Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Girls

Hey, I'm only 8 books behind on my Goodreads challenge...again!  LOL I had a productive weekend though and managed to finish up The Girls by Emma Cline, which I'd checked out from my library after seeing it on quite a few "must read" books lists floating around online.
As I've mentioned previously on the blog, growing up in Southern Oregon, Charles Manson and his followers were "The Boogie Man". Theirs was the story you heard talked about in hushed tones...the story to scare little kids. I devoured Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi as soon as I could get my hands on it. I have since watched documentaries and read stories about this cult and their victims. The Girls is loosely based on their story.

It's not cookie cutter, and there were a few changes made. Roman Polanski traded in for Mitch the famous musician...instead of a pregnant girlfriend we get a girlfriend and her young son. But this is the story of Evie, a 14 year old girl who gets sucked into a cult led by the enigmatic Russell because of The Girls.

Evie is insecure and struggling to figure out how to be a woman. How to deal with friends, handle her relationship with her parents, figure out her newfound interest in sex, etc. She has a fight with her friend Connie...and around then notices The Girls rummaging for food and walking through the park with so much confidence and mystique. She is instantly smitten with Suzanne...who could be called the head girl of the group...and manages to be brought into the fold.

We all know where the story is going. Plenty of drugs, sex and shenanigans. The sex is very blatant, raw and it should be in this type of story. As a mother in 2016 it's hard to imagine a time when a mom wouldn't really care or worry when her 14 year old daughter doesn't come home for days at a time. I think the vibe is very true to it's 1960's setting though.

I found the present day Evie story, which is only told most is her remembering her experiences with the Cult as a mature be a little boring. The ending leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. But overall, I really enjoyed this. I devoured it in two sittings, which says something. I could relate to 14 year old Evie, all full of insecurity and worry. Wondering if you're saying the right thing, doing the right thing, etc. You can clearly see how cults can woo young girls who are looking for someplace where they can belong.

So, if you're looking for something a little darker to read this summer, give this one a shot. I think it is a solid 4 stars...highlighting some of what was seriously wrong about 1960's Southern California. I think it would appeal most to fans of true crime books.

Have you read Helter Skelter? The Girls? Have a fascination with cult literature? True Crime? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or over on my Facebook page.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I love this little book!

I am so enamored with the book Find Your Brave by Holly Wagner! I have highlighted this puppy like crazy! Well actually, I was planning on not marking it up so I could maybe do a giveaway, since I received it from Blogging for Books to review...but after tearing little pieces out of magazines and napkins to mark pages, I gave up. I believe that sometimes books come to you at just the right time, and that may be the case with this one.
Find Your Brave: Courage to Stand Strong When the Waves Crash In by Holly Wagner uses Acts 27 from the Bible, Paul enduring a storm, to help understand how to better handle the storms that enter our own it related to finances, relationships, health...storms of our own making, or ones that have happened to us. It's a little book (182 pages) but there is zero filler. It is chock full of real life examples and scripture in a very down to earth writing style.

Yes, this is another one of my Spiritual Christian Women books, so if that's not your thing you probably won't like it...although I do feel it has something to offer everyone. Holly Wagner's writing style is so relatable, it made me feel like I was sitting with a girlfriend talking about our troubles and the best way to get through them. Although bursting at the seams with scripture and biblical analogies, there is absolutely nothing preachy in it. I have read many SCW books that make me uncomfortable, not being raised in a church going family. They are just too much for me, or are written in a style that leaves me feeling inadequate. This was not one of those books.
The author has gone through many storms in her life, and is very open and honest about her mistakes and issues. Earthquakes, breast cancer, family deaths...she relates a year that was one thing after another. You know, when the shit hits the fan it always seems to come in rapid fire bursts, with little time to relax in between. In the book she gives examples on how to get through the storm and out the other side, as unscathed as possible. 

In one section she talks about how our attitudes and thought processes can make problems worse for us...and how past experiences can impact our now. She relates it to Russian Matroysha dolls. "Painful experiences are like that set of dolls; each hurt comes with its own set of luggage, and each stuffs itself into the next. Most of us have been betrayed at some point. If we haven't dealt with it, we carry the baggage of bitterness. If we don't deal with the bitterness, it breeds unforgiveness. And the unforgiveness breeds resentment. And the resentment creates envy. And envy harbors distrust. Look at all those Russian dolls! All that baggage! If we don't lighten our load and intentionally lose some of this stuff, we can spend the rest of our lives crippled by the weight." This is good stuff!!
Honestly, there is just so much good stuff in this book. I am having trouble picking examples because I want to share the whole thing with you! This is the kind of book that you need to have multiple copies of, so you can give them to friends who are struggling. I honestly believe that if you follow the advice she dishes out so warmly, you will maybe come out a little less battered and bruised the next time you are facing a storm. 

Now I just want to search out her other books, and see if they are as good as this one! Thank you Waterbrook Publishing and Blogging for Books for bringing this author and her story into my life. I feel better for it, and can't wait to pass this on to others who just might need it as much as I did.

Do you have any books you like to send to friends or family to read? Any recommendations for me? If so, please leave a comment either here or on my Facebook page. And don't forget to follow me over on the right hand side of this page, or sign up for my you don't miss out on any of my book loving fun!! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New books to check out

I have been sick with a stomach bug the past few days, so sorry I haven't posted a new review! Good news is, I am almost done with 3 books to share with y'all. Yes, I am still way behind on my Goodreads goal for the year, but I'm hoping that I can catch up on some of it when I go on vacation in a few weeks to see my daughter at college. I'm pretty sure we can listen to an audiobook each way, and then my daughter just wants to chill in our hotel room and that sounds like some prime reading time!

Here are a few new releases that caught my eye.  Let me know if any of these are on your to-read list!
I have enjoyed every Liane Moriarty book I've I can't wait to pick up Truly Madly Guilty, her new book that came out TODAY. I think this is going to be another good one.

"Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It's just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong." This book is about a group of friends, and the BBQ invite that changes their lives.

I think this would be a great Book Club selection, as all of her previous books that I read for my were filled with great discussion topics, both humorous and serious. This is a must read for me.
Okay, I don't think I could leave this off my list. I am a fan of the original Harry Potter series, and I have a personal attachment to them because of my kiddos. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child comes out July 31st.

I worry that this is going to disappoint folks who are just so excited for a "new" Harry Potter book. People get so heated when it comes to the Potterverse. It's a script for the play coming out on the West End, and is not entirely written by J.K. Rowling from my understanding. BUT, I will read it with an open mind. This book is adult Harry, dealing with life as an overworked Dad...and his son living up to the family legacy. I'm thinking that everyone who was a fan of the original should at least check this out from the library to see what Harry Potter and co are up to now.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, a debut novel by Bryn Greenwood, comes out August 9th and has some very good advanced reviews, although it sounds like it might be a disturbing story.

Wavy, the 8 year old daughter of a meth dealer, is struggling to raise her little brother. Everything changes when she witnesses Kellen wreck his motorcycle, and an unlikely love story ensues. From what I've read, this book spans at least 15 years...and is disturbing on a lot of fronts, but is very well written and fodder for some serious discussion. I am in no way condoning a relationship between a child and an adult, but I did grow up on V.C. Andrews. I am open to controversial topics in books, as long as they are well written and aren't exploitative. I'd rather make my mind up for myself than condemn a book without having opened it, and from what I've read this is extremely well written.
Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella have another book out, which is currently sitting on my nightstand. If you've never read one of their books, they are basically just memoir-ish stories about their lives in alternating chapters. I believe the two of them have a regular weekly column in the Philadelphia Inquirer called "Chick Wit", and some stories have made an appearance in both.

You can read these out of order, but might run across "characters" that have previously made back story might be lacking. But these light and humorous books between mother and daughter give me hope in the relationship I will have with my kids now that they are adults! I would love to write a book with my girl.
The new Philippa Gregory Tudor Court book Three Sisters, Three Queens comes out August 9th. I am a fan of her historical fiction books, so I'm sure this will be another good one.

It's about Katharine, Margaret and Mary...three sisters who will eventually be the Queens of England, Scotland and France. I am sure it will be filled with the back stabbing and deception one would expect. Her books always make me want to delve into other historical fiction and nonfiction books from the same time period, and do internet research on the subjects. I'm usually left wanting to know more!

Do you have any new release books you're excited to read? How do you feel about books on controversial subjects? Are any of these books on your list? Let me know in the comments, or over on my Facebook page.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I have Gretchen Rubin on my brain...

*this post contain an affiliate link, please check out my review policy for more info

I have mentioned before that I have an unhealthy obsession with self-help style nonfiction books...and right now I have author Gretchen Rubin on my mind. I'm pretty sure I'm driving my office mate (lady-who-sits-behind-me-all-day-in our-tiny-clutter-filled-office doesn't sound quite as good) batty with my meandering happiness and habits conversations during our workday, but I love listening to her podcasts when I'm at work! If you're unfamiliar with her, let me introduce the two of you.
The Happiness Project
The Happiness Project was the first book of Gretchen Rubin's that I read. It was published in 2009 but I didn't stumble upon it until 2014. Yes, it is one of those "spend a year doing something, then write about it" books, but I've told y'all before that I don't mind that genre. Shoot, sometimes I can't make myself wake up at the same time two days in a row, so if you can manage to work on a project for a significant enough time to write on it, kudos gold-star and a high five from me! But if you don't agree...skip this one.

Gretchen spends each month of the year focusing on a particular "theme" that in her eyes might help to make her happier. I wouldn't call her an unhappy person, but like me...someone who spends a lot of time thinking of things she could do to improve. The big difference between me and Gretchen is she actually does them :) I have a very chronic follow through issue.

Her months are broken down into things like organizing, marriage, friendship, play etc. These are all things that with one variation or another we could all improve on in our lives. I really enjoyed them, and came up with a ton of ideas to try and implement in my own life. As a matter of fact, I plan on doing a quick re-read soon.

Now, if you check out reviews for this one, you'll see that a surprising amount of people really disliked this book...and most of their complaints just don't resonate with me. Of course, everyone has their own opinions. But disliking this book because the author has money in her bank account and is why should she be talking about happiness...just seems shallow. Are you only allowed to want to improve your life if you're monetarily challenged? Does having money in the bank make you automatically happy? And why on earth would she not talk about her life experiences in her own book...whether it be her law degree or working for Sandra Day O'Connor, etc. That is her life, so it's going to have a bearing on what she's discussing. And so what if she likes quotes...a lot of people do, and as someone who spent ages the other day looking for the perfect quote to put in a letter to my daughter I get it. I don't know, I just found some of the reviews very bothersome for some reason. But I digress...
Better Than Before
The second book by Gretchen Rubin that I read was Better Than Before, which was published in 2015. I nabbed this one as soon as it showed up at my library. This book is all about you form them, what makes a good one, how different people need to use different tactics to create new habits, etc.

I already told you that I have a yearning to improve myself. There are things I like about myself, and things I don't...and I'd like to make one list a little longer than the other. This book has really made me think about the reasons previous attempts at habit building haven't worked so well. It is filled with research and background into good and bad habits, but it is also chock full of actual tips. Sometimes you pick up a nonfiction book on a subject you are dying to apply to real life, and it doesn't actually have concrete information on the HOW. I am always looking for the how. Oh you changed your life around completely...HOW did you do it? This book has the how.

Which brings me to the podcasts that she does with her sister Elizabeth Craft. They are called Happier with Gretchen Rubin and can be found on their website, Itunes, or any of the many podcast apps that are floating around. They are really a combo of her Happiness projects, and her Habits projects. They are filled with reader questions, tips, guest interviews and all sorts of practical information. Anytime I'm doing a mundane task at work...something that is just tedious and doesn't require a lot of brain power...I put on these podcasts. And I am actually retaining most of what I'm hearing...which is amazing! Enough sticks in my brain to harass the office mate with (sorry Alicia).
Happier at Home
The only one of her recent books that I haven't read yet is Happier at Home, published in 2012...but it is currently sitting on my dresser to read, and I am sure I will like it as much as the other two. I'll also continue to watch her live videos on Facebook...and like her tweets.

So, have you read any of these? Listened to her podcast? How do you feel about "Year" books? Any favorite "Self Help" books you think I might like? Leave me a comment here, or over on my Facebook page.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love, Friendship and Sex Between Teenagers...

I checked out Modern Lovers by Emma Straub mainly because the cover caught my eye. There...I said it...I judged a book by it's cover.
I had seen it on quite a few "New Must Read" book lists, and I had enjoyed her book The Vacationers, so in my book bag it went. Can I just go on a tangent for a sec, and say how much I enjoy when author's put the whole "author of" thing on the cover of a new book? I have mentioned before that my retention is horrendous (part of why I am writing a book blog) so I am a chronic failure at remembering what author wrote what book. So along with the whole "cool cover" thing, if it also states a book whose title I can remember, I am sold.

Okay, now to try and make myself sound a little less air-heady and shallow.

I think this book hovers in the 3 1/2 to 4 star area, so I'm going for 4 on Goodreads (what can I say, I'm in a generous mood!). It's a 353 page fairly easy read, set in modern day Brooklyn...although there are quite a few flashbacks to the characters time back at Oberlin College in Ohio as teens.

The book centers on Andrew, Elizabeth and Zoe, friends since they were in a band together in college...all of them in their 50's now.  Elizabeth and Andrew are married and have a son Harry, who is about to be a Senior in high school.  They live a few houses down from Zoe...who is married to Jane, and they have a daughter Ruby who just graduated. The narrative bounces between those 6 characters, although I would also say their neighborhood in Brooklyn is a character in itself.

Andrew comes from a wealthy family, and has basically been wandering aimlessly through off his family's money, Elizabeth's earnings as a realtor...and the money made from the ONE song that their ex-bandmate got famous on. He is almost a walking cliché of a midlife crisis. Instead of getting a job, he becomes obsessed with a new yoga studio in their neighborhood...that screamed trouble to me from the moment he set foot in it. Oh, and trying to keep Elizabeth from signing over their life rights to a movie studio making a flick about that ex-bandmate with the hit song. He was my least favorite character, coming a little ahead of Ruby.

Elizabeth is to me the central character...a little too obsessive in her friendship with Zoe, never feeling quite worthy of her attention. But a good mother to Harry, and her cat Iggy Pop...a good real estate agent, and a great songwriter...although she only piddles with her guitar in the garage anymore. She spends most of the book reacting to the events happening with the other characters, but I liked her.

Zoe was the cool girl that had people falling all over relationship after relationship until she met Jane, and fell in love. The two run a successful restaurant together, and live in her parents old place that once housed their entire gang in their 20's. She is bored and disgruntled, and can't decide if she is happily married or if she should get a divorce. Jane is still madly in love with Zoe, and shows her affection through food.

Ruby is basically a butthole teenager, with no plans and a major chip on her shoulder. She is one of the cool kids, who bombed her college applications and SAT's just because...and starts sleeping with Harry, who idolizes her, basically out of boredom and because she thinks his naivete is cute. He is a good kid...she gets him in trouble, and the parents aren't happy with their relationship AT ALL.

This book is FILLED with midlife crisis. The kids getting older and sleeping together just makes the main characters feel old, and they all start losing it a little bit.

I enjoyed this book...but it didn't really cover any new ground. I had a good idea where it was going, and it didn't surprise me. Plus I really didn't like Andrew or Ruby. But...I think it would be a good beach read. One that you don't have to pay an incredible amount of attention to, but still find enjoyable. It won't be making my favorites list, but I like the idea of a book about the dynamics in friendships that have been around for over 2 decades. I have a few friends that I've known for that long, and it's interesting how the relationships evolve...and if you're lucky they'll stand the test of time.

Do you have any favorite "Beach Reads"...not exactly guilty pleasure books, but lightly entertaining ones? Lord knows I haven't made it to a beach yet this year, but I still enjoy a good lighthearted summer read. Let me know in the comments, or over on my Facebook page. And don't forget that you can subscribe to the blog, and get it delivered right to your inbox! The height of convenience. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Diversity, Banned Books and my Gay Display

Today was a good day for intellectual conversations at The Library!  Contrary to what a lot of people believe, working in a library is not sitting around reading...pausing to occasionally check a book out to a patron.  There is a whole lot more to it (today I discarded a genuine Fabio covered romance!!) We spend a great deal of time doing tedious data entry, program planning, etc. But every once in awhile my boss will walk into my office, sit down at the extra chair up against the wall, and talk books with me.

We have been discussing how we're going to handle Banned Book Week this year, and she said that the "theme" was Diversity. How it had been noted that a great number of the books that have been banned or challenged deal with minorities in one way shape or form, be it race or sexuality, etc. Us library folk aren't big on censorship really. We dislike it so much we spend at least one week in September trying to bring awareness to the masses on the subject. Anyway, this led to my pitch to order a couple other Sarah Waters books to add to our collection.

You see, I recently made a display for LGBT Pride Month, and despite my issues with our color printer (the rainbow just doesn't look right) I am quite proud of it...but I know it could be better. We probably have more books than most of our patrons realize (especially being on a military installation)...but I just can't handle checking out Orange is the New Black to people who are hoping for some action when there are much better books around. (*I feel I should note that it's not a bad book, it is just nothing like the show...and that's what the women who check it out are looking for)

So, I thought I would share a few of my LGBT recommendations. For some reason people are always shocked when I can ACTUALLY give them some suggestions in this arena. As I've said before, I enjoy reading about people with different backgrounds, who live in different locations or have a different lifestyle. It would be a shame to live your life surrounded by people exactly like you. I read for many different reasons, but one has always been to expand my horizons and keep learning.  Some of these are just phenomenal.  Here goes:
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is an amazing book. I have given it 5 stars on Goodreads, and it is a favorite that I recommend all the time. My daughter read it first...talked a coworker into reading it...and then finally I picked up her copy, and couldn't put it down. We ordered a copy for the library as soon as possible.

Traditionally we hear in Greek stories that when Achilles heard of Patroclus' death he was filled with rage and went on a killing rampage...but why was he so important to Achilles?  What was their relationship? In this book we get what is basically their love story. You know where the story is going, but it is still fascinating. Great book.
I talked about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson over here, but I like it so much I felt the need to add it to this list also. This series, although amazingly hard to get into initially, just blew me away...another 5 Star favorite on Goodreads.

Lisbeth Salander is probably the most bad-ass bisexual unsociable heroine in literature, and I love her character. These books aren't an easy read really, and very European, but totally worth the effort in my opinion.
The Raven King is the fourth book in the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater.  This was another recommendation from my daughter, although I don't think she had a chance to finish this one before she left for the Academy. This Young Adult pick really captured my attention, and I don't read many YA books.

The series follows Blue, who has been told her entire life that she will be responsible for the death of her true love, and her unlikely Raven Boys on a quest too difficult to really describe in this small of a review.  But this installment has a truly sweet love story between the irascible bad boy Ronan and sweet Adam.  I am doing this series no justice right now, but I was captivated by it. Head over to Goodreads for THOUSANDS of really good reviews, as it's incredibly popular...and know that I laughed out loud, read parts to other people, and got a little weepy at the end.
Okay, I couldn't put together an LGBT list without giving a shout-out to my favorite gay man of literature, Lord John Grey, and his series of mystery books written by Diana Gabaldon.

I have already discussed my love for the Outlander Universe before over here and here, so I'll keep this short. Lord John Grey is a side character in many of the Outlander books, and although his series is a totally different genre than the "Big Books" I really enjoyed them. I know there are many who just don't care for his character (I'm talking about you Kathy), but I love him and his devotion and unrequited love for Jamie Frasier...I just do.

So, do you have any LGBT books you think I should read?  Have you read any of these, and if so what did you think? Have any thoughts on book censorship you'd like to share? Leave me a comment, or head on over to my Facebook page.  And don't forget that you can follow me by email, and get all of my latest updates delivered right to your inbox!! How fancy is that?!?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Year with 4 purchases...unless you count _____

Sorry I have been MIA for a few days...

I worked this weekend...and spent a few days being distracted by family happenings, so haven't got a post up in longer than I'd like.  But I finally finished reading The Year Without a Purchase, which was sent to me by Netgalley for review.  This book definitely contained a few gems, but there were also some bits that just didn't do it for me.
The Year Without a Purchase: One Family's Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting by Scott Dannemiller is a memoir detailing how one family tried to consume less and give more. Scott and his wife Gabby were missionaries when younger, but now are living the typical suburban life with 2 young children, and a garage "one tool" away from not fitting their car.  They are both bothered by their consumer lifestyle, and the excess surrounding them. In going back to the mission statement they had written years earlier, they decide that they need a jolt to get their values back in check. In comes the idea to not purchase anything for a year.

I feel I must confess that I am a sucker for books like fulfills my minimalist fascination and my love of somewhat gimmicky "year" type memoirs. From Marie Kondo to A.J. Jacobs (which even the hubby likes), Jen Hatmaker to Courtney Carver...I can't seem to stay away from these two genres...and a combination of the two?!  I am all over that shit. But this particular one wasn't my favorite.

My complaints are going to sound nitpicky, but they combined to make me just "like" the book...not rave over it.  If I could give it 3 1/2 stars on Goodreads I would have.  The scripture at the beginning of the chapters didn't seem to relate to the content a whole lot.  I kept expecting it to tie in somehow, and it never really did.  The book also felt long, which is never a good sign.  I was shocked when I saw that it was only 200 pages.  And although the author was funny, and tried to inject his humor into the stories, it just kind-of fell flat.  I also couldn't really get behind a Taco Bell gift card given for a child's birthday being "ok" because it was a consumable.  I know that in all minimalist projects you need to have guidelines, because no one wants to go back to wiping their ass with a leaf...but their guidelines were a little too loose for my tastes.  (*says the woman who has shoe boxes full of makeup in her bathroom closet)

There were two big ideas that really jumped off the page at me, that I would love to use in real life though.  For Scott's birthday, Gabby asked family and friends for one song that reminded them of him and a few lines as to why they picked it...and then made him CD's with the songs, and their stories for the liner notes.  I would LOVE a gift like this!!!  So simple, but for someone who really loves music it would be something they'd cherish forever.  And then for Christmas, as a way of focusing on giving, they take random dollar amounts and put them in generic thank you cards...and hand them out to random people (they focused on folks working still).  Something about this really touched my heart, and seems like a great idea especially for families with young children. 

This is a very Christian take on a subject that I enjoy, so if Bible verses at the beginning of each chapter will be bothersome to you, there are plenty of other books in the metaphorical sea that might be more up your alley.  The biblical references are throughout...this is a family trying to be better Christians.

So...was it the worst book of this type that I've ever read?  Absolutely not.  Was it my favorite?  Nope.  If you are bothered by our current culture of consumerism, and enjoy reading about other people who feel the same way, I would say add this to your pile.  But maybe don't read this one first. 

Do you enjoy books like this?  Do you have a favorite you think I should read?  If so, post in the comments or give me a holler over on my Facebook page, Tomes and Tequila Blog

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My "To-Read" List

I was just sifting through my very bookish Instagram feed, and noticed quite a few piles of "to-read" books and thought...hey, why don't I do one of those posts?  I have trouble doing an instagram pic as quite a few of my ARC books are on my Kindle, and I rely heavily on my library, so I rarely have an actual STACK sitting on my nightstand.  It helps keep me out of trouble with the hubby. are a handful of my future reads for you to ruminate over.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub IS actually sitting on my nightstand at the moment.  I think I'm probably 6 chapters in, and loving it so far.  The book is about some old college friends, their children, and their intertwined lives.  It's one of those books that jumps from person to person (so if you hate that writing style, this book isn't for you).

Click on the book cover and head on over to Goodreads for a much longer and more thorough description...I haven't read enough of it to really summarize!  But as I've said before, I am really enjoying books that revolve around people who are closer to my age and going through the things I'm currently facing.  And with this book having central characters hitting college age, I feel like I can definitely relate.  Here's hoping the book is as good as I'm expecting it to be!
I eagerly snatched up The Girls by Emma Cline as soon as it was returned to the library today.  My coworkers and I have been arguing over who gets it first!  Guess this means I can't procrastinate on this puppy.

This book has been on virtually every Must Read list cropping up online for the past few months, and I truly hope it lives up to the hype.  Loosely based on the Manson Family, this story revolves around Evie, a 1960's California girl who gets caught up in a dangerous cult.

Growing up in 1970's era Southern Oregon, Manson was the boogie man for me.  I remember my mother telling us about him, and I read the classic Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi as soon as I was old enough to grab it off my mom's shelf.  I'm really just curious how closely inspired this new book is.
I received this next book from Netgalley to review, although it came out in August of 2015. The Year Without a Purchase by Scott Dannemiller is about a Christian family who decide to "stop shopping and start connecting".

I am a big fan of books on minimalism (haven't completely converted, but damn I love to read about it!) and thoughtful spending, so I'm hoping this will be another good tome to lead me farther in that direction.  Other books in this particular section of the self-help aisle that I've enjoyed are The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo , 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and The Minimalist Woman's Guide to Having It All by Meg Wolfe. That is just to name a few, as I have honestly read a shit ton of them (most from the library, thank you).
Netgalley has also given me a New and Revised version of The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, which is set for release on September 6th. It was originally published in 1998. This is a book I have been meaning to read for ages, and just haven't.  If you look on the Goodreads page for the previous editions, you can tell there is an even divide between people who absolutely hate it, and people who think it is a must read book for all Christians. I can't wait to read it, and make my own personal assessment.
Blogging for Books and Waterbrook Publishing kindly gave me a hard copy of this book to review. Find Your Brave: Courage to Stand Strong When the Waves Crash In by Holly Wagner came out on the 21st of June, and uses Acts 27 as a basis for putting your faith in God in times of crisis.

This is another one of my Spiritual Christian Women books, and I really picked it because of my sister-in-law Twilla who passed away from cancer a few years ago.  She was the best version of a Godly Woman you could imagine.  Towards the end of her battle with cancer, my husband and I went down for a "last visit" and I was blown away by how she was handling things.  She truly put all of her faith in God and was so at peace, it was hard not to be moved.  I remember thinking, if this is what Big Faith can give you, sign me up!  So I feel like this is one she would approved of.
This last book on my list, First Comes Love by Emily Giffin, is all about sisters.  Josie and Meredith are close sisters, but when tragedy strikes their reactions separate them, and fifteen years later it all comes to a head.

I am a big fan of sisterhood, as I have one big sister who I love and adore.  She is crazy, we are incredibly different people, but she is my crazy...and I wouldn't trade her for the world. We were very close growing up, and still talk virtually every day...but due to the way life works for a military family, I saw her for the first time in 17 years this past Christmas!  I just kept looking at her and thinking how awesome it was to be in the same place.  She even put on makeup for me!!  That's love right there.  So I can't wait to read about Josie and Meredith, and I've heard great things about this one.

Lest you think this was way too goody-goody of a To Read list...I feel like I need to confess that it was fueled on Redd's.  Tequila has yet to show up on my blog, but "Tomes and whatever alcoholic beverage happens to be in the house when I'm in the mood for a drink" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.  So here's to weeknight drinking!!  LOL

So, what's on your To Read pile?  Does mine give you a little genre whiplash?  LOL  Let me know in the comments section or over on my Tomes and Tequila Blog Facebook page! Whew..I can go to bed now :)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Eh...I really wanted to like it

Okay friends, this is my first negative book review...which is new for me.  I received They Left Us Everything, a memoir by Plum Johnson, for review by Netgalley and Penguin Books Putnam Publishers.  It is due out on the 16th of July.  I really wanted to like it, but honestly I was underwhelmed.
The memoir is about the author and her three younger brothers going through their parents things once they've passed away.  Their parents had a very grand old house in Oakville, Ontario that is too large and expensive for anyone in the family to they are forced to sort through the belongings and put the house on the market.  This takes much longer than anticipated, so the author moves in and slowly tries to come to terms with the relationship between her and her mother.

The book begins with the divying up of the large pieces of furniture in the house, and all four siblings vying for their favorite items.  It is a loving event, and they all end up with what they wanted...the things most important to them.  The deceased parents lived a very fascinating life, traveling and living in numerous locations, and seem to have kept everything accumulated during that time.

The story moves from that to Plum reading through her mother's letters, which she'd kept in binders, telling her own mother about her life.  I found this to be the most interesting part.  Her mother's time overseas during the war was extremely entertaining.  I kind-of wish Plum's mother would've written a memoir! It ends with the eventual sale of the house to a family who renovate old homes...and the writer starts her normal life back up again.

Try as I might, I just could not get into this book.  The author writes in a very poetic style, with lovely language and imagery...I can't find fault in that.  I realize it is a memoir, and one following her parents death at that, but in my opinion it lacked cohesion, rather jumping from a beautiful sunrise to making her mother's old eggnog recipe without any real connection.

There are many great reviews for the book over on Goodreads, so maybe it's just me.  I have always been enamored with the idea of going through someone's things and discovering their life and past this book should've been perfect for me.  But instead I just couldn't get into it, and it left me with a meh sort of feeling.  I do like the author's idea that instead of getting rid of most everything so your family doesn't have to deal with it upon your death, keeping it so your children can get to know the you they may have not seen before.  As a military family we have paired down so much, my children will have very little to go through after my death...unless I become a pack rat in my old age (which I seriously doubt will happen).  We don't have the sort of roots that accumulate when you have lived in one area for decades.  But maybe that will come with retirement. Guess we'll see.

In short, I don't know that I'd rush to purchase this one on publication.  But then maybe the other reviewers saw something I didn't?

Have you ever been excited by a book, and then disappointed that it didn't deliver?  Any thoughts on whether you should purge before old age, or leave things behind for your children to discover?  Let me know.  Now I'm off to a 4th of July BBQ and my continued "Where's Waldo" search for my girl on various Academy internet sites.  Have a great holiday weekend!

Friday, July 1, 2016

On Book Clubs...

It's a bright and sunny day...the birds are chirping...I am loaded up with coffee...and looking forward to a long weekend of reading!  Life is Good!!  After reviewing The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey I got to thinking about what makes a good Book Club selection. 
The book's size doesn't really matter a whole lot to me. If it's a really good book, you're going to get so swept up in it that you'll lose track of time and find you've read hundreds of pages without noticing.  Well, unless you're a more reluctant reader.  I've personally found that this is where E-books come in handy.  With an e-book page numbers aren't quite as blatant...and you won't be intimidated by reading something the size of a New York City phone book.  I personally enjoy making my purse a weapon, weighed down with a GIANT hardcover. 

I also don't think Genre is a good indicator either.  As I mentioned before, I am no book snob.  Years ago I listened to a friend tell another friend that she wasn't a "reader" because she mainly stuck to Danielle Steel tomes. I cry bullshit.  I don't think that's fair...not to the reader or to Danielle Steel.  As we tell folks in the library all the time, reading is reading.  I don't care if it's a graphic novel (comic book to us old folks) or Tolstoy.  We run into this problem with kids on up to adults.  If you enjoy reading it, who cares?  I have read great chick lit books...and great historical fiction stories.  Genre shouldn't get in the way of your selection. 

I think the most important trait for a good Book Club selection is relatability and whether there is good fodder for discussion.  The tricky thing with this is that you can't really find out either of those without actually reading the book.  I can usually find something in any book that I can relate to.  The main character may be wealthy, and I sure as hell am not, but they are a mom...and I can relate to the problems mothers face.  Or they may be a maid in 19th century England, and I'm not the worlds best cleaner, but we both have some family dysfunction hiding in our closets (I mean, who doesn't?) I can relate. 

I guess what I'm getting at is, there really isn't any golden rule when picking out a book for your Book Club.  The key is reading with discussion in mind, especially if you're going to come up with that on your own, instead of stealing the many good questions available online.  Look for the scenarios you can relate to.  Look for what you have in common, or don't have in common with the characters.  As you're reading, really try and find the emotion that's evoked in the scenarios.  Why do you feel that way?  Does it remind you of something in your life?  Would you have handled things in a completely different way? 

If you come at any book with those things in mind, you are going to be able to have a good discussion with others.  If your memory is as bad as mine, use a sheet of paper as your bookmark, and take notes as you read...but don't bother, if it makes you feel like you're doing homework.  Reading should be fun, and book clubs even more fun.  If it hurts, no one is going to do it!  Maybe jot down your favorite quotes in a notebook.  Reading those will probably jog your memory on what was happening during that section of the book.  Plus afterwards you would have a nice memento of your favorite books.  I think you can learn a lot about a person by their favorite literary quotes. 

I think everyone should be involved in a book club.  If having a broad spectrum of genres intimidates you, maybe you should start one that is more specific.  You like cookbooks, and read them for fun?  Start a Cookbook Club...and have a potluck each month where everyone makes a dish from the book.  You like graphic novels?  Start a Comic Book Club.  Kids books...YA books...Historical Fiction...SciFi, etc.  Make T-Shirts for everyone, or Tote Bags.  Embrace what makes y'all special.  But keep reading!!  And have fun doing it.  If you do, book club night could be the highlight of your social calendar.

Here's a few of my favorite Book Club Selections.  Enjoy...and let me know if you have a favorite Book Club book.  Do you belong to a book club?  Do you agree with my thoughts?