Monthly Archives: December 2016

Merry Christmas from Sophie & Shamrock


Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our house to yours!





5 for Friday – Last of the 2016 Book Series!


After this post, I should be about all caught up with what I’ve been reading. Well, except for all of the holiday books I’ve been reading. I’m going to write that post, but save it for just before the holidays next year to, you know, get you in the holiday spirit. So let’s just get right to it!



Today Will be Different
by Maria Semple 
(fiction) – worth a read

Semple is probably best known for Where’d You Go Bernadette, which I have not yet read. I liked this character’s honesty about how she feels. It was a quick, easy read; but in retrospect, I can’t remember the ending. I probably didn’t like it.



The Girls
by Emma Cline
 (fiction) – worth a read

This book had so much hype and high ratings. I was on my library waiting list for a long time before I received the notification that it was ready to be picked up. Cline is a definitely a talented writer. She can describe situations in such a beautiful way and envoke a mood. And while the story content is very intriguing, I felt some of the book was left unfinished. Not necessarily the ending, but maybe parts of it. There are also pieces that were either never explained or that had me confused what the purpose was to the story. I’m still not 100% sure why she was so fearful at the beginning of the book nor what she was really doing, other than reflecting.



Behind Closed Doors
by B.A. Paris
 (fiction) – must read

Yes! I never *think* that I’m a person who likes thrillers, but once I got a bit into this book. I couldn’t put it down. One Sunday, I made my husband wait until I was finished with it before I would go out to dinner.

I find the tagline on the book, “The perfect marriage or the perfect lie?” kind of annoying and it almost turned me off at first. But guess what? I loved the ending. And not because of what happens. You figure that out way before the story actually ends and it’s just the details that matter. The ending I liked was the very last page – and the dialogue that transpires.



Another Brooklyn
by Jacqueline Woodson
 (fiction) – worth a read

Woodson is a poetic author. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had a big chunk of time or a long afternoon to read this. Instead, due to life circumstances, I was only reading tidbits at a time and I had a hard time picking up where I left off. It’s a short book, so it should be savored in one or two sittings, I think. This is the second book of Woodson’s that I’ve read. I’m starting to see a theme in her stories…



Talking As Fast As I Can:
From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and everything in between)
by Lauren Graham (non-fiction) – worth a read (especially if you liked Gilmore Girls)

Yes, I’m a Gilmore Girls fan and spent Black Friday binging (boy do I hate that word) the revival with one of my best friends. I found it so wonderful to revisit that story that I was somewhat confused by all of the backlash after it aired! Still, Graham’s book became available at my library shortly thereafter. I guess I didn’t know a ton about her; my only intrigue was the show. But I learned a bit more about her through the book… and how crazily the Gilmore Girls Revival all came together!

One of my favorite lines:

But life doesn’t often spell things out for you or give you what you want exactly when you want it, otherwise it wouldn’t called life, it would be called a vending machine.

Graham also wrote a novel – Someday, Someday Maybe – which is on my “to-read” list.


 Maybe next week I’ll recap the best books I read all year.

What is the best book you’ve read this year?


5 for Friday – I Hate Book Endings!


While I don’t always plan to do my 5 for Friday posts about books, I feel the need to catch up since I’ve been gone for so long. I love to read l others’ short recaps on books to know what I would like to spend my time reading or what I can ultimately skip.

But here is something you may not know about me…

Although I love to read, I usually hate the endings to books.

Generally it’s not because they don’t turn out the way that I’d like. It’s because they often feel rushed, like the author really just wanted to hurry up and finish. Other times, they add too much extra stuff that didn’t need to be just to explain what happened after the book’s climax. And still other times, the ending just fades into the distance, leaving me feeling lost. I think, “why did they even mention XYZ.” There is often no explanation nor did that part have any importance to the structure of the story.

Now, know that I’ve never taken a creative writing class outside of high school nor do I have any training in plot development. I’m only offering up my feelings on how a book makes me, as a reader, feel. This is what adds or subtracts to the enjoyment of a book.

Despite this fact of disliking endings, that doesn’t mean that there are books I don’t love nonetheless. It’s strange, isn’t it? But let’s carry on…



It Ends with Us
by Colleen Hoover
 (fiction) – worth a read

I’ve never read one of Hoover’s books; but I’m told that fans of hers will find this a very different novel from her others. I really liked the opening line of the book, but as the storyline grew, I got really annoyed. There were times that I almost threw it across room and thought I should just put the damn thing down. I mean, I was on a yoga retreat at the time and shouldn’t have been reading something that wasn’t calming me, right?

But it was like a trainwreck and I ended up staying up one night while on the retreat just to finish it and was glad I did. I liked how this one ended and the message the author was trying to convey. Really.


The Gifts of Imperfection
by Brené Brown
 (non-fiction) – worth a read?

It’s been a while since I’ve read this book and I can’t remember too much about it. That’s why I’m so glad I took notes! It’s sad when you think of a book you read where you can’t recall any tidbit of new information nor how a story ended. I should take more notes, really.

My Notes:

  • A description on the book reads “Your Guide to a Whole Hearted Life”. I wouldn’t agree that it is a guide. There is a lot of theory here, but not a specific guide. Brown is a researcher, and a very good one at that. Still, she does a much better job at describing her findings rather than guiding you into such a life.
  • Brown has extensively studied shame and the number one thing I learned: You need to talk about it. Everybody feels it. Acknowledging it can help you feel better and move past it.
  • Religion and spriituality = connectiveness. I have not spent much of my life focusing on this area, so the fact that I was at a yoga retreat put this into perspective. To me, it related to mindfulness, too.
  • Boundaries – I wrote this one word. I can’t remember why, but I think it was about creating boundaries with other people. I also have “prana-sucking” written next to it, which I note was not in the book, but we explored prana in one of our workshops at the retreat. I think setting boundaries had something to do with the people in my life you suck the prana out of me! Now. how to do that is another story. I’m not so great with that.
  • You can never love others more than your self. Brown goes into depth on this and it was pretty eye-opening. But I could never explain it myself to you.
  • Create a different kind of list – one that lists your ingredients for joy and meaning in your life, meaning list the specific conditions that are in place when everything feels good in life. Compare this to your to-do list. It’ll put things in perspective.

Boy am I glad I took notes! When thinking about this book, nothing triggered in my brain, but those notes sure did!



The Happiness Dare:
pursuing your heart’s deepest, holiest, and most vulnerable desire

by Jennifer Dukes Lee
 (non-fiction) – DNF

I’m always interested on reading books about happiness. Who doesn’t want to want the happiest life they can possibly live? Reading about it always gives me new ways to look at what happiness means to me. I can also discover new ways to create it in my life. However, I couldn’t get past the beginning. Maybe I’m reading too many of these books as of late or maybe I was turned off by the incorporation of religion to more of an extent than I’d like.



The Travelers
by Chris Pavone
 (fiction) – worth a read

This is a thriller that I thought would read more quickly than it did, but it could have been my life circumstances. I liked how many places I got to travel through this book, as well as trying to figure out who was who. I could see it as a thrilling action-packed movie, though not a blockbuster. Though, I would see it for the landscapes! Decent ending for someone who doesn’t like endings. 🙂



Skinnytaste: Fast and Slow
by Gina Holmoka, Heather K. Jones
 (cookbook) – must read

Did you know that I read cookbooks like novels? I may occasionally skip a passage and I don’t read every line or ingredient, but I do read them from cover to cover. Although I rediscovered the library just this past year, it wasn’t until very recently that I could check out cookbooks! One can often order cookbooks via kindle, but I don’t like reading them on my phone. I’d rather thumb through the pages and mark my favorites.

But borrowing a cookbook from the library is like giving it a test drive! I read this cookbook on the way to Green Bay in November (while my husband drove, of course) and by the time I’d finished I knew I’d be returning the book and purchasing it for myself as well as for Christmas gifts. (Shh…)

Holmoka – who blogs at Skinnytaste, which I’ve been following for years – offers up flavorful recipes made with real food that’s healthy but can be fit into a busy lifestyle. Recipes are either quick and easy (fast) or thrown into the crockpot (slow). Genius.


 Do you take notes when you read books? Why/how?

Have you ever discovered a cookbook elsewhere, but after thumbing through it, knew you had to have it?


5 for Friday – What I’ve Been Reading


I always love the 5 for Friday posts I see across the web. There is something wonderful or people expressing 5 little tidbits that come together, whether they be expressions of gratitude, products or services liked, events that happened, links they enjoyed.

Since I’ve been absent for over two months, you can imagine that I was either busy or not motivated. I was overcome with waves of emotion that only a good book could tame and keep my brain occupied. I thought about grouping the books together for you in little 5 for Friday snip-its; but they proved more difficult to categorize than I thought. Besides, I didn’t want to share all of my favorites and then have a post of duds! So you may just get them chronologically over the next few weeks.

All of the books in this post were read right around our October trip to Michigan…



Underground Airlines
by Ben H. Winters 
(fiction) – worth a read

It’s present day. However, 4 states in the U.S. have not abolished slavery. Seriously. It’s a crazy concept. I heard a review of this book on NPR while driving to Green Bay one weekend. I was immediately intrigued. While I felt a different story could have been done much better in this insane setting, I could see this book as a movie. Though, I haven’t researched if that will be happening.



Loner: A Novel
by Teddy Wayne
 (fiction) – worth a read

I knew nothing about this book before reading it, nor do I remember where I heard about it. It’s a new release that I put on hold and got to be the first to read my library’s version when it came available. Whoa. I don’t want to give too much away and giving my opinion of what it reminds me would spoil the end. Let’s just say that it’s written from an, um… interesting perspective.



Beautiful Blue World
by Suzanne LaFleur
 (fiction) – worth a read

Whoa. This is an imaginative take on war and how children could be sent to participate. It takes place in a total fictional setting from the eyes of a child. It’s a very quick read and filled with emotion.



Hyperbole and a Half:
unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened

by Allie Brosh
 (non-fiction) – worth a read

This is a book with illustrations from the blog of the same name. I discovered it when I was looking for some feel-good books. I like the humorous perspective because it makes you laugh, but it’s not 100% feel-good. I was, however, intrigued by her take on depression. Also, some good dog stuff, too… if you like that sort of thing. (I do.)



Miracle’s Boys
by Jacqueline Woodson
 (fiction) – worth a read

This is a quick, worthy read of only 144 pages. What amazes me is how Woodson can fill such few pages with a full and beautifully-told story. I’ve just read another book of hers and find her writing soothing even though she explores how death affects people.



The Bafut Beagles
by Gerald Durrell (non-fiction?) – DNF

I know that this book turns my “5 things Friday” in 6, but I wanted to add a book that I Did Not Finish.

I ordered this book from because I couldn’t find it at my local library even though it gets such high ratings on GoodReads. It was the last book I was reading on our trip to Michigan and I was having such a hard time pushing through it. It is an account of the author’s trip to the Cameroons in the 1949 for the collection of zoo specimens. I believe that is is non-fiction; but the book reads more like a novel and some of the accounts just seem unbelievable or embellished. But what do I know about such things or that era?

It was a difficult book for me to read because of some of the treatment of the animals, but would we know about so many animals in the world today if someone had not collected specimens? Alas, I unintentionally left this book behind at my in-laws’ place. I didn’t bother with asking them to send it to me. I wasn’t really enjoying it anyway.

Name your favorite feel good books! {fiction or non-fiction}

{I’m looking for suggestions!}