Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts

Title: Home on Apple Blossom Road (Icicle Falls series)
Author: Sheila Roberts
Source: Won! Contest from Robert's Facebook page

Goodreads Summary:

Home is where the love is… 

Colin Wright and Mia Blair grew up in Icicle Falls, but they left years ago—and not on good terms. Now Colin's grandmother, Justine, has died, and they've come home to honor this woman they both loved. That's when they get some unexpected news. They're about to inherit something. Jointly. They just have no idea what. It turns out that Justine's designed a treasure hunt for them, like the ones they enjoyed when they were kids and best friends. 

But they're not kids anymore, and they sure aren't best friends. As for that young love they once shared? Well…it's complicated. 

On the trail of Justine's treasure, they follow a series of clues that take them down memory lane—ending up at the orchard on Apple Blossom Road. What will they find there? And what did Justine know that they didn't?

My thoughts:

What a fun read! This was only my third visit to the fictional town of Icicle Falls (my previous visits were in her Christmas books) but I really enjoyed the trip.

Icicle Falls is a quaint little Bavarian style town, that thrives on its tourist trade. It reminds me of Michigan's own Frankenemuth, but more small town friendly. Everyone there knows and likes each other, and is always willing to lend each other a helping hand. So when Colin and Mia return to Icicle Falls for their Grandma Justine's funeral, and have to complete a scavenger hunt together to receive their inheritance, the whole town is in on it. However, the rules to the hunt and the prize have a few stipulations - that Colin and Mia solve it together, and that there can be no outside help, which gets a little tricky when Colin's girlfriend surprises him by showing up in town!

Colin and Mia are not really cousins - Mia was adopted into the family after her being abandoned by her father and her mother passed away. Which makes the resulting romance between the two not icky. Colin and Mia grew up close, were childhood sweethearts, then in college had a fight that drove them apart. It turns out that Grandma Justine had a bigger plans with her scavenger hunt, than just bringing back childhood memories. The hunt takes them all over the city, and through their memories - resulting in some serious soul searching and realizations.

This book was cute and sweet and I really enjoyed it. It is a delightful retreat from the stresses of life to sink into a feel good, feel happy book, and Home on Apple Blossom Road definitely is a feel good, feel happy book.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma's Heart by Becky Thompson

Title: Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma's Heart
Author: Becky Thompson
Source: Blogging for Books

Goodreads Summary:

God’s love, plans, and promises for you are forever unfolding.

 I get it, Momma. I totally get it.
 Every day you wake up and try your very best. You love, give, and pour out your life for the ones who call you Momma. But no matter how much you offer, there are still days you feel as though you come up short. You worry, Am I loving these babies enough? Is this ever going to get easier? Why does it seem like I am the only one who cannot balance it all? 

Sometimes, we just need hope (and maybe a long uninterrupted nap). We need someone to help tune our hearts to the voice of the Father and to remind us that He has not forgotten about us.
In Hope Unfolding, Becky Thompson is a friend who reminds you that you aren’t alone, and that God is still writing your story. She guides you to encounter the Truth of God’s presence that not only fuels you with strength, but also a fresh confidence. And beyond gaining faith that tomorrow could be different, you find hope and purpose where you are standing today.

My Thoughts:

I don't talk a whole lot about my faith. It is just something that for me is a very private thing. I would say even that until a year ago, I wasn't even sure I had any. But then sometimes things happen, where you realize you can't get through something alone, that you need more help than can possibly exist on this earth. This post will probably be one of the most intimate I have written for my blog, so bear with me.

This past year has been one of the toughest of my whole life. One of the happiest, but also one of the hardest. Funny how they can go hand in hand. Little man was born two months early, I spent a whole month before he was born in the hospital with uncontrollable high blood pressure - the day he was born, I almost died. He almost died. That was the longest night of my life, and I barely remember it all. I do remember at one point saying to myself that I was going to live. And I started praying. I just started praying the Lord's Prayer over and over and over (interspersed with FDR's "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" for some reason). The boy still has a lot of struggles and challenges to overcome, and we work hard everyday together, along with his father and our whole family sometimes. But his smile is amazing and his laugh and the mischievous twinkle in his eye - and I know that God is with us.

When I received this book, I didn't know how much I needed it. I would just read it and cry sometimes, at the truth of it. Of how closely these situations and feelings mirrored my own, sometimes in just small everyday things. Thompson can take a real life moment and so connect it to scripture in just that way that it makes perfect sense. I think every mom feels the way that Thompson describes sometimes, doubting ourselves, wondering if we are doing the right thing. We look at this mom, we look at that mom, and we think, should we be doing that? Am I doing this all wrong? Am I screwing my kid up forever!? Thompson tackles all of the topics that new moms worry about, and in my opinion, after reading what she says, I think new moms will walk away feeling a bit stronger, a bit more confident, a little less worried and scared. And not as alone.

Do you need to be religious to read this book? Absolutely not. I think this book is perfect for any new mother out there. Yes, there is a lot of religion in this book of course, that is part of the point of it - but I still think that it is a beneficial read for any new mom out there struggling, whether they are a religious woman or not. You feel less like you are the only one out there feeling these feels, knowing that other moms are struggling with the very same things you are. I highly recommend this book to all those new mommas out there - sometimes we just need a little help, a hug, or the knowledge that we are not the only ones.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

A little late but better than never! 

I hope everyone who celebrates the holiday had a lovely Easter! Billy and I spent it with the boy at the zoo. The weather was gorgeous and all three of us had a great time. 

I was sick last week, y'all. I was dragging wagon and needed help from my mom to make it through the week. I still don't have my voice completely back yet, but I am feeling 100% better. 

Read Last (Two) Weeks:


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: You all said it was good, and it was! I loved it!

Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts: I won this in a contest on Roberts' Facebook page! I loved this book as well. Review - tomorrow! (hopefully)

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck: I am done! I loved this book. I read it while my husband listened to it on audio; it was fun to discuss this book with him, like a mini book club. He beat me to the end, which never would have happened BB (before baby) but that is ok. Under normal circumstances, I would have whipped through this book. It was that good. But I decided to read this slowly, like Rinker and his brother chose to see America, slowly, and I am glad that I did. Billy and I are planning on doing this again, him listen, while I read - we just need to settle on a book. 

Reading Now:

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs: I love this series. I haven't always loved every book, but I do love Mercy. This book is great so far!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

What a busy weekend! We had not one but two birthday parties for Wyatt's cousins on Saturday. One for his newly three year old cousin, and another for his cousin celebrating her Sweet Sixteen! I think it is so cool they all have such close birthdays. :) We took advantage of the nice weather this week too, with many walks and hanging out with friends and babies. It was a good week. 

I hope to get my seeds started this week - I am so behind already, but I think I should still be ok. I really just want to start some flower seeds this year for a cutting garden. Everything is getting all green and growy, I can't wait!


Best of My Love by Susan Mallery: Overall, a fun read, although a wee bit sexist, in my opinion. Review to come soon.

Reading This Week:

Ugh I am so so so close to the end of the Oregon Trail! It will definitely be finished in the next few days. I never got to the Linda Lael Miller book from last week, so I might read that. Or I might read this one:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I have enjoyed everything I have read by Rowell so far. I am looking forward to this one.

Posted Last Week:

I loved Pat Conroy's work.  I read every one of his books, and waited very patiently (not) for his next book to come out. He wasn't an author that published quickly, but when that next book finally did come out, it was well worth the wait. I was very saddened to hear of his death, and will feel his loss in the reading world, where we will all forever be waiting for another new book. Conroy's publisher, Open Road Media, sent me this very touching video tribute in honor of the late great Conroy.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book Review: The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

Title: The Drowning Girls
Author: Paula Treick DeBoard
Source: Author

Goodreads Summary:

Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she's felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she's determined to make it work—if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who's about to enter high school.

Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can't be trusted—and almost everyone has secrets they'd do anything to protect. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can't help but find sophisticated Kelsey's interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.

But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz's relationships with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it's not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control…

My thoughts:

DeBoard is one of my all-time favorite authors. I absolutely devour every book that she writes. If you are not familiar with her, I highly recommend her. I described DeBoard's writing to my book club as Joyce Carol Oates meets Gillian Flynn, and they agreed. She has her own twists and flair of course, but if I had to compare, I would definitely use those two authors.

When I received The Drowning Girls in the mail, I of course had to start reading immediately. Like with her previous books, I could not put it down. Riveting and compelling, this book was like The Crush on steroids. Never has there been teenager so dangerous, devious, and smart. Kelsey is one scary chick.

When Liz, her husband Phil, and daughter Danielle move into the ritzy gated community of The Palms, they have no idea how much their life is about to change. Their once happy lives are soon threatened and split apart by obsession, paranoia, desperation. Held hostage by one fifteen year old girl, this family is going to either sink or swim.

It is impossible to read this book without getting sucked in - I felt nervous and scared for the characters at times, anger at other times. Told in present time and flashback, you start with the ending and are brought full circle before finding out the whole story. I don't have a lot of time to read these days, and I managed to finish this book in a hurry - I had to know what was going to happen next! The ending will blow your mind!

If you are in the mood for a psychological thriller, I highly recommend The Drowning Girls, which comes out in April. Until then, check out DeBoard's previous books The Mourning Hours and The Fragile World.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dear Mr. Conroy ~ My Reading Life, Revisited

This post is a repost from 2011~

Title: My Reading Life
Author: Pat Conroy

When I was fifteen years old, my father put the book The Prince of Tides in my hands and told me to read. An unusual choice, some might think, for a 15 year old female from the suburbs in Michigan, who listened to Nirvana and frequented Denny's. This was my life though, growing up. My parents started my reading education early, as young as ten when my mother gave me James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small, and never moderated or censored my reading choices; in fact they encouraged me to read whatever I could get my hands on, and suggested many of their favorites, like J.D. Salinger, John Irving, James Herriot, and Kurt Vonnegut. I read voraciously and tenaciously, hanging on every syllable of every sentence.

The Prince of Tides was a changing point in my life however; while I always read constantly, and by constantly I mean actually not putting the book down, and read while brushing my teeth, making breakfast, walking from room to room, I really couldn't put this book down. I even convinced my mom the day after I started the book that I was sick, and had to stay home from school. I finished The Prince of Tides that very day, and thus began my lifelong love of the south and southern writers. The lives of the characters in this book could not have been further from my own, yet something in the writing, in the story spoke to me. The setting, the characters, were a million miles away from my own personal landscapes, and I wanted to be part of that world. I wanted the concrete and tall buildings around me to transform into tidal lowlands; I had a crush on Luke, wanted to be Tom's friend, wanted to save Savannah. And later Luke. I can still recite from memory the poem Savannah wrote about Luke, still remember the white porpoise, Caesar, Callonwolde. This book is so full of pain and beauty and love rolled into one. I cried throughout most of it.

After that day, I read all of Pat Conroy's published works, and made sure to read every new one that came out after. Now, 20 years later, I am midway through Conroy's book My Reading Life, and am just as enthralled as I always am. It has reminded me just how in love with reading, with words, with books, with the south, with southern writers, Conroy in particular, I really am. He taught me that there is magic in a sentence, and that you can never use too many adjectives. He has shaped my northern world into one that dreams of the south, flawed or unflawed.

"Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next ten years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart." Pat Conroy - My Reading Life

~ The passing of Pat Conroy is heartbreaking to me. I feel so deeply saddened by the fact that I will forever be waiting for that next new Conroy book to come out. "Man wonders but God decides.."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

This week we celebrated Wyatt's first birthday! My husband took Wyatt's actual birthday off from work, and we did some fun family things that day, just really low key the three of us. Then Saturday we had his first birthday party with his family! It was a big undertaking that we survived with the help of that family! His birthday is actually on National Reading Day, Dr. Seuss' birthday, which is a great person to share a birthday with. I hope to blog about what we did later on this week, especially since I am on spring break from school this week. Yay!

We also had book club on Thursday, which as always is super fun. 

Read Last Week:

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid: I am so close to being done with this book, I'm calling it! I really enjoyed it - I needed a fun read during my crazy week. 

Reading This Week:

I think I have spring fever! It's time for some fun reads. The weather this week is supposed to be in the 50s and 60s, I can't wait to get outdoors with Wyatt. I think these books will be perfect for my lighthearted mood!


Once a Rancher: I have not really read anything by this author but I am looking forward to seeing what she is about.

Best of my Love by Susan Mallery: I am excited to read another in the Fool's Gold series!

I am also still working away on Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck!

However, I could not get into Pretty Baby, and I am sticking a fork in that book. 


The Walking Dead (woohoo!), The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, iZombie

Speaking of watching - The Agatha Christie book And Then There Were None miniseries is going to be airing on Lifetime on March 13th and March 14th! I highly recommend it!