Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Whimsy Wednesday: Even Sherlock Goes to the Library...

Even Sherlock goes to the library!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry...Review

About the book:
A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession--a rare edition of Poe poems--has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly. Until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew. Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books--an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

My reviewing is a bit behind as this was the She Reads April selection.  Better late than never and A.J. Fikry was worth the wait.

I'm still puzzling over what to write and how to review this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I literally read it in a day.  Even with the present tense narrative which I absolutely abhor, I enjoyed the story.  But why?  A.J. isn't really all that likeable although he grows on you.  He sells books and has definite ideas in mind of what books are good and what books aren't.  He's prickly and a bit cantankerous.

A.J. is a bookseller; a man whose life revolves around the written word.  His thoughts on different short stories begin each chapter and his monologues on what genres he likes and doesn't like is brilliant.

When a little surprise comes into his life that causes him to reflect on love and hope and family, he predictably begins to change, and he finds a joy to his life that had been missing.  There were some twists that I didn't see coming, and there were thoughts spoken that caused me to reflect.   This is a reader's novel and one that will stay with you even after you've turned the last page.

Mild, unnecessary use of the F word.

Thanks to She Reads for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Gabrielle Zevin here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mailbox Monday 7/28

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This week was another slow mailbox week.  But, that's not necessarily a bad thing as I'm working my way through a TBR pile that has been languishing in a corner.

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson (for review, from Baker Publishing)


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Girl in the Gatehouse...Review

About the book:
Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret.

Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans.

The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

I picked this up at the library when I realized it was a Julie Klassen book I hadn't read. Banished after bringing shame to herself, Mariah is sent to live her life in an abandoned gatehouse on the property of a distant aunt.  Needing to support herself, she writes novels under a masculine name.  When the new resident of the estate moves in, he discovers Mariah and curious about her, he sets out to discover her secrets.

This was a delightful novel with lots of secrets and suspense and a few laughs.  Mariah wants to discover the secrets of the estate and how the house behind the estate with its quirky old man and his spyglass fits into the picture. Matthew wants to discover the secrets about Mariah.  It's a terrific read and fans of Julie Klassen will definitely enjoy it.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can learn more about Julie Klassen here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 5/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, July 24, 2014

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook: A Mom and Daughter Dish about the Food That Delights Them and the Love That Binds Them...Review

About the book:
Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph come from a long line of laughter. The female side of her family tree is dotted with funny storytellers, prolific authors, hospitable home cooks, and champion chatters. 

In We Love, We Laugh, We Cook, Becky--a butter and bacon loving mama--and Rachel---a vegan bean eating daughter--share stories of their crazy, wonderful, and sometimes challenging lives as Rachel becomes a mother herself. Becky is messy; Rachel craves order. Becky forgets what month it is; Rachel is an organizational genius. (At least before baby arrives.) Sprinkled throughout are the lip-smacking, nourishing recipes they love to make and share. 

From food for a family reunion of thirty, to lunch for a party of one in a high chair, to a hot meal for a sick friend, the authors demonstrate grace, acceptance, and love to others through the bonding gifts of humor, attentive listening, and cooking ... whether diners prefer beef or tofu in their stew.

This is another one that I finally dug out of my languishing TBR stack.  I was not familiar with these authors or their site.  But I love memoirs and I usually love food-related memoirs.   The format for this book alternates perspectives from mother and daughter as they talk about life and food and cooking. It is quite funny and there are moments that will resonate with you. Most of the recipes are vegan/vegetarian and if not, there are suggestions for making them vegan/vegetarian or gluten-free.  I marked several to try.

What grated on me throughout the book was that these two women have a very high opinion of themselves. It takes nothing to get back into skinny clothes 4 months after having a baby, they can whip up a recipe in no time flat, they're beautiful and stunning and successful and on it goes.

For many, cooking is a love language and my husband says that it is definitely one of mine.  Preparing meals is very often an experience, not simply a task.  Family kitchens are traditionally places of love and laughter and sometimes tears.  Lessons are learned, recipes shared, discussions take place and stories are passed on. In  that sense, this is a funny, heartwarming memoir.

Thanks to BookLook for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe...Review

About the book:
A high-powered Manhattan attorney finds love, purpose, and the promise of a simpler life in her grandmother's hometown.

Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish--to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough. The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe is a warm and delicious debut about the power of a simpler life.

This book has languished in my TBR stack for a year.  Literally.  For some reason, I kept passing it over. Weird, since I adored the title and had looked forward to reading it.  This last week, at last, I picked it up. Perhaps it finally spoke to me.  I don't know.  I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I liked Ellen, although I found some of her antics and choices questionable.  I never liked her mom or Hayden, but I don't think I was supposed to.  Loved  Roy and the quirky townspeople in Beacon. I wish the actual Bakeshop figured more prominently in the story and I really wished for more of Ruth's perspective in addition to what we saw of Chet's.  And, for a first person perspective, which I normally don't like, the narrative was quite fleshed out and developed. So many first person narratives are shallow and this wasn't.

The story should have been predictable and, in some ways, it was.  But, it was more than that.  Ellen's journey to deliver the letter and the people she meets was humorous and heartwarming.  I loved Ellen's progression and how the search for her grandmother's story helped her to discover what she wanted from life.

I do wish a recipe for the blueberry muffins had been included.

Thanks to Little Brown for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Mary Simses here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/14

4/5 Stars

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday 7/21

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

This week was a slow mailbox week.  But, that's not necessarily a bad thing!

A Fickle Wind by Elizabeth Bourne (for review, from Cadence Group)


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here

Friday, July 18, 2014

Word Crimes

I don't know if you've seen this yet, but it's awesome.  Loved, loved, loved it!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Booking Through Thursday...Summertime

Do your reading habits change in the summer?

When I was young and in school, summer meant unlimited reading.  I wouldn't have to do schoolwork beforehand and I could read as long as I wanted.  Many days, I did just that.  Often times I was up in a tree.

At this age and stage of my life, the seasons don't affect my reading.  I might have a bit more time on my hands because I'm not running kids places or overseeing the schoolwork, but my reading habits really don't change in the summer as opposed to any other time during the year.  I don't however, climb trees any more to get away from everything and read my book!

What about you?  Do your habits change with the seasons?

Go here for more BTT posts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Captured by Love...Review

About the book:
Michigan Territory, 1814

A voyageur and a young woman swept up in a time of upheaval and danger discover firsthand the high price of freedom.

The British Army has taken control of Michilimackinac Island and its fort, forcing the Americans to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a fur trader who returns after being away from the island for years, only to find the family farm a shambles and those he cares about starving and at the mercy of British invaders.

Torn between the adventurous life of fur trading and guilt over neglecting his defenseless mother, Pierre is drawn deeper into the fight against the British--and into a relationship with Angelique MacKenzie, a childhood friend who's grown into a beautiful woman. She now finds herself trapped by the circumstances of war and poverty, and the cruelty of her guardian, Ebenezer Whiley.

As tensions mount and the violence rages on, Pierre and Angelique must decide where their loyalties rest and how much they'll risk for love.

Pierre Durant returns to his beloved Michilimackinac Island after an absence and finds his mother and the residents starving and at the mercy of the British who hold the fort.  Pierre loves his life as a fur trader, but he's drawn back to stay on the island because of Angelique, a childhood friend engaged to his brother Jean, who is off fighting with the Americans. It is because of Angelique that Pierre's beloved mother has survived the harsh winters and he is loathe to leave either of them again. His role as a trapper, however, puts him in a perfect position to spy on both sides of the war effort. Angelique has suffered at the hands of her cruel guardian and is torn with the her feelings for Pierre and her loyalty to Jean.

I loved Angelique and Pierre and their friendship that morphs into love.  While their passion is strong, their convictions are stronger and each must learn what path is truly the right one.  This is a compelling novel with rich descriptions and strong characters.  I read it in nearly one sitting because I just couldn't put it down.

The historical aspect of Jody Hedlund's books is fascinating and always so well researched.  While I've heard of Mackinac Island, I had no idea that it held the historical significance it did or its role during the War of 1812.  I actually read the Author's Note first and it really helped set the stage for the story.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jody Hedlund here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mailbox Monday 7/14

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

I haven't participated in a Mailbox Monday in nearly a year.  But, as I get back into regular reading and blogging, it's a great way to meet people and find new books!

Juliet's Nurse by Lois Leveen, via Netgalley.
The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrsion, via Netgalley.
Wonderful Lonesome by Olivia Newport, via Netgalley.

Doctor Who: Tales of Trenzalore: The Eleventh Doctor's Last Stand by Justin Richards, Mark Morris, George Mann, Paul Finch
Captured By Love by Jody Hedlund (for review, from Bethany House)
Debt-Proof Living: How to Get Out of Debt & Stay That Way by Mary Hunt (for review, from Revell)


What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weekend Reflections 7/12

Looking outside....it's hot and only going to get hotter.

Listening...The Boy is watching Angel on his tablet.  The Artist is still asleep.

Loving...that we have been having a Firefly marathon with my sister, who has never seen it.  Love introducing someone to a fandom!

Thinking...always thinking.  My mind doesn't seem to stop sometimes.

In my kitchen...not sure about dinner tonight, but this will be The Boy's birthday cake this week: Sour Cream Pound Cake.

Wearing...navy skirt, lime green t-shirt.

Needing...to do finish up my Friday transcription tape.

Reading...The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses.

Today...some grocery shopping and prep for The Boy's birthday this week.

Hoping...to find to get some laundry done and my kitchen tidied up.

Planning...for the week.  

Gratitude...for air conditioning and ice cold drinks.

From my world...Monopoly.  We use our own game pieces. I am always Loki. :) The Artist switches out his characters throughout the game.

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Child of Mine...Review

About the book:
Flight instructor Jack Livingston has been raising his eight-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents' lives. When he travels, Natalie is tenderly cared for by her Amish nanny, Laura Mast, who loves the little girl as her own.

Eight excruciating years ago, Kelly Maines's baby was kidnapped. Determined to find her child, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. And now, with the clock ticking, one last clue from a private investigator ignites a tiny flame of hope: Just a few miles away lives a young girl who matches the profile.

Can this be, at long last, Kelly's beloved daughter?

Beverly Lewis is easily my favorite author of Amish Fiction and I eagerly await her new books.  Child of Mine however, is not going on my shelf for rereading.  I really struggled with this one.  I liked the characters of Jack and Natalie and Laura.  I never did connect with Kelly and found her part of the story implausible, especially wealthy benefactors who fund her search and her unorthodox and dishonest ways of getting DNA from potential children.

The feel of the book is different than her others which is probably due to the fact that this is a collaboration with her husband.  As I've read reviews, I found that a lot of reviews for this one are mixed and I can understand why.  There is something about it that is vaguely compelling and it is sweet. The ending was surprising and not quite what I expected, but it was fitting for the story.  Everything wraps up neatly.  The Amish element was almost an afterthought and the Christian elements are light.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Beverly Lewis here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/14

* * *
3/5 Stars