The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge {Book Review}

5.28.2016

The Lie Tree is a children's novel that is not a typical children's novel - full of murder, suicide, intrigue, and affairs.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of The Lie Tree in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

First of all, I loved this book. Second of all, holy cow, why is The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge shelved as a children's book? Murder, suicide, affairs, scheming after money through marriage, and hints of sexual relationships abound.

I have been talking about this book at my kid's softball practice, at work, and anywhere else I run into a fellow reader. Sometimes I re-read sentences just to bask in how beautifully written they were. I plan on going out to grab everything Hardinge has written!

In The Lie Tree our young protagonist, Faith, journeys with her family to Vane Island, though she's not exactly sure why they are fleeing their home in Kent. Mystery abounds as Faith discovers a family secret and seeks both knowledge and safety. The two aren't always compatible.

I was intrigued by the manner in which Faith approaches the world. As a smart, clever, and determined person in world not willing to recognize those traits in a young woman, Faith simply can't bring herself to settle for less. She is quick-witted, but her impetuousness made me cringe at times. Such is a life of a teenager.

4/5 Stars

Recipes for Your Meal Plan {Monday Plan Monday}

5.23.2016

Here are a few outstanding recipes for weeknight family meals. One of them is even relatively healthy! This week features Chicken and Swiss Extraordinaire and Pork Saltimbocca with Peas.
It's time for another Menu Plan Monday! These are the recipes that I loved from our weekly meal plan last week. Head over to Org Junkie to find even more.

Chicken and Swiss Extraordinaire {Wanderlust Chicken}

Here are a few outstanding recipes for weeknight family meals. One of them is even relatively healthy! This week features Chicken and Swiss Extraordinaire and Pork Saltimbocca with Peas.
Wow, this was a great dinner. It's a chicken breast smothered in a slice of Swiss cheese and topped with bacon, onion, and mushrooms. I served it with carrots roasted in balsamic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. My children were not amused by all the veggies and mostly ate just the bacon. Whatever.

Pork Saltimbocca with Peas {Food Network}

Here are a few outstanding recipes for weeknight family meals. One of them is even relatively healthy! This week features Chicken and Swiss Extraordinaire and Pork Saltimbocca with Peas.
This is one of those situations where my iPhone photography skills did not do justice to a lovely meal. This is an easier version of Saltimboca, where the sage is in the sauce. There's prosciutto in both the chicken and peas recipe. You'll love this!



Will You Won't You Want Me? by Nora Zelevansky {Book Review}

5.20.2016

Will You Won't You Want Me? is a humorous, beautifully written novel about a young woman entering a new phase of life.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Let me just get it out of the way - how gorgeous is the cover of Will You Won't You Want Me? by Nora Zelevansky? By a stroke of luck, the interior is just as good.

This novel is a story we'd all love to hear from our own histories: what happened to the people who peaked in high school? How did they find their way in a world where they were no longer top dog? This is the story of Marjorie Plum, a young woman in New York who struggles with these issues, but in a vulnerable and self-aware way.

Will You Won't You Want Me? is beautifully written and full of humor, with Marjorie facing realistic situations and actually saying what she's thinking. It's so exhausting when women's fiction involves young people running around, hiding the ball, and bumbling around in awkward situations that could be explained with a simple sentence or two. Not so here.

If you like novels about a woman facing a time of transition, self-discovery, and the excitement and fear associated with open horizons, I highly recommend Will You Won't You Want Me?.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld {Book of the Month Club Giveaway and Book Review}

5.17.2016

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice with Jane as a yoga instructor, Chip Bingley as a reality show contestant, and Lizzy as a magazine editor. You'll love this book!
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Eligible in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Book of the Month Club Coupon Code and Giveaway

Before we get to the review, I wanted to share how much I love Book of the Month Club, which currently has Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld as one of its selections. When you sign up, you get to choose one of five selections, which are chosen by a diverse panel of judges, including one celebrity judge each month.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice with Jane as a yoga instructor, Chip Bingley as a reality show contestant, and Lizzy as a magazine editor. You'll love this book!
The box also often includes a small bookish item like a sticker or temporary tattoo. I just love receiving a new hardcover each month and have never been disappointed!

Go to the bottom of the this post to enter a giveaway for one of the May Book of the Month boxes. I chose Eligible for the giveaway because, as you'll read below, I loved it. You can also sign up and receive 30 percent off the code MAY30.

Review of Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I just got a kick out of so many aspects of Eligible: naming Mr. Bingley Chip and having him be a former reality show contestant, having Jane be close to 40 and unmarried, having the setting be Cincinnati. Fans of Pride and Prejudice will simply be tickled by the modern equivalents that are the foundation of Austen's novel. (The Cincinnati/Meryton comparison was particularly hilarious to me.)

I felt almost giddy as each plot point was revealed. How would she get Jane and Bingley back together? How would Darcy and Lizzy finally reunite? Where was Wickham in all this?

Eligible was written by Sittenfeld as part of the The Austen Project, which pairs six modern novelists with Austen's six novels. So there are also modern retellings of Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Emma so far, if you're in the mood.

Eligible does not follow Pride and Prejudice note for note, which is part of the fun. Underlying the whole story though, is a love for the original. Lizzy was her same obstinate, smart, practical, responsible, and prone to jump to conclusions self.

Written in Sittenfeld's sardonic style, Eligible hit it out of the park for me, minus one minor point that was recently addressed in a post by Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy. I even felt the need to page back and try to understand why a crass and overly sexually descriptive phrase was used in one passage. Other than that, this was a winner.

The last chapter was a fully satisfying surprise, but I won't ruin it for you!

Enter below to win a May 2016 Book of the Month Box with Eligible:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Recipes for Your Meal Plan {Menu Plan Monday 5/16/16}

5.16.2016

This week's Recipes for Your Meal Plan features Creamy Garlic Chicken and the best tomato soup and grilled cheese recipes you'll ever find!
We are quickly approaching the end of Spring sports season (t-ball and softball in our world) and heading towards grilling season. I can't wait to have the mess outside and out of my kitchen!

Here are a few recipes for your meal plan this week. If you want more, check out the linkup at Menu Plan Monday.

Creamy Garlic Chicken {Rasa Malaysia}

This week's Recipes for Your Meal Plan features Creamy Garlic Chicken and the best tomato soup and grilled cheese recipes you'll ever find!
I ran across this on Rasa Malaysia's Instagram account and goodness, was it ever good! I roasted some asparagus in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then made some simple buttered pasta. This was a satisfying and easy meal!

Quick Creamy Tomato Soup {Rachael Ray} and Garlic-Rubbed Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Tomato {Tracey's Culinary Adventures}

This week's Recipes for Your Meal Plan features Creamy Garlic Chicken and the best tomato soup and grilled cheese recipes you'll ever find!
I don't think I am alone in thinking that tomato soup is really just an excuse to make a grilled cheese sandwich and dip, dip, dip. I have two favorite recipes for this situation. The first is Rachael Ray's Quick Creamy Tomato Soup, which has only three ingredients: tomatoes, chicken broth, and cream. It's unbelieveably easy and yummy.

The grilled cheese recipe I love is Garlic-Rubbed Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Tomato. I tweak it based upon my mood - this time I just did the cheese, but I stick with the recommended cheese mixture and the garlic rubbing no matter what!

What I've Been Reading {Quick Lit May 2016}

5.15.2016

This month included YA inovel in both dystopian and post-apocalyptic forms, a page turner, and a blast from the past.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARCs of many of these books in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

It's time for another installment of Quick Lit, hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy. I am always torn between listening to podcasts and listening to audiobooks. My Overdrive app decided for me this month because all my hold came up at once!

Here's what I read this month:

This month included YA novel in both dystopian and post-apocalyptic forms, a page turner, and a blast from the past.
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard - The second novel in the Red Queen series wasn't quite as engrossing as the first, but I will still read the third! I just love pretty much any dsytopian YA, so frankly, my standards aren't tremendously high!

The Travelers by Chris Pavone - Holy pageturner, Batman. This is a globetrotting spy adventure that completely sucked me in. Check out my full review here.

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax - If you have any interest in how people become who they are, read this historical fiction about Rosalie Rayner, the wife of renowned behaviorist John Watson. Check out my full review here.

In Real Life by Jessica Love - A quick and easy read follows a high school girl as she discovers that her best friend, who she has never met in person, may be a different person than she thought. Check out my full review here.

This month included YA novel in both dystopian and post-apocalyptic forms, a page turner, and a blast from the past.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling - I'm rereading this series on audiobook through my library using the Overdrive App. Man, that Jim Dale knows how to narrate! These books are just beyond words and we all know it. 

Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos - I was shocked that a story about two convalescing concentration camp survivors could be so inspiring, but it was. Check out my full review here

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye - Think Jane Eyre with a serial killer spin and you'd be pretty close to this novel. Check out my full review here.

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey - I was pretty surprised that this post-apocalyptic YA novel was considered YA. Man, there was a great deal of foul language and some complicated conspiracy plot points. With that being said, I will definitely keep going in this series about how people react to an alien invasion of Earth.

Did you read anything this month that you loved?

Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos {Book Review}

5.12.2016

Two concentration camp survivors recovering in Sweden strike up a romantic correspondence in this novel based on a true story.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Fever at Dawn in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

I am fascinated by novels addressing the time just after the end of World War II - the stories of how people picked up the pieces and started over after that trauma. This is the subject of Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos. The novel focuses on two concentration camp survivors who are being nursed back to health in Sweden just after the war and is inspired by the real life story of Gardos' parents.

Given that it is a novel touching on the horrors of the Holocaust, you would think that Fever at Dawn would require a tissue supply nearby, but that was not the case. Instead, the novel reminded me a great deal of the ideas set forth in Man's Search for Meaning. Despite what they had been through and continued to go through, these characters search for meaning and joy at every opportunity

Fever at Dawn was translated from Hungarian.  The language of these refugees who were longing for home was described so lovingly that it almost amounted to its own character!

Knowing this was inspired by a real story and drawn from letters sent among true survivors of such horrors only heightens the emotion. I read it one day and am so glad I found it. Give it a read.