Book Reviews

Book Reviews

It’s been a crazy, cold winter with more snow than usual, so we’ve spent more time hunkered down at home. In addition to plenty of card and board games (finally taught the kids to play euchre!), I’ve gotten in quite a bit of reading. Since it’s been a while since I did a book review post, I figured I’d share some today. Although today is a work day, with temperature’s hovering at -11 (we actually met the record for the coldest day ever in Indianapolis), I suspect I’ll be spending the evening on the couch, by the fire with a good book. In case you’d like to do the same, here are some of the best books I’ve recently read – some real winners here! Time travel, a love story AND a mother’s love, how could this book be anything but fabulous? The Dream Daughter: A Novel was beautiful. It was beautifully written, a beautiful story and a joy to read. Carly is a recent Vietnam war widow when she discovers that her unborn daughter has a heart defect that can not be cured. She is devastated until her brother-in-law shares with her a way that her daughter could possibly be saved. It will require a lot of faith for Carly to move forward, but as a soon-to-be mother, she will do anything to save her daughter. My rating 5 out of 5.   Does one bad decision make you a bad person?  How profoundly can a series of small choices change your life as well as those around you? Geo’s best friend in high school mysteriously vanishes one night....
2018 Fall Book Review Post

2018 Fall Book Review Post

How has it been a few months since my last book review post? Time really flies, right? I thought I’d share my favorite books from the last few months – these would ALL make excellent holiday gifts, so if you still need to purchase some gifts, consider some of these: The Great Believers is a book that I read a few weeks ago but I find myself thinking about the story at random times. The author moves back and forth between two connected stories. The first is Yale’s story – he is a young man finding himself in the midst of the AIDS crisis in Chicago in the 1980s. As someone who was a teen in that time period, I remember the fear and how little was known about the disease. The second story concerns Fiona, who was also a young adult at that time period and a friend of Yale’s. However, her story is told in the present day and is about how she is trying to reconnect with her daughter. Her scars from losing so many friends in the ’80s have made her who she is today and greatly affected her current relationships. The book is haunting, yet realistic. As I mentioned, it’s stayed with me for weeks now. My rating 4.5 out of 5. Then She Was Gone: A Novel was another book that I continued to think about long after I had finished it. Although I did figure out the plot midway through, I found it well written and still wanted to continue to see how the author would wrap things up. We begin with wondering what happened to...

Listen to Your Engine

I’m in the middle of reading an advance copy of Jennifer Dukes Lee’s latest book “It’s All Under Control,” and I have to say it is wonderful. Just what I need at this busy time of life. Today I want to share an excerpt from the book along with some practical advice on how to incorporate more rest into your life, and make sure to scroll down to the bottom for a special giveaway!   Jennifer’s words: Let’s stop should-ing ourselves and start replenishing ourselves. We need to listen to our bodies instead of pushing them. What if, when we heard our bodies begging, Go into a lower gear, we actually paid attention? As an example, let me introduce you to my first car. It was a red Volkswagen Beetle with a clutch and stick shift. It always reeked of fuel, which meant that I smelled like a gas station. My Slug Bug died an untimely death in 1989 when it started on fire on an Iowa highway. I rescued my French horn from the backseat and walked down the deserted highway, crying under a half-moon sky, waiting for someone to let me hitch a ride. The car had been my first major purchase, bought with my lifeguarding paychecks. I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift at first but learned by listening to the sounds it made. In its own way, the car had a “voice.” When the car was in too low of a gear, it made a high revving sound. That was my cue to shift to a higher gear. As I continued to accelerate,...
Book Reviews – Summer 2018

Book Reviews – Summer 2018

Since it’s been a while since I did a book review, I felt like it was time. I’ve done quite a bit of reading over the summer, and definitely, it picked up when school started and I found myself sitting in carpool lines … here are my favorites from the last few months. I received an advanced copy of Mammoth and it kept my attention during a long, hot swim meet weekend. I believe it will be released in November, so it would make a great Christmas gift for any teenage girl who loves to read. Natalie is a fashion-savvy, paleontology loving teen. She wins a coveted internship for the summer between her Junior and Senior year of High School working at a dig site in Texas. Natalie struggles that summer to navigate the relationships she forms, the work she is doing on her internship and determining who she wants to be (the fashion-loving Natalie she created for her blog site or the “real” Natalie). It was a fun and quick read, and I appreciated how everything wrapped up for Natalie – much more realistic than the typical perfect ending. My rating 4 out of 5. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance: A Novel is a truly magical experience. It’s fantasy but told in a way that feels real – like you are really living the story and it is possible. Weylyn was raised by wolves and understands that he is different than most people, but still wants to (and is able to) make connections. He is magical and simple yet complex all at once. The book is told from the experiences of the...

Real Food on a Budget?

When we are traveling, one of our favorite things to do is find local restaurants and try them out.  Although we are all very adventurous eaters, we do try to eat as healthy as possible, even while on the road.  You’ll often find us enjoying vegetarian dishes, beans & rice, salads and fresh fruit.  Not to say that we don’t tend to indulge a little more when away from home, we just try to keep what we eat as close to real food (food that isn’t heavily processed, has simple, whole food ingredients, and isn’t high in sugar) as possible. Because we aren’t as strict when traveling, when we are at home, it’s super important for me to create meals that are as healthy as possible.  That way I can ensure we are following my 80/20 rule of 80% healthy eating and 20% not quite as healthy.  I do love to cook, but with a full-time job, kids in two different schools, and year-round sports it can be challenging to get a real food meal on the table. One of my favorite tricks is to find cookbooks I love that have pages full of delicious real food recipes.  Then I’ll plan the weekly menu using just that one cookbook – it’s fun for me, easy as I’m not looking up recipes all over the place, and if I like the author, I find I’m happy with the meals. Lisa Leake’s cookbooks are some of my favorites.  I’ve been using 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous: The Easy and Delicious Way to Cut Out Processed Food and 100 Days...

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