Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This Week's Topic:
 

Top Ten Books of 2017
 

 
Here they are, in no particular order! Though if I had to pick, My two co-favorites are The Alice Network and Now That You Mention It. Both a re absolutely fantastic.
 
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What are your favorites of 2017?
 
 
 
 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Review: The Alice Network

Title: The Alice Network
32051912Author: Kate Quinn
503 pages, published June 6, 2017
Source: Borrowed from the  library

From Goodreads:

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth ...no matter where it leads.



 This book was absolutely fantastic and one of the best books I've read in 2017--definitely the best historical fiction I've read in a long time. Kate Quinn effortlessly tied the two time periods--WW1 and WW2--together in a way that made it hard to stop turning the pages despite the book's 500 page length. 

Usually with books that rotate perspectives (and in this case, time) every chapter, I prefer one or the other and struggle through one chapter to get to the character I like's chapter--not so with this book! Quinn created two absolutely phenomenal female leads in this book and wrote them in such a way that you quickly became emotionally invested in their stories. I admired Eve's bravery and loved Charlie's determination, and absolutely loved supporting characters such as Lily and Finn. You will get emotionally attached to these characters!

Because this book is set in war time, parts of it are pretty violent and disturbing, as you would expect, but don't let that deter you from reading this beautifully written book. It's so emotional and intense and will cause a book hangover like you wouldn't believe! But so worth it.  Knowing the story is based on actual women make this book even better. I highly recommend adding this book to your reading list!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

TBB Asks: Holiday Themed Q and A



I saw this The Blended Blog Asks post on Brandie @ Running on Words and Wine's blog...looked fun!

  1. Real or Fake Tree? – Though I love real trees, we have an artificial one because...allergies.
  2. Favorite Christmas Cookie? – I do love classic chocolate chip! Or those peanut butter ones with the Hershey kiss in the middle. I hate baking but love cookies!
  3. Home on Christmas Morning or Travel? –We usually go over to Isaac's mom's house (20 minute drive) but this year we're hosting at our house!
  4. Clear or Colored Lights? – I like both put I prefer clear on my tree!
  5. Send Christmas Cards? – No...I did the first couple years we were married but haven't since.
  6. Favorite Christmas Present Received? – My ice skates when I was young, and my engagement ring from Isaac in 2005 :)
  7. Favorite Christmas Present Given? – That's a tough one because they're all fun! I love watching people open presents I surprise them with.
  8. Stockings or No Stockings? – Isaac's mom does stockings for all of us "kids". This year we are doing ones for the kitties and pups too :)
  9. Christmas PJ’s? – No but those family matching ones look so much fun!
  10. Favorite Christmas Carol? –  O Come All Ye Faithful
  11. Favorite Holiday Tradition? – Christmas Eve dinner, then candlelight service
  12. Early Shopper or Last Minute? – I try to go as early in December as possible!
  13. Favorite Christmas Movie or Show? – Elf! Also The Santa Clause.
  14. Favorite Holiday Beverage? Wine? Hahaha. But I do love Peppermint Mochas.
  15. Cookies and Milk for Santa? We don't now because we don't have kids but when I was little, of course! And carrots for the reindeer, duh.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Musings 12/4

My Week: A five day workweek after 5 days off is rough. It was super busy at work, and we had an event on Friday. You know how I survived the week? Yoga. And coffee.  This weekend I started my Christmas shopping, or at least getting organized for it so I'm not leaving it all until the last minute. I do most of my shopping on line, as I can't stand shopping with huge crowds. We went to the mall on Saturday night and it was absolutely insane and I was like...nope. Thank goodness for Amazon!

Reading: I finished The Alice Network!!! Oh my goodness it was so good. I finished it on Friday after work and had a book hangover and couldn't read a thing all weekend. So, so good.  A must read. I will post a full review this week! Next up is The Wife Between Us, for a completely different change of genre!

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Workouts: As I said above, yoga helped me survive the week!! Most of my yoga was done at home (other than Tuesday PiYo). I have two favorite ways to practice yoga at home and one is the Down Dog App. It's how I got started doing yoga. The app is free (you can pay for premium, but I've been successful without it). You choose the style, length, and level of your practice, and Adrienne Kimberly leads you through a relaxing, well rounded practice. It's soothing and wonderful. Another go-to home practice is Yoga With Adriene!  Different Adriene, but funny how they are both named Adriene...haha :) Adriene Mishler is an incredible yoga teacher from Austin who has a huge following on YouTube and countless videos of all types, levels, lengths, etc. This week I did a Self Love yoga class that  I think was one of my favorite Yoga With Adriene videos. I highly recommend both  of these tools for at home practice!

Leggings by Altar Ego Apparel use code palmersposes for 15% off!


Looking Forward to: My husband's work Christmas party this Saturday! It's a dressy event so I'm looking forward to dressing up! And some yummy food and wine! It's always a super fun event.

Thank you for reading! Linking this post to Hello Monday by Heather from My Glittery Heart!


Thanks for reading and have a great week!



Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Musings 11/27

Peyton after our run!

My Week: Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, so this week was fantastic! I only worked Monday and Tuesday, so I had a full five days off and it was glorious. Did lots of yoga, lots of cooking, consumed lots of wine, and spent some quality time with my husband and fur kids. It was so relaxing! I didn't get as much reading done as I'd like so that's my goal for this week! Got our tree up and Christmas decorations out on Friday...a bit earlier than I would've liked but we had the extra time with the long weekend. Plus we got a new tree from Home Depot and my husband was itching to put it up and see how it fit in the new house.

Reading: Still reading The Alice Network! It's a beautiful book and I'm sad I haven't gotten through it as fast as I'd like. My goal is to finish it this week!

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Workouts: I did a lot of yoga last week! Including Yoga + Wine at Eola Hills Winery  on Black Friday! My friend Debbie and I went to the event and had a fantastic time catching up and enjoying a glass of wine and a relaxing flow class.  Isaac and I did our usual walk to the coffee shop with the pups on Saturday, and on Sunday I went for a run, because it was actually nice weather outside for a bit! I did two loops around my neighborhood, each about 1.7 miles, and took each dog for one loop! They both love running with me. The picture at the top of this page is Peyton after our run. He was so happy! Though Elway behaved better on our run--Peyton always gets so distracted by smells!

Debbie and I ready for yoga class!
Wine: I posted last week about buying a case of Chardonnay at Eola Hills...the case sale was still going on when I was there for Yoga and Wine, so....I bought another case! This time, of their Classic Pinot Noir. So, we are quite stocked on wine for awhile :) Can't go wrong wit ha case of wine for $99 though--couldn't pass that up.

Cooking: I had a fantastic time cooking Thanksgiving dinner at my house with my mom! We cooked allll day which was exhausting but the results were delicious! Now I'm enjoying all the leftover turkey goodness!

I loved these flowers for the table!
 
Yum!

Looking Forward to: Getting some reading time in this week.  After a two day week last week, a five day week is going to be tough...haha.

Thank you for reading! Linking this post to Hello Monday by Heather from My Glittery Heart!

Book Blitz: Love Notes in Christmas Falls


 
Author: Beth Labonte
Series: Return to Christmas Falls #6
Release Date: October 23, 2017
Genre: Holiday Romance

About LOVE NOTES IN CHRISTMAS FALLS
When Caitlin Cook left the small town of Christmas Falls, Tennessee to attend Harvard University, she left behind the burden of her parents’ slowly increasing hoard of antiques, a much younger brother, and Shane Mitchell—the boy who blindsided her with the news that he loved her on the night before she left.

Shane Mitchell spent his high school years fascinated by Caitlin Cook. The quiet flute player with her nose always in a book, he wanted desperately to find out what made her tick.

Eight years later, Caitlin returns to Christmas Falls—unemployed and newly single—after receiving a devastating letter from her beloved high school mentor. Caitlin is shocked to find her childhood home in disarray, and her little brother in desperate need of his sister. With Shane’s help—now a pillar of the community rather than the carefree teenager Caitlin once knew—she begins to rediscover her love for music, antiques, and possibly even Shane. When faced with the choice of rebuilding her life in Boston, or giving love a second chance in Christmas Falls, will Caitlin be able to decide on the true meaning of home?

Seven fabulous authors bring you this holiday romance series about a group of special friends returning to their hometown at the request of their high school mentor. Each book is a standalone, but read them all to fully enjoy the journey of these remarkable women and their emotional reunion with their mentor, an incredible woman who changes their lives and helps save a small town community forever.
 

Meet BETH LABONTE
 


Beth Labonte received a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She worked as an administrative assistant for fourteen years, turning to writing as her creative outlet in an excruciatingly mundane corporate world. Beth now writes full-time and resides in Massachusetts.
 
Connect With Beth
 
 
 
 


 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Top Ten Books I'm Thankful For


 
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This Week's Topic:
 

Ten Books I'm Thankful For

It's no secret how much I love, value, and believe in reading and books (see my This I Believe post) so this was  fun post to compile. I have a little bit of everything here--books that are beautifully written (Moloka'i, The Shoemaker's Wife)  books I learned more from than I thought I would (Wild, Born A Crime) books that I can reread over and over and still laugh (The Devil Wears Prada) books that make me feel good (A Drop in the Ocean, Maybe in Another Life) books that got me excited about reading when I was young (The Baby Sitters Club, Matilda) and books that have gotten a whole new generation of people reading (the Harry Potter series).

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What books are you thankful for? Happy Thanksgiving week!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Musings 11/20

Audrey

My Week: Last week absolutely sucked. I was so glad when it was finally over! Our kitty Audrey had been sick with cancer for awhile and we unfortunately had to say goodbye to her last Tuesday. She was 12, almost 13, and we got her not too long after we got married. She was such a sweet, cuddly cat and we were so sad to lose her.  The rest of the week was that "everything that can go wrong, will" type of week. I was so relieved when it was finally Friday. Since I had to work Saturday the 11th, I was in desperate need of a two day weekend and it was so wonderful.

Reading: I finished Renegades yesterday! Really enjoyed it! This week I'm reading The Alice Network. I've heard SO many good things from so many reader and blogger friends. Excited to read it!!

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Workouts: Due to my rough week,  I didn't make it to the gym as much as I wanted to this week. I did get a good run in and make it to PiYo, and we were able to walk the pups on Saturday, so that was good. We also raked leaves on Sunday, which is more of a workout than you'd think. Haha! Trying not to beat myself up over one week of less workouts than I'd like. Back to the gym after work tonight!

Wine: There's a huge sale going on at Eola Hills Winery (same place as Yoga + Wine) . Went there on Saturday and got a case of their delicious Chardonnay for $99--just over $8 a bottle! Score! Chardonnay is my favorite white.

Cooking:  Made a "pre-Thanksgiving" meal this weekend including a small batch of this Apple Walnut Stuffing from Damn Delicious! Love her recipes. It's pretty close to the recipe I usually use and it was fun to try some extra add-ins. It was SO yummy! The stuffing is definitely my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner!

Looking Forward To: Thanksgiving this week!! I work today, tomorrow and then have FIVE DAYS OFF. I cannot wait! I did a big pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping trip on Saturday and am so excited to host at my house!

Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving! Linking this post to Hello Monday by Heather from My Glittery Heart!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: The Girl Who Lived

36412584Title: The Girl Who Lived
Author: Christopher Greyson
329 pages, published November 4, 2017

Note: I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley to facilitate my review. I received no other compensation, and all opinions are my own.

From Goodreads:

Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived. No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?


This book hooked me from the first chapter!! This is my first time reading a book by this author and I absolutely loved the writing style and could not put the book down. The book kept me guessing until the very end and was full of twists and surprises. Who can Faith trust? What is real? Can I as the reader even believe Faith? I don't read a lot of thrillers because I don't like a lot of violence, but psychological thrillers like this one always suck me in. This was one of the best psychological thrillers I've read in a long time--if you like the genre this is one not to miss!
 
Happy Reading!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Musings 11/13

Dinner time helpers!

My Week: I know I sound like a broken record but this week was absolutely crazy! I had to work 6 days this week (Monday through Saturday, and we sadly don't get Veteran's Day off) so I didn't have a lot of downtime and was stressed out the majority of the week. I did get a good yoga class in (more about that below) and got in some good snuggle time with my pups, so that helped. Also got a good walk in on Sunday that made up for our usual Saturday morning walk that I missed due to work. Weekend walks to the coffee shop are my absolute favorite part of the week--love our family time.

Reading: I finished The Girl Who Lived (review will be posted tomorrow--I LOVED it) and started Renegades, the first in the new series by Marissa Meyer! Thanks to Mel over at Double Stacked Bookshelves for recommending it and letting me borrow her ARC!

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Yoga + Wine: I went to another Yoga and Wine event on Monday at Eola Hills Winery near my hometown.  (Their wine is fantastic, by the way!). This was exactly the same type of event that I went to in October but with a different instructor, Mikki Trowbridge, the founder of Yoga and Beer (they have a whole team of yoga instructors for all their events).  She's very well known here in Oregon, and throughout the country, really, and I've been eager to take one of her classes. I was thrilled to find out she is just as amazing as everyone said!  It was definitely the best yoga class I've ever had.  It was a fantastic evening and just what I needed.
Ready for yoga!
Cooking: I made this delicious and simple Parmesan Chicken Thighs and Veggies from Family Circle magazine this week. The recipe calls for carrots and Brussels sprouts, but my hubby isn't a fan of Brussels sprouts so I subbed red potatoes and it worked perfectly. Prep time was only 10 minutes and the whole thing roasted in the over for 30 minutes.  Easy weeknight dinner!

Looking forward to: THANKSGIVING! Anyone else counting down the days!?! It is my absolute favorite holiday.  Plus, I'm hosing family at our new house this year! So, so excited for a day  of yummy food, football and relaxation! This week of work, then a short week! Wahoo!!

Hope you have a great week! Thanks for reading! Linking this post to Hello Monday by Heather from My Glittery Heart!


Friday, November 10, 2017

TLC Book Tours: The Silent Fountain (Excerpt)

About The Silent Fountain
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (October 31, 2017)
Hollywood, 1978 
Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti—and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister and learns that her new husband’s past holds dark secrets…
Tuscany, Present day 
Lucy Whittaker needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Strange sounds come from the attic. The owner of the house will never meet her in person.
The fountain in the courtyard is silent—but has never run dry.
Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa. 
And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…
 
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Excerpt
I turn on to our street. Unlocking the front door, I see Bill still hasn’t got the hang of sorting through the post, so I scoop the scattered envelopes off the floor and divide them between the flats, before taking our own upstairs. Bill still hasn’t got the hang of a lot of shared living, I’ve noticed, like replacing loo roll or putting out the recycling every once in a while. I don’t mind, though. She’s been my best friend since we could walk; she’s been with me through it all and she’s still with me now, the only one who knows the brutal truth and even then she didn’t walk away, when she really could have. When she should have. That’s why I don’t care about the recycling.
“How was it?” She’s waiting when I go in, drink poured, TV on, some rehash of a talent show, and she drains the vol­ume when I lift my shoulders.
“As expected.” I set the box down and consider, as I had back at the office, how five years can be compressed into five minutes’ packing. Some old notecards, my desk calendar, a sangria-bottle fridge magnet from Portugal sent to me by a client.
“No fanfare, then?” Bill gives me a hug and a squeeze. The squeeze brings up tears, but I blink them away. “It’s your own fault,” Natasha, his deputy, had hissed as I’d slunk towards the exit of Calloway & Cooper, trying to ignore the stares that followed, fascinated and horrified, like traffic crawling past a pile-up.
Natasha has had it in for me from day one. My theory? She’s in love with him. As his commercial director she was widely regarded as his second in command—but then I came along, usurping her as the closest person to him, his PA, and I know she tried to get someone else into the role, because Holly in Accounts told me. Only, Natasha didn’t win. I did. And I think she couldn’t handle the fact that, for a second there, towards the end, before it all went wrong, it looked as if he might have loved me back. When it blew up, all her Christmases came at once. Natasha was delighted to see me go and couldn’t believe her luck at the circumstances that drove me to it.
I try a laugh, but it dies in my throat. “No fanfare,” I agree and grab the wine and sink it in one. Bill refills me. I want to smoke a cigarette, but I’m trying to give up. Great timing, Lucy, I think. Who cares now, if you live or die? But that is melo­drama, and I annoy myself for thinking it. Instead, I keep fo­cused on the alcohol. If I keep drinking, I’ll get numb, and if I get numb, I won’t feel anything. I won’t feel his touch on my cheek, his kiss on my mouth, my neck…
“Come on,” says Bill, with an uncertain smile. “It’s finished.”
“Is it?”
“You never have to see those people again. You never have to see him again.”
One thing Bill doesn’t understand, and I can’t find the words to explain: I have to see him again. Even after every­thing, how I should want to run as far away from him as I can, I’m as addicted to him as I was the first day. Inappropriate isn’t the half of it. I read that the funeral happened this morning, in a cemetery south of the river, and I can’t stop thinking of him, rigid with grief, those grey, beautiful eyes set hard on the ground, the cool drizzle settling on the shoulders of his coat, a coat I’d once warmed my hands in on a cold night on Tower Bridge, and he’d kissed the tip of my nose. How I long to put my arms around him now, tell him I am sorry and that I miss him. When what I should be feeling is guilt, burning guilt, shame and disgrace and all those things, and I do feel them, every day I do, but at the same time I can’t forget the power of us. We don’t belong with any of that confusion or chaos or sadness.
“…you could consider it, you know, if that’s what you want.”
Bill is looking at me gently, waiting for a response.
“What? I was miles away.”
“Freddy’s sister’s boyfriend,” she says, presumably for the second time. “He’s just come back from Italy—that language course he went on in Florence?” Bill prompts me, and to pla­cate her I nod, even though I have no memory of this (so much over the past twelve months has dissolved to insignificance; I can’t even remember who Freddy is—someone Bill works with?). “While he was out there,” she goes on, “he made friends with this girl who was looking after a house on week­ends. Well, I say house, but it’s more like a mansion. In fact, Freddy said it was this giant pile, and someone famous lives there, but the friend never met her, and anyway, this woman’s a recluse and never goes out.” Bill slumps down on the sofa. “Sounds intriguing, right? Like the start of a novel.” There’s something behind the cushion and she reaches to retrieve it. “Hey.” Her face lights up. “I found 50p!”
I frown. “What’s this got to do with me?”
Bill crosses her legs. “The girl got fired and they’re looking for someone to replace her. All very hush-hush…apparently, they never advertise. The woman sounds a bit weird, sure, but how hard could it be? Dusting a few shelves, sweeping the floor…” She makes a face and I wonder if her knowledge of looking after a house extends beyond Cinderella. “Then getting to sunbathe all day with some sexy Italian you’ve met in the city? I’d do it myself if I didn’t have to go to work on Monday.”
I’m wary. “What are you suggesting?”
“Think about it, Lucy.” Her voice softens. “Since this thing happened, you’ve been desperate to get away. You haven’t stopped talking about it, how you can’t stay here.”
“What’s the alternative?” Bill asks.
I think about the alternative. Fronting the world, my fam­ily, my face splashed across the nation’s papers, quotes taken out of context, painted to be someone I’m not.
Would he break his silence then? Would he reach to help me? Would he stand at my side? Bill’s words sting: He doesn’t care. He doesn’t give a crap about you.
Her question hangs unanswered. It’s all I can do to turn to my friend, the fight gone out of me. “I’m sorry,” I say, mean­ing it, and she shakes her head like it doesn’t matter. “I just…” A well swims up my chest, threatening to spill over, and my voice goes funny. “I’m just not coping.”
“I know.” Bill hugs me. “Please promise me you’ll con­sider it?”
In bed that night, I do. Lying awake, pretending to myself that I’m not waiting for my phone to light up, I listen to the passing hum of traffic that gradually dwindles to quiet, before, at around two, I finally fall asleep. The last thing I think of, for the first time in months, isn’t him. It’s a house, surrounded by cypress trees, deep in the middle of the Italian hills. As I walk towards dreams, I’m in a tangled rose garden. Something unseen beckons me, a shadow slipping in and out of sunlight.
I come to a fountain, quiet and glittering silver.
I look in the pool at my reflection.
It takes a moment to recognise myself. For a heartbeat it’s not me I see.
 
About Victoria Fox
Victoria Fox is a bestselling author in the UK. She used to work in publishing and is now the author of six novels. The Silent Fountain is her breakout novel in North America. She divides her time between Bristol and London.

Connect with Victoria

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TLC Book Tours
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