Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Monday, February 29, 2016

On Lone Star Trail...Review

About the book:
If there's one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it's a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow's End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin's wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He's spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God's sense of humor.

Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?

Once a concert pianist, Gillian's career is cut short because of a motorcycle accident. Understandably, she's anti-motorcycle and while on an extended stay at Rainbow's End Resort, meets a man who rides a bike. TJ lost his faith when his wife died and has spent a year riding around the country on his motorcycle, finishing her Bucket List.

The two meet when TJ's bike crashes in front of Gillian's car in a rainstorm. While drawn to each other, they also have mountains of emotional baggage to work through. Each intends a brief stay at Rainbow's End, but opportunities arise and they find themselves drawn together as they work with some troubled teens.

I think there was a lot crammed into the story with the teens, the town, the Senior Center, and Gillian's other suitor. It all works out, and while I liked it well enough, this one just didn't resonate with me as much as the first one did.

This was my least favorite of the three novels. I liked Gillian and TJ, but there was just too much assumption in regards to the other person's behavior or intentions. This one was also a bit more on the preachy side, although with TJ being a former lay preacher trying to find his faith, that is understandable.

Third in the Texas Crossroads trilogy, the story stands alone just fine although everyone from the first two books in this series returns.

Thanks to Revell Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.You can learn more about Amanda Cabot here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/16

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3/5 Stars

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Weekend Reflections 2/27

Looking outside....it's about 50 degrees and the sun is shining. 

Listening...to a music mix with headphones while I work on the computer. Current song is Pirates of the Mississippi, Fighting for You. Next up is Whitesnake, Here I Go Again. The Doctor is at work. The Boy is golfing and The Artist is still asleep. 

Loving...that my sister lives nearby because The Artist spent most of last evening playing with his cousins.


Thinking...that I'm curious what we might learn at church tomorrow. Because it's always a good day at church when you hear Harry Potter referenced from the pulpit like we did last Sunday.  (#quidditch #church #HarryPotter #seek)

In my kitchen...I am enjoying my morning cup of hot chocolate. 

Wearing...Red penguin pajama pants and a black turtleneck with red and white striped fuzzy socks. Don't judge.

Needing...to edit. It's that time of year when I do an annual big editing project. I don't enjoy it, but the check at the end is nice.


Reading...A Perfumer's Secret by Adria J. Cimino.  So far, so good.

Today...some household chores and a run to the store. The Artist is growing out of everything and informed me that he needs a larger size in jeans.

Hoping...that we might get away tomorrow afternoon. 

Planning...to read a bit. 

Gratitude...for 
a husband who can fix and repair things and a part that arrived 4 days earlier than expected so my dishwasher could get fixed sooner. 

From my world... 



This is perfect.

I can see Rod Serling looking out from my television saying, "It is the year 2016 and imagine if you will...an election with no viable candidate. If you can do that, you have just crossed over into the Twilight Zone." 

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, February 26, 2016

5 Books I want to Read: Paris

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2401. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. This month there is a theme: Paris! I love Paris. I have such fond memories of walking her streets with family and friends. It was 20 years ago this month and I have wanted to go back ever since.

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I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.

Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?

The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.



The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell

An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.

As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.

Buying a Piece of Paris: The Home of My Dreams in the City of Lights by Ellie Nielsen

Buying a Piece of Paris is a charming and witty love song to the most beautiful city in the world.

Paris has seduced many admirers, but for Ellie Nielsen it's true love. So deep is her infatuation that she'll only be satisfied with a little place to call her own. The object of her desire seems so simple: the sort of apartment she's seen a thousand times in magazines and movies. Something effortlessly charming, and quirky, and old— and expertly decorated. Something exuding character and Parisian chic. Something quintessentially French.

Little does she realize that the French real estate scene is not quite the dreamscape she'd imagined. With two weeks to find and secure an apartment, and a cursory grasp of the language, Ellie embarks on a mad dash through the streets of Paris, negotiating the fraught world snobby real estate agents, xenophobic bankers and perplexed Parisian naysayers. Thwarted at every turn, in the end it only makes her more determined to succeed.

With her trusty French phrasebook in hand, and plucked up reserves of savoir faire, Ellie undertakes the adventure of a lifetime. Beauty is everywhere even if, like all true romances, there are many obstacles to be overcome. But then, c'est toujours comme ça à Paris. Written with great verve and a superb ear for language, Buying a Piece of Paris is a joy to read and a pleasure to dream about.


The Paris Winter  by Imogen Robertson

Imogen Robertson's break-out novel—a deep, dark and opulent tale of Belle Époque Paris, and the secrets and dangers hidden beneath its luxurious facade. Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle Époque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels' world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.

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What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered PagesFlashlight Commentary and A Literary Vacation.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

#CoverCrush: Fever at Dawn


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.



This cover immediately caught my attention on Netgalley because of the shadows. The shadows don't match with the position of the couple. Why? Are they destined to be separated or is it more about their journey to find each other? The snow covered ground, bare trees and suitcases would suggest some sort of travel. Having read the synopsis, I am intrigued and may check to see if my library has this one. Jury's still out.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: Flashlight CommentaryA Bookaholic Swede.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Oys & Joys...Spotlight

About the book:
Peaks & Valleys, Rain & Rainbows, Oys* & Joys. That’s life!

Sometimes, when you reach the back side of middle age, the past and the secrets it harbors, collides with the present. And secrets never die quietly.

Meet The Oys & Joys—Lizzie, Grace, Sassie and Ruby—baby boomers tied together with the strength of their steel-laced friendships. Until they’re forced to confront a decades old betrayal, and the tragic consequences threatening to sever the trust between them.

Four women, who step into the crossroads between choosing action or forever facing regret—and define their moment by revisiting their past to embrace their future. Their journey, seasoned with their hearts and souls and hey, an abundance of humor, includes attempted murder (oops), DNA surprises (who knew?), boatless boat slips (damn, he got the boat), and sexual awakenings (yes, at their age). Oh, and then there’s the pole dancing for seniors.

About the author:
Marcia Feldt isn't a New York Times bestselling author -- The Oys & Joys being her debut novel and only recently released. But definitely high up there on her Bubble Bath List! Marcia graduated from UCLA, worked in Public Accounting (CPA), and when her entrepreneurial spirit came knocking, founded Feldt Personnel Consultants where she matched candidates to new career opportunities. After selling her business, she dabbled in real estate, built a lake house and started to write. And write and write. Then shattering events bombarded her life and one day, after many days, she started to write again. The Oys & Joys sang to her and the ladies insisted she write their story. Marcia lives in Austin, Texas, sometimes at Lake Conroe, and enjoys a blended family of three married daughters, three grandchildren, and six dogs.

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Thanks to the author for the opportunity to spotlight her book. You can learn more about Marcia Feldt on her website, Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase your own copy here.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Searching for Vivian...Spotlight

About the book:
In 1966, seventeen year old Vivian Russell disappeared like smoke. The seemingly senseless murder of her parents in their home in Cleveland, Ohio was as unexplainable as her vanishing act in its aftermath. Her younger sister, Emma-traumatized by the horrific event--grows into a capable and relentless investigator who decides to do whatever it takes to find her. Her search takes her through the turbulent sixties--Vietnam, The Black Panthers, dead ends, and bank jobs. Along the way, she finds herself and, whether she is prepared for it or not, the truth.
About the author:
Born in Cleveland Ohio, Babette Hughes grew up in the time of Prohibition and bootleggers. Her father was one of the first bootleggers in the country, and was murdered by the Mafia in a turf war at the age of 29. Babette was just two at the time.

Writing has allowed her to draw from her unusual life experiences to create her characters and tell their stories (and sometimes cautionary tales) in vivid detail.

Now 93, she writes every day with fluidity and grace. “The truth is liberating, but sometimes elusive.” She explains. “I’m always looking for it and how to best write about it, and I probably always will.”

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Thanks to Danielle at The Author's Assistant for the opportunity to spotlight this book. You can learn more about Babette Hughes on her website or Facebook.  You can purchase your own copy here.
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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Reflections 2/20

Looking outside....it's overcast  and about 36 degrees. It rained a bit yesterday. It's chilly, but you can tell Spring is coming.

Listening...to a music mix with headphones while I work on the computer. Current song is Styx Show Me The Way. No, that just ended, now it's Night Ranger Sister Christian. The Doctor is at work. The Boy is doing homework so he can golf later and The Artist is still asleep. 

Loving...that our boys talk to us. About life, about school, about funny things found on the internet or shows they watch. 


Thinking...that I need to get moving and busy.


In my kitchen...I am enjoying my morning cup of hot chocolate. 

Wearing...BSU pajama pants and a black turtleneck with black slippers.

Needing...to work on my editing project. It's that time of year again.


Reading...I have stacks that I should be reading. 

Today...a bit of this and that. 

Hoping...that The Doctor can do some work on my back when he gets home from work. Love the perks of being married to a chiropractor.

Planning...to figure out why the dishwasher won't work. There's always something.

Gratitude...for amazing kids. The Boy and I had a great conversation yesterday as we were getting dinner ready. It spanned multiple subjects including dating and post-high school plans. I think our boys are terrific, but I realized again yesterday that The Boy is truly a great kid. I am so proud of him.


From my world... 


My shopping lists always get things added to them. Usually normal things like: hairspray, deodorant, bbq chips. Quite regularly, the word "puppy" shows up. My boys are on a mission. They're relentless.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Conversation at our House...Grammar

This conversation occurred several years ago, but it's still a fairly common occurrence at our house.

The Brother: "...and then she write it!"
The Boy: "No, it's 'and then she wrote it'."
The Doctor: "That's right E. That's correct."
The Boy: "I know, but I really want to correct Mom sometimes."
The Doctor: "So do I."
The Boy: "But, it's like, impossible."

My mom taught English and always corrected us as we were growing up. I have an English degree and haven't taught, but I often gently correcting my boys (and on occasion, my husband, much to his dismay). It's a curse. It's worth it, though, when I hear The Boy say things like, "he did well" rather than "he did good." He's started pushing back a bit at me though when I do correct him. I know it's a teenage thing.

I just have to be careful about correcting everyone else! I really struggle sometimes with some of the newsletters and notes that the teachers send home. And yes, we do have the Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock video!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#CoverCrush : Sisters on Bread Street


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


This cover immediately caught my attention on Goodreads. I loved the soft colors popping out of the muted background. I loved that I could look at this cover and instantly know that the story was set somewhere in England (Leeds) and it was likely during wartime (WW1). This one was definitely worth a second glance and after checking out the synopsis, it was added to my wish list.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Click over to see the cover she shared as well as one at A Bookaholic Swede.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How much do you read?


How much do you actually read? Few of us get as much time as we’d really LIKE for reading, but do as much as we can, so … how many books do you read? How many hours a day?

There was a time when I would have answered this question with, "As often as I can". My high for books read in a year was 163 in 2010. Last year I read 39, which I realize is still a high number for some people.

I read quickly. I prefer print to ebook, but so many review copies are now only available in ebook form, so I've gotten used to reading on my tablet.

When I fell into reviewing, I tended to accept any and all books offered to me. Now, I've become more discerning in what books I do accept for review. It really has to grasp my attention. For the most part, I've stopped doing scheduled reviews or book tours, because I just don't like reading for a deadline.

I read every day. I don't always read review books. However. I always read before falling asleep. So my daily reading total is usually around 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

What about you?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

#CoverCrush : The Things We Keep


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


I love this cover for so many reasons. The colors stand out and the simplicity garners it a second look. I wonder if the bow is significant to the story and why the title is all lower case. Is that fabric or paper?

I have this book in my TBR stack and I'm looking forward to learning whether the cover gives away any clues to the story.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Click over to see the gorgeous cover she shared as well as Bookaholic Swede.

Friday, February 5, 2016

What draws you to a book?

What draws you to a new book?

Covers?
I will admit that a book cover carries more weight than it should. I judge books by their covers and if I don't like a cover, it will take a really good recommendation for me to pick it up. Covers also make it incredibly easy to recognize self-published books. Which fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on who you are, can be a good thing.

Titles?
A title should be catchy. I love when a title accurately reflects the subject matter in a book. I hate when a title goes for the obscure and vague and you never do quite figure out how it's related to the actual story.

Reviews?
I look at reviews, absolutely. I appreciate honest reviews. I like knowing ahead of time if a book has excessive profanity or sex, because it will affect my decision to read it. I like reading two and four star reviews because I believe those to be the most honest. If a book has only 4 or 5 star reviews, I am instantly on guard and I will assume that most of those reviews are from the author's friends and family. In the same vein, I sometimes question a book that is only 1 or 2 stars. The quality of the reviews always makes a difference regardless of whether it's positive or negative. When the reviewer can give me specific reasons, I am more likely to give that review weight.

Lists?
Just because a book is on a best selling or newspaper list, won't make a big difference on my decision to read. Last year, I saw several lists of "must read" or "best books of 2015" and it was interesting to note that many of the books on those lists weren't books that I'd read.

Recommendations?
If a friend directly recommends a book to me, I am more likely to look at it. If they have a copy I can borrow, that's even better! I loan out a lot of my books to friends and family because we share the same tastes.

What about you? What draws you to a book?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

#Cover Crush: Jody Hedlund


I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.



I love these two Jody Hedlund covers because they capture the strength of women. The colors are lovely and the settings historical. The scenes evoke a feeling of struggle and hardship, but each woman is facing those challenges head on, unwavering in her strength, conviction and faith.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. Click over to see the gorgeous cover she shared along with A Bookaholic Swede.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Books I have forgotten...

One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

So, I threw this blog together and it was a place simply for my own reference purposes. It didn't take long for me to discover the world of book blogging and reviewing. It's been a blast and I've read so many books I probably never would have considered, if it hadn't been for blogging.

I was browsing through some past reviews and many books I didn't remember reading or even whether or not I liked them. So, I thought it would be fun to revisit past reads. Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!

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Persuasion by Jane Austen
4/5 Stars
09/2007

Anne Elliot is one of my favorite Austen heroines, and Captain Wentworth is just divine.  Anne is intelligent and witty, thoughtful and compassionate. Her family is nuts. It's not easy reading, but it's a good novel. Watch the adaptation with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. It's the best.


Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
5/5 Stars
09/2007

Winter Solstice is delightful and thought-provoking. Pilcher's narratives are pure prose. You find yourself immersed in the world of Scottish tweeds and cottages and hospitality. She captures the intense feelings of grief, and the hope that comes when you learn to love again. This is a book that I reread over and over again.


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
2/5 Stars
12/2007

My review is too long to summarize. Suffice it to say it wasn't my favorite and I think that this book would have been better if it weren't written in first person. Bella is so shallow that you don't get the character development from the other characters. In this story, especially, there would have been so much more depth if it was told in third person, where we actually get Edward's reaction to Bella, rather than simply Bella's confusion.


What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Fall of Marigolds...Review

About the book:
A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries …and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers …the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

Two women. Clara is a nurse on Ellis Island in the early 20th century and lost the man she loved when he fell to his death in a famous fire. Taryn lost her husband when the twin towers fell on September 11th. Both struggle to come to terms with their losses; both come to understand their new meaning and purpose. They each realize the importance of the people left in their lives. Two women, separated by one hundred years, but whose stories are similar, are linked by a simple scarf. A scarf that figures prominently is each woman's life.

Susan Meissner is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. Her writing is beautifully lyrical and descriptive. She has an amazing way of capturing emotions in words. The story is multi-faceted and compelling. I read it in nearly one sitting.

I need to purchase my own printed copy of this beautiful story, just so I can mark it up and underline sentences and phrases that I absolutely loved. Our book club enjoyed the story and highly recommended it.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/16

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5/5 Stars