Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Emma in the Night Review!

Before I get into today's review, I just want to remind everyone that I still have a Giveaway going on through tomorrow night!! Head over to this blog post for all the details and enter to win a couple goods books, an incredibly cool coffee mug, and a rollerball!! I really covet that it's going to be hard letting it go, but that's just how much I love all of you.

Okay, onto the review...

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker was sent to me by the lovely people at BookSparks as part of their monthly Book Club program. If you pay attention to book buzz online or in the media, chances are you've seen this book already. I was super excited when it came in the mail, and tried my hardest to get it read in time for the author chat with Wendy Walker on Twitter (I do better with deadlines). I failed miserably, and didn't finish until about an hour after the chat (thank God there were no spoilers) at the time I was just writing "I have no idea what's going on in this book" for all of the blogosphere to read, but let me tell you...this book was SO WORTH the confusion.

Emma in the Night is a very clever psychological where initially you know something is off in the narrative, but you're not quite sure what it is?? You have theories, and you're constantly digging around in your brain trying to find holes or little hints as to what is really going on...but you don't know if it's just your paranoia after having read one too many thrillers...or whether it's really going on?? That is this book in a nutshell. And I really don't want to give anything away because this book held my interest until the very end...and I want to make sure that it does the same for any of you who run out and grab it!!

Sisters Cass and Emma disappeared one night, leaving very few clues as to what happened to them. A car on the beach with a purse inside...and nothing else. The girls came from a wealthy family in a fabulous neighborhood, and the three ring media circus had a field day with their beautiful grieving mother. Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter had many theories about the inner workings of their family, and what might have happened to them, but nothing ever came of it.

Three years later and Cass shows up on her mother's doorstep with a fantastical story of her captivity on a remote island in Maine. She has escaped and is frantic...they must hurry and save Emma. But is everything as it appears, or is there more to the story than what Cass is saying?? Abby has her theories, but is anyone going to listen??

A very simplistic teaser of a fairly complicated story, and I apologize for that!

The story is told from two points of view, that of Cass and Abby. Abby's thoughts on this case are shaped and somewhat tainted by her research and personal history with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which her mother had. She is certain that Cass and Emma's mother Judy has it, and that there is more going on in this household than what meets the eye. I found the psychology in this book fascinating. Without putting too much of myself out there, let's just say that I am very familiar and friendly with crazy of both the socially acceptable and diagnosable variety. 😁 It made, for me, the entire plot of whether Judy had NPD all the more intriguing. You don't read very many books where a female character has this disorder.

This book held my attention from the get go. Initially I was confused...then I was just questioning everything...and finally I was happy that everything wasn't quite what I'd thought, and the reveal was in fact revealing. The mind-fuckery (dang it, sorry) is gloriously twisted. It will be a great read for those who are fans of that book that everyone compares all other twisty thrillers to.

Not my most eloquent, I know...but I'm sleep deprived today...and I had half-jokingly told my oldest that I was just going to write:

I liked it. Go buy it. It was good. 

Don't forget to enter my Giveaway folks!! I have more readers, and yet less entries on this giveaway than my last one. 😕

Friday, August 25, 2017

New Giveaway!!!

I have a super fun, short and sweet post for you today!! I am doing my 2nd Giveaway on Tomes and Tequila!!

I have personally purchased a few of my favorite things to share with one very special reader of the blog.

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave is one of my favorite books of the summer. Have a look at my review over here for more info on this super cute book that was originally sent to me by Booksparks as a part of their Summer Reading Challenge. I ended up with more than one copy, so I'm sharing the love!!

If you are a long-time reader of mine, you know how much I love Gretchen Rubin. Better than Before is a great place to start if you've never read any of her books. It's all about habits, and a great intro to her Four Tendencies theory before her new book comes out!

Next I have this super cute coffee mug from Mugsby on Etsy. I have to tell y'all, I was really tempted to keep this one for myself! It says "I Run On Coffee And Mother Effin' Cuss Words". There's not much else I can say about it other than just looking at it makes me happy.

And then, since I'm a self-proclaimed perfume whore, I've thrown in a roller ball from Pacifica in the Indian Coconut Nectar scent. Nothing super fancy, but the smell makes me think of summer...and as it gets cooler here in NoVA I feel the urge to keep summer here a little bit longer.

So there ya go!! I'm going to run this giveaway the same as the last one, because if it's not broke-don't fix it. This blog is still small enough to run a giveaway like this, and to me it keeps it personal. 😀

Unlike the last giveaway, I've decided I'm keeping it open to all locales. For you, I will search the deep recesses of my brain and remember how to fill out a customs form!!

You'll have two opportunities to enter and the contest will be open until AUGUST 31!! at 9 pm EST ...and I'll be using an online random name picker to select the winner. Once the winner is selected, I'll announce them on the blog and social media. If your name has been picked, I'd ask that you email me or send me a PM on Facebook with your address so I know where to send the items. 

All you need to do to enter is this....
Comment on this post what your favorite book of the summer was for one entry...
Comment on my giveaway post on my Facebook page with what your favorite book to screen adaptation is for another entry. 

That is two very easy chances to get your name in on this contest, and like I said, I'll dump all the names into a random online name picker to get our winner. 

Share the contest with friends if you wish to share the love! I just wanted to show my appreciation to my loyal readers. Enjoy...and I look forward to hearing your answers to the above questions. And remember, I've given you 2 chances to win, here on the blog and over on Facebook!! 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

But What Should I Blog About??

I know you can find a million articles online about this subject, but I thought I might as well put my two cents out there into the mix!!

So, you read my blog post yesterday and were inspired (yay!!) Or you'd already been mulling over starting a blog for a while now and this was the push you needed to finally decide that you were ready to join me in the blogosphere. And now you're sitting at home thinking....

But What Should I Blog About??

For some people this is super easy, they have one big hobby they are great at or a home business they can build on. But for others, figuring out what they want their blog to be about can be the stumbling block that keeps them from ever dipping their toes into the proverbial water. But surprise surprise, I have a few thoughts on the subject that hopefully will help spark a brilliant idea that can help get you started on the path to blogger fun!

The first, and most obvious, question I would ask you is...what are you passionate about?

Now that's a question that always flummoxed me. I would hear it and think...well shit, I don't know what I'm paaaasssssionate about. To me that word...passion...was something that always made me feel uncomfortable. I'm sure my sister is analyzing that as she's reading it. 😉 But I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of passions now that I've realized I was thinking about it in perhaps the wrong way.

For people like me, I would ask these questions: What do you love doing? What makes you excited? Is there something you do that causes you to lose track of time? A hobby you could do for hours and never get enough of? Something you love researching endlessly? Something you couldn't get enough of when you were about 10 years old? A subject your friends have heard you talk about endlessly? Something you can't wait to do when you get home from work? A hobby that you make time for on the weekends?

My advice would be to take a big ole piece of paper and write down everything you can think of that falls into that category, no matter how silly you think it might be. And then from there start thinking about whether that thing you love is something you could devote time and attention to for days upon days, and weeks upon weeks. Or whether you would eventually just get sick of it. If you think you'd get sick of thinking about it, writing about it, taking photos of it...strike that puppy off your list.

That may sound brutal, but I can tell you that if I didn't enjoy reading books...Tomes and Tequila would go nowhere. If I didn't get excited by a new book arriving in the mail, hearing that a favorite author has a book coming out, seeing that an author liked my tweet, the beauty of a good book cover, getting immersed into new worlds and places, looking up what new books are coming out, interacting online with authors and other bloggers, and dissecting my thoughts on all of it...this would've been a very bad idea.

Because honestly, you can dump as much time as you want into a blog. It can become an all-encompassing project of love...or something you spend an hour on a few days a week. But if it becomes your new baby, like this blog has become can take more time to put together a blog post than you might realize. So, I can't stress enough making the effort to really delve into your loves to pick a subject that you truly enjoy.

But I also want to yourself. Pick something that is uniquely you. Because let me tell you...there are people out there with blogs completely devoted to some strangely obscure things, and they are having a blast writing them. And sometimes those are the most memorable, most visited, and dare I say it...most popular blogs on the internet.

And if all else fails, please remember that there used to be a website that is now on Tumblr devoted to Lesbians who look like Justin Bieber. And that shit has been online since he was singing Baby. I'm just saying...

So with that, I'd like to leave you with a few blanket "subjects" to help aide you in thinking of what you might like to blog about:

  • Music (90's grunge, specific bands, disco, you name it!)
  • Finance (household budgets, investing, etc)
  • Makeup (you can never have too many beauty gurus)
  • Organizing (konmari, minimalist, etc)
  • Cooking (of any type)
  • Clothing (from capsule wardrobes to cool finds)
  • General Reviews
  • Kids Toys and Books
  • Photography
  • Art (of your own, or appreciation)
  • Jewelry (of your own design or others)
  • Diet/weight loss/exercise (generic or your personal quest)
  • Lifestyle 
  • Life Hacks
  • Motivation/Habits/General Self-Help
  • Spirituality 
  • Homeschooling
  • Crafts/Sewing
  • Real Estate
  • Home Decorating
  • Pop Culture/Celebrity News/A particular show/fandom/personal fave actor (FASSY!!)
  • Time Management
  • Movies
  • Video Games
  • Gardening
  • Books (specific types or general)
  • Creative Writing of your own
  • How to's
  • Web Design
  • Sports
  • Antiques (upcycling, flea market finds, etc)
  • Mental Health
  • Parenting
  • DIY
  • Aliens
  • Relationships/Marriage
  • Military Life/Families/Children
  • Gifts
  • Survivalist
  • Homesteading/Rural Life
  • Culture

Hopefully this little list helps to get your creative juices flowing, and gives you an idea of the many big subjects that you could delve into on a blog...and most of these could be cut down to a smaller, specific topic just for you. If you want to write a blog about hedgehogs, the music of 1993, Shakespeare and it's influence on society, making quilts, or whether aliens made the pyramids...I say have at it!! If it makes you happy...if it's something you can see yourself devoting time to on a regular basis...what's holding you back??

And if all else fails, and you start a blog tomorrow about the spiders of Louisiana and six months down the line you decide it's not for can stop, change it up, start over, put the kibosh on the whole thing if you want. That's the beauty about it being YOUR BLOG

Really, that's the most important thing to remember. Because if you write it with passion and verve...chances are the readers WILL come. 

So let me know if you've had any brilliant ideas for a new blog!! And please let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page, if you have a blog you'd like me to visit. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Why I Think Everyone Needs a Blog...

I think everyone needs to start a blog, and write on it regularly.

Why do I think that?

Well, I think my blog is one of the best things I've ever done in my life...and it makes me ridiculously happy. And if I would've realized years ago that typing my thoughts on the computer for other people to read would make me so freakin' happy, who knows what I could've accomplished already. Writing this blog has increased my confidence, it's helped me to pursue a passion of mine (and I think everyone should be pursuing a passion, but that's another blog post), and it's helped me to stay connected with friends who are scattered across the globe. I love books, and I love sharing my oftentimes goofy opinions about books with my friends (and if you're reading this, I consider you to be a friend) if we can't sit at my house and drink a bottle of wine together while discussing whether it was more disturbing to read about the chick from Gone Girl defiling herself in order to say she was raped, or watching it play out visually on film, then by golly we can discuss it online! (note to self, finish writing that page to screen Gone Girl post)

And honestly, I don't know why I told myself for YEARS that it was cool for other people to write blogs...and fun to read other people's blogs...but not okay for me to write one. I have read blogs about music, makeup, clothing, food and general house and lifestyle topics, and occasionally have seen the writers go on to book deals, or other fabulously huge projects and I guess I just thought you had to be someone special to write a blog? And maybe I wasn't special enough, couldn't write good enough, didn't have enough to say, or no one would want to read it?? Which is just ridiculous. The fact that it took a patron coming into the library and casually mentioning that she was writing a book blog to get me to start my own is pretty embarrassing really, but it did.

Have there been growing pains? Yes. Is there a learning curve to blogging? Hell yes. I am still struggling to get my blog to look the way I want it, and I get extremely frustrated when my shortcomings on the computer get in the way of progressing stylistically. I paid someone to do some design work on it awhile back, and I'm still not happy with it...and hampered from playing around by not being the owner of the designs myself. So it is always going to be a work in progress. But if I go back and read my first couple of blog posts I can see that I've grown a lot, and I know I'll keep on growing and hopefully getting better and better as I go along.

And the most important thing is the writing anyway...and the only way I will get better writing is to write. The only way my book reviews will get better is by writing more of them, and continuing to grow within the literary community. The only way my "other" writing will get better is by actually writing those other posts that pop into my head, and publishing them so I can get some feedback from y'all...and not deleting them! 😁

But back to y'all.

Why are you not blogging about the things you find interesting? Why are you not blogging about your passions, and becoming an expert at the subjects you love? I would read them...I totally would.

I look at my friends and see that so many of them would be GREAT bloggers! Short of me building the tiny house commune I keep telling my husband I want, I will never have the privilege of living within walking distance of my best friends ever again. I won't be able to hop over to ones house for her fabulous entertaining and food expertise, and another's for her crafts and sewing, and yet another's for her organizational tips. Believe it or not, as a military wife I briefly lived in a neighborhood where that was possible!! But if I could just talk you all into starting blogs, it would be the next best thing!!

I recently had a discussion over the phone with one of my very best friends on the planet, and I told her I thought she should start a cooking and entertaining blog. She told me I was crazy, and mumbled something about her age and not being Ree Drummond. But I think that's poppycock!! (I'm trying to be nice and not cuss, especially since I used the F-word so many times the other day) First off, I think my friend...we'll call her Smatherine...could write an amazing blog about cooking and entertaining! She's lived all over the globe, her food is to die for, and she puts out a spread like no other. Book club at her house was a dining experience as opposed to my pretzels, m&ms and hard cider. A camera, tripod and her beautiful kitchen...and voila...lovely cooking blog. It doesn't have to be fancy, but I know how much Smatherine (LOL) loves to cook, and I also know how many people ask for her recipes. So, this way we could all just pop on over to her virtual place and salivate from afar! And as for Ree, I remember when she just had a blog...and she got "famous" at a much older age than is the norm.

Smatherine is just one friend example, I could give you many others. (Smennifer, Smyvonne, Smaja...I am cracking myself up!! And I'm sure Smatherine is going to kill me!!) To be honest, most of my friends are getting to that empty nest stage that I hit last year. Some of us are working full time, some of us aren't...some are really busy with outside obligations, and others could use a good hobby. I say...start a blog. And if you're younger than I am, it's an even better time to start one! Who knows what could come of you working for yourself on something you're passionate about.

Plus, having a blog is just cool.

The internet is a big place people. There is plenty of room for us all...and the knowledge that's needed to get started is just sitting out there waiting to be used.

So, think about it. For me. Because I think it's a brilliant idea. And if you're reading this and you already have a blog, why don't I know about it?? Leave a link in the comments so I can go check you out and become a regular reader myself. And if you're a regular reader, and have a passion project you'd like me to interview you about for a Reader Spotlight piece (like I did here and here), please let me know.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Last Christmas in Paris Review

I'm counting my blessings again over here on the blog, as the fabulous Heather Webb noticed my love of the Eiffel Tower covered book and offered to send me a copy of the new novel she wrote with Hazel Gaynor coming out October 3rd! I drooled on my keyboard as I wrote a response that went something like "please please yes please oh thank you please please please". Yes, I lean towards subtle and professional when I pen e-mails. My only hope was that the inside of this book lived up to it's beautiful exterior, and I am happy to report that it SO did.

Last Christmas in Paris is a beautiful historical novel set in World War I. It is an epistolary novel, told mostly through the letters of Evie Elliott as she sees her brother and his best friend go off to war in France. They all believe the war will be short, and the boys will be home by Christmas, where they will meet up in Paris to celebrate. But as it wages on longer and the world they know upends, the connection Evie builds with her childhood friend Thomas grows into something different. Can love flourish even during this terrible war that feels like it will never end? And will they ever get their Christmas in Paris??

Despite my incredibly mushy-sounding description, this book is not a sappy romance really. I think the authors did a great job of keeping it from being too overly sentimental. Evie has very progressive thoughts for her time, and wants more than anything to be a writer and journalist. She has the chance to write a regular column for a paper in London, and runs into problems with the War Office. She wants to do more all the time, while butting heads with her mother, who has very old-fashioned ideas of what a woman should be doing.

Thomas suffers with the loss of so many of the men under his command. He's struggling with not being back home to care for his ailing father, and the family's business that has been left in the hands of a distant relative with differing values. His health declines, and Evie becomes a beacon in the dark for him.

The novel is bookended with Thomas as an elderly gentleman on borrowed time, reading the stack of letters that Evie has painstakingly kept. We know that he's lived a long life with his love, which does nothing to detract from the bulk of the story. You are still fully immersed in the horrors of war, and worrying right along with Evie about her friends and loved ones.

This novel held my attention completely and it's so well written. To me it's Downton Abbey meets War Horse...full of Tom Hiddleston-level British Gallantry (and I LOVE him). If you're a fan of any of those things, this book is a must read. If you're a fan of historical fiction really, I'd say it's a safe pick. And I agree with the comparisons to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, although it's been a long time since I've read that one. I haven't read enough books set in World War I. It seems like most of the big popular historical fiction books are set in World War II, which is a shame really because this time period is actually quite fascinating to me.

So, a HUGE thank-you to Heather Webb for sending this book my direction. Last Christmas in Paris isn't out until October 3rd, but I couldn't hold onto my review any longer. I sat on it for a bit, but every time I saw someone else rave about it online it felt like I'd dropped the ball!! It is up on Amazon and I'm sure other bookseller's sites for pre-order though, in case you're like me and have the retention of a gnat.

Let me know if you have a favorite historical fiction book set in World War I that you think I need to read...or one with a beautiful picture of the Eiffel Tower on the cover...because I'm a sucker for those Paris pictures. 😁

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck Review

I have a confession to make. I have a slight girl crush on author Sarah Knight. She's just so damn cool...and clever to boot. Clever in a way that, try as I might, I may never achieve in my lifetime. I'm sure she wonders who this Tomes and Tequila chick is who likes all of her tweets like a giant obsessive fan girl. Or maybe she's obtained such a high degree of fame that she no longer notices trends like that in her analytics?!? One can only wonder....

My point...and I do actually have that I really like her, and both of her books that I have now read.  I have already reviewed Get Your Sh*t Together, which was laugh out loud funny yet filled with good practical tips...and now I have my review for The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck for your perusal. 

Before I get started, I feel like I should let you know that I have already dropped the f-bomb once, and will probably use it more in this review. If this word bothers you, please don't buy this book...and maybe skip this review and come back to my blog tomorrow. I usually try not to cuss a lot on here because I know it's not for everyone, even though I have a potty mouth in real life. But this book is FILLED TO THE BRIM with the word fuck. Only Sarah Knight has a lesson to teach us, and it's one I really needed to hear. So for me, the F-word was well used. And honestly, for me it's just hard to keep putting that little asterisk in the place of the U. 

Initially I thought this book by Sarah Knight was going to poke fun at Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which is why I waited so long to read it. That is clearly not the case, as Sarah states that she read Kondo's book and loved it also...and thought she could apply the idea to another facet of her life. A mental decluttering of sorts. Hence this glorious little book, that read like a manual tailor made for keeping me from unnecessarily losing my shit on a regular basis. 

Sarah Knight's "NotSorry Method" which is detailed in the book has two steps, which sound very simple...but for someone like me they are HUGE. Number one is to decide what you don't give a fuck about. And number two is to not give a fuck about those things. Simple, yes? Sarah breaks them down for you hilariously, even giving examples of things she herself has decided she doesn't give a fuck about, and how she's gone about removing them from her life. She discusses making and sticking with a "fuck budget", and how not to be an asshole when implementing your new plan. For a nice worrier like me, this is ground-breaking stuff. 

I could've highlighted this entire book really. And I wanted to share it all with y'all. But perhaps I should just say that I highly recommend it if you're looking for something funny and cleverly entertaining to read and/or you are someone with a personality similar to mine. I am a worrier and a people pleaser. If you only knew the amount of time I've wasted worrying about truly ridiculous things. I'm talking crap like whether people would think my earrings are too silly, or my shoes look too comfortable. I am at times crippled with self-doubt, and a lot of it is tied to the fucks I've given over to other people. I think that 2017 is the year that I make some headway in curbing this issue of mine. 

Of all the tips in this book, I think my favorite is using Personal Policies as a way to "conserve your fucks swiftly, efficiently, and with an extremely low risk of hurt feelings". She even gives you a fill in the blanks form to use! So for example, I could say I have a personal policy against attending bachelorette parties...or donating to GoFundMe accounts...or buying Girl Scout Cookies, etc. It's a blanket policy saying hey, if I do it once I will feel obligated to do it for everyone and I just can't afford to do that. This is BRILLIANT stuff! 

So, suffice it to say, I loved this book. Sarah Knight is in the process of writing a new one, and I am vowing right here that I will be one of the first to buy it (unless I can nab that puppy early, in which case count me in!!). I listen to her TED talk to remind me that I shouldn't be giving my fucks out so carelessly. And I will probably reread this often, as I'm sure it will take a bit to sink into my brain. Plus I will continue to fan girl over her Twitter feed...

I probably could've just filled this up with quotes and the words Love Love Love, go out and buy it. OH, and if you're on Instagram and haven't seen it, go take a look at my photo of a fave quote that I didn't share here in the review. That one is still cracking me up... 

But don't buy the book if your name is Gail and you work in Marketing. Trust me on this one. 😁

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Goddesses Review

Booksparks has blown me away with their Summer Reading Challenge! Every time I open my front door and see a little white box, just waiting to be opened...I feel so incredibly blessed. My move hampered my reading everything they've sent (yet!!!), but so far I think they've picked a great selection of books that have kept me excited...and have introduced me to a few authors I may not have read on my own. Hopefully they are just as happy that they picked me!! 😁

One of their Bonus Books this summer was The Goddesses by Swan Huntley. The cover is SO puurty, and the blurb inside had me SO excited...I bumped it to the top of the pile and started it almost as soon as it entered my house. I had seriously high hopes for this book. Which might be where the problems creep in a little...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Goddesses tells the story of Nancy, an almost 50 year old mom of two teen-aged boys, who has moved to Hawaii for a fresh start with her husband Chuck. Chuck cheated on her with a blonde named Shelley in San Diego, so they're hoping this change of scenery may be just what they need to start over again.

Nancy is having an internal crisis. She is trying desperately to change things up. Sick of the same ole same ole, she decides this time she's going to do things differently. She plants a garden. Switches her bathroom towels with the boy's towels. Starts trying some healthy new recipes from a cooking blog she finds. But everything changes when she decides to attend a yoga class.

She is immediately drawn to the yoga instructor Ana. Ana is so incredibly different from her. She is almost smitten...and definitely wants to be her friend. They hit it off, and Nancy can feel her life changing for the better. She wants to spend all of her time with Ana. But is Ana all that she appears?

One minute they are feeding homeless people peanut butter sandwiches and Nancy is the happiest she's ever been, and the next it quickly morphs into something closer to Single White Female. Nancy's life has changed...but at what cost? And is it for the better? Plus, how much does she really know about Ana??

I found the premise of this book to be fascinating. I don't know about any of you, but I have been known to have the same thoughts as Nancy before. I recently moved across the country, and definitely had the thought of...this is your chance to change EVERYTHING if you want to! We all get in ruts, and occasionally our routine becomes just that...too routine. I am a classic Gemini who gets bored easy, so I found all of that to be very relatable.  Plus, I have met people before that I immediately thought were just so cool that I HAD to make friends with them. Where I have had to hold myself back from jumping up and down, waving my hand over my head shouting "pick me, pick me, be MY friend!!".

And the descriptions of Kona, Hawaii were amazing. I've never been to Hawaii, but it sounds breathtaking! The setting was almost a character itself. From Jacuzzi's on the beach, to walks in a jungle setting almost terrifyingly all sounded mesmerizing. I'm kicking myself in the ass for not visiting my dad there when I had the chance back in high school.

Over 3/4 of this book had me enthralled. What kept me from giving this more stars on Goodreads was the ending. It just didn't do it for me. It's hard to accurately describe why without putting spoilers in here, which I try so incredibly hard not to do. My best explanation would be that I had such high hopes, and the culmination of this dysfunctional relationship was just...meh. I wouldn't really call the book a thriller, despite the Single White Female comparison. It was more like a friendship romance with a very bad break-up...and crappy resolution.

So, I'm giving this one 3 stars. I liked it, but I think with a better ending it could've been phenomenal.

But I do have to say that if you're trying to write a boring husband, making him a slightly paunchy guy who works for Costco is probably the epitome for me. So if I could give half-stars, I would give this 3 1/2 just for that. (my apologies if you have a HOT husband, and he works at Costco)

Oh, and Nancy and Chuck need to take a parenting class.

Okay, I'm done. I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!! 💛💛

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

If The Creek Don't Rise Review

Sorry it has been a little quiet over here on the blog. I have been reading, taking photos for Instagram, and tweeting my little ole heart out...but just haven't had a lot of time to sit at the computer and actually compose a good review. My girl (otherwise known as Thing 2, or the one who decided to attend the Naval Academy) has been home for a few days in the lead up to her 2nd year of college...which means I've been following her around like a little lost puppy and hugging her bunches. It's a thing. Anyway, she'll be leaving tomorrow and then I should have time to catch up on my reviews...and all of the inspired blog things I think of when I can't fall asleep at night!

Today I am incredibly happy to be a part of my very first Blog Tour for a book that Netgalley and Sourcebooks sent my way, which releases on August 22nd! Since my name is on a pretty flyer floating around the interwebs, I'll try my best to do a good and properly respectable review fit for mass consumption.

If The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss caught my eye when I went on a search for more Southern Fiction to fill an intense craving I feel deep down in my soul on a routine basis. The craving to hear the word y'all thrown into a sentence without irony. The need for women sitting around a table drinking sweet tea and gossiping over some semblance of comfort food. The deep urge for a setting where everyone in the town knows everyone else, and the words Bless Your Heart aren't necessarily a good thing. If the Creek Don't Rise is what happens when I'm in that kind-of mood...and I've just finished The Glass Castle. It's Southern Fiction...but not of the Ya-Ya Variety. It's more along the lines of Opal.

Sadie Blue is seventeen, pregnant, and newly married to Roy Tupkin. She's only been married for a few days, and he's already beaten her more than once. Her hero is Loretta Lynn...who managed to make something of herself despite growing up in a hard Appalachian holler just like Sadie. But what can she do except live with the hand she's been dealt?

Pastor Eli Perkins longs to help his congregation rise up from the squalor they've been born into. He lives a simple life with his perpetually nasty sister Prudence, and gets his yearly dose of intellect and vitality from the annual conference he attends in "the valley". But things might just change now that the new teacher he advertised for has turned out to be an unconventional woman whose mind rivals his own.

Kate Shaw is a teacher the likes of which Baines Creek has never seen. At 6'2", wearing trousers and a short men's haircut, she turns the town upside down without even trying. But this community opens up something in Kate that she thought she would never get back...a passion for life and teaching that she thought was long gone. But is that enough to keep her there, with dead animals arriving on her door and a posse of angry women breaking into her home in the hopes of shaming her over their fears of her possible immoral behavior?

I thought this book was great. It is marketed as a tale about Sadie, but in reality she bookends a story about Baines Creek and life in incredibly rural Appalachia. It is a novel about a town of secrets, and various stories. Most chapters are told from the viewpoint of a different character in the cast that is Baines Creek, with memories and remembrances that initially make it very hard to decipher what time the book is set in. When you finally hear a concrete date, it is very shocking...or at least it was to me. And it went a long way towards truly reinforcing just how money poor this area of the United States was (and some might say, still is).

For this being Leah Weiss's debut novel, I have to say what stood out most to me was her ability to write characters that are truly unlikable...especially Prudence's chapter. It really blew me out of the water! It can be very difficult to write a great baddie, but I was actually grinning from ear to ear reading that entire section. I had to explain to the kids why I was smiling like a goober!! To me it was just THAT good. 

So, if you are a fan of good quality southern fiction, ensemble books with numerous viewpoints, books where the town is the main character, or books where the last sentence has you yelling "OH MY GOSH, I can't BELIEVE she ended it like THAT!?!? How DARE she!?!?!", put this book on your TBR list. And read it while drinking some apple pie moonshine...because why not?

And since I am part of a glorious Blog Tour, I am also part of a glorious Giveaway!! Unless I have flubbed things up horrendously, you should be able to click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway picture below, and be taken to a page to enter! Good Luck!!! *legal mumbo jumbo below

 Rafflecopter Giveaway for If The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss
Click On The Rafflecopter Picture for a chance to enter!!
And if you have read this review, and decided you MUST buy this wonderful book, you can pre-order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository or Indiebound by clicking on those business names! Let me know if you're a fan of Southern Fiction also, and if so what your favorite book set in the south is...I'd love to know. Comment here or over on my Facebook Page!
(*No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
Open to legal residents of USA who are 18 years or older. Giveaway begins August 14th and ends at September 1st. Enter the Giveaway during the Promotion Period online by submitting the entry form. The entry form can be found on the following website at . Winner will be selected by and be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. 3 winner(s) will receive 1 finished copy of If the Creek Don’t Rise (approximate retail value or "ARV": $15.99US). By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to Sourcebooks. Sourcebooks does not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of this giveaway. (Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads) are in no way associated with this giveaway.)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ode to my Wednesday Story Time...

Two months have passed since I led my last  Preschool Story Time, and I feel like I can and should spend a few minutes on my own personal soap box to tell you my thoughts. We'll call it my Ode to Story Time...or Why I Enjoyed Panicking Over Pinterest Every Other Week.

I really wish that when my kids were young we would've lived close to a Library that had a weekly story time. While living in Europe I did my best to teach my children to love literature...but they really missed out on the group nature and...camaraderie of the gathering that is Story Time. I must've done something right because they are both big readers, but they never had the opportunity to fight for a particular spot on the rug with a bunch of other munchkins, or had the book they were dying to check out snatched from their hands by another kid. Or for that matter, been asked "Are you stupid or something?" by another 4 year old. Those are important growing moments. But I digress...

For almost 4 years I shared the weekly story time responsibilities at my library with "the boss". She loves story time just as much as I do, but we both had themes we were partial to, so sharing worked out best for us. I got the dog and Mardi Gras themes...she got nursery rhymes and monsters (The Monster at the End of This Book with Grover was a favorite of both of ours). We went about our craft picking slightly different. She was great at coming up with original ideas, many using clothes pins...while I gravitated towards labor intensive Pinterest style crafts usually with roughly 5,000 paper pieces to cut out. Initially, I prepped my crafts myself...but after I moved into the cataloging position I was told to delegate prep to the aids. (Insert Snidely Whiplash laugh here) Right now my friend Kat should be snorting over the elaborate prep work I used to task her with! I learned that not all adults have good scissor skills...and I loved when the parents asked if we had to cut "all those circles ourselves?!?". Good times...

But really...I was in it for the kids. I loved seeing these little ones come in first as bitty things who would sit in their mom's lap and not pay an ounce of attention to what I was reading. They would make noise, and watch the big kids with every ounce of their tiny attention spans. And then one day, they were walking and talking...and telling me all kinds of things before the stories started. They knew my name...requested specific themes...sang songs for me related to our books. I knew their full names, their siblings names, whether they were a fan of Paw Patrol or Disney Princesses, the names of their favorite toy or dog...and I mourned the day they got old enough to go to school.

My last Story Time was one of the hardest things for me to do in the lead up to leaving my job before our move. It was a theme that I knew a couple girls had been waiting weeks for...CATS. It was going to be a good one. I believe one little girl even arrived wearing cat ears. 

Now, I need to go on a little tangent here for a minute. As most of you know, I am a military wife and I worked in a Library on a military base. Military kids are asked to regularly do so much that most kids never experience. They move...their friends move...their parents go away for long periods of time...and they handle it with such grace and grit. It is just their lives. They don't know anything different. And they don't get enough praise for how well they take the upheaval.

So back to my story.

There were really only a couple of kids at story time who were old enough to understand that Miss Christina was leaving...that I wouldn't be there next week. But one girl, who I can say now was my favorite, was really NOT happy. Her mother explained that it had been a tough year...that V had lost a lot of friends and was taking it hard. I did my best to explain to her why I had to leave. When that didn't work I bribed her with superhero stickers. But then I had to walk away super fast so she didn't see me start crying.

I miss Story Time. I miss reading to and playing with little kids. I miss encouraging them to color outside the lines and make polka dot puppies if it makes them happy. If you have little ones at home, consider taking them to a regular story time. I know not all programs are created equal, but if there's a Library or book store nearby that feels like a good fit, try to go regularly. If you have grandchildren at your disposal, take them instead. It could be a regular date of yours.

There is absolutely nothing like watching a group of young kids being transported to magical worlds where children turn into hamburgers, dogs talk, books swallow animals and elephants do ballet. Seeing them make the connection that Libraries are fun and exciting places to go to. Watching crafts progress from the perfection of mom doing it for them, through to a bunch of scribbles on a paper with two circles glued on it (with a pound of glue stick!) and on to a beautiful pink cat complete with a sore red eye (just like Miss Christina had). Without even getting into the benefits of group interaction...the whole sight is a beautiful thing to behold. And you will rarely find a staff member reading books at a Story Time who doesn't 100% want to be there hanging out with your kiddos. 


Story Time. I'm a fan. I hope you are too. 

I'll leave you with a Story Time Haiku (my first bit of poetry since high school): 

I have some great reviews coming up soon!! Don't forget to follow me on Facebook for other book related news and assorted shenanigans. (And if you ever brought your kids to one of my Story Times, just know that it was probably the highlight of my week, and I enjoyed every minute of it!)