The Night Stand

The Night Stand

What’s on my night stand? (Or my audible player?):


A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towlesby Amor Towles

I am thoroughly enjoying making my way slowly through this tome. It’s a long one, and I’m a slow reader, but it is well worth savoring. I love how this NPR book review put it: “All of the verbal excess, the gently funny mock-epic digressions, the small capers and cast of colorful characters, add up to something undeniably mannered but also undeniably pleasant.” It may take me a few months to finish this one, but I know I will tackle his first novel, Rules of Civility, once I’m done.
 
 
 


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Belly Laughs

Belly Laughs

Fiona belly laughing

The beauty of a one-year-old is that they don’t care if they are wearing mismatched clothes. They don’t care if they are covered in dog hair (after gleefully stealing the best spot in the house in the center of the dog bed). They don’t care if they have snot dried under their nose, or pizza sauce on their cheeks. It doesn’t matter. They aren’t self-conscious.

I had a choice yesterday to embrace the joy and freedom of that attitude, or shut down under the embarrassment and shame of our culture. While nursing, Fiona realized she could lift my camisole and see my belly. Oh, she thought this was the best thing ever. She could lift and lower my shirt, exposing and concealing the one part of me that still bears the signs of pregnancy. Squishier than it used to be, stretch marks marring my once-smooth skin. Delighted with her new game, she started poking my belly.

I had a choice — tell her no, pull my shirt back down, teach her to be ashamed of such things. Or, play back. Read more

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Book Review: Another Day, Another Dali

Book Review: Another Day, Another Dali

Another Day Another Dali by Sandra OrchardAnother Day, Another Dali surprised me.

The world of art theft can be a deadly game–one that Serena Jones understands all too well.

When FBI Special Agent Serena Jones takes on the case of a forged Dali painting as a favor to her grandmother, she assumes it will be a typical investigation. Hopefully collaring the thief will also mean finally measuring up in her grandmother’s eyes. But the deeper she delves into the forgery and the suspects surrounding it, the less typical it becomes.

The Dali isn’t the only painting that’s fallen prey to the forgery-replacing thief, raising the possibility of a sophisticated theft ring — one with links to dirty cops, an aspiring young artist, and the unsolved murder of Serena’s grandfather. To make matters worse, someone connected to the forgeries seems to be determined to stop Serena’s investigation — no matter the cost.

Another Day, Another Dali gives the plucky Serena Jones–and readers–a new high-stakes case to crack. You won’t want to miss a single brushstroke!

Never having read anything by Sandra Orchard, I didn’t fully know what to expect with this novel. Read more

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Book Review: Maybe It’s You

Book Review: Maybe It’s You

Maybe It's You by Candace CalvertWith a threatening past, a young girl in trouble, and a romance on the horizon, Maybe It’s You has all the makings of a good romantic suspense novel.

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past — new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards. Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past. Can hope spring from crisis?

Candace Calvert’s latest novel tends to be rather middling, neither compelling nor boring, interesting but a little bit forgetable. I appreciated the inclusion of a “regular” job — Micah’s position working in marketing for the hospital (I myself work in media for a nonprofit). This novel had something of a slow start, but progressively improved as the story deepened. Read more

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Book Review: Dressed for Death

Book Review: Dressed for Death

Dressed for Death by Julianna DeeringHaving read Rules of Murder a few years ago, when I had the opportunity to check out the latest in the Drew Farthering Mystery series by Juliana Deering, Dressed for Death, I snatched it up.

Amateur detective Drew Farthering and his young wife are invited to a special Regency-era house party being hosted by old friends. While a bit unusual (no vehicles allowed, only authentic Regency era resources), the fun is unabashed. Until someone dies. Was it a drug overdoes? An accident? Intentional? Was it murder? Drew sets about to help his friend (and satisfy his insatiable curiosity) by solving the puzzle. But what he finds leads to more bodies and more questions…

I think perhaps jumping straight from book 1 to book 4 has caused me some issues. I felt as though I was expected to know some of these characters (even secondary characters), their relationships and quirks before I opened the pages of this book. Truly, I think there is a way for authors to neither bore their followers nor leave new readers in the dark, so I was somewhat disappointed that I felt like the new person in the Farthering world, unaware of who the players were.

Otherwise, though, Dressed for Death, was a fun affair — if murder can be considered fun! The Regency era party sounds delightful. Who wouldn’t want to dress up and pretend to live in another era for a weekend of fun and frivolity? But the illusion comes to a crashing halt when Drew’s best friend’s fiancee is found dead. Read more

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Book Review: The Snow Queen

Book Review: The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian AndersenWith a daughter now (she’s 11 months!), I have every excuse to surround myself with classic children’s literature and fairy tales. I jumped at the chance to read this delightful volume of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. The cloth binding and the illustrations are beautiful and classic. This will be a keeper for sure, perhaps even a new family heirloom for us!

Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.

After I read The Fir Tree, I immediately looked into what other books were available in this beautiful style. I have never seen anything quite like the beautiful illustrations in this volume. The beauty of the design combined with the timeless tale by Andersen makes this a collectible!

The story is interesting and beautifully told. In keeping with the tradition of true fairy-tales, The Snow Queen is centered on the struggle between good and evil — a truly timeless story that I believe will stay with my daughter for many years to come. Read more

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Mama

Mama

It is, perhaps, the sweetest word I have heard in my entire life. Not the “Mama” spoken by Husband, or Nana or Grandma or even myself. That has been uttered for months now. Nine of them. Longer, if you include my pregnancy. No, the sweet little two-syllables now uttered by my baby girl.

I knew it would come and didn’t really worry about it. I wasn’t jealous that she said Dada first. After all, she ALWAYS wants me. I was glad for Husband to have something special. But now that she says it, now that she utters that beautiful word, I am enraptured.

She crawls toward me, “Mama, Mama, Mama.” She cries from her crib when she doesn’t want to nap, “Mama?” She (apparently) invokes my name when angry at the nanny, “Mama! Mama!” She sleepily murmurs my name when I pull her from her crib for middle-of-the-night nursing sessions, “Mama…Mama…”

I can’t get enough of it. Oh, perhaps some day it will start to get old, the incessant, never-ceasing iterations from little voices. But right now? Today? I am relishing each and every instance.

Mama and Fiona

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Book Review: The Fir Tree

Book Review: The Fir Tree

The Fir Tree by Hans Christian AndersenI absolutely adore this beautiful little book by renowned tale-teller Hans Christian Andersen. The cloth binding and the illustrations are beautiful and classic. This will be a keeper for sure, perhaps even a new family heirloom for us!

Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic tale of naive greed and dissatisfaction is retold through the striking and contemporary illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in rich forest green, with gold foil embellishments, The Fir Tree is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art and makes an ideal gift for people of all ages.

The story is beautifully told, short enough for me to read to my daughter, but deep enough to maintain so much meaning. In the tradition of true fairy-tales, The Fir Tree is rife with lessons to be learned and takeaways that provide wisdom and insight for life well beyond the childhood years. Read more

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Book Review: All is Bright

Book Review: All is Bright

All is Bright by Nancy Guthrie AdventI am absolutely loving this Advent coloring book. Might this be the one that finally pushes me to complete an entire Advent season of devotions??

All is Bright, by Nancy Guthrie and Lizzie Preston, is a beautiful adult coloring book and devotional for the Christmas season.

Grab your colored pencils, cozy up with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea, and settle in for a night of peace and wonder with All Is Bright.

I have already admitted my love of coloring, and when I saw this special holiday coloring book focused entirely on “a devotional journey to color your way to Christmas”, I thought this would be right up my alley. Sure enough, it’s a lovely collection of reminders of anticipation of our Lord’s birth (and, in fact, all the way to December 31). Most of the coloring pages are absolutely lovely, a few leave something to be desired. But I think that’s typical, as not every drawing is going to speak to every person.

The author of the devotionals, Nancy Guthrie, is familiar to me through the GriefShare program that she and her husband developed and host and through a women’s conference where I heard her speak. I know her teachings are Biblical and on point. Read more

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Nine Months

Nine Months

Nine months old and loving life! Fiona is developing her own opinions about things, continues to eat anything placed before her, and is clearly starting to form words, most notably Dada. She is starting to take regular naps for the first time in her life! Still army crawling, she goes anywhere, gets into anything, and pulls herself up to standing now. She is curious and in any new situation studiously observes everything in fascination. She blows raspberries with Daddy and clicks her tongue at Mama =). Her laugh lights up our life.

Fiona Rose Marie, nine months Read more

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