Friday, September 30, 2016

Literary Friday: The Girl in the Castle


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I read the best book this week by Santa Montefiore: The Girl in the Castle.  I've been thinking of my Downton Abbey loving friends: you will love. This. BOOK! Because it's BETTER than Downton Abbey: It's set during the same time period, but in an Irish castle.  *le sigh*




About Santa Montefiore

Santa Montefiore was born in England. She went to Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset and studied Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She has written sixteen bestselling novels, which have been translated into thirty different languages and have sold more than two million copies worldwide. Find out more about Santa at her website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

About The Girl in the Castle

• Paperback: 576 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 27, 2016)

International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the first book in a trilogy that follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Hazel Gaynor.

Born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900, Kitty Deverill is special as her grandmother has always told her. Built on the stunning green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill is Kitty’s beloved home, where many generations of Deverills have also resided. Although she’s Anglo-Irish, Kitty’s heart completely belongs to the wild countryside of the Emerald Isle, and her devotion to her Irish-Catholic friends Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the castle’s cook, and Jack O’Leary, the vet’s son, is unmatched—even if Jack is always reminding her that she isn’t fully Irish. Still, Jack and Kitty can’t help falling in love although they both know their union faces the greatest obstacles since they are from different worlds. Bridie cherishes her friendship with Kitty, who makes her feel more like her equal than a servant. Yet she can’t help dreaming of someday having all the wealth and glamour Kitty’s station in life affords her. But when she discovers a secret that Kitty has been keeping from her, Bridie finds herself growing resentful toward the girl in the castle who seems to have it all. When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested—and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she’s ever known are threatened. A powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship, The Girl in the Castle is an exquisitely written novel set against the magical, captivating landscape of Ireland.

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Purchase Links


HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Review:

This story chronicles the lives and friendships of Kitty, Bridie, and Jack from the time Kitty and Bridie are nine (Jack is a couple of years older) until they're 25.  Kitty and Bridie's friendship should be doomed from the start because Kitty is Anglo-Irish and wealthy, and Bridie is her Irish lady's maid.  Kitty is a member of the Church of Ireland, and Bridie is Catholic.  Both girls are in love with Jack, yet neither confide in the other about her feelings for him.  Plus they become adults during the Conscription Crisis of 1918 which snowballs into Sinn Féin's leadership in the Ango-Irish War. Although Kitty aids the rebels and has always considered herself to be Irish, her role in the war isn't enough to save her castle and home.

I love historical fiction, and this time in history is one of my favorites to read about.  The historical references are well-researched, and Montefiore's descriptions of Ireland are lyrical.  I enjoyed the family drama, and Kitty's ability to overcome her mother's neglect and become such a poised, confident, and accomplished young lady makes the story even more intriguing. For those of you who've read my blog for a long time, you know how I always appreciate stories steeped in lore. There are ghosts in the castle resulting from a centuries-old curse and will-o'-the-wisps...and I had no problem whatsoever maintaining my suspension of disbelief.  There were several surprises and cliffhangers at the novel's end, but never fear!  This is the first installment in the Deverill Chronicles series.  I'm looking forward to book two!

Disclosure:  I received an ARC of The Girl in the Castle from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Due to the ghosts' shenanigans in this book, it qualifies for the Gothic Reading Challenge.





If you're interested, I've reviewed two other books by Santa Montefiore on my blog:  The French Gardener and The Beekeeper's Daughter.



Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill




Thursday, September 29, 2016

Smells Like Fall in Our Kitchen! {Book Review *plus* Recipe}


Polish Honey Bread, or "Piernik"


Happy Thursday, My Lovelies!  It smells like fall in our kitchen: I just cooked a loaf of Piernik!  I got the recipe from Susan Wiggs' The Beekeeper's Ball.  I'll talk about the book first, then I'll share the recipe!





According to Goodreads:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns to sun-drenched Bella Vista, where the land's bounty yields a rich harvest…and family secrets that have long been buried  

Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the enchanting Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista's rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel's project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past. 

But Isabel's carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O'Neill arrives to dig up old history. He's always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel's kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own.


My Review:

Archangel sounds like the most perfectly quaint hamlet in all of Sonoma County.  The Beekeeper's Ball is encouraging me to book a trip to Northern California ASAP, and I bet that the Sonoma Tourist Office is thrilled that Susan Wiggs is writing books that highlight the beauty of the area.  This is the second book in the series; the first one is The Apple Orchard, and I'll write a post about it soon.  I didn't read them in order, but I didn't feel lost at all from not having read The Apple Orchard.  I didn't find out until later that The Beekeeper's Ball is part of a series. 

Isabel is living a dream life on her family's apple orchard by keeping bees and opening a cooking school in the main house she's lovingly restoring.  At around thirty years old, it has been a long journey for Isabel: Ten years earlier she was in culinary school but left before finishing her coursework due to a disastrous affair with one of her instructors.  This lapse in judgment has shaped her life and made her very guarded....until Cormac O'Neill shows up to write a book about her grandfather's heroism during World War II.

Cormac is very talented at getting people to open-up about their own lives, and I enjoyed the story of Isabel's Grandfather Max and the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Norway.  Cormac is also an amazing detective: He uncovers many secrets in Isabel's family.  He has a good eye for detail, and he can deduce facts from observations that most would overlook.  I really like how his character is developed in the book.  He, like Isabel, is jaded, but he is more than willing to take a chance on Isabel almost from the beginning of the book.  Their story is so sweet!  If you like romance, intrigue, action, family drama, historical fiction, and a gorgeous setting, you'll love The Beekeeper's Ball!

Speaking of sweet, the book is full of lovely honey-infused recipes.  I couldn't wait to try one, so I tried the Polish Honey Bread, or Piernik.  I had to adapt the recipe because some important information was missing (like what to do with the egg whites and the baking temperature, for example).




Piernik baked in my round bread baker


Piernik is a moist, sweet honey bread that is delicious served toasted with a bit of butter and a cup of tea. Thanks to the intense spices, the bread has a long shelf life.

It’s an old Polish tradition to bake piernik to welcome the birth of a baby girl. The loaf is then buried underground to preserve it. The bread would be brought out and eaten at the girl’s wedding.
These days, this is not recommended.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup of soft butter
1-1⁄2 cups honey, warmed in a pan or in the microwave
1-3⁄4 cups of sugar
1⁄2 cup of vegetable oil
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup of dark beer
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
3 to 3-1⁄2 cups flour
2 cups of dried fruits and nuts: raisins, candied orange peel, walnuts, dried apricots, dates, etc.



This is a great recipe for the holidays, especially Thanksgiving.  I like to try recipes in advance before I share with guests!


  
Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 325.

In a medium bowl sift together the baking soda and four.  Beat together the butter, oil and warm honey. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Beat in the sugar and spices. Then add the beer and flour mixture alternately. 

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Finally, fold in the beaten egg whites and fruits and nuts.

Bake in buttered loaf pans for about an hour, until the tops begin to crack and the cake tests done.
Yield: 3 loaves or 6 mini-loaves.



The butter crock is Polish.  This bread tastes great warm with a small pat of butter.







The bread has a nice texture.  It would make a great breakfast with hot tea or coffee on a crisp autumn day.



Cook's Note:  I divided the recipe in half.  I also replaced the spices with Penzy's Cake Spice.  I used Guinness Stout Beer and wildflower honey because it tends to be sweeter.  I've seen recipes with a chocolate topping similar to icing.  When I bake this next, I'll not add any fruit and rely on the honey and spices for flavor.


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Random Tuesday: Random This Week

Happy Random Tuesday, My Lovelies!  We're enjoying the first week of fall around here, but where are the autumn temperatures?  This is the hottest September I can ever remember, and I'm over the heat. But in spite of the hot temperatures, I'm dragging out the pumpkins and decorating for fall this week. Stay tuned for a punkin'-palooza post later on this week!



Here's a hint:  Our fall decor will combine cream, blue, and orange, of course!



The main reason I want the weather to cool down is so we can enjoy our patio and outdoor kitchen more.  We made a few changes on the patio: we changed our furniture by the fireplace.  Here's the before:



We had two smaller sofas


And here's the after:




...and replaced them with a semicircular sofa and ottoman.


I thought I'd lost my geraniums, but they've come back nicely because I've been watering the heck out of them.






Our roses and plumbago are still doing well in spite of the heat.


This week is Banned Books Week, and I read banned books!  ;P






My oldest daughter loves cereal (we call them jank-o's) and she bought home these creeptastic jank-o's yesterday:



Did you catch that?




Build your own marshmallow skeletons?  WTH?


Well at least she didn't bring home pumpkin spice jank-o's....



This might be more scary than Bloody Mary!




Our favorite show is back!  Yes!



Poldark, Season 2!!!




Last night our Chicago Cubs won game #100 with the help of a grand slam home run by Javi Baez.




So that about does it for me: Fluffing the house with pumpkins, reading as many banned books as I can, and watching the Cubbies and Season 2 of Poldark.  Life.  Is.  Good!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


Monday, September 26, 2016

Congratulations to My Daughter



Good Morning, My Lovelies!  I would like to congratulate my daughter for being selected as a BookBub featured book which raised her Amazon rankings to #6 in paranormal romance.  As a result of her sales, Barnes & Noble is now selling her print books.  

The portrait above was painted by me over the summer.  It's entitled "Graduate School Barbie" and it's an 8 X 10 painting rendered in oils on linen.  I'm currently taking a portrait class from Annabelle DeCamillis.  I never thought I'd enjoy portraiture, but I do love it!


Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Friday, September 23, 2016

Literary Friday: The Bone Tree

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I hope you have a stack of wonderful books to read over the weekend.  I'm reading the eighth installment of the Flavia de Luce mystery series this weekend, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd."  I'm in a very happy place!





Recently I read the second installment of Greg Iles' Natchez Burning trilogy entitled The Bone Tree. This series is very dark, and the villains and action completely over the top.  But this is the fifth book Iles has written about the series' protagonist Penn Cage, and so far I prefer the first three books which are stand alone novels.  The Bone Tree is definitely not a stand alone: If you haven't read Natchez Burning, don't even bother reading it.



Join us for a readalong of the Natchez Burning trilogy!

More than fifteen dedicated and enthusiastic bloggers will endeavor to read Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree later this summer as they prepare for the release of the final installment of The Natchez Burning Trilogy, Mississippi Blood, on sale Winter 2017!

About The Bone Tree

Paperback: 832 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 13, 2016)

According to Goodreads:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles continues the electrifying story he began in his smashing New York Times bestseller Natchez Burning with this highly anticipated second volume in an epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

Southern prosecutor Penn Cage is caught in the darkest maelstrom of his life. The heartbreaking but seemingly straightforward death of his father's African-American nurse, Viola Turner, has fractured Penn's family and turned Dr. Tom Cage into a fugitive from justice. And in the search for his father and his reasons for running, Penn has unwittingly started a war with a violent offshoot of the KKK, the Double Eagles, whose members seem to know much more about Tom's past than Penn or his mother ever did.

Desperately following his father's trail, Penn finds himself in a maze of mirrors, beset on all sides by a family of criminals and corrupt police whose power reaches into the highest levels of state government. To even the odds, Penn must rely on allies whose objectives are very different from his own. FBI special agent John Kaiser sees Tom Cage as the key to closing not only countless civil rights murders, but also the ultimate cold case: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Penn's fiancée, journalist Caitlin Masters, is chasing the biggest story of her career and believes Tom can lead her to evidence of America's most secret, shameful history. In the end, all roads will lead to the mysterious Bone Tree, a legendary killing site that may conceal far more than the remains of the forgotten.

Penn now knows that the death of Viola Turner is a door to the darkest chapters of America's past. In the civil rights battleground that was 1960s Mississippi and Louisiana, powerful men had audacious, sweeping agendas, and their violent race murders concealed a conspiracy that ran wide and deep, involving the New Orleans Mafia, a Double Eagle hit squad, and a world- altering murder in Dealey Plaza in 1963. And if the FBI can be believed, somehow Dr. Tom Cage stands at the center of it all.

Enthralling, captivating, and utterly engrossing, The Bone Tree is a masterpiece of modern suspense and the next novel in the monumental trilogy that Greg Iles was born to write.


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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Greg Iles

About Greg Iles

Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi. His first novel, Spandau Phoenix, was the first of thirteen New York Times bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of The Quiet Game, Turning Angel, and #1 New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Punchbowl. Iles’s novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children. Find out more about Greg at his website, follow him on Twitter, and connect with him on Facebook.



My Review:

I read Natchez Burning about three weeks before I read The Bone Tree, and I'm happy that I read them that close together because there are so many characters and storylines to follow.  The Bone Tree adds the assassination of JFK to the mix: this is my biggest criticism of the book.  I read a lot of historical fiction, but Iles does a poor job of integrating the history with his fictitious conspiracy theories.  It just doesn't work in this book, and if it had all been edited out the book would have been better and at least 100 pages shorter.

There is more over the top violence and ridiculously unbelievable rescues in this book as well.  I know that Iles is a better writer than this.  I know because I've read all of his previous novels but one. He doesn't need shock value to tell a good story.  His plot points are so crazy that he expects way to much from me to maintain my suspension of disbelief.  It's so disappointing!  And what he's done to Dr. Tom Cage's character is unforgivable.  His storyline is so messed up!  I wish I'd quit reading about this family before this series because the danger and upheaval Tom is putting his family through is unforgivable.

Although there's lots of tedious repetition in the book, Iles throws out so many new characters with little explanation.   I could have used a character log, truly.  Maybe that's Iles' plan, to write a Natchez Burning Companion so the reader can keep everyone straight.

SPOILER:  A major character dies in this book.  I didn't care, either.  Iles tries to give the character a condition to make the reader care, but when someone continually puts others at risk for selfish gains?
This character is selfish beyond belief.  Hopefully the third installment will benefit from his or her demise.

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




Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Thursday, September 22, 2016

8 Colorful, Cozy Libraries *plus* a Book Review

Happy First Day of Autumn, My Lovelies!  One of my goals for autumn is to work very hard to I can have some free time (maybe one afternoon or morning per week) to enjoy our Library.  I'd like to get cozy and read!  Our library is raspberry, our brightest room in our home.  Below is a slideshow from Houzz, and the libraries are bold blue, red, chartreuse, plum, and teal.  Which one is your favorite?











Recently I read a wonderful book for book club.  But our book club can never seem to get it together and meet.  This is so frustrating to me because I Bust my butt to read a book in time for the meeting, then at the last minute almost everyone has something come up and they can't meet. I'm over it.  I'm going to find a different book club.

I know it isn't Literary Friday, but I want to briefly tell you about our book club selection because I enjoyed it.




From Goodreads:

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

My Review:

This is the first book I've read written by Liane Moriarty, and I plan to read another one of her books soon.  I love how she writes, and the way she presented the story in this book is brilliant. The reader is aware that something unpleasant happens at the barbeque, but the narrative flips back and forth from the present to the barbeque told in flashback.

What intrigues me the most about this story is the friendship between Clementine and Erika. We get a glimpse of what each thinks about the other through their points of view, so in a way it's a challenge for the reader to discern who's more at fault in their not so healthy friendship.

Once all the pieces fall into place about the barbeque, the reader can look back and understand the characters' attitudes and motivations much more clearly.  Although there is tension within the marriages, I still think that the storyline about friendship is stronger and more compelling.

This book also makes the reader think about neighbors and boundaries.  How involved do we really need to be in our neighbors' lives?  What's healthy, what's humane?  There are so many layers to Truly Madly Guilty.  This was our book club selection last month, and I'm so sad that the meeting was canceled because this book is worth discussing.


Do you have plans to read any wonderful books this season?  I'd love to add to my Goodreads Want to Read list, so please share your book recommendations in the comments section below!


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Random Tuesday: Random *fun*

Happy Random Tuesday, My Lovelies!  Today's random is fun....F-U-N *fun*

First, I want to share some mailbox fun I received from Katie, Derby and Julep's mom.  Seriously, Derby and Julep are the cutest little Westie-bugs on the planet.  I love reading about their shenanigans!

Take a look-see:



Look at how cute Katie wrapped my prezzie!






Katie made me these adorable napkins!  She knows me very well!  I love the retro look of the fabric with the Scooby-Doo flowers and white pumpkins.  So AH-dorable!

Thank-you, Katie!



Last Saturday, Shelley participated in her first demo at a Judson College Preview Day.  She and her team did an amazing job, and it was fun to see her ride!  They also had their team pictures made.  I haven't uploaded her team photos or her video yet, but I'll get to it by next week.  




Speaking of other wonderfulness in the mail.....Look what *finally* arrived!  Yes!  It's the next Flavia de Luce mystery!  I am so, so happy so I guess you know what I'll be doing this week!  Based on the cover, this installment must be a Christmas mystery.  YAY!




I was a bit surprised because I recognized the title from my favorite Shakespearean tragedy, you knw, the Scottish play:


A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron. Thunder. Enter the three WITCHES.


FIRST WITCH
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

SECOND WITCH
Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whined.

THIRD WITCH
Harpier cries, “'Tis time, ’tis time.”


FIRST WITCH
Round about the cauldron go,
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' th' charmèd pot.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.


SECOND WITCH
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.


Hmmm.....I truly thought that the timing of the release (today) and the title of the book meant that it might be a Halloween story, but then I saw the holly under the cat's paw.  Very mysterious!


What are you doing today that's fun?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer's Last Hurrah

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  Is it turning cooler where you are?  It seems a bit cooler in the morning here in Central Alabama, but it's still hot with afternoon highs in the nineties!

Before the first day of Autumn on Thursday, I thought I'd set one last summertime table in our breakfast room.  Later in the week I'll begin putting out the pumpkins, squash, and acorns!






















We're having burgers tonight!  That's what the giant platter's for.  I'm going to assemble them in the kitchen and serve them outside if it stops raining!  :/

Resources:
Everything on the table is MacKenzie-Childs except the tablecloth (World Market) hurricane and candle (Pier 1),  and blue vase (Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic).

Have you decorated for autumn yet?  What about Halloween?

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill



Friday, September 16, 2016

Literary Friday: Commonwealth



About Commonwealth

• Hardcover: 336 pages
• Publisher: Harper (September 13, 2016)

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them. When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another. Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.


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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Photo by Melissa Ann Pinney
Photo by Melissa Ann Pinney

About Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and three books of nonfiction. She has won many prizes, including Britain's Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is the co-owner of Parnassus Books. Find out more about Ann on her website and follow her bookstore, Parnassus Books, on Twitter.


My Review:

You've probably heard the butterfly effect theory: A butterfly who flaps its wings just so in New Mexico can cause a hurricane in China.  This book reminds me of the butterfly effect, how one small action between two adults can continually influence events decades later.  Oh, what a tangled web...a very well-written tangled web!

Ann Patchett is such a wonderful storyteller.  I could not put Commonwealth down; I read it in one day! My family didn't get dinner, and I missed four innings of the Cubbies game.  What held my attention, you ask?  The camaraderie of the Cousins and Keating children, that's what.  I felt for these kids as they are uprooted from their home in California and move to Virginia (the Keating girls), and are joined by their four step-siblings, the Cousins, each summer.  Often left to their own devices, their ingenious shenanigans made me giggle and smile, especially their method for containing the youngest kid. Unfortunately their ingenuity (and lack of adult supervision) leads to tragedy.  But come to think of it, didn't we all enjoy a lack of adult supervision (those of us of a certain age who grew-up in the seventies)?  Our parents were busy doing other things.  Helicopter parents had not been invented yet. Plus we didn't have the electronic leashes our kids have today.

My favorite character is the youngest of the siblings, Albie.  He is serendipitously given a copy of Posen's book and he has no idea that it's based on his family until he reads it and rcognizes himself in the novel.  His hurt over the book breaks my heart, and I can't help but wonder how this generation of children will feel later in life looking back on social media posts made by their parents.

I highly recommend Commonwealth.  Honestly it's worth it just for the opening scene, Franny's christening party.  Patchett's descriptive prose of this party is truly remarkable.

I know I'm going off on a tangent here, but I listened to Ann Patchett's  interview Monday on the Diane Rehm show on NPR.  I must say that I'm so impressed at how totally unplugged Patchett is! She said that she feels like a human in a zombie movie because everyone is constantly staring at little screens. I think I could unplug, but I'd miss my blog friends and Pinterest.  Ironically the only reason I joined Facebook was for my book club: The decision was made to quit sending emails and communicate via a Facebook page.  Since I no longer participate in this book club, I could give up FB!  Click on this link to read and listen to the interview.

Patchett is so good at writing about people who are displaced, facing situations completely our of their comfort zones.  She is truly one of my favorite writers, and Bel Canto is one of my all-time favorite books.  You can read my review of another one of my favorites, State of Wonder, here.

I am also a huge fan of Patchett's bookstore, Parnassus Books, in Nashville.  It's one of my favorite indie bookstores, and I always pay a visit while in Nashville.


Check this out:  Here are some scenes from our home library.



Do you see the print?  Let's get a closer look, shall we?




We collect Hatch Show Prints, usually from concerts.  This one is from Parnassus Book Store.




Bel Canto is one of my favorite books.  Commonwealth is right up there with it!



DISCOLSURE:  As you can tell, I am a huge fan of Ann Patchett, so I was more than happy to accept an ARC of Commonwealth from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.



Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Shelley's Dorm Decor

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  Wow, I can't believe that this week is half over.  After the excitement of Judson College's Welcome Week I was able to take some photos of Shelley's dorm room.



Tip #1:  Know the rules of what you can and cannot bring.  Bringing your own furniture may not be allowed.




Shelley's closet is on the right, her bathroom on the left.
The curtain on her closet matches the curtains on her windows.  They are Judson red and match the roses in her bedding.




Tip #2: Use industrial carpet if you want it to last four years.  The rugs are charcoal, almost Judson black.




Tip #3: Know the rules about walls.  Command strips and washi tape are wonderful and don't hurt walls, neither do wall decals.








Tip #4:  A mini fridge can serve as a nightstand.  Shelley's bed has 7" bed risers so the fridge is the perfect height for a nightstand.  Tip #5: Bed risers are great for under bed storage, but some schools have restrictions on how high the risers can be.  Shelley has all her art supplies, craft supplies, and snacks stored in containers under her bed.




Tip # 6:  Let your student shop their room at home to help fluff their dorm room.  More than likely their rooms are cluttered to start with, so why not let them take a few of their favorite things with them to college?  Shelley brought a few of her favorite accessories and pictures/picture frames with her to college.  




Tip #7:  Find products that do double duty.  This cute lamp on Shelley's vanity is both a desk lamp and a vanity lamp.  The top tips and there is a makeup mirror on top.  The tray is convenient for frequently used makeup or writing utensils.  








Shelley found her bedding at Target (Simply Shabby Chic by Rachel Ashwell).




Tip #8:  Place a basket for keys and remote controls near the door.  Both are easy to lose in a dorm room!  Tip #9: Use pretty boxes to store extra school supplies and paper.








Tip #9:  Students should choose desk accessories with care and make it personal.  A few things from home on a memo or bulletin board should help.












Tip #10: Throw pillows can add personality to bedding and bring disparate elements in the room together.








Throw pillows are from Anthropologie and Target





Tip #11: Another way to make your dorm room personal is to include at least one piece of art.








Shelley's walk-in closet.  Remember that Judson College is a College for women, designed for women in mind!




Shelley brought a papasan chair and a beanbag chair.  Shouldn't all dorm rooms have a papasan chair?




Shelley's bathroom








Tip #12:  If you have an older sister, ask her advice about dorm rooms and college.  



I hope that you found these tips helpful!  I miss my sweet girl, but she is in such a wonderful place right now.

Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill