Book reviews, romance, Women's Fiction

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Would you forgive someone for doing the wrong thing for the right reasons?  Is it ok to do something bad if your reasons are good?

That is what Tate and Sam must confront in Twice in a Blue Moon.  They had met as teens in London when they were both on vacation with their grandparents.  Tate had confided in Sam and he had betrayed her confidence and her life was irrevocably changed.  Years later they meet again and the chemistry is still there, just as strong and Sam explains to Tate why he did what he did.  He hurt her badly, but he did it for a noble reason.  

Rating: 3.5 stars

I liked the moral dilemma and the second chance romance.  I felt the chemistry between Sam and Tate. But, I will be honest that I didn’t like either one of them very much and for me, that is a big thing.  I need to like them and/or at least be able to relate to them and I did not with these characters, they felt a bit one dimensional to me.  

A big thank you to Libro.fm for my copy of this title. Have you heard about librofm?  Librofm allows you to support independent bookstores when you buy audiobooks.  They have several different plans.

Keeping House, Minimalism, Non-fiction

Organizing by Martha Stewart

Have you ever asked your spouse or partner what things you do that annoy them?⁣⁣

⁣⁣I had this conversation with my husband when I was reading Love Her or Lose Her and my husband told me that he admires that I am really good about planning and getting things done, but he doesn’t think our closets and cabinets are well organized.  I actually disagree, although I will admit that sometimes when I (or someone else in our family…ahem) are putting things away, we may not put them back as neatly as we should.⁣⁣

⁣⁣When I saw this book from Martha Stewart, I thought maybe it could help me organize our closets and cabinets better.  ⁣⁣

⁣⁣It’s a gorgeous book.  It’s laid out in a very simple, easy to understand style and has definitely inspired me to want to organize our home better.  In addition to organizing drawers and closets and cabinets and different rooms, there are ideas for organizing technology and being organized for holidays and events.  ⁣⁣

⁣⁣I have already re-organized our pantry, refrigerator and the drawers in our kitchen and am planning to go through the china cabinet next.⁣⁣

⁣⁣Are your closets and cabinets well organized or does that drive your husband crazy too?⁣⁣

⁣⁣Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt, for my gifted copy.⁣⁣

5 star reviews, Book reviews, romance

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Fix Her Up was my first book by @tessabaileyisanauthor and I have since read quite a few of her books on my Kindle!  I was elated when she gave me a copy of Love Her or Lose Her.

And y’all.  The hype is real.  This is a great book!

Rosie and Dominic were high school sweethearts who got married before he went to serve our country in Afghanistan.  He came home different and Rosie has not been happy in their marriage, she doesn’t feel seen and heard, their relationship is just physical and not emotional.  Dominic is a blue collar guy from a working class family and his dad showed love by providing for his family and that is all Dominic knows, he is taken aback when Rosie leaves.  Dominic is loves Rosie deeply and agrees to couples therapy with a very untraditional therapist.

Rating: 5 stars!!

Why I Loved This Book: My husband is a lot like Dominic.  He loves me, but he doesn’t always know how to show it. Tessa Bailey did an amazing job writing Dominic’s character, she really got inside the head of a guy who was raised to believe that you show your love by providing and that is all you need to do.  There is one part where Rosie realizes that it takes two to tango and that she had a part in how their marriage fell apart; I FELT what Rosie was feeling, nerves and anxiety and I realized that sometimes I am full of complaints for my husband, but I too, have some flaws.  That night my girls were out and I asked my husband what I do that I annoys him and he told me – I am organized with my time, but I don’t always organize things like our china cabinet or storage closets the way he would like. I didn’t take it personally, I took it constructively and if he’d like to reorganize the china cabinet and storage closets, he can have at it!

This book comes out next Tuesday, January 14. I recommend this book to anyone who likes romance and to ALL MARRIED COUPLES.  We could all use the reminders in this book!!

What is your love language?  How do you show love? What do you like someone to do to show you that they love you?

5 star reviews, activism, Book reviews, Non-fiction, Women's Fiction

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Rating: 5 stars

Were you outraged when Brock Turner got 6 months for raping a girl on the Stanford campus?  Did you want to throw your phone across the room when you read that the judge said Brock “had a promising future and he didn’t want to derail it” with a longer sentence?  

The message: a boy, especially one who is white, an athlete and wealthy means more than a girl.  

The press had called her Emily Doe, a name given to her by the prosecution to secure her identity, something she embraced for a while because it helped her compartmentalize her pain.  But now she is taking back her power and her name is Chanel Miller and she is making a difference.

This book is gorgeously written.  Chanel is a likable, relatable, flawed character.  I want to be her friend.  

I was upset by the humiliating procedures she had to endure after the rape and although I understand it is necessary, there has to be a better way.  Although Chanel was the victim, she was the one that was humiliated in court and the one who had to answer for everything she had ever done, while Brock was lauded as a star athlete and good student at a school with a 4% acceptance rate.

I was so upset and annoyed by the way Chanel was treated by the court system and the comments people made on articles.  I am glad she wrote this book. I applaud her for the final chapters where she talks about the different issues in our society, a President who says vulgar things on camera to Billy Bush and how these things need to change in our society.  Girls lives and bodies are worth just as much as boys. The idea that boys can’t control their sexual urges degrades boys, they are not animals, they can control themselves and should be expected to and held accountable. I was raised to believe that boys only wanted one thing from girls and that I had to be wary of being alone with boys.  I did not raise my girls that way. I told them to be careful, to be aware, but I told them that boys are human too, with feelings and emotions and complicated layers, just like girls.

5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, thriller

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ALL THE STARS!!

I am sure that you are aware that people are becoming addicted to opioids at an alarming rate.  When I was in high school, marijuana and maybe shrooms or acid were a big deal, now it’s heroin, oxycontin and other opioids.  I read this as part of a Buddy Read and most people either knew someone or knew of someone who has struggled with this. I know three people who have struggled, one of whom died of an overdose.  

This book is told from the perspective of single mom and cop, Mickey, who grew up in a rough, working class Philly neighborhood, raised by her grandmother because her parents were addicts.  Now her younger sister is an addict, working the streets to get her next fix. The story alternates between present day and Mickey and her sister, Kacey’s childhood, their relationship and closeness as children.  There is a murder mystery but that feels like a secondary plotline, the main plotline is loving someone who is an opiod addict, living on the street and toeing that hard line between tough love and having your heart ripped out on a daily basis.  This book shows the pain of loving an addict, wanting the best for them, being embarrassed of them, hating what they are doing to themselves but loving them because you know that deep down they are wounded deeply by life.  

This is the kind of book that makes you want to do something to help.  After reading the book, I looked up photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge that Liz Moore mentions in her book and found photographs of Kensington, where the book takes place.  Mr. Stockbridge has a book of photographs and also a documentary series on youtube. I highly suggest checking out the photos and documentary. 

Book reviews

Second Chance Supper Club

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Did you ever read a book that just really hit home for you? Neither my husband nor I are particularly close to our siblings, we have tried, but it’s just the way it is. I can see how once parents are no longer in the picture, it’s really easy to lose touch with one another.

Ginny and Julia had a falling out after their parents’ death and they have not spoken in years. Julia is a broadcast journalist who says something online that forces her to leave her career and reevaluate things. With nowhere to turn, she goes to her sister, Ginny, who runs an underground foodie experience with her daughter, Olive. Ginny has her own issues and wants to turn her sister away, but instead, she puts her sister to work and as the two sisters work side by side, they get a second chance at their relationship.

This book felt personal to me because although I don’t see my brother as often as I would like (he’s busy with his life and I am with mine and we talk on the phone often, but we only get together maybe ever 6-8 weeks), there is something that happens when we are together, a commonness-things we have in common, things just flow and are easy and there is something so beautiful in that. My husband’s family is not close. Friends were always prioritized over family and as a result, my husband hardly speaks to either of his brothers. It’s taken me years to accept this (although I will never understand it). Even though they are not close and years can go by without seeing them, when we do see them, I do sense that there is a common thread, common stories, a joy in being together that they feel.

Book reviews

Big Decisions

Jason and I both grew up with dogs and cats. The apartment we were living in when we first got married did not allow dogs, but after a year of living there, we were friends with the owners and they allowed us to get a dog. Our Sydney Bean. When we bought our first house, we got her a brother, Oliver.

That was 20-something years ago and dogs, unfortunately, only live 12-16 years or so. After both dogs had passed, we adopted a puppy and I was horribly allergic. I had known that I was allergic when I moved out of my parents’ house and my asthma and chronic congestion cleared up, but after living with our dogs for 16+ years, I thought I was ok with that breed. Turns out I was not.

Over the last 6 years, I have had every kind of allergy treatment I can find from traditional shots to homeopathic sublingual drops to NAET. My seasonal allergies seem to be cured, but my allergies to dogs remains.

Last year, I decided that I wanted to do something to get dogs out of shelters. After talking it over with my family, we decided to foster dogs. We have fostered 7 dogs in the last year and each one was so cute and so special. Since we don’t have a dog of our own, we have been able to foster dogs that are ill. We have fostered two dogs that had canine influenza and one that came to us with kennel cough. These were dogs that were scared and alone in shelters, not feeling well. They were in quarantine so as not to expose other animals to their sickness. They were not being shown to prospective adopters and their time was running out. The rescue we work with was able to step in because we don’t have a dog and thus can foster one of these scared, lonely, sick animals.

We changed our Mother’s Day plans to pick up this little guy in Brooklyn on Mother’s Day. He had lived with two other dogs and a homeless man. He had kennel cough. He was so scared and shaking when we went to pick him up. It pained me to have to keep him a carrier all the way home, although he didn’t let out a peep.

When we got him home and walked him, he just kept looking up at us and smiling and wagging his tail. He knew we had rescued him. He was grateful.

He was skin and bones. We could barely get him to eat. He was very timid, but he would sit on my lap or my daughters’ laps and fall asleep if we pet him. His fur was matted and sticky and stinky.

We bathed him and spoiled him with treats. We cut the mats from his fur. We bought him toys. We laughed with glee when his ball rolled down the stairs and he ran down the stairs after it – he had spent a week afraid of the stairs!

Over the last two weeks, he has wiggled his adorable way into our hearts. AND I am not allergic to him. We would love to adopt him.

But we are torn. If we adopt him, then we can no longer foster the sick dogs that no one is seeing, the dogs who are sick and scared and alone.

We have the opportunity to find this little guy THE PERFECT HOME. There are hundreds of people on the waiting list for a dogs from the rescue we work with and in the past, we have been so happy about the people they find to adopt the dogs we fostered and we have kept in touch with the people, and they send us pictures and updates about their dogs.

It’s a tough decision. Please pray that we make the right decision.

Book reviews

Life Skills and Empowerment

Piper has walked dogs in our neighborhood for years and last year she cut grass for several neighbors. But this year, she decided that she was ready for something more.

Piper’s very most favorite place to go is a small cafe in a nearby town that serves juices, smoothies, salads and acai bowls. If I ask the girls if they want to go out for lunch, Piper always wants to go there. In April, she called the cafe that she loves and asked if they were hiring. They were! She created a resume and sent it to them, filled out the application and had a talking interview and a working interview and she got the job! She loves it! It’s such a positive place with such a good vibe that I could not be happier about her first job.

The owner of the cafe writes positive messages on a door in the cafe each week.

Since we homeschool, the girls have had the opportunity to take classes that interest them. Two years ago, they were interested in learning American Sign Language and took several classes at our community center school. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to expand their knowledge and take a class last semester at community college. One of the requirements of the class was to attend a deaf event. Both of my girls and a group of friends attended an event called Deaf Chat Linden and they liked it so much that they now go regularly.

Last week, Piper was at work and a woman came into the cafe. She signed the sign for “9” and then said, “Greek”. Piper realized that she was hearing impaired, so she stepped in and finger-spelled “Greek”. The woman was happy and excited and relieved. She was able to give her order in ASL and Piper was able to ask questions in ASL. Both Piper and this woman were empowered.

I could not be more proud of her.

Book reviews

We Are Here Now

A year ago the idea of the girls working and going to community college overwhelmed all of us.  We liked our routine.  We liked our comfort zone.  We were happy with the life we had been living for the last few years and we didn’t really want it to change.  But we knew that in order for the girls to grow as people, it needed to change.  They started community college.  Allie got a job at a store in the mall.  They made new friends.  They did well in their classes.  The store Allie worked at closed at the end of March (yet another learning experience) and she found another job, this time at a day care center (which she LOVES!) and this lead to more friends, more new experiences.  A month ago, on a whim, Piper called her favorite cafe that serves smoothies and juices and Acai bowls and salads and inquired if they were hiring – and they were!  And she went through the interview process and she was hired.  She has had the best month working there and we have seen such a difference in her confidence.  They both got straight A’s this semester in community college.  I don’t mean to brag. But…

We are here now.  We are at the next step.

Piper is still not ready to get her learner’s permit.  And that’s ok.  Our pediatrician has advised us not to rush her and that seems like good advice.  That means that I will stay at the library longer and not look for a job with more hours until she can get herself to work and school on her own.  And I am ok with that.  I love my job and the people I work with.  Working with the general public can be trying at times, but since I only do it three days a week, it’s really not that bad.  It also means that I am getting a new car!  I was holding on to my beloved Prius so that Piper didn’t have to learn on something brand new, but since she is not ready to learn yet and my car is 8 years old, it’s time for something new.  I want a Honda Fit.  There are 13 people who work at the library and 6 of them have a Honda Fit; three others have Honda Civics (one has a Subaru, one a Toyota Camry, I have the Prius and one has a Chevy).  All the Honda owners are all really happy with their cars.  I want a hatchback and not a sedan, so the Fit it is!  We have been joking at work about what color I will get and parking them all together.  There is an orange, a yellow, a red, a blue, a black and a silver.  I am thinking about getting white.

My life looks so different now than it did a year ago and even more different than it did two or three years ago.  I was so worried about what I would do with myself once the girls no longer needed me for lessons and playdates, but my days are full.  I work three days a week.  I clean and cook and shop.  I read.  I talk to friends.  I meet friends to walk or get coffee or lunch or go antiquing.  I Bookstagram.  I go to book events.  I foster dogs.  I do yoga.  I meditate. I paint furniture.  I work on projects for my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary next month.  I plan trips for Jason and I to go on (now that the girls no longer want to travel with us).  My life is full.  

We are here now.

4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, Women's Fiction

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

4.5/5 stars

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I love books about people on the autism spectrum.  I feel like their personalities magnify universal truths that we can all relate to.  Annika meets Jonathan when they are both students at the University of Illinois.  She is on the autism spectrum, but she doesn’t know it.  Social situations behoove Annika, but both she and Jonathan are aces at chess and they fall in love.  Jonathan doesn’t mind if she’s a bit different.

He graduates and moves to New York to be a stockbroker.  He eventually marries someone else, while Annika is still in Illinois, pursuing a Master of Library Science degree.

Ten years later, they meet again, and try to have a relationship once again.

The author did a tremendous job of showing the reader what someone with autism goes through, how they want to be loved and accepted and just don’t always understand how social situations work and how that is very difficult.  This was a lovely story, with plot twists that I never saw coming.  This is not just your average love story–there is A LOT MORE HERE.

I recommend this to anyone who loved Eleanor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison.

I received this book from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.