Friday, August 10, 2018

My Friday Five...

1.  Summer, can you hear me? Meaning, is it still summer? It sure feels like it - the hot sun is glaring at me every time I leave the house.  Except, I just went to Michaels and saw Halloween and Christmas decorations.  Now, the Halloween decor was expected (since they always seem to rush through the seasons), but the Christmas goodies were a shock. Those I did not expect to see - at least, not yet.  Then again, all the Hallmark Channel seems to do is promote their upcoming Christmas movies.  So, I guess Christmas is on the brain for everyone already - Yikes! Although, secretly, I love it - Christmas is my favorite time of year.

2.  Books.  I've just finished these lovelies (three were rereads):



and I'm currently reading:


3.  TV shows.  OC Housewives - OMG! Tamra broke her foot in a hot tub and now she's using a little scooter to get around. Kelly supposedly forgave Vicki, but not really.  And Vicki expects respect, even though she hasn't earned it.  Plus, she still doesn't get that she was WRONG - apparently, Vicki set up Kelly's ex-husband up with a friend and now she is double dating with them. Seriously?! How crazy is that? So, yeah, the episode was drama-filled.  As for Better Call Saul - whoa! This new season is going to be amazing. Jimmy is starting to turn Saul-ish and its going to be interesting watching that transformation occur.

4.  Rereads.  I'm not an IG expert, so I only just discovered Patti Smith's IG account. So, of course now I'm obsessed with her posts and jotting down any book titles she mentions.  And, now I'm thinking of rereading Just Kids and The M Train.  I'll probably wait to read Just Kids, because I want to get the new illustrated version coming out later this year.  However, The M Train sounds like a good idea to me right about now.  Plus, I just added this new-to-me book she mentioned to my TBR pile:

Have any of you read this one? How was it?

5.  The National.  I am just really digging this band right now. I am all over their music and loving every minute of it. Amazing!! I've seen their NPR Tiny Desk Concert episode on YouTube so many times:

And now, I'm off to help my little sister pack.  She's moving into a new apartment with her boyfriend and lets just say, she has a lot of handbags and shoes to pack up. Wish me luck!

Happy reading!!

Under A Dark Sky: A Novel by Lori Rader-Day

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

“Fans of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None will be riveted by Rader-Day’s latest psychological thriller, which makes you question who you really know and trust and whether you should be afraid of the dark.”—Library Journal,Starred Review

A brilliant concept, brilliantly told!” –Jeffery Deaver, New York Times Bestselling Author

Only in the dark can she find the truth . . .

Since her husband died, Eden Wallace’s life has diminished down to a tiny pinprick, like a far-off star in the night sky. She doesn’t work, has given up on her love of photography, and is so plagued by night terrors that she can’t sleep without the lights on. Everyone, including her family, has grown weary of her grief. So when she finds paperwork in her husband’s effects indicating that he reserved a week at a dark sky park, she goes. She’s ready to shed her fear and return to the living, even if it means facing her paralyzing phobia of the dark.

But when she arrives at the park, the guest suite she thought was a private retreat is teeming with a group of twenty-somethings, all stuck in the orbit of their old college friendships. Horrified that her get-away has been taken over, Eden decides to head home the next day. But then a scream wakes the house in the middle of the night. One of the friends has been murdered. Now everyone—including Eden—is a suspect.

Everyone is keeping secrets, but only one is a murderer. As mishaps continue to befall the group, Eden must make sense of the chaos and lies to evade a ruthless killer—and she’ll have to do it before dark falls…

my thoughts:

What a thrilling read! I just LOVED Lori Rader-Day's novel, Under A Dark Sky.  It was such a fun and exciting book to get lost in. There was plenty of drama and suspense with a beguiling mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat. What a great story!!

Eden's husband has died and she is mired in grief.  She is also afraid of the dark and turning into a person she barely recognizes.  So, when she finds a reservation to a dark sky park that her husband made for their upcoming anniversary, she decides to face her fear head-on.  Except, once at the retreat house, she finds that she won't be alone (something she had been looking forward to).  It seems that a group of college friends have planned a reunion and are staying at the retreat.  Eden decides that she will just stay the night and leave in the morning.  However, one of the college friends is found dead - murdered in the night.  Seems like everyone in the house is now a suspect, including Eden.  Yikes! As the story unfolds and more drama occurs, Eden finds herself trying to figure out what is going on, all the while facing her fear of the dark.  Talk about a thrill ride!!

I would happily recommend Under A Dark Sky to fans of Lori Rader-Day's novels and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Under A Dark Sky
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Art of Inheriting Secrets: A Novel by Barbara O'Neal

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime.

One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets.

Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.

“Settle in with tea and biscuits for a charming adventure about inheriting an English manor and the means to restore it. Vivid descriptions and characters that read like best friends will stay with you long after this delightful story has ended.” —Cynthia Ellingsen, bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper

The Art of Inheriting Secrets is the story of one woman’s journey to uncovering her family’s hidden past. Set against the backdrop of a sprawling English manor, this book is ripe with mystery. It will have you guessing until the end!” —Nicole Meier, author of The House of Bradbury and The Girl Made of Clay

my thoughts:

What a beautiful and compelling story! I absolutely LOVED Barbara O'Neal's novel, The Art of Inheriting Secrets.  It was such a fun and engaging read - I enjoyed every minute I spent with it.

Olivia's mother has died and left her an English estate, along with the title of Countess.  Curious about this inheritance, she heads to England and finds herself staring at the manor that has always played a role in her mother's paintings.  A place that she never knew existed.  Now, she wonders what ties her mother had to this huge estate and why she was never told about any of it. As her curiosity deepens, so do her ties with the quaint English village and its residents.  And the more she digs for information about her family, the more secrets and mysteries are revealed. 

Talk about a delightful summer read filled with intrigue, romance, and the English countryside.  I just loved getting to know Olivia and following her on this adventure of family secrets and self-discovery - it was such a treat!  The writing was top notch and the characters were unforgettable. Such a great story!!

I would happily recommend this book to fans of Barbara O'Neal and anyone looking for their next great summer read - you will LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Art of Inheriting Secrets
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, August 3, 2018

My Friday Five...

1.  I'm turning 40 this Saturday and I'm not freaking out about it - Hurrah!  I honestly thought I would not want to celebrate my birthday this year, but after reading all of those Joel Osteen books and focusing on positive thinking, I'm feeling good. I'm excited about aging another year and what that means. I'm excited about celebrating with my family and just relishing those moments of togetherness.  I feel like 40 means that great things are in store for me and that my future is wide open, which I find thrilling. So, here's to turning 40!!

2.  Books, books, books.  Yep, I've been reading quite a bit lately and enjoying every minute of it. Here are some the titles I recently devoured:




3.  TV shows.  Yes, I'm still watching the Housewives. I can't help it, but I'm addicted to their drama.  I'm watching NYC and OC - both are really good this season. I also watched Southern Charm - it was ridiculous and delicious!  I'm excited about the new seasons starting up for some of my favorite shows like, Fear The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul - woo hoo! Oh, and I LOVE the show, Ghosted - I just find it hilarious.

4.  More books.  These are the books that I can't wait to get my hands on - hurry up, Fall!





5.  The Beatles. After watching James Corden's Carpool Karaoke episode with Sir Paul McCartney, I have found myself unable to stop listening to The Beatles. I've always loved their music and now I appreciate it even more.  If you are a Beatles fan, definitely check out this video:

And now, I'm off to read some magazines. I have Vogue, Real Simple and O sitting right next to me. Hope you have a great weekend! Happy reading!!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

My Anxiety and Depression...

have reared their ugly heads once more.  Its the reason I've been MIA on my blog.  I've found myself feeling rather blue and riddled with nerves. And I've hated every minute of it. I'm not even sure how it began, but it did and it wouldn't leave me alone for quite some time. I started going to a therapist and at first I thought it was helping. I figured that talking about it and learning coping methods would help.  But then I realized that it really wasn't helping, so I quit going. As for medication to help combat my depression and anxiety...well, they didn't work out like I had hoped. The one for my blue mood resulted in the WORST day of my life ever, so I swore I would never take it again. And when I say WORST day, I mean, like that I honestly thought I was going to die and that terrified me beyond anything.  Of course, this brings me to my anxiety medication - clonazepam. I didn't want to take it, because I'd heard so many scary things about it.  Except, I had to do something, since I was having panic attacks all the time.  So, I took a little bit of the pill and it seemed to help. I realized that I didn't have to be scared of the clonazepam, so I took the whole dose and let me just say - whoa, nelly! I felt completely out of it, drowsy, and beyond mellow. It was frightening that a pill could make me forget my anxieties, but at the same time make me feel doped up. Cripes! I didn't like it one bit. So, I stopped taking the clonazepam after about a month.

The weird thing is that about the time I was getting frustrated with my therapist and the meds, I had started to read Joel Osteen's books.  My mom is a huge fan of his and she is always suggesting I read his books. Well, I finally started to read them and let me just say - I wish I hadn't waited so long.  I've watched his sermons on TV from time to time and I've always enjoyed them. I get his daily devotionals delivered to my inbox every day.  And, I even went to his church in Houston, TX and got the opportunity to meet him. So, I suppose that I've always been a bit of a fan, too. I just never got around to reading his books.   Anyhow, right about the time I was feeling really low and super anxious, I picked up one of his books and started reading. The more I read, the more my mind became focused and it felt like a fog was lifting.  I started to feel more positive and optimistic about my life and future. 

Joel's books are about positive thinking and they were exactly what I needed (and still need).  His words made me realize that my depression is not a forever state of mind.  I don't have to live an unhappy life.  He made me see that I was not living my life, I was merely existing.  I was too busy dwelling on the negative and letting my anxiety take over to fully understand that I was the one stopping myself from doing well in my own life.  It was like something in my brain just clicked and ever since then I've felt more like myself.  I started to see my depression as an infection that needs to get wiped out.  I realized that my depression is temporary and rooted in fear - fear which is "false evidence appearing real".  I started to think about my life and how I used to want so many things out of it and how I had stopped wanting those things. I had just resigned myself to living a depressed life.  I couldn't believe that I had allowed myself to accept that label "depressed" and allowed it to stick.  I was shocked and disappointed in myself.  And then I realized that I could change my narrative. I could tackle these feelings head on.  Being anxious and depressed was something I was going through right now, but it was not my future.  Nope, my future was bright and filled with all of my dreams - writing short novels, buying a house in a small town, falling in love and getting married.  Dreams that have stayed with me for so long, because they are still what I want.  I realized that just because my life had veered off the path that I had drawn up for myself when I was in my early twenties, didn't mean that my dreams had to end  - it just meant that I would get to them a little later than I had originally planned and that was just fine by me. 

Once I started to see my depression as an infection and started looking toward my future with optimism, I've found myself able to bat away my anxiety a bit more easily.  These past few months have been really hard and emotional, but I feel like I am on the right path and that I'm ready to help myself move forward. I definitely plan on finding a new therapist, because I do think it would be helpful to have someone to talk about all of this with.  Especially, since I've come to realize that learning about my AIH (a life-threatening illness) at 23 seriously fucked up my mental state - like, finding out that it was a really rare disease and that someone had died from it at 45. Talk about freaking me out about my own future.  I've also come to see that my self-esteem is not up to par and hasn't been for some time.  So, yeah, I have some issues to work through - plus, I do think they contributed to my depression and anxiety over the years.  Suffice it to say, you can see that my mind has been on more than just books lately. 

Now, don't worry, bookish posts will start to come again soon enough. I have never stopped reading during this time, I've just found myself reading in spurts instead of regularly.  I'm just happy, that I've been able to keep reading - books are my refuge and I've needed them so much these past few months. My blog will still be about books, but I might occasionally throw in a personal post or two.  Anyhow, I just wanted to share where I've been and catch you up. 

Thanks for reading this post.