Book Review: Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon

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Actress Reese Witherspoon is proud of her Southern heritage and in Whiskey in a Teacup she shares personal stories about her upbringing, lessons learned, and true hospitality, which have shaped her into the refined, yet fiery woman she is today. Filled with beautiful photographs, mouthwatering recipes, and humorous anecdotes, Ms. Witherspoon serves as an inviting guide into all things Southern. From entertaining, to cooking, to decorating, and celebrating a variety of holidays and special occasions, she invites the reader to adopt a Southern lifestyle, no matter where you live.

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC.

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Book Review: The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

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The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The question has been posed, if you could invite any five people to have dinner with you, who would you choose? When protagonist Sabrina arrives at a New York City restaurant to celebrate her 30th birthday, she ends up seated with the five individuals from her list, one of whom is Audrey Hepburn. (Of course, her name is derived from the titular character portrayed in film by Hepburn.)

The story is told with two unfolding timelines, one in the present, and one in the past. Before the clock strikes midnight and everyone goes their separate ways, Sabrina must examine the reasons of what led her to this place, with these particular people, and what actions are required of her to move on into the future.

While compelled to keep reading and find out what happens at the end of Sabrina’s birthday dinner party, there is an overarching and pervasive presence of melancholy, and the metaphysical aspect of living and dead people sharing a meal together is never explained.

Even though this wasn’t my favorite read, the premise is unique, and the plot contains the gentle reminder that in life we experience both love and loss and it’s important to embrace them both in order to fully live.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC.

Book Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

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Fans of Jojo Moyes, rejoice! Louisa Clark, the plucky heroine from Me Before You and After You, returns in Still Me. Following up from the plot in After You, Louisa has been contacted by her friend and former colleague Nathan, who also worked with Will in Me Before You, about the possibility of working for a wealthy family in New York.

Despite her newfound love with Ambulance Sam, Louisa needs a fresh perspective and an opportunity to let go of the past, so she agrees to the offer and proceeds to move from London to New York. And not just anywhere in New York, but to 5th Avenue, as the live-in assistant to Agnes, the immigrant (younger, second) wife of an American millionaire businessman.

There are fun parallels to The Devil Wears Prada as Louisa transitions to being a girl about the city, learning how to anticipate Agnes’ needs and helping her navigate obligations inherent with her posh lifestyle. But as her personal assistant, Louisa is also privy to family secrets and when her loyalty causes Agnes’ wealthy husband to question Louisa’s actions, the predictability of the book’s plot becomes less so. Louisa is now faced with the opportunity to reinvent herself again and have the opportunity to embrace her true love: vintage fashion.

As she explores New York City, it becomes a supporting character all on its own – Central Park, the neighborhoods, libraries, and diners she visits all enhance the overall atmosphere of the book.

The character of Louisa is entirely relatable to me with her desires of putting others ahead of herself, living a full and passionate life, and embracing her creative and quirky tendencies. She would definitely be the kind of gal I would want to befriend in real life.

As is typical of Moyes’ writing, she infuses “all the feels” into Still Me: sweetness, humor, longing, sadness, grief, courage, living life to the full, and, of course, love. For those who have loved this ongoing story line, Still Me is not to be missed.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC. https://www.netgalley.com/

 

 

 

Book Review: Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

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Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

It’s not often that I feel so nervous about the plot of a book I’m hesitant to keep reading, but I held my breath page after page, wondering what was going to happen next!

Releasing today, Need to Know is a contemporary spy mystery, filled with secrets and lots of questions. Vivian, who is a CIA analyst, finds out her husband Matt is a Russian sleeper agent. What is she going to do? Report him to the Agency? Cover up for what she has found and risk going to prison, leaving behind her four children? Try to bargain with the Russians? How much of her marriage is a lie?

Cleveland weaves a compelling scenario, based in reality, that keeps you guessing from start to finish. If you need a heart-pounding read without objectionable language and not too much violence, Need to Know is for you!

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC. https://www.edelweiss.plus/

 

Book Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

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Artemis by Andy Weir

For fans of The Martian, you will be excited to see Andy Weir revisit a space theme with his sophomore release. Set decades into the future, Artemis is a thriving industrial and tourist city on the Moon.

However, this sophomore release is a departure from The Martian in a few notable ways: we are greeted by lead female character Jazz Bashara and there is far less technical language in comparison to The Martian. Because of these two components I personally found this novel to be a more engaging read with the snarky, take-no-prisoners, owns her own mistakes heroine, along with a more understandable and approachable level of futuristic, scientific technology.

Through Jazz’s first-person perspective we get to know the history of this lunar city, her love for it, her loyalties to her job and her people in Artemis, her longings for a better way of life, and just how smart she is. The plot thickens when her (somewhat self- serving) business savvy leads to a domino effect of consequences when she discovers interconnected Artemisian secrets, industrial monopolies, and the role she will have to play in order to preserve the way of life for the people living in the Moon’s only habitable location.

I would have liked to have had a few more details explained in regards to her connections with friends and family back on Earth, but overall, I found this to be a fast-paced read that takes place in a very believable celestial city.

My thanks to NetGalley for access to the digital ARC. https://www.netgalley.com/ 

Book Review: Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle

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Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life by Melanie Shankle

Last July I Read The Antelope in the Living Room and so enjoyed Shankle’s style of writing, where you’re able to “hear” her voice as you do via her blog, Big Mama.

The book is comprised of independent vignettes of everyday life and relationships: marriage, motherhood, sisterhood, friendship, and obedience to Christ’s leadership. This theme of living simply and not overlooking the ordinary moments of life is popular right now, but her perspective is a unique and fresh one.

This quick read was filled with approachability, laugh out loud moments, and plenty of truthful opportunities to murmur yes, while highlighting meaningful passages.

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC. http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com/

Read: August 2017

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The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

An embarrassingly long time ago The Optometrist gave me this book as a just-because gift, of which I proceeded to read about 99%. At the beginning of the month, a few minutes and a few pages later, I had finished this encouraging call to make your house a home based around your style and budget. While The Nester’s style is a bit more shabby chic than I prefer, her exhortation of it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful is a mantra I’m longing to embrace wholeheartedly in both my home and work spaces.

Book read via: home library

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Solo by Kwame Alexander

What Kwame Alexander did for basketball in The Crossover, he has now done for music and in Solo.  Check out my full book-review of Mr. Alexander’s recently published YA novel.

My thanks to Net Galley for access to the digital ARC. https://www.netgalley.com/

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Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is the queen of crafting memorable Italian American stories, and my love of her writing goes back to the early 2000s when my best friend and I discovered and fell in love with Big Stone Gap.

This, her newest novel, takes place in post WWII Philadelphia with a feuding family who own taxi cab businesses, their African American dispatcher who longs to find her passion, a fledgling but loyal local Shakespeare company, and an Italian ambassador with an American doppelganger in South Philly.

Of her work, I must say Very Valentine and The Shoemaker’s Wife have been my favorites, but Kiss Carlo was very memorable and included diverse characters and a firm sense of place.

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC copy. http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com/

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Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life by Melanie Shankle

Last July I read The Antelope in the Living Room and found it to be laugh-out-loud funny juxtaposed with moments to ponder the less-than-perfect, but still beautiful moments of marriage. So when I had an opportunity to request a digital ARC for the upcoming release of her new book (on October 3), I said, “Yes, please!”

If you are a fan of Melanie’s books and/or the Big Mama blog, I think you’ll also enjoy her newest offering that centers around finding God and appreciating the small, everyday moments of life.

“I’ve learned that the best way to live is to look for God in the church of small things. The church of small things is where God does his best work. The church of small things is where the majority of us live every single day.” 

Look for a more detailed review on October 3rd!

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC copy. http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com/

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The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

I can’t help but think about what the statistical number of murders per capita would be if Three Pines were a real town. Probably similar to the statistics from Cabot Cove in Murder, She Wrote.

5th in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, the beloved Inspector has returned to Three Pines to investigate yet another murder, this time of a Hermit whose cabin is filled with world-renowned treasures, but whose identity and personal history remain elusive, except to a local resident.

Stories of fear and deception and secrets long preserved come to light when Armande Gamache is determined to find answers to these unknown questions and, of course, also find the killer.

Book read via: public library