Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review - Small Great Things 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.

“[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
Wow...just wow!  Everyone should read this book at some point in their lives.  It's relevant, timeless, and race is something that we deal with each day.
I see that this will be a movie, I can't wait to see who plays these characters.  Now that I have said that out load, I am truly trying to decide who would be great for these roles.
Ruth Jefferson lives in a nice neighborhood in CT, has set high expectations for her son, and wants to live a better life than most family and friends that she knows.  She is a labor and delivery nurse for a local hospital and has had her job for over 20 years and loves it!
Then one day she gets the patients from hell, literally.  A white supremacist family and they were out to make her life miserable.  Not allowing her near their baby and going to her boss with their tainted views of African Americans. 
One day their newborn son is fighting for his life and Ruth is the only person near to help at that moment.  What does she do?  Should she help?  Should she wait till others show up?
Tragedy strikes and Ruth's life is turned upside down.  Will she rise above and get past it or will she snap and let it take her down along with her son?
I refuse to giveaway too many details, you must read the book for yourselves to get the big picture and understand what is going on.  It is more relevant today then ever!

Drink Selection
I would have to pair this selection with a deep red wine, Merlot to be exact.  Delish!  Here are a few suggestions that you may love!

This is one of my top reads of 2017!  I couldn't put it down and lived for opening it every second of the day.  Read it today!  5 wine glasses all the way!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review - Have Your Cake and Eat It by Isabelle Andover

Bella Hunt thought the nanny quitting was the worst life got. Until she lost her job, that is. Going from a high-flying fashion PR consultant to a stay-at-home mother of three turns out to be a rather rude awakening, and Bella finds she’s coming up short in a few too many areas. But with a dash of ingenuity, a spoonful of friendship, and a sprinkling of love, Bella manages to not only have her cake, but eat it, too.

My Thoughts 
What a fun story about the life of a mom who went from the woman who was sought after by many for her amazing PR skills to a SAHM who feels like she's is forgotten at age 38.  A has been...who will hire her now?
She goes through the trials and tribulations of cleaning, temper tantrums and trying to remember if she washed her hair and brushed her teeth that morning?
Then she snaps...she needs to do something with her life...find her true passion...does she go for it?  Does she give up her dreams?
Being a single mom myself I can truly relate to Bella and what she is experiencing.  I have since gone back to work full-time and had decided once the kids were all in school I wanted to further my education and I have!  I graduate with my Masters in May and have already started my second Masters as well!  The sky is the limit and single moms know how to reach for their goals!

Drink Selection
This mom needs a little energy to get through the day and mixing just about anything with Vodka is yummy, a red bull and absolute vodka it is!  Enjoy!

Looking for a fun story that will have you smiling (and relating) from beginning to end, grab your copy and sit back and relax!  4 wine glasses all the way!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review - The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

From acclaimed author Ellen Marie Wiseman comes a vivid, daring novel about the devastating power of family secrets—beginning in the poignant, lurid world of a Depression-era traveling circus and coming full circle in the transformative 1950s.

On a summer evening in 1931, Lilly Blackwood glimpses circus lights from the grimy window of her attic bedroom. Lilly isn’t allowed to explore the meadows around Blackwood Manor. She’s never even ventured beyond her narrow room. Momma insists it’s for Lilly’s own protection, that people would be afraid if they saw her. But on this unforgettable night, Lilly is taken outside for the first time—and sold to the circus sideshow.

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old Julia Blackwood has inherited her parents’ estate and horse farm. For Julia, home was an unhappy place full of strict rules and forbidden rooms, and she hopes that returning might erase those painful memories. Instead, she becomes immersed in a mystery involving a hidden attic room and photos of circus scenes featuring a striking young girl.

At first, The Barlow Brothers’ Circus is just another prison for Lilly. But in this rag-tag, sometimes brutal world, Lilly discovers strength, friendship, and a rare affinity for animals. Soon, thanks to elephants Pepper and JoJo and their handler, Cole, Lilly is no longer a sideshow spectacle but the circus’s biggest attraction. . .until tragedy and cruelty collide. It will fall to Julia to learn the truth about Lilly’s fate and her family’s shocking betrayal, and find a way to make Blackwood Manor into a place of healing at last.

Moving between Julia and Lilly’s stories, Ellen Marie Wiseman portrays two extraordinary, very different women in a novel that, while tender and heartbreaking, offers moments of joy and indomitable hope.

My Thoughts
I am so in love with this book, it is a top novel of 2017 for sure.
There are so many themes - sad, furious, happy, and in love just to name a few.  There were so many times through out that I caught myself second guessing what was happening, what happened in the past and who each character was.  It had me enthralled all the way to the very last page, and saddened with the fact that I would not have anymore to read.

Lilly's story has so many depths to it - sad, terrifying, devastating, scary, electric, loving and tragic.  She was beautiful on the inside and out.  She lived a very horrifying life that I'm not sure I would have been able to survive as she did.  How could her parents do that to her?  I can't imagine ever thinking those thoughts a day in my life NO MATTER WHAT.  I love the fact that there was a glimpse of happiness for her to experience even if it was fleeting.
The Barlow Brother's Circus was not only her nightmare, the happiest time in her life and her demise in the end!

Julia's life mirrored her mother's life in many ways, although different in the grand scheme.  I feel for her -  finding out the truths and realities of her family and what they kept from her till the very end. 

This story will have you feeling so many emotions on so many different levels and will teach you about the horrifying realities of circuses and the treatment of animals as well as how people were treated that were different from the rest of the "real" world.

Put this book on your TBR pile and pre-order your copy TODAY!

Drink Selection
In comparison with this amazing read, I will pair it with a warm glass (or two) of Bourbon. 
5 wine glasses all the way!  I can't sing enough praises for this novel.  Amazing!  Tragic! Top pick of 2017!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Review - The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people?What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.
They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.
In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:
  • The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
  • Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
  • When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
  • Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
  • Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
  • Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
  • The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
  • The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way
And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”

My Thoughts
I can't say enough about this couple.  I've loved their show Fixer Upper from the beginning.  They are real, funny, memorable, and truly kind and genuine people that I could be friends with!
Listening to them write about how amazing they were doing and then describe the crippling effects of a business economy that wasn't on their side is truly inspirational.  They didn't try to hide that downfall just to keep up a persona for their fans and friends and families.  They truly tell it like it is and then they show us how they can rise above a situation and move on.  I love how they said in our society today some couples would turn on each other but in these times of crisis they relied on each other even more.
The fact that Joanna was never a trained designer of any sort and just fell into her profession really speaks volumes.  She truly has a gift, a calling so to speak, and I love watching her create each and every room.  Truly inspiring. 
They really are living the American Dream in all senses and it makes me want to model the relationship that they have and aspire to be like them in my own life.
You will love learning about Chip and his quirky ways and you will love even more the kind of parents they are and their kids and family comes first.
On a cold weekend day in March, get your copy of The Magnolia Story and enjoy!

Drink Selection
A yummy pink magnolia cocktail goes along with this book perfectly!  Not only does in sound delish but it is gorgeous too!

I can't say enough great things about this book!  5 wine glasses all the way!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Review - Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill

The truth could cost her everything.
Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.
Or is it?
When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.
If only Ava could believe her own excuses.
Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.
Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town, Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?

My Thoughts
This book will grab you and pull you in from the very first chapter!  Laura has this way with words - the details are extraordinary and the plot is gripping.
Does Ava have the family she has always desired?  From the outside her, Mitchell, Jack and Sam look to be your perfect family unit.  Or are they?
The past has a way of catching up you and turning your world upside down in a heart beat.
When Ava starts to question what is really going on Mitchell loses it.  Questions if Ava is having an affair or asking what she is really doing when he's not around?  Then one day he just takes off and files for divorce.  He takes temporary custody of the boys and sets out to make Ava look like the most unfit mother in the community who cheats on her husband.
Ava has no choice but to get an attorney and fight with everything she has. 
She starts to investigate Mitchell and what he is hiding.  Family?  Karen's death?  Who exactly is this man she married and how can she get her kids home safely where they belong?
Get your copy on this chilly March day and indulge.  You will not be able to put it down.

Drink Selection
Sit back and enjoy a glass or two of southern style sweet tea!  Delish!
Hands down - 5 wine glasses for this suspense novel that will have you saying " Do I really know the man I married? Or is that family next store really as perfect as they seem to be?" 

Review - This Life I Live by Rory Feek

The story she said he was born to write.

Her story. His story. The love story of Joey and Rory.

By inviting so many into the final months of Joey’s life as she battled cancer, Joey and Rory Feek captured hearts around the world with how they handled the diagnosis; the inspiring, simple way they chose to live; and how they loved each other every step of the way. But there is far more to the story.

“My life is very ordinary,” says Rory. “On the surface, it is not very special. If you looked at it, day to day, it wouldn’t seem like much. But when you look at it in a bigger context—as part of a larger story—you start to see the magic that is on the pages of the book that is my life. And the more you look, the more you see. Or, at least, I do.”

In this vulnerable book, he takes us for the first time into his own challenging life story and what it was like growing up in rural America with little money and even less family stability.

This is the story of a man searching for meaning and security in a world that offered neither. And it’s the story of a man who finally gives it all to a power higher than himself and soon meets a young woman who will change his heart forever.

In This Life I Live, Rory Feek helps us not only to connect more fully to his and Joey’s story but also to our own journeys. He shows what can happen when we are fully open in life’s key moments, whether when meeting our life companion or tackling an unexpected tragedy. He also gives never-before-revealed details on their life together and what he calls “the long goodbye,” the blessing of being able to know that life is going to end and taking advantage of it. Rory shows how we are all actually there already and how we can learn to live that way every day.

A gifted man from nowhere and everywhere in search of something to believe in. A young woman from the Midwest with an angelic voice and deep roots that just needed a place to be planted. This is their story. Two hearts that found each other and touched millions of other hearts along the way.

My Thoughts
What a truly gorgeous, heartfelt story of love, commitment, honor, family and so much more.  This is the story of Rory and Joey Feek, an amazing Country Duo group that just happen to fall in love and this is their story.
Rory discusses his life growing up and how he became the man that he is today.  Life was not always easy or pretty for Rory but he was determined to make it in Nashville.
His father was not in the picture and his mother was never really able to give his siblings the upbringing they deserved.
He had many failed relationships, he truly didn't know what love was and had no real measure to compare to.
He had two girls when he was young and in the military and then their mother left and he was alone to raise them and give them the best life he could.
And then there was Jory.
Joey had a plan for stardom ever since she was young.  She wanted to make it in Nashville and tried every way possible.
Then she fell in love at first sight with Rory.  But it took her 2 years to come back to him again after that night.
This is a true story of two people that were destined to be together and knew that God meant for them to find one another and live out the life he had planned for them.
Though this story may have a sad ending, it also has a happy beginning for a precious little girl named Indiana. You will fall in love with this amazing family as I have.  I guarantee it.

Drink Selection
Grab a delicious pitcher of southern sweet tea, it would be a great combination with this story of love and life!

Sit back and enjoy a glass or two of sweet tea and enjoy a sweet story about love, life and smiles from Indiana, the little girl who has Rory's heart.  5 wine glasses all the way!