Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: She Regrets Nothing

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

She Regrets Nothing
Andrea Dunlop
Expected publication date: February 6, 2018
In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth, the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth. - from Goodreads

Monday, January 29, 2018

4 Strategies For Making More Time To Read

For many people, one of the reasons they give for why they don't read is that they don't have time.  I can understand this - we're all busy, between families, work, and other obligations.  Free time is often at a premium.  So, for anyone looking for even just a few extra minutes to squeeze in some chapters, today I've come up with four ways that can help you gain some extra reading time!

Meal prep
I bring my lunch to work every day, and many weeks I will make a big batch of *something* on Sundays, portion it all out, and I'm done for the week!  Those 10-15 minutes each morning or night I would spend putting my lunch together or trying to find something to eat have now been freed up for other things.  My husband will also often do this for our dinners, so we spend less time in the kitchen on weeknights.

Just 10 minutes
Instead of diving right in and trying to carve out hours per day to read, start small - wake up a few minutes earlier or stay up a few minutes later to read a few pages.  Start your nighttime routine at 10:50pm instead of 11pm, then use that extra time to get comfy and get reading.  Waking up at 7am instead of 7:10am isn't a huge commitment, and you can use that quiet time to read a chapter or two before starting all the other things you need to do.  Or, just set a timer during your evening and devote just that 10 minutes to reading.  Everyone has 10 minutes, right?

Create a tech-free reading zone
Whether this is your bedroom or just a random chair in your house, designate one area as technology-free (except for e-readers!).  Most of us spend a ton of time checking social media, reading emails, or bingeing something on Netflix - spending some of that time reading instead would be great!  Having an area where you can go to just read, without any other distractions, may make you more likely to devote the time to it. 

Sometimes it's not about creating more free time or giving something up, but using our time more wisely.  I'm still a fan of paper books, but the days of lugging around large hardcover books are a thing of the past.  With audiobooks and ebooks, we can basically read anywhere and everywhere.  When my work commute got longer, I started listening to audiobooks in the car - that's literally an extra HOUR per day I can spend reading.  You can listen to books while you're exercising or cleaning the house.  Your phone or e-reader can ensure you never lack a book to read while you're sitting in a doctor's waiting room.  If you always have a book with you, you'll never have an excuse to not read!

What are some of your tips for making more time to read?  How do you make reading a priority?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Mini-Reviews: Time Travel Romances

Back in December, I did a post on time travel romances I've read and enjoyed.  Since then, I've read a couple more, so here are my reviews!

The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin (2017)

Isabel has been raising her daughter Finn alone since her boyfriend Max disappeared shortly after she told him she was pregnant.  What she doesn't know is that Max has been pulled back through time, to his ancestor's plantation in 1816 Barbados, and that he's trying to get back to them before he gets caught in the middle of a deadly slave uprising.

This book had a lot going on - not only was there time travel and romance, there were also some supernatural/paranormal elements, historical fiction, friendships, relationships between parents and children, and family secrets.  It worked for awhile, but by the end I was lost and felt the story was dragging on.

I loved the writing; the author had an easy, flowing style.  At the beginning, the pacing was also really good - although some might feel it's slow, I liked the way the story moved back and forth between Isabel and Max's points of view (Isabel wondering if she should have hope that Max is still alive and Max trying to stop the rebellion).  However, the last 100 pages or so didn't work for me.  Isabel's best friend Ryan reveals that he has been in love with her for years, and the drama between the two of them as they decide whether to embark on a relationship was just awkward.  I don't think the story needed this element; I would have been more happy to have the focus on Isabel's conflicting feelings about both Max and her mother, who also disappeared when Isabel was younger. 3.5 stars

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (2017)

A neurosurgeon taking care of her late brother's estate in Siena, Italy, is transported back to the 14th century, where she finds herself falling in love with an artist on the eve of the Plague's arrival.

I really enjoyed this book - the writing was absolutely lovely, the characters were fully fleshed-out, and the setting was rich.  Winawer did a great job in setting the scene; the descriptions of 14th century Italy and life at that time transported me to the era.  Beatrice was a multi-dimensional main character - although a neurosurgeon by trade, she also had an interest in history, and when she found herself in 1347 Siena, she adapted very quickly to her new surroundings, even finding herself a job and surprising herself with a lack of desire to get back.  The secondary characters added a lot of heart to the story.

Besides being just a love story between Beatrice and artist Gabriele, there is also quite a bit of intrigue, as Beatrice tries to figure out why Siena will be hard-hit by the Plague, causing the city's downfall.  She and Gabriele are pulled into situations more dangerous than they expect.  My only quibble with the story was that it did seem to move quite slowly at times.  4 stars

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Lady's Guide to Selling Out

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

A Lady's Guide to Selling Out
Sally Franson
Expected publication date: April 10, 2018
An ambitious young woman navigates the slippery world of advertising--and the equally slippery question of who she wants to be. Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada in this smart and witty debut novel.

Casey Pendergast, once a book-loving English major, is now a clothes-loving brand strategist at a top ad agency. Casey is a superstar, and her career has skyrocketed: she knows what people want, and she knows how to give it to them. When her hard-to-please boss assigns her to a top-secret marketing campaign that pairs authors with corporations hungry for creative copy and upmarket cache, Casey is initially thrilled--but as she begins to meet and woo her literary idols, she can't help but question the cost on her conscience. With an unforgettable voice--plucky and razor-sharp, equal parts feminist and pop-culture--this is the story of a young woman untangling the contradictions of our culture, and finding her way out of the rat race by returning to her first love: literature. - from Goodreads

Monday, January 22, 2018

4 Free Things We Did in Las Vegas... and 5 For The Next Trip

(In an effort to freshen up the "wanderings" part of my blog, I want to start incorporating more travel posts, so this is my first attempt!)

I was so excited to go to Las Vegas for the first time last year, but I was also a bit worried about the costs - the restaurants, the gambling, the drinking - it wouldn't be cheap!  So I did some research before we left and came up with a list of things that we could do for free.  Because our trip was rather short and my list was really long, we only got to a few of them, so I guess that just means I'll have to go back!

1. Walking the Strip and checking out the casinos.  After parking our car, we basically walked anywhere we wanted to go along the Strip.  There's so much to see both inside and outside the casinos.  The themed hotels are so ornate and busy, we didn't even need to gamble to have fun.  And with the way we ate, we definitely needed the exercise.

2. The Park.  The Park is an outdoor area located between the Monte Carlo and New York-New York hotels.  It offered some respite from the craziness of the Strip and also housed some very cool sculptures.

3. The Bellagio fountains  The fountains run on a schedule, so it's pretty easy to figure out when you should get there to see the show.

4.  The Welcome to Las Vegas sign.  The sign is actually located down Las Vegas Boulevard from the heart of the Strip, but since it was on the way to where we were staying, it was a quick stop for us.  There's actually a parking lot in the center of the road, which makes for an easy visit.  Also, it was quite a bit smaller than I thought it would be!

So, we ended up hitting the major tourist attractions while we were there, but if (when) we go back, there are five other attractions I'd like to check out, all for free:

Neon Museum: The Neon Museum houses an outdoor collection of classic neon signs.  Most of their collection is accessible through guided tours for a fee, but they also have a gallery of 9 restored signs that is open and free to the public, 24/7.

Ethel M. Chocolates: The Ethel M. Chocolates factory is actually located in Henderson.  You can do a free self-guided tour of the viewing aisle to catch a glimpse of them making the chocolate, and afterwards you can take a walk through their Botanical Cactus Garden, the largest in Nevada.

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden: The conservatory at the Bellagio houses a multitude of plants, flowers, and trees, and the design is changed for each season.  Unfortunately, we were in Las Vegas for the couple days each quarter when the Garden is closed to create the next season's scene!

The Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo: Inside the flashy Flamingo resort is a wildlife habitat that features fish, turtles, and of course, flamingos. 
ARIA fine art collection: All over the ARIA hotel campus, you can find stunning pieces of public art, from sculptures to paintings.

Las Vegas isn't just about gambling and drinking - there really is something for everyone, and you don't always have to spend a ton of money to have fun!
What are some of your favorite Las Vegas attractions?  What's your favorite thing about Las Vegas?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Review: The Night She Won Miss America

The Night She Won Miss America
Michael Callahan
Published April 18, 2017
Inspired by a true story, a young woman is swept up in the glamour and excitement of chasing the title of Miss America 1950—only to vanish the night she wins.

Betty Jane Welch reluctantly enters the Miss Delaware contest to make her mother happy, only to surprisingly find herself the judges' choice. Just like that, she's catapulted into the big time, the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.

Luckily, her pageant-approved escort for the week is the dashing but mercurial Griffin McAllister, and she falls for him hard. But when the spirited Betty unexpectedly wins the crown and sash, she finds she may lose what she wants most: Griff's love. To keep him, she recklessly agrees to run away together. From the flashy carnival of the Boardwalk to the shadowy streets of Manhattan to a cliffside mansion in gilded Newport, the chase is on as the cops and a scrappy reporter secretly in love with the beauty queen threaten to unravel everything-and expose Griff's darkest secret. - from Goodreads
This was one of those impulse grabs from the library new release shelf.  I didn't know anything about the book, hadn't checked out any reviews, but I thought the cover was adorable and the blurb was interesting, so I took it home.

In 1949, Betty Jane enters the Miss Delaware pageant as a favor to her mother, not expecting she would ever win - but she does, and she is swept off to the Miss America pageant.  There, she meets her escort for the week, Griff McAllister, and the two fall head over heels in love.  However, Griff tells Betty that if she were to win, he couldn't be with her; it would be too stressful for him.  When Betty unexpectedly wins, she has to make the choice between being Miss America and being Griff's girlfriend, and she chooses Griff - but was it the right choice?

I really enjoyed the first half of the story, up to when Betty wins the pageant.  The behind-the-scenes pageant tidbits and mid-century Atlantic City setting were fun.  After Betty runs away with Griff, the story got quite a bit more outlandish.  With stops in New York City and Newport, car chases, and an attempted rape, it felt like a soap opera.

At times it was hard to pin down Betty Jane as a character.  She seemed like a typical young woman, a college student who hasn't led the most interesting of lives.  When she meets Griff, she falls hard, and as a girl who hasn't had many boyfriends before, she loves the attention Griff gives her.  When she ultimately wins the Miss America title, Betty Jane vacillates practically every page.  Although the win isn't something she wanted, she begins to see all the possibilities and advantages it could bring, not to mention all the scholarship money, but she is worried about Griff.  To his credit, Griff never asks Betty to give up her title; she does that all on her own.  As the story goes on, she shows a cunning level-headedness that I didn't expect from her.

Griff, although charming at times, is hiding a big secret from Betty.  Maybe it's a bit of a spoiler, but Griff has schizophrenia, and by the time Betty learns the truth, it's too late; she's in too deep to just leave.  Griff's schizophrenia was a somewhat heartbreaking addition to the story, but the touches upon treatment and prognosis of mental illness in the 1940s were rather interesting.

Overall, I thought this story was engaging and quick-moving, although a bit inconsistent. 

3.5 stars

Thursday, January 18, 2018

TV Shows I'm Obsessed With Lately #4

Although I probably liked the first season slightly better, I'm still loving the second season of The Crown on Netflix.  It's no secret that I love royalty, so I am fascinated by this show about Queen Elizabeth II.  And this season devotes whole episodes to other members of the royal family, including the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, and her son, Prince Charles.

By Unknown - Netflix, Public Domain,

Travelers is yet another fantastic original series by Netflix.  In this series, the future is a bleak place, so "travelers" are sent back to the present-day to try to prevent all the things that caused society to collapse.  The consciousness of the traveler is transferred into the body of someone who is just about to die, saving them and taking over their lives in order to complete missions.  If you love time travel and sci-fi, there are two great seasons of this show to binge!

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

No matter how many years it's been since my own wedding, I will never get tired of looking at pretty dresses (especially ones I could never afford!) and hearing about people's love stories.  I can lose an entire afternoon watching reruns, and the new season has finally started!

What tv shows are you watching lately?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Sociable

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Rebecca Harrington
Expected publication date: March 27, 2018
The Assistants meets The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. in this exuberant comedy of manners set in the world of Internet media, a brilliantly irreverent novel about what it means to be young, broke, dumped, and scarily good at creating viral content.

When Elinor Tomlinson moved to New York with a degree in journalism she had visions of writing witty opinion pieces, marrying her journalist boyfriend, and attending glamorous parties with famously perverted writers. Instead, Elinor finds herself nannying for two small children who speak in short, high screams, sleeping on a foam pad in a weird apartment, and attending terrible parties with Harper's interns wearing shapeless smocks. So when Elinor is offered a job at, the digital media brainchild of a Silicon Valley celebrity, she jumps at the chance. Sure, her boyfriend is writing long think pieces about the electoral college for a real website while Elinor writes lists about sneakers and people at parties give her pitying glances when she reveals her employer, but at Elinor discovers her true gift: She has a preternatural ability for writing sharable content. She is an overnight viral sensation! But Elinor's success is not without cost. Elinor's boyfriend dumps her, two male colleagues insist on "mentoring" her, and a piece she writes about her personal life lands her on local television. Broke, single, and consigned to move to a fifth-floor walkup, Elinor must ask herself: Is this the creative life she dreamed of? Can new love be found on Coffee Meets Bagel? And should she start wearing a smock? With wry humor and sharp intelligence, Sociable is a hilarious tale of one young woman's search for happiness--and an inside look at life in the wild world of Internet media. - from Goodreads

Monday, January 15, 2018

5 Little Mermaid Retellings For Adults

I am a huge Disney fan, and when I was a kid, my favorite of the Disney princesses was (and still is) Ariel (although Belle the bookworm also holds a place in my heart!).  I loved The Little Mermaid, but it was only when I got older that I realized that original Hans Christian Andersen tale is actually pretty dark.  So today I wanted to compile a list of Little Mermaid retellings for adult fans!

The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember: A mermaid falls in love with a maiden trapped on a glacier.

The Mermaid's Daughter by Ann Claycomb: An opera student in Boston feels stabbing pains in her feet, unless she's touching the sea.  I can highly recommend this one - check out my review here.

The Summer Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: A singer loses her voice, but a potential new relationship may give her renewed hope.

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon: Close to the original story, this retelling focuses on a love triangle between the mermaid, prince, and another princess.

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama: A mermaid's decision to join her human love echoes through generations.

Do you have any other recommendations for Little Mermaid retellings?  What's your favorite fairy tale retelling?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: Invictus

Ryan Graudin
Published September 26, 2017
Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems. - from Goodreads
In the distant future, Farway McCarthy is a student hoping to become a time traveler, so he can explore history.  But after he fails his final test, he is recruited by a shady guy to locate and steal valuable items that were lost to history.  One such mission involves stealing a book from the sinking Titanic, where Far crosses paths with Eliot, a girl with many secrets.  Who is she, and what does she want?  When she finally reveals her reasons for seeking out Far, Far and his team are thrown into something that could affect all of time and space.

I love time travel (although I don't always understand it), and I especially loved the way the author approached it in Invictus.  In Far's time, time travelers are sent back to different times and places in order to record history - can you imagine being able to say you walked with dinosaurs or saw President Lincoln give his Gettysburg Address?  It sounds like the perfect job - one that Far wants desperately.  He assumes he'll get it, too - he's at the top of his class and everyone expects that he'll pass his exam with flying colors.  But he doesn't, which leads him to accept a black-market job as captain of the Invictus, with a crew comprised of his medic girlfriend Priya, historian cousin Imogen, and engineer best friend Gram.

I generally liked all the individual characters, although my one biggest problem with YA is that the teenagers always seem way too smart for their ages.  The characters are all around 18 years old, yet they're able to pilot this ship and plan and carry out missions like it's no big deal.  It's just a little weird to me.  Anyway... there was also some romance going on - I liked Priya and Far's relationship.  It felt real and deep, as opposed to the huge crush Imogen has on Gram.  Her "I like him but I can't tell him" utterings got old, real fast.  She seemed a bit immature.

When Eliot appeared on the scene, I was anxious to find out what her deal was.  I wish the author had gotten to it a bit faster; the reveal was pretty cool, but it took so long to get there and the mystery surrounding Eliot just confused me.  After her reveal, the story became tense and action-packed.  I don't want to give too much away, because it's a really fun but also unexpectedly dark and emotional ride.

I loved Graudin's writing; I've never read anything by her before, and I found her writing to be elegant in a way I don't necessarily expect from YA books.  I appreciated where she went with the story in the end; I think it was risky to have the events play out the way they did, but I was very satisfied with the choices she made.

4 stars

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Family Next Door

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Family Next Door
Sally Hepworth
Expected publication date: March 13, 2018

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Releases I Haven't Read Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week's topic is books we meant to read in 2017 and didn't get to, but seriously plan to read soon.  Even though I read a ton of new releases last year, there are still a bunch on my TBR (too many books, not enough time!).  Here are just a few I'm hoping to read soon!

What 2017 releases are you still planning to get to?

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 Nonfiction Reading Challenge Sign-Up and TBR

After having a lot of fun participating in Nonfiction November last year, I set a goal for myself of reading more nonfiction in 2018, specifically at least one book per month.  The Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey is the perfect fit to help me reach my goal!  The rules of the challenge are pretty flexible - participants set their own reading goals, and there will be Twitter chats and quarterly group reads throughout the year (all optional!).  My plan is to read at least 12 nonfiction books this year.  Here is my tentative TBR for this challenge:







Friday, January 5, 2018

Nonfiction Review: Death In The Air

Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City
Kate Winkler Dawson
Published October 17, 2017
London was still recovering from the devastation of World War II when another disaster hit: for five long days in December 1952, a killer smog held the city firmly in its grip and refused to let go. Day became night, mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and some 12,000 people died from the poisonous air. But in the chaotic aftermath, another killer was stalking the streets, using the fog as a cloak for his crimes.

All across London, women were going missing-poor women, forgotten women. Their disappearances caused little alarm, but each of them had one thing in common: they had the misfortune of meeting a quiet, unassuming man, John Reginald Christie, who invited them back to his decrepit Notting Hill flat during that dark winter. They never left.

The eventual arrest of the "Beast of Rillington Place" caused a media frenzy: were there more bodies buried in the walls, under the floorboards, in the back garden of this house of horrors? Was it the fog that had caused Christie to suddenly snap? And what role had he played in the notorious double murder that had happened in that same apartment building not three years before-a murder for which another, possibly innocent, man was sent to the gallows?

The Great Smog of 1952 remains the deadliest air pollution disaster in world history, and John Reginald Christie is still one of the most unfathomable serial killers of modern times. Journalist Kate Winkler Dawson braids these strands together into a taut, compulsively readable truecrime thriller about a man who changed the fate of the death penalty in the UK, and an environmental catastrophe with implications that still echo today. - from Goodreads
When I was watching season 1 of The Crown on Netflix, a whole episode was devoted to the deadly smog that covered London in December 1952.  It piqued my interest, and I knew I had to read this book.  In Death in the Air, Dawson weaves two stories together: how the smog affected the city and how a serial killer became a media sensation in the months following the dissipation of the smog.

Dawson starts the book by talking about some of the social, political, and meteorological factors that contributed to the smog.  London was still recovering from World War II and cheap, dirty coal was in abundance.  Fog wasn't an uncommon occurrence in London, but this smog was much worse than previous fogs, filled with dangerous chemicals and held in place for days.  The weather was also colder than normal, which meant people were burning more coal, contributing further to the deadly conditions.

Dawson mainly focuses on an overall picture of the smog and its effects, but she chooses some individuals to focus on, which gave a more personal feel to the story: a police officer, a young girl who loses her father, and a politician who is outraged after the smog finally lifts.  Dawson also provides an overview of the government's reaction (or lack thereof) to the smog.  It was pretty appalling that the deadly phenomenon wasn't at the top of their list, considering literally thousands of people died during and in the months following the smog.  Unfortunately, the government's slow reaction wasn't surprising to me.

The second part of the book focuses on serial killer John Reginald Christie, a creepy and depraved man who was physically (and probably mentally) ill.  He murdered his wife and hid the bodies of several other victims on his property.  The tie between the smog and Christie was a bit tenuous at times, as Christie didn't commit the murders during the fog, but the way his trial dominated the media afterwards was fascinating.  His conviction also changed the course of the death penalty in England.  The timeline of Christie's story was sometimes confusing, flashing back to murders and other events that happening before the smog.

I enjoyed Dawson's writing style; it was straightforward and easy to read, reminiscent of nonfiction author Erik Larson (if you've read The Devil in the White City, you'll probably find a lot of similarities). 

4 stars

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Blogging & Reading Goals

I like having goals to work towards, so here are my blogging and reading goals for 2018!  I'm trying to keep things a bit simple this year, but I still wanted to set at least a couple.

Blogging Goals
  1. Participate in at least two reading challenges.  This one could go under either section, but I put it here because to me a lot of reading challenges are about the blogging community and fostering interaction between bloggers.  I've already signed up for the 2018 Beat The Backlist challenge (go Team Book Bards!).
  2. Come up with new or different ways to present our travels.  I like talking about the different hikes we go on and I'll still showcase them, but incorporating travel in general, not just limited to hikes, may be something I start doing this year.
  3. Learn more about the technical side of blogging.  Yes, this is a carryover from last year, where I utterly failed at this goal!
  4. Start doing monthly recaps.  I really enjoy reading other blogger's monthly recaps, so I'm thinking about starting to do my own.  My hope is to work on it a little bit all month long.

Reading Goals:
  1. Read or reread at least six classics.  I have so many classic books on my shelves, and I just keep reading the same ones over and over (Gone With the Wind, mostly).  I want to reread some other stories and try ones I haven't read before.  Any suggestions?  What's your favorite classic?
  2. Read at least one nonfiction book per month.  While I gravitate more towards fiction, I do enjoy a good nonfiction book once in awhile, and I don't read them enough.  Whether it's a memoir or a historical topic I'm interested in, I want to read more.
  3. Listen to more audiobooks.  When my commute got longer at the end of last year, I decided to try audiobooks for the first time.  So far, I've been listening to books by comedian Jim Gaffigan - they're funny and kind of mindless, as in I don't need to be paying super-close attention lest I miss an important plot point.  Do you have any recommendations for audiobooks (something easy and not too plot-heavy)? 

What are your blogging and reading goals for the year?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Silent Companions

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Silent Companions
Laura Purcell
Expected publication date: March 6, 2018
When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Top New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is our top authors we read for the first time in 2017!  I found some new great authors this past year, and I'm excited to read more from all of them!