Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TLC Book Tours: The Lucky Ones (Excerpt)

About The Lucky Ones
Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: MIRA (February 13, 2018)
They called themselves “the lucky ones”
They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.
Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?
But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.
Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT (from Chapter 3)

Last times were no time for anything fancy. McQueen stripped her naked, put her on her back in the bed and kissed every inch of her like he was kissing every inch goodbye. Allison sighed with pleasure when he entered her. It was either sigh or cry and she refused to give in to her tears again. McQueen kissed her neck and said into her ear, “And to think I always thought I was the first rich son of a bitch to take you in from the cold.”
“Oh, you were,” she said, almost smiling. “Dr. Capello wasn’t a son of a bitch.”
Dr. Capello was, in fact, an angel. At least, that’s how she’d once thought of him. Until age seven, Allison had lived in a little town called Red, where even the trees in spring were a dull shade of brown. High desert, they called it, past the Cascades, which might as well have been a sky-high wall for how well they trapped the rain on the other side of the moun­tains. Although Allison’s teachers had said they lived an hour’s drive away from mossy green forests and three hours from the ocean, she had never believed them. The whole world was high desert to her until that day the man with the brown beard came to the house where they’d taken her because she had nowhere else to go.
Allison lived in the single-story house with siding the color of desert sand, and shared a room with three other girls, all of them older. Older and terrifying. All three of them resented the intrusion of a “little girl” into their tween kingdom. It was 1997 and she had no idea who those boys were in the posters on the wall and not knowing who the Backstreet Boys were was apparently enough of a crime to render Allison unwor­thy of friendship or even basic kindnesses from anyone but Miss Whitney.
She’d gone to find Miss Whitney that day, because one of the girls—Melissa, the biggest one who called all the shots—had slapped Allison for daring to sit in the wrong chair. Alli­son had taken her tearstained red face to Miss Whitney’s tiny office in the hopes of being allowed to hide there and read all day. Miss Whitney had let her do that a time or two. Ap­parently Allison was “adjusting poorly” and suffering from “profound stress,” and she needed a “more nurturing envi­ronment.” Allison wasn’t sure what all that meant, but she’d heard Miss Whitney saying that on the phone to someone the day before. What Allison really wanted was her mother back, but Miss Whitney had reminded her—kindly and more than once—that her mother was never coming back. They’d been trying to find her long-gone father instead, or another rela­tive for her to live with. No luck yet, except an aunt deemed too old to handle a seven-year-old girl.
The first time she’d seen the man with the beard he’d been hugging Miss Whitney in her office. Allison stood in the doorway and stared at the man who was tall and dressed in what looked to her like blue pajamas. He patted Miss Whit­ney’s back very hard as he hugged her, which made Miss Whit­ney laugh and wince, wince and laugh.
“My God,” the bearded man said as he pulled back from the hug. He’d seen her lurking in the doorway. “Is this her?” He turned to Miss Whitney, his brown eyes wide.
“That’s her. That’s our Allison.”
Immediately, he squatted on the floor to meet Allison eye to eye.
Allison took a step back, afraid she’d broken a rule.
“It’s all right,” the man said, and his beard split apart in a big smile that showed a row of bright white teeth. “Don’t be scared.”
“I’m not scared,” Allison said. “Are you?”
He grinned at that. “Surprised. You look a little like an­other girl I used to know.”
“I thought the same thing when I saw her,” Miss Whitney said. “Cousins at least. Should I not have called?”
“No, no…” the bearded man said. “It’s fine.”
“Why are you wearing pajamas?” Allison asked the bearded man. She knew they were pajamas because the pants had a drawstring on them like her pajamas. Zipper meant outdoor pants. No zipper meant indoor pants. That’s how her mother had explained it.
The bearded man laughed and it was a nice laugh and he had nice eyes. Nice, not like pretty, but nice like kind.
“These are called scrubs,” he said. “They’re not pajamas. Doctors wear them.”
“Are you a doctor?” Allison asked.
“I am.”
“Is somebody sick?”
“You tell me,” the bearded man said. “You don’t look too good.”
“I got hit.”
“Hit?” the bearded man said, and looked up at Miss Whitney.
“Melissa?” Miss Whitney asked.
Tears welled up in Allison’s eyes again and she nodded.
“I’ll be back,” Miss Whitney said with a put-upon groan.
“You go jerk a knot in Melissa’s tail,” the bearded man said. “I’ll get Allison here back in working order.”
He stood up straight and Miss Whitney patted him on the arm as she left the office. They were alone together now, Al­lison and the bearded man.
“Does it hurt?” he asked, his hand on his chin.
“A little.”
“It’s okay if you cry,” he said. “I can tell you want to.”
“Katie said I shouldn’t cry.”
“Why not?”
“They don’t want you if you cry too much.”
“People who take kids home with them,” she said.
The bearded man cupped his hand by his mouth and whis­pered, “I don’t mind if you cry. No skin off my rosy nose.”
That made her feel better, so much better she didn’t want to cry anymore.
“Let’s go find a bathroom,” he said.
Allison showed him where it was. He put her on the coun­ter, wetted a washcloth and pressed it to her cheek.
“How’s that now?” he asked. “Better?”
About Tiffany Reisz
Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer..

Connect with Tiffany

Website | Facebook | Instagram

TLC Book Tours
Follow the full tour here.  Check out my review post on February 14th!I LOVED this book!!!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Disappointments


Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging.

This Week's Question: What were some of the big best seller books that disappointed you?

All these authors are ones I normally LOVE....except for these books.  The disappointment from these ones won't keep me from reading their future books, though! 

I hate to post this as a huge CoHo fan, but this one just didn't do it for me. At all.  Read why I didn't like this one here.
I've always been a Jane Green fan, but this one did NOT work for me. Read why here. Dare I say, Falling seemed to be an appropriate title? 
I either LOVE Hilderbrand's books, or really don't like her books. That was the case with this one. Read why here.
What are some best sellers that disappointed you? How did that affect your view of the author?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday Musings 1/29

My Week: It was a bit of an exhausting week! Isaac had to work a graveyard shift right in the middle of the week so it threw everything off a bit. Had a good weekend--did some shopping with my mom, got some good walks in with the puppies, and a "catch up on our DVR" date night with Isaac.  It was sunny for awhile on Sunday, which helped so much. Now it's back to gray and dreary....I wish it was spring!

Reading: I finished The Lucky Ones last week--I absolutely LOVED it. So much so that I immediately DM'd the Tiffany Reisz on Instagram to tell her how much I loved it. I'm featuring an excerpt on my blog this Wednesday and my review will be on Valentine's Day. If you like psychological thrillers and are a psychology/brain nerd like me, you'll love this book too!! I also started Braving the Wilderness over the weekend. Also picked up The Good Daughter from the library and going to start it today as well.


Workouts: I'm working towards a 10k in May, and ran my farthest distance last week--5 miles! Running is such a mental struggle for me because I get so bored--so I'm really determined to conquer this 10K. I know I can do it physically, it's the mental challenge that's tough for me.  I listen to podcasts to keep my brain busy but it's still a struggle sometimes. Happy with this accomplishment!

Cooking: This Wednesday will be a whole month that I've been dairy free! I've learned a lot and found some great recipes that allow me to still eat foods that traditionally have a lot of dairy, like enchiladas. A lot of these recipes are usually vegan too, which I like. I made these Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado Cilantro sauce last night  from the Oh She Glows cookbook and they were DELICIUOS.

Looking Forward to: Yoga and Wine next Monday!! Mikki Trowbridge is teaching!!

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

Friday, January 26, 2018

Book Beginnings Friday: Braving the Wilderness

Book Beginnings Fridays is a weekly event hosted by fellow Oregon blogger Gilion at Rose City Reader.  The purpose is to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.
Breanne and I are reading the 12 picks from Reese Witherspoon's book club, and Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown is the January pick! Here are the first lines:
"When I start writing, I inevitably feel myself swallowed by fear. And it's especially true when I notice that findings from my research are going to challenge long-held beliefs or ideals. When this happens, it doesn't take long before I start thinking, Who am I to say this? Or, I'm really going to piss people off if I call their ideas into question."
Well, this sounds like a book right up my alley! I listened to Brene's interview with Lewis Howes' for his School of Greatness podcast while on the treadmill on Wednesday and loved it--(it's episode 536 if you want to listen to it). While listening to her podcast and learning about this book, I kept thinking...WHY have I not read her work before?!
True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are." Social scientist Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives--experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Brown argues that we're experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, "True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that's rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it's easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it's a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It's a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts." Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, "The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it's the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.



Happy Friday and Happy Reading!! What are you reading this weekend?


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: All Your Perfects

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Despite not loving her last release, Colleen Hoover is still an auto-read author for me, and yesterday, she revealed the cover of her summer 2018 novel All Your Perfects. It releases July 17th from Atria Books!

About All Your Perfects:

37588357The #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us--whose writing is "emotionally wrenching and utterly original" (Sarah Shepard, New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series)--delivers a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

Quinn and Graham's perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

What book are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Winter Blues


Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. I've usually done Top Ten Tuesday but wanted to switch things up!

This Week's Question: How do you beat the winter blues?

For this one I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's response because the winter blues are a huge struggle for me! The rainy, dreary days in Oregon just seem endless in January and February. I feel like I need an extra large amount of self care during the winter just to stay afloat. It's harder for me to get up in the morning because it's so dark and I just want to cuddle on the couch with a blanket and a book!

These are a few things that help me:

1. Exercise + Yoga! Though it's hard for me to be motivated to go to the gym when it's dark out after I get home from work, I make myself go because  I NEVER regret it after I'm done.  I run on the treadmill, and participate in group fitness classes like Zumba and PiYo. What's great about the classes is others can help hold you accountable! Yoga has also literally changed my life (read more here). If you're new to yoga and want to get started, I highly recommend the Down Dog App (free app!) and Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube. It helps me mentally deal with the challenges of life and be more calm.

2. Get outside! I make sure to leave my desk and go outside at lunch and breaks. It's so hard leaving for work in the dark and coming home in the dark. I try to go on walks at breaks too to expose myself to natural light!

3. Plan a vacation! Or at least some fun activities to look forward to when the weather turns around. For example, I found out yesterday that I get to go to Orlando in April for a work conference, where the temperature should be 80 degrees! It's just for a few days, but I've been dreaming of pools and warmth and palm trees ever since!

4. Try to maintain healthy eating habits. I find that if I eat healthy and stay on track, I feel so much better overall. Which makes sense, since I'm getting all the good nutrients and vitamins, especially vitamin D. I do take a vitamin D supplement. Does it help or is it the placebo effect? I'm not sure. But I definitely notice the difference in my mood depending on what I eat.

That's all I got. I've been doing these things this winter and have still been struggling. What helps you? Do the light lamps actually work? Give me all your ideas!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Musings 1/22

My Week: It was a pretty average week with the usual work and crazy schedule. Wednesday was Elway's 8 month birthday--and he's already longer and taller than Peyton. He's going to be a big pup! 

Reading: I finished Podium Finish this week--a perfect read if you're getting excited about the Winter Olympics like I am! I also started The Lucky Ones, a book I'm reviewing for TLC Book Tours in February! Just started it this weekend and I'm already hooked. I also picked up A Gentleman in Moscow from the library and have started it but just haven't gotten sucked in yet. I do like the writing style though.


Workouts: On Thursday my gym did a super fun Zumba party! We had fun lights and glowsticks and it was super fun. It was a two hour class and I literally got 10.000 steps from Zumba alone that day. It's a great workout!

That's me on the left!
Yoga: On Sunday my friend Debbie and I went to a yoga class at Brooks Winery, about a half hour or so from my home. They cleared out the seats in the tasting room for us to have a lovely one hour flow class. The weather was horrible--windy and raining sideways outside. Luckily we had a great inside space. They offer the class regularly and I'm looking forward to going back when we can have class out on the deck and see this gorgeous view better!

Random: One day last week I was looking at my 500+ "to read' shelf on goodreads and decided enough is enough. I needed to clean out that list and make it less anxiety inducing! The "so many books, so little time" struggle is SO real! So, I went crazy and went through my whole list thinking "Do you REALLY want to read this?" So much of what I had on there was just random stuff I'd added from seeing the books online or on blogs and not really paying attention to their content and if I really did want to read them. I am pleased to report my list is a now manageable 156.  It was so cleansing!

Looking forward to: Spring! I know in the PNW we are getting off easy for winter (40s and rainy and no snow) but I'm so done with the dark and dreary.  Doing all the self care to combat the miserable weather!

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


Thursday, January 18, 2018

What I'm Listening To: Podcasts

I've been working on ideas for other content in addition to books for this blog (obviously added in some yoga/health/fitness) and to tie in with that I wanted to talk about how I'm still learning when I'm not reading, and for me, that's podcasts! I also listen to NPR (technically, the local Oregon version) on the way to and from work and learn a lot during that time. Please tell me I'm not the only nerd that regularly listens to NPR? I frequently annoy my husband with "fun facts I learned on NPR today."
I work out a lot, and when I'm at the gym, I prefer listening to podcast episodes. I've tried audiobooks, but I really just prefer a self contained single episode during my run. If I do listen to audiobooks, it's usually re-reads, so if I zone out I'm not missing too much! Here are some of the podcasts I've been loving lately:
1. The School of Greatness, hosted by Lewis Howes: A former arena football player and USA mens' handball team member, now business, marketing and media guru, Lewis believes in achieving your ideal life. He interviews successful athletes, businessmen, and overall inspiring people for his podcasts, as well as sharing his own tips for greatness. I first heard about his podcast when he interviewed Melissa Hartwig, creator of the Whole 30 (no, I haven't done Whole 30 but Melissa is awesome!!) and have listened to every episode since. He's so motivating and encouraging to listen to, and focuses a lot on health and exercise.
2. The Psych Files, hosted by Michael A. Britt, Ph.D.:  This is an excellent podcast if you're interested in human behavior but especially those who majored in or are studying psychology.  Dr. Britt frequently links current events with concepts in psychology, making the podcast relevant and engaging. I've been listening to this one for years and it's one of my favorites.
3. Hidden Brain (by NPR), hosted by Shankar Vedantam: Similar to The Psych Files, Shankar links current research in psychology and neuroscience to other fields and current events. Hidden Brain originally started as aweekly series on NPR's Morning Edition and soon became a podcast. I like that it gives you real world insights based on research you can apply directly to your life. Again, probably more interesting if you're a psychology nerd like me.
What are some of your favorite podcasts? What do you love to listen to?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

TLC Book Tours: Best Friends Forever (Excerpt!)

About Best Friends Forever
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: MIRA (January 23, 2018)
Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.
Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

"I'm curious about something," Sargeant Oliver said. "Why did you think Howard Grant was suicidal? I thought you said youweren't close."
“We werent. And I never told you I thought he was sui- cidal. I thought that’s what Detective Demer was suggesting.” “I dont think he suggested that at all,” Oliver said, fixing her eyes on me. They were dark and f lat, like a shark. I won- dered again why she was being so hostile. Had she met Kat, not liked her and extended her dislike to me? Kat could be charming and funny, but I had also seen her turn suddenly cold and imperious, especially when she was challenged. It
was not hard to imagine Oliver affecting her that way.
“I have a question,” I said. Oliver just stared at me, but Demer nodded, so I addressed him. “You said you were brought in from Tallahassee. Why was that?”
Demer glanced at Oliver. “It’s not uncommon for a small police department not to have any detectives on staff. Some- times when there is a situation that requires a more in-depth investigation, they’ll request a detective on loan.”
So, Im not sure how this works. Are you and Oliver partners in this investigation?” I asked. “Or are you in charge, and she’s reporting to you?
I knew instantly from the sour expression on Oliver’s face that they were not, in fact, partners. Demer was the lead, Oliver his unhappy subordinate.
Im taking point on the investigation for the time being,” Demer said mildly. Let’s go back to your friendship with Katherine Grant. How long have you known each other?
“Three years.
And youre close friends? Yes,” I said. “Very close.”
“How would you describe Katherine Grant?” Demer asked.
It was odd hearing Kat constantly referred to by her full name. She had always been Kat to me.
“How would I describe Kat? I repeated. How did you dis- till someone you loved down to a few words? She’s funny. Smart. Thoughtful. Loyal. Generous Solid.”
 “Would you say that Howard and Katherine Grant had a happy marriage? Demer asked.
I hesitated. The truthful answer would be no, they cer- tainly did not. But I also didnt see any benefit in telling the police that.
I dont think anyone on the outside ever truly knows what goes on inside a marriage,” I said carefully.
Demer smiled patiently. “No, probably not. Im just ask- ing for any impressions you might have formed from being around them.”
“That’s just it. Whenever I saw the two of them together, well, I was there, wasnt I? Most married people behave dif- ferently when there are other people around. I know my hus- band and I do.”
It was a nonanswer, but if it frustrated Demer, he hid it well. Oliver, on the other hand, looked like she wanted to slap me. Fair enough,” Demer said. “Did Katherine ever complain about her husband?”
Kat,” I corrected him.
“Excuse me?
She goes by Kat, not Katherine.”
“Okay. Kat, then. So, did she?
“Complain about her husband?” I repeated. He nodded. “Sure, from time to time. I hate to break it to you, Detec- tive, but most women complain about their husbands to their friends.”
The wonderful thing about this statement was that it had the benefit of being the absolute truth.
Let’s get back to Howard Grant,” Demer said.
My patience was starting to fray. “Ive already told you, I wasnt close with Howard. I was friends with Kat. I suggest you talk to her if you want to know about her husband.”
“Oh, weve already talked to Katherine Grant,” Oliver inserted.
Something about this bald statement caused a f licker of concern at the edges of my consciousness. I wasnt sure what exactly about it bothered me. Of course, it only made sense that they would interview Kat as part of their investigation, even if she was out of the country at the time of Howard’s death. But then, suddenly, I realized what the problem was. Kat hadn’t told me the police had been to see her. And we told each other everything, or almost everything. I knew when her insomnia was acting up, and when the dry cleaner ruined her favorite dress, and usually what she’d had for dinner the night before. So why didn’t she call to tell me the police had questioned her about her husband’s death?

About Margot Hunt
Margot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is her first psychological thriller.

Connect with Margot

Website | Facebook | Twitter

TLC Book Tours
Click here to follow the tour! Look for my review (and giveaway!) on February 6th!