Category Archives: books

Murder on the Orient Express/Espresso


In 2017, I read my first Agatha Christie novel, after her books were referenced several of the books I had read throughout the year, like in the High Mountains of Portugal, The Rules of Civility, and Behind Closed Doors.

I did a little research on which of her books to read first and found several lists and lots of opinions on the interwebs!

Ultimately, when I found out Murder on the Orient Express was coming to the big screen, I decided to read it first and then see the movie.

While reading, I had a bit of time keeping track of the characters at first. Then everything started to jumble together and felt slow in the middle; but the ending had a great pay-off. Then I went to see the movie in the theater. While Rotten Tomatoes didn’t love it {it was getting ratings in the 30% range at the time}, I did! I may have even liked it more than the book. I really enjoyed the recreation of the time period. It just made me happy.

However, after seeing the movie in the theater, I noticed that the 1974 movie version gets much better ratings on Rotten Tomatoes {90+%!}, so I put my name on the long waiting list and ended up checking out the DVD out from my local library a month or so later.

While the film’s budget was nothing like that of the current version, you can hardly argue with a cast like Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery. And after about an hour in, I realized that Detective Poirot was played by the actor (Albert Finney) who played my beloved Daddy Warbucks in the 1982 film version of Annie, one of the first movies I saw in the theater as a kid!

I did like the 1974 version, too.

However, while searching online to see if my library even had a copy of the 1974 movie adaptation, I came across a book called Murder on the Orient Espresso

Although it was a possible that this was a retelling of Christie’s classic, I knew the characters much better now and thought it might be fun. Besides, it was something else that drew me to this book… It’s book #8 in a series about a coffeehouse owner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m originally from Wisconsin and it’s not often you read many books set in my home state. Also, the name of her coffeeshop is Uncommon Grounds. Back when I was in the wine biz, I always talked about our uncommon wine. I felt a connection!

Now, this particular book of Balzo’s was not set in Wisconsin, but on a Murder Mystery train in the Everglades because the protagonist is vacationing there with her boyfriend. And I didn’t expect this book to be out-of-this-world; but rather, just a bit of fun… I mean, just look at the other titles of books in this series by Balzo:

  •  Uncommon Grounds
  • Grounds for the Murder
  • Bean There, Done That
  • Brewed, Crude and Tattooed
  • From the Grounds Up
  • A Cup of Jo
  • Triple Shot

Got a guess what some of those other mysteries might be about?! The book was a fun, easy read. But I didn’t know it was going to be about snakes. Ewwww!!!

Truth be told, I’m not really a mystery girl. I sometimes get bored in the middle of them. It was mostly the setting and a few of the characters that drew me in to the Louise Penny novels!

I guess I should accept the fact that I do enjoy them; they just aren’t the genre I immediately flock to… but the same is true of other genres. Just when I realize that the book I just loved was a thrillerI find that most of them are not my style… There are some romance novels I truly adore, but some are just way-over-the-top. And when it comes to movies, my husband is always surprised when there is a sci-fi movie I can get into… (Well, truthfully, I am too!)

But I think it just takes a really good story, with lots of different humanizing and relatable elements to make any genre enjoyable.

Do you stick to one genre of book or movie?
If so, what is it and what do you love about it?



The Best Books I Read in 2017


Looking for a few good reads this coming year?

Here is a list of a books I read (that were not necessarily published) in 2017, that I also rated 5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads.  I have included three books each from three separate categories. Enjoy!


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon

I saw the play, so I knew what was coming. But I was still crying all the way driving home from work as the story ended. It’s a great story in general, but the narration is fantastic. I highly recommend this on audio. (My review here.)





Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue

I didn’t know anything about this book in advance, only that it was recommended on audio. Man, is the narrator fantastic with the voices! This immigration novel will pull at your heartstrings. (You can read my short review in this post.)




Kitchens of the Great Midwest – J. Ryan Stradal

Yes, I listened to and recommended it last year. Yes, I listened to it again – this time, with my husband. He loved it, too. I have no regrets of duplicating those hours. I love this book.






Dinner: A Love Story – Jenny

This cookbook reads like a novel. That’s how I read cookbooks; so it was a match made in heaven. After checking it out from the library, I purchased my own copy. Which reminds me, those beef short ribs aren’t going to braise themselves. I need to open that one back up!



Well Fed: Weeknights – Mel Joulwan

This is another cookbook that got me excited to purchase my own copy. Now that I have it, I need to go back through, flag those pages and do some cooking! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, you don’t need to be Paleo to enjoy this cookbook. (I’m not.) Joulwan will teach you how to cook without you even realizing it.


Five Ingredients, 10 Minutes – Jules Clancy

You already knew this, since I declared it the Best Cookbook You’ve Never Read! I’m still making my way through it and must say that I never knew how quickly tasty and satisfying meals could come together! I’ve got more results to post!




It Takes One to Tango – Winifred M Reilly

I wasn’t even looking for this book; but it is one of the best books I’ve read all year! It came up in a list of books about marriage that are actually useful. I read it on a whim and found it a surprisingly quick and eye-opening read. Whether you think your marriage is on the rocks or you just have the same little arguments over and over again, this book is for you.




Bon Appetempt –  Amelia Morris(I just reilaed this was also on Audio, but the audio isn’t the reason I liked it, where those 3 books above are great on Audio!

I just realized that I listened to this one on audio, but I didn’t put it in that category. You don’t have to listen to this one audio; so it fits fine here. In fact, I bought the printed book afterward because I wanted the recipes she described and read to me! We all have been on our own culinary journey as our knowledge of cooking and taste buds evolve. This is one woman’s story. And I liked it.




Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs – Pete Souza

This is an absolutely beautiful and historic coffee table book! The amount of work and hours Souza put in to capture all of these moments, both personal and professional, both joyous and heart-wrenching blows my mind. This is dedication to work and the result is stunning.




Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

It’s not common that I check a work of fiction out from a library and then promptly purchase the book after I’ve read it because I know I will be re-reading it in the future. You can read my review in this post.





This is How It Always Is – Laurie Frankel

Whoa. I had no idea what this book was about before I opened it. It may have taken me a bit to get into; but I was thinking about it for weeks afterward. I don’t want to give too much away… but you can find my review at the end of this post.






A Dog’s Way Home – W. Bruce Cameron

I love Cameron’s books written from a dog’s perspective. (I never did see the movie adaptation of A Dog’s Purpose.) But this one may just be his best yet. My husband doesn’t like to read books about dogs because he always fears that the dog will die and he will be sad. Don’t worry, that is not the case here. (I’m not giving it away, the title tells you that!) So worth the read, especially if you are a dog lover.








The Deal of a Lifetime – Fredrik Backman

The author of a Man Called Ove conceptualized this book by thinking What If? And it is such a good one that takes place on Christmas Eve. It might be completely different from anything you’ve ever read… or maybe it isn’t. But it’s quick, easy and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed reading it this holiday season.






If you had one book to pick to recommend that I read in the New Year, what would it be?


5 for Friday: What I’ve Been Reading (that’s not a holiday book)


Although I haven’t been posting much, I’ve still been reading a bit. Most recently I’ve posted on some good and a few not so great holiday books I read last year and a couple I’ve read this year, too. Now here’s a quick list of non-holiday/non-seasonal books I’ve read recently, too.

I’ve got the quite the variety of books in this list, including a comic book, a cookbook, an audiobook, a book of short stories and a self-improvement book! I’ve been running quite the gamut as of late!


Real Friends
by Shannon Hale 
(fiction, comic book) – worth a read

I received this book sort of by accident. My 10-year-old nephew said he wanted a comic book for his birthday back in November and this book came highly rated. I promptly ordered it from Amazon. But after thumbing through it, it seemed like more of a book for girls; or at least one that I didn’t think my nephew would enjoy. I gave him this comic book making kit instead for his birthday and decided that Real Friends was better suited for my friend’s 10-year-old daughter. But not without me gently reading it first!

I think it is a perfect read for that 8 to 12-year-old range. Hale draws from her own childhood experience on what it feels like to navigate the friend world as a young girl. At some points, I thought some of the ways the mean girls treated the protagonist were harsh; but then, that is real life. We all work through handling people who are unkind and discovering who our true friends are. You can read this in one sitting if you’d like to read it before your child.


Paleo Indulgences
by Tammy Credicott 
(nonfiction, cookbook) – skip

After Reading Creditcott’s Make Ahead Paleo, and being pleasantly surprised, I almost immediately gave this book a shot. I quickly realized this book is not for me. There were too many ingredients for recipes that are meant to be indulgent. If you are Paleo or gluten-free, however, this book might be for you.


What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
by Lesley Nneka Arimah (fiction, short stories) – on the fence

This book got such great reviews! I love short stories because they usually make me feel like I’m flying through the book. However, this one took me some time to get into and didn’t really grip me to the point I wanted to continue reading. I did, however trudge along. While there are some really important stories in here; they just weren’t doing it for me at the time.


Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders (historical fiction, audiobook) – skip

I had such high hopes for this book! It had such stellar reviews, especially the audiobook, boasting a cast of 166 narrators! I think that was the record. However, I went in knowing absolutely nothing about it. We started the audiobook on our way to Green Bay for Christmas and were quickly confused after the first chapter. The “cast of characters” were narrators of people’s other books. I had to stop the audio and read the back of the CD case:

Say what? We weren’t getting any of that! All of these narrators were citing one liners from other works and then stating the title and or author followed by “op. cit.” It was highly annoying to listen to that every five seconds. I think if I read the book, I’d be happy that to have that info if I’d want to research or read further; but I wouldn’t read those things aloud or in my mind!

Saunders obviously did his due diligence in collecting the facts on what the loss of his son was like to Lincoln; but then to add in a whole new realm of paranormal was just strange. To be quite honest; I let Rob listen to the rest of the CD since he was driving while I tuned it out and read old magazines instead! He said that after he understood and got used to all of the “op. cit.” nonsense, he rather enjoyed the story. (He does enjoy ghost and horror stories, though.) Still, he did not enjoy it enough to finish when we returned home before the end of the last CD.

Maybe reading the book rather than listening to it would have been a whole different experience for me; but I’m not sure. I’ve read other reviews that it reads kind of wonky and more like a play. But I particularly didn’t like that I was led to believe that the 166 narrators was more of a cast. If audiobooks are going to hire more than one narrator, it should be more of a performance!


It Takes One to Tango:
How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse – 

and How You Can, Too
by Winifred M. Reilly (non-fiction) – must read

I wasn’t in search of this; but I found it recommended in an email of top books about marriage that are actually helpful. I looked up those books to see if any were at my library. This one was just published this year; so I put my name on the wait list and forgot about it. When it became available, it wasn’t a book I was actually in the mood to read. But it ended up being one I read very quickly and probably one of the best books I’ve read all year!

Whether you are married (or even cohabiting, I’d say) and are worried your relationship is doomed OR if you are just having the same nitpicky arguments and jabs over and over again with no resolution, this book is for you!

I learned so much about myself and about human nature, in general. This is a book I am going to purchase and one I’ll be gifting.

Are there any books you’ve been surprised you’ve liked or hated recently?


4 for Friday: Books I Read Last Holiday Season


It’s that time of year when some people like to cozy up and watch all of the holiday movies on TV. I’m not really that sort of person. Although, I do catch bits and pieces of holiday movies-past, so I must have been at some point! And I did watch Love Actually for the first time when my husband was out of town a couple of weeks ago.

But last year was the first year that I read books to get help get in the mood for the holidays. Here are the ones I read, followed by the ones I’ve been reading this year and a few lists of holiday books around the web…



Skipping Christmas
by John Grisham 
(fiction) – worth a read


I didn’t think the protagonist’s idea to skip Christmas was so bad – to steal away the holiday on a cruise ship someplace warm… Although, he does take the idea a bit to the extreme. I nice heartfelt ending.


The Dogs of Christmas
by W. Bruce Cameron 
(fiction) – must read


If you’ve read any of my book reviews, you know I’m a fan of Cameron’s books. This story is not written from the point of view of a dog, but of a young man. And it’s worth all the feels of the holiday season.


Light Boxes
by Shane Jones (fiction) – skip

This winter tale is very, very strange. It was on a recommended reading list somewhere; and when I couldn’t find it at my library, I took to ThriftBooks and PaperbackSwap to retrieve a copy. It might have a cult following because when I was through reading it, it was quickly picked up by another PaperbackSwap participant! So, while creative and other-worldly, it just wasn’t my type of book.


Winter Wonderland
by Belinda Jones (fiction) – must read!


Isn’t that cover just lovely?! This is a great book to read after the New Year settles in and you are still stuck in the throes of winter. It takes place in Quebec, where Rob and I had the opportunity to visit the summer previously! I can hardly believe I’m saying this, but this is the first work of fiction that made we want to visit a cold weather destination in winter. I liked reminiscing about some of the places we, too, visited in Quebec City; but also picturing them during all of the winter festivities. It’s got travel and romance and silliness and was a book that made me smile and lift me up when I was experiencing a bit of the winter blues. It is also a book I’ve kept on my bookshelf because it is one I will re-read!


Here’s my line-up of what I’ve been reading this holiday season:

  • The Deal of a Lifetime Fredrik Backman (author of A Man Called Ove) – Must read! It’s a quick one, too.
  • Pride, Prejudice & Mistletoe Melissa de la CruzSkip. You know the story; but if you like a modern re-telling…
  • Christmas in Paris Anita Hughes – Worth a read. A little elitist, but I loved the lead male character and imagining being in Paris this time of year.
  • The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog Dave BarryWorth a read. Another quick read that’ll make you smile.

And on deck:

  • A Lowcountry ChristmasMary Alice Monroe – We visited Charleston this year, so maybe I’ll get the same giddy feeling like I did thinking back about Quebec?
  • The Twelve Dogs of Christmas Andy Carpenter – I might only have time for one of these two Christmas books. Which one would you choose?
  • Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk Kathleen Rooney – Not a holiday book, but I read somewhere that it was recommended to read over the New Year.

And here are some holiday book lists I’ve found around the web:

What are your favorite holiday books?
What types of books do you like to read in the dead of winter?

With my sporadic posting as of late, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and joyous New Year in advance. See you on the other side!


5 for Friday: Hoopla Review + Agatha Christie


Because I currently don’t have a commute, I haven’t been listening to audiobooks as much as I’d like to. I’m not one of those people who can really concentrate on one when I’m cooking or cleaning, nor can I do it while I’m lying in bed. I find them best while I’m driving or riding in a car. That being said, I’ve been lucky that I’ve got my husband on the bandwagon to listen to audiobooks when we take a road trip to see family! So I’m still listening to them here and there.

Hoopla – What is it?

When we do these trips, I tend to check how long the audiobook is before I but it on hold at the library. I’ve also just started using our library’s digital media service – Hoopla. With Hoopla, I can check out something like 4 or 6 titles each month using my library card for free! This includes any digital media I can download to a device: ebooks, audiobooks, music and video. I always preferred using the physical CDs in my car, but here is my introduction to my first Hoopla experience.


Bon Appétempt:
A Coming-of-Age Story (with Recipes!)
by Amelia Morris (nonfiction) – worth a listen (must listen for foodies!)

I was searching for something else on my library’s website, when this book came up. I was intrigued! It was only offered, however, as a digital audiobook on Hoopla. I promptly signed up and decided I’d make the effort to figure out how to use it. At first, I started listening to it in the car, but I’d take such short trips around town, it was hardly worth the work of making sure I’d get the app open and pause it when getting out of the car. I also had to turn up the volume to the highest level to hear it.

I had to figure out when to listen to it. I did end up listening to it in bed when I was going through cookbooks doing some meal planning. I did listen to it on the treadmill. Finally, I listened to it at work when I was doing some data entry one day. The reason was that my audiobook was about to be returned. Hoopla will automatically return the book for you so you don’t have to bother. But I didn’t know how to renew it or if I checked it out again, if it would remember where it left off!

The other thing about listening to audiobooks digitally rather than on a CD is that you can change the speed of the reader. I do like being able to listen to an narrator at 1.25 or sometimes 1.5 times the speed of the reading. Rob says it sounds like chipmunks, but I think that is more if you get to 2x the speed. It sounds strange! But others say that they have become used to it.

In the end, Hoopla automatically returned my book while I was listening to it. I checked it out again right away and it remembered where I left off! It didn’t seem to count against the number of titles I check out each month because, essentially, it’s the same title.

All of that being said, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I am so glad I found it. Morris’s stories about recipes she’s cooked from magazines and how all of this came about it her life are fun. But this book also addresses the struggle we all have in learning how to cook. The attempt at cooking and learning what we like, don’t like and what is worth it. I started following her blog of the same name. I liked listening to this book and hearing the voice behind her story, but I missed having the printed recipes included in this book because they made my mouth water!


Behind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough 
(fiction) – on the fence

There is a lot of wine-drinking in this book! This is a thriller of sorts, but not what I expected. It’s a little weird. I’m still not sure what I think about it. I think it might work as a movie, though.


Frost Bite:
everyday food fresh from the freezer

by Susan Austin (nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

I’m conflicted by this cover! On one hand, you are a cookbook – shouldn’t you have something appetizing on the cover? On the other hand, the color is perfect for something frozen… and your freezer is closed – don’t you want to open it up and use what’s inside?

I discovered this book because it was recommended by Jules Clancy, author of 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes. But a quick flip through, while interesting, didn’t send me swooning. I couldn’t find this book in my local library, so I ordered it on ThriftBooks (<–refer-a-friend link) for $5. I got a signed copy! You always know the condition of the used book you’ll be getting on Thrift Books, but you never know about those bonus surprises!


And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie (fiction, radio broadcast dramatization) – worth a listen

Do you remember when in just the course of a few months I had read several books referring to Agatha Christie novels? It was all so strange and I thought it was probably time I checked out this classic mystery novelist. But out of all her books, where did one begin!? I googled for the best books to start with to get a taste of her writing. In the end, I decided to go with Murder on the Orient Express with the intention of reading it before the movie came out.

But then, Modern Mrs. Darcy highly recommended And Then There Were None on audio read by Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. It was available on Hoopla, so I promptly downloaded it for our drive back to Green Bay. I also picked up a CD audio version of the book as a backup if for some reason we had trouble with the download in the car.

Unfortunately, even with the volume turned up all the way, we couldn’t hear the Dan Stevens version on Hoopla all that well. I was glad to have the backup. But even with the little we heard of the Dan Stevens version, the CD version was notably different. It was then I realized that we were not listening to a reading of Christie’s book, but a BBC radio dramatization of the novel! It was decidedly well-done; but the whole story was told in an hour and a half versus the 6 hours expected with the reading of the book.


Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie (fiction) – worth a read

This book took me a bit to get into and to learn all of the characters. That being said, I loved the ending. And guess what? I did see the movie! Just this past week. It’s a rare occasion, but I thought the movie was even better.

At the time of this writing, the movie is only getting 58% on Rotten Tomatoes; but I personally loved the movie adaptation. Although some of the characters were changed/combined, I felt like they were much more developed. Kenneth Branagh makes an excellent Poirot! He directed this film and I hope he decides to continue making more movies in her Hercules Poirot series. It felt like he was able to take Christie’s storyline and add more depth, more dramatization and even a bit of humor.

Something that was also captured in this movie was the time period. Rob and I wanted to ride that train! There was so much attention to detail to time and place, something that wasn’t really described in the book. But I highly believe that was because Christie was writing during the present! (The book was published in 1934.)

Rob noticed that the original movie version (1974) remains at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. I am now on the waitlist for that DVD from the library. It will be fun to compare!


Do you use a digital service to download audiobooks?
If so, what’s been your experience?
Have you read Agatha Christie?
If so, what’s your favorite novel?





Five for Friday: What I’ve been Reading


Each week day, I think of something other than books that I can post about: my awesome birthday, our summer trip to Duluth Charter Fishing, any new restaurant/brewery we tried, our new deck that our friend Dom built for us, all the cooking I’ve done lately, anything and everything about our pupper dogs. Still, I come up short with the time and enthusiasm to post anything other than book lists as of late.

People, I haven’t even had time to go on trips this year! {I know, poor me! First world problems!!!!} The one we trip we did take this year {other than to visit family} was back in April/May to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Maybe one day, I’ll post on that. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been reading… (Mostly before bed!)


Reading People
by Anne Bogel 
(nonfiction) – worth a read

I wasn’t intending on purchasing this book and until I listened to Bogel read her first chapter on on her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy. Let’s just say that I learned a thing or two about myself, most importantly that I am an HSP. I’ve been many times throughout my life that I’m sensitive, but it has always had a negative spin on it, such as “You are just too sensitive!” or “You’re just going to need to get over that!” To me, being highly sensitive felt like a character flaw. I’ve learned that is not the case. And being an HSP doesn’t mean one is overly sensitive to emotions or that people need to tiptoe around you. It also means that too many people talking at me at one time can be frustrating. Or that I need time to sort things out if they feel like they are thrown at me all at once. I now know that it is a trait not a flaw and can learn how to work with it. I’m looking at reading more up on this topic.

That being said, describing an HSP is only a small blurb in the book. There is much more to this! Overall, I’d say it’s very helpful in pointing out how everyone is different, why not everyone thinks nor reacts in the same way and that we shouldn’t expect anyone to do so. Understanding these different types might explain some of your relationships and help with frustrations and help to appreciate the people in your life for who they are. It’s about understanding not only your own personality, but others as well.


A Three Dog Life
by Abigail Thomas 
(fiction) – worth a read


Per the usual, I have no idea how I heard of this book. I’m sure I was drawn to it by the word “dog” in the title. Before I read it, I showed my husband the little quote on the front by Stephen King. He is a huge King fan and said that he knows he’s a dog-lover; but Rob said he still didn’t want to read it. He doesn’t like when a book ends with a dog dying. Okay, so he wouldn’t like it if the dog died in the middle of a book either. He just can’t handle it.

I’m not giving anything away here by telling you that this is not what happens. This book is more about life after the author’s spouse’s accident. They dogs comfort her, but there was so much more to this book than expected. It makes me wonder, “What would I have done?”


Scrappy Little Nobody
by Anna Kendrick (non-fiction) – worth a flip

My reading of this little autobiographical account of Kendrick’s journey to Hollywood fame coincided with revealing of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. While she mentions nothing about Weinstein nor any other sexual harassment accounts that I can think of now, by her descriptions on what is like to try to make a career living out of acting, I can definitely see how blowing the horn on someone would be difficult!

While Kendrick does benefit from fame and fortune now, I found it interesting how fortune didn’t immediately follow the fame game! {At least in her case.} Her accounts of what it is like to promote a big film in the midst of becoming famous and still going back to her tar-stained carpeted apartment and fall asleep in her single IKEA bed all while feeling like promoting the whole thing was a lie gave me a new perspective.

Her writing style is one that makes you feel like you are hearing from a friend. I felt like I got to know her in this quick read. Her down-to-earth vibe feels relatable, even if you aren’t a celebrity. Her hope is that her book might make feel a “little less alone, a little less weird.”



The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks:
A Celebration of Creative Punctuation

by Bethany Keeley (non-fiction) – worth a read

Somehow, someway, when I went down the rabbit hole that is the internet, I came across the “blog” of “unneccessary” quotation marks. I spent a lot of down time laughing at that site. Grammar geeks, rejoice! You will have a ton of fun reading these signs by readers. While the submissions themselves are funny due to incorrect usage, Keeley’s comments and explanations can push some to over-the-top hilarious.

The book might be even better. When I read that she published one, I promptly ordered it from The book is separated into sections by usage. {You might even learn a thing or two!} My favorite, however, may be the Miscellaneous section at the back of the book. This book did a stint on my coffee table, sparking laughs and conversation!


Goodbye, Vitamin
by Rachel Khony (fiction) – worth a read

LOOK! Me reading fiction! I don’t know why I’ve been reading so much non-fiction lately. Partly, it’s all the cookbooks: I’ve been trying to read one of those a week! Still, this one is a quick and easy read. The writing is almost fluffy, while it’s not a fluffy subject. I’m not sure anyone will understand what I mean there. But it’s a quick enough read that you can make up your own mind. 😉


To be quite honest, I’m missing my commute so I can listen to audiobooks! The one on the top of my list needs a good 36 hours of drive-time. Sure, I know people who clean, eat breakfast or listen to audiobooks at other times of they day. However, I find it impossible. I miss so much when I start concentrating on what I’m doing and lose concentration of the story.


If you listen to audiobooks, when do you listen to them?
Any tips and tricks to get in more audiobook time?


5 for Friday: Books I’ve Read Recently


My husband commented that our house is starting to look like a hoarder’s – OF BOOKS! People, I cannot stop checking books out from the library. And those that aren’t in my local library’s inventory, I can either order from PaperbookSwap or ThriftBooks. You know what I say to that, “Build me a library already!” 🙂 I really like how Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Home Library turned out!

Truth be told, there are very few books I want to keep. Those that I own, I either do want to keep (favorites, or mementos) or I will list on PaperbookSwap as soon as I finish. I just am a very slow reader and a LOT on my TBR (to be read) list!

Here are a five I’ve read recently:

A Fall of Marigolds
by Susan Meissner 
(fiction) – worth a read

This book takes place in New York City, Ellis Island in September of 1911 and in Manhattan 2011, around the 10-year anniversary of 9-11. Find out how these two stories are related. I liked it. A lot. The only thing that had me thinking after the fact was if people were really texting in 2001? Maybe in NYC. I didn’t get my first cell phone until 2002, and texting didn’t really seem like it was a (very common) thing, yet. But perhaps I was behind the game. Still, that little detail didn’t detract from the story-line. I thought it was otherwise very well written and enjoyable.


The Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George 
(fiction) – must read

The Francophile in me had me swooning! I opened the book to find a map of protagonist’s journey:

It ends to Toulon! This is where I studied for a semester in college. I posted it to social media and tagged a few fellow “Frenchies”. My high school French teacher asked how I was liking the book because it had such mixed reviews! I don’t really understand why. I’d say it’s more of a feel-good novel. The only thing I could think of is that some parts may suggest the justification of adultery in one of the character’s situations. But when I took to Good Reads for reviews, that was not the case for the lesser reviews. Some people just couldn’t get into it. I guess you just either like this kind of novel or you don’t.

It just so happens that I do!

I wrote this book description down while reading, but it sounds like someone else wrote it and is not my own words, so even though I don’t know where I got it and can’t credit the author, I’m putting it in quotes:

“A book barge set up on the Seine River is more of an Apothecary for the Soul. Bookseller Jean Perdu prescribes books for anything that ails you.”

I think if you like all things French, enjoy books and understand the difficulties of emotions, you might like this book, too. Here are a few of my favorite quotes I captured from the book:

  • “Reading-an endless journey; a long, indeed never-ending journey that made one more temperate as well as more loving and kind.”
  • “We men become a pain if our job’s the only thing we were ever good at.” (On retiring.)
  • “Time. It rubs the rough edges that hurt us smooth.”
  • “I’m a firm believer that you have to taste a country’s soul to understand and grasp its people. And by soul I mean what grows there, what its pepole see and smell and touch every day, what travels through them from the inside out.” <– YES!
  • “To carry them within us – that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole. If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost, then… we are no longer present either.”
  • “The trouble is that so many people, most of them women, think they have to have the perfect body to be loved. But all it has to do is be capable of loving – and being loved.”
  • “We are loved if we love, another truth we always seem to forget. Have you noticed that most people prefer to be loved, and will do anything it takes? Diet, rake in the money, wear scarlet underwear. If only they loved with the same energy; hallelujah, the world would be so wonderful and so free of tummy-tuck tights.”
  • “The sea was the first thing he found that was large enough to absorb his sorrow.”
  • “The more important a thing is, the slower it should be done.”

In my opinion, this book is quite philosophical. Bonus: There are recipes and “prescriptions” (book suggestions!) at the end of the book. After returning this book to the library, I promptly went to to claim my own copy.


100 Days of Real Food:
How We Did It, What We Learned, and
100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love! 

by Lisa Leake (non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

What I like most about this book is that Leake defines what “real food” is. Now, depending on what philosophy you follow, you may agree or disagree with her assertions. However, with today’s labels, it can get confusing. She offers lots of tips and tricks and reasons why she decided to shift her family to eating this way. The other half of the book is full of recipes. I promptly ordered this cookbook from ThriftBooks after returning it to the library. It’s a handy reference guide and I know there are many recipes I’ll be making!


Real Food Has Curves
by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough (non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a read

Weinstein and Scarbrough are food writers by trade. They’ve written many cookbooks! This one, however, focuses on getting us back to real food. It all starts with one peach. I like the philosophy, but more importantly on how to categorize foods into four categories: real food, almost real food, almost not food, not food. It makes it a bit easier if we simplify it! Still, you’d be surprised what items might not be real food at all. There are recipes in this book I’ll be making. That’s why this book is now on my ThriftBooks wishlist.


by Diana Gabaldon (fiction, audiobook) – worth a listen

We listened to Outlander on audio on our drive to and from Michigan to visit Rob’s parents in May. We only got through half of the book! The book itself is daunting at 600-800 pages. The audio is 28 discs, with 32 1/2 hours listening time! {I’m sure if you downloaded it, you could speed up the recording.} You can read about my initial reaction of the first half of the book here. Rob and I decided to pick it up from the library and listen to the second half on our September trip back to Michigan. “The Droughtlander is over!” I declared. Rob rolled his eyes. Don’t worry, I didn’t come up with that one on my own. Apparently, Outlander is now a television series on the STARZ network and Season 3 was just about to begin before our trip. This phrase came up frequently when I’d log in to Good Reads!

Our concern is that this long book wouldn’t tie up at the end. There are a 8 books! {With a few in-betweeners. Is that what they are called? And Galbaldon is working on a 9th.} Would we want to somehow procure STARZ and watch the series instead. We thought we’d be left at a cliffhanger, but it was tied up nicely.

What I do know is that this book has so many descriptors that I don’t think I would have been able to get through actively reading this novel. Listening to it was a nice way to absorb the characters. Plus, the narrator’s voices were fantastic. Now, do we want to subscribe to STARZ and pick up the rest? Has anyone out there seen the television adaptation? Thoughts?


What books surprised you that other people didn’t like?
Have you watched the Outlander television series adaptation? If so, what did you think?