Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Goodreads Summary:
A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.
When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.
At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?
My Thoughts:

Fall and football season go hand in hand - and with football, cheerleaders.

When I sat down to write my thoughts on this story, I found it difficult. It was about so much more than it seems, on the surface. This entire small town was struck by this tragedy, not just the families of those involved. How does a town that reveres its football team and cheerleaders cope with something like this? There is also the blame game - who exactly, was at fault? And how far do you go in that blame? And it’s not just the accident that has townspeople's heads spinning - there is also the scandal involving a new young substitute teacher.  

The story is told from multiple viewpoints - that of two mothers, one the mother of a victim, the other the mother of the boy driving the car. We are also privy to the viewpoints of Leah, who should have been in the car but wasn’t, and of Ava, the new substitute teacher, who has a secret.

I found this book riveting. I didn’t want to put it down. I don’t want to say too much, for fear of giving too much away, so I will just say this - I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its twists and turns and secrets and conclusions. The questions it raises about teenagers, the pressures of teenage life, of marriage, of parenthood. What choices we make, and why. And how these choices ultimately affect those around us.

I received this book from Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Last week went by in a flash! For real, I am not sure where that week went. Lol. Friday though was an amazing day. My son has Cerebral Palsy, and gets therapy three times a week. His facility teamed up with GoBabyGo and the Ford Motor Company and were able to provide some pretty sweet motorized cars to five lucky kids - and mine was one of them! He received a Ford F-150, that was adapted by Ford engineers on the spot to his needs. On top of all that, he made the news! 

Read Last Week:


I am diving headfirst into fall with these two reads! I didn't get The Witches of New York until Saturday, so I haven't read much yet, but what I have read, I love!

Reading This Week:

I will be finishing The Witches of New York


Midnight, Texas, American Gods, and 

I am holding off on true Halloween type stuff until next month - this month is just the beginning. And technically, it is not fall yet. To me though, September always heralds the start of the autumn season.

So what about you all? How is it going?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Book Review: The Road to Paradise

Title: The Road to Paradise
Author: Karen Barnett
Source: Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:

In 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Since Ranger Ford Brannon lost his father in a climbing accident, he doubts his ability to protect the park and its many visitors. He certainly doesn't relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills. 
When Margie's former fiance sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, Margie and Ford will have to work together to preserve the beauty and simplicity of this mountain hideaway, but the developer's plans might put more than just the park in danger

My Thoughts:

To me, our National Parks are a national treasure. These beautiful scenic parks, trails, vistas - natural history meets the history of the United States, rolled into one. I love knowing my feet are walking where others before me have tread, generations before. To look out from a mountain top, and know that others have seen that same view. And the historic lodges - solid, sturdy, the architecture reflecting the majesty around them. I love everything about our national parks, and their history, so when I saw The Road to Paradise offered on Blogging for Books, and billed as a Vintage National Parks book, it was a no brainer that I was going to request it. And I am so glad that I did!

A gentle read, but with a riveting mystery. Margie is a character after my own heart - in love with the natural world around her, head a little bit in the clouds, definitely headstrong and unafraid. She is such a great character, one I was glad to find in the pages of this book. And Ranger Ford Brannon is no slouch of a character either - tough, smart, a little vulnerable. Author Barnett crafted these characters perfectly. And I loved reading their story, and seeing how they grew and changed along the way.

It was also a very different read for me. I consider myself a spiritual person, and I often read books that have a spiritual bent. I haven’t however, ever read a Christian fiction book until this one. I am not one to rule out a book because it’s not my usual type, and I knew when I requested it that it was Christian fiction. So when I started reading, I was crossing my fingers that I would like the book, since everything else about it was right up my alley. And honestly, it was fine. I didn’t feel hit over the head with the bible verses or anything like that. Yes, Margie is very religious. It is a major part of who she is, and that is not hidden in anyway. But it was very organically done. Her faith is just another facet of her character, the same as her love of nature and learning. If references to the bible or Christianity in your fiction reading just isn’t your cup of tea, which is fine, be aware that it is pretty prevalent in this book.

I found this book delightful, with wonderful characters, and best of all, set in Mount Rainier National Park. I am looking forward to the next book in this series!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

It's been quite a week or so for the United States, with all of these natural disasters and fires. I hope that everyone is staying safe. Thoughts and prayers to all of you caught in the way of hurricanes, flooding, fire, and earthquakes.

Thank you for the kind comments and well wishes for aunt. She is doing well, and even came home last Friday! Initial thoughts were that she would have a three week hospital stay, but she is doing so well. 

Read Last Week:


When We Were Worthy is a book I received from Lake Union Publishing, and I absolutely devoured it within a day or two. Review this week. 

Rituals - Pussreboots commented to me last week that she could read Armstrong's books all the time and never get bored - and I have to agree. Armstrong has become a favorite of mine, especially with the Cainsville series and Rockton series. I loved Rituals. I am only sad that this is the last book in the series!

Reading This Week:

Ugh, I hate waiting for library holds! I am doing great without buying books for myself this year. It has been hard, but I'm doing it! I may cave this fall though - if there is ever a time to indulge, it is autumn!


I started this a while ago and didn't finish. This seems like the perfect week to pick it back up. 


Midnight, Texas, American Gods, Land Girls on Netflix. Also, The Lowe Files with Rob Lowe. I am in love with this show. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Rob Lowe is still a very attractive man! Lol.

How about all of you? How's it been going?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway: Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

Title: Something Like Happy 
Author: Eva Woods
Source: Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:

With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment.

“It's simple, really. You're just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we're doing one right now…”

Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she'd once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn't want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it's that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie's convinced it's impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there's still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly's about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.

My Thoughts:

It is so easy sometimes to get bogged down and trapped by the hard things in our lives. The days when nothing goes right. The times when everything looks bleak, and you think things will never get better. But then imagine a firecracker of a person lands in your life, battling her how very serious issues, but shows you how to view life differently, turning your life upside down in a good way. On some level, it would probably irritate you at first. We get so stuck in our problems sometimes, and need a big shove to get out of our mental state. For Annie, Polly provided that giant shove, forcing Annie to look out at the world instead of the problems in her lap. This book ran the gamut of emotions for me, and I definitely needed kleenex as I read, but overall, the message is to live your best life. YOLO. Carpe Diem. All that. But really do it. Go out, and do one thing that makes you happy everyday. It doesn't have to be huge - just something, anything, that makes you happy. Treat yourself to that mocha. Step away from your work and take a walk for five minutes. Or go big, book that trip you have always wanted to take. (well, if you can financially afford it - don't go crazy now.) This is the only life we get and we need to take advantage of it while we can. I loved this book, even with all the emotional upheaval it caused. I am even giving away a copy of it, that was provided to me by the publisher. A nice, new hardcover. I don't know about you, but shiny new books are a thing that make me happy. So go ahead and enter! You don't need a blog, just an email. Please however, live in the United States. :) Just leave a comment below and an email by September 9th, 8 pm to be entered. I will pick the winner using 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Emotionally, this was a tough week. My aunt was diagnosed in March with pancreatic cancer, and it has been a long journey for her, and our family. My aunt is kind of the family matriarch, and I have a very close bond with her, personally. She has weathered chemo, then radiation and chemo every single day this summer, and then finally, last Thursday, she had a procedure called Whipple surgery. Her surgeon called it the "Rolls Royce" of surgeries, and it is very intense. She came through it as strong as she does everything, and we all exhaled in relief as one.  She is a tough cookie but still has a long road ahead of her.  Now though,  we can get to the matter of healing.

To take my mind off my anxiety, I planned for Halloween, my absolute favorite time of the year. I bought tickets for the Detroit Zoo Boo, and also for the Halloween happenings at Greenfield Village. I also am planning on taking little guy to the Halloween program at the nature center at our favorite metropark. I love fall so much, is it obvious? This week I also plan on decorating for autumn, woohoo! 

Read Last Week:


How to Find Love in a Book Shop was completely adorable and lovely! It was the perfect book for the week I was having. 

Rituals also came in for me at the library! Yay! I started it over the weekend, and while I haven't had a ton of time to read, I am loving it!!!

Reading This Week:

Finishing up Rituals. Hoping to begin one of these two books, provided they come in for me at the library.


We finished up GoT, holy cow!!! What an amazing finish for the season. I can't believe I have to wait for more. We also started watching Land Girls on Netflix, since we are addicted to BBC shows. We will probably start Shetland this week as well. Even Wyatt has the BBC bug, as he loves The Furchester Hotel. (and so do I!)

Posted Last Week:

Special thoughts and prayers for everyone who is in the path of or has been affected by Harvey or the raging fires out west. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: Everything We Keep and Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale

Goodreads Summaries:
Everything We Keep: A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancĂ©, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s
disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.
Everything We Left Behind: Two months before his wedding, financial executive James Donato chased his trade-laundering brother Phil to Mexico, only to be lost at sea and presumed dead. Six and a half years later, he emerges from a dissociative fugue state to find he’s been living in Oaxaca as artist Carlos Dominguez, widower and father of two sons, with his sister-in-law Natalya Hayes, a retired professional surfer, helping to keep his life afloat. But his fiancĂ©e, Aimee Tierney, the love of his life, has moved on. She’s married and has a child of her own.

Devastated, James and his sons return to California. But Phil is scheduled for release from prison, and he’s determined to find James, who witnessed something in Mexico that could land Phil back in confinement. Under mounting family pressure, James flees with his sons to Kauai, seeking refuge with Natalya. As James begins to unravel the mystery of his fractured identity, danger is never far behind, and Natalya may be the only person he can trust.
My Thoughts:
“On our wedding day, my fiance, James, arrived at the church in a casket.”

When I opened the book and read this very first sentence, I was hooked. What an amazing introduction. Dramatic, mysterious, just enough there to keep you reading to find out more. What happened to James? Who was this woman, what will happen to her now? I had so many questions already, and I had only read one sentence!

This book was an amazing journey, one I didn’t expect, to be honest. Throughout the book, new questions would arise, as old ones found answers. Always, always, I would ask myself, what would I do, if I were Aimee? I absolutely loved this book, and when I got to the end, I was so glad that Lake Union had sent me the second book in the series. I had to know immediately what happened next! I was so happy that I didn’t need to wait longer than it took me to put the first book down, and pull the second out of my nightstand drawer.

Everything We Left Behind didn’t disappoint either. Picking up right where Everything we Keep left off, on a massive cliffhanger, I kept reading about these characters. Rooting for them, sometimes even a little teary eyed. I read the second book a little slower, not as frenzied to get to the end, wanting to understand the characters a little more. It was a little more complex than the first, which was needed. The book grew where it needed to, and I enjoyed the slower pace just as much as I had enjoyed reading the first book as fast as I could.

I really enjoyed these two books, and recommend them to contemporary readers everywhere! It is a beautiful story of loss, renewal, and starting over, with a little crazy thrown into the mix. And of course, there is Ian. He deserves his very own mention, in my opinion. My only suggestion is to have the second book readily available for when you finish the first!

I received these books from Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.