Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Daisy Jones and the Six

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

Daisy Jones and the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Expected publication date: March 7, 2019
In 1979, Daisy Jones and The Six split up. Together, they had redefined the 70’s music scene, creating an iconic sound that rocked the world. Apart, they baffled a world that had hung on their every verse.

This book is an attempt to piece together a clear portrait of the band’s rise to fame and their abrupt and infamous split. The following oral history is a compilation of interviews, emails, transcripts, and lyrics, all pertaining to the personal and professional lives of the members of the band The Six and singer Daisy Jones.

While I have aimed for a comprehensive and exhaustive approach, I must acknowledge that full and complete accounts from all parties involved has proved impossible. Some people were easier to track down than others, some were more willing to talk than others, and some, unfortunately, have passed on.

All of which is to say that while this is the first and only authorised account from all represented perspectives, it should be noted that, in matters both big and small, reasonable people disagree.

The truth often lies, unclaimed, in the middle. - from Goodreads
I just love Taylor Jenkins Reid, and it seems like she's yet again branching out in a new direction with her latest book - I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Haul #2

I recently volunteered with my Friends of the Library group at their annual book sale, and of course I couldn't resist picking up a few books of my own!  Here are the books I grabbed (and seriously, for $0.50 each, you can't go wrong!):


The Girl on the Train (to replace a copy someone borrowed from me and never returned!) // The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society // Clara and Mr. Tiffany



Have you read any of these?  Where should I start first?

Monday, October 29, 2018

Nonfiction November 2018: My Year in Nonfiction So Far

Last year I joined in on Nonfiction November for the first time, and I loved it!  I found so many new bloggers to follow and my TBR grew exponentially.  I was inspired to read more nonfiction in 2018 and I've been looking forward to this event all year!  Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness is hosting the first week of Nonfiction November 2018, which is all about our year in nonfiction reading.  So far this year I've read 19 nonfiction books and so many of them have been fantastic.

My two favorites and the ones I recommend the most are:


I've read a lot of female-centric stories:


But my tastes are pretty broad and I've read stories about space, ice cream, marriage, and sinking ships, too:


For this Nonfiction November, I'm hoping to find even more new bloggers to follow and of course, to add more books to my TBR!  I want to read more nonfiction, but I never seem to have that many on my TBR.  And here are the books I'm hoping to get to this month:



What have been some of your favorite nonfiction reads of the year?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Spooky Mini-Reviews

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (2017)

After her husband's death, Elsie is sent to his family's country estate to await the birth of her child.  The sojourn, however, is anything but calming as strange things start happening around the house, including the appearance of several life-like wooden figures.

If you're looking for a spooky read without too much gore, this is the book for you.  An estate that everyone in the local village stays away from, possessed portraits - this story had such a strong eerie, gothic feel to it without being cheesy.  The book is told through three storylines: Elsie's time at The Bridge, the estate, in 1865; Elsie's time at an insane asylum (and because she's being accused of murder, you know something went down at The Bridge); and through the diary of an ancestor, which shed some light on the house's current creepy issues.

I loved Elsie; she's very strong and pragmatic, definitely ahead of her time.  She doesn't want to believe something weird is going on at The Bridge, that there must be some explanation.  If it were me, and sinister wooden paintings were appearing and moving around my house, I'd be out of there in a second.  I though the origin portion of the story was interesting, but it was also a little outlandish and didn't necessarily fit with the feel of the rest of the book.  4 stars

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman (2017)

Jess and Clare move to a small town in the Hudson Valley to work on their marriage and their writing, but the house at which they become caretakers has a dark past, and it may be coming to get them.

Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment for me.  It wasn't scary, spooky, or eerie at all.  It felt cheesy, and the author's attempts to create tension all fell flat.  It seemed like she took every cliché and threw it all into one book.  Haunted house? Check. Mental asylum? Check. Weird puppets? Check. Potential psychic abilities? Check. Family secrets? Check.

The whole backstory to the house's past seemed simple (a woman and her newborn freeze to death one night), but the author made it so convoluted and repetitive.  Poor Clare was just a mess - she had a crappy childhood; she ended up in an institution for a little while; her husband was one of the most selfish and manipulative characters I've come across.  It seemed like everything bad that could happen to her, did.  There was a big twist in this book that actually could have been really cool, but like everything else, it was so overdone and over-the-top that I couldn't help but roll my eyes. 2 stars

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Gilded Wolves

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

The Gilded Wolves
Roshani Chokshi
Expected publication date: January 15, 2019
Set in a darkly glamorous world The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts:

An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can't yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they'll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive. - from Goodreads
A treasure hunt through Paris?  I'm in!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

My sister and her family are members of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania; their membership comes with free guest passes, so one Saturday she treated all of us!

For more information, visit their website here.

This place was so much fun, and so beautiful!  And it wasn't so big that it felt overwhelming.  There's a paved path that basically goes around the whole arboretum, with smaller specialized gardens and other sights off the main path.

The first place we went to was the Rose Garden; roses are my favorite flower, and they had so many different types, in all different colors.

Then we went over to the Garden Railway, which my niece loved.  They have a huge model train set, with small replicas of historic Philadelphia buildings.

Next we walked over to the Pennock Flower walk, which had these lovely arches and fences, as well as a fountain that my niece couldn't keep her hands out of!

We meandered a bit and made our way over to the Swan Pond (the swans were chilling out on the grass, but I loved this little structure).

I really loved this place; there was something to see around every turn, from sculptures to fountains to all different kinds of flowers and trees.


If you're ever in this area of Philadelphia, I would highly recommend stopping by for a visit!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Three Days in Memphis

For my mom's 60th birthday, she decided to go on a Mississippi River cruise that launched from Memphis, Tennessee, and ended in New Orleans, Louisiana.  My brother and his family, my sister and her family, and Tom and I met up with her in Memphis earlier this month to do a little family vacation before she got on the boat!  Please bear with me because this is going to be a long post!

We flew into Memphis on Friday night and hung out at the Airbnb house that we rented for the weekend.  We planned our strategy for the weekend - with 8 adults and 3 kids under 3, we needed a game plan!

On Saturday morning, my brother, his wife, and their two boys went to the Fire Museum of Memphis while the rest of us took a Historic Memphis Walking Tour run by Backbeat Tours.  We walked along a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and then along the trolley tracks.  While our tour guide could have been a little more succinct in his stories and thus talked about more things, I thought the tour was a great way to see some of the city.

After the tour, my mom and stepdad took the kids back for naps and the rest of us walked along Beale Street.  There was a parade going on for some of the day, so it was just mobbed with people, but the atmosphere was so fun!  Lots of bars, lots of live music.  Later in the afternoon, we all went over to Big River Crossing, which is a mile-long pedestrian bridge that crosses the Mississippi river into Arkansas - it was cool to be able to be standing in two states at once, right in the middle of the river!

On Sunday morning, we all visited the Memphis Zoo.  Everyone loved it, especially the kids!  The zoo was so well-put together, with all these different sections marked by creative architecture.  We got there right when it opened and many of the animals were waiting for us!

What's a trip to Memphis without a tour of Graceland?  My mom is a huge Elvis fan, so while the kids and a couple adults went to the Children's Museum (which they said was awesome), the rest of us drove over to tour Elvis Presley's house.  I'll be honest, the tickets were a bit pricey, and we did the most basic option, which was just an audio tour of the house and admission to his private planes.  There was a whole entertainment center that we didn't visit because it cost extra.

Surprisingly, the house isn't huge, but it's been preserved exactly as it was when he lived there.  You can't go upstairs; Elvis always considered that a private family area and his wishes are still honored today.  His daughter Lisa Marie visits the house and stays there a couple times a year.  The grounds are beautiful and there are even horses in the stables.  Elvis and his parents are buried in a meditation garden at the house.

Monday was our last day in Memphis.  We went to the Memphis Botanic Garden in the morning; this place was just beautiful and so well-done.  There was an extensive children's play area and the kids had a blast.

Tom and I always seem to go on some kind of boat cruise wherever we go, so I booked a riverboat cruise for the afternoon.  The tour guide was really great and he actually talked the whole 1.5 hour cruise, which I appreciated.  It was so breezy and cool on the water.

Although we didn't get to explore some of the music or civil rights museums while we were there, we all had a great time in Memphis, and of course, it was just so fun to have the family together and spend time with everyone!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Review: The "I Do" Deli

The "I Do" Deli
Josie Castel
Published September 12, 2018
Kid Cafarelli is in love, and in her traditional Italian Catholic family that’s a big problem. By day she works behind the counter of her family’s New York delicatessen with her three older sisters, Teresa, Rose and Grace. By night she sneaks away to a forbidden French cooking class, led by the mouth-watering Jewish chef Marc Ratzenberger. Watching over the Cafarelli clan is her widowed father Carmine, who hates everything French except for the Statue of Liberty, which he insists was made with Italian steel. He also insists his girls marry in birth order, leaving Kid stuck behind Teresa the mouth, Rose the nerd, and Grace the prude. And Carmine guards his girls like a meatball guards spaghetti. But from New York to Italy Kid is determined to do whatever it takes to get her man and find her sisters true love. Will her search for three suitable husbands, and surviving Carmine, prove to be too much for the matchmaking rookie? Or can she make the impossible happen? - from Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Kid Cafarelli is part of a close-knit Italian family, so when she starts taking a French cooking class, she has to keep it a secret from her father.  Then she falls in love with and gets engaged to the course's instructor, Marc.  The problem?  Her father insists that his daughters get married in the order they were born, Kid is the youngest, and none of her sisters are in a relationship.  Can Kid help her sisters find husbands and ensure that her father accepts her new love?

My favorite thing about this book was the Cafarelli family.  Carmine is a widower with four daughters, and they all work together in the family deli.  I loved how close they all were and how much they love food and each other.  Carmine is sweet, although way too overprotective sometimes; his daughters are so sheltered that none have even had their first kiss, and the oldest is 33!  But even though Carmine could be very stubborn, he could also be open-minded when just given a chance.

The Cafarelli sisters represent everything you want in a sibling relationship; they joke around with each other good-naturedly, and it was funny to see them working together to deceive their father.  I thought the characters were a little one-dimensional, though; each sister had one major trait that distinguished her from the others.  I wanted to know more about them.

The plot moved fairly quickly, and I wish each sister's relationship had been fleshed out a bit more.  It didn't seem to take long for them to all find boyfriends, so the trip to Italy in the second half of the book became more about Kid and Marc's relationship and how to get Carmine on board with it, when I thought the story would be more about the matchmaking.

I thought the writing was very simplistic, though conversational and easy to read.  The feel of the book was often a little too saccharine and chaste for my taste, but I think many others would enjoy it.  Lastly, my copy had quite a few grammatical errors; there seemed to be a lot of missing commas.

3.5 stars

Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: Playing With Matches

Playing With Matches
Hannah Orenstein
Published June 26, 2018
In the tradition of Good in Bed and The Assistants comes a funny and smart comedy about a young matchmaker balancing her messy personal life and the demands of her eccentric clients.

Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent journalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship that would be amazing if her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan would ever look up from his BlackBerry. But when her dream career falls through, she uses her family’s darkest secret to land a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss.

Despite her inexperience, Sasha throws herself into her new career, trolling for catches on Tinder, coaching her clients through rejection, and dishing out dating advice to people twice her age. She sets up a TV exec who wanted kids five years ago, a forty-year-old baseball-loving virgin, and a consultant with a rigorous five-page checklist for her ideal match.

Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control—and right into the arms of a writer with a charming Southern drawl, who she had previously set up with one of her clients. He’s strictly off-limits, but with her relationship on the rocks, all bets are off. - from Goodreads
Sasha wants to be a writer, but when her internship doesn't turn into a job after graduation, she applies to become a matchmaker at Bliss.  Even though she's only 22 and has only been in one serious relationship, she's actually not too bad at it, until she starts falling for a recruit for one of her clients, which is against the rules.  Will she put her job in jeopardy for love?

One of the things I've seen lamented about around the blogosphere is the lack of decent New Adult novels - those novels somewhere in between YA and adult which feature college students or those just out of college - that aren't just centered around sex.  The main character in Playing With Matches is a recently-graduated young woman, and yes, she is a matchmaker and in two relationships throughout the book, but there's so much more to it than that.  Finding a job when your internship doesn't work out, maintaining friendships, and working towards your ultimate passions were all major parts of the story.

I enjoyed the relationship between Sasha and her best friend/roommate Caroline, and I wish there had even been more of their friendship in the book.  It's not perfect, and I liked that Orenstein touched on how friendships can change - Caroline is kind of just meandering along, she has a job but not a career, she can't seem to find a steady relationship, while Sasha is out hustling at work, working on her writing, and seriously dating.  It caused some touchy but real moments between them.

The matchmaking aspect of the book was also really fun.  Seeing what different people thought was important in relationships and how modern dating is aided by apps and social media was interesting.  I think Orenstein made the point well that having a list of attributes you want in a partner is important, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

The book was very quick and easy to read, perfect for summer or vacation fluff reading.  I was bothered by how easily Sasha broke the biggest rule at her new company when she started dating a recruit, and the ending came on way too quick and neatly wrapped up for me, but if you're a fan of Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada or Erin Duffy's Bond Girl, I think you'll enjoy this one.

3.5 stars