book review, books

Books

Book day is here!!! Normally I don’t like Tuesdays. They are my least favorite day of the week. Book day makes them so much better! I read several really good ones this month, so let’s just jump right in. Linking up with Steph and Jana.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Bring Me Back

Coming back from holiday, Layla goes missing at a rest stop. Finn moves on many years later, but then an item appears that can only be from Layla. Is she alive? Finn is engaged to be married and is happy now. But he cant help but wonder. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind? 

B.A. Paris really knows how to suck  you in to a book and get you hooked! You can never trust any of her characters for very long, and I love that I am always trying to guess what is really happening and looking for clues. I had figured this one out early on, then ditched everything I believed only to have been right from the start. I love how I (and Finn!!!) kept changing our minds on what was really happening. I liked The Breakdown and Behind Closed Doors a little better than this one, but it was still good!

Bottom Line: This book will be out in June, be sure to get on the wait list at the library now!! If you enjoyed her other two, you are sure to like this as well.

**I received a copy of Bring Me Back from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

Smitten by Janet Evanovich

Smitten (Elsie Hawkins #2)

Single mom Lizabeth Kane isn’t exactly carpenter material — she’s never picked up a hammer in her life. But she desperately needs the construction job that builder Matt Hallahan is offering. And even though he knows trouble is ahead, Matt can’t refuse Lizbeth’s irresistible smile.

I actually didn’t realize that this was the second in a series until I grabbed the link to write this post. It totally works as a stand alone novel. I love Janet Evanovich and have read all of the Stephanie Plum series and a  few other of her novels. I am going to be honest and say this was probably my least favorite from her. It is one of her early day novels (from 1990) and is just sort of silly. The relationship between Elizabeth and Matt moves way too fast and is just absurd at times. Elizabeth sort of reminds me of Stephanie Plum with her brown curly hair and her inability to do simple tasks like put a lid back on a can of paint. Then there is Aunt Elsie who is basically Grandma Mazur. I believe I read somewhere that Evanovich actually modeled Grandma Mazur after Elsie. She was actually pretty hilarious and just what you would expect from an Evanovich character. The novel was really short, and so at least there weren’t any dull, unnecessary parts.

Bottom Line: Overall, the story line was pretty cute. I just didn’t really love Matt or Elizabeth to be honest. True Evanovich fans would really appreciate Elsie though. And it was worth a read if you are just looking for mindless fluff to pass the time.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood

Leonora, a reclusive crime writer, reluctantly agrees to make the trip to a hen weekend with an old friend she has lost contact with. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured  with the knowledge that someone is dead. She tries to piece together the events of the past weekend, and remember things from the past.

I was hooked from the very beginning of this one! I liked how the book started out in the hospital, and then moves back and forth in time between the present and the past. You aren’t quite sure who you want to trust the deeper you dig. I enjoyed the imperfectness in the relationships with some of these characters as well as their development throughout the book. I had a hard time putting it down.

Bottom Line: This was a really good read!

Every Crooked Nanny by Mary Kay Andrews writing as Kathy Hogan Trocheck

Every Crooked Nanny

Former cop Callahan Garrity trades in her badge for a broom and starts a housekeeping business. She’s on the job when her client announces that her nanny has disappeared—along with jewelry, silver, and some sensitive real-estate documents. Soon Callahan and her crew are involved in a job messier than any they’ve ever encountered. Illicit love triangles, crooked business deals, long-distance scams— it’s going to require some industrial-strength sleuthing on Callahan’s part to solve this one.

I love a cozy mystery. I was drawn to this book because I enjoyed The Weekenders by MKA and saw that this book takes place in Atlanta. It was written in 1992 and I loved that aspect of it. Before social media and all of that. Plus, those of you in the south remember Rich’s department store??? Nostalgia at it’s finest.  I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would. I did this on audiobook and the southern accents were perfection. As you can see below, I went and binged on the second in this series directly after, that is how much I loved it.

Bottom Line: This is a super fun cozy mystery series if you enjoy that kind of thing!

To Live and Die in Dixie by Mary Kay Andrews writing as Kathy Hogan Trocheck

To Live and Die in Dixie

Callahan Garrity has no idea what she’s getting into when she agrees to work for infamous antiques dealer Elliot Littlefield. The first day on the job she and her crew discover the bloodied body of a young woman in a bedroom — and are soon on the trail of a priceless Civil War diary stolen by the killer. As if two crimes aren’t enough, deadly serious collectors, right-wing radicals, and impulsive teenagers make the case even more difficult to tidy up … and more dangerous.

I enjoyed the first in this series so much, I decided to jump on the second while it was still available at my library. This one is just as good as the first. I am so invested in Callahan and her mom Edna. This one takes place shortly after the first and we get a whole new cast of characters that are just as quirky. You are never sure who to pin the murder on and have several theories before it is all said and done. I love that.

Bottom Line: This is a super fun cozy mystery series if you enjoy that kind of thing!

Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber

Any Dream Will Do

Shay Benson adored her younger brother, Caden, and that got her into trouble. When he owed money, she realized she would give up everything for him. Now, determined to start fresh, she finds herself in search of a place to stay and wanders into a church to escape from the cold. Pastor Drew Douglas lost his wife. Now, as he too is thinking about a fresh start, he walks through his sanctuary and finds Shay sitting in a pew. The pair strike up a friendship—Drew helps Shay get back on her feet, and she reignites his sense of purpose.When Caden returns to town, it threatens to destroy everything Shay has rebuilt.

I do love a book about second chances. This is much more faith based than the other Debbie Macomber books, but I didn’t mind. In fact, if you are looking for a good love story….but don’t enjoy the sexy talk, this would be for you. There is no graphic scenes in the book.  I really loved the main characters in this book, you get to know them on an emotional level and there is a lot of development. This story is rich with deep emotion and intense feelings. I feel like the ending was perfect as well, it wasn’t rushed at all.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed this one. If you are looking for a story about hope, faith, second chances…this is for you.

**I received a copy of Any Dream Will Do from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

Arrogant Devil by RS Grey

Arrogant Devil

Everyone in Cedar Creek, Texas, knows Jack McNight is an arrogant devil. When Meredith shows up on his door step at the Blue Stone Ranch needing a job and a place to stay, she has no idea what she is getting in to. 

Every time I think of RS Grey and her books, I cant help but smile. I fall in love with her characters so quickly!! She is hilarious and these are true romantic comedy books that I have read so far by her. I couldn’t get enough of Jack and Meredith’s banter. I loved all Meredith’s thoughts and inner dialogue that we get. Total perfection. This is a good, slow burn. You have the love/hate relationship, some cute side characters, a wonderful farm/ranch setting in the heat of Texas. Love love love! This is a story of second chances, restarting your life. The way this one progressed is so believable and not forced.

Bottom Line: Read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is on pre-sale right now for 99 cents!!!!!

**I received an ARC copy of Arrogant Devil from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

 

about me, weekend shenanigans

Weekend Shenanigans and TBB Asks- Entertainment

This weekend came and went so fast, we barely got anything done that we set out to do! Friday capped off teacher appreciation week at Zoe’s school. The Heavenly Donut truck was in our town, right next to the daycare….so of course I had to take donuts to her teachers and the directors! And of course I had to get one for myself too. I am pretty sure they threw mine in for free. Shhhh. Their donut of the month is a lavender lemon one and OMG!!!! You guys, this might be the best donut I have ever had. It was so perfect and not too sweet. Plus, how gorgeous is this??? And this was taken hurriedly on the console in my car. No fancy lighting to dress it up. If you are local, go snatch one of these this month while you can. WORTH IT!
Saturday morning I was up early and had a lot of the cleaning done before Zoe got up again. Floors, dusting, guest bath and kitchen all scrubbed down. Zoe and I had a lot of fun playing when she woke up. She is too darn cute! During Zoe’s nap I tackled all the ironing and the master bath. Plus, I did 7 loads of laundry throughout the day. Mission accomplished. When Zoe woke up, we headed to Chris’s parents house to hang out with them for a few hours.
Sunday morning we headed out to the grocery store, and then met Chris’s parents for lunch at our favorite Mexican place. Zoe can tear up some Mexican food and was excited about morning about her taco!
That face you make when you eat tacos…
That afternoon, Zoe and I had some fun outside with bubbles and we took a few short walks. She loves being outside, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous!!! Low 80’s with little humidity and the pretty afternoon sun. Just the way we like it!
Chris took the grill once we got Zoe down for bed and made some tavern burgers. I cooked up some buffalo cauliflower and we got caught up on Chicago Med and Chicago Fire. After that, it was time for bed!
I am also lnking up with Andrea and the TBB ladies to talk about entertainment this month!
1. Comedy or Drama? 
Depends on what time of mood I am in, as I enjoy both.
2. Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction
3. Movies in Theater or At Home?
Home. I haven’t been to a theater since I lived in Atlanta, so it has been at least 8 years.
4. Musical or Play?
Hmm that is a tough one. There are some Broadway shows that I do want to see, but generally I am not big in to musicals or plays all that much.
5. Which Meal of the day is your favorite to eat out?
Generally lunch. I eat out for lunch once or twice a week with friends, and then sometimes on the weekends Chris and I will go out for lunch or dinner. We never really eat out for breakfast.
6. Favorite Book ever read? 
This is not a fair question. How am I to pick just one??? I cant even pick just one genre. One book that has stuck with me through the years is Tuesdays With Morrie, as cliche as that sounds.My favorite books this year have been The Hating Game, Eligible, The Beau and The Belle and Arrogant Devil.
7. Game Night: Yes or No?
Yes! Haven’t had one in so long, but I love playing games! Both board and video games.
8. Favorite Outside Game to play?
Mini golf
9. Favorite TV Series ever?
Oh that is a tough one. The first one that comes to mind is Hart of Dixie or Friends.
10. Sitcoms growing up or Sitcoms of today?
Growing up. They just don’t make shows like they used to!
11. Miniature Golf or Bowling?
I am equally terrible at both. I suppose I like bowling a little more because it is in a controlled temperature environment. Last time I went mini golfing was at the beach and it was hot AF and the wind was driving me crazy.
12. Favorite Movie Theater Candy?
As I mentioned before, I don’t go to the theater anymore. When I went, I only ever got popcorn and a soda. But, picking out movies at Blockbuster was one of my favorite things to do on a Friday. And I always came home with gummy bears from there.
13. How do you like your popcorn?
I like butter and salt on it. Sometimes if I am trying to be good, I will just squeeze a lime over it and it sort of gives the same texture as buttered popcorn. Always air popped. That microwave shit will give you cancer.
14. 3D movies with the glasses; Yes or No? 
No. I hate 3D glasses. I usually get a headache.
15. Favorite Genre of Books to Read? 
Romantic comedy, cozy mysteries or suspense.
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Double dipping and linking up with Biana. 
Uncategorized

Things You Need To Know About

I have so many random pictures of things on my phone I took for a recommendations post, that I am sure there are probably more sitting in there. But these are the most recent of them. I try some good stuff sometimes, and I feel like more people need to know!!!

Parchment Muffin Liners – Did you know these existed???? For the longest time, I stocked the tin foil liners because they have less stick-age than the paper. But I still have issues with them. Scrolling in Target I found these and OMG!!! I will never go back to anything else. These are seriously amazing! Truly no stick. Go order you some here right now!!!

Skinny Foam – I found this Caramel Skinny Syrup Foam at either TJ Maxx or HomeGoods a few weeks back. You guys!!!! So good!!! Save yourself $45968 on Starbucks and just squirt a few pumps of this stuff in your morning coffee at home. Easy peasy and delicious!

Calidad Tortilla Chips – These chips were found in the International Food Aisle near the taco shells at Target. They are the closest to restaurant taste and texture that you will find. So good!!!

Waterloo Watermelon Sparking Water – I have tried the grapefruit and watermelon of these and love both so much! They taste better than La Croix and I found them at Whole Foods.

Rap Snacks Honey Dew – You guys, you might laugh but seriously. These are so incredibly delicious!!! Texture of cheese puffs with a sophisticated honey dew twist. The brand makes the coolest flavor combinations ever and you need to stop by your nearest gas station and check them out. These are my favorite, but I have enjoyed a few of the others like ranch white cheddar popcorn.

Avocado Salsa – We found this unicorn at Sam’s Club and it is so good! You get the best of both worlds, guac and salsa combined. This container is huge, but it didn’t last long around our house.

Lancome Skin Feels Good Hydrating Skin Tint – This stuff is so much better than the IT CC Cream. It smells better, it sinks into the skin better, and I like the color better. It gives you light-medium coverage and has an SPF that is perfect for the spring/summer. I have been grabbing this a lot over the last few weeks.

What products are you excited about lately? I realize that all but one of mine are food related. Clearly I have priorities.

about me, currently

Currently

Linking up with my girl Kristen to share what I have been up to lately.

Eating Around Birmingham: After my visit to Brat Brot last week, I knew I wanted to head there for lunch ASAP. Laura, Morgan and I hit up Brat Brot yesterday to try out their eats. I ordered the BirminghamBurger, Garten Fries with Smoked Mayo, and  washed it all down with a Blood Orange Radler. Everything was delicious! Oh, Laura and I walked over there from my office. So clearly none of that food counts. 😉

Drinking: I stopped by Dunkin on my way in to work one morning because I needed caffeine stat! I was just going to order my usual caramel iced coffee, but they were out of caramel!!!!! (I mean you have ONE JOB Dunkin! COME ON NOW!) This was their second time they were out of it. WTF? Then the cashier was all, we have a coconut caramel if you would like to try it. Ummmmm why don’t you have that on your board?!?! Yes, please!!!! You guys, SO GOOD!

Reading: I just finished reading Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber. It was different from every other Macomber book I have read, I will share my thoughts next Tuesday for the book link up, of course! I should be receiving my ARC of Arrogant Devil from RS Grey today!!! I cant wait to dive in and get started on it. Romantic Comedies are so of my absolute favorite to read, and I really loved RS Grey’s last book The Beau and The Belle!

Arrogant Devil

Listening: Every Crooked Nanny by Mary Kay Andrews AKA Kathy Hogan Trocheck – This one is perfect on audiobook because the accents are so on point. This series takes place in Atlanta and the first book in the series was written in 1992, during the era of car phones and beepers, before social media and cell phones. It makes for some fun reading! Plus I recognize every single place they go since I lived in Atlanta for so long, it is nostalgic for me.

Every Crooked Nanny

Watching: The Originals came back last week! Turns out this is going to be the last season, not really surprised there. I was excited to see Caroline in the first episode! Her and Damon were my favorites from Vampire Diaries. Of course, I cant get enough of Klaus and Elijah.

Image result for the originals

Working:I have been sitting complacent for a long time. Something has stirred in me recently to push myself and I have taken the first few steps to do that the past few weeks. Hopefully all my efforts and fire will bring some results.

Eating: I am trying hard to keep myself on the straight and narrow during the week. I was failing at breakfast the last few months. I think I wasn’t getting enough protein, so I was starving by 9-10am and snacking on things I didn’t need to be. I started back to drinking protein shakes this week. I am playing with some recipes, some are awesome…some….not so much. Send me all your favorite smoothie combos please!

Other than breakfast, we have taco bowls, chicken tenders, turkey burgers, meatloaf muffins and pork chops on the menu for this week. Lunch (other than my outing yesterday) has been carrots and hummus, apple, turkey sausage and some pasta salad. I am trying to get back on my lunch game as well after phoning it in lately. I just dont feel like meal prepping most weekends, you know? But that is the only way I find success during the week.

Lusting: I need a few pieces added to my spring/summer wardrobe. I have noticed that most of my black dresses have seen better days, they are faded and some of the fabric is pilling. I just cant seem to find any that I LOVE to replace them. I wont buy anything unless I absolutely love it these days. I have my eye on these sandals from Target. I think they would be so cute with my navy dresses that I have.

These blush beauties are calling my name. DV is one of my favorite brands!

I also like these ones in black. I feel they look really cute in person and I like the tiny little heel they have. Can you tell I have a thing for slides? I am going to need them to put their shoes back on sale! I hate that I missed 20% off last week.

Planning: Not too much going on this month. It is Chris’s birthday month, so hopefully I can plan a date for the two of us. Of course we have Memorial Day which I am looking forward to having off!!! And there is always Cinco De Mayo! I need to find a fun recipe to make this weekend to celebrate. And Mother’s Day is already next weekend. Crazy how fast it is all going to go, right??

Sassing: Seriously though, this pose!!!!!

Reflecting:

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. #ericthomas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #Buildyourlegacy #smallbusiness #dreambigger #diamondlegacygp #diamondlegacygroup #legacy

Laughing:

Image result for memes about green smoothie detox

weekend shenanigans

Weekend Shenanigans

It was a gorgeous GORGEOUS weekend here in the south! Low humidity, mild temperatures, lots of sunshine. We don’t get many weekends like that before it becomes ungodly hot and humid, so you have to take full advantage!

I kicked Friday off with lunch at Zoe’s with my old Friday Lunch Club (minus the one who moved.) It was fabulous catching up and eating a delicious Greek salad. I even scooted out of the office 15 minutes early to get Zoe. I was shocked that the traffic was horrific. I guess everyone left the office early on Friday to enjoy the weather. I know mine was empty and I was one of the last out.

Saturday morning I  had the house cleaned before 7am. After Zoe woke up, we hung around and played some while Chris cut the front and back yard. When Zoe went down for her nap, I cut the side yard. Our self propeller isn’t working in the lawn mower at all, and it took me forever to push that thing around the side hill! What should have taken about an hour took closer to two. My shoulders hurt so bad when I was done! Plus, our sunscreen was expired from last year, and I got burnt on my back and a weird random spot on my arm. I burned 974 calories according to my watch though, so score!!!!

When Zoe got up from her nap, we headed over to my sister’s house. My BIL’s birthday is today, and they had a cookout and bonfire this weekend to celebrate. We ate delicious burgers and my sister made a peanut butter pie that was to die for!!! Zoe loved getting to hang out with all her cousins, and the freedom of running around in the country suited her well. Our yard is hilly and sucks so bad, so she took full advantage of my sisters!

Sunday morning we had a big breakfast, knocked out the grocery shopping early and got Zoe down for a decent nap. I made burritos for lunch and Gorgonzola gnocchi for dinner. We got to hang outside a little in the afternoon and let Zoe blow bubbles and have a little walk. Though, it was cut short because my piece of shit neighbors cant keep their dogs contained in their own yard. You guys, I am SO SICK of my neighbors!!!! Between all the crap they leave out in their yards, their dogs roaming the streets and chasing after cars, and how ridiculous they act in our neighborhood facebook group…we cant move fast enough. Chris said he saw one of their dogs trying to dig a whole under OUR fence. I love dogs you guys, but not when uncontrolled ones ruin our enjoyment of our own home. You know??

Anyways, after Zoe went down to bed…Chris and I caught up on a few shows and called it a night.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Linking up with Biana. Let’s slay Monday!