28 September 2018

My Favorite TV shows (as of right now)

I make favorite lists all the time.  As new things are introduced some things will drop off the list and the new added and then there are the constant items that never leave the favorite list (like Burt's Bees chapstick.  

This is a list of my favorite TV shows.  There are a couple of shows that have been on this list since I started forming my own opinions and some I discovered a few years ago.  I generally won't add a show to my list until it comes in syndication, but there are a few exceptions.

   Let's just get going......

10. Game Shows--Game shows are so fun, very unpredictable and feature prizes!! The original Match Game and Jeopardy are my two fave game shows of all time, but I will watch a Who wants to be a Millionaire, TPIR (the price is right), 25,000 Pyramid, and Family Feud (Richard Dawson was the best).  I have a dream to be on a television game show, but I have made it to the stage of a Carnival cruise ship (and won).  

9. The Middle-this show is so much like real life.  Like the life I grew up in...kind of the life I have now.  :) It is very similar to Roseanne, but the family loves God and I like that. 

8. Parenthood and This is Us-I have always loved these family type shows. Parenthood was about a tight family that did almost everything together, brought to life an autistic character to television and had a great playlist. This is Us is a tad like Parenthood, but it has a mystery about it too.  The writing on This is Us is fantastic.  Everything you see is a clue, so don't look away. 

The only thing that I didn't like about these shows is that the characters don't seem to believe in God

7. Homicide Life on the Steet-The first time I saw this show Vincent D'Onferio was the victim, John.  He was a jerk and he had been pushed in front of a subway and was going to die.  Falsone was trying to find his girlfriend while Pembelton was trying to comfort John and solve the crime with Baylis.  By the end of the show you see the Vincent character becoming likable and the squad struggling with the fact they were talking to a dead man, they couldn't find his lady and why would someone push a human in front of a subway? I think this episode is one of the best hours of television that I have ever watched.

  The writing on this show was outstanding.  It was perfectly cast and this show introduced us to Muchkin, Detective John Munch.

6. Law and Order: Criminal Intent-A typical Law & Order with a twist.  You get into the minds of the "bad guys" as well as the law enforcement, medical examiners and the DAs.  Goren and Nichols are like Columbo always asking "one more thing".  Jeff Goldblum and Vincent were brilliant actors in this show. 

5. Seinfeld-how can you not love this show?  It is perfect, it is a bunch of nothing all together with characters that are just superficial....but it is hilarious (and super quotable)!! I bet you have some Seinfeldism in your vocabulary.

4. Dateline-I started watching this with Stone Phillips and Jane Pauley.  Then it was a news magazine of varying topics (my husband once appeared on this version).  It was a good format but would not have been on my list if they had not transformed it into what it is now.  Keith Morrision and Josh Mankiewicz are simply wonderful. Don't forget the host, Lester Holt. 

3. Mama's Family-I love this show so much. I have been trying to get it on DVD for years so I could see all the deleted scenes and the Alistar Quince openings (if you have only seen in syndication you have never seen these scenes and you have missed out). I finally got it this year (2018) and I have watched the whole series about 4 times since I brought it home.  

2. Dallas-I remember the day I fell in love with this show. I am not sure if it was first run or a repeat, but I was at my grandmother's and everyone was fighting with JR and then someone shot him!!! I was totally hooked, for life.  JR is my favorite TV show character of all time.  

1.  Law & Order (the mothership)- This has been a favorite for a very long time. I have seen every episode and I watch it almost every day of my life.  My favorite ADA is McCoy (duh).  Detective is Briscoe, followed by Green, Curtis and then Lups. 

Review: Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase

Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I admit that I often check out books based on the covers and this book fell directly into that category. The lady on the cover looked mysterious and I was intrigued. I discovered while reading this book that Dorothy (Dorothea/Dot) was indeed a mysterious woman. She had secrets that changed her life and the lives of the one she loved. The book takes place in 1940 where Dot is entering her middle age and she is a married woman with no children. She is caring for 2 young women who are very hard working single girls and look to her as a big sister/mom type. Dorothy is very unhappy because of the circumstances of life, but not only does she find happiness on one level, she finds it on another and sacrifices to keep it. I LOVED that part of the story. I didn't see it happening at first, but when it did I thought how creative the writer was to make the story travel in the way it did.

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25 September 2018

Review: The Subway Girls

The Subway Girls The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was simply a lovely book. Subway cards fascinated me since I first saw the film "On the Town".
This book was kind of like that film in that the publicity didn't quite tell all the story of Miss Ivy Lynn no more than it told the whole story of this beauty from the cards. I really liked that. I also liked the modern storyline and how the two wove together was perfection (btw, I love BEN). I don't want to give out too much on the characters because I really think you don't need much so before so you won't get the story. Just know that this book is all about the past where the MTA chose Subway Girls to promote the subway. It was a beauty contest of sorts. You also need to know that these ladies were often not viewed as professionals or maybe of any count, just a thing of beauty. Our story tells the tale of Charlotte who longs terribly for a career but is blocked because she is a woman (there is no other reason). In the future, we see successful Olivia. She has a "grand" career, in a world of backstabbing and deceit. Charlotte and Olivia will join forces through time and get past a beauty contest. Yeah, I think I did it without giving too much away. Just read this, I do think you will love it.

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22 September 2018

Review: Double Shots, Donuts, and Dead Dudes

Double Shots, Donuts, and Dead Dudes Double Shots, Donuts, and Dead Dudes by Harper Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matt and Fran are so adorable!! While the Pink Cupcake series (if you haven't read it, you should), is my favorite of all.....this one is still superb. Fall break is coming up for many of you so download the series and sit on the beach and read. They are quick, enjoyable reads, books you can read while watching the kids frolic on the playground.

This one went in a slightly different direction, which I love about Harper; there may be a death in every book but she keeps it fresh with the hows and whys. I can't tell you too much or I will give away the plot, but I will tell you that I was hungry from the first restaurant burrito to the donut recipe at the end of the book.

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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20 September 2018

Review: I Was Anastasia

I Was Anastasia I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will admit that I was a tad confused on the timeline. It floated all over the place and took me a couple of sentences to get where I needed to be, but the story was GREAT. This took Anastasia to places I have never seen her go. I enjoyed that. The story was fabulous. We learned what Anna Anderson might have been like as well as what Anastasia could have been....even maybe how she died.

This is my second Ariel book and I don't think it will be my last.

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16 September 2018

I have no time to read

I have no time to read, ugg, I used to say this and I hated it.  There has to be a way to better manage my time. I started doing many things in my life to "get things done" and while I am always busy, I feel I maximize the time to the best of my ability (for now at least--it is ever changing).

Before I tell you how I cram time in for reading you need to know that I have a strict schedule I follow for household chores and unless there is emergency cleaning to do, it helps carve out more reading time.  I have covered my weekly cleaning schedule here if you are interested.

I do the same thing every single day because I am one of those people that do better with a routine.  My daily schedule allows more reading time because my goal is 100 pages a day and I achieve it almost every day.

Mornings: I get up and brush my teeth and drink water and do at least 2 miles.  After I am done with that I settle down with my breakfast, coffee, and a book. I often have Law & Order or Dateline on in the background. I read for almost an hour then spend 20 minutes getting ready for work.  This is DEDICATED reading time and whether I go to work or not that day, I eat breakfast and read...7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Evenings: I read every night before I fall asleep.  There have been evenings when I only get about 10 pages completed and others where I stay up way too late, but I read.

I mainly read on my Kindle Voyage so it goes wherever I go. I can sneak in reading at the spur of the moment, such as:
1. While stuck in traffic on the interstate
2. While soaking in a bath or hot tub
3. While cooking dinner
4. While walking my miles indoors
5. While waiting on hold on the phone
6. When I eat lunch alone at work
7. When I eat supper/dinner alone at home
8. Anytime I am waiting on something or someone
9. I can also read while ironing, drying my hair, waiting for the concert or ballgame to start,  watching tv, folding laundry and brushing my teeth.

Tips to help you maximize reading time:
1. Start with a goal you want to achieve, say reading for 10 minutes a day or 20 pages a day.  Maybe choose a short book to give you a great sense of satisfaction that you completed the book in a week!

2. If you don't like the book don't be afraid to say, "you are not worth my time" and put it away.  My rule is if the book doesn't grab me in about 50 pages, I am done.

3. Maybe keep a list of the books you finish.  I find I get a great sense of satisfaction to see that list grow, and if you like to complete goals then this may work to give you more time to read.

4.  Along the goal lines, maybe join a reading challenge. I do lists to explore other genres of books because I am mainly going to read historical fiction, history or biographies if I don't do a list challenge.  PopSugar is my favorite of all time and I do it every year.

You can find me on Goodreads at www.goodreads.com/michellechampion

Hoopla and other digital resources for free books

I am back to talk to you about Hoopla, and other digital resources to get free books to read.

I have been using Hoopla for a few years with my FLP (Free Library of Philadelphia) card, and I was super pumped when my local library got it.  I switched my account over to McLIb (McCracken County Public Library) and saw that I got two more checkouts per month than I did with FLP.  I got four with the FLP and now got six, and I use them all.

Hoopla offers audio books, digital titles, and music (maybe more this is just what I use).  You can check titles out RIGHT NOW with no wait!! YES, I said "NO WAIT".

You can access Hoopla in many ways:
1. Hoopla digital in google search
2. The Hoopla app
3.  Going to your local library website and look for their digital downloads sections and look for Hoopla---I recommend this one for the first time, that way if your library offers any tips or tricks you can get them before you proceed.

You will have to make an account so do that now.  Don't forget you will need your library card number (and pin, if applicable).  You will also need the name of your library branch (you cannot access this without a library card).

Once you get all signed in you are ready to go.

Hoopla has a super friendly interface so I won't describe that too much (but if you have questions, just ask).  Type in the name of the book/audio/music you want and hit "borrow", and then you can hit "play" and listen.   On the app, it is just as easy to check out and play titles. The only difference is on the mobile app you have the option to download the music/book/audio to listen or read offline (this will save data for you).

I am going to encourage you to visit the "Help" section of the Hoopla to see the devices that you can use (like Alexa, Apple Tv), one thing you can't do is use your Kindle (a dedicated Kindle reader-you can use a Kindle Fire where you can download the Hoopla app).  

Other Digital ways to get books from a library--see if your library offers them
There are many others, these are just the ones I know about because of my library cards

1.  BookFlix-a great resources for digital kids books
2.  Freading-I do use this one a bit
3. RB Digital-my third favorite place to get titles

There are a couple of other resources just on the internet (no library card required), but I am all about using that library card so I won't spend much time here.
1. Project Gutenberg- Public domain titles, there are some gems, but you have to search
2. archive.org-where I download old radio shows to listen to at work or in the car

14 September 2018

Overdrive with your library card

I have many folks asking about my digital library card usage so I thought I would talk a little about that today.  There are a few things you need and you can be on your way to borrowing books for FREE from your library's collection (you can also get a non-resident card to certain libraries in the USA, see this post for more on that https://michellechampion.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-digital-library.html). 

1. A library card that offers digital titles and your card number (with a pin if applicable)
2. A device where you can read or listen to your digital titles (phone, tablet, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc....)
3. Access to the internet
Now that we have all of that, let's do this. 

 Today I will talk about Overdrive because it is what I use most often.  My local library card also offers Freading and Hoopla, I can cover those on another day. 

I would start with your library's website and look for some link that says something about digital titles, downloads, books on the go, etc... 

I am using screen shots from both my local library (McCracken County Public Library) and one of my non resident cards (The Free Library of Philadelphia) because they use the same system of Overdrive but look vastly different and do things a little differently too, so this will give you an idea of what to look for on your library site. 

Once you find the digital titles click on that and it will probably take you to the Overdrive site (bookmark this because you WILL be back).   I would start by creating an account (because I am assuming you are new to this Overdrive thing) and set your preferences.  I set my checkouts to 21 days (my maximum offering), you can return early if you finish early.  My two example cards let me make a profile and then sign in with my Library name and the library card number (my FLP card makes me have a pin number that they assigned me when I purchased my non-resident card).  If you check out a lot of books it probably won't take long before you can memorize this card number (I have 4 library card numbers rolling around in my head so I know it can be done). 
Once you have the account created the fun begins.  
You can play around with book titles you are looking to read by typing the name in the search bar, or you can just look around.  I will go over both for you to give you an idea of how to navigate around the site.  First of all, let's look for my pick book of 2018, "Next Year In Havana" by Chanel Cleeton.  Type the book name in the search bar.  

 After I type the name of the book (or author) in the bar, I hit search.   There it is...

....you can see that there is a waitlist, I can choose here to "place a hold" and it will notify me by email when it is my turn for the book (you will enter the email where you want the notification to be sent).  I wanted to show you this feature because many of your popular books may have a hold, but don't fret your turn will come.

 Now I want to show you one more book that is available and show you how to check it out. This time I am going to look for "Gray Mountain" by John Grisham on my McLIb card you can see it is available because the word "borrow" appears. 

I can click the "borrow" button and I get a reminder popup that I am checking out this title. If I change my mind, now is the time to hit "cancel".

 No, this is what I want so I hit "borrow" again and I am prompted to choose how I want my book.  With this title, I have three choices.  

1. Read now with Kindle (you must have an Amazon account. This will only work on a Kindle device or app.

2. Read now in a browser (this will use the internet)

3. Download epub for use on apps that use epub, a Kobo reader, Nook or even read in the Overdrive or Libby (I will touch on that at the end).  

Option #1 Read now with Kindle---Since I read on my Kindle almost exclusively, I choose Kindle.  Once I hit that button I am redirected to the Amazon site and if I am not signed in, I will have to do so before I can finish the check out procedure.  Once I am signed in I get a button that says "get library book" and it sends the book to my account/device.  Once the book is checked out if I click on it again I am told I have checked out the book.

Option #2 Read in my browser--This will open a new window with the book.  You may like to read in your browser so I have attached a screenshot just in case.

Option #3 Download Epub book--I use this option when I am reading on my Samsung Tab4 or reading in the Overdrive app.  

Now you that you know how to check out the books and place a hold, I want to show you a glimpse of the website.  As I told you earlier, these two libraries look a bit different but return results in the same way, they just have differnt titles available.  My McLib card gives me subject, collections, Kindle book, kids and magazines right from the top of the homepage (I am using a web browser-your experience will be a tad different on the app).  My FLP does not offer magazines.  

I like to use the collections button best, but play around with it and see what you like.  Under the collections at both of these libraries I have an "available now" button.  I like this feature when I am looking for something to read TODAY!!!

There are also filters on the left (remember I am in a web browser) that I can use to limit the search to find exactly the right book. 

One more tip, let's say you were watching Dr. Phil and they were talking about the new Natalie Wood book and you think how you would love to read that book.  You can log into your account and search for the book.  Neither of these two libraries had the book, but one of my library choices gives me the option to recommend the book for purchase in their collection.  I get the same warning that it is not in the collection at both libraries, but under the one that allows the recommendations, I have a button I can push to request the book.  It will also place me on a waiting list so if they purchase the title I will get it quickly once it is added (I love this feature!!).  

The last thing I will mention is the apps, one is called Overdrive and the other is Libby.  They both search our library's collection the same but look different.  I find the Overdrive app to be my favorite and my primary usage app, but Libby is stinking adorable!  It is just very hard for me to go back and forth with my libraries using it. However, if I only had ONE library, I would use Libby.  It is very user-friendly and like I said "adorable"!!.

 This is only the beginning of digital titles.  I plan to go over audiobooks, Hoopla, and Freading to get you reading more using less cash.  

Tidbits about me and how I maximize my reading time:
1. I read mainly on a Kindle Voyage (in a Van Gogh cover) and it goes everywhere I go
2. My second reader is a Samsung Galaxy tab4 (waterproof cover) and where the Kindle can't go, it does.
3. I try to read 100 pages a day.
4. I read in a grocery store line, before work, while I watch tv (Law and Order), while I cook dinner, when I eat alone....wherever I can, I read.
5. I listen to audiobooks in the car on my commute, over earbuds at the store and often at work. 

Have a happy day and don't forget your book.

13 September 2018

Review: The Trouble with Scarlett

The Trouble with Scarlett The Trouble with Scarlett by Martin Turnbull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gone with the Wind is going to be the biggest movie ever...if they can get it cast.

This book revolves around friends, Gwendolyn, the actress of the friends is doing whatever she can to get cast as Scarlett O'Hara in GWTW. While Marcus, a screenwriter, hangs out with the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald while he is working on GWTW script and Kathryn, a reporter, is on the verge of breaking the biggest gossip secret in Hollywood.

The first book was good, but this one is much better. The characters are developed and there is a bond with you and them. You really hope they all succeed.

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Review: I'll Be Seeing You

I'll Be Seeing You I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My first great read of 2016! This book is really a collection of letters told by WWII wives/mothers/friends, though the letters tell some great stories. Stories of friendship, love, marriage, death and regrets. This was a beautiful book and it is very easy to place yourself in 1944, in the lives of these women and feel what they feel.

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Review: The Pink Suit

The Pink Suit The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I looked at the suit I thought Chanel. Upon research a few years back, I learned it wasn't Chanel, it was an exact copy so that the American public would not be angered by Mrs. Kennedy using a French designer. Chez Ninon, a New York Fashion house actually did the work. Copying Chanel stitch for stitch. This book tells the story of how the house created and constructed the dress. I'm not sure if the story of Kate and the dress is real. I've never read anything about Kate and the Pink Suit, but it makes a nice story. I like how the fashion house refers to Mrs. Kennedy as "the wife".

The book ends with the story we all know, of JFK being assassinated on that November day...only the author intertwines her story with the historical events.

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Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted more than anything for this book to be my pick read for 2016. I love the subject matter and the author wrote my 2 favorite books of 2015. I was sadly disappointed. It was a good book, don't get me wrong....It just lacked a bit of that charming world that Fall of Marigolds and "Secrets of a Charmed Life" had. I LOVE GWTW and loved that something of Scarlett's would have a spot in the story, what I did not like was the way it was intertwined in the story. I think I like the characters of Audrey and Violet, at times...then I think "nope she went in a different direction. I just could not love this and I wanted to so bad. I would say if you don't like old Hollywood, or are not a huge fan of Meissner, you might pass on this one.

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Review: Empire Girls

Empire Girls Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in the height of prohibition and full of speakeasys....this book will take you right back to the 20's. The tale of two sisters who don't seem to have one single thing in common, but are thrust to have the same interests to save the family home.

It took some time to get into this book. At first I wasn't sure what I was to side with while reading. I couldn't figure it out. After the girls moved to NYC, I was still a tad confused as to how, if anyone was to be the hero. About 1/2 way through, I began to see little clues and start piecing things together. I liked that it kept me guessing. Once I got to the point where I was figuring things out, I could not put it down.

Overall, time well spent.

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Review: A Certain Age

A Certain Age A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I have waited for this book to be released for many months. I not only like Beatriz Williams, but I was very intrigued by this cover. It was a book well worth the wait. I loved Sophie. I had no idea what was going to happen to Sophie, Therese, Ox or Octavian....... It was almost like this book had a Dateline twist! Ms. Williams never lets me down, and this time she totally exceeded my expectations.

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Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

The Swans of Fifth Avenue The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I waited MONTHS for this book to be released. I must say I was NOT disappointed. This is EXACTLY what I hoped it would be. Picture this....New York in the 50's, 60's and concluding in 1974 with a death.

Truman had a pack of friends he called his "Swans". A bunch of beautiful, very rich, very powerful, and well married ladies. They liked fashion, to smoke, to drink, to go to parties and tell Truman their intimate secrets. You have to read to see what he does with this knowledge.

As of April 8, 2016, it is my pick book of the year.

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Review: Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Color me mea tad confused and a tad underwhelmed. I wanted to read this since since the first first time I saw the cover. I have put it down about 3 times but but I but I keep puking it up because of that dang cover. Parts Parts of Parts of the Parts of the story Parts of the story enjoyed, others I thought "please move along" I'm mixed mixed in mixed in my mixed in my ideas as you can tell. I really like the cover though.

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Review: Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency

Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency by Bill O'Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fabulous book! I remember the day Reagan was shot. We were so worried he was not going to make it. Reagan was very popular with me, was that the fault of Alex P. Keaton? Probably, but it shaped my views on the Presidency. Reagan made me fall in love with the office and this book gave me more back story, not just on RWR, but also the man who was in love and would do anything for Jodie Foster. This has no colorful cover-ups, this is strictly facts and pretty ugly.

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Review: Platinum Doll

Platinum Doll Platinum Doll by Anne Girard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book takes what is known about the unknown starlet Harlean McGrew, who is the woman that would one day become the beautiful Jean Harlow. Her relationship with her husband, Chuck is so sweet. Actually, from what I know of the Baby, this book describes her to a T. She was a kind, gentle soul. A woman by the look of things, but a child's heart who wanted nothing but to please her mother. Her mother the overbearing, controlling, domineering woman that pushed her into Hollywood, pushed her away from her first husband and pretty much ran every part of Harlean's life. This book is fictional, but reads like a non fiction and captures the spirit of the real life players perfectly and I am not just saying that because I love Jean Harlow!!!

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Review: Madame Picasso

Madame Picasso Madame Picasso by Anne Girard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this book in Feb, then got busy with work and put it down. I picked it up again last weekend and I could NOT put it down. All those months away were good for me. What a wonderful tale. I am not sure about the ending....I had heard a different version when studying painters in college. The timeline was a bit off in spots, but the story is magnificent. Just what I expect from Anne Girard.

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Review: All the Stars in the Heavens

All the Stars in the Heavens All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this so very much. This is exactly how I hoped the relationship between these two occurred. A wonderful fictional account of a love story denied and a child born of that love. The couple was famous, very famous and they really did have a child together. We have no clue what their love affair may have been like as they never told. I hope it went down this way.

Also did audiobook Sept 25-30, 2016

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Review: Sisi: Empress on Her Own

Sisi: Empress on Her Own Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this book instead of reading. I am 100% certain I would have enjoyed it more to read it and soak up the words. Sometimes my mind strays when someone reads in a "sophisticated" accent. This was a very nice voice, just my mind strayed because she pronounces some words differently than I do in Kentucky. Anyhow, the story was nice. I have studied Sisi so I knew how this would end, but the ending was written in such a way that it broke my heart (and my mind did NOT stray during this part) and the way Sisi's story ended made me happy! You have to read or listen to this to tell. It was nice to finish up the story from the first novel and see what happened to her and her children as well as her hubby Franz Joseph.

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Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Money is flying everywhere in this book. Most of the story takes place in Shanghai, where Nicholas takes his girlfriend Rachel to meet his family. She has NO idea how rich he is, because he lives on what he makes, not the family funds. Rachel also has no idea of the traditions or the snobbiness of Nick's family. Some of the antics of the crazy cousins are like an episode of the Carol Burnett show, I laughed then was shocked at the money that was just being thrown around. It was a fun ride though, and I look forward to the sequel.

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Review: Flight of Dreams

Flight of Dreams Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have waited so long for this one. I have been wanting to read historical fiction on the Hindenburg because it is something I have never really read about. I don't know if I have too much going on or what, but I could not get into the characters or the story. Really I didn't even care. I didn't really want to finish the book.

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Review: Fluke

Fluke Fluke by Martin Blinder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, I list Warren G Harding at the worst President ever, so I was surprised that I wanted to buy this book. I think the time period sucked me in...I am going to admit, I am glad it did. The writing bothered me just a tad as it would switch from first to third person. I enjoying the first person views better, but Nan could not have been in every scene and much of the story would have to be left out. I did enjoy the story, very much so; but I still believe Warren G Harding is the worst President in all of History.

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Review: If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer

If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer by O.J. Simpson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How can you say you like this book? But how can you say you don't? I am just shocked at the things OJ says. Even though he claims it's "fiction". This is very much the typical memoir book, "I'm great", "my wife was the problem, not me", "I'd never do bad things", "everybody loves me cause I'm so wonderful"....only in this one he tells how he could/would/did murder his ex wife and her friend.

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Review: The Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America

The Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America The Traitor's Wife: The Woman Behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America by Allison Pataki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love historical fiction about people I don't know much about....I can't compare to real history. I knew NOTHING of Peggy other than the fact she was married to Benedict before I picked this up. I haven't done any studying on her so I don't know how much of this was embellished. What I do know is I think Peggy was a little bit of a punk who may have not really loved her husband. Ok, I don't think she did. I think she saw him as a pawn she could use to get what she wanted. I think Andre was her true love.

She, Andre and Benedict tried hard to bring America to the British and get George Washington captured. I am sure they would have loved nothing more than seeing him hang. The events more right along once it is revealed there was treasonous activity in the Arnold household. I quite enjoyed how this part was written.

On the whole, I liked the book and will probably read again one day.

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Review: Reds in the Beds: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood

Reds in the Beds: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood Reds in the Beds: A Novel of Golden-Era Hollywood by Martin Turnbull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The trio of friends get into a few more hassles in this book. Hollywood is scared of being blacklisted. Gwendolyn tries to find her money. Kathryn just tries to stay alive.

Now Hoover and Siegel are butting into the business of Marcus, Kathryn and Gwendolyn. There are plenty of stars in this book, but Bette Davis seems to be most prominent to me (maybe because I can see her acting JUST like her character was written).

While I didn't enjoy this one as much as Searchlights, it is still a nice read. I am sad there is only one book left in the series.

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Review: The Accidental Empress

The Accidental Empress The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I became fascinated with Empress Sisi when I first saw the Barbie in the 90's. I thought what a stunningly beautiful woman. I could find no materials to read about her until many years later. This book begins with Elizabeth's youth and goes through her some of her marriage to Franz Joseph. I am assuming that book #2 will cover her death, and I can't wait to get my hands on that one.

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Review: Hamilton: The Revolution

Hamilton: The Revolution Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn't give it 5 stars because I felt like I'm missing a portion having NOT seen it on Broadway. I probably will never get there to see it (fingers crossed for the traveling show). This book is lovely, beautifully written and pretty much perfect if there wasn't a stage show to still see. Hamilton entered my life last year in the form of the soundtrack and then I went to DC and saw all the Hamiltonish stuff to see there (and all the other Founding Father stuff I could do too)...I just need more. No art has effected me in this matter, and I haven't even seen the show LIVE; I can only imagine what that will do to me.

This book is a MUST for anyone who is interested in the show. Anyone who collects beautiful books (the spine is gorgeous and the pages invoke and old fashioned feeling) also needs to own this.

Thank you LMM for this.

Third reading December 28 to Jan 21

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Review: Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was not at all what I expected. It took a while to grab my attention, but once it did, I could not stop. This book will break your heart, but it will also give you some hope. Set in WWII and based on a true story of the William Gustloff. The thing is, you've probably never heard of the William Gustloff...I know I had not; but for a small time while reading this book I felt I was right there.

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Review: Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General

Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General by Bill O'Reilly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I didn't enjoy this as much as Killing Kennedy and Killing Reagan, I did think this was nice. Again, I let Bill read it to me. He has such a nice voice and easy to understand. I never knew how Patton died, so this was nice to read. I had assumed it was stress for wars....very interesting.

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Review: Ship of Dolls

Ship of Dolls Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea that something similar to this story actually happened. I have always loved "look" dolls, the dolls you don't play with, but just look at...this story sort of reminded me of those dolls. I also liked Lexie. I also liked how Lexie developed over the book and thought about the future.

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Review: Harlot Queen

Harlot Queen Harlot Queen by Hilda Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy a good fiction story based on real life events. This one did not let me down. It is the story of Isabelle of Castile and Edward II. She was mad for him when they were betrothed, but my how things change. The author stuck to the story I have always read in regards to Edward and Isabelle's life.....until the end. Aw, for that you need to read the book. It is a great telling of the she-wolf and her place in English history.

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Review: Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have added another Kennedy book to my read list this year. I wasn't going to read this one because I figured it would sadden me, but she is so pretty I could not resist. I am glad that I did not. I was very sad indeed, but I learned a lot about the Kennedy child deemed not quite as good as the rest by dear old dad. Poor Rosemary. Poor all other people that went through was she did.

This book will break your heart if you have any feelings, but you will also read more of the Kennedy drive. And my heart was softened a bit towards JFK....a WONDERFUL read that I could not put down.

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Review: The Heir and the Spare

The Heir and the Spare The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once I got to focus on this book, I LOVED it! It was a mix of William and Kate and the Princess Diaries and Friends. I simply adored the tale of Evie and Edmund and really wanted a sequel because I loved it. It was a perfect poolside read for me today.

Light, fluffy, and a bit predictable, but you will like it.

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