July 2019 Book Reviews

Book review day is here!

Even though we have one more day left in July, I’m already through all my books for the month so I’m sharing my book review a little early. I read some really good ones this month and I’m excited to share them with you!

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The Latte Factor by David Bach

I listened to a lot of podcasts on our babymoon and one I really enjoyed was an episode of the Rise podcast where Rachel Hollis interviewed David Bach about how anyone can be financially free by following a few simple principles and changes in daily habits. I really enjoyed the podcast, and one of my 19 for 19 goals is to learn more about finances, so I was eager to read this book. To be honest, I didn’t gain much new wisdom from it. It is set up like a little mini novel where protagonist Zoe, whose finances are a mess, learns some very simple lessons about investing, saving, and living the life she wants by making small changes in her spending habits from a man named Henry whom she meets with in a coffee shop. Having listened to the podcast, I felt like I had already heard the high points of Bach’s message and most of the book was Zoe’s “story” and not so much financial information. I think this book could be a great resource if you are coming into it with the desire to change your financial situation but don’t have a lot of knowledge in saving/investing/budgeting/etc. Personally I felt like it was a little oversimplified and didn’t give me much new information; however, the concept of “the latte factor” is one that Justin and I have discussed multiple times since I first told him about it after listening to the podcast and I think it’s a great concept to keep in mind when you think about daily spending habits!

The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger

Annabel is living in Switzerland where her husband, Matthew, works for Swiss United, a lucrative, offshore bank. After Matthew’s plane crashes in the Alps, Annabel is left with many questions and few answers and decides to investigate the crash herself. Meanwhile, journalist Marina gets a hot tip on a story from her mentor and just as she begins to dig . . . her mentor ends up dead. She begins to look into Swiss United and soon uncovers some dangerous information that powerful people are willing to do anything to protect. As the women’s stories progress two things become clear: their stories are intertwined and they are both in danger unless the truth comes out. This thriller was unique for me in that I’ve never read anything involving lucrative wealth and offshore financing, and it kept me on my toes throughout. I always love novels that alternate narrative perspectives and this one was fast-paced and exciting. I never knew which characters were trustworthy and that added to the suspense for sure. It was definitely a page-turner for me and I really enjoyed it!

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White

In June, I read The Forgotten Room by this trio of authors and really enjoyed it so I was excited to learn that they also co-authored another book together and quickly checked it out from the library. The Glass Ocean centers around the tragedy of the sinking of the Lusitania and is written from three different female perspectives: Caroline, a wealthy passenger traveling on the Lusitania with her husband, Tess, a con man’s daughter who is hoping to pull one more job aboard the ship and then start fresh in England once the ship docks, and Sarah, a historian and author in 2013 who has opened a trunk filled with everything that her great-grandfather, a steward on the ship, had on his possession when his body was recovered from the ship’s wreckage, including some items that may have a huge impact on history. If you’ve been reading my book reviews for any amount of time, you know by now that I am a big fan of historical fiction and this book did not disappoint! I enjoyed reading all three women’s stories and the possibilities of wartime espionage and deception kept things interesting as the plot twisted and turned until the end. There were plenty of surprises and revelations to keep me hooked. Once again, I was impressed by the writing of these three writers and highly recommend this one!

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I really enjoy Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books and had heard nothing but great things about this one so I was very excited to finally come off the waiting list at the library and dive into this one. This one might be my favorite of hers yet! Daisy Jones and the Six was one of the most prominent rock bands of the 1970s until they broke up inexplicably after a concert and never got together again. The book is set up as an interview-style oral history where members of the band and others who were associated with them are interviewed about their beginning, rise to fame, and eventual demise. At several points during the book I had to remind myself that this book is fiction and these weren’t real people – it is written in a way that just makes the whole thing seem so real! I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the interview-style writing but I actually loved it and flew through the book. There were some surprising moments that I didn’t see coming and I found myself really invested in the band members. I will put in the disclaimer that it is about a 70’s rock band so sex, drug use, etc. is a big part of the band’s life. If that’s not your thing, well, be warned. Overall, I really enjoyed this read and highly recommend it!

My TBR list is currently very short, so if you have any recommendations for what I should read in August, send them my way! I’m going to try to get at least a couple read before baby comes and then . . . we’ll see. Ha!

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Nontoxic Cleaners that Simplify My Life

Yesterday, I was spraying down my kitchen counters with an all-purpose cleaner and LJ wanted to help. He grabbed the spray bottle to spray and then wanted to help me wipe down the surfaces. I did not hesitate to allow him to help, because I was using this cleaner which is plant-based, natural, and safe. Obviously, I’m not going to let him just straight up drink the cleaner or use it unsupervised or anything, but it gives me SUCH peace of mind that if something should happen and he does ingest a little or get it on his skin, it’ll be okay.

This got me thinking about all the nontoxic products I use for cleaning around my house and how much they simplify my life by not only working to keep my house clean, but giving me peace of mind in knowing LJ isn’t surrounded by harmful chemicals on every surface. So today I thought I’d just share a few of my favorite cleaning products that I use! I make exactly $0 with posts like this. No affiliate links, nothing sponsored. Just things I use and genuinely love. If you’re looking for ways to reduce chemical use in your home, I hope you find something here that’s helpful!

Puracy Laundry Stain Remover

As much as I love nontoxic cleaning products, I have been very hesitant over the years to try natural stain removers. When a piece of clothing gets stained, I want that stain to really be gone and I worried that by trying natural removers, I’d be wasting lots of money on products that just didn’t work as well as conventional products at removing stains. Enter Puracy. I heard about this brand through Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers (been following her blog for years!) and when she raved about how it cleaned a huge blueberry mess off her baby’s bib, I figured it could handle all the toddler stains I have too. You guys, I LOVE this stuff! It’s a free & clear formula composed of plant-based cleaners and it actually WORKS. Check this out:

I mean, all that ketchup was GONE. Hooray! I will say, the one thing that you have to keep in mind here is the longer this remover sits on a stain, the better it works. So when the ketchup fiasco happened, I stripped LJ down and immediately took the outfit to the laundry, sprayed Puracy on, and rubbed it in. I let it set until the next time I did laundry (which I think was the next morning) and the stain was gone. I don’t think it works quite as well if you just spray Puracy on a several-days-old stain and dump it straight in the wash. It needs time to set. Just an FYI!

Norwex Laundry Detergent

I have tried many a free and clear laundry detergent over the years and this one is my favorite for a few reasons. There are no dyes, fragrances, or other yucky stuff, one bag lasts a long time (like, over 8 months for me!) and most importantly, it works! My clothes come out nice and clean and I love that it is safe for the whole family. I use it even on the clothes that my brand-new, fresh-out-of-the-womb babies wear and don’t buy a special “baby” detergent.

I also love this product because I really try to reduce our plastic use as much as possible, and liquid laundry detergent comes in big, thick plastic containers that are difficult to recycle (and sometimes things like the tops aren’t recyclable at all). So I love that this is a powder that comes in a small bag that lasts so long – it just feels like it helps reduce wasted plastic. Love this stuff!

Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls

These balls work as a natural fabric softener and about 2 years ago I started using them in place of dryer sheets. Two years in and they are still effective! I just keep them in the dryer at all times so they’re ready to go and it’s a step I don’t have to worry about. Every once in a great while, I might add a drop or two of essential oil to the ball to add the faintest hint of a scent, but I typically just throw in my clothes and hit start! Easy, effective, and eco-friendly.

Norwex Window Cloth

I love using this window cloth for all my mirrors and windows. You just spray water on the surface and wipe it with the cloth – it is quick and effective and doesn’t leave streaks. I used this for a while, and then I used Windex on a mirror at my last house and was shocked by how streaky it looked using the “traditional” cleaner. Now I stick solely to this cloth!

Better Life Brand

I saw this brand on Shark Tank several years ago and was sold when the founder used the cleaner to wipe up raw chicken (and tested the surface to prove the product actually did clean it up!) and then proceeded to showcase its safety by SPRAYING IT IN HIS MOUTH. Yes. That happened. A cleaner that works that effectively and is safe for humans to ingest? Sign. Me. Up.

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Pictured with my trusty Norwex window cloth – these are my everyday cleaning staples!

 

This brand is my absolute go-to for daily cleaning. I use their dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, kitchen + bath scrubber, floor cleaner, all-purpose wipes, stainless steel polish…I love them all! You can read more about how I use them in the post I did on my cleaning routine (fine that here). I love, love, LOVE this brand and highly recommend it!

All these products have made my life simpler because I don’t have to think twice about their safety and efficacy. They reduce decision fatigue and keep my house nice and clean. Win win!

What nontoxic products do you swear by in your home? I’d love to hear your favorites!

 

“19 for 19” Update

Somehow it’s already mid-July and I’m feeling that sense of “where the heck is summer going!?” It feels like we had to wait so long for it to arrive (our spring was long, cold, and very wet) so I’m trying to soak up as much of the warm weather and sunshine as possible!

In January, I posted my list of goals for 2019 (find the original post here) and today I thought I’d just give a little update on how my list is coming along so far. Some of my goals were one-and-done things, while others are more ongoing. Some I’ve accomplished and some I have put zero effort into. We’ll see what the second half of the year holds for the list, but in the meantime, here’s how it’s going thus far:

My 19 for 2019

1- I didn’t initially share what this one was, but I’m ready to now. My #1 goal for 2019 was . . . BABY #2. Justin and I both felt very ready to expand our family and hoped to at least get pregnant in 2019, even if baby didn’t actually arrive until 2020. Now we’re just over 5 weeks away from meeting baby #2!

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2- Plan an adults-only trip for Justin and I – This one is completed! We planned and took an adults-only babymoon to the Bahamas and it was just what we needed. It was relaxing, fun, and just a wonderful vacation for us to reconnect and enjoy time together.

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3- Update instagram account and create Chatbook for LJ – Still working on this one. I have SO many pictures and it’s taking a while but I have put some work into this.

4- Select pictures for family photo albums – Zero progress on this one so far. I want to do one for each year of marriage and we’ve been married 6 years. It’s just a huge project and I have so many photos to sort through!

5- Plan out family photo albums – Again, zero progress. I can’t plan the albums until I have the photos selected, so hopefully I can get at least a little momentum on picking them out.

6- Create a master list of my top book recommendations – This one is done! I wrote a blog post about my top recommendations that you can find here. Now I just need to remember to periodically update it when I find new books I love!

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7- Replace our ugly brown recliner – Justin’s $20 brown recliner from college is still with us. Since we moved to a new house and had lots more space it didn’t feel like the right time to eliminate furniture. BUT it has been relegated to the basement for now so at least I don’t have to see it every day. 😉

8- Write and track our monthly spending budget – Justin and I did great with this for several months, but we’ve fallen off the wagon with this.

9- Send birthday cards – I’ve done okay with this one. I have sent many birthday cards, but my pregnancy brain has also caused a lot of them to be belated. So . . . I’m trying.

10- Find a local tailor – This one is also done! I found a local tailor that fixed my pile of clothes that needed attention – everything from pants that needed hemmed to clothing with holes to my bridesmaids dress for my sister’s wedding. Yay!

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11- Find a reliable, nearby babysitter -I would say this is partially done. We finally found a good babysitter at our last house, but then we moved. I have a lead on another babysitter but I have yet to use her. I actually plan to reach out this week so I’m hoping she’s a good one!

12- Have house siding washed -Done! Except we did it for our old house . . . and now our new house needs it too! We’ll probably wait to do the new house until next year but it did feel great to get our previous home look so clean!

13- Find comfortable black heels – Pregnancy is probably not the time to be searching for heels haha! I haven’t looked into this at all, so maybe after baby comes I’ll feel more inspired.

14 – Plan our will with an estate lawyer – Not done yet, but I’ve emailed a lawyer to get this process started so some progress has been made!

15- Invest in buying plastic alternatives – This one is ongoing, so it can’t really be “done” but I have bought stainless steel straws and another glass container to store and take along food. Progress!

16- Set up accounts for LJ’s future – We’ve set up his 529 plan! Whoo hoo!

17- Have budget meeting with Justin for each paycheck (roughly 2x/month) – Again, we did really well with this for several months but haven’t really kept this up lately. This check-in is good motivation to get back in the habit!

18- When buying clothing or shoes, look for fair trade, ethically made options – Honestly, I haven’t bought any shoes this year, and the clothes I’ve bought have all been maternity. While I haven’t necessarily bought fair-trade, I have bought a lot second-hand which is at least a very sustainable option and I’m happy about that!

19- Learn more about finances (401K, 403B, investments, etc.) – I’ve been doing this! Mostly by listening to various podcasts but there are also some books that I’ve read that have been helpful as well.

Overall, I’m pretty proud of how things are going with my list. If you made goals or resolutions for 2019, have you accomplished them? I’d love to hear!

A Day in the Life {7.9.19}

Good morning! Once again, I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for their monthly Let’s Look and today’s topic was “Your Typical Day” – the perfect time to document another day in the life of our little family right now. I did this back in the fall (read that post here) and I love that it just gives a little snapshot into what life looked like on a random day. It’s funny how there are things in each stage of life that you think you could never forget, yet they somehow do fade over time. I’m thankful I’ll be able to look back on these posts in the future and remember this sweet time at home with just LJ.

So here’s what a regular “day in the life” looked like yesterday! One disclaimer: Justin doesn’t start his new job until August 1 so while he isn’t “normally” home, he is for much of the month of July and we’re loving having him around more!

July 9, 2019

LJ woke us up around 5:20. That’s right friends, 5:20. We have had some rough sleep schedules lately and the fact that we had to share a room with him for many nights of our vacation last week did not help. We’re trying to get him back on track but it’s been tough! I got up to try to coax him back to sleep but he was not having it. Around 6:00, Justin came in to tag in and I went downstairs to start my day.

I like to get a few things going right away when I come downstairs so I emptied the Roomba (we run it at night), started a load of laundry, fed the dogs and let them outside.

I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down to read a little bit of The Fringe Hours (I really love this book, although I un-ironically am reading it in super small segments whenever I have time so it’s taking me a while to get through).

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By 6:30, Justin and LJ had come downstairs so I got a bowl of oatmeal ready for LJ. He is becoming much more independent lately and loves to feed himself!

After breakfast, Justin took LJ and I headed upstairs to wash my face, brush my teeth, and get dressed for the day. My morning “beauty” routine is super simple in the summer – splash my face with water, tinted moisturizer, a little balm under the eyes, deoderant, and contacts. Done! I’m also loving my Baobei support band for this stage of pregnancy – it’s like a sports bra for my belly and really helps relieve the heaviness of my bump throughout the day!

I still hadn’t unpacked from our vacation so I set to work on unpacking our suitcases.

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Justin and LJ had come upstairs and snuggled in our bed. After the suitcases were done I jumped in to join them for a few sweet snuggles. The days are long but the years are short my friends! Take the time to snuggle while you can!

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Justin got LJ changed and I headed down to switch the laundry over to the dryer.

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By 7:35 I was at my computer finishing up yesterday’s blog post and working a little for my stay-at-home-job. (I work part-time from home as an administrative assistant for a nutrition counseling company. You can read a little more about it here). While I worked, Justin played with LJ and fed him some cottage cheese.

Around 8:30, Justin took off to run some errands and LJ’s speech therapist Sarah showed up. She comes weekly on Tuesdays to help with his speech. LJ is totally on track with every other area of development and his receptive language is solid, but his expressive speech is a little delayed. Sarah comes to our house and plays with him and works with him on imitating sounds/words. We’ve only had about 4 sessions so far but I’m already seeing little improvements! I continued to work nearby while they did therapy on the floor. (Please note Macie snuggled up next to Sarah – she loves her as much as LJ does! Haha!)

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Sarah left around 9:30 and I grabbed a little snack (I have to eat a little something about once every 2-3 hours at this stage of pregnancy or I start to feel sick) and LJ and I packed up our things to head to Chik Fil A to meet some friends at the playplace. LJ had fun with his little buddies and I enjoyed adult conversation with my friend Amber.

We left around 11 and headed into Target quick for a few things (Toddler + Target gets a bit chaotic so there’s no picture but you can see the random things I bought ha!) Then home + lunch! Justin had finished up his errands and mowing and was working on yard work but he took a break inside to join us.

After lunch, Justin took LJ upstairs for a nap and I threw the dishes in the sink, put my shoes on, and started my Expecting and Empowered workout. Normally I like to do these first thing in the morning, but since I woke up so early I adjusted and made it my top nap-time priority (while Scout watched nearby).

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I like to listen to a podcast while I workout and yesterday I listened to “Mom Brain” while I worked through the lower body day. I’m really thankful for these workouts to keep me on track during pregnancy because this is a hard season to get to the gym consistently. LJ was refusing his nap (another fun part of our sleep journey right now…) so after some quiet time upstairs, Justin took him outside where he was setting up some patio furniture while I finished up my workout.

Around 2:00, I finished up my workout and sat back down at the computer to get a little more work done for my job. Around 2:30, I went to get LJ from Justin and brought him inside for a snack. My little desk area is situated right by our living room and playroom so I put Daniel Tiger on in the background (no shame in my mama game!) and LJ played happily by my chair and watched a little TV while I finished up work.

Justin had a work-related meeting around 3:30 so when he left, LJ and I headed outside with the dogs to play. It was a gorgeous, HOT day! We played with trucks, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, t-ball . . . all the toddler activities ha!

We came inside for water and to get a break from the sun around 4:30. I quickly folded laundry and responded to a few personal emails.

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Oh and in the interest of keeping things real around here, LJ had a pre-dinner tantrum because, you know, that’s what happens when toddlers boycott their naps.

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Justin made it home by 5:00 and we started getting things around for dinner. He fired up the grill while I chopped up veggies. We had some friends come over for our first meal out on the patio followed by a walk around the pond. We had a great time hanging out!

After they left, it was a quick bath for LJ, get him in pj’s and down for the night.

I showered and got ready for bed quick. My night routine is also pretty simple but I added a few things like a charcoal mask and actually rubbed some belly oil on the bump. I honestly think stretch marks have more to do with genetics and I know I’m lucky to not have gotten any with either pregnancy, but about 1x a week I still rub oil on it just to keep it soft and smooth.

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Justin and I watched a few episodes of New Girl on Netflix while he gave my little preggo feet a much needed massage.

Then it was off to bed! So ends another day in our life. 🙂

 

 

Virginia Vacation 2019

Good morning!

Last week, Justin, LJ, and I loaded up our minivan and headed east to visit his family in Virginia. His parents have a timeshare at a resort there and we were excited to get to spend lots of time with Justin’s parents, his sister, brother, sister-in-law, and our nephew and nieces. It was a wonderful week full of lots of fun: swimming, fireworks, games, and just spending lots of time together. Rather than a full recap, I thought I’d just share a few pictures that give a glimpse into our week. I honestly didn’t take a ton of pictures because I was absorbed in family time but these at least give you a little look at our week. Enjoy!

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LJ absolutely loved getting to hang out with his six-year-old cousin. They are the only two boy cousins (for now – we’ll see in August if another one is joining!) and their bond is just so so sweet. Our nephew dotes on LJ and LJ wanted to do everything that he did. Look at how cute this little reading moment was! ❤

We spent a LOT of time swimming and hanging out with the kiddos at the pool. There are currently 4 cousins ages 6 and under so it was fun to see them interact and play.

One day we spent the morning at a little children’s museum and even though there were SO many cool activities for little ones, LJ mostly just wanted to hang out at the train and plane tables. He knows what he likes! I honestly think he could have stayed there all day and happily played. 😉

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We stopped for ice cream after the museum – LJ loves ice cream just like his mama!

No missed workouts on this trip. I’m thankful for Expecting and Empowered which kept me on track with a couple workouts in the gym and a few cardio stroller walks in the morning.

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Another day, another pool. 🙂 LJ loved this pool because it had a nice big shallow place for littles and he loved running in and out of the water. I just love how he’s perched here on his little sibling – nothing like a 32 week baby bump to use as a seat!

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This is a side note, but I gave this stuff a try last week and loved it! It gives just a hint of a bronzy glow, which is nice because I never wear makeup to the pool, it goes on smooth, doesn’t feel greasy, and it doesn’t have lots of yucky ingredients. Win win!

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Pool time with my babies. I’m so thankful that I’ve had a pretty enjoyable third trimester so far and felt great during the vacation.

We spent a day at the waterpark, which LJ absolutely LOVED. He had so much fun sliding, splashing, floating the lazy river, and just playing. It was such a great day!

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Mommy and baby spent lots of time floating the lazy river and it was wonderful!

LJ is super into exploring right now and he loved finding little treasures (aka rocks) outside and point me in the most interesting direction. I can just hear his little mind going “come on mama!”

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Reading material for the week. This was an excellent read that I’m excited to review in my monthly post!

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At dinner one night, the restaurant had a little fish pond and our nephew was so sweet to hold LJ up so he could see. Melts my heart!

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We loved our time away with family – it was such a great week of memory making!

June 2019 Book Reviews

Good morning!

I can’t believe another month has come and gone. How is it already July!? Summer is absolutely flying by and I have mixed feelings about it. One the one hand, we get to meet baby at the end of summer! On the other hand, I don’t want to wish away any of this amazing warm weather. This week Justin, LJ, and I are vacationing with Justin’s family in Virginia so I’m just going to post my book reviews and get back to enjoying our week!

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All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

The premise of this book was very intriguing to me: ten years ago, a girl went missing in a small town in North Carolina and she was never found. In present day, another girl goes missing and all the same suspects from ten years ago are still around. The story takes place over the course of two weeks, but the kicker is: it is told in reverse. We start at Day 15 and work backwards to Day 1.  I think I liked the concept of reverse story-telling better in theory than in reality. Typically, as things are revealed to characters, they are also revealed to readers; in this scenario, I knew that there was a lot of information that the characters obviously knew on Day 15 that was being withheld. It actually ended up making the first half of the story seem very slow and a little confusing. Around Day 7, I felt like more and more relevant information was being revealed and my interest level grew, although there were things that happened in “earlier” days that almost confused me further because nothing in the “later” days hinted that they had happened. It just wasn’t really my kind of storytelling, and I ended the book feeling like I needed to reread the story to really understand all the things I missed (but I honestly just didn’t even care enough to do that this time). That being said, there were some twists and turns that I did not at all see coming, so if you like unique storytelling you might want to give this one a shot.

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

The Forgotten Room by [White, Karen, Williams, Beatriz, Willig, Lauren]

I love Beatriz Williams and have re-capped several of her books before, so I was excited to learn that she had co-authored a book with two other authors. This story centers around the Pratt Mansion, a glamorous house built in Manhattan in the late 1800’s and follows three women and their experiences in the house throughout history. In particular, each woman has unique encounters in a very special and mostly unknown attic room. So what was interesting about this story is that through the alternating stories of Olive (1890’s), Lucy (1920’s), and Kate (1940’s), you almost immediately start to form conclusions about how these women are connected. Even though their connections to one another weren’t very surprising, there were aspects of what exactly happened to each woman and her relationships and connections (with men in particular) that kept me guessing until the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a great historical fiction but I will say that it left me a little heartbroken. These characters all became so real to me and I knew that they couldn’t all necessarily have happy endings; the story I connected with the most was not one that ended how I hoped. Nevertheless, I did really like the book and would recommend it to my fellow historical fiction lovers!

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

A man is found dead in the middle of nowhere in the Australian Outback. No one knows how he ended up stranded in the unforgiving, and ultimately deadly, heat with no shelter except a small gravestone. There are virtually no clues and only a bunch of questions. As his family tries to process his death and find an explanation, we find that things aren’t always as they initially appear. I took this book along with me on our Bahamian Babymoon, but since I dove into The Clockmaker’s Daughter first, Justin ended up reading it before I did. I thought it’d be fun to have him share his take on it before I give my thoughts. So here he is with his blogging debut! 😉

“Overall The Lost Man was a fun vacation read for me.  It kept me wanting more because the story began with little to no background and the death was revealed very early with again, little to no information or leads.  The author is apparently, so Sarah tells me, known for incorporating the environment/mother nature as a key element in her stories.  As someone who has never personally experienced the Australian Outback, I found her details quite exciting.  Anyway, as the story goes on, you are given more and more present time clues as well as important historical information about the atypical family and their atypical relationships. The book had a good pace and unlike a lot of other reads does not wait until the last 20 pages to drop bombs of the most exciting of details. Of course it has its ending that you wouldn’t have expected, but it wouldn’t have been a publishable story without that…am I right?  Thanks for having me on your blog today Sarah.  I’m sure this is just a one hit wonder type deal (or more like one and done, no hit or wonder about this…)”

Ha! Thanks babe! I honestly don’t have much to add. As with her other novels, Harper uses the environment like an actual character. It made me want to constantly have water next to me while reading because the hot, dry landscape just seemed so real and so very desolate. Throughout the story I formed a bunch of different thoughts about what happened, but I was still very surprised by the ending of the story. I was hooked from start to finish!

It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell

I saw this book for sale in Costco several months ago and, after reading the synopsis inside, made a mental note to add it to my reading list. I recently saw it pop up on another blog’s book review and it inspired me to finally snag a copy from the library. IN this story three girls meet as roommates in college and become best friends/frenemies with complicated relationships. Twenty years later, one of them ends up dead under strange circumstances and their love/hate relationships with one another through the years may or may not have played a part in this death. I’ll be honest, this book was kind of disappointing for me. It had elements of psychological thriller, mystery, murder – all things that I normally am interested in reading about and I wanted to love it. I think my disappointment came down to one major hitch: I hated all the characters. To her credit, Campbell wrote each of the characters to be complex individuals with redeeming qualities and serious flaws. I just didn’t connect with or particularly like any of them. And without at least one person to root for, I kind of just wanted the book to be over.  I kept at it though because the actual death did intrigue me and I wanted to know whodunit – the last 20 pages were honestly my favorite. This book kept me guessing until the very end! So overall, I’d peg it as a middle-of-the-road murder mystery.

What have you been reading lately?