Friday, June 23, 2017

Prairie Days!

I may have mentioned that I'm kind of obsessed with the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  They are one of my childhood favorites, I've read all the books more times than I can count.  I grew up mostly in Southern California so visiting a Little House museum wasn't really an option.  I know live in the Midwest and all of the museums are within 8 hours (driving distance) from where I live.  
The Little House on the Prairie museum is only 2 1/2 hours from my house and I've been dying to go visit.  Every June they have a festival called 'Prairie Days' and this year we were finally able to go!  I've been reading the 'My First Little House' books with her so she's familiar with Laura and Mary and their stories so she was super excited too.

The property has an old original schoolhouse, an old original post office and a replica of the cabin Pa built in the Little House on the Prairie book.  I wish I had taken pictures of all of these buildings because they were really neat.  While we were there, a teacher gave lessons in the old schoolhouse, slates and all.  We couldn't go in the cabin because it's not in very good shape right now.  They are saving to build a new one because it's been severely damaged by storms and age.  However, we could look inside and it was really neat.  We also got to see the well Pa dug on the property.  Pa's well is actually how they were able to locate the land where the Ingalls family had family had lived in southern Kansas.

The festival was really fun!  They had all kinds of demonstrations and hands on activities for kids.  Julia got to make a rope, pump water and shuck corn.  You could also make corn husk dolls, tiny bales of hay and there was a costume contest and parade.  It was fun and laid back and we had a good time.  Of course, I bought Julia a sunbonnet and she actually enjoyed wearing it. : )

Julia keeps asking when we can go back and visit.  I don't know if we'll make a trip back this year but I would definitely visit again.  We also live about 4 hours from the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Mansfield, MO so we're going to take a long weekend and visit sometime in the fall.  Eventually, I would like to visit all of the museums but the rest of them are little bit farther away.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mini Reviews (20)

This series is great! I want to live in the town of Haven Point and I love getting to know each character and their families.  This book follows Kat Bailey when she returns to Haven Point after living in South America.  She is a great character; she has the patience of a saint and I really liked reading about her relationship with Bowie's autistic brother, Milo.  Bowie and Kat had a great relationship and it was so sweet to watch them deal with their pasts and fall in love.  Kat was a little whiny at times which got annoying after a while but otherwise this was a great story.  If you're looking for a good romance story with a happy ending, this is a good one. 3 1/2 stars.

This was an interesting concept for a story.  I enjoyed reading about the resistance and the different ways the war affected women in Germany.  The story followed three women who had their own unique experiences during the war and it was interesting to see the perspective of those living in Germany.  That being said, I didn't find most of the characters to be very likable.  I think Ania was the only character who I liked.  I was really happy to have Ania's story told in full at the end of the book.  Marianne was so self-righteous and Benita was kind of whiny.  I know they all went through a lot during the war but since most of the story was told from Marianne's point of view, it was all kind of colored by her opinion.  I don't think this was a bad story, it just kind of fell flat for me. 2 1/2 stars

I received both of these books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Blast: "Traitor's Knot" by Cryssa Bazos

Traitor's Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Endeavor Press

eBook; 394 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

“A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story.” - Elizabeth St. John, author of The Lady of the Tower

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.” - Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife

Traitor's Knot is available in eBook from Amazon

About the Author

Cryssa Bazos is a historical fiction writer and 17th Century enthusiast, with a particular interest in the English Civil War (ECW). She blogs about English history and storytelling at her blog, the 17th Century Enthusiast, and is an editor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog site.

Cryssa's debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, a romantic tale of adventure set during the English Civil War. Traitor’s Knot is the first in a series of adventures spanning from the ECW to the Restoration and is now available from Endeavour Press.

For more information visit Cryssa's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Wednesday, May 31
Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 1
A Bookaholic Swede

Friday, June 2
The Writing Desk

Monday, June 5
Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, June 6
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, June 8
So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, June 9
I Heart Reading

Monday, June 12
What Is That Book About

Tuesday, June 13
Books, Dreams, Life

Wednesday, June 14
The True Book Addict

Thursday, June 15
A Holland Reads

Sunday, June 18
Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, June 19
Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots (with excerpt)

Tuesday, June 20
A Literary Vacation
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, June 21
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, June 22
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, June 23
Book Nerd

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mini Reviews (19)

I have really enjoyed Ms. Kostova's books in the past so when I saw this one, I knew I had to read it.  I know next to nothing about Bulgaria so I was fascinated by the history and view of the country itself that was relayed in this story.  The story has a variety of very unique characters who somehow all manage to meet up in their efforts to return the ashes to their rightful owners.  The story bounced between the past and present lives of several characters and I liked that the reader got a glimpse of Bulgaria's history from different points of view.  My one complaint about this book was that it was too long.  The story dragged on at times and I think it could have been condensed a bit.  Otherwise, a very enjoyable read.  3 stars.

I have always been intrigued by Anne Boleyn as a historical figure.  She's very complicated and I think that this book made clear how complicated of a person she was.  This book is a very detailed, sweeping view of Anne Boleyn's life from a very young age until her death.  It is clear that Ms. Weir did an extensive amount of research (as she always does) and really tried to provide some balance to Anne's life and personality.  There were points in the story where I really did not like Anne at all and parts where I felt bad for her and the position she was in.  Ms. Weir is very sympathetic to Anne in her portrayal even though Anne is pretty awful in some parts.  I will also add that this is a very long book; it really does go into depth regarding Anne's rise and fall.  Because of this the story did seem to move slowly at times; it definitely seemed like I would never see Anne and Henry get married.  We all know how  Anne's story ends but I think the author took it one step too far and things got kind of weird.  Like really weird.  Beside that, it was a good read for those who are fans of the Tudor era.  I definitely look forward to the next book in the series. 3 stars.
I received both books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 2, 2017

April and May Reading Wrap Up

The month of May got away from me!  The past few months have been a whirlwind and I feel like I'm just getting my breath.  I think we had something going on for every weekend in April and May so I've gotten pretty behind with reviews.

We spent most of April looking for a house and finally found one in early May!  It's very exciting but also kind of stressful.  We close on July 10 so this weekend we get to start purging and packing.  We haven't moved in almost 4 years so it's going to be interesting.  We also took a long weekend in May to go visit my mom; my brother was state side so we got to see him too and it turned out to be a really fun trip.

Reading for the past two months hasn't been great.  May was probably reading month in a very long time; I only read 4 books!  For the year I've read a total of 36 books though Goodreads says I'm 5 books behind on my reading goal but I'm trying not let it bother me.  I am 12 books ahead of where I was this time last year and I still managed to get in 101 books last year.  I'm sure it will all work out.

Stats for April and May
-11 books read
   -  non-fiction
   - 8 historical fiction
   - 7 review books
   - 2 library books
   - 2 books I own
   - 8 ebooks

I'm looking forward to more reading in June!  I hope everyone has a great summer!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Blast: "Where Rainbows End" by AnneMarie Brear

Where Rainbows End by AnneMarie Brear

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Choc Lit

eBook; ASIN: B071P7KBH6

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Romance/Western

Can she hold on to her dreams...?

It’s 1850 and the Noble family have travelled to the other side of the world to start a new life after scandal drove them from their native England.

Pippa Noble is determined to reclaim their honour by making her father’s plan for an outback farm reality, although her ambition is frowned upon by a society that has very set ideas about a woman’s place...

Pippa learns the hard way about the unforgiving nature of the bush, sometimes with devastating consequences. And when unfortunate circumstance leads to Pippa tending the farm alone, it is the friendship of neighbouring estate owner Gil Ashford-Smith that helps her through.

Then an unexpected visitor from England arrives, putting Pippa's dreams in jeopardy. But she refuses to let go. She will hold onto her family's land, even if it means losing everything else...

"A compelling story of a headstrong woman who defies the traditional female role and forages a successful life through hard work and a strong vision. Excellent descriptions of the outback and the hardships of life in Australia in the 1850's." - Amazon Review

You can purchase Where Rainbows End in eBook via:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Chapters | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author

AnneMarie has been a life-long reader and started writing in 1997 when her children were small. She has a love of history, of grand old English houses and a fascination of what might have happened beyond their walls. Her interests include reading, genealogy, watching movies, spending time with family and eating chocolate – not always in that order!

AnneMarie grew up in Australia but now lives in the UK.

For more information please visit AnneMarie Brear's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, May 29
100 Pages a Day
A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, May 30
Creating Herstory
Beth's Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, May 31
Book Nerd
A Holland Reads
The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, June 1
Brooke Blogs
So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, June 2
A Chick Who Reads
Susan Heim on Writing

Saturday, June 3
T's Stuff

Sunday, June 4
Passages to the Past

Monday, June 5
CelticLady's Reviews
Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, June 6
I Heart Reading
WS Momma Readers Nook

Wednesday, June 7
Books, Dreams, Life
Faery Tales Are Real

Thursday, June 8
Let Them Read Books
History From a Woman's Perspective

Friday, June 9
A Literary Vacation
Library of Clean Reads

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Blast: Kat Clifford Mystery Series by Candace Robb

Please join author Candace Robb as her Kate Clifford Mystery Series is featured around the blogosphere, from May 9-24.

The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb

Paperback Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Pegasus Books

Paperback; 256 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book One

Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of fourteenth century England.

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king--Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The Service of the Dead

“Robb’s deft hand creates a realistic political and commercial climate as King Richard II’s reign draws to a close in 1399. Comparable to Sara Poole’s Poisoner mysteries and Ariana Franklin’s Adelia Aguilar series, with its strong political setting and multiple plot strands.” (Booklist)

“A historical novel that deftly captures politics and interactions between different social interests in late medieval England…against the backdrop of social pressures and military actions, Kate’s character and world shine and draw readers into her choices and challenges.” (California Bookwatch)

“Kate Clifford is a wonderful creation, hard-nosed in some respects, compassionate and caring on the other. I look forward to the next installment of this delightful series!” (Historical Novels Review)

“The novel resonates with its compelling portrayal of an England on the brink of crisis.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The Service of the Dead is a tasty brew of political intrigue, larceny, and murder set within the walls of medieval York. Candace Robb’s latest historical mystery is steeped in the atmosphere of the late fourteenth century, and in Kate Clifford she’s given us a no-nonsense heroine and sleuth who is not only smart, but fierce when those she cares about are threatened. You’re going to love her.” (Patricia Bracewell, author of the Emma of Normandy Trilogy)

“The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb is a strikingly well-crafted novel that is a compelling page-turner from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library historical fiction collections.” (Midwest Book Review)

A Twisted Vengeance by Candace Robb

Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Pegasus Books

Hardcover; 400 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book Two

Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

As the fourteenth century comes to a close, York seethes on the brink of civil war?and young widow Kate Clifford, struggling to keep her businesses afloat, realizes that her mother is harboring a dangerous secret…

1399. York is preparing for civil war, teeming with knights and their armed retainers summoned for the city’s defense. Henry of Lancaster is rumored to have landed on the northeast coast of England, not so far from York, intent on reclaiming his inheritance?an inheritance which his cousin, King Richard, has declared forfeit.

With the city unsettled and rife with rumors, Eleanor Clifford’s abrupt return to York upon the mysterious death of her husband in Strasbourg is met with suspicion in the city. Her daughter Kate is determined to keep her distance, but it will not be easy?Eleanor has settled next door with the intention of establishing a house of beguines, or poor sisters. When one of the beguines is set upon in the night by an intruder, Kate knows that for the sake of her own reputation and the safety of her young wards she must investigate.

From the first, Eleanor is clearly frightened yet maintains a stubborn silence. The brutal murder of one of Eleanor’s servants leads Kate to suspect that her mother’s troubles have followed her from Strasbourg. Is she secretly involved in the political upheaval? When one of her wards is frightened by a too-curious stranger, Kate is desperate to draw her mother out of her silence before tragedy strikes her own household.

"Lovers of Shakespeare’s Richard II will find Robb’s intricate sequel to 2016’s The Service of the Dead a particular treat, as it charts the course of Richard’s downfall and his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke’s rise through the fears and uncertainties of the residents of the city of York in July 1399. These anxieties are worsened by a series of strange deaths connected to the extended family of Kate Clifford, a fierce young widow struggling to cope with not only her own household of jostling servants and the recently arrived illegitimate children of her late husband but also the return of her quarrelsome mother, Eleanor, from Strasbourg with religious women in tow. The character of Clifford is compelling and finely drawn, and for those readers who are patient enough to manage an unusually large number of secondary characters, the answers to a series of mysteries, starting with the reason for an intruder’s attack on a beguine (or poor sister) in the middle of the night, are highly satisfying." - Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Candace Robb did her graduate work in medieval literature and history, and has continued to study the period while working first as an editor of scientific publications and now for some years as a freelance writer. Candace has published 13 crime novels set in 14th century England, Wales, and Scotland. The Owen Archer series is based in York and currently extends over 10 novels beginning with THE APOTHECARY ROSE; the most recent is A VIGIL OF SPIES. The Margaret Kerr trilogy explores the early days of Scotland’s struggle again England’s King Edward I, and includes A TRUST BETRAYED, THE FIRE IN THE FLINT, and A CRUEL COURTSHIP.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published historical novels about two fascinating women she encountered while researching the Owen Archer mysteries, Alice Perrers (THE KING’S MISTRESS) and Joan of Kent (A TRIPLE KNOT).

Candace was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she and her husband love for its combination of natural beauty and culture. Candace enjoys walking, hiking, and gardening, and practices yoga and vipassana meditation. She travels frequently to Great Britain.

For more information, please visit Candace Robb's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, May 9
Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 10
The Reading Queen

Thursday, May 11
Carole Rae's Random Ramblings
The Paperback Princess

Friday, May 12
Jo's Book Blog

Saturday, May 13
The Never Ending Book

Monday, May 15
A Book Geek

Tuesday, May 16
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, May 17
Book Nerd

Friday, May 19
Books, Dreams, Life

Saturday, May 20
Buried Under Books

Monday, May 22
The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 23
The Lit Bitch
A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, May 24
T's Stuff

Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: "Under the Approaching Dark" by Anna Belfrage

Synopsis: Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over.

After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster.

In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much.
When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.

My Thoughts: Under the Approaching Dark is the third book in Anna Belfrage's The King's Greatest Enemy series.  In this book, we return to Adam and Kit's world; one full of intrigue, bitter rivalries, love and family.  As always, the writing is excellent and Ms. Belfrage's attention to historical detail is superb.  She must do a massive amount of research!

I have always liked Adam but I think I like him a lot more after this book. I feel like the reader got to know Adam a little bit more in this book and I really enjoyed that.  It was really interesting to watch him try to balance his loyalties to the king, his family and to Mortimer.  He is really in a tough position in this book but he managed to handle it as well as could be expected.  And since I'm talking about characters, I have to mention Godfrey.  Ms. Belfrage does not disappoint with her villains; she writes the best (or worst) villains ever.  With Despenser gone, there needed to be a new bad guy and Godfrey fills those shoes pretty well.

This book also did a lot of foreshadowing for the next book (at least that's what it felt like).  There was this underlying current throughout the story that something big is coming and everyone needs to be prepared for it.  By the time I got to the end of the story, I was ready for the 4th book to be out so I could dive right in.

Under the Approaching Dark is another example of Ms. Belfrage's storytelling expertise.  It was a great read and I can't wait to see what happens next for Adam and Kit! 4 stars.

About the Author:

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

Other than on her website,, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mailbox Monday (75)

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I participated in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon on Saturday and it was great!  I've been in a terrible reading funk lately but I managed to get a lot of reading in and I think I busted out of my funk.  

The last week was pretty quiet; we didn't look at any houses so it was nice to just be in our normal day to day routine.  The hubs and I had a super fun date night with friends on Friday but we definitely paid for it on Saturday when Julia came home tired and grumpy from my mother-in-laws.  Oh well, I guess that's just life with a 3 year old!

Finished Reading:

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
Bobbins and Boots by Shanna Hatfield
Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

Currently Reading:

Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession by Alison Weir

I totally blew my book buying ban again this week so here I am with another Mailbox Monday post.  I got an email from Barnes and Noble by mistake indicating that I still had some unused ebook credits so, of course, I started shopping for some new booksI already had several picked out when I got another email notifying me of the error but I just decided to buy them anyway.

Purchased (for nook and kindle):

Blackberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
Unprocessed by Megan Kimble
Crazy Horse and Custer by Stephen E. Ambrose
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Neilsen  

From the Library (ebook):

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

What books did you get this week?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Mini Reviews (18)

I have a back log of NetGalley reads so I thought I would do a Mini Review post.

Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

I am fascinated by the story of the Adele Bloch-Bauer painting by Gustav Klimt so I was very excited to read this book.  I've seen the movie and a couple documentaries, read some books and even have some Klimt reproductions in my office.   I enjoyed the discussion of fin de siecle Vienna and all the creative movements (artistic and otherwise) that were blossoming during Klimt's life.  It was really interesting to read about how society was changing and art was changing with it.  As a whole, I enjoyed the story but I think the characters were hard to relate to.  At times, I really liked Adele's character and other times, she seemed very whiny and I had a hard time feeling sympathetic to her plight.  The story also jumped back and forth between different time periods and that transition wasn't very smooth.  It was an interesting story as a whole, there were just some things that bugged me a bit.  3 stars.

Daughter of a Thousand Years by Amalia Carosella

I'm not familiar with this period of history and because of that I was drawn to this story.  It was nice to read something different.  This was another book that bounced between past and present and I think it was pretty well done.  Freydis was a very cool and complex character; I liked that she stuck by her beliefs even when it brought her grief.  I also liked the emphasis on religious tolerance in both the past and present stories; it seemed to be very timely.  Overall, a good book with an important message. 3 stars.

This was a really unique historical novel.  The supernatural aspect to the story was compelling; Brette's ability to see spirits and her journey were my favorite part of the story.  I enjoyed watching Brette learn more about her abilities, her family and herself.  I liked the historical side of the story but it felt really rushed and more of an afterthought.  It just didn't mesh well with the rest of the story.  I did really enjoy the ending though.  3 stars.

I received all of these books from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mailbox Monday (74)

I really didn't want to have another Mailbox Monday post for a long while but I caved and bought a couple of books this week.  YIKES.  I think I only made it two or three weeks without buying books. 

Work continues to be busy and and the week was crazy with house hunting.  We looked at several houses and even put an offer on one but nothing came of it.  So back to the drawing board! I also started watching '13 Reasons Why' on NetFlix and then the hubs got really into it and binge watched the whole season.  I didn't see all of it but I'm pretty sure I've seen enough.  I didn't dislike it but it was pretty dark and makes me terrified of sending my daughter to school.  I think I'll just stick with getting caught up on 'This is Us'.  Because of all that, it was a really slow reading week. I'd like to finish two more books before the month is over so I better get on it!

Finished Reading:

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

Currently Reading:

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage

Purchased (for kindle):

What books did you get this week?


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Blast: "Lilli de Jong" by Janet Benton

Lilli de Jong
by Janet Benton

Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Nan A. Talese
Hardcover & eBook; 352 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Literary


A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family's home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. "So little is permissible for a woman," writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

Available for Pre-Order at
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo | Powell's

Praise for Lilli de Jong

"Lilli de Jong, discharged from her teaching job and banished from Quaker meetings because of her father's selfish choice, finds comfort in the affections of her father's apprentice, Johan. The night before he leaves to embark on a new life, she succumbs to his embrace with his promise that he will send for her. Soon thereafter, a pregnant Lilli finds herself shunned and alone, her only option a Philadelphia charity for wronged women. Knowing that she must relinquish her newborn, she is unprepared for the love that she feels for her daughter. Lilli quickly decides to fight to keep her, but in 1883 that means a life of hardship and deprivation. Telling Lilli's story in diary form, debut author Benton has written a captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother's love and the stark reality of the choices she must make. VERDICT A great choice for book clubs and readers of Geraldine Brooks." - Library Journal, Starred Review

“A powerful, authentic voice for a generation of women whose struggles were erased from history—a heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute, Lilli de Jong is the story of an unwed mother in late 19th-century Philadelphia who, facing peril at every turn, will do almost anything to keep her daughter alive. Benton turns a laser eye to her subject, exposing the sanctimony, hypocrisies, and pervasive sexism that kept women confined and unequal in the Victorian era—and that still bedevil many women today. A gripping read.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

“A stunning ode to motherhood. Lilli de Jong reminds us that there is no formula to being a good mother. Love is the essential ingredient, and only it gives everlasting life to our legacies. A debut of robust heart that will stay with me for a very long time.” —Sarah McCoy, author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“Janet Benton’s remarkable novel Lilli de Jong is historical fiction that transcends the genre and recalls a past world so thoroughly that it breathes upon the page. From the first sentence, Lilli’s sensitive, observant, determined voice casts an irresistible spell. Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold—though reader, be warned: Lilli’s story may break your heart.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Lilli’s fight to craft her own life and nurture her bond with her baby is both devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful. A stunning read about the fierceness of love triumphing over a rigid society.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow

“The trials Lilli undertakes to keep her baby are heart-rending, and it's a testament to Benton's skill as a writer that the reader cannot help but bear witness. In a style reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks, she seamlessly weaves accurate historical detail as well as disturbing societal norms into the protagonist's struggles . . . An absorbing debut from a writer to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A heartrending debut . . . Benton’s exacting research fuels Lilli’s passionate, authentic voice that is ‘as strong as a hand on a drum . . . that pounds its urgent messages across a distance’ . . . Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.” —Publishers Weekly

“A harrowing look at the strictures of nineteenth-century American society. . . . [Lilli] is a full-fledged heroine, persevering despite seemingly insurmountable odds. . . her voice is distinctive, her fierceness driven by a mother’s love.” —Booklist

“I loved this novel. Lilli de Jong is deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous. Janet Benton has an exceptional ability to bring history to life . . . It's not only a compelling, beautifully crafted historical novel, however: it's also important . . . Lilli's life-and-death struggle is shockingly common to women even today.” —Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr, debut novelist Janet Benton magically weaves a gripping narrative of hardship, redemption, and hope while illuminating a portrait of little-known history. The result is an unforgettable and important reflection on the maternal and, ultimately, the human bond. Stunning!” —Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.” —The Millions

About the Author

Janet Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton's website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 17

Tuesday, April 18
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, April 19
Luxury Reading

Thursday, April 20
100 Pages a Day
The Never-Ending Book

Friday, April 21
A Book Geek
Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Saturday, April 22
History From a Woman's Perspective

Monday, April 24
Creating Herstory

Tuesday, April 25
The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, April 26
SJ2B House of Books

Thursday, April 27
A Fold in the Spine
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, April 28
Just One More Chapter

Monday, May 1
Back Porchervations

Tuesday, May 2
Books & Benches
Oh, for the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, May 3
The Lit Bitch
Unabridged Chick

Thursday, May 4
Beth's Book Nook Blog

Friday, May 5
Brooke Blogs
Trisha Jenn Reads

Sunday, May 7
A Dream within a Dream

Monday, May 8
Book Nerd

Tuesday, May 9
Broken Teepee
The True Book Addict

Wednesday, May 10
What Is That Book About

Thursday, May 11
CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, May 12
A Literary Vacation

Monday, May 15
Passages to the Past

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Whole30 Reintroduction Fail

So I have to be honest, we completely bombed the reintroduction period.  I really don't want to post about my epic fail but I figure it's best to be honest.  We started reintroducing legumes and it went okay though they gave me a stomachache and I thought the peanut butter was bland.  Then we went on to non-gluten grains and that's where things went wrong.  We went to Chipotle for dinner that night and were able to add in rice and tortilla chips. Bad move.  I think tortilla chips are a gateway drug for me.  I ate so many chips and then I couldn't stop craving ice we went to Dairy Queen.  And then it was all down hill from there. 

I'm bummed about this up because now I don't have a good handle on what upsets my stomach.  My husband has been having a really hard time since we've stopped doing Whole30 a hundred percent of the time and it would be nice to know what his problem foods are (we think gluten but we can't be sure).  I also tend to get a headache after eating a non-compliant food and I wish I knew what specifically was causing it. 

We have been eating Whole30 most of the time but I've really struggled with the 'food freedom' aspect.  Once I start eating something off plan, it gets ugly really quick.  This past week was rough; I went out to lunch with friends twice and then we went out to dinner twice because we were in a hurry after looking at houses.  And then Easter hit.  BLECH.  Needless to say, the hubs and I feel like crap right now.  I'm back to eating on plan as much as possible and I'm considering doing another round of Whole30 beginning in the middle of May.  I think it would be a good way to get back on track for the summer.

I do really enjoy eating Whole30; it makes me feel better and it has helped me understand a bit better how the food I eat affects my body and mindset.  I'm sure you're probably bored of these posts by now but I do have one more planned for later this week and then you don't have to hear about Whole30 anymore.

My Whole30 Experience:

Whole 30 Week 1

Whole 30 Week 2

Whole 30 Week 3

Whole 30 Week 4

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mailbox Monday (73)

 Hello!  I think this may be one of my last Mailbox Monday posts for a while as I transition to just reading books I own and catching up on reviews.  I got some great books this week so I just had to share.

This week was a whirlwind!  I work at a university and it was the first week of enrollment so we were incredibly busy.  I'm also planning some big family celebrations in the next few months so it feels like there is always something that needs to be done.  I only finished one book this week (Forever A Hero by Linda Lael Miller) and barely made progress on anything else.  I'm hoping that next week will be a tiny bit less busy but we'll see!  

Goodreads Giveaway:

 I hardly ever enter giveaways on goodreads anymore because I haven't won in years. I was so excited to win this book because it sounds so good.

For Review (from HFBVT):
I've read all of Ms. Belfrage's books and they are AMAZING.  I can't wait to read this one!

For Review (From NetGalley):
This is the third book in the Daughters of La Lune series.  I really loved the last book so I'm eager to see where the story will go.

What books were in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

January - March Reading Wrap Up & Some Plans

2017 is already a quarter of the way over!  That's nuts!

I did a terrible job of keeping up with my monthly wrap up posts this year so I decided to combine the first three months into a wrap up of the whole quarter.  I'm doing great with reading so far this year and when March was over, I was perfectly on track to meet my reading goal for the year.  I'm shooting for 100 books again this year and I finished March with 25 so I'm very pleased. 

Stats for January through March:

-25 books read
   - 6 non-fiction
   - 6 historical fiction
   - 2 review books
   -16 library books
   -5 books I own
   -17 ebooks

While I'm staying on track with my main reading goal, I'm really slacking in other areas.  I started a reading journal (which I've been neglecting) and for this year I set out to read 25 non-fiction books and 30 books I own.  I'm doing okay with making the non-fiction book goal but I really need to work on reading books I own.

I've been purchasing books indiscriminately all year.  Some have been books I've purchased with Christmas and birthday gift cards but for the most part, I've just been buying every book I see.  I've been terrible with kindle deals; I used to really think about it before I purchased something and would even check the library but lately, I've been buying anything that sounds good.  And then (as you can see above), I went to the library book sale and bought way more books than I needed to.  YIKES.

So, my goal for this quarter is to focus solely on reading books I own and catching up on review books.  I have one library book on hold and I have one pre-order book coming (A Court of Wings and Ruin, YEAH!) but otherwise, I will focus on books that I already have in my possession.  I'm excited about a lot of the books I bought and this will help me focus on them since I tend to get distracted by library books and new purchases.

I'm also going to try to post on the blog more. I took a small break and now I kind of miss it. I have lots of review books to read so there will be some reviews to post and I'd like to start posting about non-bookish things too.  I really enjoyed blogging about my Whole30 experience and still need to post about my failed re-intro phase (fun times!) so I'm going to try some new things around here.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful April so far!  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Whole30 - Crushed It!

That's a wrap folks! I survived week 4!  It was spring break so I was home most of the time and it was a challenge not to want to eat my way through the week.  We also started house hunting so that created challenges with late dinners and such.  I was glad that I had done some meal prep or we would have been in a real bind. 

This past Monday, the hubs and I finished our first Whole30.  I'm so incredibly glad I did it.  It was difficult at times but so worth it.  I ended up losing a total of 11.2 pounds and I feel great.  My clothes fit better, I feel more awake and I'm not dealing with constant bloat which is awesome.

Now that it's over, I'm a little apprehensive.  I started the 10 day reintroduction plan just so I know how things like dairy and gluten affect me but overall, I plan to stick with eating Whole30 most of the time.  (I'll post more about the reintro next week when I'm done).  I liked that I didn't constantly feel hungry and that I was eating real food instead of all processed food.  Even Julia started eating better along with us which is an added bonus. This eating plan really works for me and my diet is way better than it probably ever has been.

Things I loved: 

- My instant pot - This made my life so much easier.  I could through some potatos and sweet potatos in it and 'bake' them in less than half the time it takes in the oven.  I could also poach frozen chicken breasts in 10 minutes!  It was nice to have that option when I needed to throw something together quickly; some poached chicken and salsa on a salad is a fast and yummy dinner.

- Hazelnut Nutpods Creamer - Now I know in one of my previous posts I said I was pretty meh about this.  However, at that point, I had only tried one flavor.  The Hazelnut flavor is actually really good and even the Original one is good (French Vanilla not so much).

-Le Croix water - I don't think I would have survived without this stuff.  It really helped me cut some sweet cravings and it was nice to have an option other than plain water.

-Pinterest - There is so much information about Whole30 and so many recipes on Pinterest.  It was such a great resource to have.

I'm not ready to go out and eat all the cookies right now but I am kind of looking forward to my first sweet treat.  I read Melissa Hartwig's Food Freedom Forever and I found it super helpful as I move forward.  I definitely plan to follow her plan for life after Whole30.

I posted all of the recipes I tried in my weekly posts but below are my favorites.  The two recipes I made over the weekend were absolutely delicious and definitely make my favorite list.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

Baked Buffalo Wings 

Mini Egg Frittatas


Roasted sausage, peppers and potatos 

Paleo/Whole30 chili 

Easy Paleo Pot Roast

 I'll be back next weekend with updates on the reintro process!

Check out how each week went:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mailbox Monday (72)

Hey y'all! Today is the last day of spring break for me and Julia so I'm having a lazy, relaxing day.  It was a much busier week than I expected so spring break flew by.  I only had to work one day this past week but I worked from home a lot and we started house hunting which was a wild ride.  I'm kind of glad to go back to work and get back into our routine.  I did manage to get caught up on a lot of reading so overall, not a bad week.  

I picked up some books from the library and a few kindle deals so I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday again today.

From the Library (physical books):

From the Library (ebook):

I love this series and I think this one is my favorite book so far!

Purchased (for kindle):

Have you read any of these? What books did you get this week? 
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