Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Quick Lit: Mini Reviews of Some Recent Reads - January Edition



I'm trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I've been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don't really need a full review. But, I'd still like to give them some space here on the blog.

I'll be linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her monthly Quick Lit link up. Be sure to head over to see others link up their Quick Lit posts. 

I'm finally back into a reading groove and I've got SO MANY books that I can't wait to dig into. I've got some full reviews coming up soon and below, I'm sharing some mini-reviews from books I read in the last month. 




HOW TO MANAGE YOUR HOME WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND
Dealing with Your House's Dirty Little Secrets
By: Dana K. White
Published: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: eBook

I've been a fan of Dana's blog and podcast for a while. Her blog A SLOB COMES CLEAN is funny yet she tells it like it is. She doesn't have the perfect house or the perfect life. Nor does she make everything look like the perfect Pinterest or Instagram picture. She is just like you and me, trying to stay ahead of the mess and maybe, be able to have people over without hiding all the mess in a closet at the last minute. 

Her book talks you through the basic steps of handling the daily care and upkeep of your home, starting with doing the dishes...every day. Waking up with no dishes on the counter or a dishwasher of clean dishes makes a huge difference. Her book is hilarious yet spot on. "Methods don't clean your house. You have to clean your house." She also tackles the clutter and helps you get rid of all the stuff that makes cleaning your home harder. The end of the book offers a 28 Day step-by-step process for tackling your mess. 

It's practical, it's funny, and it's straightforward. A good read and motivator for getting stuff done.  





HELLO MORNINGS
How to Build a Grace-Filled Life, Life-Giving Morning Routine
By: Kat Lee
Published: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: Audiobook

I remember several years ago, finding Kat Lee's blog and following her simple action plan for handling a morning routine. My life was much different then. I was a stay-at-home mom and had young children. Then I saw this book recommended by Sheila at The Deliberate Reader and it piqued my interest. I didn't realize the author was the same person until I went to her website. 

Lee approaches her morning with a three-minute process of God - Plan - Move. Obviously, this approach will eventually take more than 3 minutes, but it starts with building a habit of these three things, every morning. 

Lee reads her own audiobook and I found her voice calming and reassuring during my morning listens. I wish I had a physical copy of the book but her website has several printables and tips that are from the book. I haven't necessarily put her whole plan into place, but I have started every morning with a glass of water since I listened to her book. It's a good read if you are looking to create a new structure or routine for your morning. 




THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME
By: Fredrik Backman
Published: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: Hardcover

A quick read (under an hour) to remind you that every life is a gift. Backman wrote this in one evening while reflecting on his own life and family. Since it is set on Christmas Eve, it felt like a great choice to read during the Christmas season. 

It's a novella and is read quite quickly, but it packs a powerful punch to the gut. A young girl is suffering on a hospital floor from cancer. A man has survived a car crash. Can one life be exchanged for another? The woman in the grey sweater with the file folder says no....or can it? Is one life more valuable than another? Can you redeem your life choices by saving another? 

It was a thought-provoking read, but I wouldn't recommend purchasing the hardcover version unless you are adding it to your Backman collection. It wasn't worth the $12 or maybe not the $4.99 Kindle either. I think it is more a $1.99 Kindle Deal. 





GATHER 'ROUND THE SOUND
By: Paulo Coelho
Published: December 8, 2017
Publisher: Audible Studios
Format: Audiobook

This was a free download from Audible. I like choosing books to read around the Christmas season that involve a Christmas story. Unfortunately, the only enjoyable story from this collection was Zip Code 12345. It was the type of story I was hoping to hear during the Christmas season. This story involved a group of employees at GE that give of themselves to make sure they bring the spirit of Christmas to children all over the world. The rest of the stories, I lost interest pretty quickly. 



This post includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase from the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Review: Just Between Us By Rebecca Drake

JUST BETWEEN US
A Novel

By: Rebecca Drake

Published: January 9, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Fiction/Suspense/Thriller



I think what makes suspense novels such a thrilling read is when you can picture yourself in the story. Four suburban moms who meet every morning and afternoon at the bus stop become quick friends. Even though their backgrounds are a bit different, they soon become dependent on the friendship and support that each one offers. Julie, a high-profile realtor, and Sarah become friends first. Then Alison moves in. Even though she keeps her past a secret, she soon becomes friends with Julie and Sarah but always feels like the third wheel. Then Heather, a former model and wife of a plastic surgeon, seems like the perfect addition to their group. Soon their lives become intertwined and three of the friends begin to suspect that one of their friends is being abused by her husband. When they finally confront her, the ripple effects of that revelation result in a murder and a downward spiral that none of them would have expected. 

Some of my closest friends are moms that I met because our children have been going to school together since preschool. While reading this book, I could picture myself being wrapped up in the care and concern of a friend being abused. But, would I have gone to the lengths that these women did to protect her? I can't say, but it did make for a thrilling page-turner. 

The novel is told from the perspective of each of the women. In each chapter one woman shares just enough of their past, as well as their regrets regarding the decision they all made, to keep the reader guessing as to what that horrifying choice was that forever changed their lives. I appreciated that the top of each page-spread had the character's name since especially in the beginning, it was tricky to keep all the women straight. Even though parts of the plot are predictable, the author adds in just enough surprises and twists to keep the reader interested. Although some of the particulars made have felt a bit far-fetched and I had to keep reminding myself to overlook the details, I still became enthralled with the story. Once the twist is revealed, I did find some of the material a bit graphic, but I easily skimmed the details and moved on to the next chapter as I got the gist of what happened. 

Fans of suspense novels and a bit of the unreliable narrator will be intrigued by the secrets each of the characters are hiding from their friends. Once doubt creeps into the minds of the women, the fear of what's to come grows among the pages. I believe that most of us feel like we would never be able to commit such a horrific crime, but that line that separates us from those who have committed a crime becomes blurred very quickly. You really have no idea what you would do if you were thrown into a situation of protecting your best friend. 

Drake's fast-paced novel shares the lengths that women would go to protect their friends and their families, how secrets can creep into the psyche and affect the ways we interact with others, and the shame we feel when everything begins to fall apart. 







Rebecca Drake - source


Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.


To purchase a copy of JUST BETWEEN US, click the photo below:




Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 



Monday, January 15, 2018

My Bout of Books 21 Wrap Up



Bout of Books


I participated all last week in the Bout of Books 21 Reading Challenge. It's a low-pressure way to jump-start your reading and have fun with other readers at the same time.

There were twitter chats and daily challenges and LOTS of encouragement to keep reading. Since I can't shut off the rest of the world and my responsibilities, I still had to do other things this week. But, I really tried to focus my spare moments on reading. Here is how my week turned out.


These are the books I had decided to focus on during the Bout of Books 21 week. You can see the full list, HERE. They were all books I wanted to read so I thought that would help push me to keep reading. 

Day 1 - January 8, 2018

The challenge today was to describe yourself #insixwords. 


I had a hard time choosing just 6 words because I am so much more than these 6 words. But this is what I shared anyway.

There was also a Twitter Chat that evening that was a lot of fun. 

Pages read: 96 from JUST BETWEEN US and THIS IS HOW IS ALWAYS IS
Minutes listened: 0


Day 2 - January 9, 2018

The challenge today was to post your reading goals.


My reading goal this year is 100 books. Last year I read 120 (including children's books) so this should be manageable. It is basically one regular book and one children's book a week if you figure it that way...with 2 weeks off. I will also be participating in the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge.  I should have goals related to reading my own books from my own shelves, reading books from my Kindle and then deleting them, getting reviews done on time, etc. But, that is pretty much just setting myself up for failure. LOL!


Pages read: 15 - from THIS IS HOW IS ALWAYS IS...ugh....I was gone all day and then at a basketball game all evening
Minutes listened: 90 minutes - driving in the car throughout the day listening to FIRST WOMEN

Day 3 - January 10, 2018

The challenge today was to make a book rainbow. I chose to make two book rainbows.














The on of the left is from random to read books off my shelves. The other is from my collection of The Reader's Digest Best Loved Books for Young Reader's Collection.

Pages read: 120 page in JUST BETWEEN US
Minutes listened: 35 minutes on audio of FIRST WOMEN

Day 4 - January 11, 2018

The challenge today was all about favorites. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to participate today.

It was a busy day. I had a lunch date with my husband and our nephew and we had a little winter storm blow through and we celebrated our daughters 13th birthday. So, not as much reading as I would have liked.

Pages read: 10 pages in THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS until I fell asleep
Minutes listened: 35 minutes on audio of FIRST WOMEN


Day 5 - January 12, 2018

The challenge today was a Newspaper Headline. I didn't have a chance to get something done for this one.

Pages read: Zero - too many things going on today and basketball in the evening. I was too tired when I went to bed.
Minutes listened: 2 hours on audio of  FIRST WOMEN- I had appointments and errands to run so I listened while driving.

Day 6 - January 13, 2018

The Challenge today was Book Spine Poetry.


I've never been very good at poetry, reading or writing it. But, I thought this left a lot to the imagination.

Fingerprints of you
Words get in the way
Promise not to tell

It gave me the image of an abused woman. Probably because I'm dealing with that subject in the book I'm reading, but the woman is thinking of fingerprints that he left behind...maybe on her neck. His words get in the way - his apologies his excuses - of her leaving him. He constantly is asking her to promise not to tell anyone. 

There was also a twitter chat, but I wasn't able to participate.

Pages read: 179 pages read and finished JUST BETWEEN US.
Minutes listened: 30 minutes on audio of FIRST WOMEN while getting ready to head to more basketball.

Day 7 - January 14, 2018

Today's challenge was to write a book review for a book you finished this week.  I didn't have a chance to do that today as we were at my parent's house all day for a family gathering. I'll be posting two reviews this week.

Pages read: 32 pages in THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS
Minutes listened: 30 minutes on audio of FIRST WOMEN while getting ready to head to my parent's house.

So, I didn't reach my goal of finishing 6 books and instead only finished one book, JUST BETWEEN US. But, I am very close to being finished with my audiobook and can focus on the others this week hopefully. I have some review books looming so we will have to see how the week plays out.

I just really appreciate these read-a-thons because it forces me to THINK about reading during any spare moment. It rekindles a love for reading. It gets me talking about books on social media. It introduces me to other readers, writers, bloggers, and book lovers out there as well. And, the best part is it always introduces me to new books I should read.

Thanks to the Bout of Books crew for hosting and if this sounds fun to you, be sure to check out Bout of Books 22 that begins on May 14. That is graduation week for our son, so I KNOW I won't be able to participate in that one. But, if you have a chance, I would highly recommend it.



This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase the book through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Children's Book Review: Hey, Baby By Stephanie Warren Drimmer

HEY, BABY!
A Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Stories from Nature's Nursery

By: Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Published: November 14, 2017

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Non-Fiction

No matter whether they are human babies or animal babies, they take a lot of work, but they are sooooo cute! Through poems, stories, folktales, and descriptions we are introduced to some of the most amazing and adorable baby animals from all over the world. The book is divided into geographic areas like Mountains and Plains, Jungles and Savannas, and Ocean and Sea Babies for example. Then animals from each region are shown through pictures with an accompanying tale, poem, or description about its life.


This sweet baby bobcat made me want to cuddle him! I learned numerous facts about baby animals and their parents, but my favorites were the folktales and legends in the story. I had never heard the legend of the pink dolphins or how the zebra got its stripes and the baboon got its bare bottom. I had no idea Paul Bunyan had a connection to why whales aren't found in lakes. The back of the book also gives a bit of background on each of the legends and folktales and how their stories have continued for generations.

The photography is amazing, of course. The babies are just the cutest and the photos of moms with their babies remind the readers that animal or human, mothers just want to protect and love their babies. This is a coffee-table-sized book that can be pulled out and looked through over the course of several weeks or read in a few sittings. The pictures alone will keep kids looking through the pages over and over again.


Stephanie Warren Drimmer - source
Stephanie Warren Drimmer writes about science and nature for kids. Seh is a regular contributor to magazines like National Geographic Kids. Stephanie studied science journalism at New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband, dog, cat, and five chickens that she raised from teen baby chicks.

To purchase a copy of HEY, BABY!, click the photo below:





I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The 10 Most Popular Posts from 2017





2017 was a busy year on the blog as far as visits were concerned. I think it was the year of most visits to the blog and for a variety of posts. I was surprised to see which posts were the most popular and surprisingly, not all of them were book related.

2017 was also the year the I wrote the least amount of posts, 119. The last time I had fewer posts than that was my first full year of blogging in 2008. But, I would like to think that even though I had fewer posts, my content was much improved. I can tell that my writing style has changed over the years and my posts are definitely prettier.

I'm so thrilled that I have a space to write and people that read it. Thank you to each one of you readers that take time out of your busy lives to read anything that interests you here in my tiny little corner of the internet.

So, without further ado...

Top Ten Most Popular Posts from 2017.

1- Product Review: Brazilian Hammock Chair

Every once in awhile, I have the chance to review products and this was my most popular post of 2017. I am guessing it got quite a bit of promotion from the company, but either way, it was a much-viewed post. The hammock is a great asset for readers to get cozy and read outside during the summer. Our daughter loved sitting and swinging in it. Unfortunately, I didn't get much of a chance to sit in it last summer.

2 - Product Review: Stainless Steel Water Bottle

I still use this water bottle today. I like it a lot and apparently, it got a lot of promotion from the company as well. I would still recommend this water bottle to anyone looking for a water bottle that keeps your water closed and has a no-spill lid.

3 - Children's Book Review: Two Presidential Books from Time for Kids and National Geographic Kids

I am so fortunate to be able to promote children's books and especially the quality books I frequently receive from Time Inc and National Geographic. They never disappoint.

4 - Children's Book Review: Freddy the Frogcaster and the Flash Flood

This children's book got a lot of traffic on Twitter mostly because the author is Janice Dean of Fox News. But, it was also timely due to the crazy weather that was happening all over our country. It is a well-written book that gives children important information without scaring them.

5 - Celebrating iRead Book Tours 3 Year Anniversary

I often join in on book tours to help promote a new book or author. I haven't joined in for awhile because of my schedule, but if I do join, this company is one I frequently join. The book tours with iRead are always well-organized and great books I maybe wouldn't have necessarily heard about. I was happy to help promote their 3 year anniversary. Since this was cross-promoted and had a giveaway attached, I am sure that helped my numbers.

6 - My Favorite Books of 2016

This includes a great round-up of my favorite books including fiction, thrillers, non-fiction, historical fiction, and children's books.

7 - Children's Book Review: History Series from Carole P. Roman

Roman writes a fabulous children's non-fiction series that I regularly feature on the blog. This particular post got a lot of visits and I'm not sure why this one over others except that it included three new additions to her series.

8 - Children's Book Review: Animal Bites Books

This was a giveaway post (now closed) and also part of my promotion for Children's Book Week so that may be why it received a lot of visits. But, also, this is an excellent series of non-fiction children's books from Animal Planet. It's a favorite when I take it into the classroom.

9 - New Books from March 2017

Every month I share all the books that arrived over the course of that month on the blog. I'm not sure why this particular monthly round-up of books was so popular, but I'm guessing it has to do with some sort of social media promotion. A lot of times if an author sees you posting about their book, they are likely to promote it as well. It is a great round-up of books though!

10 - Book Review: Navigating Indieworld by Julie Gerber and Carole P. Roman

This book is a must-read for writers who need help navigating the publishing process. Roman and her daughter have given all the tips for those authors who may want to look into the self-publishing route.  I'm even mentioned in the book as a go-to blogger!

Two bonus posts that were too close in numbers not to mention:

What is Saving My Life Right Now

Half-Way through the winter, it's fun to share what is helping us get through the long cold, dreary days of winter.

Currently 4.18.17

It's fun to shake it up once in awhile and write a different type of post. This one gave you a peek into what was going on in my life personally. It's fun for me to look back through the post and be reminded of what was happening 9 months ago.



Many other posts were very close in numbers to these and I'm just in awe that my posts are even read, let alone by hundreds and thousands of readers. I'm so thankful that I have a place to share about books, about things I love, my family, and any other tidbits of life I think you might enjoy. This blog brings me joy and I hope it brings a bit of joy to you as well. Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 8, 2018

My #OneWord for 2018



I love choosing ONE WORD to narrow my focus for the year. Sheila at BookJourney.net offers a space for us to share our ONE WORDS each year. I chose ONE WORD in 2015 and 2016, but never landed on one for last year. I missed having that focus last year and was determined to find one this year. My previous words were Balance and Begin and I found them to be helpful in keeping me focused on my goals. 

This year is going to be an emotional one for me. Our oldest will be graduating from high school in May and heading off to a yet-to-be-determined college in August. Our second child will start his senior year in August and the cycle will start all over again. It's already been difficult going through several "lasts" with our oldest during his senior year. Watching the boys compete and perform together has been so special for our family and knowing this will be the last time has been tough for me. They are best friends and I know they will miss each other deeply. 


 


I've been trying to find a word that encompasses my emotions and thoughts about this coming year. Then I hugged my son and I knew what my word should be.

The word Embrace has two definitions and both are meaningful to me this year. 




Embrace (verb) - to hold someone closely in one's arms, especially as a sign of affection.
(noun) - an act of holding someone closely in one's arms.

This photo above is one of my favorites. It's Patrick embracing his good friend Kam after he crowned him Homecoming King. Kam was Homecoming King last year and it was a special moment for Patrick to be crowned by him. 

I have been doing a lot of embracing lately. Not just with our children, but with friends as well. There are a number of moms that I am close to that are sending off their first, last, or middle child this year. As we travel together through the "lasts", it's been comforting to know that we have each other to go through it with. I've also been embracing our children and my husband more lately. I've needed the physical contact of the embrace to center and calm me. Did you know that the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin during an embrace is six seconds?  In order to encourage those mood-boosting chemicals, hold on to that loved one for at least six seconds. 


Embrace (verb) - to accept or support a belief, theory, or change willingly and enthusiastically.
(noun) the act of accepting or supporting something willingly and enthusiastically.  

I am embracing the idea that there will be a change in our family, in our home, in our lives. I am enthusiastic about the experience of choosing a college. I look forward to visiting him there and sending him packages after he moves in. I am excited to support him as he competes at the college level for Cross Country and Track and performs in their music program. I'm in awe of all the opportunities ahead for him and can't wait to see what he is going to be.

I'm embracing the idea of only two children in our home (for one more year) and then knowing that it will just be Pat and I and our daughter. I'm embracing the change that is to come from watching our children leave the protection of our home and begin their lives as adults. I'm embracing the idea that sooner rather than later, my focus will be less about our children and their schedule and more about me and what I want to do.

I may be a bit emotional in the next days, weeks, and months. But, I am bursting with pride over all our little family has created and the changes that are ahead for us. In Ecclesiastes 3, it states that there is a time for many things, one of them being a time to embrace. This is my time and I am going to embrace all of it that I can.


Don't fear change - embrace it.
Anthony J. D'Angelo


Life is all about embracing each moment that is given to you.
Evangeline Lilly


It's not complicated to embrace life. 
You just have to make the choice. 
Faith Hill


Sunday, January 7, 2018

My Bout of Books 21 Reading List



I'll be participating in the Bout of Books 21 Reading Challenge this week. I'm being overly optimistic as now my week is looking a little crazy. But, I'm still hoping to get a few of these finished. Since I've got physical books, an audio book, and a Kindle book, I have lots of options.

I'm still finishing up JUST BETWEEN US.
I've started listening to FIRST WOMEN on audio.
I just received THIS IS HOW IT IS on Kindle through my library Bridges account so I have 12 days left to get that read.
The boys loved READY PLAYER ONE and since the movie comes out soon, I want to read it too and see the movie with them.
THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE is one I just purchased and I really want to read.
OUR STORY BEGINS has been a review book that has been waiting for me and I've been anxious to read it.




This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Children's Book Review: National Geographic Kids Ultimate Dinopedia

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS
ULTIMATE DINOPEDIA
The Most Complete Dinosaur Reference Ever

By: Don Lessem

Illustrated by: Franco Tempesta

Published: October 10, 2017

Publisher: National Geographic

Non-Fiction

National Geographic is the powerhouse when it comes to resource books for children. This updated reference on dinosaurs covers every imaginable species you could ever imagine. Paleontologists have recently discovered ten new dinosaur profiles that are included in this jam-packed book.



This large hardcover is full of detailed illustrations and begins with covering the various habitats, family tree, migration, predators, and maps of some of the greatest finds over the years. Then each species of dinosaur is described with a detailed illustration, basic facts, pronunciation of the name, and a descriptive paragraph.


I have to admit that I had no idea there were this many different types of dinosaurs. I think it is extremely fascinating that paleontologists have been able to decipher the various differences just from fossils. Sharing how they lived and what they ate is quite an amazing discovery, even when finding pieces of fossilized dinosaurs recently. Tempesta's illustrations are extremely detailed and show the uniqueness of each dinosaur.

Even though this is written for elementary-aged children, I think any dinosaur fan would love to read this book. I know a high school student who dreams of being a paleontologist and I think he would even be intrigued by this book. I plan to pass it on to him. This reference would be a great asset to science and history classrooms as well.

Don Lessem - source photo by Dennis Oda
Don Lessem is the ultimate source on dinosaurs. He's authored numerous science books, with most of them being about dinosaurs. See some of them HERE. He is the founder of the Dinosaur Society and the Jurassic Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars for dinosaur research.

To purchase a copy of ULTIMATE DINOPEDIA, click the photo below:




I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.


Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com.  

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 Reading Challenges Completed!




In January 2017, I committed to two reading challenges. One was through our local library and the other was through Modern Mrs. Darcy. I'm thrilled that I was able to complete both challenges. There are a few books that covered categories in both challenges, but otherwise, I tried to make sure there was a variety. I'm sharing the lists with the books below. I've also included my star rating after each book. These challenges help me realize that I do read a variety of books and some of the categories forced me to step out of my usual genres. I'm looking forward to 2018's Reading Challenge.



Van Horne Library Reading Challenge
Read a book....


1. With a color in the title - BENEATH A SCARLET SKY 5 Stars


2. That has a war as a setting - THE ORPHAN'S TALE 5 Stars


3. A biography or autobiography - A MOTHER'S RECKONING 5 Stars

 4. That is a classic or National Book Award winner - DEATH OF A SALESMAN 4 Stars

5. That was written by an Iowan - IOWA STATE CYCLONES FOOTBALL A to Z 5 Stars


6. You haven't read since you were in school - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES 5 Stars


7. Set somewhere you'd like to visit - I SEE YOU (London, England) 3 Stars


8. Under 150 pages - SHACKLES FROM THE DEEP 5 Stars


9.That was made into a movie - OF MICE AND MEN (and I watched the movie too) 5 Stars


10. About a culture you are unfamiliar with - THE SOUND OF GRAVEL (polygamy) 5 Stars


11. Published in 2017 - A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN 4 Stars


12. About books - MY LIFE WITH BOB 3 stars







Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge
Reading for Fun


1. a book you chose for the cover - THE GARDEN OF SMALL BEGINNINGS 4 stars


2. a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able - THE BREAKDOWN 4 Stars


3. a book set somewhere you've never been but would like to visit  - BENEATH A SCARLET SKY (Milan, Italy) 5 Stars


4. a book you've already read - OF MICE AND MEN 5 Stars


5. a juicy memoir - LAB GIRL 4 Stars


6. a book about books or reading - MY LIFE WITH BOB 3 Stars


7. a book in a genre you usually avoid - OEDIPUS REX 3 Stars


8. a book you don't want to admit you're dying to read - THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP 3 Stars


9. a book in the backlist of a new favorite author - A MAN CALLED OVE 5 Stars


10. a book recommended by someone with great taste - THE ORPHAN'S TALE 5 Stars


11. a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet - THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE (I'll be reading it next week)


12. a book about a topic or subject you already love - SISTERS FIRST 5 Stars


To check out the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge, click HERE. I'll be participating again this year! 




This post includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a book through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Books that Came in December 2017




Happy New Year to all of you! We are in the frozen tundra here in Iowa with a fresh 5" of snow and wind chills have been as cold as -40 degrees. I am quite happy to stay inside and catch up on my reading. I have some great books to tell you about that I received for review, purchased, and took from my dad's bookshelf. I can't wait to get back to reading and start off 2018 with a fabulous book!


Currently Reading: GRANTED
Currently Listening: HELLO MORNINGS
STILL Reading: HOW TO MANAGE YOUR HOME WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MINDGRACE, NOT PERFECTION
Up Next: JUST BETWEEN US

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JUST BETWEEN US
A Novel
By: Rebecca Drake
Published: January 9, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's' Press
Format: Paperback

This is my First Book of 2018. I should have it finished soon, so watch for a review in the next week or two.

Four suburban mothers and friends conspire to cover up a deadly crime in this heart-stopping novel of suspense in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all. 

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.







THE FRENCH GIRL
By: Lexie Elliott
Published: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback

Another thriller involving friendships that sounds so good.

They were six university students from Oxford--friends and sometimes more than friends--spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway--until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group's loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can't forgive, and there are some people you can't forget, like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine's body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she's worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.
 







AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN
By: Susan Meissner
Published: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback

I'm already a fan of Meissner's books so this was an easy one to agree to read. I haven't read much about the Spanish Flu epidemic so I'm anxious to read this one.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters—Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa—a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without—and what they are willing to do about it.
 







GRIEF WORKS
Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving
By: Julia Samuel
Published: January 16, 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Format: Hardcover

From working in Hospice several years ago to suffering my own losses, grief is a powerful emotion that affects everyone differently. For those who are grieving, sometimes it's comforting to know that others have come through it.

IGrief Works we hear stories from those who have experienced great love and great loss - and survived. Stories that explain how grief unmasks our greatest fears, strips away our layers of protection and reveals our innermost selves.

Julia Samuel, a grief psychotherapist, has spent twenty-five years working with the bereaved and understanding the full repercussions of loss. This deeply affecting book is full of psychological insights on how grief, if approached correctly, can heal us. Through elegant, moving stories, we learn how we can stop feeling awkward and uncertain about death, and not shy away from talking honestly with family and friends.

This extraordinary book shows us how to live and learn from great loss.







BEFORE AND AGAIN
By: Barbara Delinsky
Published: June 26, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: eBook

This one doesn't come out until this summer, but I'm thrilled to have the chance to read Delinsky's newest book.

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends―and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made―though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself―or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.
 







SALT TO THE SEA
By: Ruth Sepetys
Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Philomel Books
Format: Paperback

Yet another WWII story that has gotten rave reviews. I purchased this at our Scholastic Book Fair at school. I feel like I am ALWAYS learning something new about WWII and this is another horror that I hadn't heard about before.

Based on "the forgotten tragedy that was six times deadlier than the Titanic."--Time

Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept...

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff—the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity and love can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.







UNTANGLED
Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood
By: Lisa Damour, Ph.D.
Published: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Ballantine
Format: Paperback

Our daughter turns thirteen this month and I felt like this was an important book for me to read. I remember how difficult the teenage years were for me and I want to be sure I support our daughter through all of the struggles and achievements ahead of her. It came highly recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy so that makes it a must-read for me.

In this sane, highly engaging, and informed guide for parents of daughters, Dr. Damour draws on decades of experience and the latest research to reveal the seven distinct—and absolutely normal—developmental transitions that turn girls into grown-ups, including Parting with Childhood, Contending with Adult Authority, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself. Providing realistic scenarios and welcome advice on how to engage daughters in smart, constructive ways, Untangled gives parents a broad framework for understanding their daughters while addressing their most common questions, including

• My thirteen-year-old rolls her eyes when I try to talk to her, and only does it more when I get angry with her about it. How should I respond?
• Do I tell my teen daughter that I’m checking her phone?
• My daughter suffers from test anxiety. What can I do to help her?
• Where’s the line between healthy eating and having an eating disorder?
• My teenage daughter wants to know why I’m against pot when it’s legal in some states. What should I say?
• My daughter’s friend is cutting herself. Do I call the girl’s mother to let her know? 

Perhaps most important, Untangled helps mothers and fathers understand, connect, and grow with their daughters. When parents know what makes their daughter tick, they can embrace and enjoy the challenge of raising a healthy, happy young woman.







THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE
By: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Published: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Puffin Books
Format: Paperback

I heard about this on the What Should I Read Next Podcast and then I spotted it at our Scholastic Book Fair so I snagged a copy.

An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.
 
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
 
So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
 
This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.







TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN
By: John Green
Published: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover

I also purchased this at our Scholastic Book Fair. Both my daughter and I want to read it.

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.
 







STOCK THE CROCK
By: Phyllis Good
Published: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Format: Hardcover

This was also a Scholastic Book Fair purchase. I am already of fan of Phyllis Good's cookbooks, with my favorite being her FIX IT AND FORGET IT series. We have numerous family favorites from those cookbooks and I am anxious to see what new recipes she has to offer. I love using my crock pot!

The ultimate resource for a new generation of slow-cooker fans from the New York Times bestselling author who has sold 12 million cookbooks!

Stock the Crock brings together the expertise of America's most popular slow-cooker authority with a fresh collection of 100 essential, innovative, and easy-to-prepare recipes-each with variations allowing readers to customize the dish according to their dietary needs. You'll find beloved classics, as well as dishes you might be surprised can be done successfully in a slow cooker. (Hello, slow-cooker creme brulee!) Whether you are looking to accommodate gluten-free, paleo, or vegetarian diets, or prefer slow-cooker meals perfectly sized for one or two people, this cookbook provides smart ideas, more than 100 recipe photos, and cooking hacks that will change the way you use your favorite fuss-free cooking appliance. Learn simple make-ahead tricks, convenient baking tips, and how to make two recipes at once using the same cooker, so you can simplify cooking and spend more time enjoying your family and friends around a wonderful, delicious meal.







THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS: COME AND GET IT
Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives
By: Ree Drummond
Published: October 24, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks
Format: Hardcover

Since I won a gift certificate to our Scholastic Book Fair, this was my freebie. I've been wanting a Pioneer Woman Cookbook, but have resisted because I can always go online and find recipes. But, I treated myself to her newest and can't wait to try some of them on my family!

For home cooks, nothing beats spending a long, relaxing day preparing dinner for your family, savoring every flavorful step. But few of us really have the time to do that anymore, with school, sports, work, and appointments keeping us running and pulling us left and right. What busy home cooks REALLY need are FAST, EASY, and DOABLE solutions to solve the challenge of feeding their families quick, easy, wholesome food that tastes great day after day, week after week—without falling into a rut and relying on the same handful of meals.

Ree Drummond transforms taking it easy in the kitchen into an art, giving readers her very best make-it-happen strategies, pulled from her own non-stop life as a devoted wife, mother of four, food lover, and businesswoman. Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes for a Crazy Busy Life includes more than 125 of Ree’s best food solutions for making filling, nutritious meals with minimal fuss, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

With a mix of flavors and dishes that will please everyone, Ree makes it easy to whip up delicious, simple, down-home recipes that go from stove to table in no time!







FIND ME
A Hide and Seek Book
By: Anders Arhoj
Published: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Format: Hardcover

While placing an order on Chronicle's website this Christmas, I saw this book and decided to get it to send as a gift to my nieces for Valentine's or Easter. Our kids loved to read seek and find books as kids and this one is unique in that you read it front to back and back to front.

This book has eyes—and an irresistible cover! Kids will delight in this innovative seek-and-find picture book that may be read from front to back and from back to front! Two adorable characters embark on an over-the-top game of hide-and-seek through eleven richly detailed scenes, including a lively neighborhood, a bustling shop, an offbeat office space, a festive concert, and more. Open the book from the front to search for one of the characters. Then, open the book from the back to search for the other. It's two hide-and-seek experiences in one book. As the characters move through each illustrated spread, their colors change, too, adding to the abundant fun.






UNRAVELING OLIVER
By: Liz Nugent
Published: August 22, 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Format: eBook

I've been on the waiting list for this one through our library. Then I received an email from Simon and Schuster to choose a free eBook from them. This was on their list!

In this “compelling, clever, and dark” (Heat magazine) thriller, a man’s shocking act of savagery stuns a local community–and the revelations that follow will keep you gripped until the very last page. This work of psychological suspense, a #1 bestseller in Ireland, is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Ware.

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver is “a page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense” (Sunday Independent) that details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.







SIX STORIES: A THRILLER
By: Matt Wesolowski
Published: December 1, 2016
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: eBook

This was a Kindle Deal (and still is just $1.99 as of today). I am intrigued by the way the author reveals the story. I just hope it isn't too scary for me! My cousin also purchased it, so hopefully we can read it and discuss it together!

The novel is constructed as a series of podcasts, in which an investigative journalist describes the circumstances around the death of a teenaged boy in an outward-bound centre, interviewing witnesses, suspects and people close to the incident. Their six accounts form the six stories of the title, creating a "chilling and compelling, page-turning thriller that also delves deep into notions of truth, perception and loyalty".






HOW WE LEARN
The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens
By: Benedict Carey
Published: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Random House
Format: eBook

This was also a Kindle Deal (and is still just $1.99 today) and came recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. I love these kind of books.

From an early age, it is drilled into our heads: Restlessness, distraction, and ignorance are the enemies of success. We’re told that learning is all self-discipline, that we must confine ourselves to designated study areas, turn off the music, and maintain a strict ritual if we want to ace that test, memorize that presentation, or nail that piano recital.
 
But what if almost everything we were told about learning is wrong? And what if there was a way to achieve more with less effort?
 
In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. Is a dedicated desk in a quiet room really the best way to study? Can altering your routine improve your recall? Are there times when distraction is good? Is repetition necessary? Carey’s search for answers to these questions yields a wealth of strategies that make learning more a part of our everyday lives—and less of a chore.
 
By road testing many of the counterintuitive techniques described in this book, Carey shows how we can flex the neural muscles that make deep learning possible. Along the way he reveals why teachers should give final exams on the first day of class, why it’s wise to interleave subjects and concepts when learning any new skill, and when it’s smarter to stay up late prepping for that presentation than to rise early for one last cram session. And if this requires some suspension of disbelief, that’s because the research defies what we’ve been told, throughout our lives, about how best to learn.
 
The brain is not like a muscle, at least not in any straightforward sense. It is something else altogether, sensitive to mood, to timing, to circadian rhythms, as well as to location and environment. It doesn’t take orders well, to put it mildly. If the brain is a learning machine, then it is an eccentric one. InHow We Learn, Benedict Carey shows us how to exploit its quirks to our advantage.







THE GIRL WITH SEVEN NAMES
A North Korean Defector's Story
By: Hyeonseo Lee
Published: July 2, 2015
Publisher: William Collins
Format: eBook

A dear friend raved about this book to me and then shortly after it was part of the Kindle Daily Deal so I snagged it based on her recommendation.

An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.

She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities – involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable.

This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life – not once, but twice – first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit.







EAST OF THE MOUNTAINS
By: David Guterson
Published: April 19, 1999
Publisher: Harcourt Brace and Company
Format: Hardcover

This was one I had purchased for my dad several years ago. At Christmas he wanted us to take any books off his shelves that we were interested in reading.  This is the author of Snow Falling on Cedars and so I am quite sure it will be a great read. My dad gave it a thumbs up!

It is mid-October, 1997, harvest time in the Columbia Basin of central Washington state, a rich apple- and pear-growing region. Ben Givens, recently widowed, is a retired heart surgeon, once admired for his steadiness of hand, his precision, his endurance. He has terminal colon cancer. While Ben does not readily accept defeat, he is determined to avoid suffering rather than engage it. And so, accompanied by his two hunting dogs, he sets out through the mythic American West-sage deserts, yawning canyons, dusty ranches, vast orchards-on his last hunt. The main issues for Ben as a doctor had been tactical and so it would be with his death. But he hadn't considered the persuasiveness of memory-the promise he made to his wife Rachel, the love of his life, during World War II. Or life's mystery. On his journey he meets a young couple who are "forever," a drifter offering left-handed advice that might lessen the pain, a veterinarian with a touch only a heart surgeon would recognize, a rancher bent on destruction, a migrant worker who tests Ben's ability to understand. And just when he thinks there is no turning back, nothing to lose that wasn't lost, his power of intervention is called upon and his very identity tested. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, East of the Mountains is a bold and beautiful novel of personal discovery.






JAMES HERRIOT'S CAT STORIES
By: James Herriot
Published: September 15, 1994
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover

I think my dad has every James Herriot book on his shelf. He loved reading his stories and I remember reading several of them growing up as well. Since we are a cat family, I thought this would be a fun one to read and snagged it from his shelf.

Between these covers, teller and tales finally meet in a warm and joyful new collection that will bring delight to the hearts of readers the world over: James Herriot's Cat Stories. Here are Buster, the kitten who arrived on Christmas; Alfred, the cat at the sweet shop; little Emily, who lived with the gentleman tramp; and Olly and Ginny, the kittens who charmed readers when they first appeared at the Herriots' house in the worldwide bestseller Every Living Thing. And along with these come others, each story as memorable and heartwarming as the last, each told with that magical blend of gentle wit and human compassion that marks every word from James Herriot's pen.






IOWA CURIOSITIES
Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and Other Offbeat Stuff
By: Eric Jones, Dan Coffey, with Bert Thorkelson
Published: November 10, 2009
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
Format: Paperback

This was another one we gave to my dad several years ago. When I flipped it open, it took me right to the Nativity Scene created by POWs in Algona, which is something I'd love to see.

Your round-trip ticket to the wildest, wackiest, most outrageous people, places, and things the Hawkeye State has to offer!






DAYS OF DESTRUCTION DAYS OF REVOLT
By:  Christ Hedges and Joe Sacco
Published: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Nation Books
Format: Hardcover

This was another book I gave my dad. Now that I read the synopsis, it sounds a bit depressing. But, I'll at least give it a skim.

Two years ago, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the searing account of their travels.
The book starts in the western plains, where Native Americans were sacrificed in the giddy race for land and empire. It moves to the old manufacturing centers and coal fields that fueled the industrial revolution, but now lie depleted and in decay. It follows the steady downward spiral of American labor into the nation's produce fields and ends in Zuccotti Park where a new generation revolts against a corporate state that has handed to the young an economic, political, cultural and environmental catastrophe.







I'm linking up with THE DELIBERATE READER for her monthly feature NEW ON THE STACK. To see other bloggers' new books from December, click HERE.

As always, be sure to let me know if you read any of these/ There are so many great books here, I can't wait to get started on them!