Friday, December 14, 2018


I cannot believe that 2018 is almost over and that Christmas is so close! We have had one family Christmas already and have 3 more to go! I was going to go to the grocery store today but I decided that I'd wait until Monday and hopefully have that be my last time going.  It probably won't be, but I can hope!

My favorite picture from the week:

This was before our Christmas party on Saturday!

The high of my week was volunteering in the elementary library.  I've done it the last two weeks and it's so much fun to see what the kids are reading and how fast some books come in and back right out again!

The low of my week was  crappy sleep I got last night.  I woke up around 3:30 and it was about the last time I really slept.  Now I'm exhausted.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday - Tacos, Blackberries and Spanish Rice .  I tried this recipe for the first time and it was super simple.  We all liked it.  I would like probably a little more flavor , and I did used diced tomatoes with green chilies, maybe add some more spice.
Tuesday -  One Pan Chicken Bake with peas
Wednesday -  French Toast Sticks and Scrambled Eggs
Thursday -  Make Your Own Pizza and Salad
Friday -  Spaghetti and Meatballs

The One Pan Chicken Bake was a family hit.  We will probably add this into our rotation on a semi-regular basis.  

What I’m listening to  In the Dark  and Christmas music!

What I’m watching Hallmark Christmas movies! I've got it bad.  

What I’m reading: A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo.  It's in the Kate Burkholder series and I'm on Chapter 3 and loving it!

My plans for the weekend include tonight the kiddo and I are meeting up with her friend and mom so the girls can participate at the local center for their ornament swim.  They get to swim and pick out an ornament, decorate it and have snacks.  Tomorrow, the husband and the kiddo are doing some Christmas baking and I'll probably read.  In the evening, the kiddo is attending my mom's church with her for a Parents Night Out event and we are going out to dinner and using some gift cards that have accumulated.  My mom invited the kiddo over for a sleepover so we may hit up some live music after dinner.  Sunday, the husband has to work for a few hours and I assume the kiddo will attend church with my mom so I will have some time alone to do more reading and be lazy.

What are you listening to? What are you reading?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

What I've Read This Week

I've been flying through books this last week.  I've been making good selections or my mindset, which resulted in me finishing 3 books since the weekend and 4 if you count the one I finished last Tuesday.

Wonder - R.J. Palacio

I have a horrible tendency to put off popular books or books that are highly recommended.  I feel like when I read them in the midst of the hype I over analyze, so then I put them off and feel like a dingbat when I do actually read them.

Wonder is sooo sooo sooo good.  I loved it.  I loved the voice of all of the children, found it relate able to young kids and such a good book.   Please, don't be a dingbat like me and read it! I've actually gifted to a few kids without reading it, and now I will most definitely keep doing so!

Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower

This is the first book in the Amish Candy Shop series and it was really good.  I had previously read Premeditated Peppermint which is the third in the series and really enjoyed it.  This gives you more details behind Bailey's move to Harvest, Ohio.  It introduces you to the towns residents and is just a lovely cozy mystery! I really like Amanda Flower.

which leads to my next book...

A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

I devoured this Amish mystery! This is the first in the Appleseed Creek books! Chloe Humphrey gets her first job out of college which takes her from the big city to the teeny tiny town where her new employer Harshberger College is located.  On her way into town she meets a young Amish girl and interrupts two local thugs harassing her.  As Chloe settles into her new town and job, she makes new friends in the Troyer family and becomes embroiled in a murder case where she may be the real target!  I can't wait to read more in this series!

Today, I am staying on my Amish theme with A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo.  This is the newest book in the Kate Burkholder series that I love!

What have you read this week?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Books I Want For Christmas

Not only do I enjoy giving books, I love getting books! I'm not a reader who reads all the new things, so I am pretty open to books that have been out 40 years to recently out.  Here are a few that I'm wishing for this year!

Becoming - Michelle Obama

THIS BOOK I AM MOST EXCITED ABOUT.  I may also know this wish is coming true.  Because if it wasn't I'd have already purchased it myself.  I am so excited to read this memoir by Michelle Obama about growing up and her time in the White House.  I love memoirs, I love the Obamas', I loved Barack Obama's books, I love political memoirs.  I CANNOT WAIT.

The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis

What do you know, another memoir! I have started watching the series Blackish recently, and Jenifer Lewis plays the role of mother to Dre (main character) and grandma to his children.  On the show SHE IS HILARIOUS.  I saw her interview with Trevor Noah about the book, and it became a must read!

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain

McClain who wooed me with The Paris Wife about Hemingway's first wife, has another book about Hemingway's woman loving ways. 

Description: In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, Key West, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Ernest make their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man's wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own. 

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Honestly, I did not read Anne of Green Gables when  I was younger.  I read it as an adult, but as a young child LOVED watching the PBS movies about Anne Shirley.  I am super excited to read this book about Marilla! 

Description: A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

To be perfectly fair, on my actual Amazon wishlist for Christmas only Becoming made the real cut.  The rest of the  books on it are my book club picks for January - June 2018! :) But if I didn't want someone else purchasing my book club picks, I'd include the others.

What books are on your wishlist?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Book Recommendations for the Grown Ups

Friday, I posted a holiday book giving guide for kids if you were in need of ideas for upcoming holidays or birthdays.  Today, I give you my recommendations for older grown up types!

The politically progressive reader

We're Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

This is a memoir by Gabrielle Union and I highly recommend it, even if the person you are giving it to is not a huge Union fan.  I really didn't know much about her, but her memoir focuses way more on growing up black in an all white community and how race has played a role in her life and career.  Super fast read and good!

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromonaco

This is a great memoir from a former Obama staffer.  If you or the person you are looking for are a fan of Pod Save America ad their other podcasts, they will be familiar with Alyssa.  This book is hysterical, quick, and very interesting!

Tales of Two Americas by John Freeman

This is a collection of essays by authors and others about snippets of live throughout the United States.  If your or or your reader enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy, I encourage you to check this one out!

The reader who loves reading

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

This is a GREAT BOOK.  Written by a librarian in the form of letters to books.  It's funny, sweet, and will add even more books to the readers TBR lists.

The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

A quick read of a story.  It features a girl working in bookshop who has a secret past that she doesn't share with others.  It's a great tale of friends helping friends, secrets and finding out how to trust and living life after trauma.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

This is just such a sweet story of an older man coming to terms with getting older and making friends and relying on each other.  I also feel if they love this one, there are tons of other great books by this author for them to turn to afterwards!

Reader who Loves Series

Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penney

The first book is called Still Life.  It's about 15 books in at this time and they are cozy mysteries based upon a French Canadian police inspector.  They do not have to be read in order but the character building leads nicely into each book!

Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo

These books are set in Ohio Amish country and the main character is Kate Burkholder who is an English police chief in the small town.  These are a bit more gruesome than Louise Penney's series but are not overly gruesome.  It focuses on the Amish community and her love interest in a fellow law enforcement officer.

Amish Candy Shop Mystery by Amanda Flower

This is another Amish series of the cozy mystery variety! Bailey King is a chocolatier whose Amish grandparents own their own shop in Harvest, Ohio called Swissmen Sweets.  She has a knack for finding dead bodies!

What books are you gifting this holiday season?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Holiday Book Gift Guide for Kids

I love giving books.  I basically gift a book for every reason.  New baby, birthday, Christmas, etc... If I don't give a book, I will do a gift card to Barnes and Noble.  I also do give out a toy or an experience gift but they are usually simple and I spend way more time picking out a book for little loves in my life!  And clearly some books can be given at different ages or times, but just some fun ideas I have.

Under Age 1

I usually give out board books if they are under one.  My exception is if it is a baby shower gift.  Then I will sometimes give a hardcover book for when they are older.

But Not The Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton

This was one of our favorites and we read it a lot! It's cute and funny.  I love Sandra Boynton books in general!

Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. Eric Carle

I love all of the books that spin off from Brown Bear, but this is such a great beginner.  The illustrations are great, it's repetitive and you can learn about different animals and talk about their noises!

Alice in Wonderland a Baby Lit Color Primer by Jennifer Adams

A beautifully illustrated color primer and includes Alice in Wonderland characters and background! I love all the Baby Lit books I've read!

Ages 1 to 2

At this age I tend to also still give out board books or hardcover.  I don't tend to worry in my own house or in gifting if they get torn.  Books are meant to be loved and handled.

Go Dog Dog by P.D.. Eastman

This so repetitive and fun to point out the silly in the pictures.  Also, you can buy this in board book form or hardcover, so win win when you can't decide!

Ten Nine Eight by Molly Bang

Cute counting book.  It's short, cute and introduces some counting!

Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth

This was a hugely loved book at our house.  The book is a hardcover and the ladybugs pop out.  It counts down and the ladybugs go away too.  It was a huge hit from about 9 months until age 3!

Ages 2 to 3

Pete the Cat by James Dean

OMG THIS SERIES IS AMAZING.  And if you haven't read any of them, please start here!  Great rhyming and message.

Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems

Love these books! They are great to use different voices, great for early reading opportunities and just funny!

I like Myself by Karen Beaumont

Such a great book about self-acceptance.  Good message to start young!  Love the illustrations.

Ages 3 to 4

Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan

This is an adorable book with wonderful illustrations about nocturnal animals.

Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

Such a great story about people looking out for each other and helping others!

Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This has become one of the books I give out at baby showers if I know the person is having a girl.  SUCH A GREAT BOOK.  Each page is a letter about different situations and reminders that the reader is loved, strong, and smart.

Ages 4 to 5

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Plana

This is a story about a young boy who doesn't understand why his life is a bit different than other people around him.  His grandmother answers his questions and puts a positive spin on how differences are okay.

Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting

This is my new go to book to gift! It is about a young girl Cece and her science partner who have to figure out a science project together and solve it.  This book masterfully integrates diversity in all aspects of the book in a way that doesn't tell you WE ARE TRYING TO BE DIVERSE.  It just is.

Simon and The Bear by Eric Kimmel

A story of a Russian immigrant who leaves his family for America.  His mother sends him with a menorah and food.  He needs a Hanukkah miracle to make it to New York City.  Beautiful illustrations.  So good.

First to Second Grade

Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.? by Bonnie Bader
My kid is on year 2 of a huge love for Dr. King and learning anything she can on him. She loves this book and has re-read it multiple times since she got it in 2017!

Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi

This is a cute story with great illustrations.  It's the beginning of a series and the only one we've currently read but it's cute and we will be finishing the series!

Tales from Maple Ridge by Grace Gilman

My kiddo LOVED this series.  Devoured these books about a young pioneer boy.  Sadly, we have read all the books that are out and I'm not sure if there will be any more! The are 6 in the series and young readers will read them fast so consider gifting the whole series or the first couple!

Blast to the Past series by Stacia Deutsch
Another series favorite here! A class goes back to the past and helps famous people with problems. Great for little history lovers.  My kiddo likes that she is currently on the book King's Courage about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Third to 5th Grade

Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

This is such a great book and of course it is now a movie.  Hook up your young reader with a copy of both!

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
We are reading this series aloud as a family and I will say if you hand this off you need to have a conversation about racism and how people treated people that were different than them.  Also an honest conversation about taking away land from Native Americans is a good topic too.

The Watson's Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
I loved this book! It's also a movie. If you have a lover of history or someone interested in the civil rights movement, this is a great book. 

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

This really needs no description. :)

Orphan Train Series by Joan Lowery Nixon

Each books focuses on a young child who was orphaned or given up in New York City and sent on orphan trains out west.  We are currently reading through the series together with my second grader and she enjoys it because she likes learning about history.  I also enjoy reading them!

Middle School

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This is a must read for all.  Jerome is a 12 year old black boy who is killed by a police officer and sees the aftermath of his death as a ghost and the ghosts of others who were killed before him. 

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

I loved this book.  It's about a middle school aged girl who was struck by lightning and gets some awesome math skills.  However, her people skills are lacking.  Her grandmother makes her attend at least one year of middle school and learn how to make friends before she allows her to go to college.  Such a great book.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This book is written from the point of view of a 12 year old girl living through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  So good!

High School

In Real Life by Jessica Love

This book follows good girl Hannah Cho on an adventure to Vegas to meet her online best-friend of four years.  She's sick of following the rules and decides to take some risks and let go of some control during her senior year spring break.  But was her online best-friend honest? Will Hannah regret lapse in judgment?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I really liked this book about Junior, who grows up on a reservation and doesn't feel like he fits in there or in the white school he starts attending.  This is a very good book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
John Green is awesome! So anything by him would make a fantastic gift.  This book is about a terminal cancer patient and a new friend she makes that turns her life upside down. 

Crank series by Ellen Hopkins

This is a powerful series about how drugs can shape and ruin your life.  Especially a life that was on track until one decision spirals into a horrible new path. 

I had a lot of fun coming up with this list and I don't think I properly even shared all of the lovely books out there that I have read and loved.  If you have any specific requests about a book to gift someone I would love to try to think of a good one.  Please leave a comment and I'll try to help.

What are your favorite books to gift? What is a book you read this year that you are gifting to others?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Library Haul

I love the library.  I love books.  I mean, if I could live in the library with unlimited coffee and tea I'd be set for life.  Hence, why I keep checking out books even when I have a stack at home.  The library just calls me as I drive by! This week I also started volunteering in the elementary school's library and I just love it! I love helping kids with books and checking out the selection!

The kiddo really enjoyed the Hanukkah books we checked out last week and has read more at school this week so I grabbed two more.  The Hanukkah Mice book has super cute illustrations and is a sweet story. 

Cece loves Science is a new favorite.  It's going on my list of books that I gift out.  It's a book full of diverse characters and a great book promoting science.  LOVED IT!

I am excited to read my first Kate Morton book.  I've heard a ton of good things about her books but I haven't read one yet.  I randomly ended up right in front of her books at the library and took that as a sign! I also grabbed myself a Christmas themed Elin Hildebrand because I couldn't help myself.

A friend had posted on Insta stories that her daughter loved Breadcrumbs and it is based up on The Snow Queen, so I grabbed that for us to try!

What books have you recently picked up from the library? Purchased? Gifted?

Friday, November 30, 2018

Simon and The Bear

I was at the library yesterday looking for some new books for the kiddo and I stopped by the Hanukkah display and looked through a few titles.  I find that books are one of the easiest ways to introduce topics and ideas to children and adults! My child LOVES historical fiction and as a result we've gone from a love of Laura Ingalls Wilder to reading Tales from Maple Ridge series about another pioneer boy,  Blast to the Past series -- which has multiple famous people put into stories, the Who Was? series - where she has devoured the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King and Malala Yousafzai.  Of course these have bounced into other books and others.  While she is entertained and improving her reading, she's also learning empathy, struggles of past generations, and how people stood up for themselves.  I'm pretty proud of my kid and my job of leading her to viewing the world as not 'just our way,' but a place where so many viewpoints are and how they get to those viewpoints.

Simon and the Bear caught by eye as it was one of the prominently displayed books, but as soon as I turned the page the illustrations grabbed me.  I didn't pre-screen it, so we sat down to read it last night and wow.   The book starts out with Simon getting ready to leave his homeland and his mom giving him food and a menorah to take with him to the new world.  As he is on a giant ship, it hits a lifeboat and Simon gets the last place.  A man is right behind him wanting on but isn't allowed.  He throws a watch to Simon and asks him to give it to his son when he gets to America so his son can remember him.  Simon who has grown up without a father, knows this is no way to remember a father so he jumps up, gives up his spot and returns the watch to the man.  Right as the ship is about to sink he jumps off and miraculously lands on the iceberg. 

Simon is scared because he is all alone and is sure he will die here.  He remembers it is the first day of Hanukkah and lights his menorah.  Far out in the water he sees the shape of a ghost and a bear appears on the iceberg.  Simon shares food with the bear so that the bear won't eat him.  The bear keeps Simon warm through the night and the next day the bear brings back a fish to share with Simon.  This continues on for a week.  Simon lights the menorah, the bear returns with fish and the days repeat. 

Simon is worried that the bear won't keep returning and that now it is the last night of Hanukkah he won't have light from the menorah.  But a final miracle occurs and a boat has seen his light.  He gets to America and is reunited with the man who took his spot in the lifeboat.  He happens to be the mayor of New York City.  He pays for Simon's family to come to America in first class and gives Simon a job.

Such a beautiful story that incorporates the Hanukkah traditions with a story of hope, empathy, and the rewards of helping others.  The illustrations are TOP NOTCH.  Highly recommend.

What holiday books do you enjoy reading with children? What are your favorite children books currently?

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Reading We Were Liars by e. lockhart.  I'm not really feeling it like I thought I would! Family read is By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the kiddo and me read aloud currently is David's Search by Joan Lowery  Nixon.

Loving all the family time we had this past weekend.  We had lots of time together, just hanging out and and we all also got to have some time doing things we enjoy.

Feeling tired as apparently 3:45 was the time my body wanted to wake up today.  I did fall asleep from about 6:15 to 7:00 but yawnnnnn.

Thinking about what else I need to do for Christmas shopping.  I'm almost completely done and wrapped.  Which is the first time this has ever happened.  I just need to decide what my husband and I are doing for each other officially and I'm holding out to see if the 7 year old changes her mind on anything.  I still need to get her a Santa gift and probably a couple other things from us.  I think I just have my best-friends son, my best-friend, and my daughter's teacher to think about.

Anticipating a big fat bill for my car.  And crossing my fingers that I can get it fixed and not need a new car.  Yesterday, I was driving and I heard a thunk and smoke started coming out.  I was able to pull over and I ended up calling a tow truck because I was scared to drive it.  Which it was a good thing I did because when we got it up on the tow, we could see SOMETHING HAD FALLEN OUT. WTF???? Let's all cross our fingers that isn't too big of a bill.  Or a new car.   We only like to have 1 or 0 car payments at a time.  My husband got a truck a year ago, so we have his payment.  Our house is paid off in August so we were really hoping to not have another car payment for another year or longer!

Watching blackish! I'm in the middle of Season 3.  We got Hulu on Cyber Monday so I'm excited to check stuff out on there.  Oh and Hallmark Christmas movies!

Working on deciding what to do about Christmas cards.  We usually just use a picture of just the child, and we may need to do that this year but we need to get a GOOD picture.  We don't have any family pictures.

Grateful for road side assistance and insurance that covers a tow!

Listening to podcasts! I just started a new one I'm excited about Countdown to Capture  from the Newport Beach Police Department about an actual open case they are trying to solve.  

Wishing that salads tasted like cheeseburgers!

What are you reading,watching, and listening to? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tony's Wife

I am ever so thankful for my friend Nora, who introduced me to the writing of the lovely Adriana Trigiani.  The first book of hers that I read was Lucia, Lucia on a camping trip and I devoured it in about a day.  I loved the Big Stone Gap series (which I still haven't finished, but I've been trying to get a hold of the third book in the series), and the Valentine series.  If you love books about family, strong women and delicious sounding Italian food, she is your woman!

Tony's Wife covers singer Saverio Armandonada's life starting at age sixteen in Detroit and follows him through his career around the world.  Just before WWII he meets Chi Chi Donatelli when he is visiting the New Jersey Shore, and a relationship blooms.

Saverio struggles with a lot of self-esteem issues relating to a father who was cold and unmoving in his thoughts and beliefs.  This struggle effects all of those in close relationships with him.  He is written in a sympathetic light about the time he seems to grow up while on board a submarine during WWII.   This growing up is short lived and Saverio lives life like a man child while all the women around him do all the hard things.

This is a theme throughout Trigiani's books, where a man messes up and the woman is in control of her life, her children's lives, the cooking, the money, and basically doing all the adulting as the man child runs free.  Chi Chi is no different.  She kicks ass and does so behind the scenes.  She's a song writer, singer, mother, accountant etc. and basically stands up for herself.  Most of the time.

I really enjoyed how the book was split into chapters by different parts of music, since Saverio and Chi Chi are both big band singers.  I loved how it flowed throughout the years and talked about life on the road, etc.  I only got a little irritated at the man child aspect while Chi Chi did it all.  I mean she does it all well and is a great feminist character but I just can't handle the 'prop the man up to the children' even when he's a deadbeat.  I know kids eventually figure it out, but dude let's just all tell the children the truth.   "Your dad is not here because he thinks where ever he is right now is more important." 

Even though this book is close to 500 pages I read it in two days.  It moves fast.  I'd recommend it if you enjoy books that cover a lifetime!

Description: Set in the lush Big Band era of the 1940s and World War II, this spellbinding saga from beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani tells the story of two talented working class kids who marry and become a successful singing act, until time, temptation, and the responsibilities of home and family derail their dreams.

Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio, and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?

From the Jersey shore to Las Vegas to Hollywood, and all the dance halls in between, this multi-layered story is vivid with historical color and steeped in the popular music that serves as its score. Tony’s Wife is a magnificent epic of life in a traditional Italian family undergoing seismic change in a fast paced, modern world. Filled with vivid, funny, and unforgettable characters, this richly human story showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a storyteller and her deep understanding of family, love, and the pursuit of the American dream.

If you are interested in purchasing this for yourself or a loved one for Christmas you can get it from HarperCollins!

Have you read any of Adriana Trigiani's books? Which are your favorite? Who is your favorite singer? What is a book you've read with strong female characters?

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Murder in Her Stocking

I've been on a roll this fall with cozy mysteries.  I've really enjoyed them.  I used to be a huge thriller person, but lately those have irritated me when I read them too often.  Cozy mysteries are apparently my jam, since I am blowing through them.

Murder in Her Stocking by G.A. McKevett is set in McGill, GA.   The Prologue is present day but the bulk of the story is a Christmas thirty years earlier in the 1980s.  The story is told from the perspective of Stella Reid.  It appears this is a spinoff series from the Savannah Reid series by this author. I have not read any of those!

The book starts out by introducing us to small-town Georgia in the 80s.  Stella is walking down the street with her seven grandchildren whom she mentions are all named for cities in Georgia that their delinquent mother has lived.  The time is right before Christmas and we learn about how poor the Reid's are and how neglected they are from their parents.

In a surprising turn of events, there is a murder in this super small town.  The murdered person is someone who didn't have too many friends because she paid a bit too much attention to the married men in town.  Stella injects herself into the investigation with Sheriff Gilford, as one does in small town Georgia and we learn about all the interesting characters in McGill.

This book is funny, quick *read it one day* and gets you invested in the Reid family.  There is a lot of folksy endearments and one liners that at times make it seem like it may be trying too hard,but it works for the book.

If you are looking for a quick Christmas time cozy mystery to snuggle up with I'd recommend it.  Grab some tea and settle in the couch while the snow flies!

DescriptionAs the Moonlight Magnolia Agency revisits old memories on Christmas Eve, Granny Reid takes the reins back thirty years to the 1980s--back when she went by Stella, everyone's hair was bigger, and sweaters were colorful disasters. But murder never went out of style . . .

Christmas has arrived in sleepy McGill, Georgia, but holiday cheer can't keep temperamental Stella Reid from swinging a rolling pin at anyone who crosses her bad side--and this season, there are plenty. First an anonymous grinch vandalizes a celebrated nativity display. Far worse, the scandalous Prissy Carr is found dead in an alley behind a tavern. With police puzzled over the murder, Stella decides to stir the local gossip pot for clues on the culprit's identity . . .

Turns out Prissy held a prominent spot on the naughty list, and suspects pile up like presents on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the more progress Stella makes, the more fears she must confront. With a neighbor in peril and the futures of her beloved grandchildren at risk, Stella must somehow set everything straight and bring a cunning criminal to justice before December 25th . . .

What are some Christmas time books you have read and enjoyed? Have you read any book with an older woman as the main character? What's your favorite beverage to enjoy while winter reading?

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I know it's a day early, but I don't believe I will be in front of my computer tomorrow and I wanted to share the things I'm most thankful for this year.

1. My kiddo - She is my most favorite kid ever.  Every day she is getting older, wiser, more funny and I love it.  We are sarcastic people and now we have a very sarcastic 7 year old.  Which is good and bad.  She is also hysterical but doesn't realize it and gets so mad when we bust out laughing.  I love her to pieces.

2. My husband - He is a rockstar.  He makes me laugh, he let's me be ridiculous, and always tries to make things easier for me.

3.  The library - The keeper of the books! Such a great place in our local community.  It has great FREE programs for all ages and awesome books for free! Love it!

4.  My parents - They do so much for us.  They are our main babysitter when we need one.  They ASK to have our child over and they truly cultivate a relationship with her.

5.  My kids teacher - She is amazing.  She works hard, long hours and is always looking for new ways to engage students.  She's calm, loving, and I know she cares for my kid.

Among other things include the typical --- my warm house, heat, blankets, and my husband's jobs. 

I hope those who celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow have a wonderful time.  What are you most thankful for this year?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Recent Library Haul

I have been in a major reading slowdown lately and I need to push through it.  It has NOT slowed down my library visits and collecting of library visits that I keep renewing and then have to return and they may not have been read.  Whoops.  Some day I'll get back to it.  Maybe.

Today's visit was for the 7 year old.  She wanted the next book in a series she is reading and I thought I better grab just a couple more before she is off school for a longer break.  Not that we don't have enough books here already. :)

Molly & Mae looks like it's a good book on friendship, so I grabbed it for us to read together.  The Three Little Superpigs is purely because I love all variations of the three little pigs! She is loving the Blast to the Past series and is now on to book three.  We just started reading Meet Addy from the American Girl series so I'm hoping that series will be a win for us too.  I grabbed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because we watched Willy Wonka 2 weeks ago and she loved it, so I thought I'd grab the book.  We've read a few of Dahl's books before but she didn't really care either way about them. 

I am currently finishing up The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin from the library and then I need to read Tony's Wife and Murder in her Stocking for reviews.

What are you reading this week? What are your latest library reads? Do you like Roald Dahl books?

Friday, November 16, 2018


After last Friday's snow, it pretty much went away and I saw sun once this week.  Then yesterday it snowed during the afternoon and covered the ground.  Then over night a winter wonderland occured.  I can appreciate the beauty of the snow on the trees but I'm already over the ugly slushy crap.  I shoveled this morning and then came in to enjoy a hot cup of coffee while looking out at the snow.  My favorite way to enjoy this crappy season.  Also, if I see one more meme telling me how I should find joy in the snow or I will have less joy in my life I'm going to show them where they can shove their MLM side hustle.  :)

My favorite picture from the week:

She was excited to find a unicorn tree!

The high of my week was watching my girl at swim lessons this week.  She's doing so well.  I hope it's something she will keep liking and enjoy doing.

The low of my week was  the constant cold feeling that stays with me from late October to mid-April.  Why do I live here? See also - my favorite past time is to look for vacations or lake homes.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday - Beef Enchiladas, and Spanish Rice
Tuesday -  leftover enchiladas and spanish rice and a salad
Wednesday -  we went out for a wings/beer special and also split a bbq flatbread
Thursday -  Cheese Ravioli and roasted broccoli and cauliflower

We hadn't made enchiladas in awhile and they were delicious! I am going to need to make chicken ones soon.

What I’m listening to  Christmas music and podcasts.  My favorite listens of the week were Episode 2 of Atlanta MonsterChapter 2 The Change from The Wilderness Podcast and Annotated's episode The Patron Saint of Libraries.  

What I’m watching Blackish!  I only have 2 epsiodes left in season 2!

What I’m reading: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin .  I need to finish that this weekend because I got Tony's Wife by Adriana Trigiani in the mail and I can't wait to read that!

My plans for the weekend include we have ideas for tomorrow but no firm plans.  It basically depends on weather and a few outside factors.  We are thinking about attending the Santa Parade and/or the last weekend of the season for our favorite local cider tasting room.  We will watch football and we may or may not have people over tomorrow night since a friend is in town.  Sunday we have a funeral and visitation that will take up most of our day.  Tonight we will probably do a friday night date night at home movie again.  Debating between a Hallmark Christmas movie or Fiddler on the Roof.  It's my night to pick!

What are you listening to? What are you reading?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bookish Quotes

I love quotes.  When I was younger I would write quotes in notebooks all over.  Then I would copy and paste them into a massive Word Document and print them out and hang them everywhere.  As an adult I buy sayings and hang them on my wall.  Set them on my mantle. But them on my bookshelves.  And now I've come full circle and started writing them in my notebook I carry around with me.  This time I'm just focusing on book quotes.  Sometimes to remind myself I want to include it in a review, or share it with a friend, or just because I feel so much YES YES YES about a statement.  I've filled up a page in my notebook, since I started copying them down and decided I would share them here since I've done nothing with them. :)

"A trigger - happy government.  Suspicious of everyone, regardless of citizenship.  No, not citizenship, she corrects herself, race. " Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

This quote is in regards to the German government at the onset of WWII.  I loved this fictionalized tale on the way the Hindenburg may have met its fate. 

"But Clara had her own little secret.  She didn't really let go of everything.  Most things, yes.  But some she secretly held and hugged and would visit in moments when she needed to be comforted by the unkindness of others." Still Life by Louise Penny

This quote is just dark enough to be so so true about moments of self-doubt and loathing.  It's from the first book in the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny.  Highly recommend!

"You do not let them win.  Not ever. There is nothing in the world they like more than tearing a woman down for having too much courage.  And there is nothing in the world that makes them angrier than not being able to break her.  A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

Feminist Romance novels for the win!

Description: Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren
Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke
The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town
Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much..

"Most Americans understand that being born in the United States, with all opportunities that entails, is a matter of sheer serendipity.  Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

So much yes.  If you haven't read Enrique's Journey which details a VERY young child sneaking into the United States to join his mother in America. 

Do you collect quotes? What are some of your favorite bookish quotes?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Premeditated Peppermint

Premeditated Peppermint came to me at the perfect time.  I've got an evening peppermint tea problem and the peppermint candies this book kept mentioning fit right in.  I may have convinced my husband to even try the peppermint bark recipe that was shared at the end of the book!

This is the third book in Amanda Flower's Amish Candy Shop series.  It definitely was a stand alone book if you are in the mood for a cozy Christmas mystery.  I actually picked up the first in the series today from my library, Assaulted Caramel!

Premeditated Peppermint finds chocolatier Bailey King preparing for her town's Christmas Market.  Bailey has recently moved to Harvest, Ohio to help her Amish grandma run their candy shop after her grandfather's passing.  While Bailey never grew up Amish her grandma and her cousin Charlotte who works in the shop are Amish, as are most of the town's residents.  

Bailey is surprised with a visit from chef Eric Sharp from New York, who brings a television crew to film a Christmas special starring ----- Bailey! Shocked, and a bit peeved to see Eric, Bailey struggles to figure out what she wants for herself now that she is helping her grandma with her shop and left the big city life behind her.  

Another shock has someone dead and Eric the suspect.  Bailey helps out the local deputy in piecing together who was where at the time of the murder and who would have motive.

This book was a quick read with a nice plot.  The characters were fun and there was a bit of humor that reminded me of the Stephanie Plum series that I love so much.  If you are looking for a cozy mystery this winter or a nice holiday read -- pick this one up!

And like I said, I've already checked out the first book in the series from the library.  I also found another series of Flower's that has an Amish aspect to it, A Plain Death, and checked it out too!  We all know how much I love my series reads!

What's your favorite holiday read? Do you have a favorite holiday drink or treat you make?

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

Friday, November 9, 2018


Well, we woke up to our official first sticking snow this morning.  In positive news, just 136 days until my behind is in a beach chair on a WARM BEACH.  The weather in Alabama better cooperate for me! Since, I will also be turning 35 while we are there this spring!

My favorite picture from the week:

My girl earned Crazy About Reading Day and chose to dress up as Laura Ingalls as her favorite book character! I'm pretty proud of my braids!

The high of my week was having the kiddos conference and hearing how great she is doing in school. :):

The low of my week was  snow.  Damn winter.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday - Steak, sweet potatoes, and applesauce
Tuesday -  Skillet Chili Mac and Cheese, salad, garlic bread
Wednesday - Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, and Toast
Thursday -  Tuesday's leftovers
Friday -  Pizza!

The Chili Mac hit the spot this week with the colder weather.  Plus, it makes enough for at least two meals!

What I’m listening to   podcasts of course! Up and Vanished is new to me and I'm liking it.  Still really enjoying Slow Burn.

What I’m watching Blackish!  I'm about half-way through Season 2.

What I’m reading: Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower which is a cozy mystery set in Amish country and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  Really liking both! Hopping to get some tea and reading time in this weekend!

My plans for the weekend include tonight the kiddo is having a friend over for a sleepover.  The husband and I are going to watch Tombstone and have pizza and pop when they go to bed.  Probably need to clean out the garage this weekend so I can park in it again since it is snowing, and on Sunday we are making homemade Clam Chowder, since my husband has now dubbed it Soup Sunday!

What are you listening to? What are you reading?