fruitfulness" is drawn in. ”

“All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged -- after all, what's good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it's a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot. ”
I HATE when books end at this point.  I want more chapters on what LIFE is like after the chase.
“I sometimes think I prefer suitors in books rather than right in front of me. How awful, backward, cowardly, and mentally warped that will be if it turns out to be true.”  
Basically, if you were like me and hadn't given this one a shot, you really should! Especially if you are a lover of books, WWII and England. ;)
Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? Have you read any books about the Channel Islands? London during WWII?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

gods in Alabama

Oh my word! Why haven't I checked out a Joshilyn Jackson novel before now??? She has been on my radar for many moons and I picked up gods in Alabama at our recent used book sale at the library and my goodness I devoured it!

Description: For 10 years Arlene has kept her promises, and God has kept His end of the bargain. Until now. When an old schoolmate from Possett turns up at Arlene's door in Chicago asking questions about Jim Beverly, former quarterback and god of Possett High, Arlene's break with her former hometown is forced to an end. At the same time, Burr, her long-time boyfriend, has raised an ultimatum: introduce him to her family or consider him gone. Arlene loves him dearly but knows her lily white (not to mention deeply racist)Southern Baptist family will not understand her relationship with an African American boyfriend. Reluctantly, Arlene bows to the pressure, and she and Burr embark on the long-avoided road trip back home. As Arlene digs through guilt and deception, her patched-together alibi begins to unravel, and she discovers how far she will go for love and a chance at redemption.

I loved Arlene, but man was she kind of dumb for a smart woman! I did enjoy her dialogue and conviction to stay true to her promises to herself, that takes commitment.  Especially, when you give up fornicating for good after having sex with your entire sophomore class, almost. 

If you love sassy southern women and a little side of crazy southern family with a tint of mystery, check this one out.  Perfect for your beach bag or a quick escape.

This book just held so much within it! Mental illness, humor, racism, whodunit, forgiveness, redemption, murder and more.  Jackson is a very humorous writer and her characters were excellent!Loved it so much and I can't wait to check out another one of her books!

Have you read any books by Joshilyn Jackson? What southern based novels do you recommend?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I'll be Seeing You

I brought five books on our eight day camping trip which was a bit much, but anything is possible. ;) I ended up reading 3, technically finishing the last one on our first day home.  I could have read more but I did spend two nap times drinking Bloody Mary's and catching up with relatives!

I'll be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan was one of my birthday gifts that I had been holding on too.  I loved it! My only complaint was the end.  Obviously, all books must end, but I felt like we hit the conclusion of some tension and then let's quickly wrap this up! Not to give away a spoiler, but I wish more details had been given towards an occasion that happens at the very end and that the last poem shared was a bit more explained and possibly that more letters were shared post-war.

Description: "I hope this letter gets to you quickly. We are always waiting, aren't we? Perhaps the greatest gift this war has given us is the anticipation..."

It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

A collaboration of two authors whose own beautiful story mirrors that on the page, I’ll Be Seeing You is a deeply moving union of style and charm. Filled with unforgettable characters and grace, it is a timeless celebration of friendship and the strength and solidarity of women.

I loved how the book was comprised of letters between the two women and letters they sent to their husbands and sons and other people.  There were enough details given that it wasn't hard to follow and I really liked the style it was written.

I can't even pick a favorite woman.  Both had stories that I enjoyed reading about.  Sometimes when books split perspectives there is one perspective that I prefer but in this book, I enjoyed both equally and didn't have a favorite.  I think that because their lifestyles were so different you got different stories with each personality and that kept me engaged.

This book really made me wish I had a pen pal.  I could imagine myself sitting down with some pretty stationary and writing my heart out to someone far away with a cup of coffee by my side and anxiously waiting for a reply.  Email/social media is great, but snail mail still holds a place in my heart.  I miss the postcards I'd get when my grandparents would travel out West and letters my grandma would write to me.  I'm sad that I didn't keep those from my childhood.  What treasures they would be today!

I definitely recommend this for people who like WWII books and Sarah Jio books!

Have you read books about WWII with women as a focus? What books from the 1940s era do you recommend?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Books & Bars June Edition

For June we picked The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout.  It was on all of our to-read lists so we figured it would be a good one to tackle.  Smart phones = making book picking so much easier.  We've used our goodreads app many a time to see what we all want to read and make a pick and to check out the local library and/or amazon for availability and pricing!

Description: Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

We didn't spend much time discussing the book as the majority ended up not really caring for it.  One member said, "Well, I like everything!" and had read Olive Kitteridge and said this was a book of fresh air compared to that one, though she loved that book as well.  It did seem like a dark dreary sad tale to me, and I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either.   Someone compared how they felt at the end to how they felt when they finished, "We Need to Talk About Kevin," and we all agreed that if Kevin had done what Zach had done it would have been on purpose with a mean intent and not a 'prank.'

I personally don't know if I ever really ended up liking any of the characters.  I thought I liked Jim but then in the end I didn't.  I thought Helen was too stuffy.  Bob was a mess and a bit confusing and I feel like he was supposed to be the likeable character but he just wasn't for me.  Susan was Susan and just blah as well. 

I will definitely say that this book is not one to read if you want to read anything happy! But, I'm also not one who needs a happy ending but the whole book was just sad, sad, sad.

Have you read The Burgess Boys? What did you think?