Tuesday, October 5, 2021

September Reads

 September was a slow reading month for me, and I'm not really sure why it took me longer than usual to get through books because all of these were interesting.

The Husband's Secret, by: Liane Moriarty
I am slowly making my way through Liane's books when the mood strikes, and this one reminded me a lot of the very first book of hers I read (and loved): Big Little Lies. It is similar in the way that several women are all linked together, but you don't understand why until the end. Cecilia finds a letter in the attic that her husband wrote, intending her to find it if he ever passed before her. He's still very much alive, and curiosity gets the best of her and she just can't help but open the letter. It's contents are not at all what you suspect when it comes to typical marital secrets, and of course it turns her perfect world upside down. There is a series of events that happen that could be considered karma in return for what her husband did and you are left wondering how the characters will carry on.

Wish You Were Here, by: Jodi Picoult
Thank you Ballantine Books for this advance copy..... this comes out November 30th. This is my first Jodi Picoult book!!! I know she is a favorite for many, so I went into this with high expectations. It did not disappoint. I will warn it might give some PTSD as it is set at the onset of Covid. Diana and Finn have the perfect life. She is an art dealer in New York and he is a doctor. Her plans for them to marry and have kids by 35 is all on track as she is expecting a proposal on their upcoming trip to the Galapagos. As the virus makes it's way to the city, Finn realizes he is not going to be able to go on vacation, but prompts Diana to still go as he feels she will be safest there. She goes, only to get stuck on the island as they too shut down for quarantine. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but there is a huge twist that I would have never guessed and I hear that is typical of Jodi's writing. I'll be interested to see if her other books live up to this one! The course of events leave both characters questioning what they really want out of life, even if that doesn't include the future they once envisioned.

Breath, by: James Nestor
I borrowed this book from the library because it sounded so interesting for overall health, not to mention in the middle of a virus that affects your lungs. The premise is that as humans have evolved, we have stopped breathing correctly, bringing about a myriad of problems. As life started to get easier and easier, the shape of our skulls actually changed from eating softer foods. Makes sense as we see so many chronic issues that affect so many like sleep apnea, asthma, autoimmune diseases. The author goes on to research and experience all sorts of breathing practices. For two weeks, he has his nose blocked so that he only breaths through his mouth. His vital signs are recorded daily to see the effects of this (which are not good). He looks at ancient skulls to see with his own eyes our unfavorable changes. He visits monks whose ancient methods help them heat their body while wearing no clothing in freezing conditions. He goes to a life changing breathing class, and tries several other breathing techniques. When you think about top athletes in running, deep diving, or climbing Everest these are the type of things they have learned to make their body excel. But what about the average person who just wants to be healthy? What if you could fix something that has been bothering you, or get off a prescription medication? There are so many interesting ideas in this book for anyone to further research and try. Visiting James's website will link to so much valuable information. I've done some of this breathing in yoga classes, and while it's been nice I've never had a life changing experience like James and others have told me about. I am certainly interested in finding a more intensive breathing class to take. I've run in the past, but I never felt that "runners high". I always struggled through it and couldn't wait for it to be over. But if I learned how to breath properly doing it, I would get those benefits. My husband and I - both chronic snorers - have started taping our mouths shut at night and it has worked wonders! Sounds scary, right, but it really isn't. It just ensures you breath through your nose and that small change has already made us feel better.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

August Reads

Golden Girl, by: Elin Hilderbrand

Of course I picked up Elin's latest release from the library (and even gifted a copy to my dear friend). Readers will find that Golden Girl is loosely based on Elin's life, as the main character Vivian is a divorced novelist with 3 children living on Nantucket. Vivian is struck down by a careless driver while on her daily jog and dies. In the afterlife, she is guided by Martha and given a 30 day window to view those she left behind (and 3 nudges for their futures). While she watches her kids struggle with their own unique problems, she also has a secret from her past come out as well as keeping tabs on her ex-husband and best friend. Yet another enjoyable read from Elin!

Eating Wildly, by: Ava Chin

The past year has pushed me into a more holistic lifestyle, so when I saw this book at the bookstore we always visit on vacation, I picked it up. My past house was well established with blueberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, pears, and woods to find morel mushrooms. I miss that aspect of my life, and unfortunately am not quite there yet to start something similar right now. However, this book is about an abundance of edibles that are not as mainstream as the list I mentioned above. My friend has gone on foraging hikes and now I would love to go on one too. What's even more interesting about Ava is, she forages in New York City! You wouldn't think there is much to find in an urban setting, but that is untrue. From writing articles and recipes in the most well known publications, to hosting themed dinner parties, Ava opens your eyes to this vast world. Her process also ties into her relationships with her family and eventual husband.

Show Me The Honey, by: Dave Doroghy

Wanting more after reading Eating Wildly, I picked up this ARC copy I got a few years ago about beekeeping. Dave becomes an accidental beekeeper after being gifted a hive. This is his humorous tale of immersing himself into this hobby, and I learned SO MUCH about bees! So very interesting, and I am definitely looking at my farmers market honey with much more appreciation. Also a good reminder of how important these little pollinators are to our world.

Mackinac Maze, by: Jerry Prescott

Since it was about this time last year that I had my first visit to Mackinac Island, I wanted to reminisce, so I started this book a friend gave to me. The book definitely brought me back there, but the story was drawn out a bit too long and with too many unnecessary details. The only reason I kept reading it was because of the setting, if I'm being honest. Two police officer from Ann Arbor are visiting the island to plan their wedding there. They stumble into a murder and their romantic weekend quickly turns into them being involved in helping the FBI investigate the continued series of events that happen.

Dare to Shift (multiple authors)

This book is a compilation of short stories from 17 amazing women. One of them is local to me, so she was selling signed copies at an event hosted at our local coffee shop. The main focus is that all of these women have a story to tell about a "shift" in their life...... whether it be a career change, discovering faith/spirituality, divorce, health issues. I was inspired by each and every one of them! Being written during the times of covid, it was comforting to relate as many of them had the same thoughts and feelings as I have about the severe change in home/work life. This is a read I am telling all of my closest girlfriends about!

Hello, Transcriber, by: Hannah Morrissey

Thank you Minotaur Books for this advance reader copy - this is released on November 30th. I felt in the mood for a darker read, so I picked up this mystery that is set in a fictional city near Milwaukee, WI (where I grew up). Hazel is a police transcriber who knows the most gruesome secrets of where she lives, but cannot talk to anyone about them. That is, until she gets wrapped up in a case with an alluring detective that makes her question her lifeless marriage and if she will ever get out of this dead end city to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. I really enjoyed this book, and the author's descriptions definitely set a realistic tone throughout.


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Get The Look For Less : Beaded Sandals

I recently saw someone I follow post the prettiest beaded sandals. When I clicked the link to purchase them, I was sticker shocked! In US Dollars, they cost $292.99! No way was I paying that much for some leather straps with plastic beads on them. As a past jewelry designer/seller, my jaw also drops when I see the prices on similar colorful jewelry that has been trendy lately (but that's a post for a different day). Of course, I wanted to DIY these sandals right away.

I first set out to buy some lace up sandals. After searching the retailers I usually shop, I ended up getting these on eBay. When you are looking, you want to make sure the straps are not "fixed" on the sides, as that will not allow you to string the beads on properly. The laces on these came all the way off, or else you want ones that you can at least unlace up to the toe area. I then went to buy some pony beads, which you can find at any craft store, Walmart, etc.... very cheap. To match the expensive pair, I noticed they used not only a mix of colors, but also finishes (i.e. solid, clear, shimmery).

To start, I undid the laces up until the first section across my toes. I started adding beads WITH my foot in the sandal. This way, you will know how much room to accommodate for your foot....... meaning, having the straps too tight, the beads would dig into your feet and hurt (and no one likes shoes that hurt). I tried to be as random with the different type of beads while still creating an ombre rainbow effect. Once you get up to the ankle straps, it is just random colors. When I had one sandal done, it was easy to just repeat the other.

I am in LOVE with how these turned out, and being someone who enjoys wearing color they will go with a lot (today just happened to be another DIY I did - tie dye dress). How much did they end up costing? I would say under $50, and that is with having lots of leftover beads that my kids and I are now crafting up another plan with (stay tuned)!


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

July Reads

 I honestly didn't intend to read books from the same author all month, but I unknowingly started a book that was #1 in a series of 4 so I just went ahead and read them all right away. So if you like Mary Kay Andrews OR love something light and fun, read on......

Sunset Beach

I got this copy from my local used bookstore. Drue is down on her luck with no job and her mother just passing. Her estranged father shows up at the funeral and offers Drue a job at his busy law firm. She really doesn't want to take the job - what with her father's young new wife (her 8th grade frenemy) being the office manager she will report to - but the perk of inheriting her Grandparents run down cottage on the beach is something she can't pass up. Soon, she is up to her ears in renovating her new home, a possible office romance, and finding a part of her new job that she is really passionate about. I am rating this 3 stars. Enjoyable, but also not raving about it.

The High Tide Club

I got this copy from my local used bookstore. Brooke is a single Mom lawyer, who is summoned to a mostly private island owned an eccentric 99 year old heiress. Mrs. Warrick wants to ensure a trust to protect her land from developers that are chomping at the bit for her to pass. As the past unwinds, Brooke hears of old friendships, secret love, and even an unsolved murder. She is also torn between the father of her child, and a possible new relationship with a guy who turns out to be not what he seems. This gave me Great Expectations vibes, complete with a mansion lost in time. I give this one 5 stars.

Savannah Blues

  This was the book that I learned was #1 in a series once I started reading it - I got it at my local thrift store. The main character - Weezie - is an antiques picker whose goal is to open her own store. She thought she had the perfect marriage and life after lovingly restoring her historic dream home. But she's been banished to the carriage house after divorcing her husband once his affair comes out. Soon we are in the depths of a once in a lifetime estate sale, and trying to save the historic home the sale is hosted at from demolition. Weezie thinks there is foul play here in the business dealings, especially after the woman her ex left her for is found dead. It was so interesting to learn about the network of antique dealers if you are in this business...... from camping overnight at a sale, to forgery/copies, to the ruthless competition. Since I love furnishing my home with vintage finds, I absolutely loved everything about this book which is why I decided to dive into the other 3 right away!

Savannah Breeze

I borrowed the 2nd book from the library. This book focuses more on Weezie's best friend, BeBe. BeBe is a self made millionaire who has been divorced 3 times. She quickly falls for a guy who seems too good to be true - and he is. He scams her out of her fortune. Left with only a run down motel on Tybee Island to her name, she has no choice but to visit the property and decide to fix it up to make money. Along the way, she falls for the motel's groundskeeper, who couldn't be more opposite of her "type". Together, with Weezie, they track down the scam artist and use his own tricks against him to get her money back. Once her fortune is restored, she realizes she likes her new life running the motel better. Definitely Schitt's Creek vibes here, so I completely loved this book as well.

Blue Christmas

I borrowed the 3rd book from the library, and who doesn't love a little Christmas in July! This was the smallest of the 4 books, so it was a fast read. Weezie's antique shop is a success, and she's regained ownership of her historic home from her ex. She even has a great boyfriend - a chef from her friend BeBe's restaurant - and she's hoping for a ring with the upcoming holidays. As she busies herself with the window decorating competition, she finds out that her boyfriend dislikes the season and a series of odd events turn up some of his estranged family. Really enjoyed the ongoing ride with these characters!

Christmas Bliss

I borrowed the final book from the library, and we are now at the following years holiday season. Weezie and Daniel are planning their Christmas wedding, and BeBe is happily pregnant and running the motel with her partner Harry. Last minute wrenches are thrown into these best friends plans, as Daniel is offered a chef job in New York, and a secret from BeBe's past comes to light. A great end to the series, but of course would welcome more if the author ever chooses to revisit!

Monday, July 26, 2021

Great Lakes

I feel very lucky to have always lived near the Great Lakes. The city I grew up in, in Wisconsin, is right on Lake Michigan. And even though the past 18 years I've lived in more of the inland of Michigan, it's easy to get to and visit the Great Lakes on all sides. Our annual July family vacation takes us to Lake Huron, but that doesn't mean we don't get to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior for other trips. So it was only natural I bought this graphic tank from Anthropologie as soon as I saw it. For it's first outing, I thought it's colors went great with this lake landscape painting dress from Anthropologie from last year. I tied it in the back. It of course looks great with denim shorts and jeans, which lets more of the ombre bottom show. I'll be wearing this for years to come!

Pilcro Mock Neck Tank - Anthropologie


Saturday, July 3, 2021

Pre-Holiday Post

When I saw this pastel tiered dress at Anthropologie in the Spring, I knew it would become the "IT" dress of the season and sell out quickly. Just from being interested in fashion for so long, I have these instincts when I see things. Sure enough, I started seeing it on all the favorite bloggers/influencers I follow. Of course I loved it, but tried to reason with myself since I already have so many tiered pieces. Last week, I saw it show up on a site called Social Threads for half the price plus an extra discount for first time shoppers. I decided to go ahead and get it and I couldn't be happier - not just because it is gorgeous, but it sold out on that site as well! These colors are just so pretty together, and I love the black accents so that you can accessorize with black. Flowy dresses like this truly feel like you have nothing on, which is exactly what I want on hot days!


Thursday, July 1, 2021

June Reads

The Weekenders, by: Mary Kay Andrews

I love reading about island life, especially those who have the tradition of summering there or those that weekend there, and this book I picked up from my local used bookstore certainly fulfilled that with a murder twist. Riley is estranged from her husband and knows divorce is coming, but then her husband is found dead instead. As part of a long line of generations who developed Belle Isle, was her husband involved in a shady real estate deal that she didn't know about? As always with this genre, the cast of characters is so fun..... from her overbearing mother, to her alcoholic gay brother, to a past love interest, Riley has plenty of "help" in working through this difficult life changing situation.

The Henna Artist, by: Alka Joshi

 I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, and getting the sequel as an advance reader copy finally made me rent this from the library. Lakshmi escapes an abusive arranged marriage, and works hard for years to become the most popular henna artist to the wealthiest families in Jaipur. She must always walk a fine line as to not misstep and offend, as she knows one bad rumor would cripple her business. This becomes harder as she tries to hide her past when her ex-husband shows up with a sister she never knew she had. Indian culture is so interesting to me - the huge gap between the most beautiful things/places to the extreme poverty. What is important to families as far as "disgrace" and what is expected at certain events (expensive jewelry, saris, henna). I've always wanted to visit India, and I've also always wanted to get henna - even more now since reading these books - so that's on my to do list.

The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, by: Alka Joshi

Thank you Mira Books for the advance reader copy, and the book just came out on June 22nd - I couldn't wait to read more about Lakshmi! The story goes on years later as Lakshmi is now happily remarried and working alongside her doctor husband in a rural town outside of Jaipur. Her knowledge of natural healing is needed and valued alongside western medicine. An unfortunate event in Jaipur draws her back into the powerful families she once knew, to help clear her friends and relatives names. An excellent and vivid read! After reading The Lost Apothecary, and now this, I enjoy learning about the health benefits we can find right in nature.

The Photographer, by: Mary Dixie Carter

Thank you Minotaur Books for this copy, which was released on May 25th. Delta photographs the elite families of New York. When she meets the Straubs, she wants to be more than their photographer and starts weaving her way into their life after the very first offer to babysit their daughter. Soon a trusted confidant and new tenant in the apartment attached to their house, she eventually becomes the surrogate for the baby they so badly want. Of course the truth comes out and ends badly, and this was just an okay read for me. I thought there was a lot of build up to a very ubrupt and odd wrap up.

Bough Cutter, by: Jeff Nania

This is the 3rd book in the series Jeff has written about my childhood vacation spot of Hayward, WI. The main character, a retired cop who inherits his uncle's cabin, continues to get pulled into the crime scene of this tight knit community. Bough Cutter focuses on the very real life problem that is plaguing even the most unsuspecting towns - drugs. Makeshift labs and dealers looking to control whatever territory they can. Already invested in the location, and now the characters, I knew this would be a good read!

Nice Girls, by: Catherine Dang

Thank you William Morrow for this advance reader copy - expected publishing date is September 7th. Recently getting kicked out of her ivy league school for a physical altercation, Mary realizes she has completely blown her chance of escaping her dead end Minnesota town. Once back home, she gets wrapped up in the disappearance of two local women, one of which she knew as a child. When evidence surfaces of both women being murdered, people think a serial killer is on the loose. This was another okay read for me with an odd ending. Since Mary seemed to have some mental issues herself, there was always the sense that she might have had something to do with the crimes, but that was not the case.