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Friday, January 26, 2018

Quote of the Day

Success in relationships



Friday. It's finally here! As I sit reflecting on all that has happened this week, I wanted to share a book quote with you that I thought you'd enjoy. First I want to share some about me. 

My husband and I have been married for almost 15 years. We met when we were 19 and 20 years old in the United States Navy. We were both fresh out of boot camp and completing our specialized trainings. There is a term for couples like us. In the Navy, if you meet under these circumstances, it is called an A-School love. There is a negative connotation to this term. It's like saying we were experiencing "Puppy Love". Through the years, we've had many people doubt that we would last. But here we are, still standing and probably stronger than ever. 



Recently, we were with friends and someone asked, "What's your secret?" My husband immediately answered, with a straight face, "Stamina". 

The reactions to this varied. I shot him a funny look, several others laughed. He remained straight faced. This was his answer. How completely and utterly lame! He gave no attempt to sugar coat it by giving the answer any hopeless romantic, like myself, would hope for. There are numerous acceptable answers: love, friendship, commitment, etc. 

We have stamina.

I laughed off the statement and moved on. I have even brought it up occasionally for laughs between friends and family. 

Then I read Emily Giffin's Love the One You're With (my thoughts on the book here). My quote for this week is from this book. 

“Maybe that's what it all comes down to. Love, not as a surge of passion, but as a choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what obstacles or temptations stand in the way. And maybe making that choice, again and again, day in and day out, year after year, says more about love than never having a choice to make at all.”
Emily Giffin, Love the One You're With

Oh. Em. Gee. This is stamina!

Emily Giffin put our "stamina" into beautiful and romantic words! Words that I fully agree with. Words that took my breath away. If my husband had said this, he would have gotten a completely different look! 

So, my husband was right, (don't tell him though) we do indeed have stamina. And stamina doesn't feel so bad. 


I hope you enjoy this quote as much as I do. For more, please follow my blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

I hope you all have a fabulous Friday weekend!






Tuesday, January 23, 2018

We'll Always Have Paris: A Novel by Sue Watson - Book Review

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Genre: General Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit
Expected Publication: April 3, 2018
by Skyhorse Publishing
We'll Always Have Paris: A Novel
By Sue Watson


Summary:

Rosie Carter has recently become a widow after being married for over 40 years. Her daughters are grown and have families of their own. She feels like a stranger in her own skin. She is alone and unsure of herself. 

Rosie isn't sure she's ready, but she decides it is time to make an attempt at normalcy again. She begins working in her flower shop again, but part-time. The wedding of the year is coming up and they need Rosie's help. Who knew this decision could be the one to change her life?

While at the wedding, Rosie has a chance meeting with Peter. Peter stole her heart years ago and has stayed on her mind through the years. The two of them had dreamt of running off to Paris together. How different her life would have been. 

Peter broke her heart as a young woman, Rosie's not sure she can take that chance again as a grandma. Does fate really exist? Can second chances actually have a happy ending? Or will Paris remain a dream of a life long ago?

Rating: 4 stars

My thoughts:

Oh this is a touching story! I love that the main characters are in their 60's. This is a welcome change to the typical young and beautiful character. As much as we would all love to stay young and tight skinned, it isn't reality. Rosie is reminded of her beauty throughout the novel. Her beauty as a young woman and her beauty as an older woman. A great reminder to women everywhere!

I recently lost my father and can relate to the feelings that Rosie felt in the beginning of the novel. As Rosie discovered her new normal (the one that included her as a widow and living alone) I felt a real connection to her. She almost felt real to me. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I did find it to be slightly repetitive at times though, reminding the reader of events that previously occurred. I also felt it could have been a more fluid read. There were times throughout the novel that the author jumped from one scene to the next with little transition. 

Overall, I highly recommend this novel. 

Order your copy here! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

    

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this title for my honest review. All opinions and statements above are my own.   Professional Reader

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Almost Friday Fun!

It's Almost Friday! Time for some fun!

Who can relate to this?




This is seriously a choice I make on an almost nightly basis!
Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Go Green without Going Broke: tips and tools for greening your life on a budget (Green Guidebook Book 2)


Going Green Without Going Broke
Genre: Nonfiction
Published: January 2017



Go Green without Going Broke: tips and tools for greening your life on a budget (Green Guidebook Book 2)


Summary:


As we become more knowledgeable about the processes and chemicals used in our foods, natural and organic food is becoming more and more attractive. The problem lies in the affordability. The more natural products and the organic products are often priced higher than processed foods. 

In Go Green without Going Broke: tips and tools for greening your life on a budget, learn ways to better afford more natural foods. Learn about the history behind the green movement and a variety of avenues to living a healthier lifestyle, giving you the opportunity to choose which path is the best for you. 

Pemberton offers a plethora of information and provides the resources necessary to get started. 

Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: 


Going green has been a passion of mine for years, so this book was right up my alley. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history and the process of how we, as people, became so knowledgeable about the chemicals used in our food. I also loved learning the technical terms associated with the word "organic". Who knew there are multiple variations of being deemed organic? 

Gardening and farming are also a passion of mine. I wrote down a multitude of resources and tips that I plan to use in my future crops. There is even a resource that includes seasonal crops for specific regions! I just love this! I have had a year round garden for about 2 years. I'm excited to try a few new plants this year with this help. I may even attempt to join up with a farmers market (again with the help of the resources provided by Pemberton)!

I am really excited to take the information I've gained and put it to use. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to start a healthier lifestyle or expand their knowledge in living a more natural lifestyle. I LOVE that the author provided me with so many resources (seriously, maybe too excited)!

To purchase a copy of your own, click the link below. I'd love to hear your thoughts!




Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. All statements and opinions above are my own. 


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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Reading for the busy mom


How to Read and Clean at the SAME TIME!


   In today's world, we all live each day with intentions of doing 20 things, but only getting to about half. We are busy people and constantly looking for ways to get more done in less time. We call it multitasking. We have work, cleaning, cooking, meetings, little league, dance classes, bathing, and bed time routines. With all of this to do, when do we find time to relax? When do we get time to read?

    I've talked to many working parents that don't find time to relax, much less to read. They get their reading time through professional development or social media. Blah! Of course, it's great to spend time devoting to your profession. It's also great to keep up with your high school friends and family through social media (especially when the truth is we wouldn't have time to catch up any other way!) Is that really the future of our reading?

    I can't handle the idea of not reading, even if I don't always have time. I NEED the escape. I need the freedom. I need to read.

    I've found a way that works for me, Audible. Audible is purchased through Amazon. It is audible books. I can listen to my books! I can keep moving, and still get the adventure that I'm craving!

    I don't have a long commute to work, so I don't have the ability to listen in the car. I am a lucky one. I work 5 miles from my home. I have found that I love to listen while I clean! Cleaning is a chore that unfortunately is inevitable. I just can't escape it, so why not bring some joy to it? Seriously, give this a shot and I think you're going to love it!

   So here's how I do it. Depending on what is going on around me, I have a couple of options:

1.) I plug in to my stereo in the kitchen and listen while I cook and clean up afterward.
2.) I use ear buds (one or both) if it's noisy or just turn up the volume on my phone without ear buds if it's not so noisy.

Option 2 gives me the freedom to move around if I'm cleaning a larger area or if I'm moving from room to room.

So, give Audible a shot. Let me know what you think. It's different from physically reading a book, but I really think you'll enjoy it nonetheless. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Enjoy!

Click below to check it out.




Disclaimer: I joined Audible on my own. All thoughts and statements above are my own.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Reading through the Pain

How reading can help with the loss of a loved one.
Today is a difficult day for me. One year ago today was the last time I would ever see my father. He was admitted into the hospital for the first time in my 35 years. Two days later he was gone.

This has been an extremely difficult year for me. I would typically call my dad often and see him just as much. In his final six months, I had taken on a full time teaching job. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, to say the least, between work and three children (ages 2, 4 & 13). I hadn't been to see him as much as I should have when he was admitted into the hospital. I made sure to visit him both days he was there, no matter how tired I was.

He asked me to take him home from the hospital. He told me he wanted to be at home. We didn't realize he had so little time, but maybe he did, maybe he knew. I convinced him to stay so they could help him gain strength before going home. I kissed him on his forehead and told him I'd see him tomorrow.

I should have listened.

The one thing that I have found that really helped me during this year, is reading. My children and my husband have helped, but often times they have been at a loss of how to help.

I read this quote in the beginning of my journey through the pain:

This quote by Cathy Lamb, spoke to me. My family wanted to help, but it was impossible. There were just not enough hugs in the world to get through to my emotional chaos. Don't get me wrong, it put a smile on my face, even when there were tears streaming down my cheeks, but it couldn't stop the tears. I wanted to stop crying, for my children, for my husband, for myself. I just didn't know how.

I needed an escape, but not a physical escape. I didn't want to leave my loved ones, I loved their physical presence. I needed something to invade the space in my mind and help me to forget this newly created hole in my heart and in my world. It took some time, but I finally realized what it was that I needed.

Books.

When I pick up a book, I am transformed into a new person. I can be a mermaid or a vampire. A princess of a far away land or a power woman running a huge corporation.  I can travel to places I have never been, some that don't exist even! All of these things are possible, but only when I open the pages of a book.

I felt a physical difference in myself as I sat indulging in my latest fictional find too. I noticed my shoulders release a bit of tension. My head did not hurt quite as much. And my ever present anxiety was not quite as noticeable.

In my life, reading has always been a hobby of mine, but there have been many times it tends to take the back burner. When my dad passed away, I had just recently found some semblance of a work-life balance enabling me to read for pleasure again occasionally. I had been working on the Harry Potter series for years, of course I read other books between each HP book, but it was a slow process nonetheless.  

My dad finished all of the Harry Potter books, one right after another when they were the latest and greatest things at Barnes and Noble. It took me a long while before I even decided to give them a chance. Originally, I didn't think they were going to be "my cup of tea" so to speak. So in 2012, I finally started the first book. In January 2017, when he passed, I was working on the 5th HP book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

When my dad earned his angel wings, I just wanted to retreat from the world around me and cry. I cried for all the time we had and I cried for the time we would never have.

It took a couple months, but I finally picked up my Harry Potter book again. When I did, I noticed a difference in myself. I still yearned to be with my dad, but I could escape to Hogwarts whenever I needed. Once I was there, I was Harry Potter. I did and said what Harry Potter did. It was EXACTLY what I needed (except maybe his invisibility cloak).

As I made more time for my fictional world, I noticed that I began to feel closer to my dad too. I was reading words that he had enjoyed during his life. I loved to imagine him reading and feeling the same things that I was experiencing as I went. Reading this felt like it had a healing quality and am so glad I discovered it.

A year later, I have just recently finished the 6th book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I hope to finish the final book in the series and visit Harry Potter World (fingers crossed). My dad and I had talked about it several times. He did not get a chance to go, but I know he will travel with me in spirit when I do.

I know Harry Potter is not for everyone, but I highly recommend reading through the pain. It really has had a therapeutic effect for me. Maybe your loved one mentioned a book or series they enjoyed in life. I challenge you to go get it. Read it. Feel your loved one laughing and crying along with you as you journey through the pages. You won't regret it.


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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing - Book Review



The Jewel (The Lone City #1)   
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Romance
Published: September 2014
Published by: HarperTeen
by Amy Ewing

Summary:

Violet Lasting is a young girl from the Marsh. As a young girl in the Marsh, she must be tested for the genetic abnormality that gives her the ability to be a surrogate for the Royals in the Jewel. The Jewel is a place of wealth and  and exquisite beauty. The royal women discover they are unable to carry an heir to term and survive it. The only way to carry on the royal blood is to have a surrogate grow the heir.

Violet is sent away to a school. There she is trained as a surrogate and her special powers are developed to their fullest potential. Once she completes her schooling, she attends the big day, the Auction.

At the Auction, Violet is stripped of her identity. She is now known as #197. She is dressed beautifully and placed on a stage to be bid on by the royal women. She is one of the most sought after surrogates due to her beauty and her high scores in school. The Lady of the Lake bids the highest and is now her owner.

Violet has difficulty adjusting to life as a surrogate. She meets Ash, a companion for the Duchess's niece. Violet has never met anyone like him. How can she feel this way when she is destined to bear a royal child? What will happen to them if they are discovered? There has never been a surrogate that has escaped, what choice does she have?

My Rating: 3.5 stars

The Jewel had great potential. I was really excited to read this book based on the blurb and the cover. The cover of this book is stunning. I like the plot, but it just didn't leave me longing for more. Violet's character is well developed and likeable. The Duchess made me angry enough that there were times I wanted to punch her in the face.

 I had a hard time following the idea that the surrogates had the power to change living things (i.e. a tree, a fetus, etc.). The pain caused by such changes seemed unnecessary and did not add to the story. Violet suffered from nose bleeds and migraines every time she attempted this, yet it was expected of the surrogates to perform in this way.

I cannot imagine treating my surrogate with anything but respect and kindness if I were to have one. The Jewel sees the surrogates as a type of slave. The royals in the Jewel have a sense of entitlement for the womb of these surrogate girls. Even with their child and heir growing inside of them, they are treated like scum.

The story held my attention long enough for me to finish it. The ending left the reader with unanswered questions. I can make the assumption that these are addressed in the next books in the trilogy. I would like to know how the series is resolved, so I may eventually read the next book. For now, I will take a break from the Jewel.

Disclaimer: I purchased this book during a buy 2 for the price of 1 sale through Audible with my own money. I chose this title and one other. The opinions stated above are my own.

For your convenience, you can purchase a copy for yourself here! Once you've read, let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!

The Couple Next Door: A Novel by Shari Lapena - Book Review

The Couple Next Door: A Novel             
Published by Pamela Dorian Books
Originally Published: August 2016
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

by Shari Lapena

Summary:

Marco and Anne Conti are new parents to baby Cora. Anne is experiencing postpartum depression, as many new moms do, so when they get invited to a dinner party next door Marco thinks they should go.

The Contis spent a good deal of time with their neighbors, Cynthia and Graham, before having a baby. Marco sees this as an opportunity for Anne to relax and rekindle a friendship. 

The only problem is Cynthia has requested no children at the party. This wouldn't be a problem, except the babysitter cancelled last minute. Now what? Marco suggests they bring the monitor and take turns checking on the baby every half hour. After all, they will only be next door. What's the worst that could happen?

That decision is the beginning of any parents worst nightmare. When they return home at the end of the night, baby Cora is missing from her crib. Now they must piece together the events of the evening with the help of the police and pray Cora is returned to them safely.

My Rating: 4 stars

Let me start by saying, this is not my typical read. I like to read happy books. Books that make me smile. I don't tend to be attracted to books with fear and anxiety brimming from the pages. Books that involve kidnapping and murder....but I gave this one a chance.

It was a good read. It kept me coming back for more. I had to know what happened next. The chapters were short, which made it easier and faster to read. I felt like I flew through the book.

I like that the characters are flawed and relateable. Adulting is hard! Marco and Anne Conti are examples of that. She comes from a wealthy family with plenty of secrets. Marco is a regular guy working to provide for his family. He just can't quite get the business model right to succeed. His in-laws hate him which makes it that much harder to admit defeat. Add in Anne's mental health issues and life just seems down right unfair.

I also enjoyed the use of 3rd person omniscient point of view used by the author. It was an interesting mix of emotions as the reader knows and feels the plot from the perspective of each of the characters. Shari Lapena lets the reader visit the mind of several characters per chapter. This was a different experience for me as a reader, but a definitely a good one.

I definitely recommend this book for all the suspense lovers out there.


If you enjoyed this review, please follow and share my blog. I would like me to review a particular book, I would love to hear from you!

Thank you for reading!

Disclaimer: I received this book as a Christmas gift from my in-laws. It was on my Amazon wish list as a book hoped to purchase. The thoughts and opinions above are my own.


If you'd like to purchase a copy of your own, you can easily do so below. Once you've read it, let me know your thoughts!

Also by Shari LaPena is A Stranger in the House. Enjoy!


Monday, January 1, 2018

Love the One You're With: A Novel by Emily Giffin - Book Review




Love the One You're With: A Novel  
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Chick Lit
Originally Published: May 2008
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

by Emily Giffin

Summary:

Ellen and Andy have been married one year, and what an amazing year it has been! Ellen was lucky enough to marry a perfect gentleman who also happens to be her best friend's brother. Life is perfect. Well it was...until she unexpectedly runs into Leo in a busy New York intersection.

Leo with his dark eyes and mysterious smile. Leo is the "one who got away". Ellen and Leo shared a passionate but tumultuous time together when she was new to the city. They were everything she thought she ever needed, until one day it wasn't what he needed anymore.

Now she is faced with Leo again, years later. His voice, his smile, his everything. A flood of emotions come rushing back to Ellen. Ellen's once perfect marriage is now, not so perfect under her constant scrutiny. She is no longer sure that Andy is the man meant for her.

Ellen is faced with the difficult task of trying to sort through the past and the present. Did fate intervene by bringing Leo back into her life? Or will she be able to get through the fog of the past to live in the present with a clear view of the future? Will she be able to love the one she's with?

My Rating:  5 Stars

My Thoughts:

This is the 5th Emily Giffin novel I've read. To be quite honest, I wanted to read it, but I wasn't 100% sure I could. The cover is beautiful and simplistic, in typical EG style, which I love. My uncertainty was based off the title alone. The title hints at an internal conflict with the possibility of infidelity. Which, don't get me wrong, I've read other novels that include matters of infidelity, but this novel includes it in the title. I didn't want my husband (who does NOT read) to glance at my book and question why I would read such a book. Silly, I know, but husbands are funny creatures and I didn't want to hurt his ego or feed any insecurities. My solution, I purchased the audible edition! I made sure to listen while I was in the car or plugged into ear buds while cleaning the house. Brilliant!

On to the book, Emily Giffin did not let me down! I think most people, women particularly, have someone in their past that they think about occasionally. I don't necessarily mean in a romantic way, (but some may!) just in a way that lets their mind wander. Maybe due to a lull in life, or a fight with their spouse, or just plain curiosity. How that person is doing, how life could have been different if you'd made a different choice, what if, what if, etc., etc. EG taps into this curiosity when Ellen has a chance run-in with her "one who got away".

As Ellen indulges in her thoughts of the past her visions of the future also blur. She questions her marriage and this life that she has built with Andy. Ellen is faced with an extremely tough decision to make, should she continue on this path of life with her real life Prince Charming Andy even if she has begun to feel a bit neglected or should she turn back time and venture onward with the mysterious Leo even though he broke her heart once?

I thoroughly enjoyed following Ellen through her journey of discovery. I also love that Emily Giffin's love for New York shines through in her novels. I finally visited New York (I won the trip on the radio! Eek!) this year so I can fully appreciate her love of the city. It is hard to write more (as much as I want to) without spoiling the ending. I do highly recommend this book for lovers of realistic fiction, chick lit, and NYC. Emily, once again, did not disappoint!

Side note: If you get your hands on the Audible version of this novel, be sure to listen to the interview with Emily at the end. She tells about her inspiration for this novel. I loved it! She is an amazing lady.

If you enjoyed this review, please follow and share my blog. Thank you for reading!
Disclaimer: As mentioned above, I purchased this through Audible with my own money. The thoughts and opinion above are my own.

For your convenience, you can purchase your copy here! Once you've read, let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!


More awesome titles by Emily Giffin.

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