The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

I love it when I read an advance copy of a book by an author I’ve never read before and love it. I love it even more when I find out that they have MORE BOOKS for me to read! This is what happened when I received an advance copy of The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Twenty-one year old Lillian Carter has been modeling for artists since she was fifteen. Under her mother’s guidance, she became Angelica, the most sought-after artist model in New York City. When her mother succumbs to the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1919, she is lost. When her landlord’s wife is found murdered with a flirtatious note Lillian sent her husband, she is wanted for questioning. Instead of complying, she runs with hopes to get out to Hollywood to become a movie star.

Lillian stumbles into a job interview for the personal assistant of Miss Helen Frick of the daughter of the infamous industrialist, Henry Clay Frick. She manages to not only get the job but become a valued member of the Frick household. When the patriarch of the family dies, Lillian is caught up in a scandal unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

This book, with it’s many detailed descriptions great art, New York society and it’s landmarks, was an interesting look at how life would be for a young woman with a so called scandalous profession at the time. Flashing back and forth between 1919 and 1966, the book manages to tie up all the missing pieces without being trite.

If you like historical figures and locals mixed with a good fictional story, this book is for you.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis is scheduled for publication on January 25, 2022. You can preorder from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local independent book store.

Thanks for reading.

Trying to get back on track

After several stressful months, I think I might be ready to get back into the swing of blogging. I hope that 2021 has been good to you, kind reader. It has been quite the year and it still has a month and a half to go!

So many things happened and/or changed in 2021. First, my wonderful mother fell ill and sadly passed away. After six months, I am still having a hard time with her passing. Not a day goes by that I don’t think “Oh…I should call Mom and tell her about this” or “I wonder if Mom knows how to do that”. I really miss her.

Work changed A LOT. In the past three years I went from covering supervisor duties (banking, training, programming, etc.) to not having any responsibilities at work. It’s not a demotion because I was not promoted to supervisor or even paid for those extra duties. Once they finally hired someone and I trained them…that was it. So, I found another position within the company and I am happy and loving it.

The crafting video YouTube that I started with two friends has been put on hold due to the friend with the studio selling her house and moving. I’m working on setting up something at home but it is going to take some time. I will probably blog, with pictures, some craft projects until I’m ready to go with the videos again.

Last month Mike and I went to Orlando for vacation. We met up with family and went to several Disney parks. If you have been a Disney park visitor in the past and plan on coming back, be prepared for massive changes. We are not happy with the way things are going there, so it will be a long time before we visit again. It will take years for us to save up because of their new ticketing and Genie+ charges. Needless to say, it was NOT the happiest place on earth when we were there.

So, friends, I think I’ll be back to writing book reviews and commenting about life here in the blogosphere. Looking forward to interacting with everyone again.

Thanks for reading.

Choosing to change.

Change is a touchy subject for some people. For me, it depends on the situation. It can be positive when the change is your choice. If it isn’t and you have no control over the change or the change doesn’t make sense to you, it is tougher to swallow.

Sometimes you have to choose between the status quo or drastic change. When this happens, you may need to make a Pros and Cons list. That usually helps me. You can always talk to a trusted friend or family member to get feedback on your thoughts. There is also the option to talk to a professional. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Sometimes a change is needed to preserve your physical or mental health. These changes are usually ones that cause the most turmoil but end up being life changing.

Don’t be afraid to make changes in your life. Choose your change. Don’t wait for someone to choose it for you.

So, I say to my family and friends, if you ever want to talk about something in your life that needs changing, I’m here

Take care and thanks for reading.

Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green

If you have received any book recommendations from me or ready any of my book reviews, you are aware of my affinity for quirky characters.  When I read the description of Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green, I thought it matched the quirky character trope – an odd used bookstore owner with family issues? Sign me up!

Fawn Birchill is a forty-something single woman who is partially estranged from her family. She owns a failing used bookstore in Philadelphia.  She believes that her store has been a cornerstone of her community for the past twenty years.  She is semi-happily single. She has a cat and also feeds the strays in her alley.  She believes her three loyal employees are happy working for her.  When a young, hip bookstore opens down the street, with comfy chairs, a coffee bar, knowledgeable employees and weekend evening entertainment, her world is turned upside down.  Now she must deal with her employees abandoning her, her cat dying (wait until you read THAT part), caring (?) for her elderly renter Jane, much needed repairs to the store, the strained relationship with her family, and the trials of online dating.  She also must figure out what to do about her pen pal, whom she has created a whole false identity for herself. Talk about getting caught up in a fantasy of your own making!!

I really wanted to like this book. I did finish it. The ending was kind of anticlimactic. I had a hard time liking Fern. I believe the character suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For me this book fell short of my expectations just as Fern’s employees fell short of hers. 2.5 stars.

Worst drivers license picture ever

I finally had the chance to go get my drivers license upgraded to the one that give me clearance to fly. Of course, there’s no way I’m getting on a plane during Covid. But if and when things get back to “normal”, I’ll be all set.

While I am happy to have it done and that it only took a half an hour, I must say it is the worst picture ever as I am suffering from masknea (acne from wearing a mask). Oh well, to be almost 55 and look like I have a teenagers skin…sigh.

I hope your year is going well.

How to exercise when you are not flexible

A lot of exercise programs assume that you are flexible and can get up and down from the floor with no problem. Well, I can’t. Because of this, I have been on the hunt for flexibility exercises and programs to help me improve so I can do the other exercises. I think I have found some good ones.

First of all, Mike and I have started doing Apple Fitness +, which start you off, in my opinion, as an advanced beginner. I am NOT an advanced beginner. I am a beginner. If there was something lower than a beginner, I think I’d be in that category. Ha ha…at least I can laugh at myself.

Here are some of the sources of the exercise that I started today.

Better5 – I can’t remember how I stumbled across this website but it has some excellent programs. There is a small charge for the classes (all prerecorded virtual programs) but once you pay, it is yours. Their website is www.better5.com. I started the 10 day chair Pilates class this morning and I feel fantastic. It took about 10 minutes for me to complete todays exercises. I think that is reasonable. Right now this class is on sale for $17. It is normally $47, so you can save $30 if you sign up while it is still on sale. Two of the other programs I have completed and still use are – Foot Strength for Mobility and Balance as well as Hand and Wrist Flexibility Restoration. So, if you need to get yourself ready to do those harder workouts, Better5 is a great place to start.

DailyOM – I found DailyOM when I was looking for some relaxation exercises to help with my stiff back. They have so many different courses on their website www.dailyOM.com. There is a charge for most of their classes but they give you a choice on how much you pay, usually $15, $35, or $50. The two courses that I have participated in are Chair Yoga for Healing, Strength, and Mobility and Overcoming Body Stiffness. I guess you can see a pattern in my class choices. Over the years, my body has grown extremely stiff for many reasons (car accident, laziness, need to lose weight) and I am trying to remedy that. They have more than just exercise classes. You should go and check them out.

BodyGroove – I generally hate exercise that is labeled as exercise. You know the kind where you are grunting and sweating and just not having fun. What if you could get some great cardio exercise and have fun at the same time??? YOU CAN! Body Groove was started by Misty Tripoli. If you sign up and take the 30 day challenge, you will learn the story of her fight with bulimia and how she ended up starting Body Groove. You can purchase her videos to watch at home or you can join Body Grove On-Demand and get access to 200+ routines. You can also download individual classes. Check out http://www.bodygrove.com. The workouts are fun and they really get you moving. If you are looking for a fun and funky workout that doesn’t feel like a workout, you should try Body Groove.

I hope you all are well and that your New Year is fabulous.

(P.S. I will only recommend programs that I have tried. I am not compensated in any way by these sites. I just believe in them enough to share.)

Prepping for a NEW YEAR

I haven’t stayed up until midnight on New Years Eve in years. Since 2020 has been such a dumpster fire, I have decided to stay up until midnight to make sure that 2020 actually ends. I’m sort of worried that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and see that the date is December 32, 2020. That would be so 2020!

During the month of December I have been working on plans for 2021.

  1. Health – I’ve started what, so far, is a helpful way to lose weight. NOOM. Someone I know lost 100 pounds using this service so I thought I’d try. So far I am down 6 pounds! It is a very different approach towards weight loss. More info to come in the new year as I chronicle my journey. Mike and I are also starting to exercise more and plan to make it a habit in 2021.
  2. Career – Since work has changed so much this year, I have been feeling uninspired and unfulfilled. I have decided to work on taking my passion for crafting to the next level. I’ve been listening to the “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” podcast and have really been inspired to find how I can make the world a better place through my passion of crafting. Things currently in the works:
    • Craft videos on YouTube in the hopes of getting a good enough following to monetize my craft videos.
    • Creating a plan to sell my crafts on Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, craft shows, etc. I am making a list of what to make in preparation for upcoming holidays and celebrations.
    • Planning a way to start doing at-home craft parties once we all get Covid-19 under control.
    • Collaborating with two friends on a really cool videography project.
  3. Reading – Increase my reading and book review blog posts by creating a calendar to remind myself to post reviews to my blog twice a month.
  4. Brainstorming on a podcast idea I have.

So, those are my big plans to make 2021 the best year ever.

What are your plans for 2021? Do you plan to stay up until midnight? Do you have a craft you would like me to create a video for? Do you have any book recommendations for me? How about a healthy recipe or an exercise for me to add to our getting healthy plan? Please drop me a note below and I promise to send you a great big thank you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Said goodbye today

The day my husband, Mike, brought home this little guy was the second best day ever. (Our wedding day was #1). Buddy was about a year and a half old when his previous owners moved. He came in the house like he owned the place and never looked back. He was, we believe, part Jack Russell, part Pug, and part Dachshund. He got the best of all of those breeds. Bouncy, happy, wiggly, and always sniffing. He moved in and wrapped our hearts around his little curly tail.

Buddy loved to rough house with his Daddy. Mike would get on the bed with him and Bud would pretend attach, never really biting but always getting into the action. With me, Buddy was a lover. He always waited outside the shower so he could “dry off” my ankles by slurping the water off of them. His enthusiastic arm and leg humping was as comical as it sounds. If it were possible, we would have many arm and leg puppies running around now.

The past few years, Buddy has had some health issues but nothing too serious. This year he started to lose his eyesight and his hearing. Nothing like trying to get the attention of a blind and deaf dog. Earlier this year he had some issues with his kidneys and his liver. He was on some medications and was set to go back for a recheck. Bud hadn’t been able to get comfortable, so we know something was up. We went to Charlotte Animal Hospital this morning, fully aware that this might be it. It turns out there was a mass in his abdomen. If Buddy was much younger, we would probably gone ahead with the surgery but it wouldn’t be fair to put him through surgery at his advanced age. We chose to let him go in comfort.

I’m going to miss that sweet little dog. Keep wagging Buddy.