Category Archives: Book Reviews and Recommendations

Edition: On the Reading Radar

Wednesday Reads WideMy Kindle wish list is quite large and gets bigger each week. Since I follow many authors and book clubs on various social media outlets, there’s a new book recommendation almost daily. I could seriously go bankrupt purchasing books. I wish I was a library fanatic but I have a hard time borrowing a book.  What started out as a educational pursuit of taking notes and highlighting books has become a personal hobby. Therefore, I must own the book so I can deface it to my heart’s delight.

No matter if I check it out or purchase it, here are a few books that are on my radar right now.  More than likely you will see a review of one or five in the next few weeks.  By the way, Mother’s Day is around the corner and if you need to buy a book for your mom (hint hint to my kiddos), any one of these gems will do.

51-siNDoBeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Reservations for Two: A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons by Hillary Manton Lodge.

I adored Hillary’s first novel (check out my review here).  This novel is a sequel, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up. 

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life? 

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries? (Taken from  HIllary Manton Lodge’s book page. Click here to visit her site.)

 

Dog_Crazy2. Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue

Since Harvey (our basset hound) joined the Hall family, I’ve become a little partial to books with dogs, about dogs, or told by dogs, such as Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain.  This one by Meg Donohue sounds like a winner to me. Check out the publisher’s overview below:

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.  (Visit Meg’s author page here.)

 

Savor_FinalCoverOptions_rev233. Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist

Shauna is one of my absolute FAVORITE writers.  In fact, I want to be her.  She is so great at sharing everyday life in a way the reveals an extraordinary God. Her new book is a devotional format (365 days worth) which is slightly different from her other books which are essay format.  I have loved all three of her other books: Bittersweet, Cold Tangerines, and Bread and Wine.

Check out an excerpt here. 

 

516TXpkm6+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Many bloggers and writers that I follow on social media have discussed the book. Every quote I’ve read from the book has challenged me or hailed a hearty “Amen!”  Living in Ecuador forced me to re-evaluate what is truly important in my daily life – and it is not the busyness of work, school, or even church.  I’ve got a feeling this book will only reinforce my ideas.  Check out this intro from the McKeown’s book page.

  • Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
  • Do you sometimes feel overworked and underutilized?
  • Do you feel motion sickness instead of momentum?
  • Does your day sometimes get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?
  • Have you ever said “yes” simply to please and then resented it?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

I’m sure that several of those questions resounded with my readers.  If so, this might be the book for you.  I can’t wait to glean from its wisdom.

If you dive into one of these books on the radar, let me know what you think.  Come back and leave a comment so reader’s can get more info. 

Happy Reading,

~a

 

 

 

Edition: Friendship 101


Wednesday Reads Widenobody-book-cover-transMelanie Shankle’s third book Nobody’s Cuter Than You digs deep into an area where many women today struggle: developing deep friendships. She says it best in the books introduction: women “have a tendency to swim in the shallow pool of relationships because we know getting deep can equate to being vulnerable.” Unfortunately, social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook widen the shallow end, allowing women the illusion of being involved in one another’s life. In reality, it’s simply a bunch of pictures and status updates that don’t often reflect the whole truth about a friend’s life. It’s a false world that offers little in the way of real friendship and support.

The best thing about Melanie’s book is that not only does she write inspiring quotes about friendship, but  she tells stories that illustrate the powerful bond of female relationships. It’s not a how-to book — although following her friendship example can help all women learn how-to be a better friend. It’s a nostalgic trek down friendship lane that forces its readers to remember friends from their childhood, high school and college years, as well as today. And in the remembering, we are compelled to deepen our friendships, the kind that shares joy and pain, love and loss, through thick and thin, day in and day out.

Nobody’s Cuter Than You, of course, will puddle the eyes with tears for its poignant moments, but it will also make readers laugh out loud with its hysterical analysis of stupid friendship antics, such as hideous clothing choices, eating habits (better to buy clothes than food in college), spontaneous road trips, and unexpected life changes. With every memory Melanie shares, readers remember why friendship is so vital to a full life.

The book is an easy read. I read it over the course of two days, only because I was trying to savor it. The read filled my heart with memories of friendships past and encouragement to connect with friends in the present. My heart was lighter, my smile brighter, and my mind determined to make friendship a priority in my life. Overall, Nobody’s Cuter Than You was worth every tear, chuckle and penny I spent!  (Watch the book trailer here. So worth it!)

PS: If you haven’t read her blog, you are missing out on daily laughter.

PSS: Don’t miss out on Melanie’s other books: Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room.