The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Book Review & Author Interview

A few weeks ago I read The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell. I was lucky to also  get an interview with the author to share with everyone. You can see my review of the book and the author interview below. I do hope you enjoy!

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The Last Panther

by Todd Mitchell

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The Last Panther

Blurb: For fans of “The One and Only Ivan” and “Hoot, ” this is the uplifting story of a girl who discovers a family of panthers that were thought to be extinct, and her journey to save the species.

Eleven-year-old Kiri has a secret: wild things call to her. More than anyone else, she’s always had a special connection to animals.

But when Kiri has an encounter with the last known Florida panther, her life is quickly turned on end. Caught between her conservationist father, who wants to send the panther to a zoo, and the village poachers, who want to sell it to feed their families, Kiri must embark on a journey that will take her deep into the wilderness.

There has to be some way to save the panther, and for her da and the villagers to understand each other. If Kiri can’t figure out what it is, she’ll lose far more than the panthers she’ll lose the only home she s ever known, and the only family she has left.

My Review:

Kiri lives with her father, who is a conservationist, in the ghost forest near a dangerous swamp. He’s considered a waller (city dweller) and not far from their home are the fugees, the original habitants of the forest. Wallers are considered the wealthy ones and have what they need to survive while tending to preserve the environment and the species that are still living, while fugees consistently need to search for food so they won’t die of starvation or sickness. Fugees will do whatever it takes to feed their community and that includes killing whatever they can catch, including animals that are endangered, if need be. They don’t have much of a choice as the damaged ecosystem they live in has left them with little resources.

Kiri’s mother, who has previously passed away, was once a fugee and Kiri is now caught between two worlds having a waller for a father. The fugees detest the wallers and they simply don’t agree on anything. For this reason, Kiri doesn’t want to be considered a waller and would rather keep the peace between both groups. She doesn’t necessarily agree that the fugees should be hunting these ‘once-were’ creatures, but she understands them concurrently. When Kiri surprisingly discovers a panther she’s never seen before–a beautiful creature she connects with and knows she must protect–not only does she need to protect the panther, but she has to find a way to keep her cubs safe too. From this point, Kiri goes into survivor mode and does all that she can to stop the hunters and trappers from killing the panther, even it means she must go against her father’s wishes. What will Kiri do? She’s a courageous and spirited young girl, always standing up for what she believes in, but will she alone be enough to protect the last panther and its cubs?

After seeing the beautiful cover and reading the blurb, I took a chance and bought a copy for our home library. I’m always in search of stories that I can read with my children, especially those I can enjoy myself. I particularly relished the sweet parts in the story from Kiri’s companionship with Snowflake, her pet rat, to her friendship with Paulo. I found it compelling and full of action and adventure. The mystical world and rich plot that Todd Mitchell has created draws you in and makes you feel like you’re part of Kiri’s journey. It’s un-predictable and written well. I also appreciated that the story provokes questions about climate change and brings attention to the importance of caring for our environment now, as animals are experiencing high levels of endangerment as our world is ever-changing.

This is one I’m pleased to have for my family and I’m overjoyed that it turned out to be such an awesome read. This is a perfect middle-grade read for classrooms and libraries, but essentially, it’s great for all ages. I honestly can’t wait to see what other books Todd Mitchell writes in the future.

My rating: 5*****

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 22, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399555587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399555589

Continue reading “The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Book Review & Author Interview”

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson – Book Review – #UltimateReadingChallenge – February

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Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

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Summary:

Beautifully captures the joys of a new family as it builds to an overwhelmingly moving climax. This is an unforgettable love story, at once heartbreaking and full of hope.

James Patterson has written a love story!–a powerfully moving and suspenseful novel about families, loss, new love, and hope.

Katie Wilkinson has found her perfect man at last. He’s a writer, a house painter, an original thinker–everything she’s imagined she wanted in a partner. But one day, without explanation, he disappears from her life, leaving behind only a diary for her to read.

This diary is a love letter written by a new mother named Suzanne for her baby son, Nicholas. In it she pours out her heart about how she and the boy’s father met, about her hopes for marriage and family, and about the unparalleled joy that having a baby has brought into her life. As Katie reads this touching document, it becomes clear that the lover who has just left her is the husband and father in this young family. She reads on, filled with terror and hope, as she struggles to understand what has happened–and whether her new love has a prayer of surviving.

Written with James Patterson’s perfect pitch for emotion and suspense, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas captures beautifully the joys of a new family as it builds to an overwhelmingly moving climax. This is an unforgettable love story, at once heartbreaking and full of hope.

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My Thoughts:

Katie and Matt had the perfect relationship. They had much in common and a completeness, but when Matt suddenly leaves the relationship, Katie is left with many questions and wonders what went wrong. Matt is someone Katie could’ve shared the rest of her life with. How could she have been so wrong about their relationship?Not long after Matt’s departure, she receives a package in the mail. She recognizes Matt’s handwriting on the package instantly, and when she opens it, she finds a book titled Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. As Katie reads the diary, she’s shocked. All at once she learns about a woman named Suzanne and her son Nicholas. In the diary, Suzanne writes about her life before Nicholas, her journey through relationships, and the joyous times she had with Nicholas from his birth up through the first year of his life. She writes directly to Nicholas and shares memories with him about his father. She wants him to understand how much she loves him and his father, and just how special their life was together.

I first read this book in 2006 when I was pregnant with my second child. In hindsight, there’s no doubt that hormones played a part in my reaction because I bawled and bawled over the book which is why I decided to read this one for my February #UltimateReadingChallenge–tear jerker. I can still remember gushing over it to everyone and influenced all my friends to read it. I honestly couldn’t say enough about it. I think the majority of my emotions stem from the fact that it’s a mother writing to her  baby son about old memories and how her life was complete once he came into the world. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do (write to my children about our time together so they can read about it later in life). Another reason I was moved was because I personally went through similar health experiences, just like Suzanne, and her story felt real to me. I know some might say the writing isn’t spectacular, but I thought the narrative was, particularly Suzanne’s writings. Just when you think you know what’s happening, a surprising twist is thrown in–even at the end.

I was thoroughly involved in this story for the second time and flew through it, however, I don’t think I was as emotional when reading it this time around. Don’t get me wrong, I teared up for a bit, but I didn’t feel as affected by it this time. There were parts that I forgot and the story felt quite fresh to me, but I prepared myself ahead of time for the end because I remembered how emotional I was after the first reading. There was one part in the book that felt a little confusing and maybe a little unrealistic to me, but it was easily overlooked. Regardless, it still gets five stars from me.

5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
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Continue reading “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson – Book Review – #UltimateReadingChallenge – February”

Shabby Sunday: Cinderella (Matthew Hope #6) by Ed McBain – 1986

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Shabby Sunday

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s Shabby Share is:

Cinderella (Matthew Hope #6)

 

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Summary: 

Private detective Otto Samalson sees the tail—a black Toronado he can’t shake. One dark window rolls down, exposing the barrel of a gun, and the detective is dead.

Otto had already known his days were numbered and said as much to his friend, attorney Matthew Hope. Having hired Otto to watch a cheating husband for a client, Matthew is now left with only Otto’s tape recorder, filled with proof of an affair. But could the evidence lead to something larger, something that would drive a man to kill?

Meanwhile, a mysterious woman is on the run, her face and name unknown to all except two stepsisters who couldn’t care less if a violent pair of Cubans got their hands on her. If Matthew can decipher the clues in Otto’s evidence, there’s a chance he could reach the girl first and save her life.

A chilling addition to the Matthew Hope series from Ed McBain, Cinderella is the tale of a woman known by many names and the men who will do anything to find her. – Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I went to this amazing book sale last year and picked up a beautiful large stack of vintage hardcover books for right around .50 cents a piece–all of them mysteries that I’d never read. This one is the 6th novel in the Matthew Hope series.

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I went on Goodreads to add them all to my reading list and a few of my friends left some positive comments on the series. I haven’t read any of them yet, and the list is long, but I’m hoping to get into some of these this year. I’m not sure if these need to be read in order or not, but I don’t have all of them anyway. I’m missing three in the series. I figure I can find them at my library if I need to fit a few in.

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Cinderella (Matthew Hope #6) by Ed McBain – 1986”

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – Book Review #NGEW2018

Baby Teeth

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Blurb: Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

My Thoughts:

May contain mild spoilers…

Suzette, mother to Hanna, deals with illness on a daily basis. She has an autoimmune disease that makes her sick and causes pain. On top of this, she’s trying to be a good wife to Alex, Hanna’s dad, and all she wants is to have a normal family–a normal daughter. The problem is that Hanna is a complete psycho, doesn’t talk, and behaves so badly, she’s continuously kicked out of school and Suzette has no choice but to home school her. At home, there are even more problems. Hanna want’s to kill her mother, but has a deep love for her father and because of that, nobody believes Suzette when she tries to tell them that something is wrong with Hanna.

“Daddy was the most handsome man in the world. He dressed nicely, in crisp shirts and colorful ties, and his favorites were the ones she picked our for him. When she grew up she’d marry him, and then Mommy wouldn’t be competition anymore.”

The main points of view alternate between Suzette and Hanna throughout the book. As I mentioned, Alex, Hanna’s dad, never sees the disturbing behaviors. The person who deals with Hanna on a daily basis is Suzette and this is what made me so uncomfortable throughout the book. Alex refers to Hanna as his ‘squirrely girl’ or ‘lilla gumman’ and it seems like no matter how much he loves Suzette, he just doesn’t believe that his daughter is a psychopath and consistently makes excuses for her. Hanna exhibits aggressive and violent behaviors that almost go too far for me. It made me very uncomfortable and the constant instigating between Hanna and Suzette made me want to scream. This family is extremely dysfunctional and I kept wondering throughout the book what the real reasons for Hanna’s behaviors were. Surely something had to have happened in the past with Suzette or Alex, right?

“Sshh, lilla gumman…Daddy’s squirrely girl…”He cooed so softly Suzette couldn’t hear everything he said. But Hanna quieted. She looked so tiny in his arms, a rag doll.

I thought the book was written really well and it’s certainly a quick and smooth read. People who like thrillers will more than likely be pleased. Personally, I was on edge and completely thrilled all the way to the ‘not so’ surprising end. I was expecting some major twists toward the end which never really came and made me feel like something was missing, however, the book for the most part kept my interest and I found it dark and very disturbing, so for that, I’ll give this book 4****. I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (July 17, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250170753
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250170750

Continue reading “Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – Book Review #NGEW2018”

Shabby Sunday: The Call of the Wild Illustrated Classics by Jack London (Mitsu Yamamoto) 1989

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Shabby Sunday

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

The Call of the Wild (Great Illustrated Classics)

by Mitsu Yamamoto (Adapter)Jack LondonPablo Marcos Studio(Illustrator)
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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: The Call of the Wild Illustrated Classics by Jack London (Mitsu Yamamoto) 1989”

Throwback Thursday: Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire – February 1st

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

Walking Disaster (Beautiful #2)

 

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Blurb: Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

My Thoughts:

My very first Throwback Thursday featured the first book in the ‘Beautiful’ series titled Beautiful Disaster. I thought I’d share the second book in the series which is told from Travis’s point of view.

This book reveals Travis’s story and begins back when he was just three years old with the passing of his mother. As Travis grows older he endures many stuggles including an alcoholic father. As a college student he dates plenty of women, but never falls in love, until the moment he meets Abby. His world turns upside down as he tries to figure her out and win her heart at the same time.

“Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was just me and her. Maybe together we were this volatile entity that would either implode or meld together. Either way, it seemed the moment I met her, my life had been turned upside down. And I didn’t want it any other way.”

I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this one because of the fact that it’s basically the same story told in the first book, but it turned out to be much more than that. There were new scenes included and readers will obtain a deep understanding into what’s made Travis the the way that he is and just how much he truly loves Abby.

This is a page turner that’s written well and easy to read. The characters are so full of depth and emotion, you become part of them. Jamie McGuire remains one of my favorites and I want to read everything she writes.

My rating on this one is 5*****


 

Find this on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Series: Beautiful Disaster Series
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original ed. edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476712980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476712987

About the Author:

Jamie McGuire

4464118.jpgJamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.

Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists in all four categories. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers series, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1. In 2015, books two and three of the Maddox Brothers series, Beautiful Redemption and Beautiful Sacrifice, respectively, also topped the New York Times, as well as a Beautiful series novella, Something Beautiful. In 2016, Beautiful Burn made an appearance on the New York Times and USA Today, and was also named iBooks’ Romance Book of the Year. The same year, A Beautiful Funeral also topped the New York Times bestseller list. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire – February 1st”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Apple Porridge with Cinnamon and Raisins- Star Anise and Cinnamon Tea – Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Happy Wednesday, friends! How’s everyone doing this week? Are you all reading anything interesting? I totally went off my reading schedule to fit a new ARC in. I’ll be sharing that today and also a new recipe from the Thyroid Healing book by Anthony Williams that I talked about a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy!

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I was a little late this morning and needed a quick breakfast. I’ve been thinking about this recipe since I first saw it and thought I’d give it a try. There’s no cooking involved and this was super fast!  Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Apple Porridge with Cinnamon and Raisins- Star Anise and Cinnamon Tea – Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage”

Throwback Thursday: Something Blue by Emily Giffin – January 25th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

Something Blue (Darcy & Rachel #2)

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Blurb: Following the smash-hit Something Borrowed comes story of betrayal, redemption, and forgiveness.

Darcy Rhone has always been able to rely on a few things: Her beauty and charm. Her fiance, Dex. Her lifelong best friend, Rachel. She never needed anything else. Or so she thinks until Dex calls off their dream wedding and she uncovers the ultimate betrayal. Blaming everyone but herself, Darcy flees to London and attempts to re-create her glamorous life on a new continent. But to her dismay, she discovers that her tried-and-true tricks no longer apply—and that her luck has finally expired. It is only then that she can begin her journey toward redemption, forgiveness, and true love.

My Thoughts:

I’m finally getting to this book! I read Something Borrowed around 2006 and absolutely loved it. I was talking with my friend Noriko about Something Blue and she highly recommended it. I actually own the eBook and hope to start this one in the next few weeks.
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Find it on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312323859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312323851

 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Cathy at Between the Lines

Amy at Novel Gossip

Diana at A Haven for Booklovers

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Ann Marie at LItWitWineDine

Laura at Snazzy Books

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Something Blue by Emily Giffin – January 25th”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Raw Cookies & Homemade Almond Milk

Hello everyone! How’s your week going? Are you reading anything good? I’m back today with a book I’ve started this week and a recipe I’ve been wanting to share since last year! Hope you enjoy 🙂

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I decided yesterday that I wanted to have raw cookies for breakfast this morning. It’s been some time since I made these because my dehydrator was in the process of being fixed. I have a love hate relationship with my Sedona dehydrator because it functions very well, but it’s required repair three times since I got it five years ago! When I say fixed, I mean they send me the part and I fix it, haha. So, my warranty is up now and I’m hoping that I’ll at least get another good year out of it.

This particular raw cookie is my own creation. I’ve made so many different recipes and finally just decided to make them the way I want, with the ingredients I enjoy. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Almonds
  • 5 Dates (Pitted)
  • 2 TB Raw Honey
  • Half cup soaked raisins (soaked overnight in water – save the water)
  • 2 TB Coconut Oil
  • Half tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Cacao nibs (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Chopped dark chocolate (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

The first thing you do is put your almonds into a processor and give a few pulses until you get a course meal.

Now add in your coconut oil, honey, a few tablespoons of your raisin water, and the dates. Blend this up until it gets nice and sticky.

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Dump this into a bowl and add in everything else until well blended. I use a microplane to grind up fresh nutmeg. Also, Bob’s Red Mill has a nice shredded coconut that doesn’t contain sulfites.

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Raw Cookies & Homemade Almond Milk”

One For Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn: Book Review #NGEW2018 #3

One for Sorrow

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Blurb: Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.

My Thoughts:

One For Sorrow is a middle grade, chilling ghost story. It takes place around 1918 during the deadliest influenza pandemic that killed millions of people.

Annie Browne has just moved to a new town with her mother and father. She’s a bit timid and she’s nervous about making friends at her new school, the Pearce Academy for Girls. The first girl she meets is Elsie, and Elsie doesn’t waste any time filling her in on how horrible the girls at Pearce are. None of the girls like Elsie and she convinces Annie that they won’t like her either. Every day, Annie can’t seem to get away from Elsie as she’s consistently holding her hand and inviting herself over to her house. She tells everyone that Annie is her best friend and because of this, nobody else wants anything to do with Annie. They begin making fun of her too and Annie becomes miserable. Elsie is bossy, pushy, and just not fun to be around. Annie can’t even seem to convince her parents that there’s something not right about Elsie. She has to find away to get away from her.

One day, Elsie doesn’t show up for school and Annie finally gets a chance to gain the friendship of some of the other girls, especially Rosie, the most popular. She becomes friends with the very group of girls that hate Elsie, including Rosie. A few more days pass and Annie wonders how Elsie will take the news when she returns. Will she be mad at Annie or will they stay friends? Will Annie take on the same bullying behaviors her classmates have bestowed on Elsie?

I just have to say–I couldn’t put this book down. From start to finish, the narrative had me completely enthralled. I had to know how this story would end and what would come of Annie. The characters are well developed and the book is written well with perfect pacing. There’s just enough to keep you turning page after page. I also loved the mention of multiple classic books by Charles Dickens and Lucy Maud Montgomery to name a few.

With that said, I was disturbed and uncomfortable at times.  I found this middle grade book a bit scary and Elsie pretty much drove me crazy from the start. It’s known that Elsie has demons from her past, some that she hasn’t been able to exterminate, which makes her very unstable and evil at times. It was almost more than I could bear. Rosie was also difficult to deal with. She’s very cruel and tends to cause problems by calling names and bullying others by chasing them. She’s pretty wound up, yet interesting. Some of the girls realize that what Rosie’s doing is wrong, but many of them keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to deal with the repercussions from her and they want her to remain their friend. They feel pressured to join in and all the while, the teacher doesn’t seem to be on top of things and doesn’t do anything to put a stop to the behaviors besides making simple commands like, “I won’t tolerate this behavior.” It’s really annoying. While all of this is happening, the flu of 1918 is making rounds. People are dying left and right. Everyone fears that they’ll be taken next, but who will it be?

Overall, I think this is a 5-star read that I highly recommend. It kept me interested from start to finish and I was really pleased with the ending. The Afterword was such a nice addition because the author explains where she got some of the ideas for the story which are inspired by true events. I’m excited to check out some other books by Mary Downing Hahn as this was my first.

Thanks to Netgalley for sharing a copy of One For Sorrow in exchange for a review.

5*****


  • Age Range: 10 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 – 7
  • Lexile Measure: 660 (What’s this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (July 18, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544818091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544818095

Find it on Goodreads and Amazon


Continue reading “One For Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn: Book Review #NGEW2018 #3”

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult: Book Review – #UltimateReadingChallenge #1

The Tenth Circle

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Blurb: Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She’s also the light of her father, Daniel’s life — a straight-A student; a pretty, popular freshman in high school; a girl who’s always seen her father as a hero. That is, until her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence. Suddenly everything Trixie has believed about her family — and herself — seems to be a lie. Could the boyfriend who once made Trixie wild with happiness have been the one to end her childhood forever? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a seemingly mild-mannered comic book artist with a secret tumultuous past he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back to protect his daughter.

 

With The Tenth Circle, Jodi Picoult offers her most powerful chronicle yet as she explores the unbreakable bond between parent and child, and questions whether you can reinvent yourself in the course of a lifetime — or if your mistakes are carried forever.

 

My Thoughts:

Jodi Picoult has been a favorite author of mine since I was in high school. The very first book I read by her was Picture Perfect and I couldn’t wait to read more of her novels. Very few of Jodi Picoult’s stories haven’t captured me in some way. The Tenth Circle is probably one of the most poignant that I’ve read. As a parent, the book really made me question my morals and how far I’d be willing to go to protect my own children.

*May contain mild spoilers*

Trixie is the fourteen-year-old daughter of Daniel and Laura Stone. Laura is a college professor and Daniel writes comics for a living. He’s basically a stay-at-home dad and has a strong bond with Trixie. Daniel’s dealing with the fact that she’s getting older and pulling away from him more and more and he yearns for the bond they once had. This is something many parents fear, including me, as our children get older. Trixie’s boyfriend Jason has just broken up with her and she’s not taking it so well. Already, she’s cut herself and attempted suicide while her parents deal with their own issues and they don’t see it happening. Her friend Zephyr is having a party with a lot of other students invited, including Jason, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make him jealous to get him to pay attention to her. She wants him back and because of this, she lies to her father, telling him it’s just a sleepover, and puts herself into a dangerous situation. This isn’t a typical party, it’s basically a sex game party and Trixie is extremely vulnerable. This part of the book made me really cringe because she acted like an idiot and did things no fourteen-year-old should be doing. At this point you can really tell how mixed up she is. She heads home in the wee hours of the night and Daniel finds her in the bathroom. She’s on the floor, disheveled with makeup all over her face, and tells Daniel, “Daddy, he raped me.”

While Trixie is dealing with the social repercussions at school after accusing Jason of raping her, Daniel and Laura have their own problems to deal with. What took Laura so long to get to the hospital that night? Why didn’t she answer the phone at the office? Daniel is beside himself with what’s happened to Trixie and has his own secrets from the past. Not only that, many questions arise. Is Trixie telling the truth and was she really raped that night? Is Jason really the evil kid everyone is making him out to be? As with most of Jodi Picoult’s books, there are twists and turns throughout the narrative that leave you guessing the truth until the end.

A few of the aspects I loved in this book was that Dante’s Inferno is referenced throughout and the comics add a nice touch because all the characters go through hell in this story until the final end. I did enjoy this one as much as the first time I read it, but I believe I overlooked a few things when I read this over a decade ago. While Daniel and Trixie’s characters are very well developed, especially with visiting back to Daniel’s childhood including the Alaskan culture he was raised in, Laura and Seth’s characters aren’t very developed and the ending was so abrupt and sort of left uncertain. A few parts of the narrative are a little far fetched as well, but for the most part, it’s believable. Regardless, I’m so glad that I reread this because I couldn’t remember a lot of what happened and it felt really fresh to me. Up until now, I haven’t reread a lot of my books, but leave it to Jodi Picoult to inspire me to do just that!

5*****

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074349671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743496711

Continue reading “The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult: Book Review – #UltimateReadingChallenge #1”

Throwback Thursday: Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan – January 18th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

Archer’s Voice

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Blurb: When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

My Thoughts:

I found Archer’s Voice floating around on Goodreads sometime in 2016 and went right to Amazon to grab a copy. The story grabbed my attention from the very first words.

Bree has moved to a little town in Maine. She’s looking for a new start and finds herself a little cabin to move into. After finding a job at a diner and meeting some new people in town, she runs into a man named Archer. Archer looks fairly disheveled and at first she can’t figure out what it is, but she sees something in him. Why on Earth won’t he talk to her? She’s persistent and reaches out to Archer in hope for a breakthrough, but Arthur has been damaged. He’s been shown unkindness far too many times and Bree has her work cut out for her. The angst is almost unbearable.

“I’m afraid to love you. I’m afraid that you’ll leave and that I’ll go back to being alone again. Only it will be a hundred times worse because I’ll know what I’m missing. I can’t…” He sucked in a shaky breath. “I want to be able to love you more than I fear losing you, and I don’t know how. Teach me, Bree. Please teach me. Don’t let me destroy this.”Archer

I just loved Bree and Archer’s characters. Bree is so kind-hearted and she’s willing to go the extra mile to break through to Archer and help him heal. She’s battling her own demons and both of them need to overcome the pain they’ve experienced in the past. Archer is equally kind, but he needs help materializing everything–someone patient, caring, and willing to give him a chance. He has to learn to trust again.

This was a favorite in 2016 and I hope more people who enjoy reading romance will pick this one up. It’s wonderful. I’m thinking this will be a reread in 2018 for me. I rated this one 5*****.

I’ve since learned that the book will be adapted into a movie! I was so excited. It’s in the works, but here’s a book trailer for you to enjoy.

 

Get in on Amazon or find it on Goodreads.
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Forever (February 13, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1538727358
  • ISBN-13: 978-1538727355

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan – January 18th”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Baked Oatmeal – One For Sorrow – The Tenth Circle

Howdy everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and having a great week so far. I’m doing pretty good and getting caught up on reading. I’ve added a few books to my challenge and seem to be on track for the most part so far.

Today I wanted to share a recipe I found online for baked oatmeal. I’ve been aiming to try baked oatmeal for some time after chatting with my friend Jennifer about it. Can you believe I’ve never made it? Well, here’s the recipe that I found, but I ran into some problems.

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Baked Oatmeal II

Recipe Credit: BLANCHL from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

—–

So the issue I had with this recipe is that I can’t use dairy, eggs, or butter because I’m working on sticking to the protocol in the Thyroid Healing book I discussed last week. So, I got online and found a link at sheknows.com for egg substitutes. Here’s what I found out!

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I decided to substitute the eggs with applesauce. Then I went over to Dr. Axe’s site ❤ to find some good butter substitutions. I decided to sub the butter with coconut oil and I used almond milk in place of cow’s milk. If you don’t have issues with dairy, eggs, and butter, just make it the way it appears above! I just know this is going to be delicious either way.

Here’s what I did:

I put all my dry ingredients in a bowl and mixed it up a bit.

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Then I added in the wet ingredients and mixed it well. This includes the vanilla which isn’t pictured.

 

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I mixed in the raisins last. The recipe calls for cranberries, but I’m not a huge fan of cranberries when it comes to oatmeal, though I do use them occasionally.

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I put the mix into a 13×9 glass pan and baked at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. I set the timer for 40 minutes, but it needed extra time to crisp up at the top.

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It pretty much came out looking the same way it went in.

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I cut it into pieces and served with a drizzle of honey and fresh almond milk.

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This was pretty good even with the substitutions, but looking back, I think an hour in the oven would’ve been better. It had a crisp top and was quite soft on the bottom. It sort of reminded me of a soft, warm granola bar.

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Baked Oatmeal – One For Sorrow – The Tenth Circle”

White Fur by Jardine Libaire: Book Review – #NGEW2018

White Fur

 

Left: Wolverine Camper, 1979. Right: Ann Magnuson, Avenue A, 1984.

 

Blurb: When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school. Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. The attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love but also for their lives.

My Thoughts:

I read some reviews for White Fur last year and after reading the blurb, it sounded like a book I would enjoy. Books like The Notebook and movies like “Pretty in Pink” are faves, and this story is about a rich boy who falls for a low class girl and they do fall in love, but it certainly isn’t that simple and not really what I expected.

*May contain mild spoilers*

Jamie is a Yale boy who comes from a wealthy family. They have high expectations of him and there’s no question about the direction of his future, until Jamey meets his neighbor Elise, and discovers he’s both fascinated by her and repulsed at the same time. He develops a hot and heavy sexual relationship with her, but fears intimacy. Elise is like a polar opposite. She’s low class, comes from a multi-racial background, never graduated high school, doesn’t know her dad, and learned about sex, violence, and drugs at a young age. She wonders about Jamey and why he’s distant from her outside of their sexual encounters. She wants a normal relationship with him and wants him to see her–the real her. She wants him to be interested in her. The truth is, Jamey knows he shouldn’t want Elise. She smokes, curses, and he has issues with her behavior. Not only that, he’s reminded by his best friend and family repeatedly that this simply can’t happen, but he can’t seem to shake the feelings he has for her.

Time moves forward and Jamey invites Elise to live with him in New York where there are less distractions. The hope is that they can continue their relationship without drama, but unfortunately, Jamey’s gang of a family won’t leave it alone.

The story is gritty and definitely cringeworthy. I felt that the writing was beautiful and detailed, but for me, it was way too wordy for this type of story. I found the multiple breaks in the narrative confusing and didn’t like the characters. Jamey and Elise’s relationship is pretty much all sex with zero romance for the majority of the book and I can’t understand how this book is described as a modern ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ To me, in a Romeo and Juliet like story, couples don’t have sex with other people, nor do people in love for that matter, but that’s just my personal opinion. I didn’t have any emotion until the last 30-40 pages or so as things started to pick up, and it was more or less over the dog. There just wasn’t enough going on to keep my interest. It had an unexpected ending, but not one that I was really pleased with because I felt like the future was still so uncertain for them. I’m wondering if there might be another book?

This is obviously just not my favorite kind of book, but I know others will like it. Don’t skip the book because of my review if this sounds like one you’d enjoy!

3***

I’d like to thank Netgalley, the publisher, and author for an ARC of White Fur in exchange for a review.

Continue reading “White Fur by Jardine Libaire: Book Review – #NGEW2018”

Throwback Thursday: The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult – January 11th 2018

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

The Tenth Circle

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Blurb: Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She’s also the light of her father, Daniel’s life — a straight-A student; a pretty, popular freshman in high school; a girl who’s always seen her father as a hero. That is, until her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence. Suddenly everything Trixie has believed about her family — and herself — seems to be a lie. Could the boyfriend who once made Trixie wild with happiness have been the one to end her childhood forever? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a seemingly mild-mannered comic book artist with a secret tumultuous past he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back to protect his daughter.

With The Tenth Circle, Jodi Picoult offers her most powerful chronicle yet as she explores the unbreakable bond between parent and child, and questions whether you can reinvent yourself in the course of a lifetime — or if your mistakes are carried forever.

My Thoughts:

I read this book just after it was published sometime around 2007 and really enjoyed it. Jodi Picoult has always been a favorite author, but this book really hit me and the ending was so shocking, I had to give it five stars. It does cover some difficult topics and it’s hard to say that I ‘enjoyed’ the book because of that, but I’ve always considered this one of my favorites, although it’s been some time since I read it.

I’m currently reading it all over again for the Ultimate Reading Challenge that I’m participating in with a few other friends. I hope I enjoy it as much as I did the first time around.

Find it on Goodreads and Amazon:

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (October 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074349671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743496711

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult – January 11th 2018”

Shabby Sunday: Animal Farm by George Orwell – 1946

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Animal Farm (A Signet Classic)

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Blurb: George Orwell’s timeless fable—a parable for would-be liberators everywhere, glimpsed through the lens of our own history.

As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, we begin to recognize the seeds of totalitarianism in the most idealistic organization; and in our most charismatic leaders, the souls of our cruelest oppressors. – Amazon

My Thoughts:

I read Animal Farm when I was in college and it was one of those reads where you think it’s going to be boring, but it turns out to be a favorite. It’s an allegorical tale representing the Russian Revolution where the characters in the book represent people during this time.

I won’t go into the plot too much, but in a nutshell, this story is about a group of farm animals who rise up against the evil farmer who cares for them. They basically take over the farm by cause of Old Major (Marx/Lenen), the pig all about change. He get’s all the animals together into an uprising against Mr. Jones, the farmer (Tsar Nicholas II). The animal characters then run the farm themselves and develop their own hierarchy being lead by Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin). In a way, the story reminds me of an Aesop’s Fable because the animal characters in the book have human characteristics and there are morals and messages that are quite obvious. Young readers can read it and they won’t pick up on the meaning–they’ll just think it’s a story about a group of  rebellious farm animals against humans, but I believe the message that Orwell wanted to express is that power corrupts. Also that people need to think for themselves, educate yourself and make your own decisions. Don’t let others think for you.

Someone recently asked me who my favorite character was in the book which is a really difficult question to ask, in my opinion. I liked a handful of the characters including Boxer, Snowball, Benjamin, and Clover, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be Snowball. Snowball’s ideas were in the best interests of the animals and he was always fair. He wanted to educate the other animals and make life easier for them. He was intelligent, brave, and stood up for his beliefs which is why he’s my favorite character in the book.

I’m not sure exactly how old my edition is of Animal Farm because no publication date is given, however, Goodreads seems to have this Signet Classic published in 1956. This thin paperback is in great shape for it’s age with clean, crisp pages.

My rating on this one is 5*****

Here’s the song “Beasts of England” passed on to the animals by Old Major: 


Beasts of England

Beasts of England, Beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the Golden future time.
 
Soon or late the day is coming,
Tyrant Man shall be o’erthrown,
And the fruitful fields of England
Shall be trod by beasts alone.
 
Rings shall vanish from our noses,
And the harness from our back,
Bit and spur shall rust forever,
Cruel whips no more shall crack.
 
Riches more than mind can picture,
Wheat and barley, oats and hay,
Clover, beans, and mangel-wurzels
Shall be ours upon that day.
 
Bright will shine the fields of England,
Purer shall its waters be,
Sweeter yet shall blow its breezes
On the day that sets us free.
 
For that day we all must labour,
Though we die before it break;
Cows and horses, geese and turkeys,
All must toil for freedom’s sake.
 
Beasts of England, Beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken well, and spread my tidings
Of the Golden future time.
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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Animal Farm by George Orwell – 1946”

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review

The Deal of a Lifetime

by Fredrik Backman

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Blurb:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.

It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose—not yet.

One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way—prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.

Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…

Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love. –Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I read two books by Fredrik Backman this year and enjoyed them both. When I saw The Deal of a Lifetime floating around on Goodreads, the cover and author sent me right into an impulse buy and I used an Audible credit to purchase it. I didn’t even read the blurb and assumed I was purchasing a Christmas read. It turned out to be very different from what I expected and my review below might contain something you consider a spoiler if you want to go in completely blind. Although, I don’t feel that I reveal anything more than the blurb does.

The story begins with a father telling his son a story on Christmas Eve about how he killed someone. He’s not disclosing details and you won’t find out until the end of the story what really happens, but basically, he knows he hasn’t been an exceptional father. He explains that he’s been obsessed with his legacy and has chosen what ‘he’ considers success over being a good parent to his son. That’s what’s been most important to him–leaving behind a legacy full of everything he thinks is important–wealth and security. Then he meets someone who’s dying of cancer and he begins to question the decisions he’s made. He begins to question how important life is. Do other people’s lives matter? How important is someone else’s life to you if you don’t know them?

When I first started listening to this I began to feel that I wasn’t going to be pleased with it. I appreciated that the places described in the story were real, taking place in the author’s hometown, but when I started to contemplate that there might be a death, I was thinking for sure that I would hate it. By the time I got to the end, it hit me. Had my husband not been in the vehicle with me for the hour drive, I may have used an entire box of Kleenex and bawled my eyes out for another hour. The story is short and it’s quite expensive to buy, but It’s truly thought-provoking and what a powerful and meaningful message it sends. For that I’m giving this 5*****.

Continue reading “The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review”

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review

The Noel Diary

by Richard Paul Evans

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BlurbIn this new holiday-themed novel from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Mistletoe Promise and The Walk, a man receives the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to re-write the past.

Bestselling romance author Jacob Churcher hasn’t been home for almost twenty years—not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls, days before Christmas, to inform him that his estranged mother has passed away and left her house to him, Jacob returns not just to settle the estate but to try and reconcile with the past and the pain and abuse he experienced as a child. Also, maybe cleaning out her house will be slightly less depressing than spending the holidays alone, watching re-runs of Christmas classics.

But as it turns out, the house holds more than just difficult memories, Jacob’s mother had become a hoarder and he must excavate through two decades worth of clutter. As Jacob digs through the detritus, like an archaeologist, he uncovers many puzzling items including a diary left by someone named Noel, a young woman he has no recollection of, who stayed with Jacob’s family during her pregnancy. That’s not the only echo from the past. Jacob has an unexpected visitor, Rachel, a woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years before. United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel. Along the way they find more than they possibly imagined, including grace, forgiveness and a chance at love.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a few Christmas books by Richard Paul Evans and since I enjoyed them, I thought I’d pick this one up. I was surprised that this isn’t truly a Christmas story, but it does occur at Christmastime.

Jacob Churcher is a successful author who’s bitter about his childhood. Growing up with a mother who had mental instability has scarred him. He receives an unexpected phone call informing him that his mother has passed away and he travels back home to a house full of memories as he begins a journey to heal.

The story wasn’t exactly festive or fluffy like I expected, but I still enjoyed it. It’s a fast, light read. I thought the story was believable and it felt real to me. My only issue was the insta-love.

4****

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Continue reading “The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review”

Throwback Thursday: Debbie Macomber – Twelve Days of Christmas – December 21st

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This week’s pick:

Twelve Days of Christmas

by Debbie Macomber

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Blurb: Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer—and the magical prospect of finding love in the most unexpected places.

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love. – Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I just finished Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber and still have a handful of Christmas reads to get in. This week I’m reading Starry Night which I talked about last week and I’ll be starting this one, Twelve Days of Christmas, after that. I’ve had this one on my TBR for some time! I’ve fallen in love with this author’s writing style and these books are quick reads which are perfect for this time of year. I have no doubt that I’ll be reading Christmas books all the way into January with the amount that I have added! 🙂

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553391739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553391732

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Debbie Macomber – Twelve Days of Christmas – December 21st”

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Book Review

Merry and Bright

by Debbie Macomber

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Blurb: Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

My Thoughts:

Merry and Bright is a warm, feel-good, clean holiday romance that will get you into the holiday spirit. I was looking for a light, easy, and satisfying read and this one definitely hits the mark.

Merry is preparing for the holiday season, taking care of her family, and working crazy hours as a temp for a job that will soon be completed. She couldn’t be happier because she doesn’t get along with her boss and has plans to finish her college degree. She lives with her mom who isn’t well, along with her little brother Patrick who has down syndrome. Her mother and Patrick wish she could start a relationship because they feel like Merry is lonely, so they get on the computer and set Merry up with an online dating profile, using a picture of her dog so nobody knows who it us. Her profile catches a wink right away, but it’s a mystery who this man is!

Jayson is Merry’ s boss and he’s truly not a person who’s in the Christmas spirit. He has struggles in his relationship with his father which is far from perfect. It’s bad enough that he simply doesn’t want to see his father anymore. They don’t get along and Jayson’s sort of bitter about everything. He has his best friend to lean on and he’s truly a good person at heart, but just needs a little help opening his eyes.

This was my first Debbie Macomber book and I personally loved this story. It was such a fast read and kept me interested until the end. The narrative is believable and the characters were written perfectly. I didn’t feel that it was super predictable until I got closer to the end because every time I thought the story was going one way, the course seemed to lead to a different outcome. This book is lovely and I’m positive Debbie Macomber is going to be a favorite author.

5*****


Find this on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399181229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399181221

Continue reading “Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Book Review”

Throwback Thursday: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber – December 14th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

throwback-thursday


This week’s pick:

Starry Night

by Debbie Macomber

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Blurb: ’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

My Thoughts:

I have so many Debbie Macomber books added to my TBR, so when I saw this at my local library, I couldn’t resist. I fell in love with the cover and after reading the blurb, I knew it was one I had to try. I haven’t read anything by Debbie Macomber and after seeing that she’s one of my good friend Noriko’s favorite authors, I’m even more intrigued! You’ll have to read her wonderful review of this book on her blog.

So, I thought I’d start out with a few Christmas reads. Along with this one, I grabbed a few others by this author and will be starting them this week! I’m trying to get as many Christmas books in as possible and there simply isn’t enough time to read them all!

Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Printing edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345528891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345528896

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Starry Night by Debbie Macomber – December 14th”

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – Book Review

The Wife Between Us

by Greer Hendricks, and Sarah Pekkanen

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Blurb:

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love. 

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.


My Thoughts:

Vanessa has problems. Now that she’s divorced from Richard, she can’t stand the fact that Richard has moved on. Not only is he his usual thriving self, but now he’s getting married to someone new–someone young and beautiful. It just so happens that this new woman reminds Vanessa of someone she used to be.

What is it about Richard? Was he a perfect husband? Is he truly a knight in shining armor? Was Vanessa a psycho and mentally unstable wife? Who’s to blame for the marriage ending and what role do the others have in this story?

I went in to this book super excited after reading multiple rave reviews about it from friends on Goodreads. It seemed like everyone was loving it, so I went straight to NetGalley and put in my request. After I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down. I thought for sure I knew where the story was going. It felt slow to me, but I hung on until nearly halfway through when the first major twist was introduced. I was shocked! I was so very surprised and befuddled thinking that I’d skipped something or that I was lost. It seemed unique and interesting, but as time went on, I became disentranced and my mind began to wonder away from the story. The characters became confusing to me and the plot felt all over the place. It was like I wanted to get to the ending to see how things would unfold, but there simply wasn’t anything going on to captivate me. At times, I felt like there was too much information and in other places, simply not enough. I didn’t feel like it was horribly predictable as there were plenty of twists and a strange reveal at the end, but even with all the crazy twists, this just ended up being an okay read for me and it just didn’t feel like a thriller.

I did still enjoy it and feel like this is going to be a favorite for many people! I will still recommend this because I know many will love it. The title, cover, and blurb fit the story perfectly!

Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC of The Wife Between Us.

3 stars

3-stars


 

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (January 9, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250130921
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250130921

Continue reading “The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – Book Review”

Throwback Thursday: Let it Snow by CJ Carmichael – December 7th

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This Week’s Pick:

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Let It Snow!

by C.J. Carmichael

Blurb:

Let It Snow! (Christmas Anthology)

Snowbound In Montana (novella)
A broken heart and the need to find peace compel Eliza Bramble to sign up for a Nordic ski holiday at Baker Creek Lodge, Montana. When a blizzard traps Eliza in the remote mountain hideaway, along with rugged ski guide, Marshall McKenzie, and a group of discontented skiers, Christmas looks like a write-off. But Marshall has a special touch with people…and with Eliza in particular. Soon she realizes Marshall isn’t just fixing Christmas—but her broken heart, too.

A Cowgirl’s Christmas (novel)
For years Callan Carrigan has been her father’s right hand man, so when her dad’s will names city slicker Court McAlister the new owner of The Circle C Ranch, Callan feels betrayed on every level. Then she and her sisters find their mother’s diaries, hidden from them by their father since their mother’s accidental death 18 years ago, and the shocking revelations explain a lot. When Court offers her a deal—if she agrees to be foreman at the Circle C for one year, he’ll deed fifty percent of the ranch back to her and her sisters—it seems too sweet at first. Until Callan realizes Court has his eyes on something she protects even more than her family’s land—her heart.

The Gift (short story)
What would you do if a child in need showed up at your door on Christmas Eve? Amy Gold, Bandit Creek’s kindergarten teacher, is not the sort of person to flout the law. Especially since she’s dating the local deputy, Gray Cassidy. But an unexpected Christmas gift is about to change everything–not just Amy’s plans for a traditional Christmas, her her entire future, and Gray’s as well.


My Thoughts:

I’ve been wanting to read this one for some time now. It’s a collection of three Christmas stories by CJ Carmichael–Snowbound in Montana, A Cowgirl’s Christmas, and The Gift.  I took a chance and purchased a copy on Amazon last week because I couldn’t find this Christmas edition anywhere. I’ll be starting it this week.


 

  • Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Tule Publishing Group (November 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1940296978
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940296975

Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

 

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Let it Snow by CJ Carmichael – December 7th”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Gluten Free Blueberry Pancakes – The Wife Between Us

Good day everyone! I have this awesome recipe to share with you today that is new and I just cooked it for the first time this morning. There’s also a new book to share. I hope you enjoy!

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A few months ago I had to revert to a gluten-free diet once again which is not easy in my opinion. Once you get used to using wheat in everything, it becomes hard to not have those food items anymore. Well, I found this flour at Costco a few days ago and thought I’d give it a shot!

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I used the recipe that’s right on the back of the bag which is also on their website with tons of other recipes. Here’s the original recipe.

Perfect Blueberry Pancakes

Note: This recipe must be made with blueberries to turn out right. For regular pancakes we recommend our Waffle & Pancake Mix.

Ingredients

1-1/4 cups Namaste Perfect Flour Blend
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 cups milk, any kind
2 eggs
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions

  1. Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. Whisk together the liquid ingredients in large bowl.
  2. Add dry to liquid, combine well. Preheat griddle or pan to medium heat. Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto sprayed griddle. As with all pancake batter, batter may thicken as it sits. Add more liquid as necessary. Sprinkle with blueberries.
  3. Cook until bubbles appear and bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook a minute or two longer.

-I ended up doubling the recipe. Here’s what I did.- 

I added all the dry ingredients to a bowl and whisked it together. Then, I added all the wet ingredients and spices into my Vitamix and mixed it on low until incorporated. I used almond milk. I then added in the wet with the dry and whisked it up.

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Cook on low heat a few minutes each side. We ended up with some weird shapes because the batter was so thick, even with added almond milk!

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Once I flipped them, I realized it wasn’t going to be a big deal. They were cooking beautifully.

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These were surprisingly good! My kids even loved them! We also had some all natural sausage links from Costco with the pancakes. It was a delicious breakfast.

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Gluten Free Blueberry Pancakes – The Wife Between Us”

Blog Tour: Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney – Book Review & Author Interview

I had the pleasure of reading James J. Cudney’s debut novel Watching Glass Shatter last week and what a treat it was! You can read my review of the book below and also check out my interview with this incredible author. You’ll learn more about James J. Cudney as a reader and writer as we discuss the book and also his plans for the future.

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I’ve come to know James over this past year through our blog communications and he quickly became an inspiration to me as well as a friend. I follow his blog @ thisismytruthnow and enjoy every post I read from his book reviews to the 365-day challenge and I can’t forget his dog Ryder’s Monday posts. He’s such a wonderful writer and I was so excited to learn that he was publishing his first novel. It seems to have happened so quickly and I’m just so proud of Jay and ecstatic to be part of the blog tour! I hope you’ll enjoy reading this post about his new book.

Watching Glass Shatter

by James J. Cudney

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Blurb: The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death.

We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family.

My Review:

 

Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney is one of the best books I’ve read in 2017. It’s a debut novel about a family with secrets. These secrets have the potential to tear the family apart.

The matriarch of the family is Olivia. Her husband Ben, the patriarch, has just died unexpectedly and she is left with their five grown sons, their families, and her sister Diane. She’s also left with a secret from Ben regarding one of their sons. Olivia decides to take some time to spend which each of the boys and in doing so, she discovers that each and every one of them has their own little secrets they’ve been hiding.

I was sucked into this story as soon as I started reading it. A worry that I had was that with all the characters in the book, I would get confused and lost because each of the sons have their own family members as well, but not once did I have an issue with it. The characters are so well detailed and described. After reading about each one, I felt that I knew this family and they all felt so realistic to me. I think overall my favorite character was Diane, but as the story moved on, it became Olivia. In the beginning, I almost couldn’t stand Olivia, but she begins to change. As she discovers so many new things about her sons and their spouses, she starts to realize that she’s too much of a control freak and needs to let people make their own decisions. I loved this transformation, although it may not have been complete, she becomes more understanding, more kind, and less judgemental which I admired. The boys…where can I start? Each one is unique in their own way. I loved all of them, but my favorite son was Ethan. I had issues with Zach and a certain situation between him, Teddy and his wife, but it came together in the end which was unexpected. I couldn’t wait to find out whether the Glass family would heal or simply fall apart. I was literally astonished by this book because it has many twists and turns. You just won’t know unless you read it from beginning to end.

I follow Jay’s blog and conversate with him from time to time, so I already knew he was a good writer, but this writing to me is even more delightful, the plot was so unique and the book was put together perfectly. Readers know that it takes more than just a good writer to offer a great book and everyone has their own opinions on this. Some say they need to be captivated and that the characters need good development. Others say they really want to ‘think’ or be taken on an adventure, but a good book to me is one that makes you feel, and this book did that for me. I had a myriad of emotions. I laughed, became shocked, cried, jumped for joy, and got angry at times throughout the book. It’s truly heart-wrenching at times! I can’t remember the last time I was this emotionally involved with characters. It’s definitely been a while!

As far as the end, I liked it, but I expected something different. I wasn’t sure if I was happy with Olivia’s choices, or Rowena’s choice for that matter, but it turned out that I was pleased with it.

Overall, I loved this book and I’d recommend this book to anyone. What a ride. I can’t wait for the next book! Every star for Watching Glass Shatter!

5 Sterne

 


You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 24, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1978233434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1978233430

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Continue reading “Blog Tour: Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney – Book Review & Author Interview”

Throwback Thursday: November 16th – Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

throwback-thursday

This Week’s Pick:

Something Borrowed

by Emily Giffin

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Blurb: Something Borrowed tells the story of Rachel, a young attorney living and working in Manhattan.

Rachel has always been the consummate good girl—until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend, Darcy, throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy’s fiancé. Although she wakes up determined to put the one-night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy she should run from. As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren’t always neat, and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness.

Something Borrowed is a phenomenal debut novel that will have you laughing, crying, and calling your best friend.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book today because I read it at a very difficult time in my life and it quickly became a favorite. In 2006, my daughter, who was born three months prior, had to undergo an open heart surgery at a university hospital. After a very long 9-hour surgery, she was put into ICU and then into recovery for about a week. It was a very difficult time and all I could really do was sit in the hospital room, take care of her, and read. A staff member came around with a reading cart and let me pick out a few books. This was one of them. I remember picking it up and devouring it. At that time, I was younger and still into chick lit, just out of college, and this book really got me into reading again. It really brought me back to my love for reading.

The story follows two best friends who have been friends through thick and thin. Darcy pretty much has it all, a great job, a soon to be husband, and she pretty much gets what she wants every time. Rachel, the lawyer, is a bit different and begins to question why things are the way they are. Why isn’t her life more like Darcy’s? In a nutshell, she falls in love with Darcy’s fiance, Dex, and winds up sleeping with him. The drama ensues.

This is one of those books where I wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be rooting for. Cheating is something I have very strong feelings about and I think it’s totally wrong no matter what. I mean, certainly what Rachel and Dex did was wrong, but somehow I felt sympathy for all the characters and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen with these relationships and how it would end. I loved the way it was written and it’s such a simple read and a page-turner. I was fairly satisfied with the ending and I hope to read more from this author in the future.

My rating on this one is 4****


Find this on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; 1st edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031232118X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312321185

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Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: November 16th – Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin”

Shabby Sunday: Roald Dahl – Switch Bitch – 1974

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Switch Bitch

by Roald Dahl

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Blurb: Switch Bitch is a 1974 short story collection for adults by Roald Dahl. The book is made up of four stories: “The Visitor,” “The Great Switcheroo,” “The Last Act,” and “Bitch”. The stories had been written by Dahl for Playboy magazine and published separately in 1965.

My Thoughts:

Roald Dahl wrote dirty stories for adults? Yes, he did! I ended up getting this in a lot of Roald Dahl books that I purchased online. I was intrigued because I always considered him solely a children’s book author, but it isn’t so.

This book contains four stories that were originally published in Playboy magazine. I won’t formally review this one quite yet because so far I’ve only read one, The Visitor, and it was pretty good but incredibly weird to me. This really isn’t my kind of reading, but I enjoy branching out and reading books like these sometimes. It’s all writing without any illustrations and all the stories do involve sex which makes it inappropriate for young readers.

If you like Roald Dahl and you’re looking for some adult reading, this one is worth taking a look. It’s definitely different!


 

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Hardcover: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc; 1 edition (September 1, 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394494733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394494739

 

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Roald Dahl – Switch Bitch – 1974”

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!

Earlier this year I came across a book on Goodreads titled Sweet Bean Paste which was recently translated into English. I added it right away and then received a tip from a Goodreads friend and fellow book blogger Evelina@ Avalinahsbooks that it was available on Edelweiss. Luckily, I was approved for it, because it turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year.

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Sweet Bean Paste

by Durian SukegawaAlison Watts

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The story begins with Sentaro, a man who was previously in jail and is now working in a little confectionary shop to pay off some debt. He makes a Japanese sweet called ‘dorayaki’ every day but puts no heart into it at all. He works in a depressed part of town and feels quite depressed himself. He doesn’t have much appreciation for life while spending most evenings drowning his sorrows with alcohol. He’s always wanted to be a writer, but just doesn’t know what his purpose in life is at this point.

One day, he puts an ad out for a helper. A little old lady named Tokue comes to visit Sentaro and begins to chat about his red bean paste. She wants the job, but Sentaro is hesitant to hire her because there are differences in Tokue’s appearance which make her different than other people. Her fingers are disfigured, but after Sentaro tastes some of her sweet bean paste, he begins to question in his mind how he can hire her without offending customers because her sweet, rich bean paste is like nothing he’s ever tasted, and he has to learn how to make it. As time moves on, Tokue becomes part of the shop and enjoys meeting with some of the customers, until a rumor starts and people become afraid of something they don’t truly understand.

I loved the characters and cherished Tokue’s wisdom. Besides teaching Sentaro how to make the best bean paste, she helps him on his journey of self-discovery and teaches him how to truly listen and to be patient.

“We were born in order to see and listen to the world.”

Reading about Tokue’s harrowing past was difficult, yet the unlikely friendships formed between this small group of people is heartwarming. Each of them has something to give one another and as they connect, Sentaro finally begins to see the light from Tokue’s teachings.

After reading the book, I sat for awhile and reflected on Tokue’s suggestions to Sentaro and found the book very educational because of it–from her messages about listening and seeing to also learning about Hansen’s disease in Japanese history. I absolutely adored reading this wonderful book and appreciated the author’s note at the end which explains the author’s experience with Hansen’s disease and the inspiration for this story. This is a book anyone can enjoy and I highly recommend it. My rating is 5*****

I’d like to thank Edelweiss, the publisher, and the author for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.

5 Sterne

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786071959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786071958

I was so excited to learn that this book has been adapted to film and it’s available on Netflix. I haven’t watched it yet, but plan to this weekend and I’ll share my thoughts after. Here’s the trailer…


All this reading about Dorayaki and sweet bean paste really sparked my interest. I’d never had dorayaki or even heard of it. I went straight to Amazon and ordered some adzuki beans so that I could experience this Japanese treat with my family.

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What is dorayaki?

Dorayaki (どら焼き, どらやき, 銅鑼焼き, ドラ焼き) is a type of Japanese confection, а red-bean pancake which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of sweet Azuki red bean paste.


Making Dorayaki

The first thing I did was soak the beans. I put about a cup of adzuki beans in a jar with water and let them soak overnight. I rinsed them once before and then again in the morning.

 

I decided to make the paste first. I started by putting the beans in the pan with water to cover and brought them to a boil and boiled them for a few minutes. Then I rinsed them completely. I put them back in the pan again with plenty of water to cover and brought them to a boil again. This time, I let them simmer for about an hour until they were soft.

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Once they were soft, I drained the water and blended them up in my Vitamix.

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I blended them until fairly smooth.

Next, I added the paste back to the pan with a heaping half cup of sugar. I stirred it and cooked this down for about five minutes on low heat.

 

I ended up with a nice smooth paste that was thick and not runny.

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Continue reading “Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!”