Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm reviewing Rookie Mistakes: a grown-up's field guide for getting your act together by Kelly Bandas.  This is a fun book, and I've become a big fan of Kelly's Instagram reels, too.  You can follow her account @kelly_bandas and read her blog HERE.  

About Rookie Mistakes: A Grown-Up’s Field Guide for Getting Your Act Together

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 19, 2022)

Paperback: 288 pages

In her highly anticipated nonfiction debut, comedian Kelly Bandas uses her trademark humor to recount stories of growing up and becoming a semifunctional adult in a dysfunctional world.

Raised in a devoutly Catholic home, Kelly Bandas spent her entire childhood trying hard not to tick off “the man” or the Lord. And for the most part, she crushed it. But as she got older and began to navigate what it looked like to truly live in a world where gender roles, race, and politics weren’t always so black and white, Kelly realized that her former worldview was beginning to feel like that pair of Forever 21 jeans that used to glide effortlessly over her hips but now required a lot of stretching and acrobatic maneuvering to shimmy into place. And she’s not alone.

In Rookie Mistakes, Kelly shares stories of growing up in a church-centered, male-dominated society and how those experiences shaped and primed her for a new chapter of life. In this debut collection of essays, Kelly shares:

  • Funny, fast-paced, and uplifting stories 
  • Encouragement for women who are tired of feeling like they will never measure up—and kind of don’t want to anyway
  • Inspiration to find your voice, your power, and your people
  • Kelly shares everything from laugh-out-loud accounts of Oregon Trail-themed first kisses to heartfelt insights gleaned from navigating life as a Christian feminist doing her best not to screw up being a parent of a child with a disability, in a trans-racial family.

Rookie Mistakes is the call-to-action millennial women everywhere have been waiting for.

About Kelly Bandas:

Kelly Bandas is a writer and comedian best known for her popular Instagram and TikTok videos satirizing everything from millennial motherhood to social media culture. Her work can be found literally anywhere you have an internet signal (if your internet isn’t working, try turning off the wifi and then turning it back on again . . . or honestly, it could be your router.) Whether she’s hosting her not-at-all dorky Outlander support group or speaking up about things that really matter, Kelly’s mission is to always empower and lift up other women through community, inclusivity, and laughter.

My Review:

This book is definitely written for millennial women, so if you know one, I'm quite confident she would enjoy reading it.  However, as a Gen Xer, I loved it too, especially the part about Kelly's being a Fenway Park Ambassador as a teenager.  I really enjoyed the story about how she was forced to be Wally (Boston's mascot, Wally the Green Monster) because she came to work one day looking bad after having cried all night after a bad break-up.  She was also a ball girl in college when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.  Kelly was born under a lucky star!  Although not as dire as the Cubs' World Series record, it had been 86 years since the Red Sox had advanced to the series.

Y'all know that I'm a huge Cubs fan, and I enjoy how much attention the Cubs' ball boy Fabian gets during home games.  He has his own fanbase, and Jon Sciambi gives Fabian lots of airtime, and it's fun for the fans.  Kelly also received lots of attention as a ball girl, some of it good (catching foul balls and giving them to fans was her #1 job) to not so good (hit in the face with a ball, which was featured on ESPN).  I also thought it was fun reading about how Kelly and a friend were able to make it to the last games of the series and back home to Boston.  That story would make a great movie, by the way.

One touching part of the book is when Kelly and her husband Brian embarked on an international adoption adventure and brought home their third son CJ.  Kelly is the perfect mom for CJ because she is a speech-language pathologist, and he's deaf.  She shares how God moved her to consider adoption, and the ways in which God gave her confirmation that this is something he wanted for her life is inspiring.  This wasn't the only inspiring story, just my favorite.  I wish I could share every essay with you, but my post would be way too long.  This book is full of funny, uplifting, and inspiring essays.  I enjoyed them all, and I think you will, too.

Disclosure:  I received a paperback copy of Rookie Mistakes from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


Happy Monday and first day of August, Friends!

I'd like to invite you to join us for:

Please join us for a brand new guided Bible journaling study starting this week!  We will be reading and discussing Maggie Wallem Rowe's This Life We Share: 52 reflections on journeying well with God and others.  This is our third year (time flies!) for Bible study, and I hope you will consider joining us.  Please click THIS LINK for more information.

I try to start everyday with Bible study and coffee.  :D

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  Today's Literary Friday post features This Place of Wonder by Barbara O'Neal.  It's the perfect beach read if you like literary fiction, and it would also be a great book club selection because there is a plethora of family drama in the narrative your book club could discuss for hours on end!

About This Place of Wonder

Hardcover: 316 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 19, 2022)

In the wake of a personal tragedy, four women face the past, their futures, and each other in a novel of broken ties and healing by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids.

When famed chef Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves behind a celebrated reputation and four women grappling with loss, anger, pain, and the question of how the world will turn without him…

Meadow, the ex-wife with whom Augustus built an empire–and a family–still holds a place for him in her heart, even as she continues to struggle with his infidelities, which ended their twenty-year marriage. More unforgiving is Maya, his estranged daughter, who’s recently out of rehab but finally ready to reclaim her life. Norah, his latest girlfriend, sidelined her own career for unexpected love and a life of luxury, both of which are now gone with Augustus. And then there’s Rory, Meadow’s daughter, the voice of calm and reason in a chorus of discontent.

As Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory are flung together by tragedy, grief, and secrets yet to be revealed, they must accept–or turn away from–the legacy of great intentions and bad decisions Augustus left them. And when the circumstances around his death are called into question, their conflicted feelings become even more complicated. But moving forward is the only choice they have, and to do so, they’ll need to rely on family, friendship, and inner strength.

Set on the stunning, rugged California coastline, This Place of Wonder is an emotional, lush, and empowering story of four women finding their way in a changed world–and what a wondrous journey it will be.

My Review:

This book was surprising, and although the book blurb is very accurate, it doesn't prepare the reader for the emotional rollercoaster of grief and shocking plot points facing the four women closest to Augustus Beauvais.  Although deceased, Augustus is the most compelling character in the novel.  All four women: his ex-wife, Meadow; his current lover, Norah; his daughter, Maya; and his step-daughter, Rory are shocked that the center of their world, a robust man larger than life, died so suddenly without any warning whatsoever.  Norah, a recovering alcoholic, leaves rehab a couple of weeks early due to his death.  Estranged from her father for almost ten years because he left her step-mother, she settles into her luxurious childhood home on the beach in Central California.  She's angry that she won't have the opportunity to confront Augustus with her disappointment in him because he "threw away their family."

Meadow is an enigma wrapped-up in a mystery: There is little information on her early life.  Norah flies to California (at Augustus' invitation) to interview Meadow as a leading foodie in the farm to table movement for her dissertation.  Norah falls in love with Augustus before she even meets Meadow.  Norah's character was troublesome in my opinion because she was clearly intelligent, yet she let a much older man sideline her education and goals.  Stupid girl.  Rory was the only person in Augustus' life he didn't leave (he had left Norah with her alcoholic mother to marry Meadow).  Rory's character is not quite as well-drawn as the other three women, and part of the reason for that is the book is told in first person from the other three women's points of view.  There is a lot of head hopping in this book, but it works for the narrative.  One thing I can say about Rory is she seems to be outwardly grieving for Augustus more than the others.

The story begins to morph into a (possible) murder mystery, which I wasn't expecting, and the more I read, the less I liked the women other than Rory.  However, I did understand where Maya was coming from, and I truly rooted for her to get her act together and remain sober. Maya's struggle was a huge part of the story. The beautiful California coastline is the perfect setting for this novel.  The wildfires in the distance add an eerie and oppressive atmosphere, making the characters even more nervous and anxious as they wait for the completion of the autopsy report and police investigation into Augustus' cause of death.   

I could not put this novel down: I finished it in two days.  If you enjoy women's fiction and complicated family dynamics, then you should enjoy This Place of Wonder.  


I received an ARC from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I've enjoyed being a part of this tour!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



Recently I read a lovely book by Grace Valentine entitled What Will They Think?  and I kept wondering what all of y'all, my blog friends, have been thinking about me because I haven't blogged in over a month.  I hope y'all will extend me a little grace.   (Please scroll to read my review of What Will They Think?)

To say that it's been a busy month is an understatement.  We have replaced several appliances in our home, and we've had other repairs inside and out completed.  We have not been to Lake Martin at all this summer because our cabin's fa├žade was reclad, and it took longer than expected. 

Over the Independence Day Weekend, Mustang Sally almost died.  We were so fortunate that the surgeon on call at the emergency veterinary clinic knew how to perform the surgery that saved her life.  It's a fairly new procedure to correct acute onset epiglottic retroversion/entrapment.  In laymen's terms, her breath was going into her stomach rather than into her lungs.  The procedure was fairly quick, and she was able to come home the next day.  My breast cancer surgery was the following Tuesday.  I had a lumpectomy, and Sally has been recovering with me.  I have been in pain, and when I went to my follow-up appointment last week, my surgeon said my pain was caused from a wicked hematoma.  So that means two more weeks of not using my left arm, and I will follow-up with her next week (again).  

I have not been doing much at all since surgery other than giving orders, LOL.  Shelley is helping me with this post, and Trip and Shelley have both been great to help me with everything.  Trip has really stepped-up to help with the gardening, and he has taken instruction well.  ;P

Below is a collage of my few activities:

I was gardening a lot in the mornings before it got too hot, but once I had surgery I had to stop because I can't get sun with the meds I'm on (this is only temporary).  Trip has been growing beautiful tomatoes, and my Rose of Sharon has bloomed profusely this summer.  I have read many books, and eventually I will write a couple of posts with mini reviews.

I was warned that I might have neuropathy with the last chemo treatments, so I stopped painting because I didn't want to mess-up the paintings I had been working on for many hours.  I decided to draw instead because it wouldn't be a big deal if I messed up a few drawings.  I'm drawing with graphite and colored pencils, and I'm still taking my art classes via ZOOM.  I was very fortunate that I was able to complete all rounds of chemo, because so many patients have to either stop or postpone treatments.  I went straight through, and surprisingly I had zero neuropathy in my hands.  

This rose is standing on its head, and the blossom reminds me of a ballerina's tutu.
I have enjoyed drawing, and I think I will continue drawing for a few more months because the set-up and clean-up is so much easier than painting: I can do it with one hand!  Plus, I don't have to smell the solvents and be exposed to heavy metals.

Our daughter Shelley has read a couple of Grace Valentine's books, and she's a fan.  When TLC Book Tours asked if I was interested in reviewing Grace's latest book, I said yes because of Shelley's endorsement.

About What Will They Think?: Nine Women in the Bible Who Can Help You Live Your Life Boldly

Paperback: 240 Pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 12, 2022)

In this inspiring guide for young women, Grace Valentine shines a spotlight on nine courageous women in the Bible who lived their faith boldly. In a world that pressures you to seek validation from others, learn to focus on what truly matters.

“What will they think?” It’s a question that consumes many women and may even stop them from living the lives God has called them to live. Whether it’s don’t be too loud, don’t be too aggressive, or your role is to be a sidekick for men, women struggle to live a life that is about pleasing others—but Scripture describes women who actually did the opposite.

In this third release from popular blogger and podcaster Grace Valentine, What Will They Think? features the stories of nine incredible women in the Bible, including Esther, Deborah, Sarah, Mary Magdalene, and Tabitha. These women did not bend to peer pressure or seek to people-please but instead turned their focus on God.

What Will They Think? contains:

  • Inspiring and motivating stories of strong women who lived courageously in their faith
  • Practical steps on how to stop caring what others think and focus on what truly matters
  • Personal stories from Grace’s life and her own struggle to stop focusing on the opinions of others

For inspiration found in the lives of these biblical heroes, What Will They Think? provides steps to finding freedom to live life boldly and to stop caring about what others might think.

My Review:

I loved this book, y'all.  Although it is geared toward younger women, I still learned plenty from it.  After all, one of the nine women discussed in the book is Sarah, Abraham's wife, who becomes a mother in her nineties.  God can use women at any age to further his kingdom!  The other eight dynamic women featured in the book are: Queen Esther, Deborah, Hagar, Mary, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman at the well, the woman who touched Jesus' cloak, and Tabitha.  Reading about these women was fun and inspiring.

I was very happy that Grace included Deborah in her book because I recently read about her in a Bible study: she was one of the judges of Israel before Israel had kings.  She was a prophet, military leader, and she literally listened to and decided legal cases for the people.  Deborah's story was part of the section entitled "What If They Think I'm a Leader?"  This is the most empowering and encouraging section in the book. 

I found Grace Valentine's voice to be so endearing.  She is bold in her writing because she's self-deprecating in sharing her testimony and some of the mistakes she's made and misunderstandings about Christianity she's had in her past.  Yet her self-deprecation is not in any way told to make herself seem "less than" because she understands her value and knows her true worth as a child of God.  She has a wicked sense of humor, too!  I also like how she uses contemporary examples of lessons women can learn from the nine women in the Bible.  My favorite quote from the book referencing Deborah:

When people make you, as a woman, feel like an object meant to please others, remind them you're a warrior.

I think this book is appropriate for all women because we're reminded that God calls women from all walks of life and ages to serve him.  Some of these women were outcasts in their communities, yet they were changed by their encounters with Jesus.  Grace does an amazing job in relating these biblical stories to contemporary situations in how we can boldly serve God based on our talents and strengths.  

Shelley with Grace Valentine at her book signing for What Will They Think? in Homewood, Alabama.
We loved meeting Grace: She is truly a dynamic and kind young Christian lady!
She is darling, y'all!  

Disclosure:  I received a copy of What Will They Think? from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

the favorite

  Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing three library books I recently read.  The first two are part of a new mystery s...