Monday, January 16, 2017

Once Upon a Book Club: All the Good Parts

Happy MLK Day, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all enjoy your holiday.  Today I'm sharing the October Once Upon a Book Club selection (at least I think it's October's...I'm reading December's now, and I've already posted about November's selection).

October's selection is All the Good Parts by Loretta Nyhan.

According to Goodreads:

At thirty-nine, Leona Accorsi is broke, single, back in school, and living in her sister Carly’s basement. She’s perfectly content being quirky Auntie Lee to Carly’s four children. That is, until Leona’s doctor tells her that if she wants to have a child, she’d better do it now.

Leona does want a baby. She always has, but the circumstances have never been right. Now she has a huge decision to make: face motherhood on her own or risk missing out on its rewards.

Unfortunately, she’s let her romantic life go stagnant. She barely even knows any single men. She has just a few prospects: a Vietnam vet and partial amputee, his intimidating son, the sweet but troubled man who tutors her niece, and a fellow nursing student she’s never actually met.

As Leona discovers more about each one, she realizes any of them could be the right man for the job. The more important question is, has she become the right woman?

My Review

Leona is a difficult character in several ways.  She majored in art in college, but she never did anything with it.  She took care of her father during his terminal illness with very little help from her sister.  She's living with her sister's family in their basement in exchange for helping with the children and paying the occasional bill.  She's an online nursing student and an at-home healthcare worker: These two decisions are the only two she makes that make sense given her need to nurture.  Plus her OB-GYN warns her that she needs to have children soon as her biological clock is winding down.  

Leona wants a baby.  Is she self-centered? Although having a baby given her circumstances is a selfish decision, I don't think she's selfish in general.  She also means well even though she doesn't make good choices in her job or in trying to help her niece's homeless math tutor when she has no idea what his issues truly are.  Why would she even consider him for her baby daddy when he could have a genetic mental illness? What is she thinking?  I also wanted to jump in the pages of the book and slap her silly when she doesn't share important information concerning her thirteen year old niece with her sister (after all: Leona is NOT the mama).

I really wanted to dislike Leona, but I couldn't.  All the Good Parts is a quirky chick lit book with plenty of drama, humor, and a satisfying ending I wasn't expecting; there's hope for Leona after all.

Like before, I enjoyed the gifts in this subscription box.  Inside the book there are post it notes that tell you to open your gift (the corresponding git has the page number on it).

A favorite quote from the book

Purple scarf gift from page 101

I love this mirror.  The quote on it says:
You are Beautiful!  Mistakes are made by those who are learning to really live life.

LOVE the notebook.  There is a spoiler printed inside the notebook, so I didn't want to share it with you.   

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Shelley's NEW Dorm Room

Happy Weekend!!!  So happy to be spending the weekend with my family.  Shelley moved dorms last week, and I went to Marion twice this week to help her fluff her dorm room.  It's a different set-up than her first one, and I think she likes it better because now she and her friends are close to each other (several girls were moving last week).

I made a little video of her room.  I also watched her ride during team practice.  I made the video with my iPhone SE.


What did you think of the video?  Would you like to see more of them on my blog?

Katie from the Westie Julep Blog made the adorable French pillowcase for Shelley's dorm.

Shelley's new room has an extra bed so we made it into a daybed.

What have you been doing this weekend so far?  We've watched movies, gone out to dinner, and enjoyed each other's company.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, January 13, 2017

Literary Friday: Her Every Fear

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  SO HAPPY it's the weekend.  YAY!  What a difference a week makes. Last weekend it was ice and snow, and this weekend we're enjoying sunshine and temperatures in the seventies.  We're planning a movie night outside on our patio, and I can hardly wait.

This week I read Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson.  It's a suspense thriller I couldn't put down.  Not to take anything away from the book, but one of the main reasons I kept reading is I was too scared to turn off the lights!

About Her Every Fear

• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (January 10, 2017)

The author of the wildly popular The Kind Worth Killing returns with an electrifying and downright Hitchcockian psychological thriller—as tantalizing as the cinema classics Rear Window and Wait Until Dark—involving a young woman caught in a vise of voyeurism, betrayal, manipulation, and murder. The danger isn’t all in your head . . .

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life. But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London. When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met? Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real. And much, much closer than she thinks.

Told from multiple points of view, Her Every Fear is a scintillating, edgy novel rich with Peter Swanson’s chilling insight into the darkest corners of the human psyche and virtuosic skill for plotting that has propelled him to the highest ranks of suspense, in the tradition of such greats as Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, Patricia Highsmith, and James M. Cain.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Jim Ferguson

About Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson is the author of The Girl with a Clock for a Heart. He has degrees from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is at work on his next novel. Find out more about Peter on his website and follow him on Twitter.

My Review:

Her Every Fear does remind me of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window due to the setting complete with a courtyard apartment complex, the voyeuristic plot, and two beautiful blondes: Audrey, the murder victim, and Kate, the neurotic English cousin of Kate's next door neighbor Corbin.

Kate seems to be a freak magnet.  Her overbearing and sociopathic boyfriend from university becomes obsessive and abusive.  After Kate breaks-up with him, he stalks her and violently threatens to kill her, only to lock Kate in a closet while he blows his own brains out.  If that isn't enough, the moment Kate arrives at her cousin's apartment in Boston she meets one of Audrey's friends who's concerned because she hasn't been able to reach Audrey and fears foul play.  When Audrey's body is discovered, Kate becomes even more paranoid, and her jet lag and anxiety disorder isn't helping her mindset.

Kate is an artist, and she enjoys sketching people best.  She has a photographic memory; she can sketch anyone hours later extremely accurately.  Whenever she looks back at people she's sketched while in Boston, she notices subtle changes in her sketches.  Is her memory failing her, or is she being gaslighted?  I found it odd that she would question her abilities, but exhaustion coupled with anxiety does a number on her confidence.  Adding to her terror is Sanders the cat: He's allowed to roam all over the apartment complex (the owner lives down the hall from Kate).  Kate seems to have difficulty remembering whether or not she's let him out of the apartment because whenever she's convinced she's let him out, she notices him roaming around the apartment later.

(This is why I prefer dogs.  All cats are traitorous hookers.  If Corbin had had a dog for Kate to take care of I guaran-darn-tee you that she would have not been as confused about her dire situation.)

I enjoyed the plot twists and turns as well as the multiple points of view.  The structure of the novel is basically this: A character will tell you the story given a specific timeframe, and then another character will tell his or her story during the same time.  Although there is a bit of back peddling in the plot it's necessary to see what other characters are doing at the same time.  Mixed in with this structure are flashbacks from Kate and Corbin's lives.  There's a twist at the end from a minor character's point of view that truly gave me itchy underarms.

If you enjoy this genre then you must read Her Every Fear.  I highly recommend it, but you might want to get a yappy dog before reading it or you might not be able to turn out your lights and sleep!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Her Every Fear from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Art @ Home First of the Year Update

Hello, My Lovelies!  I am so happy to have all the Christmas put away.  It took several days because I organized everything a wee bit better than last year.  I actually like the way our house looks once everything is put away and most of our surfaces are clear.  I'm thinking about paring down our decor all over the house (with the exceptions of art and books, of course).

Nothing but a large flower frog on our dining room table 

Breakfast room table

On January 3rd we moved Shelley from one dorm to another: She wants to be closer to friends she's met since school started.  We've been busy fluffing that dorm room, and it's different from her previous one.  I'll be posting photos of her new room in a few days.  Thankfully the day we moved her in was warm (shorts and t-shirt weather) and it was raining.  But what a difference just a few days make because by Friday, January 6th, we were enjoying an ice and snow storm.  Welcome to winter in Alabama!

Mustang Sally is ready for the cold weather in her GAP sweater Santa brought.

Someone special recently celebrated a birthday.  Can you guess who?

If you guessed Finlay, you're right!  He's 3!  The cute plates are a Christmas present from Mr. Art @ Home.

Shanley Belle made some cupcakes to celebrate the snow day.  They were fantastic, and she used a recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.

These cupcakes had a surprise filling of sprinkles and colored sugar.

In between putting away, cleaning, and moving, I have been reading a few online decorating articles and looking at Pinterest boards.  Here is some inspiration I enjoyed:  Here's How the Kids from Harry Potter Would Decorate their Grown-Up Homes.

One of my favorites: Harry and Jenny's adorable cottage.

(Image credit: Keltainen Talo Rannalla)

What is inspiring you these days?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Literary Friday: The Fireman

Happy Saturday, My Lovelies!  I'm sorry about posting a day late this week, but with the snow and ice storm and internet problems it couldn't be helped.  We're currently iced in: The Road to our neighborhood over the mountain has been closed, ant the rural highway behind our neighborhood can only be traversed with a four wheel drive vehicle.  So guess what I'm going to do today?  Can you guess?  Yep, sit in front of a warm fire and READ!  YAY!

For the past couple of weeks I've been reading the most engrossing story ever:  The Fireman by Joe Hill.

About The Fireman

• Paperback: 768 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 3, 2017)

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes The Fireman, which was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller when published in hardcover last year. The Fireman is a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman. The fireman is coming. Stay cool. No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated.

A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child. Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore.

But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged. In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Shane Leonard

About Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2. He is also the Eisner Award-winning writer of a six-volume comic book series, Locke & Key. He lives in New Hampshire. Find out more about Joe at his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @joe_hill, and Facebook.

My Review:

I'm going to begin with the truth: I chose this book because Joe Hill is my oldest daughter's all-time favorite author. For years, ever since she found Horns and every volume of his award-winning comic series Locke and Key, I've heard about this man's writing. So even though anything post-apocalyptic or horror-related is my least favorite genre, I chose to read and review this book because I knew the writing would be impeccable.

Hill, and my daughter's very different literary taste, did not disappoint.

In The Fireman, Hill has created a world that's been set on fire. Homes, schools, hospitals all burn not at once, but when someone inside bursts into flames after being infected by Dragonscale. Somehow, despite the abject strangeness of this way the world is ending (one unpredictable explosion after the next) Hill manages to use pop culture references and characters so relatable, the reader can't help but almost find this new reality to be normal. I found myself loving some characters and wanting to shake others. You meet Harper, a caring nurse who loves Mary Poppins; Allie, a gritty teenager-turned-adult who's trying to help as much as she can in this environment; as well as Nick, Allie's younger brother, who's also been stretched beyond his years. Nick is deaf and uses sign language to communicate, something that is exquisitely translated.  As a side note, I applaud Hill's consistent and sensitive (from what I've been told of Locke and Key) inclusion of characters with disabilities in his writings.
Finally, the reader will also meet the Fireman. Since I don't want to post any spoilers, this is all I will say regarding him: trust the man.

This book is both gruesome and exceedingly frustrating at times due to secondary characters who just won't cooperate. Even so, it brings beauty and love in the most unlikely places. If there ever is a spore that infects us all and ends the world as we know it, I hope there is a Harper out there somewhere, reminding us all that we can still find kindness even when all hope is certainly lost. Because in Hill's world of fire, even if you already have gone up in flames, there is still hope.


I received a copy of The Fireman from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill