Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Favorite Reads of 2017

What I Read:  Favorites of 2017

 2017 was a wonderful reading year for me.   I rediscovered my love of all things books and joined others who also enjoy reading and sharing what they read (Modern Mrs. Darcy podcast What Should I Read Next?, Show Us Your Books with Steph and Jana, and The Book Club on Facebook. According to Goodreads, I have read 115 books this year.  I am sharing my favorites or stand outs. There were many, many good reads but my favorites touched my heart and mind in a special way.  I learned alot about  my reading style also.  I don't do well with overly sweet or fluffy reads, I want a book that will teach me something new, I don't enjoy memoirs that make light of mental health.  So not in any particular order here are my 10 favorites of 2017:

Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult 
(from Goodreads)  With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

This is How It Always Is - by Laurie Frankel
(from Goodreads) This is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

All The Light We Cannot See - by Anthony Doerr
(from Goodreads) This is a stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Columbine - by Dave Cullen
(from Goodreads) What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we "know" is wrong. It wasn't about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account of this heartbreaking tragedy.

Homegoing - by Y
(from Goodreads) A novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way also becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction.

Station Eleven - by Emily St. John Mandel
(from Goodreads) An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

All the Bright Places - by Jennifer Niven
(from Goodreads) This is an exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. Beautifully written but heartbreaking.

In a Different Key:   The Story of Autism - by John Donvan and Caren Zucker
(from Goodreads)  In a Different Key takes us on a journey from an era when families were shamed and children were condemned to institutions to one in which a cadre of people with autism push not simply for inclusion, but for a new understanding of autism: as difference rather than disability.  (This book taught me so much about autism I did not know and I am a mother of two sons on the spectrum and work professionally as an educational advocate.  I highly recommend it to parents, family members and professionals who have any contact with people with autism)

Stay with Me - by Ayobami Adebayo
(from Goodreads) Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 80s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.

The Hate U Give - by Angie Thomas
“The Hate U Give is an important and timely novel that reflects the world today’s teens inhabit. Starr’s struggles create a complex character, and Thomas boldly tackles topics like racism, gangs, police violence, and interracial dating. This topical, necessary story is highly recommended for all libraries.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (starred review)

If you only read one book this year, please let it be this one!
If you only read one book this year, please let it be this one!

If you only read one book this year, please let it be this one!
If you only read one book this year, please let it be this one!
If you only read one book this year, please let it be this one!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What I Read November 2017

November Reads 2017
This month I read a great bunch of books!  There was not a bad one in the bunch.  
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Small Great Things by Jody Picoult
⭐⭐⭐⭐Still Alice by Lisa Genova
⭐⭐⭐⭐The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
⭐⭐⭐Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
⭐⭐⭐1/2 Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
⭐⭐⭐1/2 The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall
⭐⭐⭐Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin
⭐⭐⭐The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
⭐⭐⭐The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

Linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books!  Every month bookworms share their latest reads and recommendations. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sea Glassing

Here in New England, the fall and winter are perfect times to go on a sea glass hunt.  I have been a few times this fall and would like to share some of the evidence.  Pictures include Third Beach (Newport), Hull Beach (Jamestown) and East Beach (Watch Hill, Westerly)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What I Read: October 2017

What I Read:  October 2017


Favorites this month were:  

   Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo ⭐⭐⭐⭐

   Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders ⭐⭐⭐⭐

   All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

   The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A book that surprised me:  Lincoln in the Bardo.  I was lost at first but once I planted myself firmly in the setting of the story it was an enjoyable experience.

A book that disappointed me:  The Almost Sisters.  Felt formulaic to me.  It past the time just fine, but I felt it didn't live up to the hype.   

Currently Reading:  A Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Lauras - A Book Review October 29, 2017

The Lauras

The main theme of this book was the mother/daughter relationship.  It was the coming of age story of Alex ( age 13,the main character), who was preoccupied a lot with her sexuality and where she belonged in the world.  Alex and her mother make an escape in the night after an argument occurs between her parents.  Mother and daughter journey on a road trip of 3 years, visiting many places across the country which are sometimes unsafe and dangerous.  Most of the places the duo visit are connected to her mother's childhood, in and out of foster homes.  Alex's mother begins to tell her daughter stories about her experiences as a child.  Alex then retells the story as an adult at age 30.  This was a darker story but the writing was very good and made you want to know more about Alex's mom's past and Alex's future.

*I received this book from Blogging For Books for an honest review

Friday, October 13, 2017

What I Read: September 2017

September was a good reading month.  I read (hard copies) and listened to 9 books.  Linking up this month with Jana and Steph Show Us Your Books with Jana and Steph! If you're looking for reading recommendations please check it out!

My favorites were:  
Setting Free the Kites - by Alex George (set in coastal Maine, the main character meets a new friend and it changes everything.)
Born a Crime - Trevor Noah (Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to a desk at the Daily Show began with a criminal act...his birth)  I found this audio version fascinating and funny.
Caraval - Stephanie Garber (remember it's only a game..magical, dark/light, kept me wanting more)

Please read my review of In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker here: Review of In a Different Key.  I received the book from Blogging for Books in an exchange for an honest review.  

I have been reading a lot of YA lately.
I am trying to finish up on Erin's Challenge this month (I have one more book to read).
I am planning on reading my shelves in November and my TBR for December will include lots of winter themed titles.

Monday, September 18, 2017

In A Different Key: The Story of Autism By John Donvan and Caren Zucker (BOOK REVIEW)

As a mom to a child with Autism and an Educational Advocate, I was very interested to read In A Different Key:  The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker.  Donvan/Zucker did not leave any stone unturned when it came to telling the history of Autism.  Starting with the first child ever diagnosed and weaving its way through institutionalization, refrigerator moms, vaccines, ABA/TEACCH and Asperger's this book covers it all. Real life accounts brought living with Autism "alive" to the reader.  It was heartbreaking as a mom and advocate, but to see the strength and advocacy of parents who made so many changes to long term outcomes for children and adults with Autism was empowering.  It was an honor to read this book and learn so much about a diagnosis that has been part of my life for the past 25 years.  I challenge anyone who cares about, works with or loves someone with Autism to read this book. You will be a better person for it and understand the true history of the disorder.  It is fascinating and heartbreaking, but important.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Heritage Museum and Gardens, Sandwich, Ma

Visited the Heritage Museum and Gardens on Free Fun Friday/Highland Street Foundation on
August 25, 2017.  The weather and scenery were beautiful.  Heritage Museum and Gardens, Sandwich, Ma

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What I Read: August 2017

Favorites this month: 
 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi⭐⭐⭐⭐
 Jaws by Peter Benchley⭐⭐⭐⭐

Friday, August 11, 2017


I love when you come upon something randomly.  Yesterday while visiting Lincoln Woods, RI, we drove by a sign at Sunset Stables and stopped for a visit.  Glad we did!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What I Read...July 2017

Linking up with Steph and Jana 
(second Tuesday of every month)
Show Us Your Books

My Thoughts:  It was a very interesting reading month; varied books for sure.  These were the standouts that I would recommend:

The Zookeeper's Wife (Diane Ackerman) - This was really a beautiful story. I especially enjoyed all the animal and husbandry information. A story of people saving others and offering them some normalcy and kindness, when so much killing, hatred and atrocities were taking place outside the walls of the "zoo".  Set in Warsaw/Poland.

Our Souls at Night (Kent Haruf) - I enjoyed this book.  It was short and sweet.  It was about reaching out to another for comfort and friendship.  

The Thorn Birds(Colleen McCullough) - read this in The Book Club (facebook) Read Along for July.  I loved this book!  It fascinated me the way McCullough wove the tale over years, countries, characters and moral dilemmas.  Set mostly in Australia.

Dreamland Burning (Jennifer Latham) - I have been reading alot of YA lately.  This one did not disappoint.  Again a book about a time I needed to know more about.  Loved the two stories lines and how the writing went back and forth.  

There were some other good reads (Exit/West, And Then There were None, Thirteen Reasons Why) and some so so reads (Hour Glass, Garden of Small Beginnings, The World's Strongest Librarian).  But overall I consider July a solid reading month!  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Six of My Summer Favorites

Summer seems to be in full swing here in Rhode Island.  It hasn't been an extremely hot summer and with the month of August approaching we are hoping for many more beach days.  I'm sharing a few of my Summer Favorites with you.  These are items that I found extremely helpful and consistently excellent.  Hope you enjoy and maybe find something that you can add to your favorites!!

Lands' End Women's Slender Tunic Suit - I have been wearing this style of suit for several years.  I like it because it is durable, comfortable and truly slenderizing.  I need full coverage and like to feel that I'm good to go (no accidents!) in the water.  This suit checks all the boxes.  I really needed a new suit this season and I waited for the Lands' End 50% off sale (usually early spring) and bought two suits for the price of one.  This is not a cheap suit but lasts and holds up to sun, ocean, sand, and sunscreen.

This set of 3 mesh travel pouches have come in handy this year at the beach.  I use the small one for my phone, middle for my sunscreens/bug spray and large for an extra change of clothes.  

Last summer I tried out several different sunscreens.  Sun Bum 30 SPF was by far the best.  It goes on very smooth, not greasy, great scent and tube lasts.  You can find this at Target or Amazon.

Love this hat!  It is a women's REI co-op sun hat.  I am not a baseball hat fan and this hat is very comfortable, stays on (even without a strap) and provides very good sun coverage.   Unfortunately it is not longer in stock.  REI has tons of ladies sun hats though that you can check out at the link below.  

La Croix Coconut Sparkling Water is my preferred beach beverage.  There are a ton of different flavors.  Find your favorite!  

There is still a whole month (and some) to dive into some Summer Reads!  Here is a list of some beachy favorites  (can all be found at amazon.com)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Becoming a Yearly Tradition - Buttonwood Farm Griswold CT Sunflowers for Wishes

This is one of my favorite events of the summer.  I went in 2014 & 2015.  Didn't go last year and regretted it.  I think visiting Buttonwood Farm in Griswold CT will become a yearly tradition.  I was lucky enough to go yesterday with my husband, Rick.  It was simply a beautiful summer day (#10)! Can you find the heart? 💓

Sunflowers for Wishes

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Boston Museum of Fine Arts Free Friday

We have been visiting a few museums this summer that are part of the Highland Street Foundation series. Highland Stree Foundation Free Fun Fridays Series 2017

Boston Museum of Fine Arts - July 21, 2017
It was pretty incredible to see Monet, Cassat, Van Gough, Degas, Renoir, Rembrant and so many other artists' works.  Our last visit was over 25 years ago.  We spent almost the whole day and would need another day to hit all of the exhibits (we did take our time and savor the exhibits).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Why We're The Ocean State...

East Beach, Charlestown, East Matunuck, South Kingstown, 
Blue Shutters Beach, Charlestown


Kites - Brenton Point Park, Newport RI

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Beautiful Jamestown/Chasing Sunsets

Jamestown is one of my favorite places in Rhode Island.  My husband and I go to a restaurant every year on our anniversary called Simpatico.  Best chowder! We celebrated 29 years this year.  After dinner we took a ride because I wanted to chase the sunset.  Here are the results:

29 Years & Counting

    July 3, 1988 at the Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford RI

What I Read: June 2017

June was a good reading month.  I read an interesting assortment of books.   I highly recommend The Sun is Also a Star👍, This is How It Always Is👍and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland (if you enjoy YA)👍
I was underwhelmed by Hillbilly Elegy👎 and Before the Fall👎

Currently Reading:  The Garden of Small Beginnings and Listening to:  Exit West 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Favorite Reads (SO FAR) of 2017

It is the midpoint of the year so I'm sharing my favorite reads (so far) of 2017.  These were all rated 5 or 4 on Goodreads.  

Can't wait to see what the second half of 2017 brings!!  


Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Summer Bucket List 2017

1.  Go to  Rhode Island Beaches (at least 10 times and 2 new ones)

2.  Fireworks at Ocean Beach Park Summer Entertainment 
     (June 30, 2017)

3.  Car Show 

4.  Farmington River Tubing

5.  Visit a Museum Free Fun Fridays  
     July 14st (Edward Kennedy Institute)
     July 21th (Museum of Fine Arts),  
     July 28th (John F. Kennedy Museum and Library)
     August 25th (Heritage Museum and Gardens)

6.  Attend a Waterfire

7.  See a movie at Misquamicut Drive-In

8.  Go to a Pawtucket Red Sox Game

9.  Visit a Newport Mansion

10. Celebrate our 29th Wedding Anniversary at Simpatico

Monday, June 12, 2017

NYC Weekend - Dale Chihuly Exhibit NY Botanical Garden

Master of Glass - Dale Chihuly

Sapphire Star

Red Reeds on Logs

Blue Polyvitro Crystals

Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower

This is a great article on Chihuly and the Botanical Garden Exhibit
Are There Glass Snakes in Dale Chihuly's Fragile Eden?

Monday, June 5, 2017

What I Read, May 2017

Hi Reading Friends.  
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my May Reads:

1.  The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg - Quick read.  I was able to learn a bit about the "hygge" lifestyle.  It sparked my interest!  3***

2.  Thinking Differently - This was a very good resource of information for parents who have a child diagnosed with a Learning Disability.  I learned more about Dyslexia which helps me in my job as an education advocate.  Highly recommend to families new to the journey. 3***

3.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - I loved this book!  This is a book lovers dream.  Lots of books mentioned throughout.  It is a story with twists and turns though which keeps your attention throughout.  4****

4.  The Most Beautiful - WOW this book surprised me.  I didn't really know what to expect.  I have loved Prince's music for a long time.  When Mayte talked about seeing Prince on stage I related.  I was lucky enough to see him during the Seven Tour years ago and it was amazing.  Mayte shared her heart and information about their relationship in a respectful and loving way.  5*****

5.  They May Not Mean to But They Do - Interesting story about siblings dealing with the aging of their parents.  It was a tough topic but the author made it very readable and relatable.  I am at this point with my own parents and I totally connected to this book. 3***

6.  The Magnolia Story - I enjoy the show Fixer Upper.  It was interesting to learn more about Chip and Joanna's history and how the show came to be.  There were some parts that dragged for me but overall a fun read.  3***

7.  Ginny Moon - I was on the fence with this book honestly.  I have two young adult sons on the autism spectrum and I was confused about Ginny's character.  It seemed as though she was more impacted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than Autism. She was a quirky character you wanted to root for.  Just wish there was a little bit more happiness in the story for her.  3***

Coming up in June:  A Sun is Also a Star, This is How It Always Is and One True Loves

Linking Up With:


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Memorial Day, May 29, 2017

 “Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial” 
Roger Williams Park

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What I Read April 2017

I had a pretty good reading month.  Work does pick up this time of year but I continue to stay on track and enjoy my reading time.  My husband and I are still reading one book a month together and that has been fun!  

I participated in Erin's 6.0 Challenge from January to April reading 10 books that fit into specific categories.  It was fun and I look forward to the next challenge.  

1.  What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast:  by Laura Vanderkam - 3 stars.  

2.  Grandma Gatewood's Walk:  The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian
     Trail by Ben Montgomery - 4 stars.  (Library-Overdrive)
3.  Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - 4.5 stars.  This was the book my husband and I
     picked to read together this month.  (Own-Hardcover)

4.  Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur - 3 stars.  This was a short book of poetry. (Library-Overdrive)

5.  One Plus One by Jo Jo Moyes - 3.5 stars. (Own-Paperback)

6.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 3.5 stars.  (Library-Overdrive)

7.  Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel 3 stars.  (Library-Overdrive)

8.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 4.5 stars.  (Library-Overdrive)

9.  It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover - 3.5 stars.  (Library-Paperback)