Tag Archives: reviews

What’s on Your Nightstand? H.A.G. Reads for May

nightstand may

Ack! What am I reading?!

I am SO behind in my To-Be-Read (TBR) pile(s)!

My friend, Julie lent me books 5, 6, 7, & 8 of the Louise Penny series (13 total), so I can try to binge-catch up on those wonderful reads, but to be honest, I am slacking…as in way behind and mid-way through about 5 books! Here’s a recap at both, what I finished and am still in the middle of~

*This post contains affiliate links, where if you click on them and make a purchase, I make a small percentage. I include them so that you can find what I am referencing and loving!*

What I listened to:


Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
This was the one of four choices that I could read for my “The Blended Book Club” reads. I thought it might be sort of boring, so I opted to listen to audio and I was unfortunately right. Several of us in the group found the story quite jumpy in places and the characters a bit under developed. I did learn a lot about Marconi the inventor (or not) of the telegraph, being the first way to send a message over long distances and the ocean. Interesting since Marconi Beach on Cape Cod is somewhere that I have been and never knew the history of…so that was the positive. If you love  literal non-fiction, there is a good book here, but fiction readers might not love the dry narrative-non-fiction take that Larson presents. I found his other book, The Devil in the White City similar in this way, so if you like that one, you may enjoy this.

Still listening:

Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
This has been such a good listen! It is all about witches, vampires, and demons…and humans too! So not what I usually read, but fun and so compelling with the storyline of a reluctant witch and taboo-love between a reluctant witch and a hunky vampire…sounds super cheesy, I know, but I have to say it  isn’t written that way and it’s sort of nerd-brainy with all the literary references and academic setting. I am liking this a ton and good news! It’s a series of 3 books so I can keep loving this for two more stories!


Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders
Loving this but just did not finish- I really can’t read books on my kindle or iPad as fast at all- I just don’t want to read off a screen after being on one all day for work! Paper has my heart!

Reading Now:

Mindset by Carol Dweck
This is sort of a professional development and parenting book for me. I love the concept of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset set forth in this book- the idea that a person isn’t inherently good at something, but works to be better at it…is just such a great lesson for kids and for the similar concept of “grit” in learning. Thinking that people are just born being the next great athlete or master piano player, and don’t have to work at it is just crazy and limiting…the book is pretty much occupying most of my brain space- I find that I relate everything to it. Very highly recommend!

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Who is Robert Galbraith? The Pen name for J.K. Rowling of course! You know…the woman who wrote Harry Potter!? You probably know that by now, but some people don’t, and no wonder since this 3rd book of the Cormoran Strike series is a far cry from youth and magic- these books are quite grizzly and for crime fans, super reads. I love the characters in these books: a nice and put-upon young twenty something secretary, and her boss, an ex-military, son of a groupie who is the star dectective- our unlikely hero.  I love the setting of London and the weirdness of all the crimes, but they can be a lot of graphic crime…I have to be in a good place before I read one of these and then I always need a break afterwards to read something more uplifting! I am having fun with this one right now though, and since it’s an older book (2013) you can find it easily in the library!

You know that I am reading 5 other books still, but I will have to catch you up later. This is just getting out of hand, and I have to finish some of these up soon! Happy Reading & Doing whatever it is that you ENJOY!

What are you reading? I’d love to know- Lemme’ know in the comments!!

Check out these nightstands at : 5 Minutes for MomBookDate, &  Booknificient along with the Blended Blog Virtual Book Club on Thursday!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.


November Reads: What’s on your nightstand?

What's on your nightstand? November

Jean-Honoré Fragonard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s talk about books!

*This post contains affiliate links, where if you click on them and make a purchase, I make a small percentage. I include them so that you can find what I am referencing and loving!*

To recap what I read last month, you can read the post or I can just tell you:

The Story of a New Name, Dad’s Fat, and Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing

I am happy to say that I kept up with the good pace and read even more for November- and soooo I have a bunch of great titles to share with you. Honestly, the reason why I am reading so much is that I sort of panicked! I have just 30 more days to complete my Book Riot 2016 challenge and I still haven’t read quite a few books.

After a dive into my TBR (to be read) pile, I now am happy to say that I have just a few (omg- still too many to finish!) for December.

 Here’s what I read for November:

The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante (finished!), 2013
Not part of the challenge, so it takes up a lot of my reading time, that doesn’t “count” toward anything but is probably the most fulfilling…As I finished this book, I found that this is pulling me completely to the next in the series. I have to say, I am tired of series in general though. It limits you to having to read the next one if you liked it. I feel like I need to get on with other books already but am tied to having to read the series! The third book in the Ferrante books is on my pile of to-read books now, so I will start it this week.

Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (audio), 2016

I loved this! what a great audiobook! It did win the 2016 Audie award for book of the year(!) so I knew other people thought so, and I had always wanted to read it, but never had. It was so compelling and fun to read that my commute was all but over before I wanted it to be! I finally finished it by sitting in my driveway until it was done! Highly recommend as audio, but as a book as well. Now I just have to watch the movie to complete my book challenge of both reading the book and movie of the same name. Do you ever try not to do that? I always shy away from a movie if I loved the book, so that I am not disappointed. But this time, I couldn’t stop thinking about the face of Emily Blount whenever her character was read. Hazards of books turned into movies, I guess! It’s a who-done-it type of book, that keeps you guessing as the story line is told from several points of view, that track time backward from a terrible event. Yes. Just get this one!

Amityville Horror, by Jay Anson, 1979
I had never read this true story, but I remember when the movie came out and was super scared by the concept.  This was the “horror” book that I challenged myself to read this year, and since it is a true story that occurred in 1975, I wanted to know about it. As told in a journalist style, the book details how after moving into a house where a horrible event occurred, a family experienced several repeated occurences and situations that left them terrified and running from the house after just 28 days of living there! This is a non-fiction book, my friends. So if you are interested or intrigued by poltergeist, exorcisms, or things of this nature, then maybe read this when you want to be spooked. It is a fast read- I read it in a day, which says a lot on it being super fast to read! Overall, I liked it. Very different from what I would normally pick, so it was a push to explore something I know nothing about.

Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler, 1980.
This is the first in a series of 4  in the Patternist Series, about two immortals who live in constant struggle with each other: one as a healer, the other who only exists by killing others.  The “wild seed” is the healer, Awaynyu, who Doro, the tyrant wants to breed, in order to finally create a people who are like them: special powers of mind reading, shape shifting, and long lives. The time period of the book is during slavery in Africa to America and presents a different existence based on the lives of these two beings. This books is both a historical account of the atrocities of slavery and also a futuristic look of what our world would look should these books be reality. Very much a science fiction pick here. If this is your type of book you will love it. It definitely would compel me to read the next in the series if I didn’t have so much to read already!

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrick Bachman, 2013

A story about a very different and lonely little 7 year old, who has a very connected relationship with her crazy grandmother, who tells her wonderful fairy tales and stories to make the very best of some very hard situations. It is brilliantly told- the best stories unfold as the book progresses. I love the sense of peeling back of the layers of the onion to find the best part at the end of the story. This is such a great book. The author wrote the bestselling, A Man Called Ove, and also the book, Britt-Marie was Here…which I of course now have to read both of these!

What’s on my eBook reader- reviews?

I am in the midst of reviewing for its January release, Selection Day by Aravind Adiga. He wrote a great book, White Tiger, which won the Booker Prize in 2004, about a poor boy living in Bangalore, India who grows up yearning to be a part of what he deems the true Indian culture of entrepreneurship. It is a dark and funny book, that I loved, so I decided to review Selection Day, which is also a book about Indian culture, but one much different. This book is about two brothers who play game of Cricket and how their lives are shaped by their intense upbringing and lives together. Review to come!

What are my kids loving?

11 Year Old

Now done with #3 of the Harry Potter books, she is onto #4 and in deep love with these books.

10 Year Old

The Thea Stilton books feature a girl-mouse who encounters a dilemma and then figures out an answer. Very cute, straightforward middle-reader here, but the way that the text is written and with scattered pictures is compelling for an 8-10 year old- the beauty is that she is reading harder books, and this is a fun read that she can finish. This series is one that she will re-read when there is nothing else. Fun and cute.

6 Year Olds
Still love their Richard Scarry books. It  is funny, but my guys love the character of Mr. Frumble. He’s such a pain in the neck for the Fire Fighters and for whatever reason, it compels the boys to read this over and over. I am partial to these books too, since I read them when I was a kid and remember loving Lowly the worm and his apple-car.

I have trying to find books with a theme for the boys, so last month we were Fall-themed and this month, in the lead-up to winter we picked some snow-books that we’re liking:

Blizzard, by John Rocco

This author accounts his own experience in the “Blizzard of 1978” as a young boy. My kids love this book because the pictures are from a little-one’s viewpoint…like 4 feet tall and covered in snow! Their dad has a few stories and pictures from when he was little and sitting on a mountain of snow from the blizzard and they love that the book is true and also a great story. Nice pictures and a fold-out that is a fun, map of his world type of picture.

Sooooo. That is IT! A lot, right? Well, for me, it was!

What’s on YOUR nightstand? Comment below to share– I am not a book snob, clearly, so bring it on! I love hearing what’s out there: good, bad or ugly!

Check out these nightstands at : 5 Minutes for MomBookDate, &  Booknificient on Thursday!

What are you reading and loving right now?

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. It does not affect your price at all. For more information, see my full disclosure page.

Is Romance Dead? A Book Review

romance review

Let me just start by saying I finished a book.  That fact alone is not only a miracle but also the realization of my own happiest day made real.  This Sunday, I had what we call a “pj day” in my household: a Sunday of not getting dressed until maybe 3 pm, and even then it is out of the PJs only to get into… sweatpants.  In otherword, a perfect Sunday! My husband kept popping his head in the room, asking if we were going to “do” something.


Wasn’t I doing something already? I did make the bed before I climbed back in and under the top blanket to start reading for the day!  Plus, in my world, finishing a book is no easy feat.  This morning, I was searched for, called after, snuggled with, asked to fetch snacks, wipe bottoms, change the channel (mother of the year!), and make lunch.  It was not a taxing day by any stretch, but you get a picture of why I need to stay on task of reading, to actually finish what I wanted to read- there are so, so many distractions.  But today was perfect.   Right around 4 pm, I finished my book.  Happy and ready to get dressed, I changed into sweatpants and a bra.  See? Reading alone, was an accomplishment in itself.

As far as the book I am reviewing…Let me start by explaining that it is not one that I would normally choose.  I will explain:

#1 I am not a book snob, but…I have no time (as explained) to finish books that I do not like; I will give a book as close to 50 pages before I give up on it.  That goes for audio too- If it is terrible writing, I have to stop…the pile next to my bed and written list of books that I ‘d like to read is WAY too long, to put up with a book that I dislike.

#2 I will try any genre, if it is good writing.  I will read most anything: fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, mystery, non-fiction, trade, young-adult- you get it! I just don’t like to be scared or morbidly scarred by by what I read- You know that scene in Psycho, where after you saw it, you never took a shower with the curtain completely shut again?!…Yea, I won’t read stories that have that same effect: no gore, no scary beyond scary books.

#3 I love recommendations, but I also am not swayed by mass-influence.  I don’t really care if it is the hottest book going…I like what I like, and conversely…stop reading if I can’t get into it!

So here’s where I have to admit, that I have never read….

A Romance novel.

I kid you not.  Not even the Harlequin Romances, and not even just the dirty parts when I was a kid!  I have read Historical Fiction that sort of passes in my book, for Romance (Philipa Gregory), and this is not because I conciously made this decision- I just didn’t think I’d like it- I am kind of a prude, or I have no idea, why really, but I just thought it would be too much sappy plot and cheesy characters…It could be the bad cover art- I could in fact, be a snob about cover art. I would atleast admit to that!

I started this post by saying, that I am not a book snob (see #1), but I kind of was! I think I thought Romance novels are all the same- but that is like saying all mysteries are the same- and I know they are not.  Sure there are typical story lines and plot sequences that normally happen depending on the genre, but I probably was a bit snobbish ruling them out entirely!

So, here I am thinking I am an “equal opportunity reader” and I went to a conference where a Romance author was speaking about her writing process and she was really smart…and interesting…and explaining how other great Romance authors write and who she loves to read…This author’s name is Julia Quinn, and she was at the Rhode Island Library Conference. It was fascinating.  Totally an eye opener for me and I had to read one of her books to see- to just test and see if I liked her books…and find out if I liked Romance books.

Enter today. I was reading The Duke and I.  It is one of Quinn’s Bridgerton Series books, and without having read the series at all, I have to say, I was worried about not knowing the whole character chain or plot sequencing up to this point…

I couldn’t put it down. It was so fun to read: A great setting, well thought out characters, an interesting plot-line, romance- not graphic, but fun and appropriate to the plot, and leaving me wanting more until I ultimately finished it in one day! It was FUN! It was entertaining! Not a brain-push, heavy lifting read, but one that got my mojo back in the reading area! I now feel ready to pick up another book- maybe one with more heft- but I like the light-and FUN! (did I say that already?) of this book.  She writes with humor too, so I could almost see this book as a series or movie.  I was laughing out loud and also reading the sexy exerpts to my husband!  I will definitely read another of her books.  I selected this one, because the Bridgerton series looked like one that I would enjoy- but it was written in 2000.  Her most recent book is Book 4 in The Smythe-Smith Quartet series, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy. If it is nearly as much fun as the Bridgerton series, I will have to get up to speed.  I have to say it would make a perfect summer beach-read and recommend it to anyone who is looking for such a book!

Having read and rested all day, I did find it within me to put away some folded laundry, make some chocolate zucchini bread, some hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, and bathe my kids…Amazing. It all got done, and I wasn’t racing around. I didn’t spend any time out of my house. It was a home-body, lazy Sunday, and after an exhausting week, a perfect way to spend time for myself doing something that I usually find so indulgent.

Full Disclosure: I was not given a book or any compensation in any way to review this book and if I had, I still would have given you my 100% honest opinion. Yup. That’s just how I roll, people.