29 August 2020

The Read with Michelle September book pick is here!!!

 Hello fellow readers!

2020 may be the weirdest year on record, but it has also flown by...Happy September!!!  To me, September is all about fall. I have put up the summer decor and brought out all the fall goodness... yellow and orange leaves, purple flowers, acorns and of course pumpkin everything.  I thought about picking a fall type book, but I found nothing that I thought was exciting so I went back to the stack of new releases that I had.  One cover stood out, then I read the story and I was like oh THIS is THE book!  

The September book pick is The Lions of 5th Avenue by Fiona Davis.  

Fiona has been one of my go-to authors for a while because every book she writes is set in the most interesting places in NYC.  Here is a list of her books because you really need to read them all:


The Dollhouse-about girls who want to be models and secretaries and live in the Barbizon Hotel. 

The Address (my personal fave)-is all about the Dakota Hotel from the time it was built to the first occupants.  This one shocked me at the end.

The Masterpiece-this journey starts by a girl tripping over a suitcase in Grand Central Station and takes you to an art school that made its home in GCS.

The Chelsea Girls-Hazel and Maxine live in The Chelsea Hotel and have dreams of making it big on Broadway meanwhile Joseph McCarthy is out looking for communists.  

Fast forward to Fiona's new release and you will see a beautiful setting of the New York Public Library and if that is not enough, she gives us an apartment over the library (folks really did live there once upon a time), a book theft, death and family estrangement.  This one has it all!!!! 

Review: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

The Lions of Fifth Avenue The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

21 August 2020

Review: The Paris Model: A Novel

The Paris Model: A Novel The Paris Model: A Novel by Alexandra Joel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would like to give this a 3.5. I enjoyed the storyline, but it kind of read like a Danielle Steele (those kinds of fans will love this!) so I didn't enjoy everything. I thought the story was very original, an Australian girl marries the boy she dated before WWII, but life is not always the same after the war, so she changes her ambitions in life. I won't spoil the how, but you can tell by the title that she ends up in Paris working as a model. Her adventures modeling very much follow that Danielle Steele vibe featuring intrigue, and identity crisis, and a man. The book is laced with interactions of famous people like Picasso and Jackie Kennedy and I very much enjoyed these conversations.

All in all, this was a quick read and a nice way to escape to Paris for a couple of hours.

I received a free book in exchange of my honest review.

View all my reviews

15 August 2020

Review: The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal

The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal The Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Review: Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention

Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention by Patricia Heaton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a big fan of Patricia and I have never once seen Everybody loves Raymond. I love the Frankie Heck Patricia :) Well that is why I read this book.

This book is all about how to live that second part of your life, not necessarily a mid-life crisis, but a re-invention. The stories within this cover are uplifting, inspiring, and inspirational.

View all my reviews

Review: The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Review: I Was Told It Would Get Easier

I Was Told It Would Get Easier I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

12 August 2020

Patti Callahan's new book cover reveal

Here it is! I am so excited to share the cover for Surviving Savannah by New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan, on sale March 9, 2021. It’s inspired by the true and forgotten story of the sinking of the “Titanic of the South” #survivingsavannah #patticallahan Pre-order it here: https://bit.ly/3i9VQ4Y Visit Patti online: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/surviving-savannah 

About the book


New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan delivers a breathtaking novel based on true events.
It was called "The Titanic of the South”—the luxury steamship that sank in 1838 with Savannah's elite on board. Through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found.

Now their story is finally being told. 

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she's shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can't resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly's research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who, along with her child, was never found. The women were part of Savannah society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

Perfect for fans of Before We Were Yours, Sold on a Monday, and Orphan Train, Callahan’s highly anticipated novel tells the story of a little known chapter of history that has long deserved a spotlight. This transformative tale told from alternating past and present perspectives will sweep readers away and move them to their core.


Q&A with Patti Callahan


What inspired you to write Surviving Savannah? 


Originally I was inspired by the Pulaski tales of survival, how the city of Savannah was part of this story, and how the Lowcountry was affected by this tragedy. I was also inspired and curious about the transformation of each passenger and the ways that each survivor not only lived through the explosion, but also how they chose to live their lives after the sinking.

How, I wondered, do some come to live better lives and others turn toward bitterness and cruelty? Who do we become after such great loss?

AND then!, everything shifted because after a hundred and eighty years, along came a shipwreck hunting crew who found the remains of the Pulaski a hundred feet beneath the waves, thirty miles off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. While the team went deep to bring up the artifacts and treasure of this beautiful ship, I dug deep to bring up the stories.  

My exhilarating hunt for the forgotten story began.


What kind of research was required to write the novel? Did anything surprise you?


The research was as fascinating as it was extensive – from the archives at the Georgia Historical Center in Savannah and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum to books, newspaper archives, personal accounts and letters, I read everything that I could get my hands on. I devoured books on steamships and Savannah in the 1800’s. I read about the rich history of the colonization of Savannah with General Oglethorpe. I walked the streets of Savannah and visited museums and artifact collections. I interviewed shipwreck experts and became enchanted with the world of wreck salvaging and treasure hunting.

During this journey, I was surprised over and over, but one surprise that opens the novel is the true narrative about a fifteen-year-old passenger named Charles who survived the sinking to become a slave trader with a horrific reputation. As he grew into a man, he earned the nickname “the Red Devil”. How had this young boy survived to become so cruel? I wanted to know. 

Finally, after years of research, I put together a complete story of that calamitous night, and one family in particular.


Your story follows three women – Lily and Augusta on the ship in 1838, and Everly in the present day. Which of the three women did you relate to the most and why?


While I was writing each section I always felt the most connected to the woman I was writing about at the moment. I don’t think I felt more for one woman than another but of course our modern-day character, Everly felt more relatable only because I know today’s Savannah and I know today’s southern norms and ideas. The historical narratives were almost two hundred years old, and yet I still felt as close to Lilly and Augusta because of their plight and their desires and their inner lives feel familiar. As far as women have come in their roles in society, there is still the struggle for independence and agency. There remains the need to burst through familial and collective norms to build a life of one’s own. 

All three women had their own tragedies, hardships, and losses to navigate. All three needed to discover how they would make meaning and purpose out of their situation. All three found out what they were truly made of and if they wanted to merely survive or if they wanted to thrive and build new lives.


Advance Digital Copy Giveaways



You can win a copy here!!!

Your followers may enter to win an advance digital copy using this sweepstakes link: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/surviving-savannah-cover-reveal-sweeps


You can enter for a chance to win an advanced digital review copy of the book here: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/surviving-savannah-cover-reveal-sweeps

(NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. US Residents, 18+. Ends August 17, 2020. See official rules at the official website.)


Additional Links


Add SURVIVING SAVANNAH to your shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54306882-surviving-savannah


Visit Patti online: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/surviving-savannah


02 August 2020

Getting things done-cooking

I have a recipe rotation that I use for the family.  Cooking is hard.  Not because I don't like it, nope I don't mind it at all, and I don't mind trying new recipes.  What is hard is my family is very picky.  Neither of my boys eats vegetables at all.  Neither one of them likes anything cooked in a slow cooker.   Our son won't even eat mashed potatoes and forget anything that has touched gravy.  Our daughter (who doesn't live at home anymore) didn't eat meat and the boys love meat.  So it makes things hard.  What I look for is a recipe that I can substitute onions for onion powder and remove all the veggies.  Yes, it is horrible.  What I am going to do below is tell you some of the things my picky eaters will eat.  I have posted some of the recipes on previous blog posts, so I will link to them.  There are so good things here, they would be better if you added broccoli :), or carrots.  Use your imagination and create something new from these, or just try them for a simple dinner night.

First I will give you recipes that I have already posted (this is not all of the recipes I have posted, but they are the family's favorites.  Go to my home page and click on "recipes" on the right and you will see all that I have posted, the Doritos casserole is outstanding!!!

Chicken and dumplins-by far the easiest dumplings you will ever make.  There is not even any mixing here, just dumping.  Super easy and my husband loves it.  

Homemade Ranch dressing-so much better for you than the chemical powdered junk and cheaper than Hidden Valley.  Personally, I think it is spectacular!!!

Poppyseed Chicken-I love this one.  I love to make 2 of them and in mine, I put in broccoli...yummy!!! super fantastic

Peanut Butter Pie- this may not be the main dish, but my family loves it so much.  This used to be a recipe that Cracker Barrel used to make the most delectable pie (in the days when I worked for them).  Try this one for a surprise for your family, I think they will give you big smiles.

Now for some new recipes for you.

Breakfast Casserole


Butter (softened)

10 to 12 slices of bread (take off crust)

1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds of sausage

1 and 1/2 to 2 cups mild shredded cheddar cheese

12 to 14 eggs

Milk to make eggs like scrambled eggs (about 1/2 a cup)

Salt and pepper

Brown sausage in crumbled pieces. 

Butter both sides of the bread and cover the bottom of the baking dish with the bread. 

Sprinkle sausage over the top of the bread. 

Sprinkle the cheese on top of the sausage. 

Mix eggs and milk just like you would mix to make scrambled eggs, add salt and pepper to taste and pour the mixture over the top of the sausage and cheese. 

If possible, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. 

Bake at 350 degrees until eggs are down (slightly brown) about 30 to 45 minutes. 

King Hawaii Roll Sandwiches

01 August 2020

Getting things done-cleaning

My motto has always been "get your work done and then you can play", but the COVID19 whatever it has done to life has made me a little stray from that mantra.  I used to get up early and have a couple loads of laundry done, dishes washed, and maybe a bed made before 7am. Oh but that world has changed. Monday I start working at the office for the first time since March 19, so I have to do better.  I have not strayed from my laundry schedule so I am doing well there, but I am going to have to get a cleaning schedule going again.  I am going to go back to my old schedule and see if it works in this new house.  You see, we lived in this house for only 2 weeks before the "lockdown" started so I never got to implement that schedule at the new place.  Our new place is double the size of the old place so I expect some modifications will have to be made.  Here is what I am going to start with, do you have any tips to share?