May 172018
 

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Narrated by: Holter Graham

Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 09-11-07
Language: English
Publisher: Hachette Audio

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Nicholas Sparks turns his unrivaled talents to a tale about love found and lost, and the choices we hope we’ll never have to make.

Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life – boating, swimming , and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies — he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door.

Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, THE CHOICE ultimately confronts us with the most heart-wrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?

Thoughts
Here’s another one I forgot to review. I really need to stop this!

After seeing the movie (link to review) I knew I’d read the book but it took me a while. My only excuse is “so many books”. I decided to listen to the audio version of the book and I’m really glad I did. The narrator did a great job.

Like the movie, the book made me laugh, cry, and feel a lot of other emotions. Of course the book was a little different than the movie, but pretty much the same. It has interesting characters that I loved, lots of interesting situations,  good friends, two adorable dogs and just an overall really good book.

Travis and Gabby had a great relationship, and then a great love for each other, and I was engrossed with the book as much as I was with the movie.

If you like Nicholas Sparks but haven’t read this book or watched the movie, I recommend you do both. It’s not a sappy book, it’s about two people who fall deeply in love with each other, and what happens after a tragic accident.

This will be on my top 10 favorite books of 2018.

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook

May 032018
 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry #1)
by Rachel Joyce

Narrated by Jim Broadbent

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 9 hours and 57 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: July 24, 2012
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B008OCRSHE

A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise – and utterly irresistible – storyteller.

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him – allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise—and utterly irresistible—storyteller.

Thoughts
I don’t know what it is about “older” characters, but I just love them, and Harold Fry was no exception. I liked him from the very beginning of the book and liked him more and more as the book went on.

I loved that even at his age he decided to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge  to Berwick-upon-Tweed, in hopes of saving Queenie, a co-worker he hadn’t seen in 20 years.

I loved the character of Harold. I liked his attitude and his determination. And I liked how Maureen came around and ended up supporting him in this venture.

There was a part in the book that left me with my mouth hanging open, shocked at what was revealed. I love books that do that,  and this was a huge shock.

There were a lot of characters in the book but it was easy to keep them straight.  Most of them I liked, but some of them did things that made me mad and/or feel bad for Harold. I wanted to yell at them and say “shame on you”!

I loved the ending of the book, it made the whole walk worth every step.

I really loved this book and now want to read the second Harold Fry book, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. It goes deeper into the relationship of Harold and Queenie, and the letter that she didn’t send.

I started reading the print version of this book and then switched to audio after only a few chapters.

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

Apr 252018
 

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Narrated by Ruby Dee

Their Eyes Were Watching God, an American classic, is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.

This poetic, graceful love story, rooted in Black folk traditions and steeped in mythic realism, celebrates boldly and brilliantly African-American culture and heritage. And in a powerful, mesmerizing narrative, it pays quiet tribute to a Black woman who, though constricted by the times, still demanded to be heard.

Originally published in 1937 and long out of print, the book was reissued in 1975 and nearly three decades later Their Eyes Were Watching God is considered a seminal novel in American fiction.

Thoughts
This book was on my tbr list for a really long time. I finally decided to move it up because the Monthly Motif read for April is “Read Locally” and this book takes place in Eatonville, Florida which is not that far from where I live.

I didn’t know whether I’d like this book or not, but I loved it. The characters were so interesting that I was engrossed in the book right from the start. I loved Janie and her need to be who she was no matter what anyone thought. She was a strong woman who had a tough life. But then she met Tea Cake and things changed. He was a good man and he loved her. They had a good life together even with the few bumps along the way.

I was familiar with all the places in Florida that were talked about in the book. It takes place in Eatonville (the first all black incorporated town in the United States) and Lake Okeechobee. I’ve been to both and their surrounding towns.  It was interesting to learn some things that I didn’t know.

This book is full of heartbreak, laughter, thrills, and surprises. I am 100% glad I chose this book to read. It’s narrated by Ruby Dee who did a fantastic job. She brought the characters to life with a voice that was full of every emotion the characters had.

If you haven’t read this, or even if you have, I suggest the audio.  5 ★

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Monthly Motif

Apr 182018
 

The Memory of Butterflies by Grace Greene
Narrated by Brittany Pressley

To keep a devastating family secret from being revealed, a young mother’s desperate lies could end up destroying everything, and everyone, she loves. The Memory of Butterflies is a poignant story of family and forgiveness – of knowing when to let go and when to hold each other close.

Hannah Cooper’s daughter is leaving for college soon. The change is bittersweet. A single mother since the age of eighteen, Hannah isn’t eager to confront the pain of being alone, but she’s determined not to let her own hang-ups keep Ellen from the future she deserves. As Ellen’s high school graduation approaches, Hannah decides it’s time to return to her roots in Cooper’s Hollow along Virginia’s beautiful and rustic Cub Creek.

With the help of longtime friend Roger Westray, Hannah devotes her energies to building a new house on the site of the old family home, destroyed in a fire more than a decade ago. But Hannah’s entire adult life has revolved around one very big secret. And her new beginning comes with unanticipated risks that will cost her far more than she could have imagined – perhaps more than she can survive.

When a confrontation forces Hannah to expose her secret, the truth may destroy her beloved daughter. Hannah is prepared to sacrifice everything to protect her family, but can their lives and their bond withstand the seismic shift that’s coming?

Thoughts
Oh my goodness was this book good! So many surprises and secrets that I couldn’t listen to it fast enough.

All of the characters were well written and I liked getting to know them. The story took one twist and then another and kept surprising me. I felt a lot of different emotions while listening to this book. Some parts were sad, some were touching, and some were shocking.

One of the twists in the book made it a whole lot more interesting than what I was expecting to happen, so I’m glad the author took it in that direction.

I liked the ending, but would love for the story to continue with a  book #2.

The book was narrated by Brittany Pressley who did an awesome job. I would like listening to more of her narrations, as well as more books by this author.

So glad I decided to get a copy of this book.

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook

Apr 092018
 

Murder in Cherry Hills (Cozy Cat Caper Mystery, #1)

Murder in Cherry Hills (Cozy Cat Caper Mystery #1) by Paige Sleuth

Kat Harper has only just returned to her small hometown of Cherry Hills, Washington when she discovers the dead body of her neighbor, Mrs. Tinsdale. Matilda, Mrs. Tinsdale’s orphaned rescue cat, just might be the only eyewitness to the murder. But how do you convince a cat to reveal “whodunit”?

Thoughts
This is the first book in a 21 book series, which would usually make me want to imediately pass on it, but all the books are short so I decided to read it and I’m glad I did. I really liked it.

Kat opens her apartment door and see’s her neighbor’s (Mrs. Tinsdale) cat siting there. Since she knows Mrs. Tinsdale doesn’t like Matilda roaming around inside the apartment building, Kat decides to take her back to Mrs. Tindale’s apartment. When she gets to the door she see’s it’s open a bit. She goes inside and finds her neighbor laying on the floor dead, after calming herself down some, she calls the police. Her childhood friend Andrew is the cop who shows up.

Andrew doesn’t want Kat to get involved in searching for clues but she can’t stop herself. The murderer is caught with the help of the cat. It surprised me when I found out who dunnit.

I really enjoyed this quick read, the story was interesting and the characters believable. There was a bit of clean romance and the violence was tame.

Counts toward the following challenges:

 What An Animal
Purrfect

Apr 012018
 

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy
‎Narrated by Sile Bermingham

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 13 hours and 23 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Random House Audio
Audible.com Release Date: March 1, 2011

Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone.

Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles.

But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.

Thoughts
So So So good! I loved it!

The story was good from the beginning, but got even better and better as it went along. Noel was told by a terminally ill girl that she was pregnant and that he was the father. She wanted him to raise the baby when she was born since she would not be there to do it herself. He had a drinking problem but turned his life around to be the best dad to Frankie that he could be. He slipped a few times but he had a great  support system who was always there when he needed them. So many people loved Noel and Frankie, and they gave a lot of their free time to making sure they were ok.

The characters were all different kinds of people, and each one brought their own style to the story, making it very interesting. I liked all of them and wish everyone could have people like this in their lives.

Moira was in a different category. She didn’t treat people very well, was very opinionated, and thought Frankie would be better off with someone other than Noel. She was always snooping and prying, trying to find someone or something that could make that happen. It was her fault Noel fell of the wagon. I didn’t like her much, although later in the book you find out why she thinks and acts the way she does. It made me dislike her less, but it still wasn’t a good enough reason for how she treated people, especially Noel.

The book had a few sad parts but mostly it was upbeat. I really enjoyed this on audio as the narrator did a great job. Binchy is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Monthly Motif

Mar 282018
 

The Tour: A Trip Through Ireland by Jean Grainger
Narrated by Patrick Moy

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 54 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Audible Studios
Audible.com Release Date: December 19, 2017
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English
ASIN: B076T93S2H

A charming Irish bus driver. A group of disparate American tourists. One life changing week. Take a tour you’ll never forget as you navigate the stunning vistas of gorgeous Ireland along with the hearts and minds of a cast of characters who will live with you long after you’ve finished this audiobook.

During a routine tour of Ireland, tour guide Conor O’Shea finds himself on a journey of his own through the lives of his hilarious companions as together they navigate both the Irish countryside and the secrets of their individual lives.

A Wall Street banker, a divorcee, a musician, a cop, and a professor all enter Ireland with something on their minds, and throughout their journey with Conor as their guide, they each begin to show something of themselves against the spectacular backdrop of Ireland.

As colourful and turbulent as the wild Atlantic coast, The Tour offers more than just a look at one of the world’s most beautiful places, but contrasts Ireland’s open skyways and idyllic views against the secret lives of the individual. Witty, informative, and with a touch of romance, The Tour offers a unique look at the lives of others amidst the Emerald Isle.

One reviewer just said, ‘book a flight, if Ireland is anything like she describes, I need to be there’. Another claimed, ‘up all night to finish, I laughed, I cried, I didn’t want it to end’.

Can you afford to miss the trip of a lifetime?

Thoughts
I loved this audio! LOVED it! It took me on a trip that I would love to take in real life. The tour guide Conor O’Shea is a blessing to all on his tours. No matter what you need, he can make it happen.

This tour was a mixed group of people from America. There was someone who dressed strange and had strange hair, another who was timid. There was a rich person and a person who was poor, and a gold digger and a bully, to name a few.

All of them made for a great cast of characters. The story was told in a way so that I could keep track of who was who and I loved hearing what they were up to next.

The book was about 10 hours long but it didn’t seem that long because I was so wrapped up in the story. It went from one great story with great characters to another and they all came together at different times throughout the book and I loved it from the beginning to the end. This is book #1 in a 3 book series and I’ve already bought the other 2 audio’s.  The book is narrated by Patrick Moy who did an amazing job.

If you like books set in Ireland, pick up the The Conor O’Shea Series. It’s a great book!

Counts toward the following challenges:
Audiobook
Monthly Motif

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

Mar 262018
 

Love Unleashed: Tales of Inspiration and the Life-Changing Power of Dogs
by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: National Geographic (March 6, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426219067
ISBN-13: 978-1426219061

A book for dog lovers everywhere. Celebrating the amazing relationships shared with our four-legged friends, each story recounts the love of dogs and the powerful ways dogs impact our lives.

In this heartwarming collection of stories, readers meet 38 incredible dogs who have gone above and beyond the job description of best friend. Each uplifting story provides an inspiring look at the animals who change our lives. Meet rescue dogs who learn to serve others, working dogs who go beyond the call of duty, and underdogs who surmount extraordinary challenges on the road to finding their forever home. This treasury of man’s best friend features photographs and personal anecdotes from those who have been touched by the selfless love of a beloved pet.

Readers will be inspired by…
* Extraordinary reunions: A dog is rescued from Aleppo, Syria, and reunited with his family in Canada, where they had relocated in 2015 after a missile destroyed their home.
* Friendships meant to be: When a prosthetics clinic scheduled appointments for 9-year-old Avery and shelter puppy Hattie Mae on the same day, a fateful encounter leads to a lifelong friendship built on combatting disability.
* Heroic acts: Shaya, a crime-fighting dog trained to track illegal poachers, hurt his leg chasing an injured rhino. The leg had to be amputated, but Shaya goes right back to work protecting animals.
* True devotion: As he was participating in China’s Four Deserts Gobi March, a six-day foot race, Dion Leonard met a dedicated pup who accompanied him for about 120 miles. Afterward, he decides to adopt the dog.

Thoughts
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE dogs! As soon as I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it.

This is a book of 35 inspirational dog stories. They all touched me deeply and I loved every one. Hooch’s story though, was the first one that actually made me tear up. Hooch is a French Mastiff Mix who lives in California. He was at a Bakersfield shelter and threw his food and water bowls across the kennel because he couldn’t eat or drink. His tongue had been cut out, and his ears had been clipped, he was emaciated, and on top of all that he caught pneumonia.

Thankfully the shelter called Zack Skow who is the founder of Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue who took Hooch to the vet and over time Hooch got better. Zack decided to adopt the dog himself and Hooch had been happy, healthy, and loved since.

The book also includes the story of Tuna (Tuna Melts My Heart), a dog I’ve been following on FB for years. Tuna is an adorable Chiweenie who also lives in California. Tuna is adorable and makes me smile every time I see a photo of him. He has an overbite, shrivel neck, and many many outfits.

Other stories include dogs that keep animals company in the exam room to the recovery room, assist people with disabilities, educate children about the environment, and so many more amazing dogs!

If you love dogs or inspirational stories, get a copy of this book. I loved every dog and their story and will pick this book up from time to time to revisit these special dogs.

I ♥ this book!!!

Purchase Links

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

TLC Book Tours

Mar 152018
 

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

Take Heart, Beloved.
His Light Is Shining,
And Your Path Is Clear.

Wherever you are on your journey, here is the wisdom you need for the road ahead. Maybe you’re stuck and want to move forward. Or you feel anxious and long to know what’s next. Or you’re ready for an uplifting reminder that God holds your future in His loving hands.

Chosen by hundreds of women as their favorite verses in Proverbs, these thirty-one nuggets of truth reveal how faithfully God honors His promise, “I will instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths” (Proverbs 4:11).

Best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs examines each word with care and adds a sprinkling of humor through her honest stories and personal examples. For each verse you’ll find a unique “One Minute, One Step” challenge—a do-it-now task that requires one minute or less. You’ll soon discover how practical and meaningful the book of Proverbs is as you apply its ancient wisdom to your thoroughly modern life.

With a study guide included, 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path is a daily devotional and a small-group Bible study, wrapped in a beautiful gift book brimming with encouragement!

Thoughts
The author takes the 31 most favorite Proverbs from the women she polled and adds personal situations that pertain to each one, giving you an uplifting, inspirational book. All the chapters are only a few pages, but made a big impact on me.

At the end of each Proverb is a prayer, and then a “One Minute, One Step” activity that you can do.

One of my very favorite Proverbs included in the book is:
“She Still Speaks”
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Proverbs 31:26

The “One Minute, One Step” for it is: Speak His wisdom until you know it by heart, and gives you steps to do so that you can commit it to memory. The author says that Proverbs 31:26 might be the most life changing of all the Proverbs in the book. I agree!

I love devotionals and have quite a few of them. This is one I’ll return to many times.

This is the first inspirational book I’ve read by this author. I loved it and will definitely be reading more from her.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Counts toward the following challenges:
Non-Fiction

Mar 092018
 

About Meet the Frugalwoods

• Hardcover: 256 pages
• Publisher: HarperBusiness (March 6, 2018)

The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog.

In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it’s also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don’t stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to “the good life.” Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums.

Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn’t for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age thirty-two. While not everyone wants to live in the woods, or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life.

Thoughts
This a great book for anyone wanting financial independence or anyone who is interested in the subject. Told with a bit of humor, you learn how Elizabeth and Nate reached financial independence in three years. She gives some pretty good ideas of how to achieve that goal, and they all sound really doable.

For me, I’d like to be financially independent, but I really want to live a life of less. Less stuff, only have what I need and a few things that make me happy. I really only want a bookcase or two of my favorite can’t get rid of books, a few lighthouse pictures on the walls, and of course my favorite kitchen gadgets. I’m done with having stuff that I really don’t need. I want to down size. I need to down size. I think that will make me so much more content.

Then, because I’m not buying everything that catches my eye, I won’t be spending money on things I don’t really need. You know what I’m talking about. Those things you see in a store and think you just have to have. You take it home and ooh and aah over it for a few days and  then it loses it’s thrill and just sits there, abandoned.

I’ve often thought of how rich we’d be if we’d just not bought so much. We’d have a whole lot more in our savings account for sure.

This book should be a must read for high schools or college. There’s an old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness”. But I think money can buy you more happiness than stuff you paid money for that is sitting forgotten around your house. I’d much rather take more vacations than I would like to have “stuff”.

 

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

About Elizabeth Willard Thames

Elizabeth Willard Thames is the personal finance blogger behind the award-winning Frugalwoods.com. At thirty-two she abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced extreme frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life and retire to a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of Vermont with her husband and young daughter. Started in April 2014, Frugalwoods is a respected voice in the personal finance, early retirement, and lifestyle blogging sector and empowers readers to take charge of their finances and create fulfilling lives. Thames holds BAs in political science and creative writing from the University of Kansas and an MA in public administration from American University. Prior to following her calling as a writer and homesteader, she worked for ten years in the nonprofit sector as a fund-raiser and communications manager.

Follow Frugalwoods on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

I’d give this book a 5★

Counts toward the following challenges:

Non-Fiction

Mar 042018
 

Cooking that Counts: 1,200- to 1,500-Calorie Meal Plans to Lose Weight Deliciously

Cooking that Counts:
1,200- to 1,500-Calorie Meal Plans to Lose Weight Deliciously
by The Editors of Cooking Light

Lose weight and love it with 150+ amazingly tasty recipes and smart tips to stay on track.

Cooking that Counts delivers sustainable 1,200-1,500 calorie-controlled meal plans packed with tasty food in an easy-to-use format. Unlike other weight-loss plans that rely on processed meals and preportioned snacks, the Cooking Light solution emphasizes delicious meals prepared with whole, natural foods and teaches proper portion sizes to ensure you lose weight and keep it off, for life.

With more than 150 recipes, readers will enjoy menu variety (hopefully picking up some new favorite recipes along the way!) as well as some flexibility to enjoy desserts and alcohol while still losing weight. More than just a cookbook, the Cooking Light editors offer suggestions throughout to create full meals that meet daily calorie goals, as well as providing simple serving suggestions for sides to help readers stay on track without feeling deprived. Readers will find information about fresh, convenient options for when time is tight, including suggestions for healthy readymade foods, shopping guidance, and make-ahead tips.

Thoughts
I saw this book in a post at Beth Fish Reads. Since the food on the cover looked light and healthy, I decided to look at the book at the library, and when I saw that the carb count was included for each recipe, I checked it out. I’m watching my carb intake and recipes with the carb count make it so easy to keep track. All the recipes look easy to make and sound good. I usually eat the same things for breakfast so I’m planing on making a few of the recipes for lunch and dinner. I try to eat 35 g. carbs per meal and most of the recipes for lunch and dinner are that or less.

This is a great book for anyone wanting to lose weight, but also for anyone wanting to keep track of the carbs they eat.

I’d give this book a 5★

Counts toward the following challenges:

Non-Fiction
Foodies Read
Library Love

Mar 012018
 

Nomadland audiobook cover art

Nomadland
Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
By: Jessica Bruder
Narrated by: Karen White
Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
Unabridged
Release date: 09-26-17
Language: English
Publisher: HighBridge, a Division of Recorded Books

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the wilderness campgrounds of California to an Amazon warehouse in Texas, people who once might have kicked back to enjoy their sunset years are hard at work. Underwater on mortgages or finding that Social Security comes up short, they’re hitting the road in astonishing numbers, forming a new community of nomads: RV and van-dwelling migrant laborers, or “workampers”.

Building on her groundbreaking Harper’s cover story, “The End of Retirement”, which brought attention to these formerly settled members of the middle class, Jessica Bruder follows one such RVer, Linda, between physically taxing seasonal jobs and reunions of her new van-dweller family, or “vanily”. Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of both the economy’s dark underbelly and the extraordinary resilience, creativity, and hope of these hardworking, quintessential Americans – many of them single women – who have traded rootedness for the dream of a better life.

Thoughts
I tried reading this book and just couldn’t get into it so I decided to try listening to the audio and that worked. I was hooked from the beginning and loved learning about this alternate lifestyle.

I’ve always thought it would be so neat to travel the country in an RV, camper, or travel van. I still think it would be, but now I know it’s not a great way to live for most people who must work also.

Most of these nomads were older, and I was really shocked by how some companies treat these people. It’s really hard work which is hard on the body, really long hours, and doesn’t pay much. One of the men in the book walked about 18 miles a day for his job. WOW!

I think if you had a small monthly income and would be ok with a less intense and/or part time job it would be a great way to live. But most of these people need full time.

Karen White did a great job of narrating this book.

This was a very good book. Makes me want to  listen to more like it.

I think the print would work for most people, but I’m on an audiobook kick this year (which is really surprising) and only a few print books have kept my attention. I usually have to switch to audio and then I’m ok with the book.

 

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction
Monthly Motif

Feb 212018
 

Why I Hate Green Beans cover art

Why I Hate Green Beans by Lincee Ray
Narrated by Lincee Ray

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 4 hours and 57 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audible.com Release Date: February 9, 2018
Language: English

If there is one thing Lincee Ray has learned over the years, it’s that the majority of women on the planet struggle with insecurities. Our skinny jeans mock us. Our just-trying-to-help mothers are just driving us crazy. Our social media feeds taunt us with everyone else’s picture-perfect lives. It’s enough to send you on a gummy-bear bender while binge-watching Friends reruns and not showering for a week. Lincee knows. She’s been there. Right there, in fact. Gummy bears and all.

For every woman who’s ever wondered if she’s unlovable, uninteresting, or unattractive, Lincee offers her particular brand of hilarious (and hard-hitting) self-reflection. Like a true friend, she shows us that the fastest way to happiness is to embrace ourselves in all our imperfection, trust that God knew what he was doing when he made us, and maybe go buy a new tube of mascara.

Walk alongside Lincee as she discovers that her identity is not found in her job, her relationship status, her bank account, or her social circle. It’s found in Christ.

Thoughts
Lincee Ray is hilarious! I can’t even tell you how many times I laughed out loud while listening to this.

Lincee tells it all, from her family and childhood to her college years, marriage, divorce, and life after that.

Lincee is a good daughter, sister, aunt, friend. The stories she shares in this book are funny, heartwarming, and at times a bit more personal than I think I’d be willing to share.

I loved listening to her talk about her faith, which by the way is not preachy at all. It’s just her thoughts about the God she loves and relies on.

If you like a quick read that will brighten your day, pick up a copy of this book. I suggest the audiobook. Lincee brings an element to the book that I doubt you could get from the printed book.

I had never heard of Lincee before seeing this book. By the way I love the title (even though I love green beans). I am now a Lincee a fan. I follow her blog, and also her podcast on the Podcast app on my iPhone, but you can use another app or read it on her blog.

I highly recommend this book!

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction

Feb 102018
 

Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica, Laurie Gwen Shapiro

The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica
by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Narrated by Jacques Roy

Listening Length: 6 hours and 28 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Audible.com Release Date: January 16, 2018
Language: English
ASIN: B078462RYY

The spectacular true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over, and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? This was the moon landing before the 1960s. Everyone wanted to join the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage.

The night before the expedition’s flagship launched, Billy Gawronski – a skinny, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business – jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard.

Could he get away with it?

From the grimy streets of New York’s Lower East Side to the rowdy dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a gutsy young stowaway who became an international celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your-bootstraps age.

THOUGHTS
This book was not what I thought it would be. I love true life adventure stories and was very excited to listen to The Stowaway. I wanted to go along with Billy to Antarctica, and experience all he did. Sadly, the book did not give me that. I  thought the book started out good. We learned about Billy, his parents, and his attempt to stowaway on the trip to Antarctica. We were told how he did this, how he was discovered, and then most of the book was focused more on other people and facts leading up to, during, and after the trip to Antarctica.

You can tell the author did a lot of research, and it was all interesting, it just wasn’t what I thought the book would be about. I wanted to take a trip to Antarctica. I barely got that from the book.

The narrator spoke in a dull monotone.  I easily could have fallen asleep, but I listened while driving so I didn’t. Only once or twice while he was repeating what a character in the book said did his voice come alive.

If you go into this book knowing that doesn’t give much of Billy’s personal experience, it may be a better fit for you than it was for me. I do know that I’m in the minority with my thoughts.

 

Counts toward the following challenges:

Audiobook
Non-Fiction

Feb 062018
 

Who doesn´t like the dark ? (Danny Dinosaur) by [Alex, Peter]

Who Doesn´t Like The Dark? (Danny Dinosaur) by Peter Alex

File Size: 10429 KB
Print Length: 25 pages
Publication Date: January 28, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B079DT8QVG

Danny is a cute little dinosaur who is afraid of the dark.
But being courageous, he is going to find a solution.
This a perfect story for bedtime with a tuck-in tight so you can rest well tonight.
It´s an easy way to say “I love you”.

THOUGHTS
Danny is a dinosaur who can’t sleep at night because he’s afraid of the dark. He’s tired every day but he doesn’t care. He’s rather be tired than sleep in the dark. His mom and dad try to help him to be able to go to sleep but nothing works. Then Danny has a great idea of how he can sleep at night. His idea works and so Danny doesn’t hate bedtime anymore.

This is a cute book that can be read in just a few minutes, but Danny’s idea is a solution for kids who are afraid to go to sleep at night because they are afraid of the dark.

Counts toward the following challenge:
What An Animal

Feb 052018
 

Best Day Ever: A Psychological Thriller, Kaira Rouda

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Narrated by Graham Halstead & Amy McFadden

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 7 hours and 56 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Audible.com Release Date: September 19, 2017

“As I opened the door and stepped into the humid night, her scream followed me out. But I knew there was still love for me in her heart….

“I’m unforgettable.”

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys, and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them, and doubts start to arise. How perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? How much do they trust each other? Is Paul the person he seems to be? And what are his secret plans for their weekend at the cottage?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the best-selling vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

Thoughts
It had been a while since I’ve read a thriller so when I kept seeing glowing reviews of this book I decided I’d give it a listen. Oh how glad I am that I did!

Paul Strom is successful, he’s handsome, he’s a good husband & father. At the beginning of the book, about 5 minutes, I liked him, he seemed to love his family and be thoughtful. But then he kept talking.  And the more he talked the more I discovered that he’s the biggest narcissist I’ve ever ran across in my years of reading.

As they ride in the car to their lake house, little arguments start and I can tell something is going to happen to make this not the best day ever. And boy does it. I don’t want to give to much away and spoil it for anyone who wants to give the book a try, so I won’t say much more. I think anything else will be “tmi” since the book was all about the “bad” parts of the day.

Paul narrates the whole book from his viewpoint. I kept wanting to hear Nia’s side but she didn’t get a voice until the end.

I wish the book had been longer. I want to know what the future brought for Paul, Nia, and the boys. We got a little info about Nia and the boys future, but I wanted to know what the future held for Paul.

Both narrators did a great job, especially Paul. He WAS the character.

I could not stop listening to this audiobook. It’s definitely going on my list of favorites for 2018.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Feb 012018
 

The Last Ballad cover art

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash
Narrated by Karen WhiteElizabeth Wiley

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 14 hours and 6 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Harper Audio
Audible.com Release Date: October 3, 2017

Twelve times a week, 28-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. Two in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill’s owners – the newly arrived Goldberg brothers – white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May’s best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for 72 hours of work each week, it’s the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find.

When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county’s biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement – a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town – indeed all that she loves.

Seventy-five years later, Ella May’s daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in 1929.

Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early 20th-century America – and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash’s place among our nation’s finest writers.

THOUGHTS
I went back and forth about whether to listen to this book or not, and I’m really glad I decided to give it a try. I liked the story from the beginning and stayed hooked until the end.

I liked Ella May. She lived and worked alongside her neighbors and friends, many of whom were African Americans, not very heard of during that time, and wanted what was best for them. She was only 28 yrs. old, but was raising four children, mainly alone, because her husband came and went as he pleased.

I liked most all the characters in the book, especially Hampton Haywood and Katherine McAdam. I didn’t like the mill owners and the other “nefarious forces”. Because of them, many people were hurt or killed.

I liked the alternating voices. The book is based on true facts and it is a very important part of our history.

This is the first book by this author that I’ve read and now I want to read his other books.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Jan 192018
 

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Narrated by Amanda Prowse
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 9 hours and 31 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Audible.com Release Date: August 22, 2017

Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina’s life of luxury quickly disappears and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate – and the sister – she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed – her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Stirring and empowering, this novel from bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this tale of one woman’s loss and love.

THOUGHTS
The book is sad and I felt for Nina and her boys. I can’t imagine having that kind of lifestyle and then losing it within a few days.

I liked Nina. She didn’t know how she was going to take care of her family, but she figured it out while trying to make sure her boys were ok. I liked her youngest son Declan. I thought for his young age he handled things really well. Conner on the other hand did not. And even though I understood, I still wanted Nina to handle him differently. She just took all his crap. She didn’t tell him the truth at the beginning. She let him blame her and talk awful to her. Thankfully he let the anger go towards the end of the book.

I liked this book a lot. It was nice seeing Nina and her boys go from such a great life, to an awful life, and then finding peace with their new, comfortable life.

The author did a great job with the narration. It was easy to listen to.

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook

Jan 062018
 

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come And Get It by Ree Drummond

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; First Edition/First Printing edition (October 24, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006222526X
ISBN-13: 978-0062225269

Crazy delicious recipes for a crazy busy life from the #1 New York Times bestselling author and Food Network star.

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!

THOUGHTS
I’m a big fan of Ree Drummond’s books and tv show. She’s a loving wife and mom, has some fantastic recipes, funny, and I love they clothes she wears! So when I saw this book was available at my library I put it on hold. Two days later I had it in my hands.

The contents are:
It’s A Crazy Busy Life
My 20 Favorite Pantry Items
My 15 Favorite Freezer Staples
My 12 Favorite Fridge Staples
My 10 (Okay, 12) Favorite Cuts Of Beef

Then there is:
Breakfasts
Lunches On The GO
Apps and Snacks
Under 40
Under 20
Take Your Time
Sheet Pan Suppers
Meatless Marvels
Sensational Sides
Bread, Baby!
Sweets, Glorious Sweets

Plus:
Acknowledgements, Recipes For All Occasions,Universal Conversion Chart, & Index

There are photos and stories of her, her family & pets, and The Merc. The recipes have photos of each step which I really liked. I do wish the book included the nutritional info for each recipe though. Many of us are restricted on the amount of salt, calories, carbs etc. that we can have each day and that would make it easier to decide whether to try the recipe or not.

Speaking of recipes, a few I want to try are Overnight Muesli, Orang-Vanilla Monkey Bread, Tai Chicken Wraps, Pretzel Coated Fried Goat Cheese, Dinner Nachos. I also want to make many of the Take Your Time (slow cooker), Sheet Pan Suppers and Meatless Marvels recipes.

I love this book so much that I renewed the hold so I could keep it longer, and plan on buying a copy.

If you love Ree, recipes, or cookbooks, check this book out.

Counts toward the following challenge:

Foodies Read
Library Love

 

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Jan 042018
 

Unashamed

Unashamed by Lecrae Moore

Narrated by: Lecrae Moore
Length: 4 hrs and 17 mins
Unabridged
Release date: 05-03-16
Language: English
Publisher: Christianaudio

If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.

Two-time Grammy winning rap artist, Lecrae, learned this lesson through more than his share of adversity—childhood abuse, drugs and alcoholism, a stint in rehab, an abortion, and an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Along the way, Lecrae attained an unwavering faith in Jesus and began looking to God for affirmation. Now as a chart-topping industry anomaly, he has learned to ignore the haters and make peace with his craft. The rap artist holds nothing back as he divulges the most sensitive details of his life, answers his critics, shares intimate handwritten journal entries, and powerfully models how to be Christian in a secular age.

This is the story of one man’s journey to faith and freedom.

THOUGHTS
I’ve never been a fan of  hip-hop and had never heard of Lecrae Moore before seeing this book. To be honest, I never really gave Christian hip-hop a chance because of the few times I’ve heard secular hip-hop. Don’t like it at all. But, I’d be more open to listening to Christian hip-hop after listening to this audiobook.  Each chapter began with a sample of one of his songs. Because of the messages  in them, I think I may enjoy it.

Anyway…Wow! What a great testimony! Lecrae had a tough life and had to grow up way faster than he should have. He finally got the life he wanted, but it was a long hard battle, sometimes he hindered himself.

Whether you like Christian hip hop or not, this is an interesting book. It’s short, but his story is huge! And even if I never become a fan of Christian hip-hop, I am a fan of Lecrae Moore!

 

Counts toward the following challenge:

Audiobook