October 13, 2016

Monthly Book Review: Sept 2016

Better late than never, right?! :)

I didn't read as much last month - lots going on and I've been enjoying the beautiful Fall weather with friends and family.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - I've been racking my brain for how to describe this one and all I come up with is "weird". I liked the first half and then ... it got weird. I stuck with it thinking there had to be something I was missing that would be revealed. Sadly there wasn't. I don't get it - maybe it's over my head - so two thumbs down.

Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch - a good biography with excellent narration. The most interesting tidbits were about Princess Margaret, Elizabeth's sister.

The Lake House - Kate Morton may be my new (to me) favorite author. I really liked last month's The House at Riverton so chose this one and it did not disappoint. After reading two of Kate's books, I detect common themes of being careful how you judge as you don't know what goes on behind closed doors and the truth has different perspectives. I agree with both. I love a good period drama and the author likes to keep readers on their toes by adding some curveballs that delight until the very end. Win!

Night Road - This is by the same author as The Nightingale so I was expecting WWII theme. I was completely and pleasantly caught off guard. It gets a little too conveniently all sewn up with a tidy bow at the end but I really liked the story. I will definitely be looking to see if there are other Kristin Hannah books.

Secrets of a Charmed Life - I'm 2/3 through this one and it reads like a Kate Morton book so I like it (author is Susan Meissner and majority of the story is set in WWII).

I saw The Girl on the Train with a girlfriend last weekend because I just had to see how Hollywood handled it. I liked it - very true to the book and I would likely think it even better had I not read the book (the books are almost always better than the movie!).

September 6, 2016


The kids, particularly Sassy, have been on me for quite some time about getting a tattoo. As I am not into voluntary pain that's a tall order for me. It also freaks me out to think how a tattoo would look on old, crepey skin. And where would it go?

I told Sassy once many years ago that I'd get a fleur-de-lis tattoo with her. She has yet to dial it in that sometimes parents lie to their children to get them of their back.
So tonight at dinner Sassy brought up the three of us getting a tattoo. Something symbolic. I may be able to get on board with that. Thus began my search for the appropriate symbol. 
First I submitted this -

Then I sent this -

Then this -
Sassy's response was "In the search bar are you typing elf fantasy?"
I replied "LOTR" for Lord of the Rings.
I got "Lol mom lol".

My last attempt was this -
Evidently I'm getting "warmer" :)

September 1, 2016

Better Out Than In

I recently saw this on Facebook -
If you avoid conflict to keep the peace you start a war inside yourself.


August 31, 2016

Monthly Book Review: Aug 2016 **updated**

Since I've become so bookish I'm going to attempt to do a monthly book review. Attempt is the operative word here.

This month's reads included:

**The Paris Architect - I cannot believe I forgot this one, it was the best of the entire month
A WWII book (surprise!) about an architect that reluctantly designs hiding places for Jews; another unique perspective and a wonderful reminder that the best life is not always the one we initially designed.

The House at Riverton (aka Shifting Fog) - Very good! Bittersweet Downton Abbey style period drama about secrets; while the level of detail seemed a bit much at times while I listened, in retrospect it made the story richer; the main secrets are held to the very last

Code Name Verity - another WWII book (shock!) ; I loved the first half, the last half not as much which was disappointing as there was a big reveal at the end that seemed to land more like a thud than a welcome a-ha; excruciating detail about aircraft that I found tedious at the time but all was revealed in the end

Among the Ten Thousand Things - hard to relate to and vulgar language that I found off-putting for some reason (I'm not a prude as there's plenty of it in other books I like); I just didn't get where it was going, like at all; an event and the fallout for characters was described in great detail and then it flashed forward decades; this is the first book I didn't listen to all the way and actually returned (another reason I'm super impressed with Audible)

Truly Madly Guilty - just released book from the author of Big Little Lies; not as good as I expected but still enjoyed it; it is l-o-o-o-n-n-g - the author likes to describe in intricate detail every thought, feeling and bias each character has which I find interesting, but I can see where others might find it overkill
Next Up -
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (my mom's recommendation)
This is Not my Beautiful Life (my BFF's recommendation)
The Lake House
The Secret Keeper
Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch

July 4, 2016


I recently visited Maine - more on that in a future post - and fell in love with the charming patriotism displayed almost everywhere I went. I just had to have this vintage looking bunting and I knew exactly where it would go. I think it looks awesome. Not sure if it will stay up until after Labor Day or come down in a couple of weeks ... must research protocol on that.

My Audible progress - not a bad one in the bunch:

The Children Act by Ian McEwan – I didn't know what this was about when I started (I make a point of not reading too much after I select so I start off as unbiased as possible), but it had been on my list for close to two years. It was definitely worth the wait ... how a British judge considers a family court case while also considering her own marriage. Very thought provoking and real - sometimes we should deliberate and sometimes we should act.

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens – a college student from a highly dysfunctional family has to find an elderly person to fulfill a writing assignment. He gets a lot more than he bargained for! A little tough towards the finish as the author piles on a lot of events for dramatic effect, but it all works in the end. It was fun to hear some local references as the story takes place in the arctic.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows – I am sort of on a roll with WWII era books and this was a light change of pace for that genre. Love that the story is told only through letters/telegrams to and from the main character. Who wants to go to Guernsey with me ?!

10% Happier by Dan Harris – I am deeply intrigued by meditation and this was a great first person account of how a quasi-celebrity turned from atheist to "Jewbu" after a lifetime of self doubt and a professional crisis.

The Widow by Fiona Barton – a bit drawn out but an interesting story that keeps you guessing

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – LOVE!!! Another WWII novel told from a female perspective - deeply layered story of love, loss, hope and the depths of the human spirit. I cried multiple times and the ending is fantastic

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – a wickedly fun whodunit set in Australia about the little lies we tell ourselves to survive. This is being made into an HBO  show with Alexander Skarsgård (Tarzan, True Blood) for later this year. Yes please!!!

Next up are:

The House at Riverton (aka The Shifting Fog)
Code Name Verity
Among the Ten Thousand Things
Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch
The Ocean at the End of the Lane

April 26, 2016

Dear Diary

I figure no one reads this unless they’ve rolled the dice following a search for “Christmas Music”, “Olympics” or “Royals”. So this is pretty much my personal diary at this point. I figure it’s less annoying than Facebook status updates.

It’s getting mighty green here in the arctic thanks to all the April showers. Green makes me happy. I get itchy to plant every year about this time but there’s that voice in the back of my head cautioning me about the potential for freeze in these here parts. The voice sounds like a weather anchor by the way. I’m simplifying from last year – no growing flowers from seed (I did this once successfully 20 years ago and it’s time to pull the plug – better late than never). I spent waaaay too much time at the garden center pondering what flowers go well with pansies, fit my small planters and will have some longevity. That’s done and I also planted one bin of herbs (rosemary, basil and thyme) with room for a small tomato plant. The big projects are now the mailbox (aka twilight zone) and reconfiguring the front garden which was planted as a shade perennial garden years ago when we had a beautiful 20+ foot shade tree that has since gone the way of Merle Haggard. Needless to say the area gets a lot more sun now and the plants are having an identity crisis.

Speaking of projects, I am turning inward as well. Not me personally (though I am researching religions), rather inside the house. I had a contractor look at the downstairs bathroom (kids’) and am anxious to see the options he comes up with in another week or so. The pink floor tile, dingy tub/shower and Hollywood lights need to go the way of Merle Haggard. I also need a new wall oven/microwave, cooktop and countertop in the kitchen. I really want to paint the cabinets but everyone tells me not to. Though that sort of makes me want to do it even more. I have so much free time now that I’m not in grad school that I’m thinking of resurrecting scrapbooking or significantly decluttering the house. Any bets on if either is accomplished?

I continue to be thrilled with Audible. Since the first of the year I’ve “read”:

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin – campy, fictional account of Truman Capote and his “swans” (aka Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Gloria Guinness)

The Traitor' s Wife by Alison Pataki – fictional account of Benedict Arnold’s wife told from a servant’s point of view; I will read anything Alison writes

The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers - meh

The Sexy Years by Suzanne Somers – there is something about her that just draws me in - love her voice so she should read other books if looking for work; bioidentical hormones is controversial and this is a bit promotional

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende – LOVE!!! Great story, stupendous writing, wonderful character development. Read / listen now!

Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me by Mindy Kaling – light and quirky as I expected, a good break from heavy stuff

The Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter – dark and gritty; another “Gone Girl” type; dying to know if that is the author’s real last name;)

Next up are:

The Children Act
The Life We Bury
The Widow
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
10% Happier

Finally, why am I always on the cutting edge of a consumer beauty/fashion trend?! The struggle is real. Last year I was on the hunt for the ultimate contour palette (aka highlight and conceal, or HAC). I went to the drug store and figured my biggest dilemma would be slim choices for fair skin. Alas, nothing. Not even the department store beauty counters. I ended up buying one from a beauty bloggerthat I’ve been happy with, but I’m ready to experiment a bit and there are suddenly hundreds of choices everywhere. My current obsession is the handle clutch. It is elusive to anyone not shopping high-end designer (read $1000+ price tag). I am in marketing people – call me because when I think something is going to be a trend and hot seller, it is and we should hop on it tout suite for the little people like me. We will ignore my prediction on the salad mist – that was an outlier.