Current Giveaways!

Watch this space!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

TLC Book Tours Review: How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind by Leah Weiss

Title: How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind 
Author: Leah Weiss 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Wave
Publish Date: May 13, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins 






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "A practical guide to bringing our whole selves to our professional work, based on the author’s overwhelmingly popular course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business."

My Two Cents:

"How We Work" is a how to manual on taking big topics like mindfulness and compassion and to utilize them in the workplace. If you're into these things already (I try very hard to use mindfulness and related tools and to expand my practice every day). Work doesn't need to be a pain when you make a point to try and expand all of these really good things that this book is filled with.

Much of this book was not rocket science. These are tools that you might be familiar with but applied in a new way. I think it's always good to practice things like mindfulness and compassion but they are known areas for me already. This book is about using those tools in a real life situation that causes stress for so many people: work.

If you are new to these practices, this book would be a great start for honing all of the good things these practices can do for you. However, if you are not a beginner, this book makes for good practice but probably isn't going to be too shocking or new. 



Monday, April 16, 2018

TLC Book Tours Review: You All Grow Up and Leave Me: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession by Piper Weiss

Title: You All Grow Up and Leave Me: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession
Author: Piper Weiss
Format: ARC
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: April 10, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Piper Weiss was fourteen years old when her middle-aged tennis coach, Gary Wilensky, one of New York City’s most prestigious private instructors, killed himself after a failed attempt to kidnap one of his teenage students. In the aftermath, authorities discovered that this well-known figure among the Upper East Side tennis crowd was actually a frightening child predator who had built a secret torture chamber—a "Cabin of Horrors"—in his secluded rental in the Adirondacks.

Before the shocking scandal broke, Piper had been thrilled to be one of "Gary’s Girls." "Grandpa Gary," as he was known among his students, was different from other adults—he treated Piper like a grown-up, taking her to dinners, engaging in long intimate conversations with her, and sending her special valentines. As reporters swarmed her private community in the wake of Wilensky’s death, Piper learned that her mentor was a predator with a sordid history of child stalking and sexual fetish. But why did she still feel protective of Gary, and why was she disappointed that he hadn’t chosen her?

Now, twenty years later, Piper examines the event as both a teenage eyewitness and a dispassionate investigative reporter, hoping to understand and exorcise the childhood memories that haunt her to this day. Combining research, interviews, and personal records, You All Grow Up and Leave Me explores the psychological manipulation by child predators—their ability to charm their way into seemingly protected worlds—and the far-reaching effects their actions have on those who trust them most."


My Two Cents:

"You All Grow Up and Leave Me" is the true crime story of Gary, a seemingly harmless man that weasels his way into the lives of many of Manhattan's elite families through tennis. He teaches female students how to be successful tennis players and his services are in high demand. He is hiding a very dark side and abuses multiple young girls in a monstrously systematic way and the way it ends for seems like something out of a horror movie.

It took me a little bit to get in the book. At first it seems like the book is very much as simply a memoir of someone who was a teenager in the early 90s. We see Weiss with her friends and what she was doing inside and outside of school. We see the tumultuous relationship with her mother and the friction that permeates their home. Eventually once we get to Gary and into the things he did and the dissection of why he did what he did, the book really picked up for me.

Not only does Weiss explore who Gary was but she was a victim herself - one of Gary's girls. This makes for an especially haunting recounting of Gary's horrible crimes. Weiss seems to go back and forth between really wanting to understand what happened and pushing it away. While this was a little frustrating as a reader, I do think it captures the things that go through a victim's head, especially one so young. Understanding doesn't necessarily change things. I thought it was interesting to see what Weiss found in interviewing some of the other victims and made for a really unique read.

This book stars slowly but ends up with a wild ride. 


 


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Giveaway and Giveaway Winners!



Today, I am pleased to give away a copy of "I've Been Thinking" by Maria Shriver (U.S. only, please)! Want to win a copy, just fill out the form below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am also pleased to announce the giveaway winner for "The Confessions of Young Nero" by Margaret George:

Danielle H.


Monday, April 9, 2018

TLC Book Tours: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Title: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
Authors: Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Format: Paperback
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: April 3, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins



What's the Story?

From Goodreads.com: "A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife...

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…"

My Two Cents:

"My Dear Hamilton" is the story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, a woman who came from a storied family who goes on to marry one of America's founding fathers. It would be easy to define Eliza as simply Alexander's wife but she was so much more than that. I have been obsessed with the Hamilton musical for awhile now and Eliza has always struck me as a particularly interesting character. It was this that originally made me interested in reading this book but once I got into the book, I found that Eliza's voice that made this book worth reading!

I am always excited about new releases but there are some books where I feel like I have been waiting forever for. This is one of those books and I was definitely not disappointed! One of the reasons that I love historical fiction is that the books often tell the stories of people, places, and things that don't often make it into the history books. There are so many things that don't make it into our history books and while I wish it were different, at least there are authors out there that are willing (and capable, oh, so capable of telling) these stories.

I loved that this book was told from Eliza's first person point of view. I loved seeing how she thought about the different things that were going on throughout the book. We see how she felt about her father's disgraced legacy, how she felt being compared to her sisters, how she felt first meeting Alexander, and so many other things that she goes through in this book. I also loved reading about her opinions on some of the more well known names of the day. It's always interesting to me to read about other people's personal perspectives on all of the names that do get a chance to be seen in the history books. The authors really give Eliza such a true voice that this book feels as if you are talking to a friend who is letting you in on some of her innermost secrets and rich inner life. 

The pacing of this book was great! At over 600 pages, it would be easy for a book like this to lose steam but it never does. Eliza draws you to keep going and the action throughout the book keeps at a steady pace. Even after getting to the end, I was ready for more!

This is a great book for anyone that loves the hidden stories in history and is looking for a great character to fall for!


Happy National Library Week!

This week is National Library Week and if you're anything like me, you love the library. I am always at the library and it is one of my favorite places. Here's another great way to celebrate: Harry Potter Alliance - Accio Books - HPA is looking to send thousands of books to Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Puerto Rico this spring. 10% of all Harry Potter related items sold on outofprint.com during National Library Week will be donated to this effort.

Here's a little more information from an interview I did with Out of Print founder, Todd Lawson:




Why is Out of Print partnering with The Harry Potter Alliance?

The HPA is one of our favorite charity partners. They are a group of awesome people inspired into activism by Harry Potter books. We first ran into them at a festival a few years ago and immediately fell in love with how they go about raising awareness for and supporting great causes. We've been working with them on various projects ever since. One highlight is fully supplying a school library in Uganda with books and computers in 2016.

Why is this partnership so important to Out of Print?

We share similar values and both feel that doing good should be fun and meaningful. Out of Print is a community of readers supporting readers. The HPA is takes the wonderful and unifying messages of J.K. Rowling to make the world a better place.

Can you tell us a little more about what The Harry Potter Alliance will be doing this year?

They have project year round. Most current is an annual book drive called Accio Books. This year we are partnering for National Library Week (April 8th-14th) to raise money to send books and supplies to libraries damaged by the hurricane in Puerto Rico. For every limited edition HPA x Out of Print shirt sold this week a portion of sales will be donated to restore access to books in some of the communities hit hardest in the hurricane.

What's the best way for people to help with this effort?

To help the cause, you can visit the HPA's site to learn how to directly donate books and/or money (https://www.thehpalliance.org/success_stories_accio_books). Secondly, you can shop at outofprint.com during National Library Week. We recommend you do both!

If you could bring three people, fictional or non-fictional, with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?

Superman - to fly me away if I felt the need to get off the island
Aquaman - to teach me to breath under water and talk to all those critters under the sea
Captain Planet - because our world really needs the help right now.

Friday, April 6, 2018

2018 Reading Challenge March Progress



As a reminder, I'm doing two challenges this year: The PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge and My Friends' Favorite Books Challenge.

PopSugar Ultimate Reading:
28 out of 50 books (6 in March)

Friends' Favorite Books Challenge:
5 out of 73 70 books (2 in March)

I finally hit my first DNF in the friends' challenge: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. I may try later but for right now, not reading the series has knocked 3 books off of my list.


Interested in what I've read? Check out my tracker!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review and Giveaway: I've Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life by Maria Shriver

Title: I've Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life
Author: Maria Shriver
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publish Date: February 27, 2018
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "As a prominent woman juggling many roles, Maria Shriver knows just how hectic and stressful everyday life can be. In this candid and heartfelt book, Shriver offers up the lessons she's learned along the way, and the meditations she's kept by her side as a touchstone for the challenges that arise. The quotes, scriptures, prayers, and reflections within are meant to encourage empowerment, accomplishment, and forward mobility in women of all ages.

I've Been Thinking . . . is an intimate devotional, ideal for those transitioning into the prime of their lives, who want to slow down, breathe, and take life one day at a time. Whether you're devoting attention to finding a cure for Alzheimer's, beginning a new career, starting your own business, or something in between, this slender, accessible book is for anyone who needs a reminder that taking a moment (or two!) to center yourself is the first step on that path."


My Two Cents:

"I've Been Thinking" is a glimpse into how Maria Shriver is able to make the most out of life. This book is the literary equivalent to having a huge cup of tea with a really good friend. It is thoroughly comfortable and satisfying.

I think it's always important to keep in mind that books like this about people's ways of finding themselves in the world may not work for everyone. Shriver is up front with this in this book: her way may not be the right way for everyone but it works for her. I saw that a lot of her methods and the things that she thinks about could be molded to my own life.

One of the things that stuck out most to me were her ruminations about mothers. She had an incredibly strong mother and Shriver herself seems to be a pretty strong mother. She mothers sometimes in a different way and sometimes in the same way as her mother. Mothering has been my most difficult job and it seems to carry such a huge responsibility. One day, these little people that I am raising are going to be out in the world. How do I set them up for success? Shriver gives a little insight and a little grace to the conversation.

This book is probably best if read little by little over a period of time. While it was satisfying to read it in one fell-swoop, I am already finding myself wanting to go back and read this book a little slower in order to more thoroughly digest some of the tidbits and great life lessons that this book offers.




Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Review: The Runaways by Sonya Terjanian

Title: The Runaways
Author: Sonya Terjanian
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publish Date: April 3, 2018 (Yesterday!)
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Ivy is on the run. She is finally ready to trade in a dead-end future of college debt and family obligations for the thrill of a fresh start. But when she finds herself in an isolated cabin in the Poconos, she realizes that starting over is more difficult than she thought.

Especially when a stranger stumbles into her hiding place.

Mary Ellen is attempting to reinvent herself. Dissatisfied with her career and family life, Mary Ellen is finally pursuing art, something she has put aside for years. So, when she arrives at a cabin in the woods for an artist's retreat and finds a teenage girl instead, she realizes this is her chance to start new."

My Two Cents:

"The Runaways" is the story of Ivy, a teenaged girl who is running away from her problems, which include a sick mother and wanting something more from her small life. Mary Ellen who is also running away from her life. She has a husband who is drifting through life with little purpose and twin daughters who will soon leave them empty nesters. Mary Ellen is trying to figure out what life looks like after that happens. These two characters will be thrown together with surprising results. 

It took awhile for me to get into this book. It has a very slow start with a lot of set up for who both of our main characters are, especially Mary Ellen. The book goes a lot into Mary Ellen and her newfound love for actually practicing art. I wished that the introduction would have been streamlined a little more and I wish that we had gotten to see both of the characters together more quickly. The main characters don't meet until almost a half of the book is over!

That being said, once we finally get to the characters meeting and interacting with each other, the book really picks up. It becomes a reflection of what happens when you have the opportunity to meet kind people and how life has a certain way of giving us people in our time of need. Once you can finally see where the story is going, I came to like and understand the characters a little bit better!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Happy Launch Day to "My Dear Hamilton!"

   

Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest for a More Perfect Union

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

 

MY DEAR HAMILTON is available now! Grab your copy today!

   

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A Founding Father’s wife...

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

 

✭✭✭ PICK UP YOUR COPY OF MY DEAR HAMILTON TODAY✭✭✭ Amazon | B&N | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo | Autographed Paperback

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        EXCERPT: The fashion was now all empire waistlines and sheer fabrics à la Grec, which would have left me feeling naked without gloves and shawl. “I am dressed to be seen in society, sir!” With the tip of his quill pen, he flicked my flimsy shawl to the floor. “And now you are not.” He gave his most irresistible smile.“Your country needs you. I need you. You are my good genius of that kind which the ancient philosophers called a familiar.” His eyebrows nearly waggled. “And you know that I am glad to be, in every way, as familiar as possible with you.” Smitten by his flirtation, I gave a helpless shrug. “Oh well, for the country then . . .” I forgot about the dinner party. I forgot everything but the familiar thrill of matching minds with the man I married. “Not that line,” I remember telling him. “That business about the ignorance of facts and malicious falsehoods will be taken harshly.” “That’s the president’s line, not mine,” Alexander protested. “Nevertheless, it portrays him as a partisan in the mud,” I argued, and our debate went well into the night. In truth, it went on for days as Alexander worked on the address, scribbling words and crossing them out. Eventually, he removed the line to which I objected. That and many others, taking into consideration my suggestions, leaving me awed with the magnitude of the masterpiece. I knew, even then, that the Farewell Address was a moving and worthy tribute to the United States and its people. A plea for unity. A statement of purpose and guidance for the nation George Washington helped bring into being. And because of Alexander Hamilton, I had the great and everlasting fortune to be a part of its shaping.    
      About Stephanie Dray: Stephanie Dray is a New York Times bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into multiple languages, illuminating women of the past so as to inspire the women of today. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation’s capital.      

Stephanie Dray Website |Newsletter | Facebook |Twitter | Dray & Kamoie Website

About Laura Kamoie: Laura Kamoieis a New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction, and the author of two nonfiction books on early American history. Until recently, she held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction under the name Laura Kaye, also a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels.        

TLC Book Tours Review: That's What She Said: Wise Words from Influential Women by Kimothy Joy

Title: That's What She Said: Wise Words from Influential Women
Author: Kimothy Joy
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Wave
Publish Date: April 3, 2018 (Today!)
Source: TLC Book Tours



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "An artist and activist committed to the empowerment of women and girls has created a gorgeous illustrated volume, blending watercolor and short biography to showcase the contributions of more than fifty influential female leaders whose words and actions are a passionate call to arms.

Distraught by the results of the 2016 election and the realization that the nation was not ready for its first female president, Kimothy Joy found herself poring over the biographies of brave women throughout history—those who persisted in the face of daunting circumstances—to learn from their experiences.

Turning to art, Joy channeled her feelings to the canvas, bringing these strong women to life in bold watercolor portraits surrounded by inspirational hand-lettered quotes. With each creation, Joy found catharsis and hope. She shared her watercolors with her online community and encouraged everyone to raise their own voices and recharge for the battles ahead."

My Two Cents:

I rounded out my "Women's History Month" with this great, inspirational read from Kimothy Joy. Joy paints stunning pictures of women along with quotes from them in this book. She also includes a mini-biography of each woman. There are so many great people in this book. Some are more familiar than others but all are very inspirational. 

The illustrations are what makes this book really special. They are beautiful and Joy does a great job of capturing the persona of each woman. They are very pretty paintings!

This is a great book to read little by little so that you can fully digest all of the goodness in this book. This would also make a really nice gift book for someone you think needs an infusion of inspiration!


Happy Launch Day to "The Secret to Southern Charm!"

Today's the day!


The Secret to Southern Charm is available from your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Target, Books-a-Million, Indiebound and wherever books are sold! It is being simultaneously released in paperback, hardback, e-book and audio, so check out your favorite version!
“A major new voice in southern fiction.” --Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author 
One of the hottest new Southern writers.” —Parade.com

"Writers come and writers go, but Kristy Woodson Harvey is here to stay. The warmth, wit, and wisdom of this novel pave her way into the exclusive sisterhood of southern writers.” —The Huffington Post

“The Secret to Southern Charm is a compelling, beautifully drawn tale of love, hope and small town secrets... solidifies Kristy Woodson Harvey’s spot as a rising star of Southern Fiction.” --Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times Bestselling Author of Beach House for Rent.

Leaving fans “practically [begging] for a sequel” (Bookpage), critically
acclaimed author Kristy Woodson Harvey returns with the second novel in
her beloved Peachtree Bluff series, featuring a trio of sisters and their
mother who discover a truth that will change not only the way they see
themselves, but also how they fit together as a family.

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister
Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely
climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her
children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her
personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through
their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging
mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is
that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no
matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young
sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest
dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter,
Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time,
she might finally be able to have it all.

Harvey’s signature warmth and wit make this a charming and poignant story
of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances and proves that
she is the next "major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, New
York Times bestselling author).

Monday, April 2, 2018

Title: The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Title: The Secret to Southern Charm
Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Format: ARC
Publisher: Gallery
Publish Date: April 3, 2018 (tomorrow!)
Source: Author



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter, Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all."

My Two Cents:

"The Secret to Southern Charm" is the story of Ansley and her three grown daughters: Caroline, Sloane, and Emerson. It is the second book in the Peachtree Bluff series and while you can read this one as a standalone, I would not suggest it. You will get so much more out of this book if you read the first book of the series: "Slightly South of Simple," which was great and really introduces the family a little more.

I loved getting back to these characters. The last book really focused on Caroline but this book really follows Sloane, who is married to Adam who is Missing in Action from the Army. Sloane hopes that he is okay but not having a firm answer is absolutely devastating to the point where she can barely get out of bed. Luckily, her family is there to help her with her two young boys. She is fearful of what is to come and allows her fear to strangle her ambition at first. Can she get back on her feet with the help of her family?

I love stories of tight knit families and the secrets they still keep from each other. As we see in this book, the motivation can be for really different reasons. I don't want to give anything away but I loved seeing all of the secrets unraveled throughout this book, especially the one between Ansley and Jack.

This was a good read that was thoroughly comforting. I can't wait to get back to Peachtree Bluff!


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Title: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: May 9, 2017
Publish Date: Viking
Source: Library



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart."


My Two Cents:

If you like quirky characters with real depth, you'll enjoy "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine." Titular character Eleanor lives a very quiet life filled with routine. After surviving a pretty terrible childhood, Eleanor is seemingly content with a life lived the same way day in and day out. She finally has a chance to break out of her shell after she becomes friends of sorts with Raymond, her co-worker. Together, they help Sammy, an old man, and through this experience, Eleanor realizes that there is something more out there.

Eleanor is the kind of character you fall for. Not because she is warm and fuzzy (she's most definitely not), but because you want to reach out to her. The glimpses that we get of her childhood with her terribly vindictive and controlling mother and the relationship that Eleanor has with her in the present day are really something to read. It is no wonder that Eleanor is the way that she is and why she finds navigating the world so difficult. She's the kind of character that stays with you long after you've closed the book.

Even with Eleanor's difficult problems, this book still has a rather hopeful feel to it. Humans are terribly resilient and can overcome even the most difficult of circumstances. It takes others to open her up but she works so hard to address her own issues and self-doubts and ends up quite inspiring. This was a great story!


 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

TLC Book Tours: The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy from Morning to Evening by Laurie J. Cameron

Title: The Mindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy from Morning to Evening
Author: Laurie J. Cameron
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publish Date: March 27, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "At the pinnacle of the digital age, it's hard to imagine packing one more thing into our overwhelmed lives. But new research shows that simple daily exercises can change the way our brain works, improve focus, lift our mood, create stronger connections, and help us develop greater resilience. In this enriching book, noted teacher and mindfulness expert Laurie Cameron provides an everyday road map to cultivate inner peace and navigate any situation with control and clarity. Timeless teachings and straightforward practices designed for busy schedules--from the morning commute to back-to-back meetings to family dinners--show how mindfulness can transform life at home, in the workplace, and beyond. A personal guide for women who have leaned in, men who want to be more effective, and professionals looking to optimize their lives, this book will help readers lead their lives with intention and purpose."

My Two Cents:

"The Mindful Day" is a great resource for anyone that is looking to put a little more peace in their lives (aren't we all looking for that???). A lot of people mistakenly believe that being mindful has to be a really big production that would be difficult to fit into a super busy life. As Cameron shows us, you can be mindful about all sorts of activities that you are already doing anyway. Being mindful is a state of mind. Through practicing it, you can get more out of every day activities.

This book may be best enjoyed in small sips, almost like a workbook. The book is filled with various tactics to practice mindfulness every day, throughout the day, even during something mundane like taking a shower. While I like meditating and I have actively been trying to be more mindful, I really liked the idea of trying to fit in mindfulness throughout the day during things that you are already doing.

I think this would be a useful tool for so many people!



Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Review: In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Title: In Sight of Stars
Author: Gae Polisner 
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publish Date: March 13, 2018
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.

Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northollow.

While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again."


My Two Cents: 

 Klee (pronounced Clay like the artist) is struggling. His beloved father who always seemed to know how to nurture Klee's artistic side recently killed himself. He doesn't feel like he is getting any sort of support from his mother, who Klee doesn't think is grieving in a normal emotional way for Klee's father, which makes Klee mad. Klee finds himself in a mental hospital where he's coming to term with his own issues and figuring out how to move forward in a healthy way.

There are several story lines in this book. The one that I was most to drawn to was how Klee is trying to get back on his feet and how there are many things that he did not know about his father. This is really a book about growing up and seeing the world for what it really is. I loved the references to Van Gogh, which is where the title comes from. Klee and his father share a great love for Van Gogh and the juxtaposition between Van Gogh's mental state and Klee's was very interesting.

The part of the book that I liked less was the story line between Klee and his love interest, who seems to fill every trope of a manic pixie dream girl. It just wasn't interesting to me and I think the story would have felt just as full without it!



Monday, March 26, 2018

Giveaway: The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

Margaret George's wonderful "The Confessions of Young Nero" is out in paperback! I loved this book and you can check out my review here. Thanks to the publisher, I am excited to be able to give you all a chance to win a copy (U.S. only, please)!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spotlight: "From Unseen Fire" by Cass Morris

About FROM UNSEEN FIRE
The Dictator is dead; long live the Republic. 

But whose Republic will it be? Senators, generals, and elemental mages vie for the power to shape the future of the city of Aven. Latona of the Vitelliae, a mage of Spirit and Fire, has suppressed her phenomenal talents for fear they would draw unwanted attention from unscrupulous men. Now that the Dictator who threatened her family is gone, she may have an opportunity to seize a greater destiny as a protector of the people -- if only she can find the courage to try.

Her siblings--a widow who conceals a canny political mind in the guise of a frivolous socialite, a young prophetess learning to navigate a treacherous world, and a military tribune leading a dangerous expedition in the province of Iberia--will be her allies as she builds a place for herself in this new world, against the objections of their father, her husband, and the strictures of Aventan society.
Latona's path intersects with that of Sempronius Tarren, an ambitious senator harboring a dangerous secret. Sacred law dictates that no mage may hold high office, but Sempronius, a Shadow mage who has kept his abilities a life-long secret, intends to do just that. As rebellion brews in the provinces, Sempronius must outwit the ruthless leader of the opposing Senate faction to claim the political and military power he needs to secure a glorious future for Aven and his own place in history.

As politics draw them together and romance blossoms between them, Latona and Sempronius will use wit, charm, and magic to shape Aven's fate. But when their foes resort to brutal violence and foul sorcery, will their efforts be enough to save the Republic they love? 

About Cass Morris
Cass Morris lives and works in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with the companionship of two royal felines, Princess and Ptolemy. She completed her Master of Letters at Mary Baldwin University in 2010, and she earned her undergraduate degree, a BA in English with a minor in history, from the College of William and Mary in 2007. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at MarioKart. Find out more about Cass Morris online at cassmorriswrites.com.



1 How did you go about researching the setting for FROM UNSEEN FIRE? Did you travel?
I looked at so. many. maps. Which was great! I love cartography. It’s shockingly difficult to find maps of Rome from the Republic era, though; almost everything is Imperial, because so much of the Forum was destroyed and rebuilt over time, so archaeology has a much easier time figuring out what it looked like in, say, 300 CE than 30 BCE. I also scoured the internet for every picture of reconstructions I could find -- the Getty Villa has some gorgeous images of a reconstructed Roman country house, interior and exterior, and there are a surprising number of Roman legion re-enactment groups. And yes, I did travel. I’d been to Rome once before, as a teenager, and in 2016 I was lucky enough to be able to go back. There’s nothing quite like walking the very hills and streets your characters would have!

2.What was the value of firsthand site research?
One of the things I most wanted to bring across in From Unseen Fire was the sense of an active, bustling, diverse city, and taking a research trip to Rome really helped me envision the ancient city as it would have been. So much is still the same, from the pathways of major roads to the open-air markets that flourish in every piazza. My favorite part was walking home from Trastevere (which the Romans/Aventans would know as Transtiberium or the Janiculan Hill, on the far side of the river from the main city) after dinner one night and discovering a night market happening on the banks of the Tiber. Bright lights, colorful tents and stalls, wine sellers plying their wares, musicians playing festive tunes -- It was not hard at all to feel like I was having a very similar experience to one I could’ve had two thousand years ago.

3.Did you find inspiration in crafting the politics of FROM UNSEEN FIRE from the current political climate? If so, how?
I sort of feel like no one’s going to believe me when I say that no character in the Aven Cycle was meant to be an analog for anyone involved with the 2016 presidential election or its fallout, but it’s true! This was all written long before that, and I was thinking of Tiberius Gracchus and Julius Caesar and Cato while I was writing, not any modern political figures. If anything, I was probably more directly inspired by the economic tensions that underpinned the 2012 campaign cycle, since that’s when I was doing most of my drafting. There are a lot of echoes, though, because the socio-political issues of today are nothing new. The Roman Senate had some of the very same arguments that the US Senate does. Nothing in From Unseen Fire is meant to be an allegory, but I do hope that the political discussions the characters have some resonance and perhaps get readers thinking about how civilizations throughout time, including our own, wrestle with these problems.

4.When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been a natural storyteller and a lover of books for as long as I’ve known what words were, but I can remember, clearly, the first moment I knew that creating worlds was what I wanted to do with my life. It was January, 1997. I was eleven years old, sitting in a movie theatre with a sticky floor, having just seen Star Wars for the first time. I was in utter awe. And I thought, “This is it. This is what I want to do.” I don’t know that I even knew what I meant by that at the time, whether writing books or working on movies or some other way of building worlds. That moment, though, was absolutely when I realized that I wanted to spend my life shaping universes that other people could both lose and find themselves in. I’ve been working towards that ever since.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I spend a lot of time reading, cuddling my cats, and playing MarioKart. I love to travel, though I don’t get as much chance for it as I’d like, so I make up for that with day trips whenever I can. Virginia’s vineyards and cideries are excellent for that -- always in beautiful locations, perfect for a relaxing day off. I also love attending conventions and conferences, and I’ve worked to staff a couple. My other major creative outlets are tabletop gaming and embroidery.
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