November Books I’ve Read

Happy Book day! The day every book lover looks forward to, so we can add a bajillion books to out already out of control to-read list. Oh, is that just me?

I have been trying to get caught up on all the NetGalley books I requested. I got a little trigger happy with the request button so all the books are advanced copies but most should now be available.

I am starting a book challenge in January so by then I should be caught up and have a good mix. In case you missed it here is my list of books for that challenge and feel free to join in. 

 

My rating system:
Five Stars: Blew me away, made me want to stay up till 3am to finish, would read again and again or I didn’t find anything I would want to change.
Four Stars: Really good book, fast paced or thought provoking, but may have dragged a bit or left something unresolved
Three Stars: Okay, didn’t thrill me but didn’t disappoint me either.
Two Stars: I almost didn’t finish, it may have irritated or offended me in some way.
** – Item was received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I pull no punches though, so you get all my opinions good or bad.
NOTE: I may not care for a book or I may love a book and my reactions are based on my experiences and tastes. Please don’t let my opinions deter you if a book really intrigues you, and know all opinions are my own.

Five Stars

5-stars

** Rescue Me, Maybe – I think I loved this story so much because I identified so much with Jane, I have thought about opening a B&B some day and her thoughts on customers made me chuckle and shake my head yes. Jane loses her husband and her dog within weeks of each other but she misses the dog more. She feels so guilty for feeling this way but her marriage was on the rocks when her husband was diagnosed with cancer, she stuck by him until the end. She has been dreaming of moving back to San Diego where it’s warm but she detours to Arizona to help her Aunt who needs surgery.

Along the way she rescues a dog, she is determined she is not keeping this dog. The dog ends up teaching her how to live, let go, and heal. Very inspiring, and even a little romance thrown in with the local handyman. 

 

** Once Kissed – This is new series by Cecy Robson and I was just as impressed. I just love her writing and how she sets up the story. Curran is a Philly cop who feels responsible for his rookie partner getting shot on duty. He is trying to get back to full duty but he is still feeling on the outs with the other cops. His brother gives him a security assignment to protect an intern that is helping take down a crime boss.  Little did he know that he shared a one night stand with the intern Tess. 

Tess has never broken her fathers rules, except for one night with a gorgeous frat boy. She has just a few more months before she finishes law school and can start over. Her life is so structured and Curran is determined to ruffle her feathers. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. 

four stars

4-stars

** A Bramble House Christmas – Willa is in great need of a vacation and now that her son is cancer free she is going to enjoy it. Her last hospice patient left her money and asked her to visit the B&B. Finn can’t understand why his father would leave his nurse so much money after only knowing her for 6 weeks. I liked the lead up into the romance, it felt natural and not as rushed. I also really liked te secondary characters. Why this one rated higher than the other Christmas books this month was that it made me what to read the other books in the series to learn their stories. There is a side story of a connection to the town and family who runs the B&B, a little scandal a little mystery. 

** How Forever Feels – This is a cute story of friends turned lovers. Maya was devastated when her ex-husband was caught cheating on her. It doesn’t help that he is now marrying the woman she caught him with, and his best friend is in town oversees a project. Her only regret is that she didn’t keep in touch with him. His biggest regret is that he let his best friend have her in the first place. Her best friends are a big support to her and add some comic relief. I really liked the build up and all the characters, it made me want to go back and read the whole series. 

** Hidden Bodies – Joe is the charming sociopath that we left in the last book You, having met Amy. She tries to buy books with a stolen credit card. They seem like the perfect couple but when Amy shafts him and leaves him he decides to follow her out to California. The road to finding her again is a rocky one and his obsession is just as fierce and the body count rises around him. Not as good as the first book but still good. 

 

 three stars

3-stars

** The Light of Day  – Cora has started her life over after a wild party lifestyle and addiction. Jake can’t see his life without baseball in it but an injury threatens his career. He notices the good parts of Cora and is willing to break down her hard shell. This one dragged a little for me and it felt very similar to other books I’ve read which is why I gave it 3 stars. 

** Brother – This book was like a cross from Silence of the Lambs and Wrong Turn. It was brutally violent, and creepy I needed a shower after reading it. A deep lack of remorse, and very peculiar family relationships through the book. Michael feels different from the rest of his family, and he constantly feeds into Rebel’s demands in order to stay in with the family. 

Alice is a record store clerk and she makes Michael want to run away and be different. Michael’s brother Rebel though will never let that happen. It was more gore than mystery which is why it was just ok for me. 

** Nowhere Girl – This book went in so many different directions. It leads you into the world of trafficking, drugs, illegal immigrants and healthcare, and the crazy things a mother would do for her daughter. Ellie is the rebel daughter who wants to have fun, but ends up kidnapped. She has butted heads with her mother who ends up being a suspect. Cate gets pulled into investigating since her daughter just so happens to be friends with the younger sister of Ellie’s.

 

3-star

** Last Chance Christmas – This was a short read, getting into the Christmas spirit. Shea was in an accident leaving her leg in a cast. She goes home to surprise her parents but they have skipped town to warmer weather. Her first love J.C. is in town. He moved away to pursue his hockey career and he is not famous. He volunteers to take her in with the hopes to win her back. Light and quick read but the ending wrapped up a little too quick and tidy. 

** Christmas at Evergreen Inn – This was a very short novella in between other stories and I feel it would have been more meaningful has i read the books leading up to this one as I felt the story wasn’t as developed as I would have liked. This was a story of two people who liked each other from afar but neither one told each other. One fateful nights leaves Todd a cop and good samaritan on Lainey’s doorstep. Lainey owns the bed and breakfast and the only free place to stay is on her couch. It was cute, light and fast read but a little underdeveloped. 

 

 What books have you read this month? 

Will you add any of these books to your list? 

 

Linking up with Steph and Jana for this months reads. 

Life According to Steph
 
signature

Spirit of Christmas in Maine

There is no better time than Christmas time, and no better place to experience it than in Maine. Not only that but it is even better when you have your best girls with you, the people who know you the best, make you laugh, and always make every moment better.

 

So I’ll keep it short since it is picture heavy. Anything you want more info on let me know. 

 

 

I Did

My wonderful friend Lynn drove up to Maine, with a stop at When Pigs Fly in Kittery Maine for lunch. We shared a pizza, some roasted brussel sprouts in a ginger and sesame sauce, and chorizo in a cream sauce. Amazing. 

Christmas-By-The-Sea
We stopped at a few places along the way, then got to the hotel to unpack before the parade. 

Christmas-By-The-Sea-1
Christmas-By-The-Sea-2
After the parade we did a little more shopping throughout the town and then went on a horse drawn carriage ride. We have a tradition of going to Applebee’s for dinner. We get a bunch of half priced appetizers and drinks and just laugh all night. 

Christmas-By-The-Sea-3
Saturday lends to a lot of shopping. Between the craft fair at the high school, the town of Rockland, Rockport and Camden we get a lot done. We stopped at the Waterfront restaurant for lunch where we could see Santa coming in on the tugboat. 

Christmas-By-The-Sea-4
Dinner was at a pub called Water Works. It wasn’t as good as last year but still decent. Our hotel is right on the water so we wake to amazing views. Sunday we stopped at the Three Dog Cafe for breakfast. All the decor is dog themed and the food is amazing. So fresh. 

Christmas-By-The-Sea-5
We stopped back at When Pigs Fly for lunch on the way home. We had no idea the desserts were so big!! I had the cheesecake, so good. I was so full though I didn’t even bother having dinner. 

family
The best part of the trip was just being with my family. They have always been there for me, they know my flaws and love me anyways. We can always make each other laugh and I cherish that so very much. The weekend was way too short but we had a blast!

 

Seamus Sightings

It was amazing to see Seamus again, i sure did miss that face. 

seamus

 

How was your weekend? 

Do you have holiday traditions? 

 

Linking up with Biana from B Loved Boston.

Weekending
signature

Book Challenge 4.0 – Book list

It is no surprise that I am a book lover and daily reader. I completed Erin’s  from TexErin-In-Sydneyland last challenge and she posted about her Facebook Group Challenge new list I knew I wanted to jump on board.  I was able to use my Goodreads to-read list for most of the books so that made me happy, gives me an excuse to start tackling the 600+ books on my list. If you want to read the rules click here. There is still time to join in. 

  The challenge will run from January 1, 2016 to April 30, 2016. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on January 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on April 30 will count. These are the books I chose for each category. Each photo and book title will take you to the Goodreads info page, where the blurbs were captured.  

 

 – 5 points:  Read a book, any book that is at least 200 pages long. 

25739091

A Girl’s Guide to Moving On: A Novel – Debbie Macomber 

In this powerful and uplifting novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber, a mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over. Leaning on each other, Nichole and Leanne discover that their inner strength and capacity for love are greater than they ever imagined.
 
When Nichole discovers that her husband, Jake, has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is indelibly shattered. While juggling her young son, a new job, and volunteer work, Nichole meets Rocco, who is the opposite of Jake in nearly every way. Though blunt-spoken and rough around the edges, Rocco proves to be a dedicated father and thoughtful friend. But just as their relationship begins to blossom, Jake wagers everything on winning Nichole back—including their son Owen’s happiness. Somehow, Nichole must find the courage to defy her fears and follow her heart, with far-reaching consequences for them all.
 
Leanne has quietly ignored her husband’s cheating for decades, but is jolted into action by the echo of Nichole’s all-too-familiar crisis. While volunteering as a teacher of English as a second language, Leanne meets Nikolai, a charming, talented baker from Ukraine. Resolved to avoid the heartache and complications of romantic entanglements, Leanne nonetheless finds it difficult to resist Nikolai’s effusive overtures—until an unexpected tragedy tests the very fabric of her commitments.
 
An inspiring novel of friendship, reinvention, and hope, A Girl’s Guide to Moving On affirms the ability of every woman to forge a new path, believe in love, and fearlessly find happiness.

*********************

– 10 points:Read a book that begins with the letter “D”.  (Yes, I put 25 letters in jar – I left out X – and drew randomly)

 

4325
Dreamland – Sarah Dessen 

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else–her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

*********************

– 10 points:Read a book with a four word title. 

23992471
Needs a Little TLC – Ines Saint 

Real estate agent Cassidy Morgan specializes in historic homes, but her own history is something she likes to avoid. Back in Spinning Hills for the first time in ten years, she has a chance to put her small agency on the map as the premier realtor of restored houses. But it means a partnership with the one man she’s never forgotten—and can’t quite resist…

Sam Amador doesn’t quit—and he doesn’t run away from his problems, like a certain stubborn, extremely attractive real estate agent did all those years ago. Working with Cassie is a risk, but Sam knows his heart is more likely to suffer than his renovation business. How can he convince her that this time, Spinning Hills is where she belongs—and that his love has always been hers?

*********************

– 15 points:Read a book with one of the following words in the title: “mother(s)”, “father(s)”, “son(s)”, “daughter(s)”, or “child(ren)”.

22934446
Not My Fathers Son – Alan Cumming 

Dark, painful memories can be put away to be forgotten. Until one day they all flood back in horrible detail.

When television producers approached Alan Cumming to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show, he hoped to solve the mystery of his maternal grandfather’s disappearance that had long cast a shadow over his family. But this was not the only mystery laid before Alan.

Alan grew up in the grip of a man who held his family hostage, someone who meted out violence with a frightening ease, who waged a silent war with himself that sometimes spilled over onto everyone around him. That man was Alex Cumming, Alan’s father, whom Alan had not seen or spoken to for more than a decade when he reconnected just before filming for Who Do You Think You Are? began. He had a secret he had to share, one that would shock his son to his very core and set into motion a journey that would change Alan’s life forever.

With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as the celebrated actor of film, television, and stage. At times suspenseful, at times deeply moving, but always incredibly brave and honest, Not My Father’s Son is a powerful story of embracing the best aspects of the past and triumphantly pushing the darkness aside.

*********************

– 20 points:Amazon ranks their “most popular authors”, and they update this list hourly.  Based on when you make your book list, look at the top 100 authors, and pick a book to read from one of those authors, but here’s the catch – it needs to be an author new to you…one of the most popular authors, yet you’ve never read them before.  http://www.amazon.com/author-rank

18007564
The Martian – Andy Weir 

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.

*********************

-20 points:Read a book set in any country in Asia.  (In previous challenges, we’ve been to Europe, Latin America, and a country you’ve never visited.  Stick around, we’ll tour the world!)

17563413
Snow Drops – A.D. Miller (Russia)

A.D. Miller’s SNowdrops is a riveting psychological drama that unfolds over the course of one Moscow winter, as a thirty-something Englishman’s moral compass is spun by the seductive opportunities revealed to him by a new Russia: a land of hedonism and desperation, corruption and kindness, magical dachas and debauched nightclubs; a place where secrets – and corpses- come to light only when the deep snows start to thaw…

A chilling story of love and moral freefall: of the corruption, by a corrupt society, of a corruptible man. It is taut, intense and has a momentum as irresistible to the reder as the moral danger that first enchants, then threatens to overwhelm, its narrator.

*********************

-25 points:Read a book with a “Season” in the title.  (I start the challenge in Summer and end in Autumn; many of you start in Winter and end in Spring…so the title of your book should have Summer, Autumn/Fall, Winter, or Spring in the title.)

18007535
The Winter People – Jennifer McMahon

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

*********************

– 30 points:Read a book that will make you laugh from the list attached. (submitted by Bernadette, previous winner) http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/books-guaranteed-to-make-you-laugh-out-loud

35982
My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler 

In this raucous collection of true-life stories, actress and comedian Chelsea Handler recounts her time spent in the social trenches with that wild, strange, irresistible, and often gratifying beast: the one-night stand.
You’ve either done it or know someone who has: the one-night stand, the familiar outcome of a night spent at a bar, sometimes the sole payoff for your friend’s irritating wedding, or the only relief from a disastrous vacation. Often embarrassing and uncomfortable, occasionally outlandish, but most times just a necessary and irresistible evil, the one-night stand is a social rite as old as sex itself and as common as a bar stool.
Enter Chelsea Handler. Gorgeous, sharp, and anything but shy, Chelsea loves men and lots of them. My Horizontal Life chronicles her romp through the different bedrooms of a variety of suitors, a no-holds-barred account of what can happen between a man and a sometimes very intoxicated, outgoing woman during one night of passion. From her short fling with a Vegas stripper to her even shorter dalliance with a well-endowed little person, from her uncomfortable tryst with a cruise ship performer to her misguided rebound with a man who likes to play leather dress-up, Chelsea recalls the highs and lows of her one-night stands with hilarious honesty. Encouraged by her motley collection of friends (aka: her partners in crime) but challenged by her family members (who at times find themselves a surprise part of the encounter), Chelsea hits bottom and bounces back, unafraid to share the gritty details. My Horizontal Life is one guilty pleasure you won’t be ashamed to talk about in the morning.

*********************

– 30 points:Read a book that is a friend or family member’s favorite book (or the favorite book of another participant from this challenge).  (submitted by Peggy, previous winner). This is one of Steph’s favorites. 

17934521
Shotgun Lovesongs – Nickolas Butler 

Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the same Wisconsin town — Little Wing — and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One of them never left, still farming the family’s land that’s been tilled for generations. Others did leave, went farther afield to make good, with varying degrees of success; as a rock star, commodities trader, rodeo stud. And seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them—both then and now—fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of love songs and rivalries.

Now all four are home, in hopes of finding what could be real purchase in the world. The result is a shared memory only half-recreated, riddled with culture clashes between people who desperately wish to see themselves as the unified tribe they remember, but are confronted with how things have, in fact, changed.

There is conflict here between longtime buddies, between husbands and wives — told with writing that is, frankly, gut-wrenching, and even heartbreaking. But there is also hope, healing, and at times, even heroism. It is strong, American stuff, not at all afraid of showing that we can be good, too — not just fallible and compromising. Shotgun Lovesongs is a remarkable and uncompromising saga that explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again — and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires.

 

*********************

– 35 points: Read a book published the year you were born. (submitted by Meredith, previous winner)

37744
Wifey – Judy Blume

With more than four million copies sold, Wifey is Judy Blume’s hilarious, moving tale of a woman who trades in her conventional wifely duties for her wildest fantasies-and learns a lot about life along the way.Sandy Pressman is a nice suburban wife whose boredom is getting the best of her. She could be making friends at the club, like her husband keeps encouraging her to do.

Or working on her golf game.

Or getting her hair done.

But for some reason, these things don’t interest her as much as the naked man on the motorcycle…

 

*********************

 

Have you participated in a Book Challenge before? Did you finish? 

Any books above you have read or are interested in reading? 

 

signature

Christmas Wish List 2015 – Under $40

Right about now you are getting bombarded by Wish Lists or gift guides, there is something for everyone. While I like them because they give me good ideas, they tend to have a lot of items outside of my budget. I do love unique items, but my tried and true scarves and mugs are always a keeper. 

This list is more for people in my family or friends that may not know what to get me for Christmas but hopefully it gives you some ideas for some people in your life or just find some awesome new places to shop. 

 

Mugs: Like this is a surprise!!  Mug addiction is going strong.

mug

Something Good // Attingham

Zero fox given // Courage and Kind

Scarves: When it comes to scarves I tend to lean towards plaid and solids. I like them to be warm too so most are a cotton or knit material. Here are some of my recent favorites. 

scarves

Orange and Blue plaid // Cream Snood 

Gray Pashmina // turquoise and gray plaid 

 

Beauty Items: A little pop of color and glowing skin is always welcome. 

beauty

Origins – Charcoal mask // ColourPop in Teeny Tiny 

Buxom in Sinful Cinnamon (Matte) // Anastasia in Trust Issues 

 

What’s on your wish list? 

Do you have a favorite shop for unique items? 

 

signature
 

 

Weekend of Thanks

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend without any family drama. My weekend was very low key since next weekend I will be in MAINE!!!! I am so excited for our girls weekend.  It might be a lite posting week since it is going to be hectic. I also have a new bookcase/console table being delivered today so I want to put it together before I leave. 

Okay I’m going to get to it since it was a busy weekend and since it is photo heavy I am going to try and limit the chatter. Enjoy! 

I Did

Thanksgiving
I made the Apple Pie cupcakes from this post and it was a hit. We went to my Aunt’s and it was a blast. The kids were excited to see each other. There was also an intense game of Scene It Disney. Disney trivia and I don’t get along but the kids loved it. 

 

Thanksgiving-1
Every so often I like to get dolled up, I am trying to step out of my comfort zone and wear bolder lip colors. I am more a gloss girl so this was a stretch for me. Resting b**ch face or what?! Ugh. 

 

decor
Friday is always the day I write out my Christmas cards, no Black Friday shopping for me unless it’s online. I do my personal cards and also the cards for my family. It was around 80 cards, my wrist was sore. 

I pulled out all my bins of decorations, and noticed I have a huge reindeer addiction. I spread them out over different spaces. My media center houses most of them though. 

I conquered

tree
I picked up my tree Friday night and let the branches fall overnight. Saturday I decorated the tree and I am loving it. Trees are seriously expensive though. Am I right?

tree-1
I watched Love Actually while decorating, love that movie. 

village
Sunday I finished up the village area, which is on my side tables. My Mom gave me most of them and I have picked up some new ones here and there. 

 

decorations
A little wall decor and pillows. I am loving the Christmas everywhere. 

decorations-1
 

A little decor on my console table, which will hopefully fit on the new one. A few more reindeers made it in my dining room centerpiece. 

Seamus Sightings

 

Seamus
Seamus looked so cute in his Thanksgiving getup. With all the decorations going up I had to move his bed, he was a little pissed. 

 

Seamus-1
Seamus is trying to find a new place to lay, and he ended up under the tree more than a few times. He also posed next to the tree right near the Pomeranian ornament. Loved it! 

 

How was your weekend? 

Are you in a turkey coma?

 

Linking up with Biana from B Loved Boston.

Weekending
signature