Snow Day

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I woke up to my Flash Alert app and text messages from my co-workers letting me know that school had been cancelled due to the weather. When I looked out my window I saw…nothing. I thought, well I do live 20 miles from the school so maybe the weather is worse over there. I checked my ever faithful weather app and nope, still nothing.

I was annoyed. I had not finished prepping for next week; lessons needed to be planned and copies had to be made! My classroom was a mess (something I never like to come back to on a Monday). Most importantly, my students NEED their caroling practice. The sweet little things have been really into the holiday spirit this year and already participated in Operation Christmas Child . After that was a success, they came up with the idea to carol at a local assisted living facility. While their hearts are in the right place, my ears have been adjusting to the sounds of 17 kids trying to sing lyrics they think they know, but really they are just mumbling nonsense and then singing the chorus REALLY loudly.

So looking outside to see no snow, on this “snow day” was turning this jolly little elf into a regular old Scrooge. Eventually we got a light dusting of snow, but by 10:30 I was ready to take a chance and head to the school to get my work done. I have never driven in snow, but there wasn’t much and the temperature was staying right around 33 and was only predicted to increase as the day went on. I jumped in my trusty Rav 4 and made it to school, where there was absolutely no snow. Snow much for a snow day (haha).

Then I started thinking about why schools decided to cancel before the weather even got started, and I got grouchier because all I could think about was how litigious our society has become. I mean, they had to cancel because of “liability” right? So I got my work done and drove home on wet roads with not a patch of ice to be found. I was feeling so rebellious against the idea of a “stay at home snow day” at this point, that I went to Trader Joe’s and bought mushroom brie and crackers and bacon wrapped dates and Jingle Jangle and all the good stuff. Take that, snow day!

When I got home I snuggled in on the couch to watch Episode 2 of the recent Year in the Life of The Gilmore Girls, still grouchy about our overeager society who claims everything as a mageddon or __________ gate of some kind. As my heart was shrinking from this nonsense, I went from being Scrooge-like to downright Grinchy-You’re a mean one Mrs. Smith (if you didn’t see that coming and didn’t have time to sing that to the tune of this delightful song go back and do it, its worth it.)

So to make myself even more of a Grinchy Woman I turned to social media. I was expecting stories of people angry at the schools who decided to stay open, of people who were daunted by the weather outside. Instead I saw posts about families spending extra time together, baking a batch of cookies, watching Christmas movies all snuggled up, playing in what little snow there was and so many smiling faces. I saw love.

And guess what? My heart grew back to its normal size, two sizes too big as Anthony likes to call it. I was happy for the snow day because for lots of kids it meant a little extra love. For lots of parents who had nice bosses that let them go home early it meant more time to show their kids why this time of year is special. Because even a sprinkle of snow holds some magic in it.

At the end of the day, I am thankful for this snow day because it has put me back in the holiday spirit. It is time for me to focus less on getting things done and more on loving those around me. Plus, the elderly folks we are singing to are likely hard of hearing and will just think the kids are cute no matter how awful they sound. I know I will, because their tender hearts are yearning to make someone smile with the gift of a song.

If you are not as cute as a kid and caroling isn’t in your future you can give a gift to someone in need this holiday season as well. Below I will link to my favorite charities (all highly rated) that I give to regularly. I never have a lot to give after paying my student loan bills, but I try to always give something. Every little bit helps and inspires others to give as well. Feel free to share my blog on your social media pages to inspire those in your networks.

  1. The Salvation Army: To me those Red Kettles inspire hope and offer many a second chance. I love seeing them every year in grocery stores and malls and always try to put something in. This year I started my own Red Kettle Fundraiser and have a goal of $500 to help people in need locally. I would be very grateful if you helped us out and put a little in my virtual Red Kettle.
  2. Food For the Poor: This is not local, but very necessary. So many people around the world go to sleep hungry and that should not happen. With your donations more people will be able to eat this upcoming year.
  3. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital: I have been donating to St. Jude’s since 2010 when my sister asked me to for her sorority’s philanthropy. While my sister was in college she raised a tremendous amount of money for cancer research and I am so proud of her for it. I continue to donate because of the hope new treatments give to these hurting families.

Thanks for taking the time to read my snow day ramblings and to support these charities.

Until next time,

I love you more than holiday giving and snow day quibbling,

Whitney

Book Banter November 2016

“November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.”
Clyde Watson

Another month of reading is in the books (hee hee) and I am so glad you are here to  read about what I read. Woo. Welcome to November 2016 Book Banter! Book Banter is where I talk (type) about all of the books I have read over the last month. It is also where I want my readers to engage in book discussions with me and other readers. So don’t be shy, comment on what I read or share what you are reading. I LOVE talking books.

 I will link the books I talk about to Amazon for your buying pleasure. If you click through the links I will earn a small commission and be very grateful!

Let the Book Banter begin!

1. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 

13578987This book is the first in the Grisha Trilogy . This series has a post-apocalyptic feel to it.  After devouring this book I realized that young adult, post-apocalyptic stories with any sort of magic and folklore are my guilty pleasure. These are not high literature, I didn’t really learn anything  (there were some great observations about human nature) but I really enjoyed reading this book! I think the main thing that sells me on books like this is the setting. Even though this book is set in a fictional world, this story felt a little Russian. I love me some Russian history, folk tales and fiction. The main character is a girl that discovers she has some latent magical powers that her government wants to use. She has to determine if they want to use her for good or evil. Of course there is some love in the story, it wouldn’t be a young adult book if there wasn’t, but it was not over the top. If you like to go on an young adult binge filled with magic and corrupt governments I would definitely recommend this book .

2. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

5983694I was at the library wandering the children’s section (in a very non-creepy way) and saw this sitting on the shelf. The gorgeous cover won me over so I took it home. I think this would qualify as a middle grade book. It’s not quite for early readers, but not quite for young adults. I have found myself drawn to this tween-age writing of late because it doesn’t have anything super racy (I’m sensitive, what can I say?) and it is usually just plain fun. This book follows a young Chinese girl as she goes on a journey to find out how to change her families fortune. It is full of Chinese folklore and gorgeous illustrations. The characters are well written and the lessons they learn are very valuable. This would bee a fun book for a family to read aloud, but make sure you read the hardback or paperback edition, the illustrations just wouldn’t be the same on a kindle (maybe they’d be ok on a kindle fire, or iPad). I am so glad I picked this up!

3. Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield 

18806005After reading The Thirteenth Tale last year I quickly picked up Bellman & Black  when I saw it on sale. I was hoping it would have the same spooky quality Setterfield mastered in The Thirteenth Tale. The story follows William Bellman, a business man in a small town in England. But before he was a business man, he was a young, mischievous boy with good aim. A single rock launched from his sling shot changes his destiny and as the story unfolds the reader gets to see the ripple effect. The story started off with a lot of promise, but it seemed to drag. I also found the plot to be very predictable. I will say, there were some themes that really had me thinking long after I was done reading. If I remember right, I had a similar reaction to The Thirteenth Tale. So maybe Setterfield is the master of slow-burn, psychological spooky.

4. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley 

12541349This is yet again a book I picked up because I had read another book (The Firebird) by the same author and enjoyed it. This book takes place in England and is about Julia Beckett, or if it is the 17th century, Mariana. You see, this book has time travel. The story begins when Julia finally comes to own a house called Greyweathers that has called to her since she was five years old. Once she is living in the house, strange visions start appearing to her, almost as if she is traveling back in time. Many of the characters she meets in the present are also in the past, which gets more mysterious with each visit. As time goes on, she begins to slip into the past more frequently and it starts to cause problems in her real life, especially her love life. I listened to this on audiobook and enjoyed it, but think it would be just as good on paper or kindle. I liked most of the characters and will say that by the end I was really happy about my judgement.🙂

5. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson 

8168770This is the first book I have read by Atkinson.  I have heard good things about A God in Ruins which is also by her. I bought this book when it was part of a kindle book sale and I was hankering for crime novels. This is the first book in a series staring private investigator Jackson Brodie. He finds himself investigating three cold cases that seem unrelated, but as time goes on some connections come to light. I enjoyed the characters and the cases, but something just felt off. I think for a book this long, I was hoping for a little more pay off. Also, Brodie’s character wasn’t super consistent and some of the other character details were stated over and over again. I did like how the focus was on more than one case, which is different from most crime b, which I found to be boring.  I might give the other books in the series a try, but have other crime novels on my “to read” list first.

November reading, it has been fun. I am looking forward to  December books already. I plan to read some WWI nonfiction  and at least one Christmasy romance. Any suggestions? What have you been reading? Have you read any of these books. Leave your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to talk books with you.

Until next time,

I love you more than folktales and book sales,

Whitney

ModCloth Outerwear Sale

The last few days I have been noticing  a real crispness to the air. Leaves have found their way to the ground, the warm smell of field burning is in the air and I am ready to wear cozy sweaters and gigantic coats. The last month of fall is one of my favorites. Busy weekends spent celebrating with family and friends are followed by weekends spent at home in comfy clothes, a good book/show and the fire going. I love it all.

When this time rolls around I start pulling my winter coats out of the closet, even if I only get to wear them from my car into the school every morning. There is just something about outerwear that I love. That is why I was so excited to see ModCloth would be having a 30% off all outerwear!

So what are you waiting for, don’t be chilly, silly! From now through 11/17 at 9 a.m. ET,ModCloth is offering 30% off ALL outerwear. From classic peacoats to velvety blazers, sophisticated capes, and more, you can get them all for an amazing deal. Use code SOTOASTY and shop before the temps really drop!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. Thanks for your support**

Here is the gorgeous Cookie Pie Coat I received in my last Stylish Surprise (a seasonal grab bag promotion from ModCloth, read more about it here).

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This coat could not be more comfortable, flattering and cozy. I get compliments every time I wear it.  Lucky for you, it is still in stock!


Cookie Pie Coat

Below you will find my favorites out of the hundreds of choices! (Links for each style are below the pictures)


1. For the Winnipeg Coat in Black


2. Theater Greetings Coat in Crimson
 (This comes in Saffron Yellow too!)


3. Montreal Meet-Up Coat in Navy


4. Diagonal Alley Coat in Merlot
 (This one comes in Merlot and Black too, and the name makes me want it even more!)


5. Just Delightful, Darling Coat


6. Call It an Urbanite Moto Jacket


7. Matters of the Hearth Jacket


8. Living Lodge Jacket


9. Detour to Dashing Blazer in Black


10. Sleek, Chic, and Totally Unique Blazer in Amethyst
(This comes in Navy and Garnet as well!)


11. My Main Manhattan Shawl


12. A Snuggling Act Shawl


13. Pardon My French Quarter Cape


14. High-Trail It Outta Here Vest


15. Quest to the Southwest Vest

These beauties, and so many more, will only be on sale for a few days. So grab one for yourself, or as a gift while you can! Use the code SOTOASTY at checkout to receive 30% off.

What does your go to winter outerwear look like? Which one of these styles are you dying to try? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

I love you more than toasty vests and cozy coats,

Whitney

Baking With Your Husband and Other Saturday Randomness

This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you purchase anything from my links, but my opinions are all my own.

Today was a wonderful day. My husband and I had a stay at home date and baked a pie together. This was the first time I made pie crust from scratch. It has always scared me, and pre-made is sooooo easy. But I figured I had been baking long enough to give it a shot and since this pie wasn’t for anything in particular there was no pressure.

When I was asking my husband when I should  take on my baking fears he said, “Tomorrow, so I can help.” Whata guy. Like seriously. Normally I make the food and the mess and he cleans it up. Which is wonderful. Lovely. Delightful. Loading the dishwasher is my nemesis. So it felt wonderful to know my husband wanted to try his hand at baking with me, and he is not a baker. He asked me if the pie dough needed time to rise. Nope, nope honey. So cute.

We had a blast. While we were moving from pie dough, to filling to dough again, he would do the dishes. He applied the nice, light pressure we needed when rolling out the crust. I mixed and bossed, which really works for me. Our crust got a little warm and we were worried that it wasn’t going to hold the filling when we cut the pie. But after waiting patiently for 3 hours (ok maybe only 2.5 because we put the pie in the fridge to hurry up the cooling) we cut the pie and it looked beautiful!

And it tasted even better. We are now excited to make it again for Thanksgiving! If you want tips and tricks on making pies, or to find this recipe, click on over to my go-to baking blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction. Here is the recipe for the pie we made, it is Cranberry Apple goodness. Seriously everything I have made from her blog has been delicious. You should definitely check out her cookbooks as well; Sally’s Baking Addiction and Sally’s Candy Addiction. I won both and use the frequently. She is currently writing Sally’s Cookie Addiction and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy, as her cookies are my favorite thing to bake.

After making our gorgeous pie, we had a little pie crust dough leftover and my husband really wanted to use it up. So we put it in the fridge and about an hour later my husband decided what he wanted to do with it. Welcome to our lunch today:

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They were good. Don’t judge.

We finished the day off with reading/watching football and eating Chicken and Dumpling Soup. You guys, it was a really good day.

And guess what!! We are headed to Arizona next week! We will be visiting for the first time since we moved back to Oregon. I am so excited to visit with our friends and hope to see some family too! But I am also a little nervous.

I am nervous that all of the emotions I had when we left will come back. Even now, over a year later, I still get sad about leaving. And then I feel ridiculous, because my life here in Oregon is amazing. But, I guess, such is grief. So I am putting the nerves on the back-burner and just ramping up my excitement. I get to laugh until it hurts with my friends. I get to cuddle a baby. I get to see my students. I get to eat Cafe Zupas. I get to enjoy weather in the 70’s and 80’s. Yay! Yay! Yay! It is going to be a blast.

What pie making secrets/stories do you have? What are you up to this weekend? What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

I love you more than perfect pie crust and Arizona dust,

Whitney

November Stitch Fix Review

~This post contains affiliate links~

This month I put my own Stitch Fix obsession on hold, but my sweet sister has recently jumped on the Stitch Fix bandwagon (I may have poked and prodded her to try it) and gave me permission to share her second fix on my blog! Thanks sis!

If you are already a Stitch Fix veteran but know someone who would benefit from the convenience of receiving a box of clothes and accessories picked just for them based on their style profile a Stitch Fix Gift Card may be just what they need! Right now Stitch Fix serves men and women sizes XS-XL (including petite and maternity sizes for women) but I spotted some good news on the Stitch Fix website; they will start offering plus sizes in Spring 2017! So give someone (and their wardrobe) a pick me up this holiday season and give them a gorgeous Stitch Fix Gift Card.

You can print or link this blog post when you give it to them with their gift card so they can learn just what to do to get started! These tips come straight from the Stitch Fix website.

  1. Fill out your Style Profile
  2. Pick the date you’d like to receive your shipment
  3. Try everything on in the comfort of your home.
  4. Buy what you like and return the rest in a prepaid envelope. Receive 25% off if you keep everything.
  5. Tell Stitch Fix what you think! Give detailed feedback at checkout so your stylist can get to know you better before your next fix! You can decide at checkout whether or not you’d like to have Fixes shipped automatically, or have control of when they are sent.

Now on to my sister, Taylor’s, November Fix!

Her stylist this time was Jason, the same stylist I have! She requested him when she was reviewing her first fix and Stitch Fix came through. If you find a stylist you like, make sure to request them again at checkout or by emailing hello@stitchfix.com otherwise you might have a different stylist the next time you receive a fix.

Taylor asked for light layers, bright colors, army green or mustard pants and modest clothing for work (she is a counselor at a high school).

Let’s see what she got!

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1. BRIXON IVY Fierro Elbow Patch Crew Neck Sweater-Grey, Size Small, $58

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This sweater fits her quite well and the lacey elbow patches are adorable. She said it was soft, but ultimately it didn’t wow her. So she sent it back.

2. RD Style Harriette Cowl Neck Sweater-Tan, Size Small, $78

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I am all about the rounded bottom of this sweater. Both my sister and I agree that the color isn’t our idea of winter warmth. Taylor also said the cowl neck was a little low for her taste and that the sweater was not as comfortable as it looked. So she sent it back.

3. DV8 Aura Floral Perforated Flats-Yellow, Size 8, $70

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While I was excited by the prospect of mustard flats when I read Taylor’s note. I love mustard, but need the right shade for it to look good on me, so having shoes in that color might be a great option. The shape of the toe was not my style, nor was it Taylor’s, so these were sent back as well. Also, perforation in an Oregon winter is not really a good idea.

4. Pixley Eve Floral Skirt-Soft Orange, Size Small, $64

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This skirt is gorgeous and is very much my sister’s style. The vibrant colors can be styled in many different ways and I love both of the outfits she put together with it. You can see the perforated flats she was sent in this box in the top pictures and they look cute! The length of this skirt is an added bonus because it is work appropriate! Needless to say, Taylor kept this piece. I am glad she did.

5. Margaret M Lucie Printed Trim Detail Straight Leg Paint-Olive, Size Small, $98

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These pants are what Stitch Fix dreams are made of. The olive color is so perfect. The subtle polka dot print is fun but still professional. The seam detail adds a long lean line to the pants. I love them. Taylor loved them. Heck, even Anthony liked them when I showed him. Even with the steep price tag, these were too perfect not to keep. I may have to pin them myself…

So there you have it! Taylor’s second Stitch Fix box was a 2/5 but the 2 pieces she kept were amazing staples for her wardrobe. I loved that Jason was able to pick up on the differences in mine and Taylor’s style, which proves that he is excellent at his job, as I had always suspected. I was almost as excited when she got her Fix as when I get mine, and that is a lot of excitement. I cannot wait for my next box, and hers too!

What do you think of Taylor’s fix? Have any questions about Stitch Fix? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

I love you more than Stitch Fix sharing and polka dot wearing,

Whitney

 

 

 

Check out my other reviews:

Anthony’s First Fix

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

Fixing and Remixing

 

~This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you click through my links and make a purchase. All opinions are my own.~

My husband and I will be celebrating our one year wedding anniversary and 8 years together next month! In the last year and a half we have moved three times, bought two houses, sold one of them, started new jobs in a new state, and got married. Whoo, that is a lot! With all of that excitement our wallets have been feeling a little empty so instead of ordering a new Stitch Fix box this month I decided to restyle some old pieces to give my closet a fresh fall feel without spending any money! Each outfit below has at least one piece from Stitch Fix.

If you are not already a Stitch Fix junkie like me, go back and read my Stitch Fix Review posts to find out what it is all about. Keep reading for fall fashion inspiration.

  1. Sunday Church Outfit: Here I am wearing one of my favorite Stitch Fix pieces, my 41Hawthorn Jace Chevron Print Dress, with a cable knit sweater over it to add some warmth and to give the impression of wearing separates. I layered them over leggings and my Sam Edelman boots for a comfy, yet conservative church look. My purse is also from Stitch Fix.
img_0132 Shop the Look:
Sweater: Bought at Kohl’s 4 years ago, similar sweater here
Necklace: From Rocksbox, try your first month free using my code whitneybff162 at checkout, similar necklace here 
Dress: This is a Stitch Fix exclusive and has this thick, stretchy, soft material like no other dress I have ever owned. I couldn’t find anything exactly like it, but this is a close as I got: from Amazon, from ModCloth 
Purse: I Got this Octavia Britta Suede Tassel Hobo Bag from Stitch Fix and love it. It reminds me of this designer bag but here are  few other, less expensive, versions: here and here.
Leggings: I got my fleece lined leggings from jane.com a year ago, but have heard many ladies love the VIV brand sold on Amazon. They say they are super soft and fit great. The sizing is comparable to Lu La Roe leggings. They have plus size as well!
Boots: These boots are leather and soft and comfortable. I got a wide calf size because, well, I have wide legs, but they have them in regular sizes too. I got mine when they were on sale for $50 so look for the sale prices!

 

2. Cozy & Creamy Outfit: I have been seeing a lot of tonal fall/winter outfits on the Stitch Fix Pinterest board. I was scrolling through their news pins and saw a bunch of gorgeous cream outfits. I was surprised that I liked them as much as I did because I am normally drawn to rich colors. There was something so cozy about the monochromatic look and I knew I had to try to recreate the look with pieces I already had. This Papermoon Bastille Tulip Sleeve Blouse from Stitch Fix was ready to be layered with creamy goodness.

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Shop the Look:
Vest: I got my vest from Marshall’s last year and lived in it all winter. I actually hadn’t worn it out of the house (it has been on repeat as my go to snuggle layer when lounging on the couch) yet this season but decided to try it with my cozy cream outfit and I think it works well! My students kept petting me, so I think they liked it too. Similar here and here
Necklace: I’ve had this simple pendant necklace for about a year. I got it in a subscription box that no longer exists. But I found this adorable whistle necklace that mimics the shape of mine.
Blouse: Like I mentioned above, my blouse is from Stitch Fix but ladies in the Facebook Stitch Fix discussion group swear this is the same shirt and it comes in about a bajillion colors. The sleeve details are so cute and feminine, you definitely need one, or three in your closet.  Plus sizes are available!
Skirt: I have had this skirt for a very long time and I cannot remember where I got it. It is just a simple khaki pencil skirt. Get a similar one here.
Watch: You can’t really see my watch, but it is gorgeous and rose gold and perfect for this outfit. Get the same one here,or one in silver here or gold here.
shoes: These shoes have sold out where I origianlly got them (Charlotte Russe) but I love the delicate ankle strap and pointed toe. Check out these, these and these if you like mine.

 

Botanical Biker Outfit: I have been wanting to pair a more delicate and feminine top with these edgy Pistola Audrey Moto Detail Skinny Pant from Stitch Fix. I like the idea of outfits where hard meets soft and I knew this purple floral top would be just perfect to pair with these pants. I threw on my studded mid-calf boots and Market &  Spruce Chaplin Anorak Jacket (also from Stitch Fix ) to complete my flowery biker babe look.

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Shop the Look:
Jacket: I lovethis lightweight layer so much that I own this jacket in khaki and olive green. You can find a ton of colors here as well.
Blouse: This blouse is sold out but I found a few similar in cut or color here, here and here 
Necklace: I wear this simple bar pendant necklace all the time and own it in both silver and gold. Get one, or both, here.
Watch:  same Michael Kors watch pictured above. Told you I wear it a lot.
Olive Moto Skinnies: I got these from Stitch Fix and haven’t seem many like them. But here are a few options: here, here and here
Boots: These boots were a TJ Maxx find last year and are Madden Girl brand. I couldn’t find the exact boots but here are a few with the same overall look, by UGG here, by FRYE here, Dr. Scholl’s here and here with a western feel

 

I had so much fun restyling some of my old Stitch Fix pieces that I think posts like these will continue to happen in the future. If you, or someone you know, needs a little style makeover give them the gift of Stitch Fix this holiday season. Buy a Stitch Fix Gift Card for them now and stay tuned for a post later this month on how to get the most out of the Stitch Fix experience. Don’t forget, Stitch Fix carries men’s clothing and maternity styles as well.

Until next time,

I love you more than fixing and remixing,

Whitney

Book Banter October 2016

It seriously rained this month. We had one of the biggest October storms since the 60’s mid-month that had me ready to make a ton of soup and curl up with a good book. So I did just that. Below you will find what I read this month. If you feel compelled to buy the paperback books click the links in the post and a small commission will come my way at no extra cost to you! I will link the audible version below the post as well. Thanks in advance for your support!

Here is what I read this month:

1. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

2277378This is the third book in the Inspector Gamache Three Pines series that I have been working my way through. I like a good crime novel. Throw in an adorable Canadian setting with scenes that take place in cafe where everything, including the furniture, is for sale, and I am sold. While these books aren’t always surprising, they are surprisingly comforting for a crime series. The characters are well written and feel like friends. The murders are always creative and there is usually more than one mystery afoot. The Cruelest Month is set in the month of April right around Easter and the murder happens during a seance where the characters are trying to raise the dead. Along with the murder, this book finally advances a plot line that had been moving at a glacial pace since the first book and I am exited to see where this aspect of the series goes. I have heard from other readers that this series gets better and better so I will definitely keep reading.

2. Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

3388I chose this as my book for the letter “C” as I read my way through this book-list. I had never heard of it, or the movie, but was drawn to the setting; Greece during WWII. I have read a lot of  WWII books, but none set in Greece while it was under Italian/Nazi occupation. This book started out slow, as it took me about 80 pages to really get into it. But after that I was hooked. I began to really like the characters and they way their lives intersect as the story unfolds. The relationships were very touching and seemed like honest interpretations of war-time relationships. They reminded me of some in Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Even with the slow start and predictable plot twists, this book is one of my favorites of the year. Disclaimer: this book gets pretty graphic and I cried for about the last 100-150 pages.

3. The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester 

17349092This book is all about how technology changed the United States. From the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the internet. This book has fascinating historical tidbits about the people behind the growth of the U.S. I really loved the section on the U.S. Highway system and the little bit on the radio. While there were sections in the book that I found to be a bit dry, this book was full of things I did not know. The author has obviously done his research and has personal anecdotes from many of the sites mentioned in the book. I read this on my kindle, which I would not recommend. There are quite a few illustrations I would have loved to see in print. If you like history and are interested in the progress of the United States, you should read this.

4. Dracula by Bram Stoker

588495You guys, this book is SO good! I brought it with me everywhere until I finished it, even church. Is that allowed? Vampires in church before the sermon? Whatever, I couldn’t put this book down. I have never been into vampires. I couldn’t even read past the first Twilight book (I know, they are not real vampires). But decided to pick this up since Halloween was around the corner and it worked for letter “D” on this book list. The first part is very, very creepy. Dracula is no joke. There is nothing romantic about him. But the love between Jonathan and Mina Harker is so sweet. I absolutely loved how Stoker wrote Mina. She was a strong woman, but wasn’t trying to be a man, like so many modern heroines. Her relationships with the other Dracula fighters is perfect. If you have seen the movie with my man Sirius Bla…I mean Gary Oldman then you will surprised by the book. They are very, very different. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

5. No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty

114817Have you heard of National Novel Writing Month? Or #NaNoWriMo as it is referred to on twitter? If not, let me fill you in. Every November people everywhere sit down at their computer and begin the somewhat scary task of writing a novel in a month. I had heard about this last year and never thought I’d be interested. But lately I have been feeling the itch to start writing some fiction again. I picked up this book hoping it would give me insight into the process and to see if this was something I was really interested in putting time into. It was full of great tips and was a quick read. If you feel like you might have a novel in you (the author says everyone does) you should read this book and participate. This November is not the best month for me to undertake a whole novel because Anthony and I will be traveling to to AZ to see our friends (can’t wait!!) but I know I have some ideas knocking around in my head and I like to have a self imposed deadline to help me get it done. Plus, the point is to write a novel, not publish one, which is a good place to start!

6. The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl, Agnete Friis

10776592This book is the first in a crime series that follows Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse with a soft spot for refugees (get the whole series here). I picked this up at the library on a recommendation from a blogger I follow. In this book, Nina finds herself picking up a suitcase from a locker for a friend. When she opens the suitcase there is a live little boy inside. From that moment on, Nina finds her life in danger as she tries to figure out where the boy came from. The story is told from different points of view so you can see how the mystery comes together. I thought this book was entertaining, and it was a very quick read. But I wasn’t really drawn in by the characters, in fact I did not like Nina at all, and the plot was a little predictable for me. Dracula was definitely better.

This month I didn’t finish any audiobooks and went back to reading more books from the library. I am dying to buy a pretty copy of Dracula to add to my ever growing classics collection. What did you read this month? Have you read any of these titles? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

I love you more than U.S. History and undead mysteries,

Whitney

Audible Audiobook links:

  1. The Cruelest Month
  2. Corelli’s Mandolin
  3. The Men Who United the States
  4. Dracula
  5. The Boy in the Suitcase 

There is not an audbile recording of No Plot? No Problem! at this time.