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Showing posts from March, 2015

Book Review: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

Eustasia "Taisy" Cleary has spent her life trying to live up to her father, Wilson's, expectations and gain his love. Seventeen years ago, Wilson left Taisy, her mother and her twin brother Marcus to make a new family with Carolina and their daughter Willow. They visited once, for Willow's first birthday, and haven't had contact since. But now Wilson has invited Taisy to visit, befriend her sister and write his memoir.

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos is a wonderful story of family, love and the impact people have on one another, whether they are together or apart. I absolutely loved this story and the characters within it. Their thoughts, feelings and actions are genuine to who they are and what they have been through. Wilson, in particular, has a strong impact on most of the characters and this shows through in how they live their lives and the decisions they make.

The story is told in the alternating voices of Taisy and Willow, who have the same father…

Week in Review & Bloggiesta Recap

My recap of last week is mostly going to feature the work I did during Bloggiesta so this is also my recap of that event. I didn't complete everything on my Spring Bloggiesta To-Do List, but I got a lot done and am feeling great about it!

Updates made
Added search descriptions to old posts Replaced images on some old posts Updated review posts with genre tags and links to related reviews Updated My Reviews page with links to reviews by genre and by authorUpdated Review Policy pageReviews written
September Sky by John A. HeldtThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Reading
I managed to find a little time to read as well. I finished reading The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos. My review will be up tomorrow for the tour. I am now reading Unbecoming: A Novel by Rebecca Scherm.

C read The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 9) by Jeff Kinney. He was happy to finally read this one. M is reading Home: The Chapter Book by Tracey West. We saw the movie on the weeken…

Book Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Bookseller A.J. Fikry is a bit of a curmudgeon, and perhaps he has good reason to be so. Since his loving wife passed away, sales in his bookstore are falling and life isn't so sweet anymore. One night, while he's passed out from drinking too much again, someone steals a rare book that was his safety net for the future. He begins to lose hope until he finds a toddler abandoned in his shop one day. This changes everything.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a wonderful story set in an amazing little setting ~ a small bookstore on an island in New England. This is a novel that is written for book lovers, as books play such an important role in A.J.'s life. I loved the way books influence A.J. and all of the other characters throughout the novel, particularly the police-officer Lambiase, the sales-rep Amelia, and little Maya. Each chapter begins with a brief note from A.J. about a book that he loves. I found this aspect endearing.

The relationships are what…

Book Review: September Sky by John Heldt

When Chuck Townsend and his son Justin head out on a cruise to Mexico in 2016, they are both at a turning point in their lives. Chuck is recently unemployed and Justin has dropped out of college. Both are looking for a new direction in their lives and they find it when they attend a lecture by Professor Bell. Soon they find themselves on an adventure of a lifetime as they travel back in time to 1900.

September Sky by John A. Heldt is a fun, romance-filled time travel novel that follows Chuck and Justin as they experience America of 1900. They spend most of their time trying to save an ancestor from a death sentence for a murder they think he may not have committed. During their travels, they meet many people and learn to acclimate to the culture of the time. They also work on their own relationship and try to figure out what they each want out of the future.

The historical aspects of the story are interesting, particularly the details about the massive hurricane that hit Galveston, Te…

Week in Review

Here we are back for another weekly recap. This week is also Bloggiesta so I'll be spending a lot of time working on some updates to the blog. You can see my full list of to-do items for Bloggiesta here: My Spring Bloggiesta To-Do List. I didn't manage any other posts last week, but hope to catch up with reviews as one of my things to focus on this week.

Reading
I finished reading September Sky by John Heldt, so I plan to write that review this week. Then I started reading The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos.

I'm keeping my recap quick this week so I can focus my time on the updates I want to make during Bloggiesta, and on reading. I'm also spending extra time with the family since my kids have a bit of a spring break this week. They'll be in school a couple days, but have the rest of the week off.

What are you reading this week? It's Monday! is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, so hop over there if you'd like to see what others are reading t…

My Spring Bloggiesta To-Do List

The first week-long Bloggiesta starts tomorrow and I have a long list of things I'm hoping to accomplish during that time.
✔Write outstanding reviews:✔The Storied Life of AJ Fikry✔September Sky ✔Add search descriptions to old posts Add alt tags to photos on old posts✔Replace images on some old posts ✔Add genre tags to all review posts✔Add links to genre reviews on My Reviews✔Add list of reviews by author on My Reviews✔Update review posts with links to related reviewsWrite 2-3 book listsBook club recommendationsMystery/thriller recommendationsOther top 5 or 10 books list✔Participate in 1-2 Twitter chats
I'm sure I'll think of other things along the way, but that's my basic list of things I'd like to accomplish this week.

ADDITIONAL WORK DONE:
✔Updated Review Policy page

Week in Review

It's Monday again so time for another weekly recap. It was a good week and a great weekend. My daughter and I spent yesterday doing a girls' day out. We went to brunch, then went to see a matinee of Cinderella. We both enjoyed it, although it is quite a sad story. After the movie we got our nails done just in time for sandal weather! We finished the day off with frozen yogurt. It was a lot of fun!

Reviews and Blog Posts
I got a few things published on the blog last week.

Book Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt
Beyond Books: Grilled Potatoes Recipe
Book Review: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Reading
I finished reading The Daughter and then moved on to The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin, which I loved. I will write a review this week. After that, I started September Sky by John Heldt.

M is finally finishing Maleficent by Elizabeth Rudnick, which follows the storyline of the movie. She and I also started our new book group at school on Friday. We a…

Book Review: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

India Opal Buloni lives in a small town in Florida with her father, who is a preacher in the local church. She's a lonely girl who hasn't made many friends since moving to town. When she finds a stray dog in the grocery store, she decides to take him home and save him from a trip to the pound. As they spend their summer together, Winn-Dixie ends up saving Opal too.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is a children's novel written at the early fourth grade reading level. I recently spent several months reading and discussing the book with a group of second grade students. We all enjoyed this story of a girl and her dog. It actually explores a lot of deeper topics than I had expected. Opal's mother left when she was young, so there's a large emphasis on her wanting to know more about her mother. There is also a lot about her befriending various characters in the town, including the librarian, pet store clerk and a woman the local boys think is a witch.

Some of th…

Beyond Books: Grilled Potatoes

I'm going "Beyond Books" again today to share a delicious recipe that we enjoyed on the weekend. Living in the south, we grill a lot, so we're always looking for new ideas. A few years ago, a friend shared a recipe for grilled potatoes and we have been making them ever since!


Grilled Potatoes The first thing you need is a small cast iron skillet that can go on the grill, or a small aluminum grilling pan, along with some aluminum foil to cover it. (*affiliate links)

Ingredients
4 potatoes (or enough to fill the pan)
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 green pepper
6 oz Italian dressing (I use Wish-Bone Robusto Italian because it has a lot of flavor)

Instructions
1. Bring grill up to medium temperature.
2. Cut all of the vegetables into small pieces.
3. Add to pan and pour in the dressing.
4. Mix everything together well.
5. Cover with foil.
6. Place on grill and cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Stab potato with fork to check for doneness.
8. Keep grilling and …

Book Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Jenny is a successful doctor, loving wife and mother of three teens: twins Ed and Theo, and younger daughter Naomi. Everything seems just right until Naomi doesn't come home from her play practice one night. At that point, Jenny's life unravels as she struggles to understand what happened to her daughter and discovers that her perfect family was not so perfect after all.

The Daughter: A Novel by Jane Shemilt is described as a psychological thriller but it's really more of an introspective story told by a mother who never really knew her family as well as she thought she did. It alternates between her recalling the days surrounding Naomi's disappearance and her life as it is a year later. Jenny is the voice of the story in both cases, so the reader is always within her, viewing the situation from her perspective.

The premise of this story was interesting, the novel was too slow for my liking. While I wanted to know what happened to Naomi, I found myself skipping ahead t…

Week in Review

Good Monday morning! I hope you had a fabulous week. After two weeks of just going to school one day, my kids finally went to school for almost a whole week. They had a delay on Friday but at least they went eventually. And now, Spring has finally arrived in North Carolina. The 10-day forecast looks wonderful, so M and I got outside yesterday and planted our carrots and onions. Hopefully we'll be able to plant the rest within a few weeks.

Reviews and Blog Posts

I only managed one post last week. I'm not really sure what happened, but somehow I never got around to writing more than that. This week, I have several things planned so you'll see a lot more of me!

Book Review: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Reading
I have been reading The Daughter: A Novel by Jane Shemilt for the entire week. I will finish it today and post my review tomorrow for the tour. After that, I'll probably start The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin, since I picke…

Book Review: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's life revolves around food. The smells and tastes permeate her memories. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is Knisley's memoir of her life growing up in the kitchens and dining rooms of diverse restaurants and eateries around the world. A cartoonist, the author shares her story in graphic novel format. She tells of her family's love of food, her travels, her love of art and her involvement in the food industry herself.

As a young girl, Knisley moves from Manhattan to farm country with her mother upon her parents' divorce. Her mother is a chef and her father a gourmet; neither can stand the fact that their daughter loves McDonald's french fries. Mostly, though, she grows up with an appreciation for fresh ingredients and local flavors, whether the locale is her home town, Mexico, Japan or some other country to which she travels in her youth.

I enjoyed reading about Knisley's life and the role food played in her experiences. She writes her story in a f…

Week in Review & February Recap

I started last week's Monday recap with the following: "Good morning. It's Monday and my kids are finally back in school after being out almost all of last week. It's refreshing to have a quiet house and to be able to focus on work today." The funny thing is that I can say the exact same thing again this Monday. Once again, my kids went to school on Monday and then were home the rest of the week. This week, I'm convinced they will actually be in school for the whole week. They better be!!

Reviews and Blog Posts

Book Review: Son by Lois Lowry
Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Reading
I finished reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn in time for my book club discussion last week. I have to admit I dropped my rating a bit after talking through it with others. I did enjoy it, but there were a few too many issues with the way everything was resolved.

I then started reading The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen, but I just couldn't get into it. So I gave…