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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Friday, February 8, 2019

6 comments


Book Review

BOOK REVIEW

Release Date: August 14, 2012
Genre: Fiction/Humor
330 Pages
Published by Little, Brown and Company
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating



BOOK BLURB

Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces--which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades.

Where'd You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter's love for her mother.

MY THOUGHTS

Captivating and whip-smart!
A remarkably funny novel with a clever mixture of cultural jabs, social inadequacy and over-the-top private school politics. 

Even the writing style here is unconventional, in the form of e-mails, letters, FBI classified documents and a famous TED Talk.  I have to confess that at first I thought this style would be boring and I’d lose interest, but, Semple manages to weave all this information together, while keeping it funny and adding one tumultuous event after another.

The story is told by Bee, as she tries to piece together the puzzle that her mom has left behind.  Her dad is an Executive at Microsoft and works crazy hours.  Bee and Bernadette have a loving relationship.  What people see in Bernadette as inclusive and anti-social, Bee thinks it’s normal.  When Bernadette disappears, Bee decides to find her at all costs.

I liked Bee. She was my favorite character.  A sassy, smart teenager that actually understood her mom, even with all the eccentric/weird acts.

I also found it fascinating how the author was able to give us a few characters that started one way (one sympathetic/another hateful) and then changed completely throughout the book.  Some might say that’s not realistic but I think that in reality, people change their opinions and minds all the time, so the fact that a few of the characters here changed, made the book more relatable to me.

Bee’s obsession with Antarctica was also cute and eccentric in her own way (she is her mother’s daughter after all).

But who is Bernadette and why did she disappear?
…You’ll need to read the book to find out. The movie comes out in March, so hurry up!

Oh, and after you read it, let me know if you’re a Subaru or a Mercedes…
🚗

“People like you must create. If you don't create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.”

“I can pinpoint that as the single happiest moment of my life, because I realized then that Mom would always have my back.
It made me feel giant. I raced back down the concrete ramp, faster than I ever had before, so fast I should have fallen, but I didn't fall, because Mom was in the world.”



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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Monday, February 4, 2019

8 comments

Book Review

Release Date: First published in November, 1939
Genre: Mystery
300 Pages (paperback)
Published by Harper Collins
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating

BOOK BLURB:

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

One of the most famous and beloved mysteries from the queen of suspense, Agatha Christie!  More than 100 million copies sold and now a Lifetime TV movie.

"Ten . . ."
Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious "U.N. Owen."

"Nine . . ."
At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.

"Eight . . ."
Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one . . . one by one they begin to die.

"Seven . . ."
Who among them is the killer and will any of them survive?


MY THOUGHTS:

An invitation.  A nursery rhyme.  10 Strangers with nothing in common, except...

My first Christie's novel and now I understand why she is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling fiction writer!

Anyway, remember playing the game Clue? Well, this book starts a bit like that, where the reader tries to figure out whodunit from the little bits and pieces the author provides us with.

The plot is suspenseful, easy to follow, yet, it's neither graphic nor bloody, so it's safe to say it won't give you nightmares. It's also clever and a quick read.  The more you learn about each of the 10 strangers, the more you think that the murderer could be any one of them.   

And the ending made me consider the possibility of re-reading it...maybe I missed a few clues?

Can't wait for my #SOMAbookclub discussion this month, but first, I will watch the BBC miniseries!




"One of us in this very room is in fact the murderer". - Agatha Christie
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January Reading Wrap Up

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

11 comments

Trendy Simple Life


Holy Cakes!
January was an extremely busy month for me, but somehow I’ve managed to log in 7 books!
What a FANTASTIC way to start the year!

Surprisingly, instead of feeling sorry for myself that I was so busy and could barely squeeze an hour here and there to read, I took an entire different approach to the matter and found blocks of time to listen to audiobooks 🎧 which worked out perfectly!
Grocery Shopping? No problem.
Daily walk? Got it.
Driving to work? Yup.
Sitting in the car waiting to pick up my child from sports practice? Turn on the bluetooth!

5 audiobooks + 2 books later = a very successful January 💙

Here's what I read and/or listen to:

📘THE WICKED KING by Holly Black - 5/5 (click on the title for my full review)

🎧ONE DAY IN DECEMBER by Josie Silver - 5/5 (click on the title for my full review)

🎧 CLOCKWORK PRINCE by Cassandra Clare (book 2 of The Infernal Devices) - 5/5
I just LOVED this book so much and I was actually sad when it ended. I don't know why it took me so many years to discover Cassandra Clare's books and this one truly won me over. The story was fast-paced, we got to learn a lot more about the characters since the first book and the suspense meter was a nice touch.
BTW, the narrators did an incredible job with this book and made me weep listening to Will's voice in the last chapter 😢

🎧 CLOCKWORK PRINCESS by Cassandra Clare (book 3 of The Infernal Devices) - 5/5
       Let me start by stating the following: Clockwork Princess was the BEST series finale I have ever read!  I cried multiple times during the last chapters, and I was equally happy with how the trilogy came to an end.  I would've rated 10 if I could...
By the angel, this was perfection! Clare pulled it all together. Tied every loose string and made me cry.
Just like Tessa, I felt in love with both Will and Jem. How could we not? This was not your usual love triangle. This was a beautifully crafted tale of love+friendship+respect. A masterpiece.
I does help that the writing is easy to follow and the characters developed seamlessly. The added sarcasm is a gift also. I have to admit that I didn't expect to love this trilogy so much and to actually be quoting pieces of the books to my family (they don't get it anyway)...
And the fact that all 3 books are already out there, I didn't have to wait to devour one after the other. Another extra perk :-)



📘THE WOMAN INSIDE by E.G. Scott - 4/5 (click on the title for my full review)

🎧TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT by Maria Semple - 3/5
     This book was a 3.5 up until the middle of it, and then it became a 3 for the second half, so I adjusted my rating to 3.
I know a lot of readers compared this book with the author's other book, about Bernadette Fox, but I'm actually glad I didn't read that one yet...
The entire book takes place in one day and Eleanor starts the day with the best intentions of improving herself.
The first half of the book was hilarious. I laughed out lout a few times with Eleanor's descriptions of her life after motherhood, being a woman in her late forties, with possible depression, lack of self-steem and nonexistent sex life. Her interaction with a group of younger/fit/well-dressed moms at the school her son goes to, reminded of the movie "A Bad Moms Christmas", so for the first the most part, it was a fast and funny read.
But then, the chaotic events become more difficult to follow, and we jumped back to her past, which should have helped us understand her family turmoil but it took too long and was way too convoluted.
I didn't appreciate the ending either. It felt like an unrealistic mid-life crisis.

🎧UNCOMMON TYPE: SOME STORIES by Tom Hanks - 3/5
     I really wanted to love this but although it was enjoyable, I didn't love it. Maybe it's me and I just don't like short stories...

📌
And that, folks, is my official wrap up!  Did you read any of these books?  What's the favorite book you've read in January?

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The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott

Monday, January 21, 2019

14 comments


BOOK REVIEW: The Woman Inside by E.G. Scott

Release Date: January 22, 2019
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
335 Pages
Published by Dutton
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating

BOOK BLURB:
Rebecca and Paul have been married for nearly twenty years.  A marriage rooted as much in love as shared trauma from dark pasts, their pain drew them together with an irresistible magnetism.  But now, Paul and Rebecca are drowning as the trauma and secrets that ignited their love begin to consume them.  Paul's professional life has taken a major hit, leaving him feeling inadequate, something he remedies by having an affair with an attractive neighbor.  But things get messy, and fast.  Rebecca, on the other hand, appears to be killing at work.  That is, until her boss lets her go as her growing dependency on the opiates she sells for a living becomes a liability to the company.  In a panic, Rebecca turns to their joint life savings only to discover the account has been completely wiped out. She begins investigating Paul and discovers his plan to build a new life without her.  As she spirals deeper into the throes of addiction, she devises a devious plot of her own.

What follows is an unpredictable game of cat-and-mouse as the lies and tension between Paul and Rebecca mount.  Is anyone telling the truth?  Can their marriage be saved?  And, just who is the woman inside?


ABOUT E.G. SCOTT:
E.G. Scott is a is a pseudonym for two writers, who have been friends for over twenty-years, and have been writing plays, screenplays, and short stories separately since they were kids. They've collaborated on multiple projects from the beginning of their friendship, but The Woman Inside is their first published work together. This book came out of their shared love of thrillers and noir and wanting to collaborate on a novel for a long time. They are currently working on their next thriller.

MY THOUGHTS:
I don't usually reach for thrillers, but The Woman Inside surprised me.  I could not put this book down.  High on the suspense meter.  A true page-turner.

The story takes place in Long Island, NY.

Paul and Rebecca, the main characters, are very far from being a "perfect couple".  As a matter of fact, it's kind of hard to believe they've been married almost 20 years (although I could say the same for some real life couples)...
Paul is a player, used to get what he wants, but when his business takes a turn for the worst, he can't cope with being unemployed.
Rebecca has the perfect job at a pharmaceutical company. Perfect for her, who is addicted to the drugs she sells.  Not so perfect when she finally loses her job.
That's when everything starts getting out of control.  Told in "before" and "after" timelines, we are able to slowly see the road these characters took to become who they are: unreliable, cheating, addicted selves.

There are so many unpredictable twists, so many secrets,  that, at some point I was really lost in their web of deceit.

But there are 2 extra characters that I need to mention, because they made me laugh, which added some very needed balance after some of the thrilling scenes: Wolcott and Silvestri, the 2 cops investigating the neighbor's disappearance.  These 2 characters played out so well in this story and made it more realistic.

From the get-go you know there's going to be a murder, but you don't know who will murder who.  It's how we get there that makes this story so addictive to read.  Oh, and the final twist was SO rewarding!

The Woman Inside was already picked up for a major TV series, and I can't wait to watch how the book-to-TV adaptation will play out!

Overall, this is a remarkable book.
My recommendation?
Read it before the TV show comes out!


Note:
I received a copy of the book from Kathleen Carter Communications in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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The Wicked King by Holly Black

Monday, January 14, 2019

13 comments


BOOK REVIEW: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Release Date: January 8th, 2019
Genre: Fantasy
336 pages
Published by Little Brown for Young Readers
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My Goodreads rating


BOOK BLURB:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.


MY THOUGHTS:



Well, well, well.
The wait was finally over and I couldn't wait to get my hands on The Wicked King. 
I was not disappointed. This book surpasses The Cruel Prince (and I didn't think that was even possible).

Holly Black is a master story weaver. Nothing in this book is cookie cutter.  When you think you're into what's going on, she takes you out for a spin! There were times that I hated Jude, then I hated Cardan. Next chapter I loved both of them. I never felt a love/hate feeling so strongly towards the characters in a book such as this and without even going into everything else, I'm rating it 5 stars.

We go thru the stages of seeing Jude recognize the power of her current state in the High Court. Being the "King Maker". She enjoys it, even though it's supposed to last only 1 year and 1 day. There are more secrets now than before and Jude can trust no one.

Cardan, oh Cardan. What do I say about you? Who are you? You're up to your old tricks but did I sense something else behind those dark eyes? Do you even have a heart? Are you able to love? 

"Go against me, and I'll show you what this boy would do."

Faerie can't lie but they can twist their words in a special way that makes the reader's mind spin. There are enemies everywhere. The amount of political intrigue and attention to detail is phenomenal. It's clear that the first book was setting the stage for the twists, plotting and betrayals of this one. Oh, and the last pages, I didn't know what hit me. I had to re-read them to believe them. I can't go into details because everything is a spoiler here but since nothing is what it seems in the land of Elfhame, I'm pretty sure the biggest surprise/twist is yet to come.

THAT's how good this book was. 

My sixth sense tells me that the grand finale on the third book will end with a bang.
I have so many questions and I can't believe that now I have to wait another year :-(


One advice that comes to mind is:
I feel sorry for any enemy (mortal or immortal) of Holly Black!
Think about it. She is able to orchestrate the plots, twists and evil strategies behind this book...I don't want to think what she can do to an annoying neighbor...or critic...or fan.... 
Just saying :-)


“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder.
Someone gives you a harsh look, murder.
Someone disrespects you, murder.
Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”
― Holly Black, The Wicked King
 
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10 Ways to Find Inspiration When You Feel Stuck

Sunday, January 13, 2019

14 comments

 Katie Jenison



GUEST POST by Katie Jenison



Have you ever felt like you were on a roll with your side hustle, online business, or blog, only to have it come to a screeching halt? One minute, you’re totally rocking task after task and feeling like you’re on top of the world. The next thing you know, you’re hit with a creative block and no matter what you do, you feel stuck and unsure of how to overcome it.

When you stop feeling inspired, you may find yourself in a creative funk that can be hard to shake off. While it feels awful, the truth is everyone loses their inspiration at some point. The good news? Getting caught in a creative rut is only temporary. Here are ten ways to find inspiration when you’re feeling stuck.

Power Through It


There will be times when the fear of starting a new project can hold you back from starting at all. When that happens, it’s easy to confuse a lack of inspiration with procrastination. In order to truly identify whether the culprit is procrastination or a lack of inspiration, you need to make an attempt to work through it.

This is where the Pomodoro Technique comes in handy. Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on solely on the project you’ve been putting off until the 25 minutes is up. If the time seems to fly by, you probably just needed to make yourself sit down and really focus. On the other hand, if the time seemed to drag on without accomplishing anything, there’s a good chance you’re in a creative rut and need to explore other options for finding inspiration.

Listen to a Podcast


Podcasts have grown in popularity and for good reason. They’re easy to listen to while multitasking and they can be a source of inspiration when you’re feeling stuck. These days, there’s no shortage of podcasts for creative entrepreneurs, so finding one that resonates with you should be easy enough. Try looking for a podcast that features interviews with other creative entrepreneurs like Jenna Kutcher’s The Goal Digger Podcast or Rachel Hollis’, RISE podcast. Hearing inspirational stories from those who have grown a successful business can help to get your creative juices flowing again.

Chat with Someone


If you’re having more conversations with your cat than with real people, it might be time to take a break and interact with the outside world. Meet up with a friend for coffee, join a mastermind group, or connect with a coach or mentor. Regardless of who you chat with, taking the time to foster personal connections can do wonders with shaking off the loneliness that can accompany hustling 24/7. Talking with someone, especially someone outside of your business, can give you a brand-new perspective and inspire a project or idea you may not have thought of otherwise.

Read


When you find inspiration lacking, reading can give you the motivation you need. Sit down with good, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic or use Pinterest to find interesting blog posts to read. Whatever you choose to read, checking out other people’s work can give you the kick in the butt you need and can leave you feeling inspired.

Get a Change of Scenery


Spending most of your time holed up at home working can start to feel monotonous and have a negative impact on your creativity. When that happens, a change of scenery is in order. For some, this may mean taking a walk around the neighborhood and enjoying the fresh air, but others may prefer to pack up their laptop and work out of their favorite coffee shop for the day. Either way, mixing up your daily routine can give you a fresh perspective and help you find inspiration in your new surroundings.

Journal


Try boosting your creativity through journal writing. Carving out five minutes of your day to put pen to paper is a great way to find inspiration when you’re feeling stuck. You don’t need a plan going in, either. Just start writing and see where your thoughts lead you. Taking the time to sit by yourself and write whatever comes to mind can be helpful in identifying the blocks in your inspiration and help you overcome them.

Review Your Goals


Remembering what inspired you in the first place can help you get back on track, so take some time to review your goals. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and what you can do to bring yourself closer to accomplishing your goals.

Struggling to remember your why? Don’t let it stress you out. As time goes on and both you and your business grow, your why may shift. Over time, may find yourself out of alignment you’re your original goals, which might be why you feel uninspired. If that happens, revise your goals to reflect the new direction you see yourself and your business heading in.

Collaborate with Someone


Another great way to find inspiration when you’re feeling stuck is to collaborate with a fellow creative entrepreneur on a new project. Why? Creativity is contagious! Spending time brainstorming and bouncing ideas off another person can help bring back the excitement that’s gone missing. Whether working on a small project like starting a Facebook group or launching a Podcast, your creativity is sure to start flowing again.

Change Your Mindset


Your thoughts can either have a positive or negative impact on your life. As Jen Sincero says, “Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our realities.”

Identify the negative thoughts holding you back and work on shifting your focus. Dig deep and ask yourself why you feel the way you do and turn it around. For example, instead of telling yourself no one cares what you have to say, recognize if what you have to say connects with even one person, your story is worth telling. Changing your mindset can have a profound impact on not only your creativity but on how you live your life.

Rest


As hardworking creatives, we’re prone to burnout. If you’re feeling uninspired, unfocused, or stuck in a rut, you might just need to take a step back and let yourself rest. Take some time for yourself and do something you enjoy. Whether that’s taking a day to recoup by bumming around in your pajamas all day or just catching up on sleep, it’s important to practice self-care. No matter how you choose to unwind, remember to let yourself enjoy it without feeling guilty. Sometimes we just need a little R&R to come back feeling better than before.

-------

Author Bio


Katie Jenison is a freelance writer and blogger from a small town in North Dakota. She started her freelance writing business in 2017 after graduating from North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s degree in English Studies and has since quit her job to freelance full-time. In 2018 she launched her blog, The Quiet Type, where she gives readers tips and advice on freelance writing, blogging, and creative entrepreneurship. Download her workbook, A Freelancer’s Guide to Setting Rates, here.

Blog - www.thequiettypeblog.com
Business Site - www.katiejenison.com

Social Media


Instagram - www.instagram.com/kjenisonwrites
Facebook - www.facebook.com/thequiettype
Pinterest - www.pinterest.com/kjenisonwrites
LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/katiejenison

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One Day in December by Josie Silver

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

16 comments

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Release Date: October 16, 2018
Genre: Romance, Fiction
10 1/2 hours
Published by Penguin Random Audio House Publishing Group
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My Goodreads rating

BOOK BLURB:

A love story about what happens after you meet, or rather, don't meet the one.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

MY THOUGHTS:

LOVED IT!

This book was an incredible, addictive, romantic story. One that will make you laugh, cry and believe in love & friendship all over again.

I fell in love with the characters, the story, the relationships, and the voices...oh the narrators were really perfect here!  I'm not kidding, the audiobook was phenomenal!

Even though I don't usually read romances, this book felt so realistic, with the characters starting out their adult lives, trying to put a footprint on the earth.  Laurie was looking for her dream job and Jack showed up at a bus stop.  They looked at each other but Laurie's bus took off.  So did their lives.  Took off in different directions I mean, but there was always that feeling of "what if"...

Every new year Laurie writes down her resolutions and that's another very realistic fact.  One that we can all relate to.  The story spans over 10 years and we grow to love these characters as if they were our best friends!

This book grabbed my heart and I couldn't stop listening to the story, but when it ended, even though I had tears in my eyes, I wished it hadn't.

Beautiful. Compelling.  A Holiday book (or not).  Just the kind of book you should give to your best friend.


“You tread lightly through life, but you leave deep footprints that are hard for other people to fill.”
― Josie Silver, One Day in December


“I know how painful it can be letting someone you think you love go, but that I don’t believe there’s only one person in the world for each of us. It’s too fanciful, too limiting.”
― Josie Silver, One Day in December


🎧
Thank you Penguin Random Audio House Publishing Group - @prhaudio for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

I loved this book SO much that I created a #playlist to listen and remember it 🎧




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