Friday, March 24, 2017

My Friday Five...


I just finished reading this book and can't stop thinking about it.  Wow.  Just, wow.  It truly epitomizes the term "thought-provoking".

2.  TV shows.  I've been watching RHOBH and TWD.  Oh, and I've been re-watching Seinfeld on DVD.  RHOBH is getting even more ridiculous and I love it. The gals are in Hong Kong, which looks like such an awesome and beautiful city.  Of course, instead of trying to enjoy their trip, they choose to lash out at each other instead.  They fight on a junk boat and that leads to tears.  They fight in a restaurant and that leads to more tears.  And what are the fights about - false accusations, underwear, cocaine, and more false accusations.  Crazy!! By the by, I meant to watch Dancing With The Stars, because even though I don't care for Erika Jayne (from RHOBH), I saw she was going to be on the show and I wanted to see how she would fare.  I heard her first dance was rather raunchy, which sounded about right to me considering her music videos are raunchy with a capital "R".  I remember Rinna being scandalized by EJ's music videos - LOL!  Anyhow, I'm thinking that the lady from Glee will probably win Dancing With The Stars - she's a trained dancer and has been a back-up dancer for tons of pop stars.  I always think it seems like a cheat to have trained dancers on the show competing.  Maybe I'll watch the show next week.  As for TWD, what is going on? When is the gang going to rally all the troops (Alexandria, Hilltop, Kingdom, Heapsters, and Oceanside (will they even join the fight?) and set a plan in motion.  I feel like they need to hurry, because Sascha and Rosita just set things off with their over-zealousness to take down Negan.  Hurry up, Rick!!

3.  Family.  My cousins came to visit and we definitely had a great time catching up.  The only downside was all the food. Yep, we tend to hang out during meal times and that is not good.  Well, its not good for me, because I fell off the wagon when it came to WW. Ack! I ate all the foods and enjoyed it.  Of course now I'm paying for it all - ugh!  I am back on track, so at least I didn't just stay off the wagon completely.  I just need to be stronger and not allow myself to be so easily derailed.

4.  Lent.  40 bags in 40 days is a success.  We are still in March and I've already cleared out several rooms and have gathered 30 bags - woo hoo!  Its like once you start, you can't stop.  I love decluttering!

5. My current read:
I started this one last night and already LOVE it.  I can totally relate to some of the issues that Starr talks about in this book.  My family and I have talked about race relations and the police. Several of my family members have been harassed by the police with guns - whether it be for driving while brown or for identifying them for a crime they didn't commit.  Its terrifying and unfair and makes you feel helpless.  The people that are supposed to protect you are the ones trying to hurt you - say what?!!  Yep, that is reality.  Now, I'm not saying that my family endures these situations day and night, but they have experienced it.  And, its not just cops.  I've seen my family and friends get followed in a store or completely ignored when trying to make a purchase.  Why? Just because their skin is dark brown!?!  How crazy is that?!  They all tell me I'm lucky that my skin is white, because these things won't happen to me.  Let me just say that I don't feel lucky.  Oh, this book! It is definitely giving me all the FEELS and then some.  I can't wait to get back to it later this weekend.  I have a feeling that this is going to be one book I won't forget.

Happy reading!! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mini Reviews...

I have been reading like crazy lately.  So many great books and so little time, means that I am zooming right through them just to get to the next one. Luckily, they have all been so fantastic that I'm enjoying every second I spend with them.  Here are a few of the books I've recently devoured:

A short novel about a man named Shimura, who notices that the food he buys keeps disappearing.  He sets up a camera and watches his home from work.  What does he see? A woman making tea in his house! Say what?! Yep, he finds himself watching a woman in his kitchen making herself at home.  Whoa, Nelly! Talk about a shocker!  He phones the police to bust the woman at his home, but then finds himself hoping she will escape before the police arrive.  In the end, she gets arrested.  Turns out she is homeless and has been living in his home for more than a year!  A year - can you imagine!?! Apparently, she was in the neighborhood one morning and noticed him leaving his house for work. She noted that he didn't lock his door.  So, she decides to check out his house and once inside, she finds herself eager to stay.  She sleeps in the closet in his guest room - the one room he never goes in.  Shimura is beyond shocked and feels violated.  He can't believe that she had been in his house while he was asleep, away on vacation, watching TV, etc. It just confounds him.  Suffice it to say, I was shocked. I felt badly for this woman being in such a position that she felt she needed to break into a house to find shelter.  However, I definitely understood Shimura's feelings and agreed with him that his home no longer felt like his home.  This is one book that I can't stop thinking about.  I just loved it so much. It was short, but so thought-provoking with its exploration of loneliness and homelessness.  Talk about a must-read!

Love, love, love!! Gabi, A Girl in Pieces was such a fun and entertaining read. I loved getting to know Gabi, her family and friends. High school is tough, especially senior year when you are applying to college.  Its especially tough when your mom doesn't want you to go away to school, your father is a meth addict, your brother is always getting in trouble lately, your best friend is pregnant, and your other best friend has just come out as gay - OMG!  What's a girl to do? Eat some lemon pepper chicken wings and write some kick ass poetry.  Gabi is awesome.  She's honest, brave, and keeps it real.  I love how supportive she is of her family and friends. I love how she throws herself into her poetry and finds comfort through her poems.  I love how she opens her heart to the possibility of love.  And I love how she accepts her body, even though people are always commenting on it.  Gabi is truly an unforgettable character - I would love for Quintero to write about Gabi's life in college!!  This is one book that I will definitely be re-reading in the future.

I am a HUGE fan of Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series - it is beyond!  The way he writes about these fascinating characters and their luxe life is fun, entertaining, and unputdownable.  I just love when a new book comes out! Rich People Problems is the third book and I absolutely LOVED it. I sat down one afternoon to read it and didn't get up until I had turned the very last page later that night.  I found myself catching up with familiar characters and getting lost in their new dramas (of which there were so many to choose from).  Such a fun read! Basically, the family matriarch is dying and that means that everyone in the family is over at her house trying to make sure they  are still included in her will.  Yep, its "all about the Benjamins" when it comes to this family.  Suffice it to say, there is plenty of backstabbing, lying, and cheating when it comes to staking claim in the family's fortune and I loved reading all about it!  I love the family drama and dysfunction, the fashion, the luxury, and pretty much everything about this book.  It was such a treat to read! I'm hoping there's another book in the offing, because I would LOVE to find out what happens next to this crazy, rich family!

A quick and light read about a young woman's first trip to Florence with her cousin.  Its a diary that pretty much sums up what they did each day - eating delicious foods and visiting old churches.  Athill does write about the people they meet, the places they stay and the train rides to and fro.  It does make for an interesting read about such a beautiful and dynamic city.  I couldn't help but find myself thinking about my trip to Florence.  I went with my best friend.  We were in grad school and didn't have a lot of money, but we managed to delight in the sights, foods, museums, and experience of it all.  Gelato was our food of choice - how could it not be?!  We walked everywhere and loved taking it all in - the city, the people, and the atmosphere.  We just loved being in such a vibrant and beautiful place. I can still remember the awe I felt when I saw Michelangelo's David and Botticelli's artwork up close - it was truly a mind blowing experience.  I would love to go back and stay for a month or two - that would be bliss.  Reading Athill's book was definitely fun.  I enjoyed learning about her trip and how it made me think about my own trip - a great walk down memory lane.

And there you have it, a few of the books that I've recently had the pleasure of reading.  Not a bad bunch, right?  What about you? What have you read lately?  Anything you want to recommend - let me know.  Happy reading!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Every Wild Heart: A Novel by Meg Donohue

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

From USA Today bestselling author Meg Donohue comes a mystery, a love story, and a mother-daughter tale about two women on a precarious journey to uncover their true selves.

Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic?

Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next…

my thoughts:

I love mother-daughter stories! They are my absolute favorite. I even wrote a dissertation about the mother-daughter relationships - that is how much I love this topic.  So, when I read the blurb for Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue, I jumped at the chance to read this book.  And let me just say, I'm so happy I did.  Every Wild Heart is a book with heart that I won't forget.  I absolutely LOVED it!

Gail is a popular radio show host.  She is outgoing and confident.  Her fourteen year old daughter, Nic, is the complete opposite - shy and quiet.  She's especially nervous about starting high school - the horror, the horror.  The only place Nic feels comfortable is at the horse stables.  Unfortunately, she winds up falling off of a horse and injuring her head.  Guess what happens!? Nic undergoes a personality change.  No longer shy and reserved, she's now outgoing and a bit of a dare devil.  Say what?! Yep, Nic is not Nic.  And, Gail doesn't know what to do or how to handle this new person who is her daughter.  Talk about family drama! Oh, and if dealing with the new Nic isn't already taking up plenty of her time, Gail also has to deal with a stalker - Yikes!  Plus, there is a bit of romance on the horizon for the single mom.  Yep, A LOT is happening in Every Wild Heart, but Donohue manages to tackle it all in an entertaining, and heartwarming way that makes reading this book so much fun.

I just LOVED reading this book! This mother-daughter duo is relatable and realistic.  Their problems are definitely their own, but these two are honest, personal, and brave when facing them head-on.  I really enjoyed getting to know them.  I loved that Donohue wrote this book using alternating perspectives for each chapter - meaning that we got to find out what Gail and Nic were really thinking about everything happening to them and around them.  The story had me hooked from start to finish. I loved the writing, characters, and story lines - they all made for such a great book!

I would happily recommend Every Wild Heart to fans of Donohue and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Every Wild Heart
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

If I'm Found: If I Run Series Book 2 by Terri Blackstock

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

In this riveting sequel to the USA Today bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness. Is Dylan a provision from the God who loves her, or another heartache yet to happen?

my thoughts:

A suspense-thriller at its very best! I absolutely LOVED reading If I'm Found.  The second book in the If I Run series, this book picks up right where the first book left off.  We find Casey on the run from some "dirty" cops who are bent on framing her for murder.  She's also being pursued by P.I. Dylan who isn't so sure that Casey is as guilty as everyone seems to think.  As for Casey, she's determined to set the record straight.  Jumping from one place to the next, this strong and capable woman finds herself trying to prove her innocence and helping those less fortunate at the same time.  She is such a complicated and relatable character - I loved getting to know her.

Blackstock has written a fast-paced and intriguing story that is chock full of twists and turns. Religion does play a significant role, but does not feel in-your-face by any means.  And the characters are just great - the kind that you cheer for and don't want to stop reading about.  If I'm Found is a terrific book that I would happily recommend. Fans of Blackstock and fans of Christian fiction will LOVE this book.  It truly is a fun and captivating read.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Orphan's Tale: A Novel by Pam Jenoff

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival 

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

my thoughts:

Wow! Talk about an unforgettable and unputdownable story that will give you ALL of the feels. The Orphan's Tale is one of the BEST books I've read this year. I am just LOVING historical fiction more and more - this book is the reason why.  Chock full of historical tidbits that enrich this story on every level, The Orphan's Tale is a mesmerizing read about survival, family, and friendship.  It is simply a must-read!

Noa and Astrid are two truly amazing women! They are strong in every which way and have braved so many terrifying situations.  Their secrets keep them on their toes.  And their friendship tests them and their boundaries.  The world around them is at war and they feel its effects.  Bent on surviving, these two women manage to find themselves a place to hide and thrive.  I absolutely LOVED reading their stories.  They were courageous with a capital "C". 

Jenoff has written a terrific story set during WWII that will suck you in right from the start.  Your heart will break, but it will also beat madly for these characters.  The writing will captivate with its strength, richness, and deep storytelling. It is such a great read!

I would happily recommend this book to fan's of Jenoff and fans of historical fiction (especially about WWII) - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Orphan's Tale
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!