Friday, December 30, 2016

How To Live a Good Life

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 How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields review from Tomes and Tequila Book Blog
As soon as I heard Gretchen Rubin talk about the book How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields on her Happier Podcast, I knew I had to check it out. As I mentioned before over here, I'm a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin, and I enjoy listening to her podcasts when I'm at work. It turns out Jonathan Fields has a podcast also called the Good Life Project. After reading this book I've added it to my Podcast Addict queue, and I can't wait to listen in and see what little nuggets I can glean from this guy, because after spending a few days in his head I am very optimistic that it's going to be just my cup of tea (or given the recent drink of choice in my house, my White Russian!)

If this isn't the first time you've been on my blog you know I have a "thing" for nonfiction self-help books, especially of the happiness/habits/better-yourself variety. When my kids were younger they were of the parenting/house-keeping/organization variety. What can I say, I'm a sucker for self-improvement. Or should I say, I'm a sucker for the idea of self-improvement, most of the time.

You see, I've always struggled a bit with my follow through. But, to be fair to myself, a lot of books in this genre don't help me out a ton. They are filled with grandiose ideas, statistics and catch-phrases, and short on actual applicable tips. I want the big idea, but then I want someone to break down exactly how I can put that big idea into action. I need concrete steps and examples to follow. Gretchen Rubin is great at doing that, and now I can tell you that Jonathan Fields is also.

The book starts out with Fields saying how he likes science and data, loves to learn new things and is always trying to get to the bottom of how things tick. He's come up with a theory that you can think of your life as 3 called Vitality, a second Connection and the third Contribution. And in a nutshell, the more full your buckets are, the better your life will be. The book is broken up into 3 sections covering each of the "buckets" with concrete theories and tips on practices to fill that particular bucket. And of course the beginning of the book talks about assessing your buckets to figure out what areas may need work.

While the book is meant to be slowly worked through, for the purpose of reviewing it I read it cover to cover, and fairly quickly. But I fully intend on going back and doing many of the exercises that are listed in the bucket chapters, and going online to see the free content available for readers. With a cursory glance I could tell you with about 95% certainty that the area I most need to work on is my Vitality bucket, so I paid extra special attention to the exercises in that section. The very first one talking about daily routine practically screamed at me as I was reading it.

The Vitality section has the usual suspects...regular sleep, exercise, focusing on gratitude and stepping out of your comfort zone...but Fields seems to come at it from a fresh perspective. Just the fact that he gives you clear cut tasks to try, and prompts to journal afterwards spoke to me and I think will be helpful.

I found his anecdotal stories interesting, although I doubt I'll find myself at a retreat in Peru chanting with yogis from around the world anytime soon. I believe the author would call himself a spiritual skeptic, but I don't think there's anything in this book that would preclude a Christian or someone of any other specific religion from finding a nugget of wisdom that speaks to them. I think it is written with a very broad spiritual pen, and I've come to find that there's not a big difference between what one person calls meditation and another calls prayer.

I wasn't really sure, after reading the intro, that there would be a lot in the Contribution section that I would want to apply to my life, but I was pleasantly surprised. I would've told you that my bucket there was pretty darn full normally, but after he started mentioning using your strengths wisely and really coming up with what matters in your life and then making sure that what you do is centered around that, I found I actually have a lot more work to do. The same could be said for his thoughts on the Connection bucket. He helped me see that there are still plenty of places for improvement.
 How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields
So basically I'm giving this book a 5 star review. I know this blog post hasn't really been a traditional "review" but I hope that in telling you how someone like me, who reads books like this quite often, found a lot of truly workable and concrete might make you decide to pick it up and give it a look. I'm excited to start listening to the author's podcasts and getting to know him a bit better...and hoping that I still like him as much afterwards! LOL This book fits into some of the goals I have for 2017, so this was the PERFECT time for me to read it.

If you haven't picked this one up yet and you're also making goals for 2017 that include being more organized, goal-oriented, happiness "good life" wouldn't go wrong with How to Live a Good Life (and of course, Gretchen Rubin's books).

On a side note, in my quest to become more organized this year I'm going to try my hand at bullet journaling. I had thought about trying it before, but as I mentioned above, I have a bad record with following through on projects. A lot has changed in the bullet-journaling community since I first looked into it and holy cow, it has now turned into a mecca for artists! Just a quick glance at Instagram and you can see how people have taken this once minimalistic productivity tool and morphed it to fit their artistic sensibilities, and I'm just in love. I have told myself for years that I don't have an artistic bone in my body, and I'm trying to stop saying that. I do crafts all the time for work, and I don't think that description fits me anymore. So I'm going to try my hand at a little doodling along with my journal, and might even share a bit of it on here in my photos. Do any of you journal at all? Have you heard of bullet journaling?? Did you grow up hearing that you weren't good at something, and tell yourself it enough times that you've believed it for 40 years without giving it much thought? LOL

Okay, clearly I am overly tired and the cold I'm coming down with has addled my brain as I've got diarrhea of the fingers. I'd love to hear if anyone else has a resolution similar to mine, and if they have any good books they would recommend me reading. Please leave a comment for me either here or over on my Facebook page!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Reading Goals for 2017

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As you guys have probably all figured out, I doubt I will reach my Goodreads goal of 80 books this year. Am I a little embarrassed and slightly bent out of shape about it? Of course. I have put my reading life out here for everyone to see, and I didn't reach the goal I set for that's fairly dinky in the world of book bloggers.

Did I read more than 80 books this year? Yes, without a doubt. I don't count all the books I read for work. Okay, well I looked and I put 5 children's books on my list (you can see them here). If I bundled up every 20 children's books I read and counted them as 1, I would've hit my 80 mark ages ago. Every week that I do story time I sort through a stack of 12-40 books and pick 3 to read to the kiddos. Do I actually read all of them? No, sometimes I just skim and see if they have too many words in them to work for me. But I do read a lot of kids books. I even read them when I'm cataloging just because I'm curious if they'll work for story time. In other words, I'm a kids book reading fiend. Okay I'm veering off topic here....

Despite not reaching my goal this year(because I seriously doubt I'll finish 6 more books in 5 days) I am a big fan of setting a reading goal for myself each year, and I'd like to encourage each of you to do the same. Whether it's a book a month or a book a week, everyone knows that setting goals is important. I would say setting the goal is even more important than achieving it.

But honestly, my reading goal is one New Year's Resolution that I'm fairly certain I can actually achieve every year. I love reading, and finding new and old gems to add to my read collection is something that excites me. And it's also something that connects me with the rest of you.

So, in recommending that all of you set a reading goal for 2017, I'd like to give you some tools to help you in keeping track of your goal and/or helping you come up with new and exciting things to read in the upcoming year.

The first tool I'm of course going to say, because I'd be stupid not to say it, is to follow me here on the blog. I try my very hardest to stay abreast of all the new books that are coming out, and let you know of which ones kept me interested and which you should save your money on. You can get my posts sent straight to your email account if, like me, you have trouble remembering to check in on your favorite bloggers. I also try to share other book blogger's posts and book related items on Twitter. All of my social media accounts are called Tomes and Tequila, just like the blog. Okay, enough talk of me...

Oh and if you're looking for something else to help you figure out what to read, my friend brought my attention to the PopSugar 2017 Reading Challenge, which can be found over here. It has a list of 52 books to read over the course of the year, with things like "an espionage thriller" and "a book from a nonhuman perspective". I think this would be a really fun list to go through, and I'd love to see what books people chose to fit the suggested prompts.

Every year I do the Goodreads yearly reading challenge. I also rate and review everything I read on there. It's become part of my reading routine, and a way for me to manage my To Read list. I have the app on my phone so I can reference my lists wherever I am, since I'm rarely without my trusty smartphone. If you get in the habit of using it regularly, it can save you time and money. If I see something online or in a shop that's interested me, I can add it to my "Want to Read" list and then look it up in the library. If the library doesn't have it, I can ask to Interlibrary Loan it. Ta-Da...time and money saver. I also rely heavily on other people's reviews...which I always read with a hefty dose of skepticism (as I expect you to read mine, as everyone has different taste in books, it's what makes each of us unique and special). Because I read other's reviews, I try to review everything I read...even if it's just putting the stars in, as I know that might help someone else.

If you're looking for something like Goodreads, but perhaps smaller and slightly different, check out Bookstr. Very similar, and I'm very behind in updating my reading list on here. I can't quite pinpoint the differences between these two sites, but I can tell you they are there. It's easier to win giveaways, as there are less people vying for books. It's just another option to check-out.

If you're a fan of Instagram, and like me you carry your smartphone with you constantly, you should probably add the app Litsy to your phone (if you haven't already). It's Instagram, but only for books. People add blurbs and reviews, with accompanying snapshots. For a long time it was only available for Iphone users, but has recently added I'm up and running! I enjoy putting my photos on there, and a quick synopsis on whether I liked the book or not. It's also fun to put up a quick quote that catches your eye. If you decide to use the app, you can find me @TomesandTequila.

Now, for those who would rather have a paper journal to keep track of what you've read, I have a beautiful option that is just the right price, and can be found on Etsy. YellowPaperHouse has these Book Review/Reading Journal Traveler's Notebook's for $6-$9 depending on size in a variety of colors. I purchased one a few months ago, and I love it. It has a place for you to write a summary, your star rating, a few quotes and any important info you might want to remember about the book you're reading. I'm a bit obsessed with bullet journals and midori traveler's this caught my eye. But honestly it's the perfect pretty little journal to throw in your purse and keep a record of what you've read throughout the year. And you can get it in pink!!

So there ya go. I think I'm going to set 96 books as my goal for 2017. With writing for the blog now, I don't think it will be too hard to achieve. This blog has helped me to have a bit more structure in my reading, although I do still get distracted by television shows, makeup tutorials and Fassy.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas. Since people enjoy seeing "behind the scenes" when it comes to blogs, I'd like to share what I'm looking at as I write this.
My youngest is home from the Academy, and we are snowed in. I got the privilege of staying home with them for another day...and "the kids" are beating each other up in the snow outside my office window. The only way I could be happier was if my husband was here...but we are almost halfway through his forced vacation, and I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I am feeling very blessed that people are enjoying hearing my thoughts on books. It has been an amazing creative outlet for me...and I can't thank y'all enough.

So I'm off to try and finish reading How to Live a Good Life. I'd love to hear if you've set a reading goal for 2017, and if so how many books you'd like to read. do you track your books?? Paper or Digital?? Are we friends on Goodreads?? Twitter?? Litsy?? Let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

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I finally got around to reading Faithful by Alice Hoffman.  It came out in November and had been on my To Read list since before I laid hands on it at the library. But I have to be honest and say, it's a small book (258 pages) that I finished in one sitting in my attempts at reaching that elusive Goodreads goal I set for myself and am trying desperately to fail this year. So while it had a description I found intriguing, and a beautiful cover, the timing wasn't coincidental (note, the last 4 books have been around 250 pages I believe).

Faithful tells the messy story of Shelby. We begin with her as a high school senior and the fallout of a car accident she is in with her best friend Helene. She was driving and comes out physically unscathed, while Helene is in a coma she never wakes from. Shelby blames herself and shuts down completely. There is a suicide attempt, self-harm, drug-abuse and just a general dropping out of life as she'd known it.

For about two years she lives in her parent's basement...emaciated...complete with shaved head and drug habit. She buys drugs from Ben, who she eventually realizes is in love with her. Instead of being the nerdy bum she always believed him to be, she finds he's actually a college graduate about to embark on a professional program in New York City. He, of course, wants to save her...wants her to go with him and get "better". So together they leave and start a new life away from the sleeping Helene and the town that will never forget.

Throughout the story we watch Shelby slowly and crankily come out of her shell and become a human again. She begrudgingly makes friends with a single mother at the pet store she starts working at, not knowing that the friendship will become long-lasting and incredibly important to her. But what heals her more than anything are the stray dogs she saves while grumpily brooding through life.

The healing-power-of-saving-stray-dogs-thing sounds way more sappy and Hallmark-channel than it actually is, I just don't know a better way of describing how stealing abused dogs from homeless con-artists and abusive junk yard owners actually makes Shelby a better and more human person. It just does. But trust me, Shelby is more Lisbeth Salander than Snow White.

The book follows her as she slowly but surely gains a life back. Not the one she thought she would have. Not the one she and Helene dreamed about as kids. But one better than she dreamed she would achieve after the horrific accident in the snow that haunts her dreams.
I really enjoyed this book and the character Shelby. One incident...changed the entire trajectory of her life. It irreparably affected her...broke her down in a way that she just couldn't come back from. The pain she felt was palpable to me, and the reaction of the people around her felt honest. I especially enjoyed the relationship she has with her mother, and the evolution in Shelby's feelings towards her. I want to say the story covers about a 10 year span, so we have time to see how things pan out, for better and/or worse.

Yes, the beginning of the book felt a little like it belonged in the Young Adult section. And I wondered about the talk of angels and miracles that were mainly in the beginning chapters...but I really enjoyed how that particular plot line resolved itself. It turned out way better than I could've hoped.

So I'm giving this one a solid 4 stars. It would make a good Book Club selection I think, as it has plenty of discussion fodder. From parenthood to friendship, infidelity to miracles, the healing power of animals to the healing power of Chinese food...plenty to talk about!

Are you a fan of Alice Hoffman? Or did you just like the movie Practical Magic? Do you believe in the healing power of animals, or did you cringe when you read that?? LOL Let me know in the comments either here or over on my Facebook page.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Today Will Be Different...

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A couple of years ago I read the novel Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple for one of my book clubs, and really enjoyed it. If I remember right most of the gals did, and we had some good laughs during our discussion of the lead character and her shenanigans. Semple's new book Today Will Be Different felt very similar...and yet not.

The book starts with Eleanor's manifesto, which sounds eerily similar to one I have said to myself on numerous mornings over the years:
"Today will be different. Today I will be present. Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. Today I’ll play a board game with Timby. I’ll initiate sex with Joe. Today I will take pride in my appearance. I’ll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend. Today I won’t swear. I won’t talk about money. Today there will be an ease about me. My face will be relaxed, its resting place a smile. Today I will radiate calm. Kindness and self-control will abound. Today I will buy local. Today I will be my best self, the person I’m capable of being. Today will be different."
She starts her day with what most would say are fairly simple goals...and the book covers a day in her life. But what a day it is!! The chaos that ensues during this one day is so over-the-top and crazy. The only breather comes during a huge chunk of flashback that is tossed in during an odd location, written in a different style and could've been it's own book it felt so different from the rest of the story.

Eleanor is married to Joe. He's an  orthopedic surgeon to the stars (namely the Seattle Seahawks) and they have a precocious son Timby (named after a ridiculous Iphone autocorrect). They live a fairly happy existence in a wealthy neighborhood in Seattle. She used to be a fancy schmancy animator in New York City, but decided to do the mom thing and move out west. The best part of her day is poetry class with Alonzo.

Eleanor's day-in-the-life on steroids starts with noticing her husband slumped over the newspaper with his head on the table in defeat. He quickly jumps up in the hopes that she hasn't noticed, so she tries to ignore it. She drops the boy off for school and heads off to her one on one poetry class. The school calls in the middle of her recitation to say that Timby has a stomach-ache, and she needs to pick him up. The rest of the day is one thing after another, culminating in Eleanor face-planting off a stage during a choral concert for the Pope.

To go into much more detail would ruin this for any other reader, but at 259 pages it's a short, chaotic ride. Once I picked it up, I didn't stop reading until I'd finished the entire book. Maria Semple writes quirky extremely well, and the characters in this book are definitely quirky. I think it gets 4 stars just for her young son's covert affection for makeup.

My only big complaint with this book is, like I said up above, the flashback section right in the middle of the book. To me it felt out of place, and like it belonged to a totally different story. Her issues with her sister felt like both the most important thing in her life, and like a tagged on bit that didn't mesh with the rest. I'm not sure how I feel about it, honestly.

I think this would be a good book club selection. It's a short and quick read, and it has some great conversation fodder about parenting, spirituality, family and really the habit a lot of women have of beating themselves up for not being better...more perfect, etc. The story is bookended with Eleanor doing that "Today will be different" pep talk, and I know just speaking for myself, I could have an entire evening of girl talk just devoted to THAT.

So, I'm giving this one 4 stars. It has it's issues, but overall I enjoyed it. I almost want to say it's a deep book in a shallow exterior, but that doesn't make a lot of sense. It's a fun, quirky easy read that holds a few nuggets of deep introspection. Or something like that...

Are you a Maria Semple fan? Have you ever given yourself a pep talk before crawling out of bed in the morning?? Let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Top Reads of 2016!!

2016 is almost over, and it's time to reflect on my beloved "Read" list on Goodreads. I finished some fabulous books this year, and a couple real stinkers. There's no time like the present to present (hehe) my favorite reads of the year!

I somehow managed to read ten 5 star books...a few weren't new releases, and one isn't even out until next year...but since I completed them in 2016 I figured they count. My rules! 😁

So without further ado, my favorite books in no particular order...

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
This one isn't out until the end of January 2017, but it really blew me away. It's not your typical chick lit book, and it just kept taking twists and turns that I wasn't expecting. This book is, at it's core, about friendship. It is edgy, and has a great cast of diverse characters. It sucks you in and holds you close all the way through, and is one I will be talking about for a while. This book is a must for my more artistic and urban readers, and anyone yearning for a few good lesbians in their fiction. You can find my full review over here. 

The Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James
I absolutely adored this little book of short stories by prolific mystery writer P.D. James. She passed away in 2014, and until reading this selection I just didn't know what I was missing. Her short stories reminded me of what a good mystery writer was, and what was missing in a lot of the suspense books I had been reading recently. This book is for fans of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. You can find my full review for this one over here. 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
This book blew me away, in a very disturbing sort of way. When going off the description, you'd never think this would be a book you'd enjoy. Nor that there would be times you would almost think the relationship in this book makes sense. So it's a testament to Bryn Greenwood's writing skills that I was pulled so deeply into the story of Wavy and Kellen. Yes, it is controversial, but it's not salacious or exploitative. You can find my full review over here. 

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
My reasons for feeling so passionately about this book are very personal, and it was incredibly hard to write a review without putting too much of myself out there for public consumption. The thoughts and feelings that Glennon put into this memoir resonated so powerfully in me that I wanted to shout from the rooftops that everyone should read it. Now I realize not everyone has been through the same things that I have, so they probably won't have the very visceral reaction I did...but for those women who have possibly had an addiction issue, weight problems, infidelity issues, or a struggle with faith, please pick this book up. You might read something in here that speaks to you also. You can find my full review here. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
I think that most people either loved or hated this screenplay, there were no in-betweens. But I absolutely LOVED it. I enjoyed getting the chance to return to characters I loved and see what they were up to, whether I agreed with it or not. Could I have quibbled over some parts of the story? Absolutely, but I chose to just enjoy being back in the magical world of Harry Potter once more. Plus I got the opportunity to hang out with Scorpius Malfoy, who was an AMAZING new character. You can find my full review over here.

Find Your Brave by Holly Wagner
This book is for the girlfriend, sister, coworker, neighbor or family friend who is going through a tough time. It is a very Christian book, but it is filled with practical advice for how to make it through hardships with your faith and sanity intact. My copy is filled with highlighted passages, and I think it's a book I will go to again and again for reminders on how to take the bad times that go along with the good. It's a small little book, but I really loved it. You can find my full review over here.

The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness by Maddie Dawson
Okay, I may be a little starstruck when it comes to Maddie Dawson because I believe she's actually read a couple of my book reviews and tweets, but I LOVE this book. I fell in love with the cover, the main character Nina Popkin, and the author's sassy writing style. This would make a terrific book club selection. And did I mention the cover?!? You can find my full glowing love fest of a review over here.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
I probably recommend the Cormoran Strike book series more often than any other series during my day job at the library. I made the rest of the staff read it, and now they recommend it to everyone also. These books are amazing detective mysteries, and unlike most in that genre, you really don't know who did it until the book tells you. They are so cleverly written, they are unputdownable. I am over the moon that they are making a television series, although I have serious doubts as to whether they could be nearly as good as these books. These are books that will be equally enjoyed by men and chick lit here (see sis, I do read different kinds of books!!) Career of Evil is the third book in the Cormoran Strike Series.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle books are one of the rare Young Adult books you'll find on the blog. It's not that I don't like them, I just don't read them very often. The book blogosphere is full of some fabulous YA blogs, so I'll leave most of the reviews to them. But this series is amazing. My daughter asked me (well really she ordered me) to read them and I obeyed. There are some mystical elements, friendship galore, a little romantic entanglement, and some straight up gothic creepiness. I would say this is a little edgier teen series. It is by no means sexually explicit, and the romance is very subtle...but I think it lends itself to older teens. I know I'm probably making zero if you head over here you can read the Goodreads description of the first book in the series, and take it from there. But know that they are very well written and enjoyable for more than just teens because I devoured them.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
This book is so messed up, I have no idea how they are making it into a movie. People rave over Gone Girl, but in my opinion this small first novel by Gillian Flynn blows that one out of the water. I was yelling at my copy when reading it. I came into work the next day just shaking my head, and basically asked everyone who walked in the building if they'd read it yet so I could hash out the finer details with someone. It's when you're looking at another person and just going "The TEETH!!" that you know it's a 5 star book. If you haven't read this one yet, you really need to pick it up asap. It is incredibly dark and disturbing, but oh so good. You can read my full review over here.

So there ya go! Those are my top 10 books for 2016. Who knows, I may knock out another couple 5 star books before the end of the year but I feel pretty happy with this list. I think it's a good one. I thank all of you for sharing some of your precious free time with me over here on Tomes and Tequila. I am so grateful for each and every person who stops by and reads one of my reviews...or takes a gander at one of my shopping lists (you can see my first one here and my newest one here). I am having so much fun, and I hope it comes across in my writing.

I hope everyone has an incredible upcoming holiday. My youngest is coming into town, so if I don't get as many reviews up, I have a good excuse!! I'd love to hear some of your favorite books of the year. Do we have any of the same books on our lists? Please let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dear Mr. M

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Blogging for Books was nice enough to send me a copy of Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch, which had me super excited. I'd previously read his book The Dinner for a book club of mine and although I wouldn't say it was enjoyable, it did hold my interest and have tons of topics for discussion.

For some reason this book sat on my pile for quite awhile before I actually completed it. I eagerly grabbed it initially, read the first couple pages...set it back down again, and then didn't pick it back up again for months. The guilt for not completing it quickly was pretty bad considering it was very kindly sent to me to review.

This is a very European book. The author lives in Amsterdam, and his books are translated into English. You can tell. Dear Mr. M is heavy...and I don't mean weight/heft/page wise. It starts fairly straight forward and simple enough, but as the book goes along it gets more complicated and almost erratic. And I'm pretty sure it's on purpose.

This review is probably going to be short and purposely vague, as I don't want to give anything away...and I'm still not sure I processed everything, to be honest!

Mr. M is an aging writer whose biggest work, Payback, was inspired by the real-life events of a school-teacher who disappeared and was presumably killed by two of which he'd had an affair with. His sales have declined and he's more than a little disgruntled. No one pays him as much attention as they used to, with the the exception of his mysterious neighbor.

Said neighbor has big plans for Mr. M. He watches him regularly. He watches Mr. M's wife and daughter. He knows their favorite restaurants. He listens to Mr. M get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. He is not a fan. But why doesn't he like him? And exactly what does he plan to do to him?

Although the book also has chapters from the point of view of his wife, some of the teenagers who were in his book Payback, and the teacher who disappeared...the book is mainly about Mr. M and his neighbor. And you don't really get the full extent of their story until the last couple paragraphs of the book.

I enjoyed Dear Mr. M, although I don't think it's for everyone...and I'm only giving it 3 stars. I wanted to like it way more than I did. There was a lot of filler, exposition and characters that didn't necessarily need the pages they were given. I felt like it detracted from the story rather than adding to it. Or maybe I'm just cranky today. 😄

I recently saw this book on a list of 10 books to read if you love Stephen King, and I just didn't see it. It has fabulous reviews though, so maybe it's just me. There is some great stuff in here about being an author, and Dutch politics/society. So if those are things that interest you, definitely pick up this book. But the intrigue and suspense of a King novel just weren't there, in my opinion. I knew there was going to be a twist, but it didn't pan out as well as I'd hoped.

So while others loved it, I'm sticking with my 3 stars. It is written well, but I just wasn't pulled into the story and found myself glazing over during a huge chunk of the story. But I would still pick up another of his books. I'm not anti-Koch, this one just wasn't a favorite.

Do you enjoy twists in your mystery books? Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments or over on my Facebook page.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Book Lovers Holiday Shopping Guide

*this post contains affiliate links, please check out my review policy for more info
Tis the Season to be jolly, and buy fabulous gifts for all of your book loving friends!!

I LOVE buying gifts and thoroughly enjoy hunting online for the perfect gift to give to my people. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and since my life is filled with book lovers, I figured now was the time to share with y'all yet again another of my gift giving guides!

We are running out of time, and I know ordering from someplace like Etsy means a little longer shipping time normally...but I enjoy supporting a small business or person more than a big box store. Plus I like buying a little more unique pieces...something not everyone else is going to have.

So here are a few things I've found that would be perfect for the book lover in your life!!

From the Library of Stamp
 Bookish Gift on Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
I have a mad lust for this book stamp. I have come across a few beauties before, but this one takes the cake! Starting at $34.95 from BARNSTATIONERY it would ensure the books you hold dear and lend out make their way back into your arms. I don't know of many book lovers who wouldn't appreciate a beautiful customized self-inking stamp for their library. 

Book Lover Keychain Wallet
 Book Lover Keychain Wallet from Etsy Courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
Okay, this Book Lover Keychain/Wallet is one I already own and wield daily. I use it at work to hold my work keys, my ID Card, and I even tuck my nametag in it (when it's not on) all of my important work stuff is in one place. It's small enough to keep in my pocket, and looks much cooler than that hard plastic tag hanging off a lanyard around my neck! It is $19.99 over at CrookedSmileCreation. 

Book Tote Bag
 Tote Bag from Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
Okay this tote bag will satisfy both the book and cat lover on your shopping list...and you can never have enough tote bags in my opinion! For $24.99 over at boygirlparty you can buy a cute tote to fill with a few favorite books, a bottle of wine and a candle for the perfect gift for a friend/coworker/favorite neighbor! 

Set of 7 Book Lover's Pencils
 Pencil set from Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
I think this pencil set is so cute, in pretty pastel colors with bookish phrases...perfect for the teen reader in your life. Well, who am I kidding...I would keep them on my desk too. With cute sayings like Books Are My Happy Place and Book Nerd, at $13.95 from IceyDesigns these are a steal, and would look cute in a pencil bag or sticking out of a coffee mug.

Shakespeare Coffee Mug
 Mug from Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
Okay, maybe not this mug...but I am a HUGE Shakespeare fan, and I almost bought this one for my daughter for her birthday (instead I went with this Scrubs mug). This is for the reader in your life who you would also consider buying the Tyrion Lannister quote goodies. It would look perfect on my husband's desk. It starts at $13.99 over at perksandrecreation

Book Lover Letter
 Book Lover Letter from Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
This particular gift idea is tailored for me as it's a beautiful C! As I've said before, everyone loves a personalized gift, and this would look terrific on a desk or a bookshelf surrounded by other beautiful bookish items (or even...books!!). I have had my eye on it for ages, as I can just see it in photos next to my books. You can find it at ArtfulLibrary for $35

Kindle Cover
 Kindle Covers from Etsy Courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
These book Kindle covers are absolutely gorgeous. If you click through to the page you'll see that the interiors are as stunning as the exteriors, and my favorites are totally Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby. What a terrific way of showing off your personality and love of classic books! I have always enjoyed picking out Kindle Covers...but these are by far the prettiest I've ever found. You can get them from KleverCase for $32.24+

Romance Button or Magnet
 Romance Lover Pin or Magnet on Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
Okay, I may have a specific person in mind with this one (*cough* KAT *cough*) but I think this button/magnet is the perfect cute little gift to give to the romance reader in your life. Personally I know too many apologetic romance readers...own it, girlfriends!  For $1.50+ at beanforest you can help your friend take her first step in letting her romantic-freak flag fly! 

Bibliophile T-Shirt
 Bibliophile Shirt from Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
This cute Bibliophile Shirt is nice enough to actually be worn outside the house. I don't think there's a whole lot more I need to say after that! It's pretty...would look great with some dark jeans and boots! LOL I'm a book blogger, and not a fashion blogger though. You can find it on LittleAtoms starting at $34

Library Card Scarf
 Library Card Scarf on Etsy courtesy of Tomes and Tequila Blog
Okay, I'm a walking talking advert for Libraries. I have always loved libraries, and I love them even more now that I work in one. My husband gives me a hard time for talking about work all the time at social gatherings...but I am PASSIONATE about Libraries. This Library Card Scarf is the perfect gift for someone like me. It's for that friend who checks out the max amount of items possible...who has a tote dedicated to library items. The one who knows the Library Staff by name. For $44 over on Cyberoptix, you can make her very happy.

Okay folks, that's all I've got for ya at the moment! We're running out of shopping days before Christmas, but all of these would make great birthday or just because gifts also. So head on over to Etsy and see what you can find. I'm a huge fan, and have shopped there for years. I enjoy receiving items packed with care from a person...most coming with personalized notes of thanks, coupon codes for future purchases, and other little touches that make shopping a tad more special. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby...

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

I LOVED the first Bridget Jones book. I was living in England when it got big and all of my friends were passing it around. I was a twenty-something with two kids, so me and Bridget didn't have THAT much in common, but I loved her nonetheless.

When the movie came out we did a girls night trip to the theater, and I got to listen to the girls moan and groan over things like it saying pounds instead of stone in referring to her weight loss, etc. They had "Americanized" it, but in spite of the complaining everyone LOVED the movie. I think the fight between Daniel and Mark is one of the best scenes in cinematic history (that might be a bit of an exaggeration). So funny.

 I read the second book in the series when it came out, and although I enjoyed meeting up with characters I thought of as friends, I didn't think it was as good as the first. Ditto the movie.

Now cut to a 41 year old Christina...stuck at home during a blizzard...trying desperately to make a dent in her Goodreads list by grabbing small books left and right. Lo and behold I saw a familiar face sitting on the New Release shelf at the Library. My beloved Bridget, come to the rescue!

I've noticed that a lot of the reviews online for Bridget Jones's Baby make reference to the movie a ton. They aren't happy with the changes. They'd hoped for a carbon copy of the movie. Or the book wasn't different enough, etc. I haven't watched the movie, so this review is on the book alone. No mamby pamby conflicted thoughts in my head.

Bridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries is a cute little book, coming in at 219 pages (the perfect size for an evening's blizzard). The story is Bridget giving her son some of the diary entries she'd written in the lead-up to having explain how she'd loved him from the very beginning but got herself into a mess...and how she'd got herself back out of it again.

It took me a bit to get into the story. Initially I felt like I was reading fan fiction...where someone had taken key phrases and quotes from the previous books and tossed them together with a new scenario. It was actually quite odd. I'd say it took me about halfway through before I was really enjoying myself.

Bridget has got herself into a bit of a scrape. A newly single Mark Darcy gets caught up in a drunken moment with her after a christening...then tells her he wants nothing to do with her. Upset, she falls into the arms of dashing Daniel Cleaver for one of their steamy trysts. A few weeks later, having heard nothing from the guys, she finds herself feeling ill and...OH MY GOSH, she's PREGNANT!!
 Torn between the Singletons and the Smug Mothers...between Daniel and Mark. In short, her life is falling apart. But she finds herself overwhelmingly happy to be having a baby...not a doubt in her mind, which is the thing she holds onto when times get tough.

This little book is filled with tons of swear words, alcohol, sexual trysts and horrible decision making. In other words, it's straight up Bridget Jones. But I'm still giving it 3 stars. It's probably a firm 3.5, but my cranky butt has decided to round down on this one.

It was good...but not great. It definitely got better as you went along. And now that I've read it I absolutely have to watch the movie, if only just to see what all the fuss was about, as it clearly influenced a lot of readers. And I feel I need to confess that when reading it I heard the voices of Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. That rarely happens to me, but I am truly a fan of the original characters and story.

So there ya have it. Are you a fan of Bridget Jones? Do you ever hear actors voices in you head when you read a book? Do you think the movie can actually be better than the book? Let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Mistletoe Murder...

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

 Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James
Okay, so it may be considered cheating but in order to hopefully hit my Goodreads goal of 80 books this year, I ran through my library grabbing the smallest new release books on the shelf. The first one I completed was The Mistletoe Murder: And Other Stories by P.D. James...and it was TERRIFIC.

P.D. James wrote something like 20+ thriller and detective type mysteries, and her book Children of Men was turned into one of my family's favorite films. But this is the first book of hers I've read, and I'm definitely adding some of her Detective Adam Dalgliesh books to my To Read list as the two short stories in this collection involving him were my favorites.

The author died in 2014 so this collection of short stories was a great surprise to fans who thought they'd never read a new book of hers again. Apparently she'd always written short Christmas themed Agatha Christie style stories for magazines and newspapers yearly, and these are four selections. The book starts with a Foreward talking about the author, and then a Preface by the author discussing mysteries. Both of these were actually entertaining, and I have to be honest that sometimes I skip those in books!

The title story shows an author talking about whether she's been touched by a murder herself, which is asked often by her fans. She tells the tale of an unpleasant guest during a Christmas party who ends up murdered in the library...such a common place for murder! The last paragraph is the kicker in this one.

Then we are treated to the author's very first short story, which isn't a whodunnit, but creepy as all get out. I agree with James' preface statements of how it's harder to  write a mystery short story because you're limited on descriptions etc. But this one stuns in an incredibly short footprint.

Then we get two stories of Detective Adam Dalgliesh, the last of which is tongue and cheek mystery at it's finest.
"The figure who leaps from the side of the road in the darkness of a winter afternoon, frantically waving down the approaching motorist, is so much the creature of fiction that when it happened to the newly promoted Sergeant Adam Dalgliesh his first thought was that he had somehow become involved in one of those Christmas short stories written to provide a seasonal frisson for the readers of an upmarket weekly magazine. But the figure was real enough, the emergency apparently genuine."
These stories are fantastic, and just go to show what's missing from some of the mysteries I've read recently. They try for that Christie cleverness, and a lot of the time they fall flat.

This collection is a small must-read for fans of Sherlock Holmes and classic detective mystery stories, and I imagine it would also be phenomenal as an Audiobook. It's only loosely a "Christmas book" as most stories happen around the holidays, but aren't a focus. I am giving it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Are you a fan of mysteries, thrillers and whodunnits? Do you consider it cheating to read small books like this?? Let me know in the comments here or over on my Facebook page!
*artwork in pic by Thing2

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Animators

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

 The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker Review by Tomes and Tequila
I have been sent home from work due to an impending blizzard, and am so happy because it means I can get this review out to you on time!! Well, it makes me happy for other reasons also...mainly that I'm tired, and when there's snow on the ground all I really want to do is curl up under a blanket and read...perhaps with a steamy cup of spiked coffee/hot chocolate. Even more so now that my house is decorated for Christmas. My get up and go has gone off and left! Who really wants to work, no matter how much they love their jobs, when there are Christmas movies to watch and carols to listen to?? This season, especially where I live, is made for snuggling up...not going out. But I digress...

I am incredibly happy Netgalley and Random House sent me this new book to review as I have given it 5 stars and am adding it to my favorites list, and it's one I may not have picked up on my own. The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker will be available for purchased 31 January 2017...and I can't wait to see the rest of the public's reaction to it. It was completely different from anything else I have read recently, and in a slap-you-up-side-your-head kind-of way.

The Animators is a novel about Sharon Kisses and Mel Vaught. The book starts with them meeting one day after an art class freshman year of college. Sharon feels like an outcast...she's a scholarship student from Kentucky, and doesn't fit in with the rich kids. She hides most of the time, hoping not to be seen...but when Mel invites her for drinks everything changes. Mel is "cool". She exudes something special, and Sharon is enchanted by her. They bond over a mutual love of fringe animation, ding dongs and pilfered weed. It's the beginning of something special.

Cut to ten years down the line. The pair are receiving a prestigious grant to make a new animated film, after their last Nashville Combat becomes a success. Sharon is still feeling like an outcast, and Mel is more wild than ever. Their film was about Mel's childhood with a mother who was a prostitute and part-time drug dealer...and the slew of men who came in and out of her life. Although Mel will tell you that none of it bothers her, it's clear by her erratic partying behavior that it actually does. Can Sharon get her under control?

Tragedy hits and we're left wondering if it's a good idea to put your past out there for public consumption. What about the ramifications? What about the other people who end up in your story? And how do you deal with the trauma and misfortune that might come out of it?

It's at this point that the book turns...turns again...and evolves into a different beast than I was expecting. I honestly don't want to put a whole lot more into this review because I want you to be as surprised as I was if you decide to read it.
I honestly have a hard time wrapping my head around this being a debut novel. There was an entire section where I just kept saying "wooah, wooah" and I had to explain to my son (who was looking at me like I was crazy) that it had hit a point where you knew the crap was about to hit the fan, and you were just waiting for it to happen. I knew heartache was coming, and I couldn't wait to see how it was relayed.

And then there were the tears. I shed a few about 3/4 of the way through the book...and that doesn't happen very often. I was invested in these characters wholeheartedly, and they are wrapped up so well in the end.

This book is far hipper and young than I am...although for most of the book the main characters are in their 30's (and I am not THAT far removed from that decade to remember). But it is a very artistic and sassy book. My daughter is a great artist, and I've already told her she should read this when it comes out. The slang...the jibes between Mel and Sharon...the drug is all very far removed from my life as a military wife and mom. But I think that's part of why I enjoyed it so much. Some of my favorite books are ones that take me out of my life and into one that I wouldn't normally have a chance to experience.

There are also some fabulous gay characters in here for those looking for a more diverse read. This book is by no means one that centers on the character's sexuality, but rarely does a book that someone like me would consider a fabulous book club pick have not one...not two...but MULTIPLE lesbians characters. And yet I wouldn't label this LGBT fiction. This is a book about best friends and relationships. Their sexuality is secondary to their well-rounded and fleshed out personalities...but I definitely thought it was worth noting.

So, I unreservedly give this 5 stars....and have marked it as a "favorite" on Goodreads. Be on the lookout for it the end of January 2017.  Don't forget to follow me on my Facebook page and over on Twitter!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Glass Castle

 The Glass Castle on Amazon, review by Tomes and Tequila
Another book club down, another dysfunctional family memoir completed. This month me and the ladies read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls *. When we met we did a whole lot of talking about snow removal, cars disappearing under snow drifts, neighborhood gossip and tales of sorrow that have occurred recently. We also ate some yummy food, because for some reason everyone else manages to actually fix real food items for book club instead of my pretzels and m&ms (that cake frosting was epic!!!). Eventually we got around to talking about this book...and we all agreed it was a good one.

I seem to be a little late in reading The Glass Castle. I know it was a big thing a few years back (it was published in 2005)...and I heard amazing things about it before picking it up. More than a few people have said they were shocked this was a memoir because it's so messed up you want to believe it's fiction.

Jeannette Walls memoir starts with her being embarrassed seeing her mother digging through a dumpster while she's travelling to a glitzy party in a taxi. How can she live on Park Avenue when her parents live on the street? From there we go back in time to her first memories of being on fire after cooking hot dogs on the stove at age 3. AGE 3!!! Let that sink in a little bit for a minute. The book just gets crazier and crazier after that.

Jeannette's early childhood is impressively messed up. Her father is a drunken dreamer...skedaddling from place to place, constantly dreaming up some new scheme that will make him rich. Her mother actually comes from money, but is bohemian to the extreme. The kids in this family are starved, dirty, molested, beat up, name it, they've experienced it.

What makes the story so impressive is how most of the children managed to get out of squalor and become very successful and productive members of society at such an early age. They, one after another, leave a ramshackled existence in a mining town in the Appalachians for New York City...find jobs easily, get into colleges and police training programs, and live regular lives. Their parents follow and live on the street...even when there are other options available. It is all very odd.

This is a good and impressive book. But I have noticed recently when reading this memoir and All The Pretty Things that they are written in a very non-emotional manner...almost matter-of-fact. I don't know if the authors do it to help themselves from the feelings brought up when writing them? But surely as an adult who knows better, you have to feel some emotions when telling how you're starving and find your mom eating a Hershey's Chocolate Bar. I mean, you're eating food from the school bathroom trash have to feel some anger when thinking on it now? Or when they are punished by their parents for fighting back when they find their little brother being molested by Grandma. I just feel like sometimes the tone takes me out of it a bit, if that makes any sense.
But really, this book is a must read...and really puts to shame any of the other dysfunctional family books I've read recently. Jeannette Walls wins the award for most f**ked up childhood. If anyone knows of a memoir even worse, please let me know so I can read it ASAP. It was a great book club selection, and if we weren't so distracted by the immense amount of excitement and drama in our personal lives at the moment, the discussion could've gone on for ages. There was a whole lot of "oh my gosh, what about when she fell out of the car and it took them ages to come back for her!!!" and "or when the boy started shooting at them through the window, and they fired the pistol back...and then the parents blamed them and made them leave town!!!" It really is one of those kind-of books.

So if, like me, you haven't picked this one up yet...I highly recommend you do. It's worth the read. If nothing else it should make you feel better about your own childhood.

Let me know what you think about dysfunctional family memoirs in the comments here or over on my Facebook Page. I can't wait to hear if any of you know of a memoir to top this one!!!

 *This post contains affiliate links. Please visit my review policy page for details.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Princess Diarist

I have always LOVED Star Wars. I remember watching it eagerly as a child...and re-watching it time after time as I got older. Then when my kids were little the prequels came out, and I eagerly watched those. I brought my son to see The Phantom Menace on opening night. Neither of us minded Jar Jar Binks. I mean, don't get me wrong...I'm not a Star Wars Freak. I don't have collectibles around the house (well, I did buy my son that Darth Vader pancake flipper once). But I have stood in below zero temperatures while intoxicated after a Christmas party to get into the new Star Wars, Episode 7 on opening night. It was a memorable moment with my children (please remember they aren't little...). Needless to say, I am also a fan of Carrie Fisher.

I have read a few of Carrie Fisher's books before, and have always enjoyed them. I think she's funny, sassy and more than a little smart assy. Yes, she's crazy...but she's the first person to tell you that. And she doesn't appear to really give a crap what anyone thinks about her. Plus she feels honest to me. I mean, you read some people's memoirs and they seem a little contrived and read false to me. But not Carrie.

This memoir is really all about her 3 month affair with Harrison Ford while filming the first Star Wars film in England. There is a little bit about her early life, and what she was doing before filming started. And there is a little bit about afterwards, and the fame and interviews that followed. But for the most part this book is all "Carrison".

I like Harrison Ford. I've always thought he was pretty good looking, and I was definitely a fan of Han Solo back in the day. But then he's always come off as pretty much playing himself in movies. The sly and suave sarcastic asshole full of one-liners. But then I am a lover of assholes really...the more sarcastic the better (which explains a lot about my taste in men).  This memoir doesn't do him any favors, and definitely didn't change my opinion of him.

Carrie Fisher was 19 years old when she started filming Star Wars. She had really only had one boyfriend beforehand, and was very inexperienced with men. She had more experience kissing gay guys she met through her mom than anything else. So when she meets Han Solo, I mean Harrison, a 30+ year old married man with two kids, she's a bit...not star struck exactly, but in awe of this quiet and cranky charismatic man. She clearly has low self-esteem, and doesn't think very highly of herself. So she's shocked when he suddenly starts kissing her in the back seat of a car...and even more shocked when it progresses to more than that.
Since I have read a few of Carrie Fisher's other books, her mental state makes sense to me. And I also know how things like this happen. She includes in the book pages from the journals she kept at the time, and those were honestly my favorite parts. The beginning of the book has a lot of odd filler, and the end has the same. But those journal pages intrigued me. There is a lot of poetry...a lot of mixed feelings of sleeping with a married man who doesn't talk to her. It definitely appears that he was there for one thing and one thing only, and her journals read like a confused young person with her head in the clouds.

I liked the book, although I think I'm giving it 3 stars. A lot of reviews complained about the first chapter filled with the events of 1976. I didn't mind that. But there was a lot of rambling filler in the pages preceding and following the journal entries. I couldn't quite understand why she included stories people tell her when asking for autographs. I think I know what she was going for...explaining how odd fame was, and shilling an autograph for cash from people who think they know you because they love the character you played decades before. But it fell short for me. The core of the story was good though. And it was a period she hadn't covered in previous memoirs. But I think it would've made a great couple chapters in a bigger book...or a news/blog/magazine article. There just wasn't enough to make the small book incredibly compelling.

But I still love Carrie Fisher. I will still read her tweets...and her books. I will watch her "comedy" specials. And I can't wait to see her on the big screen again. I cheered when I found out she was returning to the Star Wars movies!! So if you are a fan, like I am, you will probably enjoy this. But maybe check it out from the library...or listen to the audiobook, which is narrated by her and her daughter. I think listening to it with their voices would probably be incredibly enjoyable.

So, do you like Star Wars? Do you like Carrie Fisher? Did you like Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?? Let me know in the comments, or over on my Facebook page.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bookish Goodies Vol. 3

The Lord of the Rings Edition!

*this post uses affiliate links, for more info visit my review policy tab

Okay folks, this Bookish Goodies guide is going to show off my nerdier side. My family are HUGE fans of The Lord of the Rings...and basically anything by J.R.R. Tolkien. My son requested I do a few Lord of the Rings posts, as he and his sister are currently going through a LOTR "phase" again. This just means that my television is playing a nonstop loop of commentary, special features and movies at the moment. So, with my current gift giving ideas in mind, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite Lord of the Rings items found on Etsy!

Engraved Door Hanger 
I love the idea of this door hanger from AllyBoosCreations for $18.95. This is an easy gift in my opinion, one that any LOTR fan would enjoy...and friendly to your pocket book! I have seen a few others that were a little more complicated, but cost a whole lot more. This would look great with a "No Admittance Except on Party Business" Doormat.

Leather Passport Cover
I absolutely adore this passport cover from CurtisMatsko for $24+. It is the perfect reminder to travel, travel and travel some more. This is a great unisex gift for the world traveler in your family, and the quote is one of my favorites.

Lord of the Rings Posters
I have seen many posters and art prints dedicated to LOTR, but I think this is one from HarknettPrints for  $10.24+ is my favorite set. These would look awesome in a media room and they don't look too "movie poster" like. Framed I think they would actually look pretty classy!

Lord of the Rings Mug
I resisted the urge to choose the coffee mug saying "Was your ass forged by Sauron because it sure looks precious" and instead decided to go a bit classier with this one from ArtsPrint for $10.32+. I think this is a beautiful coffee mug, and it would look amazing sitting on your desk at work. A way of showing your LOTR allegiance without looking too low brow.

Lord of the Rings 2017 Calendar
My son is a HUGE fan of maps, and this calendar from QuantumPrints for $8.96+ merges the need for a calendar with the art of a Middle Earth map. The art work is just amazing.

Lord of the Rings Coaster Set
There are coasters, and then there are miniature pieces of art in coaster form. This set from JamestheFish for $20 is definitely Art. From the Tree of Gondor to the inscription on the One Ring, these are almost too pretty to place drinks on!

Lord of the Rings Art Print
I have what can best be described as a "thing" for art printed on the pages of books and sheet music. This piece from AmourPrints for $10 merges the music from Howard Shore's Concerning Hobbits with beautiful Rivendell artwork. I think it's just gorgeous.

Lord of the Rings Phone Case
This phone case from KayPopArt for $30.36 is a conversation piece. If I could live in any area of Middle Earth it would be Hobbiton (these are the sort of conversations I have with my kids at home). I would greatly enjoy a hobbit hole! The case is adorned with book pages and beautiful art, and what better way to show your personality than an incredibly cool phone case!

Lord of the Rings Watercolor Print
This is my other favorite style of art found on Etsy. From GenefyPrints for $9.86+ you can get this beautiful art piece of The Fellowship. This brightly colored print would look terrific in a kids room or an office. (I think it would look great perched on a book case filled with Tolkien books and Funko Pop dolls personally).

Lord of the Rings T-Shirt
I have already bought my son a few LOTR t-shirts, and this one from CoryFreemanDesign for $18+ would make a terrific addition to his collection. I think he has one with the Tree of Gondor on it, and another Prancing Pony beer shirt I believe. The artwork on this Entmoot Maple Mead shirt is incredible.

And one extra item just for the mommies and daddies!!

Lord of the Rings Bib
This baby bib from KayNoel for $7 is a must have for little Tolkien fans. Mommies and Daddies...Grandmas and Granpas...this is such a cute bib for your little ones! And what little cutie doesn't love Second Breakfast?

So there you have buying guide of gifts for the Lord of the Rings fan in your life. It was very hard to narrow my list down to 11. If you were to look at my Etsy wishlist you would see tons more! Are you a fan of Tolkien's work? Are you a fan of the movies by Peter Jackson? I'd love to hear your thoughts either in the comments here or over on my Facebook page!