The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick {Book Review}

6.28.2016

In this sweet novel by Phaedra Patrick, Arthur Pepper finds a charm bracelet hidden among his deceased wife's things and it sends him on an adventure that changes him forever.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Want a breath of fresh air in your reading life? Pick up The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.

Written in a straight-forward, no nonsense manner, this novel tells the story of a man who has recently lost his wife. When finally facing the task of emptying her closet, he discovers a charm bracelet he's never seen before. His quest to find the story behind each charm reveals secrets of his wife's past and takes him on an unexpected adventure.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper unabashedly plucks at your heart strings as Arthur makes stunning revelations about not only his wife, but himself. There are serious life lessons learned here, despite the fact that Arthur is quickly approaching his 70th birthday, teaching us all that it's never to late to change!

The story of a man mourning his wife could easily turn very dark, but this book was so sweet, light, and lovely. I recommend it!

4/5 Stars

Recipes for Your Meal Plan {Menu Plan Monday}

6.27.2016

Pork Tacos with Honey Mustard Slaw from the slow cooker and a Father's Day BBQ including tri-tip, Garlic Parmesan Asparagus, and Fresh Corn Casserole! Try these recipes out for your family dinners!
It's time for Menu Plan Monday! Here are the recipes we've been loving lately. They'd be perfect additions to your meal plan this week.

Grilled Garlic Parmesan Asparagus {The Recipe Critic}

Fresh Corn Casserole with Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos {The Pioneer Woman}



This was the menu for our Father's Day Barbecue! We grabbed a pre-dry rubbed tri-tip from the grocery store, then made some super easy grilled asparagus that was completely outstanding. The corn casserole has only a few ingredients and was easy to make ahead and then throw into the oven when we were getting ready to eat.

Barbecue Pork Tacos with Honey Mustard Slaw {Stuck on Sweet}















We had a house full of people and not a lot of time on our hands, so the slow cooker was a great tool! You just put some simple ingredients onto the pork roast, throw it in the slow cooker and you're done. I tweaked the recipe a little bit by putting the slaw on the side and adding cheese (and hot sauce not pictured).

Not Working by Lisa Owens {Book Review}

6.22.2016

This novel about a woman trying to find her calling will ring true with many. It's also got a whole lot of funny.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Not Working in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Not Working by Lisa Owens in written in the form of vignettes where our protagonist Claire either moves the plot along or makes witty (and sometimes random) observations about her daily life. These stories and observations offer insight into who Claire is and, well, you may not like her.

If identifying with, or even liking, a protagonist is a necessity for you, I wouldn't recommend this book. In her search for her true career calling, Claire acts irresponsibly, makes poor decisions, and appears entirely self-absorbed.

If you don't need to like a protagonist, there is a great deal in Not Working that you will enjoy. Claire is smart (though not street smart) and often says the wrong thing. She either reads to much into situations to a hilarious degree or completely misses the effect of her words on others.

All of these factors made me root for Claire despite her shortcomings. I thoroughly enjoyed reading a novel written in an unusual format and appreciated the crafting that went into their presentation. My only real complaint was that the ending was unsatisfying and felt unnatural, which was disappointing after I rallied for Claire's cause.

3/5

Japan Candy Box {Subscription Box Review and Giveaway}

6.20.2016

Get your Japanese candy fix once a month with Japan Candy Box! This subscription box will satisfy anyone who loves Japanese candy and snacks.

{Many thanks to Japan Candy Box for sending this box for me to check out in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

Japan Candy Box was a hit with my kids, who could not get over the packaging! Make sure you enter the giveaway at the end of this post! For more on subscription boxes, check out the Subscription Box Directory.


The Box:

Japan Candy Box

The Cost:

Starting at $18.20/month

What's Included:

Japanese candy and snacks of all types!


Japan Candy Box Review:

Wow, there was so much in this box! I was shocked when I opened it. Here's what I received:


Calbee Sapporo Potato Vegetable Snacks

Kraci Sea Animals DIY Gummy Kit - this kit has molds so that you can make your own gummies. The kids are looking forward to this one.


Kabaya Karipori Candy Sticks - cola and grape flavored candy sticks

Bourbon Petit Grilled Pizza Rice Crackers

Fujiya Milky Peko X Sanrio Chocolates
Meiji Mushroom Mountain Strawberry Cookies
Meiji Mini Grape Gummies
Coris Cola and Soda Soft Candy
Hi-Chew Chewy Candy - Cola
Kasugai 100% Fruit Juice Gummies

The Japan Candy Box inspired some serious wonder in my home. My kids were mesmerized by the packaging, flavors, and textures included here. I can't even imagine how much a diehard Japanese candy fan would love this box. It is certainly a great value, too.

If you'd like a chance to win your own Japan Candy Box, enter here!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read These Books {Quick Lit June 2016}

6.15.2016

Read these books! Among the books recommended here are an epic novel about friendship, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and a novel made for physics nerds.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me 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.}

I'm typing this post for the linkup over at Modern Mrs. Darcy (written by Anne Bogel) while listening to Anne Bogel's podcast, What Should I Read Next. It's a great way to find new books and learn about the reading lives of others.

Here's what I read this month:

Read these books! Among the books recommended here are an epic novel about friendship, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and a novel made for physics nerds.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #1) - I'm not sure I entirely get all the hype, but I'll keep going with this very popular supernatural YA series. It's like nothing I've ever read (probably because I don't generally read the supernatural subgenre) but I was a bit surprised by the language in a book so decidedly YA.

Relativity by Antonia Hayes - Despite a backdrop of dark events, this book was a sweet and thoughtful story of a young child with amazing abilities.  This is required reading for physics nerds. Check out my full review here.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel - Oh, this book. It was so worth breaking my rule about starting a series that's not finished yet. Huge metallic hand discovered underground. Need I say more? Check out my full review here.

Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw - Funny, smart, witty, and oh so modern this book taught me about the world of fan fiction. I usually don't feel old when reading YA, but this one made me cock my head in confusion a few times! It was worth it though because this novel is so well written.

H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald - I heard so much about this book on the four million book podcasts to which I subscribe. In this memoir, McDonald shares how she dealt with the death of her father by training a goshawk. I was not blown away though. A good book, but just one too many metaphors for my liking. I felt like they bogged down the narrative.

Read these books! Among the books recommended here are an epic novel about friendship, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and a novel made for physics nerds.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge - It's been awhile since I was completely drawn into a book - especially one that boils down to a whodunnit, with some magic thrown in. Check out my whole review here.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (Neopolitan Novels #1) - Again, there is a great deal of hype associated with these novels by the mysterious Ferrante, but I'm not quite sure I get it. This is an epic and sweeping story of a friendship and is translated from Italian. I will definitely read the next in the series. The peek into the world of Napoli is fascinating.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld - This retelling of Pride and Prejudice was hilarious and so witty. IT's a quick read that would be perfect for the beach. Plus, Sittenfeld has yet to let me down. Check out my full review here.

Relativity by Antonia Hayes {Book Review}

6.13.2016

Relativity by Antonia Hayes is sweet, thoughtful, and perfect for physics nerds.
{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Relativity 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 difficult to pinpoint exactly where to shelve Relativity by Antonia Hayes. The story centers around the perspective of a 12-year old boy, Ethan, whose intelligence rises to the level of genius and for whom complicated theories of physics are easily understood. He is bullied at school and feels deserted by his friends.

As a result of Ethan's perspective, Relativity may appear to be a YA novel, involving those eight lines that Anne Bogel perceptively wrote about. But then it transitions into a serious plot line centering on the perspectives of Ethan's parents, their misguided choices, and unthinkable consequences.

At its core, Relativity is thoughtful and sweet. The plot propels you forward and while the reader may feel shortchanged by the lack of information throughout, all is revealed in the end. The characters and the plot are realistic - this felt like a story that could happen in real life.

The physics metaphors are numerous and at times so complicated that they required a great deal of explanation. This info dumping can get in the way of the emotion and plot, but also communicated the level of genius that came so easily to Ethan. Overall though, this is a book worth reading, especially for the physics nerds out there!

3.5/5

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel {Book Review}

6.07.2016

A giant metallic hand found underground kickstarts Sleeping Giants, science fiction thriller, written in the form of interview notes and investigative reports.

{Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of Sleeping Giants in exchange for an honest review. If you click through the affiliate links in this post, any purchase you make supports this site.}

First, I need to get something off my chest. I have broken one of my foundational rules as a reader and I now regret it. I read the first book in a series when the series is not yet finished. What was I thinking??!!!

That first book is Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, but my oh my, it was worth it. The series, called The Themis Files, will keep you on the edge of your seat. Written in the form of chronological investigative reports and interview transcripts, you'll feel like you've been given access to Top Secret, hidden files about the discovery of a huge metallic hand hidden underground.

Sleeping Giants is also confirmation that I am a fan of science fiction thrillers, a genre I'm not sure I even knew existed until I read Saturn Run. There is intrigue, mystery, and shocking twists and turns in this novel, making you feel like you can't take your guard down.

The second book in the series, Waking Gods, is due in April 2017, so at least it's not a wait of George RR Martin or Patrick Rothfuss proportions....

4/5 Stars