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    This is my little corner of the world where I can do whatever I some of my favorite (and not so favorite) books, whine about yet another gray sky, or just share a little of what it means to live in the Pacific Northwest after a lifetime of living in the sun.

    Reading As you spend time on my blog, you may notice that my reading tastes are a bit eclectic. I used to be what I call a "book snob". That was before I began work on my master's degree and needed light recreational reading and discovered that while some books might not be "critically acclaimed", they could still be some great fun to read! Now I read a little bit of everything.

    Writing One of my lifelong dreams (besides meeting John Taylor from 80's Duran Duran fame) has been write the next great American novel . I'm sure many of you share this dream (you might even share my dream of meeting John Taylor, who knows). I've always been afraid to start writing. I put "writing" in the sub-title of the blog hoping that it will force me to begin writing something or else I will have to crawl away in shame...

    Living I'll also be sharing stories about my experiences living and parenting in the PNW. If you're expecting great tips on how to organize your schedule or how to prepare gourmet meals on a shoestring budget...sorry, you won't find that here. I am chronically messy, chronically disorganized, and chronically planning gourmet meals that never get prepared. It's just going to be me...sharing my trials and tribulations of not only leaving 365 days of sunshine for 350 days of gray skies but also the oh so fun adventure of parenting two "tweens" who think they know more than me.

Book Review & Giveaway: Inamorata by Megan Chance

**Don’t forget to enter the giveaway down below**

Title:   Inamorata
Author:   Megan Chance
Genre:   Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Source:   Publisher/TLC Book Tours
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon


American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work.

But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent Odilé Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price.

As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows Odilé’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I agreed to review it for the blog tour.  Honestly, I chose it because I liked the cover.  ;)   I’m glad I accepted it because I really liked this book.  I liked the small mysteries that unfolded over the pages.  I liked the way Megan Chance brought historical figures into the story.  I liked the slight paranormal twist of the story.

This is one of those books that I could talk on and on about what I loved but I am afraid that I would give something away in the discussion.  So I’m cutting this review short and am instead giving you a chance to win your own copy so that you can experience Inamorata for yourself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 *Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a digital copy of Inamorata and for sponsoring this giveaway.

September 1, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours - I’m glad you enjoyed this book! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Book Review: One Kick by Chelsea Cain

Title:  One Kick
Author:   Chelsea Cain
Genre:  Suspense/Thriller/Mystery
Source:  Kindle Purchase
Rating:  4.5
Locate It: Amazon  or  Powell’s

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

My Thoughts:
If you are a follower of this blog, you may or not know that one of my favorite authors is Chelsea Cain.  I first discovered Chelsea through her Gretchen Lowell series (a wickedly funny female serial killer) and always look forward to her newest novels.   After six books in the Gretchen series, Chelsea has kicked off a new series with her book One Kick (Kick Lannigan #1).  

I’d read the synopsis, was thoroughly intrigued by the character of Kick Lannigan and was counting down the days for my pre-order to automatically download to my Kindle.  The book arrived last week and I can tell you that it did not disappoint.   The subject matter was disturbing (a ring of kidnapping pedophiles) but was handled well by Chelsea Cain.  She brought her character, Kick, out of a terrible situation (kidnapped as a very young girl and held captive for years) and gave her both the strength and the intelligence to overcome her past.

I really liked One Kick but will say that I was disappointed with Kick’s decision at the the end of the book and felt like there was a bit of a gap in the storyline that led to the decision.  The backstory was there and while we did see Kick weigh her choices earlier in the book, when the decision was made, I feel like it was an abrupt addition to the story without any explanation of how she came to make this particular choice. I apologize for being vague but don’t want to give too much away.

I recommend this book to fans of gritty thrillers with the warning that although it is well written, the topic of kidnapping and pedophilia can be quite disturbing.

Book Review: The Fortune Hunter

Title:   The Fortune Hunter
Author:   Daisy Goodwin
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Source:  Publisher
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon or Powell’s


In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.

Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything – except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

Full of passion and drama, THE FORTUNE HUNTER tells the true story of a nineteenth century Queen of Hearts and a cavalry captain, and the struggle between love and duty.

My Thoughts:

I just finished The Fortune Hunter and I have to say that it was an enjoyable read.  Daisy Goodwin took her characters from three real people who’s lives intersected in the late 19th century.  Through Daisy’s imagination, we take a front seat to watch the somewhat scandalous love triangle between Empress Elizabeth of Austria, her hunting pilot, Bay Middleton, and an orphaned heiress.

The Fortune Hunter is full of great details about fox hunting, photography, and life in general during the Victorian era.  I think my favorite scene was a meeting between the Empress of Austria and Queen Victoria as they both attempted to “one-up” the other behind their cordial smiles.  I found Daisy Goodwin’s character of Sisi (the empress) to be consistent with what I know of her from history and actually found it a bit more touching knowing what the future held for her a few years after this story ends.

This is not deep or heavy historical fiction.  It leans more towards a sort of historically based chick-lit which makes it a perfect read for the last few weeks of summer.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher which in no way affects my review.  This review is my honest opinion of this book.

Goodbye to Robin Williams: A Discussion on Depression & Suicide

As I’m sure you know, Robin Williams committed suicide this week.  According to his publicist, he had been battling a deep depression.  Having experienced depression myself, my heart ached to think of this amazingly funny and caring man being so lost in depression that he was drawn to this permanent solution.

Huffington Post recently published this article:  There’s Nothing Selfish About Suicide

The article got me thinking, especially when I read the statistic that 750,000 people attempt suicide each year. That number is staggering. Yet depression and other types mental illness still have a stigma attached to them. People still think they can “shake” depression if they just have enough faith or are strong enough. I have run into many people who look down on someone taking medications for depression. Come on…you wouldn’t look down on an asthmatic using an inhaler or a person taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection. It should be the same when a person has depression…there is medication to help.

I don’t know whether Robin Williams was taking medication but I do know that no one should judge him. To feel like suicide was his best option, he had to have been in such a dark place that distorted his view of everything. A darkness that few of us (except maybe the 750,000 who have attempted suicide this year and the 30,000 who succeeded) will ever experience.

Mental illness is a real thing. It does not mean you that you are weak or faithless or “crazy”. Depression is an illness like cancer. It not only affects the person with depression but everyone around them. Depression kills people, it destroys families, it slowly takes the joy out of life.

Robin’s death is tragic. He was one of the world’s funniest men yet he battled not only addiction (often times a symptom of depression) but a deep depression that few knew about. If anything can come out of his death, please let it be a more open and honest discussion about depression. And please, let it build compassion in those who have never suffered from it.

Goodby, Robin.   You will be deeply missed.

Cookbook Review: My Irish Table

Title:   My Irish Table
Author:   Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn
Genre:   Cookbook
Source:   Publisher
Rating:  5
Locate It: Powells or Amazon


The debut cookbook from Cathal Armstrong featuring 130 recipes showcasing modern Irish fare, along with stories about Armstrong’s journey from Dublin to Washington, DC, and becoming an internationally recognized four-star chef, the owner of seven successful food and drink establishments, and a leader in the sustainable-food movement.

With its moderate climate and amazing natural resources, Ireland is a modern-day Eden, boasting lush, bountiful produce, world-renowned dairy, plentiful seafood, and grass-fed meats. In My Irish Table, sustainable food movement leader and four-star chef Cathal Armstrong celebrates the food of his homeland and chronicles his culinary journey from Dublin to Washington DC, where he runs seven beloved and critically lauded restaurants.
Featuring 130 delicious recipes—from Kerrygold Butter-Poached Lobster with Parsnips to Irish Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, and Mam’s Apple Pie—My Irish Table draws on Armstrong’s Irish upbringing as well as his professional experience and French culinary training. In his hands, Irish food is comforting yet elegant, rustic yet skillful, and My Irish Table invites you into his kitchen to explore the vibrant traditions and rich culinary landscape of the Emerald Isle.

My Thoughts:

I have a cookbook obsession.  Although I have all types of cookbooks (vegan, paleo, Indian, Mexican, Italian, etc.) I seem to be especially drawn to Irish cookbooks.  As obsessed as I am with Irish cookbooks, I am also very picky and will leave books on the shelves if they don’t match my requirements (great photos, traditional Irish cuisine, and engaging stories).

My Irish Table just may become my favorite Irish cookbook.  Cathal Armstrong is an Irish immigrant who worked hard to rise in the culinary field eventually opening  a number of restaurants around Washingtone D.C.  My Irish Table is full of Cathal Armstrong’s memories of growing up in Dublin within a typical Irish family.  In addition, he takes us step by step on his personal journey as he finds his way into adulthood and restaurant ownership.

The recipes in this cookbook are amazing and range from the traditional Shepherd’s Pie to an elegant Poached Lobster with Parsnips.   My Irish Table would be an excellent addition to any cook’s library.

*I personally received a copy of My Irish Table from the publishers and Blogging For Books.  My review is my honest opinion.

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