Posted in books, Personal, reviews

What I’ve been Reading

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you.  I’m back today after a week of work and writing. I’ve finished editing my second story, so now I have two WIPs under my belt. I still need to make revisions, but I’m taking a step back and noodling what and how I want to make changes. I’ve also started my Christmas shopping, so I don’t anticipate getting a lot of writing done during this time, but I have a new idea that I’m going to start outlining soon. 😊

But enough about that. After the seriousness of last week’s post, I’ve decided to do a fun post for this week. So, I’d like to share what I’ve been reading. I’ve got two thrillers I’ve finished, and I thought I’d share them with you in case you have some time over the holidays to relax and dive into a book. So, without further ado, here they are:

“We were Never Here”

We Were Never Here: A Novel by [Andrea Bartz]

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • “This book is every suspense lover’s dream and it kept me up way too late turning pages. . . . A novel with crazy twists and turns that will have you ditching your Friday night plans for more chapters.”—Reese Witherspoon

A backpacking trip has deadly consequences in this “eerie psychological thriller . . . with alluring locales, Hitchcockian tension, and possibly the best pair of female leads since Thelma and Louise” (BookPage), from the bestselling author of The Lost Night and The Herd.

Marie Claire Book Club Pick • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR and Marie Claire

Emily is having the time of her life—she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of the trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she brought back to their room attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again—can lightning really strike twice?

Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving headfirst into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their cover-ups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can Emily outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom—even her life?

My Thoughts:

This is a great story about toxic friendship with an incredible twist at the end. The characters are likable in the beginning and the author brilliantly weaves the threads of insanity, so the reader has an “aha” moment. The suspense builds and it was hard to put the book down. This story does not disappoint.

“The Wife Upstairs”

The Wife Upstairs: A Novel by [Rachel Hawkins]

Instant New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

“Compulsively readable…a gothic thriller laced with arsenic.” ––EW

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021: CNN• Newsweek • Vulture • PopSugar • Parade • BuzzFeed • E!Online • TimeOut • Woman’s Day • Goodreads • She Reads • Good Housekeeping • CrimeReads • Frolic • Hello! • Mystery and Suspense

January 2021 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

My Thoughts:

This story was recommended to me by a friend, and it did not disappoint. It’s another thriller with a great twist at the end. Excellent character building that keeps you turning the page to find out the truth of what really happened. Another great read on a snowy night.  

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! How about you, are you reading any great books this snowy, holiday season? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Reading

Technology’s Effect on Our Health

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week with work and writing. I’m editing my second work in progress, and I’m happy with the results so far. This story is flowing smoothly and I’m enjoying it.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology’s effect on our health, both mental and physical. When I think back to my own childhood, I remember being extremely active. I rode my bike everywhere. I remember going to my friend’s house and swimming in her pool. We’d play games like Yahtzee and Monopoly, or we’d go for long bike rides. When I look back, I realize how wonderful my childhood was. My friends and I had a connection.

Then I look at my kids, and I’m frustrated. They’re glued to their computers. If they’re not playing games, they’re chatting with friends online. The face-to-face interaction isn’t there. I know they get that at school, but I feel something is lost for our kids. They’re missing out on that special connection that I treasured in my younger years.

I also feel that we’re losing some of our vocabulary. I mean when you can communicate with an emoji, what do you need words for? Is our technology dumbing down society?

I think so. Instead of reading books, kids are looking at their phones. Social Media’s goal is to keep everyone engaged. So, they have complicated logarithms that keep track of the things you like so they can show you more. This keeps you engaged longer. I suppose you could argue that they’re reading, but they’re reading posts, and as we all know, posts on social media are usually a way for the individual writing it to receive acknowledgement from their followers.

Right now, kids need to read stories that teach them empathy and compassion. They need stories they can connect with and relate to. The teen years are the hardest years in my opinion because there are so many firsts. First loves, first rejections, first successes, and first failures.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of ten and twenty-four. I’ve always felt that the reason for that is disconnection. They feel disconnected from family, friends, and community.

We need to make the family bonds stronger and protect our children. We need to bring story-telling back. It has always been a way to connect with our family members. We need to sit around the campfire and tell stories of our youth, so our children can bond with us.

Stories are more important than ever now. I know when I was a teen, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It was a self-inflicted kind of pressure. I was afraid to make the wrong decision. I couldn’t articulate this pressure to my parents, so I wasn’t able to talk to them about it. I felt so alone.

To escape this pressure, I’d read. When I was finished reading, I’d feel better. The pressure wasn’t so bad, and I was calmer, so I could look at my issues more objectively.

In my opinion instead of more technology, our kids need more physical exercise, and they need to spend more time reading stories not social media posts. Not only will reading stories relieve stress, but it’ll teach empathy and compassion. So, writers keep writing. We need your stories now more than ever.

How about you? Do you feel our kids need to feel more connection? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health

Is Social Media Bad for Your Health?

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work, writing, and running. This week I saw a post on Facebook (kind of ironic, I know) and it made the statement that Social Media makes you dissatisfied with your life.

I gathered from this statement that social media makes people dissatisfied because we start to compare ourselves to what other people post. The meme went on to say, get off social media, read a book, work in your garden, or go for a walk. Do something that brings you joy and do it for that reason alone. Don’t do something just so you can post it on Facebook later. Do it because you enjoy it.

I agree with this statement even though I’m guilty of spending time on social media myself. I find that scrolling on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter is a passive exercise. You’re not actively participating in life. Sure, you can connect with people and message them and that’s all well and good. I do that myself.  But you’re not actively living.

When you go for a walk, you’re not only doing something good for your body. You’re experiencing life. You’re experiencing the smells of the forest and the beauty of the wildflowers growing alongside the road. That’s living. You’ll feel better getting up and doing something. Going for a walk or a hike even by yourself is much better for you than scrolling through posts on Facebook.  

If you’re feeling frustrated with your life or you’re dealing with a problem and you can’t find a solution. Read a book. Reading is a great stress reliever and I guarantee if you read for even just fifteen minutes, the problem you’re dealing with won’t feel so big. Again, reading is active. Your brain is working, focusing on something other than your problem or dissatisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great way to keep in touch with people and make connections, but it’s not good for your health if you’re neglecting exercise or it creates mental anguish. Remember, the goal of social media is to keep you engaged. You have to actively set limits for yourself or you’ll get sucked in. It happens to the best of us.

Remember to actively live your life. Enjoy that walk or run while you’re doing it. Stay in that moment. Enjoy cooking that meal for your family. Enjoy the smells of the spices lingering in the air as you cook. Turn on the radio and listen to music while you work. That’s living. Social media isn’t.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about social media? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal

Two of my Favorite Things

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I thought I’d do something fun. I thought I’d share two of my favorite things with all of you today. I like to do these two things to relieve stress. The first one, is reading. I love to read and it’s a great way to unwind after a hectic day at work.

I just finished a great story by an incredible author.  That story is: “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. The cover and blurb are below.

Small Great Things: A Novel by [Jodi Picoult]

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • With richly layered characters and a gripping moral dilemma that will lead readers to question everything they know about privilege, power, and race, Small Great Things is the stunning new page-turner from Jodi Picoult.

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

“[Picoult] offers a thought-provoking examination of racism in America today, both overt and subtle. Her many readers will find much to discuss in the pages of this topical, moving book.”—Booklist (starred review)

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My Thoughts:

This was a thought-provoking and timely story. It’s about an Afro-American nurse and a skinhead. Ruth Jefferson is the nurse who helps in the care of Turk’s newborn son. Turk is a white supremist and he insists he does not want Ruth to touch his son.

When his son has complications after a routine circumcision and Ruth is the only nurse available to administer to him, all hell breaks loose when he dies. Ruth is sued by Turk and his family and the story goes on from there. I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I won’t tell you what happens, but it is definitely worth the read. It will have you looking into your own heart to see where your prejudices lie.

This story was amazing just like most of Ms. Picoult’s stories are. It’s definitely worth the read.

The next favorite thing I like to do is hike. I’ve been taking some time this winter to get out of the house more. I usually hibernate during the winter, but since I’ve been working from home, I’ve needed to get out of the house. I’ve been hiking with either some gal pals or my hubby. It’s great to get outside and get some fresh air and the sunsets are amazing this time of year. I’ve witnessed some amazing colors and it’s so peaceful.

Amazing Sunset from A Hike
Amazing Sunset in Grand Haven

Hiking is another great way to relieve stress and get some exercise. It’s good for your mind and body.

So, there you have it! Two of my favorite things, reading and hiking. How about you? What are two of your favorite things? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Guest Author, Reading

Please Welcome Ritu Bhathal and her Debut Novel “Marriage Unarranged!”

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I’ve got a special treat for you. I’ve got Ritu Bhathal as a guest and she’s telling us a little bit about her writing journey and how the Corona virus affected her. So, without further ado. Take it away, Ritu!

 

Ritu Bhathal

It was an amazing feeling, finally typing THE END after the last words on my manuscript that I had literally poured eighteen years of my life into.

Obviously, that wasn’t the end, by any means.

There was the fun of editing, with rewrites and tweaks, feedback from beta readers, then cover design, and all the marketing.

And then, just like that, the Publication Day was upon me.

I finally let my book baby free, and sat tight, waiting for the sales, then reviews.

Will they love it?

Will they hate it?

Oh my God, I am the worst writer! Why on earth did I ever think I could write a book?

Then the feedback started to trickle through.

Oh! It’s not as bad as I thought!

Wow, people LIKE it. Like real five-star review like it!

Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the words of support and praise that came in for my debut novel in February of this year. Marriage Unarranged was a story that had wanted to be written for so long, and finally, I managed it!

One of the repeated comments was basically, ‘Can’t wait to see what happens next!’

People who read my first novel, actually wanted to read more.

So that meant I needed to get another one out.

As I mentioned a little earlier, it took me a long time to write my first book, because life had a habit of getting in the way. From marriage to moving counties, then the trying for a family saga (it was one, we had issues, so that was stress in itself) and dealing with eventual motherhood. And of course there was the day job to consider too. None of these things left much time to write.

But I did it. Once I focused, I carved time out daily, to add to my word count.

And now, I needed to do that again!

I had ideas already for a second, and third book, relating to the first, and had tentatively started writing the second, but that time thing…

Then Coronavirusgate hit and we were suddenly in Lock down.

So now, I have a lot of time, and that’s what I was looking for, wasn’t I?

I started the Lock down pumped.

Taking part in a couple of online writing sprints added a couple of thousand words to my work in progress (WIP).

It took me a while, but I created a temporary work station, seeing as the dining table I usually used for prolonged writing was now commandeered as a workspace for my working-from-home Hubby Dearest, and the only other desks were in kids bedrooms and they were in use for distance learning.

And I managed to finally set up my WIP story map board. I used it for my first book, and it helped me plan events and timelines within the book, so I did the same with this one.

Then I went through and updated my Character bible, because many of the characters overlap, and some develop more in book two, and there were new focus characters to add.

I even had tentative titles for the next two books.

Then I hit a brick wall.

Not only was I dealing with the Lock down, and ensuring two children were accessing their school-work regularly, constantly disinfecting surfaces, keeping spirits up for Hubby Dearest who was suffering cabin fever whilst working from home, I also had my work stress.

You see, I’m a teacher, and yes, schools are closed, but that doesn’t mean no work for teachers. Here in the UK schools were kept open as hubs for those listed as keyworkers to be able to leave their children for childcare, while they go about their essential jobs. I had a rota, where I would go in and spend the day with these children, and the rest of the time, devising and adding work for my class to access online. Then marking, and doing online training, attending webinars to keep us in the loop with the constant changes.

It messed with my head a lot. And my creativity with it.

And now, I am faced with the prospect of going back on the 1st of June, to work with a small group of my class, if the government and our dear BoJo deems it safe for schools to begin partial opening.

So, how much writing have I done?

Well, I’ve tried to stay creative, by writing A Story A Day in May, and some of the prompts have even got me some new scenes which I can use in my WIP.

And my WIP has increased by around eight thousand words. But my mind has not been in the right place to really get into it

But I will.

I promise.

For my characters, as they have stories to tell.

For my readers because they want to know more.

For me, because I know there are other books in me that want to come out.

 

ritu chick pea available now

‘Chickpea Curry’ Lit — Chick Lit with an Indian twist!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

 

Ritu Bhathal

A U T H O R B I O

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. Ritu’s colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at

school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, http://www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was

awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual

Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

F i n d M e:

Social Media Profiles

Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com

Author Website: http://www.ritubhathal.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RituBhathal
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ritubhathalwrites/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RituBhathal/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bhathalpadhaal/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56854412-ritu-bhathal
Mix: https://mix.com/butismileanyway
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ritusmiles

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ritu-bhathal
Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/@ritubhathalpadhaal

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/author/ritubhathal

 

And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon

Author.to/RituBhathal

myBook.to/PoeticRITUals

http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

 

Thanks for being a guest, Ritu! Your story sounds like a must read!

Posted in Family, quarantine, raising kids, Reading, social media

Quarantine: Week Two

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. My family and I have gotten through another week of quarantine and we haven’t lost our minds…yet. I’ve been putting my story together and I’m getting more and more excited. I’ve written this story differently than my other stories and I really like how it has turned out. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

Photo on VisualHunt.com

So far, my family and I have stayed healthy, so the quarantine is working for us. It has also brought us closer together with late night Uno games and binge-watching Netflix. I love hanging with my kids.

 

Photo credit: hannah.rosen on Visual hunt / CC BY

But this quarantine can be hard on people who don’t have a family. People who live alone can become depressed and lonely. So, check on your friends who live alone, send them a text to make sure they’re okay. This is a time to stay connected even if we can’t get together.

There’s a variety of ways you can stay connected in this trying time. Social Media is a great way to stay in touch and make sure everyone is okay. There’s also program’s like Skype and Zoom where you can video chat with your friends. At the very least, you can pick up the phone and give them a call.

 

Photo on Visual Hunt

Another way to fight depression is to stay busy. I’ve been working on my book, so it doesn’t register that I’ve barely left the house in two weeks. Hubby has a couple of major projects going on around the house that’s keeping him busy and the boys have their video games where they communicate with their friends. I’m letting them have more screen time because playing video games is another way to fight depression.

They’ve been reading every day and their school has a website set up where they can do some assignments. I think it’s great, but I’m not forcing them to do it. I believe they’ll be just fine when they get back to school. The school must adjust to the students needs and I believe they will.

 

Photo on Visual hunt

So, that’s how were dealing with the quarantine, working on our own projects and having more family time and staying in touch with my single friends. How about you? How are you combating depression in this crazy time when you can’t leave the house? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Reading, World War II

Stuck at Home because of Social Distancing? Check out what I’ve been Reading!

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of hard work, writing, and the Corona Virus.  It has been a week of first times, let me tell you.

My kids are off school for the next three weeks, a month if you consider the fact that spring break is the first full week of April. I’m also working from home indefinitely. Strange times, for sure.

While I’m practicing my social distancing, I’m working on my story. I’m excited to say, I’ve reached the end. An end that I’m happy with, for the moment. You know how we writers are. LOL! 😉

Since I’m spending the majority of my time at home. I plan on doing more reading and I thought all of you might be interested in my list of favorite books in case you have some extra time on your hands.  I’ve read these books in the last year and I really enjoyed them. So, without any further ado, here they are:

 

 

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

Winner of the 2015 Audie Award for Fiction

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

 

The Nightingale

 

Audie Award, Fiction, 2016

In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.

France, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

 

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel

 

Number-one New York Times best-seller and the perfect holiday gift.

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” (Reese Witherspoon)

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

 

 

The Ragged Edge of Night

For fans of All the Light We Cannot SeeBeneath a Scarlet Sky, and The Nightingale comes an emotionally gripping, beautifully written historical novel about extraordinary hope, redemption, and one man’s search for light during the darkest times of World War II.

 

 

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

 

A haunting debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet….

So begins the story in this exquisite debut novel about a Chinese American family living in a small town in 1970s Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’ case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family, Hannah, who observes far more than anyone realizes – and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping pause-resister and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

 

Little Fires Everywhere

 

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

The runaway New York Times best seller!

Named a Best Book of the Year by:

People, The Washington Post, Bustle, Esquire, Southern Living, The Daily Beast, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Audible, Goodreads, Library Reads, Book of the Month, Paste, Kirkus Reviews, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and many more!

“I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting.” (Jodi Picoult)

“To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.” (Reese Witherspoon)

“I am loving Little Fires Everywhere. Maybe my favorite novel I’ve read this year.” (John Green)

From the best-selling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads to the colors of the houses to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants – all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town – and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Perfect for book clubs! Visit celesteng.com for discussion guides and more.

 

Before We Were Yours: A Novel

 

THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT – A New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Best Seller

For listeners of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart…based on a notorious true-life scandal.”

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Publishers Weekly‘s #3 Longest-Running Best Seller of 2017

Winner of the Southern Book Prize

If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection

“A [story] of a family lost and found…a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.”(People)

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year…. Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.” (Parade)

 

The Orphan's Tale: A Novel

 

New York Times best seller!

“Readers who enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants will embrace this novel. ” (Library Journal)

“Secrets, lies, treachery, and passion…. I read this novel in a headlong rush.” (Christina Baker Kline, number one New York Times best-selling author of Orphan Train)

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival 

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another – or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

 

Gone Girl: A Novel

 

Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times best seller Gillian Flynn, takes that statement to its darkest place in this unpausable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl‘s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media – as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents – the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter – but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

 

11-22-63: A Novel

 

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King – who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer – takes listeners on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a 35-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away: a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life – like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963 – turning on a dime.

Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession – to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world – of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading, eventually of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful – and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

 

So, there you have it, ten incredible books to keep you busy during this period of social distancing. I’m always on the look out for a great story, so if you have any recommendations, leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in books

What I’m Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Here we are the weekend before Christmas. I hope you have your shopping done. I do, but I haven’t wrapped anything yet. 😊

Saving that for Christmas Eve. 😉

But enough about that, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been reading in between moments of busyness. It’s a very busy time of year, so I haven’t gotten very far into it, but it is very good. It’s so good in fact, it should be a movie. I’ll give you more of a run down when I finish it.

 

 

 

One of the Ten Best Books of The New York Times Book Review
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Now a miniseries from Hulu starring James Franco

ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.

My Thoughts:

So far, I’m totally into this story. I wish I could take a couple of days and just devour it. It’s that good. If you’re looking for a book to just disappear into, this one is for you.  I’ll write a review on it when I finish it. 🙂

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thanks so much for reading my blog and giving me all the support you’ve given me all year!

 

Posted in Health, Women

Stress Relievers for Every-day Life

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a great weekend of writing and running. (I’m recovering now.) It was gorgeous this afternoon and a great time to get out and get some exercise. I forced my boys to get away from their video games and get outside, which they did grudgingly, but I’m sure they enjoyed it. I’m trying to teach them to take care of themselves. No easy task. Believe me.

I’m pushing for them to get outside because when winter flies, I’m sure we’ll be hibernating and it’ll be hard for them to get some exercise, but enough about that. Today I want to talk about dealing with the stress of every-day life and with the holidays coming up, well that can be stressful  too. So, I want to give you a quick list of stress relievers that I’ve used in the past, and continue to still use. Here they are:

 

Stress Relievers:

  1. Exercise: Exercise is my go-to stress reliever. Even a short walk gets those endorphins pumping through my brain, settling me down and allowing me to refocus instead of react.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

  1. Reading: Did you know reading for only fifteen minutes reduces your stress level by right around sixty percent? Reading is an excellent stress reducer, plus it teaches empathy, and improves your vocabulary. For more information on this, click here. 

 

Photo on Visual Hunt

  1. Forest-bathing: Forest-bathing is another great way to relieve stress, but there are also other health benefits to taking a hike in the woods. The trees in the forest release phytoncides, that we breathe in and these little buggers help strengthen our immune system. For more information check out this post by clicking here.

 

Photo on Visualhunt.com

  1. Laughter:  Laughing is an excellent stress reliever. Take the time to watch a comedy or funny sit-com. It relieves your stress and can also improve your immune system.

 

Photo on Visual hunt

 

So, there you have it. Stress relievers for every-day life and the holidays. How do you manage your stress? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Reading

What I’ve Been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been reading. I meant to do it last week, but you know inspiration hit and well…the rest is history.

When I was sick, I wasn’t able to write and when I started to recover, I did a lot of reading because there’s nothing like a good book to make you feel better. Am I right or am I right?

So, without further ado, here’s a list of some of the books I’ve been reading. They were awesome!

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by [Honeyman, Gail]

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fineis the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

 

My Thoughts:

I loved this story! I love how Eleanor heals herself with the help of some unlikely heroes. I love stories where broken people overcome their obstacles. Eleanor was an amazing character. She’ll make you laugh at times and cry at others. It is definitely a good one to put on your summer reading list!

In a Dark, Dark Wood by [Ware, Ruth]

An NPR Best Book of the Year * A ShelfAwareness Best Book of the Year * An Entertainment Weekly Summer Books Pick * Buzzfeed “31 Books to Get Excited About this Summer” Pick * Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers” Pick * BookReporter Summer Reading Pick * New York Post “Best Novels to Read this Summer” Pick * Shelf Awareness “Book Expo America Buzz Book” Pick *

What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an incredible story for people who love thrillers. I’m one of those people. Ever since I’ve read this book, I’ve been binge-reading Ruth Ware. This was a great story that I read in a couple of days.

 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by [Ware, Ruth]

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s fourth novel, “her best yet” (Library Journal, starred review).

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

 

My Thoughts:

When I said I was binge-reading Ruth Ware, I wasn’t kidding. This story draws you in with the characters and keeps you guessing until the very end. I’ve read another Ruth Ware book, The Woman in Cabin 10, but I didn’t like that one as much as I did these two. But, don’t worry, it’s still a good story.

So there you have it, what I read while I was recovering. Awesome stories. How about you? Have you been reading? Leave a title and your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you!