4 star reviews, activism, Book reviews, Keeping House, Minimalism, plant based, Sustainability

The Sustainable Home by Christine Liu

4/5 stars

Screen Shot 2018-10-27 at 4.13.06 PM

Several years ago, I was a homeschool mom blogger and I took on the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge for Lent.  Basically what you do is fill up 1 bag a day of stuff to donate (or discard) for each of the 40 days of Lent.  I felt so much lighter after I got rid of that stuff.  It was so much easier to keep my house clean.  So I just kept going with it.  It has made us be more intentional with what we bring in to our home and what we purchase.

Over the last couple of years, I have become more and more aware of how much is being wasted in our society.  The rate at which we are redecorating, stores that sell fashionable items for dirt cheap, all of this is contributing to waste.  What are we going to do with it all?  It won’t decompose.  Where on the planet will it all go?  We are depleting resources by continually creating these things.  The working conditions of the people making these products is often deplorable.  I want to be more intentional and so when I saw this book available on Netgalley, I knew I wanted to get my hands on a copy.

Christine Liu does a great job of explaining the global issues of consumerism and materialism.

Then she goes on to explain the benefits of a decluttered space with useful and meaningful items.

Which space would you rather work in?

I used to admire the one on the left, but think that was not where someone actually worked, it was just a design space.  I have found that when you get rid of what you don’t need, you can have a workspace like the one on the left.

Christine Liu gives a practical guide to how to decide what to keep and what to toss and gives suggestions on what to do with the things you decide not to keep.

She then goes into energy consumption in the home and making your home more energy efficient.  She discusses using plants in the home.  She goes into detail about being sustainable in the kitchen, from diets that sustain the planet to growing your own food to how to store your food to what to do with food waste.  There are recipes for several plant based meals.  She gives advice on clothing that is sustainable for the planet and what to look for.  Christine Liu advises getting higher quality pieces that last longer.  There is advice on caring for your clothing and laundering your clothing.  She also discusses bedding and has a recipe for making your own room spray.  From there she goes into being more sustainable in the bathroom from skin care and body care recipes and ideas to hair care and water usage.  Ms Liu also discusses greening the workspace, dining out, going places and taking action.  This is an extremely comprehensive guide to living a lifestyle that is better for the planet as well as our bank account.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Advertisements
4 star reviews, Book reviews, Health, New Age

Tough Truths: The Ten Happiness Lessons We Don’t Talk About by Deirdre Maloney

4/5 stars

D1B60F47-AA60-41A9-9B70-5BD04AC04B50.JPGThis is a tiny little book.  It’s the size of my hand only about 100 pages.  You can read it in one sitting if you want.  I chose to read a chapter, digest it and then read the next.  My husband read it with me and we discussed it, which was interesting.

There were a lot of interesting things in here.  A happy person is happy at least 70% of the time.  Some of our unhappiness may stem from our beliefs about what we “should” do.  I really like that the author keeps it quick and to the point, with one simple example.  This book is easy to read and understand and easy to apply the principles of happiness to your own life so you can be happier.

My husband and I read this book together.  When he would get home from work, I would read a chapter and we would discuss it and discuss how it applied to ourselves individually and as a couple.  It was helpful to discuss this book with someone and to see their perspective on things.  This book really doesn’t take long to read so I recommend it to everyone because I am sure we would all like to be happier!

From the Publisher:

Let’s get down to it. Everyone wants to be happy. Seriously.

Happiness may mean different things to different people, and those different people may go about it differently, but in the end we all want it. We all want to feel good.

Despite this…despite us all working so hard to find it, the reality is that many, many of us aren’t happy. Or we’re not as happy as we could be be…as often as we could be. Somehow happiness, a simple concept we learned as children, has become an elusive and frustrating aspiration. And, far too often and without even knowing it, the thing standing smack dab in its way is us.

Tough Truths is a little book that packs a happiness punch, tackling the topic by giving the straight scoop on how we tend to contribute to it…and get in its way. It also provides specific tips, examples, and even one simple mathematical ratio to help you get to greater happiness.

Because, seriously, who doesn’t want that?

I received this book from GetRedPR, Deirdre Maloney and Business Solutions Press in exchange for my honest review.

 

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Childrens' Books

My Mixed Emotions by DK Publishing

4/5 stars

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 5.49.37 PM

From the Publisher:

My Review:

This book is packed with information for helping kids understand their feelings.  It describes the four main feelings: happy, sad, afraid and angry and then goes into details about when you might feel each of those things.  I think this book is good for all kids, but especially for those kids who have trouble expressing themselves.

I plan to read this to the kids in one of the library programs I am running this fall.  It would also be a great addition to a parents’ shelf in a children’s library.

4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

4/5 stars

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

This book opens with Zach hiding in a closet with his first grade class, their teacher trying to keep the kids quiet as a gunman rages through the school.  The kids hear the pops from the gun.  Finally, the police come and escort the teacher and students to a nearby church, but not before they see the blood sprayed over the halls and students laying dead on the ground.  Without giving too much away, this book takes you through the aftermath as one family heals from this terrible tragedy.

I thought this book was excellent and very well done.  I think it showed parents whose grief consumed them in a realistic way and who didn’t have anything left to give their child.  I think it was very real, with very flawed characters.  I am sure it is a book that will stay with me for a long, long time.

This book was narrated by 6 year old Zach.  In some ways, I found his innocence made it easier to tackle difficult topics, because although the reader understood what was going on, Zach did not seem to.  I also found that I love reading children’s views and perspectives of family life.  A book narrated by an adult would never have mentioned some of the mundane details this book mentioned, but those details added so much to the story and gave an accurate picture of the family and what they were like as individuals and together.

****

School shootings were not the issue they are now when I was growing up in the 1980s.  I am always asking myself why?  What changed in our society?

I do not subscribe to the philosophy that it is additives in our food.  Or

We are more stressed as a society.  The population has doubled since I graduated from high school in 1990, I think more people fighting for space can definitely bring us closer to the end of our ropes.  We have also become more scheduled, we do more and we have our kids do more activities and that adds strain to our days.  The special effects for movies and videogames lend themselves to more spectacular violence, so there is that.  There used to be homes for mentally ill people and that was not positive, but the alternative does not seem to be either; I think we need to find some common ground where there is government sponsored help for the mentally ill (government sponsored because once the mentally ill individual becomes an adult, they would no longer be on their parents insurance and the parents may not be able to afford the care).

I am not a proponent of taking away guns.  I think any regulation in this area will lead to people getting guns through the black market.  I am not a fan of the NRA because I feel that their stance on things is pro-gun manufacturers more than pro-gun owners and quite frankly, I think the NRA gives gun owners a bad name with their statements supporting guns that look like cell phones or plans to build guns being readily available.

I think one of the biggest issues and I know this is going to be unpopular, but one of the biggest issues is parent involvement.  I think a lot of parents have a lot going on and they are just not involved with their kids and don’t know what is going on.  It could be a mental health issue or a case of bullying pushing a kid too far or a case of a kid who feel ostracized or wants attention.  I don’t believe you have to be mentally ill to want to harm other people, I think there are times when a mentally stable person can be pushed to that.  I think if parents made more time to talk to their kids and heck, spy on their kids, that could make a difference.  Not that I am blaming parents for this, but I think it’s part of the equation.

I think we need to ask ourselves what has changed in our society in the last 25 years that could have lead to school shootings being such a prevalent issue and take measures as a society to change those things.

 

 

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Women's Fiction

The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld

4 stars

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

When Becca was 15, she had cancer and her friends made her a tape where they all acted out Saturday Night Live-type skits to cheer her up.  Now it’s 25 years later and they have a reunion, each friend is in a different plant with different issues.

There were things about this book that I LOVED: I loved when Becca and Nolan first met; I loved that the book takes place in and around New York City, which is where I love.  I thought Becca and Nolan’s characters were very realistic and very well developed and brought up some very interesting points regarding what a spouse has a right to say and have an opinion on and when they just need to be supportive.  I thought Seth’s character and Lexi’s characters were also very real and believable and sympathetic.

This book was different than anything I had read before and my husband and I had some interesting conversations because of it.

 

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Women's Fiction

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

4/5 stars

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Frances is a stay-at-home mom who likes to take care of people – she takes care of her whole LA neighborhood – and one day she accidentally catches her neighbor having an affair.  At first, I was like, who cares?  But the writing in this book was so good and I LOVED Frances’s funny, self-deprecating character and there was just so much honesty about competitive moms and bratty kids and drunk husbands, that I couldn’t put it down and before I knew it, I DID CARE.  There was A LOT MORE going on here than I originally thought.  There is a lot of honesty about life in this book, told in a very funny way.  I highly recommend it.

* * * * *

The last few weeks of summer, I really didn’t read that much.  I was so busy with family and friends, getting in beach time and making the most of the last few weeks of summer. Why does summer seem to just go so fast?  It seems like one day I am talking to a friend about all the things we will do this summer – beach days, bonfires at the beach, backyard bbqs, drinking margaritas on the deck while listening to Jimmy Buffett, concerts in the park…and the next thing I know it’s Labor Day weekend and we have done maybe half those things if we are lucky.  But we did have a great summer, for that I am grateful!

If I am totally honest, the other reason that I have not been reading as much as I usually do is that a friend recommended I try watching Harlots and I am totally hooked!  Like obsessed!  It’s kind of a weird show to admit that you love, but there you go.  I am fascinated by a world in which 1 in 5 women were prostitutes, where a mother sells her daughter’s virginity and looks for wealthy “keepers” for her daughters while they turn tricks for her.  I can’t decide if I like Margaret Wells or not.  I despise Lydia Quigley and I love Nancy Birch.  It’s just so good.

In addition to Harlots, my husband and I were obsessed last fall with Ozark and we are once again obsessed.  The new season is not as good as the first, imo.  I liked Laura Linney’s character in the first season so much and I don’t like her now.  Did anyone else think there was a nod to Love Actually when she was talking about her brother and his mental illness and how difficult he was?  I almost thought it was a continuation of Love Actually for a moment!

My girls started their college classes.  They are both attending community college, which we thought was a good transition after homeschooling.  Neither of them really knows what they want to do yet.  Also, I have friends who teach at big universities who have said that community college is so much better for the core classes because there are only 30-40 other students in the core classes at community college, whereas at big universities they are taught in lecture halls with hundreds of students.  So that has been an adjustment for all of us.

We’ve been watching a lot of movies lately.  I am thrilled that the girls still watch movies with us.  We have watched Adrift – which was excellent; Tag – which was hilarious; and, of course, The Book Club.  Our girls watched Blockers together, but said it wasn’t appropriate to watch with parents, they did say it was good, so we want to get that one night.

My husband has also been asking me out on dates, which has been really fun.  The girls have late classes on Tuesday and Thursday and are not home for dinner.  My husband has been calling me in the morning and asking if I want to go get sushi or go to our favorite vegan place or go for a late day hike.  It’s been really fun!!  I feel almost like we are dating again!!

Fall is my favorite season and I am so looking forward to making soups and stews and wearing sweaters.  I am looking forward to crisp air and the leaves changing.  We have several hikes planned.  And I am looking forward to reading a lot more!!

 

4 star reviews, thriller

Lies by T.M. Logan

4/5 stars

Screen Shot 2018-06-09 at 7.53.05 PM

My Review:

Riveting, enthralling, captivating, fast moving thriller

I liked Joe Lynch, he was a nice guy, if a little meek and mild, but he is a good dad and and a nice guy.

The whole story was crazy and kept me up late and had me thinking about the book during the day, anxious to get back to it and find out what happened.

Joe thinks his wife is at work, but he and his young son spot her car in traffic, then see her turn into a hotel parking lot.  They follow and Joe gets into an altercation with their family friend, Ben just as his son has an asthma attack.  When Joe returns to see if Ben is ok, Ben is gone.

Ben’s wife reports Ben missing.  But Ben starts sending Joe shocking messages that he is going to take everything from Joe.  But, since Ben is missing, Joe becomes the suspect behind Ben’s disappearance because of the altercation at the hotel.

My heart went out to Ben and I was rooting for him the whole time, but could not predict what would happen in this book.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes psychological thrillers.

I would like to thank Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for my review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

From the Publisher:

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES?
When Joe Lynch stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work, he’s intrigued enough to follow her in.

And when he witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him.

When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is OK, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared.

And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

 

4 star reviews, contemporary fiction, romance, thriller

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

4.5/5 stars

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 9.32.25 PM

From the Publisher:

There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

My Review:

4/5 stars

I loved this book and read it in one day–I don’t remember the last time I did that!

This book was like The Great Alone meets Magic Hour (both by Kristin Hannah) with a little Child Finder by Rene Denfeld.

Lucas and Josiah Blackthorne disappeared from society ten years ago and were assumed dead.  Then Lucas is caught robbing a store.  He is violent and nonverbal, so he is sent to a psychiatric facility where he meets Maya who is a speech therapist, wrestling with her own demons.

 

Beautiful setting of the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, a strong female lead character, a thrilling escape, a captivating mysteray and a little romance…this book has everything.  This book also explores issues of mental health in our society and how one action can have a snowball effect and affect people for decades.  I also felt that the author made a statement about power and people who think differently or want different things than the norm.  I thought these issues were well thought out and presented and encouraged deeper thought for the reader.

4 star reviews, contemporary fiction, thriller, Women's Fiction

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

4/5 stars

I was very fortunate to get an eArc of this from Netgalley and Park Row Publishers.

I LOVE Mary Kubica’s books.  I have read them all and I loved them all.  Pretty Baby was her most unique book, different than anything I had read, but When the Lights Go Out might be a close second, if not the most unique book I have read of hers to date.

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 6.09.29 PM

Jessie Sloane’s mother is dying of cancer.  It was just her and her mom.  No dad, no real friends, no extended family.  So it all falls on twenty year old Jessie when her mom dies.  The stress of it all is too much for her.  She has no support and things begin to spiral out of control.

This book is a two-part narrative, with Jessie telling the contemporary story of her mother’s death, but there is another story at play: a woman’s journal entries from the late 1990s.  The journal entries tell a beautiful love story.

This is a book that can go in a lot of different directions.  There is a lot here to think about.

I enjoyed this novel immensely.  I would have liked it to have gone into more detail on certain things – but hopefully, it will give someone else the idea to flesh those parts of the story out more.  Without giving too much away, I would say that this is a story about life and family, love and struggle, what we do for love and how we identify ourselves through our relationships.

It is a very powerful novel and one that would be GREAT for book club discussions.

 

 

 

4 star reviews, thriller, Women's Fiction

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

4/5 stars

IMG-3208.JPG

Recently, I received a galley copy of Mindy Mejia’s new book, Leave No Trace, which is coming out September 4.  I had never read anything by Mindy Mejia and I absolutely LOVED Leave No Trace, so when I saw that she had another novel, I knew that I wanted to read it.

This book is about Hattie, an 18 year old girl who is wise beyond her years, growing up in a rural farming town in Minnesota and dreaming of moving to New York City.

My Review:

This book opens with Hattie attempting to run away.  The next chapter is the discovery of her dead body.  I have an 18 year old daughter and I almost put this book down because it hit too close to home.  But I LOVED–like I can not stress enough how much I LOVED “Leave No Trace” so I persisted.  And I am so glad that I did.  This book is a wild ride.  I thought I had figured out who murdered Hattie, but all I can say is: Read to the very last page.

This book is told from the point of view of three characters: Hattie; the chief of police of their small town and her dad’s best friend, Del; and Hattie’s teacher who also directs the school play that Hattie stars in, Peter Lund. I will be honest.  I did not like Hattie.  I think she was a sociopath.  She played people and was extremely self-centered, she had no feeling for other people.  But I really did like both Del and Peter and I found them sympathetic characters.

This book is different from other thrillers in that it takes you deep into the many layers of a sociopath’s personality.  It was also shocking in parts.  If you like thrillers, don’t miss this one and pre-order your copy of Leave No Trace or put in your library hold today!!

 

 

From the Publisher:

No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to death.