March Reads

This was a slow reading month for me as I only read five books.  Two of them were professional reads for work, so I’m not including the review for those in my post.

The Princess Diarist

I grew up during the Star Wars generation.  Carrie Fisher may have been every guys dream princess, but for us young girls she was our hero.  She proved to the world that women could play strong characters in a man’s movie world.  With her sad passing, I was interested to read her books.  This is the second one I have read and it wasn’t my favorite.  I enjoyed reading the behind the scenes narration about life on the set of Star Wars.  I didn’t know til her passing that she had an affair with Harrison Ford so that felt like juicy gossip.  The warm relationship between the characters of this movie was evident when reading this book.  Their friendships lasted decades and it was truly touching to hear of the bonds.  This book felt like my last connection to the movie and the characters so I did savor reading it.  When reading Carrie’s books, you are treated to her sarcasm and wit.  Unfortunately, you also get a window, I feel, into her mental illness.  Must read for all Star Wars fans, but for others it may not be of interest.  I loved the narrative more than the actual diary entries.

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense

If you are a suspense junkie, then this book is for you.  Julie is kidnapped from her home and the only witness to the crime is her sister.  Years go by without a trace of Julie and the effects of this on her family are played out in the book.  The relationships are damaged, with her sister bearing the brunt, as her relationship with her mother have been forever altered.

Then suddenly, one day Julie rings the bell and returns home.  Her family is thrilled to have her back, but doubts begin to surface as to who she really is.  Did they just accept her wanting their daughter back?  Is it really Julie?  Would you be willing to lose your child all over again, or just accept what could be?  This novel is fast paced and suspenseful as you are pondering the fate of Julie throughout.  The past is told in snippets until the thrilling conclusion. Quick, one night read for me.

The Two-Family House: A Novel

I love multigenerational novels with strong characters.  The emotional sagas pull you in and tug at your heart as you follow the life of the novel’s families.  This one will not disappoint those who love this genre.  The strong narrative grabs you from the first page and pulls you right in.

The foreshadowing of the main event to come made it pretty obvious to me where we were heading, but that didn’t bother me as this is not a novel of suspense.  Rather, it’s a novel of emotional drama, a saga that will tug at your heart.  I highly recommend this one as well.  It was not a one night read though as I wanted to savor the book and not let it end.  My first read by this author and one that made the Popsugar’s 6 Books You Must Read list.

If you love family drama that spans generations, this book is for you.  If you are opposed to predictable plots then maybe not.  Considering the favorable reviews are strong and it’s made the 14 Most Buzzed About Books list, I think I’m in the majority on this one when I say – read it!

Hoping to have a better reading month in April.  I have a week off this month so I’m stocking up my Kindle now.  What have you been reading?  Please share some great titles with me as I’m always looking for new reads.

 

February Reads

February was such a short month for reading.  This month, I was craving some suspenseful reads.  I’m not a fan of television and needed some beautiful distraction from the craziness of the world.   I found some gripping thrillers that kept my mind busy and kept me up late many nights.  All of these books were 5 star rated on Goodreads and appeared on many of the must read book lists.  If thrillers are your thing, I believe you’ll find something here that you’ll like.  I enjoyed each of them and highly recommend you check them out.


The Marriage Lie: A Bestselling Novel of Domestic Suspense

Imagine if your husband of seven years, who you are still madly in love with, flies off for a business trip to Florida.  Next thing you know you receive a call from the airlines that he was a passenger on a plane headed for Seattle that has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board.  This is the premise of this fast paced book.

Iris and Will are happily married when her world is shaken to its core.  Iris refuses to believe Will is dead, or for that fact that he was even on that plane.  The book follows her on her quest to find out the truth about what happened.  She learns more than she bargained for about her seemingly perfect husband.  All in all a quick, enjoyable read.


Little Girl Lost: A gripping thriller that will have you hooked (Di Robin Carter)

Abigail seemingly has the perfect life.  Handsome, devoted husband and beautiful baby Izzy.  Suddenly, she starts feeling like something is off in her world.  She starts suspecting she’s losing her mind and someone is trying to kidnap her daughter.  She receives threatening texts and begins to doubt her life is as perfect as she once thought.  Unfortunately, she is hiding a dark past from her husband so she has nowhere to turn for help.

The plot of this book is told in alternating chapters centered around an investigator, DI Robyn Carter, trying to solve the murder of an actor and find a missing teacher.  The narrator of the other chapters is setting the back story for us of a little girl abused.  You wonder if she is Abigail as you try to connect these story lines.

DI Robyn Carter starts to delve deeper and her investigations into both cases lead her back to Abigail.  Robyn’s instincts tell her there’s a connection between these deaths.   This was a fast paced read.  Every time I thought I had it solved it took another twist.  Very enjoyable read.


This Is Not Over: A Novel

When 30-year old Dawn returns from her Getaway.com booked vacation, she fails to receive her deposit back.  She contacts the homeowner to inquire when it will arrive and receives word it should be coming shortly.  Then she gets another email that tells her she will get her deposit back, minus $200 to replace the stained sheets.  Dawn is insulted and angry at what she perceives as dishonest practices.  She contacts Miranda, the homeowner, about this deduction and soon the two are locked in a battle of wills.

The emails between the two women set the stage for the alternating chapters.  I loved this book.   The backstory of each women really carried me through quickly.  Each of these women had secrets they were keeping and real deep rooted reasons for their actions.  They continue to battle right up until the end.  Be prepared to read this in one setting and be totally surprised that it’s about more than just the back and forth between these two stubborn women.


Blink: A psychological thriller with a killer twist you’ll never forget

Three years ago, Toni’s five year old daughter went missing.  She has never been found and  seems to have vanished without a trace.  The book opens with a stroke victim lying in the hospital trapped inside her body.  Everyone thinks she is brain dead and plans are being made to pull the plug.  But this woman is very much alive.  As she struggles to let them know she is alive, we are taken back in time to the days before Evie’s abduction.

We soon learn that Toni was struggling with drug addiction following the death of her husband in Afghanistan.  As we begin to piece together the story of the past, we realize that Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence and her only chance to save herself is to find a way to make herself heard.  She must find Evie.

This one has a nice twist toward the end that I didn’t see coming.  I was pretty shocked by it and realized after that the clues were there.  A thriller that kept me turning the pages until I was finished.  A one day read that is perfect for fans of thrillers.

I wonder what genre I’ll be binge reading in March.  I love my psychological thrillers, but maybe it’s time for some historical fiction.  So many books, so little time!  Enjoy and if you read any of these titles I’d love to hear what you thought.

 

January Reads

I loved this book so much.  I’m always hesitant to read dog books because in the end they usually die.  It is for this dog lover the worst part.  Loving a dog brings such joy and happiness. Losing a dog brings such sadness and heartache.   I wish they’d stay longer.

I heard about this book recently and that a movie was being made.  Figured I’d read it before then and boy am I glad I did.  The narration of this book was brilliant.  I was totally connected to the story from the start.  I even managed to get through the sad parts and there were many.

I found some hope here in these pages about dogs.  I know all of mine have had wonderful experiences and love.  It is my hope they feel my gratitude for all they have given me.

Recently, there was disturbing footage about the filming of this movie.  I’m outraged that it happened and will NEVER see the movie. I hope Mr Cameron speaks out about the mistreatment of dogs, as I know he is a dog lover.  You’d have to be to create this book. To allow this to happen and remain silent tarnishes your book.

It is also my hope that people do not boycott the book.  It is a gem that is meant to be read.  Avoid the movie, but please do read the book. It’s with every minute of your time.

I love anything Colleen Hoover writes. She is the master of creating couples, relationships, sexual tension and angst.  This one is no exception.  Lily and Ryle’s story creates the backdrop to a personal journey for Hoover.  Why do people stay in toxic relationships? And how easy is it to judge them.  Hoover perfectly captures this struggle in an unexpected, but powerful story.  Loved it!

A great read for all who are stuck in a never ending diet loop.  Always searching for the next plan and fix? This book will tell you in simple language why you are stuck in this never ending quest.  Endlessly plunking down money on the next fad but never quite conquering the issue.  Easy to read and truly common sense when you think about it.

We lost a great talent this past December.  During the coverage of her passing, I was reminded that Carrie was an author.  I knew this, but had never read her books.  I went on Amazon to check them out and picked up a few.

I was so pleasantly surprised when I read this book.  Carrie’s wit and honesty carried the book.  It also, I feel revealed her struggle.  Mingled in those words was hints of her mental struggles.  This book will touch your heart and also make you laugh out loud.

I forgot about this series that I had started.  I hate series because I hate waiting for the sequels to come out.  The conclusion, though I’d venture to say there will be a book 3, was as riveting as the first book Into the Light (The Light Series).   The series is a bit disturbing as you realize this cult brainwashing can and does happen.  Overall though, it’s a work of fiction that will keep you up late turning pages.  Aren’t those the best types!

My goal for 2017 on Goodreads is 85 books.   With titles like these, I’ll have NO trouble at all.   Happy reading!

 

 

A Homemade Life

Reclaiming My Health

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table

I’m an avid reader who also loves to cook.   It started when I had my first apartment right out of high school.   There I was at age 18 living in my own and eating cake for dinner.  I remember calling my mother from work and asking her to tell me some recipes for the food I had grown up on.   I typed them on index cards as she recited them  and began experimenting with cooking.

Fast forward to my life as a newly married young mother.  I still relied on those trusted index cards, but I began experimenting a bit.   Unfortunately, my kids like me, didn’t like too much variety and even less vegetables than I did.   It became easier to fry up some cutlets and make some macaroni and cheese.

Sunday dinners were different…

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Dinner a Love Story

Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table

I’ve been reading a lot for work lately. This weekend I set aside time for some personal reading, but it wasn’t a psychological thriller that called to me.   Rather, it was a beautiful cookbook.

A cookbook you might say.  Who really reads a cookbook?   After all aren’t they really meant to be used to cook?  And, you don’t normally sit down to read a cookbook like a novel.  Usually, you get in, skim through and pick out what you want to cook.

Enter, Dinner a Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach.  I have sat here the better part of the day totally engrossed in this book.  I have read every page and feel as if I’ve experienced a story.  This book is not your average cookbook.   There are no lectures on healthy eating and no lists of foods to avoid.  There are no claims to have dinner on your table in less than 30 minutes, or that your kids will love it.  In place of that we have a beautiful story, a journey through life with food as the backdrop.  Heck, I even think you have something here that can and should be made into a movie.

We travel through this book by traveling through Jenny’s life stages from newly married to motherhood.  She centers her stories around her dinner table and the meals she and her husband Andy prepared.  There’s narrative and recipes intertwined throughout the book.

The recipes are not complicated and don’t require exotic ingredients.  Rather, like Grandma Turano’s meatballs, there are meals most will have success with.  And they are delicious.

If you are looking for an enjoyable read with the bonus of delicious recipes, this is your book.  The book is beautiful and will have a favorite spot in my cookbook collection.  I have a feeling it will soon be a fan favorite around here.

What a great gift for any cook in your life.  And, what a gift to put the family dinner back at the forefront of your day.

Run Fast Eat Slow

Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes

I heard about this book through my running group before the Olympics started.  I’d never heard of Shalane Flanagan, but the premise of this book spoke to me.  Who doesn’t want to run fast and lord knows I need to learn how to eat slow.

Eating slow in this book doesn’t meant put your fork down between bites. Gosh that’s so boring and unrealistic, at least for me.  Eating slow, rather means sitting down at a table, preferably with those you love and eating a home cooked vs fast food meal.  Well amen to that.  I am a huge fan of home cooking and thankfully love to cook.  The biggest obstacle for me is time.  Thankfully the recipes in this book are simple, quick, delicious and healthy.  Sounds like a winning combination and it truly is.

Elyse and Shalane are both runners with Shalane running on the Olympic stage.  It was so exciting for me to watch her in Rio.  They were college friends who both went on to work for Nike.  This book is their first collaboration.  It’s really not just for runners, but if you are one it may boost your energy and fueling habits.

The book has sections for breakfast, snacks, salads, dinner and various other recipes.   It’s definitely clean eating at its best.  It is so important for me to have total control over what goes in my mouth.  Today I made a batch of granola to store for use in my morning Greek yogurt.  Absolutely no sugar or additives needed.  For dinner last night I had chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta.  After today’s workout a beet and blueberry smoothie.  All delicious and simple.

If you’re at all interested Amazon is currently running a Kindle special of 3.99. A total steal.

Sum it Up

LAURA'S BOOK BLOG

Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective

I remember when Pat Summitt was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers disease and had to step down from coaching at Tennessee.  I remember being saddened that such a young, vibrant woman had to face this cruel disease.  Then, life went on and I didn’t think much about her anymore.  Recently, I was saddened to read that Pat had passed away.  Her battle with Alzheimer’s was brief.  She was diagnosed in 2011 and passed in 2016.  I truly had hoped she’d fight this disease as she fought so many worthy opponents on the basketball court.  But, as anyone who is familiar with this disease, it doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t lose.  With Pat’s recent passing, I decided to read her book, Sum it Up.

This book is incredible.  It is a memoir that…

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Sum it Up

Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective

I remember when Pat Summitt was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers disease and had to step down from coaching at Tennessee.  I remember being saddened that such a young, vibrant woman had to face this cruel disease.  Then, life went on and I didn’t think much about her anymore.  Recently, I was saddened to read that Pat had passed away.  Her battle with Alzheimer’s was brief.  She was diagnosed in 2011 and passed in 2016.  I truly had hoped she’d fight this disease as she fought so many worthy opponents on the basketball court.  But, as anyone who is familiar with this disease knows, it doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t lose.  With Pat’s recent passing, I decided to read her book, Sum it Up.

This book is incredible.  It is a memoir that Pat worked on shortly after retirement perhaps to capture her memories.  We all knew what an incredible woman she was, but I had no idea what her life was all about.  Pat tells of her demanding, poor, farm upbringing with a demanding and often distant father.  It wasn’t until Pat was 43 that she got a hug and an I love you from her father.  Something she worked for her whole life, but something which also shaped the coach she became.

This book was well worth reading.  What an amazing life this women had.  What humble beginnings she came from and what a triumph her journey was.  There are so many lessons to be learned from Pat, the ultimate teacher.  She really at heart was a gifted teacher.  There are so many passages I’ve underlined and will use in my life.  She truly captured what I believe about education in this quote:

“My demandingness was based in a fundamental sense that every kid had potential greatness in her–and they understood that, because I made it clear to them.  I’d learned the single most important principle of teaching:they don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.” Pat Summitt

In the beginning of the book, Pat describes Alzheimer’s and eloquently captures its devastation:

“Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints washed away by the surf?  That’s what Alzheimer’s is like.  The waves steadily erase the marks we leave in the sand, all the sand castles.  Some days are better that others – the waves come in and they recede, bringing a fog with them that sometimes clears.” Pat Summitt

I highly recommend everyone, even non basketball lovers like me, read her memoir.  If that’s not something you want to do, then instead make a donation to fight this incurable disease.  I made my donation in Pat’s honor through her foundation at:

http://www.patsummitt.org

 

 

 

 

 

Second Chances

Life’s Golden Ticket: A Story About Second Chances

 

BRENDON BURCHARD is one of the most watched, quoted, and followed personal development trainers in the world.   Brendon received his second chance at life after surviving a car accident.  This book has 780 reviews on Amazon and 87% of them are 5 star ratings.  It’s also a New York Times best seller, so it’s obviously worth checking out.

This book is an inspirational parable, a tale that will inspire anyone who has felt that perhaps they’d like a second chance to do things differently.  I’m sure we’ve all at some point in our life thought about how things could have been different, if only…..  Well, what if you were handed a golden ticket that could magically start your life anew?

That question is at the heart of Life’s Golden Ticket. The story opens with a woman who has been missing 40 days and just found critically injured.  In her hospital bed she begs her husband to go to the park she has been to.  She gives him an envelope to bring with him.  The husband goes to this park, an abandoned amusement park in which her younger brother had died many years ago.

The man takes the envelope and embarks on a journey of self discovery.  In order to release himself from the issues in his life, he must face his troubling past.  The past has kept him from fulfilling his dreams and living the life he always wanted.  With each character he meets he must answer difficult questions and face up to his shortcomings.  He learns a lesson from each and begins to take a hard look at himself.

The lessons learned here are universal and can be applied to anyone’s life.  The journey had a magical quality to it.  A very enjoyable read with so many great connections to every day life.  Life is so short it would be wonderful for everyone to live the life they truly want.  This tale of love and redemption is a great frame around the wonderful lessons found in the book.  Definitely worth checking out and a very quick read, yet one you will return to to ponder over once you finish.  Best of all there is a present for all in the back of the book in an envelope.  But do not open it until you read the book!

 

 

Behind Closed Doors

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Behind Closed Doors

Very unusual book.  I wasn’t sold on the plot at first, but it definitely packs a punch and actually is quite disturbing.

Grace takes her sister with Down Syndrome to the park and meets a handsome man. Mr. Perfect is kind and accepting of Millie, something Grace has struggled with in the past.  She is truly smitten and they marry.  Then the nightmare becomes the new norm.

I thought some might find the plot a bit suspect and lacking in reality.  That being said the construction of the character Jack saved the day.   He is as sick and twisted as they come.  He gives you that creepy feeling that sticks with you.

Definitely a book to read this summer.  You’ll be talking about it because you won’t believe how it unravels.  Available for preorder now.

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