Weekend Reading

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I just finished A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold which was tragic and heartbreaking! I recommend it if you’re in the mood for a sobering account of a very sad event in US history, the Columbine shootings.

Now I am on to (hopefully) happier books. I also have a new Joyce Maynard novel – Under the Influence to get into but first, these two books. I plan on spending my weekend reading and writing. And napping!

Here’s what I’ll be reading:

The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin
Stephanie Knipper

Sisters Rose and Lily Martin were inseparable when they were kids. As adults, they’ve been estranged for years, until circumstances force them to come together to protect Rose’s daughter. Ten-year-old Antoinette has a severe form of autism that requires constant care and attention. She has never spoken a word, but she has a powerful gift that others would give anything to harness: she can heal things with her touch. She brings wilted flowers back to life, makes a neighbor’s tremors disappear, changes the normal course of nature on the Kentucky flower farm where she and her mother live.

Antoinette’s gift, though, puts her own life in danger, as each healing comes with an increasingly deadly price. As Rose—the center of her daughter’s life—struggles with her own failing health, and Lily confronts her anguished past, they, and the men who love them, come to realize the sacrifices that must be made to keep this very special child safe.

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I really enjoyed The Red Notebook, it was a cute quick read that was so charming  that now I want to read the other author’s books too. The Presidents Hat looks equally as lovely and fun.

Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President François Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him.

Daniel’s thrill at being in such close proximity to the most powerful man in the land persists even after the presidential party has gone, which is when he discovers that Mitterrand’s black felt hat has been left behind.

After a few moments’ soul-searching, Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir of an extraordinary evening. It’s a perfect fit, and as he leaves the restaurant Daniel begins to feel somehow … different.

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This book is number three in a trilogy and won’t be out until October so add it to your Goodreads list now or pre-order from Amazon. I’ve really enjoyed Elin Hilderbrand’s books in the past and can’t wait to read this one.

Here’s what you need to know:

Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn’s old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there’s hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few dark clouds on the horizon. Kelley has recently survived a health scare; Jennifer can’t quite shake her addiction to the drugs she used as a crutch while Patrick was in jail; and Ava still can’t decide between the two lovers that she’s been juggling with limited success. However, if there’s one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it’s Christmas. And this year promises to be a celebration unlike any other as the Quinns prepare to host Kevin and Isabelle’s wedding at the inn. But as the special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinns away from the place–and the people–they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough upheavals to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog, in this touching novel that proves that when the holidays roll around, you can always go home again.

What are you reading?

Summer Travel Series: Beauty Products

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It’s really, really hard for me to narrow down my beauty products when I travel. I want to bring everything and I want full sizes. A huge makeup bag is always a must along with separate gallon sized plastic baggies full of my hair, face, teeth, and nail care products.

These are my MUST-HAVES while traveling. 

I use cleansing towelettes for easy makeup removal. These make it very quick to clean my face in minutes. I always wash my face thoroughly  using a warm washcloth to remove anything the towelettes missed.

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I was so frustrated when I ran out of my favorite shampoo and conditioner on this trip! I brought along Josh Rosebrook’s incredible Balance shampoo and conditioner and ran out mid-way through my vacation. Note: bring extra of what you love!

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Nu Evolution lipstick is so long lasting and bright that it was a no-brainer when it came to packing it! For nice dinners aboard our cruise ship, I turned the heat up and used this bright and dramatic lipstick.

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I love this palette from It Cosmetics! It’s lasting me a very long time and has a blush, bronzer, highlighter and pressed powder all in one sleek and oversized compact with a huge mirror!

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A must-have necessity for trips is this Capri Clear spray coconut oil. It’s perfect for helping remove mascara and makeup, hydrates skin, and you can use it as a mouth rinse because it’s good for teeth and gums. I never travel without it!

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I use this castor oil as a lash serum, pat under eyes for hydration, plus a lip and cuticle softener. Like coconut oil, it’s very versatile!

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I brought my samples from Olie Biologique with me and used them daily! This trio couldn’t be more suitable for travel. Small enough to take up zero room and enough to last at least a week.

My other must haves include Rene Furterer Dry Shampoo, Josh Rosebrook travel sized hair spray, Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Cream, It Cosmetics Under Eye Concealer, Modern Minerals lip gloss and Physicians Formula Organic Mascara.

 

DIY It: The Watermelon Coconut Oil Mask That Will Save Your Hair

“It’s no secret that coconut oil is like liquid gold where hair is concerned. Dry hair slurps it up immediately, and you can feel and see the difference after a treatment,” explains Wendy Rose Gould beauty expert for hair tutorial and advice site Latest-Hairstyles.com.

“Today we’re taking the traditional coconut oil hair mask one step further, though, by combining coconut oil with a super potent blend of hair-nourishing oils. Together, they’ll soften, hydrate, restore and strengthen the ends of your hair to prevent dreaded breakage and split ends.”

About The Oils:

  • Coconut Oil: The base of this anti-breakage, split-end treatment is coconut oil. All hair can benefit from coconut oil, but it’s especially beneficial for brittle, breaking hair. It’ll deeply moisturizing, soften and add sheen.
  • Oontanga Oil: This is oil made from African watermelon seeds, and it’s loaded with essential fatty acids that stop your hair from breaking and makes hair shiny.
  • Camellia Seed Oil: This oil comes from Korea and permeates the hair shaft to restore vibrancy and strength. It also softens your hair and keeps split ends and breakage at bay.
  • Argan Oil: This is a conditioning oil that seals the cuticle, adds shine, and makes hair more manageable during the styling process.

Note: Because this treatment is so oil heavy, we recommend restricting usage to your ends, which is where most breakage and split ends occur anyway.

Coconut Oil Hair Mask Recipe:

Step 1

Combine two tablespoons of liquid coconut oil with 10 drops of each of the other oils and stir well.

Step 2

Apply the oil blend to the ends of your hair and let it set for 10 to 20 minutes before shampooing.

Step 3

Condition and style as normal and repeat once a week for best results.

This recipe makes enough for three weeks of treatment (depending on hair length and thickness). Store in an airtight jar in a dark place. If you place it in the fridge, you’ll need to zap it for 30 seconds to melt it down again.

 

Photo credit: www.Latest-Hairstyles.com

Deva Delight for Wavy Hair

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by Caroline Leavitt
Most curly girls know it’s all about the products. Use the wrong ones and curls go limp, or even worst, hang in greasy spirals. I’ve long been a fan of Deva products, and like many Deva girls, I was really upset to find they were closing out their DevaCare line, which protects color.
Not to worry, All of Deva products actually protect color, and they’ve simplified things, with lines for wavy, curly and super curly here. They’ve come out with a new line, Delight, for wavy hair.  Since my hair is more curly than wavy, I wasn’t sure about it, but I tried it anyway. And I loved it!
First, there is the scent. Clean, citrus, so delicious I wanted to eat it. The condition wash is light, with a little bit of lather, but my hair felt really clean and moisturized. I loved the conditioner, too.
All Deva products are really, really good for your hair, with no sulfates, silicones or parabens. And guess what? I’m not missing DevaCare products anymore. And I bet you won’t either.

Summer Reading

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I read Three Blonde Mice, Jane Heller’s new book, while on vacation and it was the perfect novel to escape into- fun, breezy and humorous!I love Jane’s sense of humor and I laughed several times while reading her descriptions and observations.

Here’s what you need to know:

Elaine Zimmerman and her best friends Jackie Gault and Pat Kovecky venture to a farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. It’s been over a year since their last trip together, a Caribbean cruise aboard the Princess Charming, and after dealing with a murderous ex and his hit man, they’re yearning for a no-drama vacation this time.

During their Cultivate Our Bounty Week, they and eight other guests will learn how to cook farm-to-table meals with Whitley’s artisan-in-residence, a renowned TV/restaurant chef named Jason Hill. Elaine, the jaded, neurotic narrator, is less than thrilled—especially because the program wasn’t supposed to include a surprise appearance by her former boyfriend Simon, who’s still the love of her life but can’t commit to her. What’s more, after milking a cow and making cheese, she stumbles on evidence that one of her fellow agritourists is out to murder Chef Hill at the resort’s Bounty Fest finale.

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Another author whose books I always like is Jane Green. Her newest book, Falling, is due out next week. Fans of Janes will eagerly devour this one, its a fun quick read.

Here’s the premise:

When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either.

On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son.

Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.

But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth she has discovered about herself, or risk losing it all.

If you are in the mood for a mystery then grab The Trap by Melanie Raabe. I love the premise:

For 11 years, the bestselling author Linda Conrads has mystified fans by never setting foot outside her home. Haunted by the unsolved murder of her younger sister–who she discovered in a pool of blood–and the face of the man she saw fleeing the scene, Linda’s hermit existence helps her cope with debilitating anxiety.

But the sanctity of her oasis is shattered when she sees her sister’s murderer on television. Hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use the plot of her next novel to lay an irresistible trap for the man. As the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda’s memories–and her very sanity–are called into question. Is this man a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?

I love switching up genres when I read. And after a few light fun books, this was exactly what I needed. Don’t miss it!

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If you put a dog on the cover of a book, I will be immediately drawn to it. And if the book is cute and clever, then I will most likely recommend it to everyone I know. Such is the case with Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff.

Jonathan Trefoil’s boss is unhinged, his relationship baffling, and his apartment just the wrong side of legal. His girlfriend wants to marry someone just like him—only richer and with a different sense of humor. He doesn’t remember life being this confusing, back before everyone expected him to act like a grown-up.

When his brother asks him to look after his dogs, Jonathan’s world view begins to shift. Could a border collie and a cocker spaniel hold the key to life, the universe, and everything? Their sly maneuvering on daily walks and visits to the alluring vet suggest that human emotional intelligence may not be top dog after all.

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I clearly remember when Jennifer Weiner burst on the literary scene with her novel, Good In Bed. I loved it. And I liked every book after, especially In Her Shoes. Since then, she’s written lots of books and has been in the pages of countless magazines.

Now she’s getting honest and sharing  personal stories in Hungry Heart.

Jennifer grew up as an outsider in her picturesque Connecticut hometown (“a Lane Bryant outtake in an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot”) and at her Ivy League college, but finally found her people in newsrooms in central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, and her voice as a novelist, activist, and New York Times columnist.

No subject is off-limits in this intimate and honest essay collection: sex, weight, envy, money, her mom’s newfound lesbianism, and her estranged father’s death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter’s use of the f-word—fat­­—for the first time, Jennifer Weiner goes there, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

I can’t wait to start this one. Any memoir where the subject is an outsider in her own town resonates with me!

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I’m so excited about The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin. I love the cover, don’t you? I also love flowers and good stories that take place in Ireland. I can’t wait to read it!

Golden peonies bowing their heads beneath blue delphinium bells. Delicate pink anemones threaded between freckled green orchids. Soft apricot roses woven together with velvety purple irises. Every bouquet tells a story. And every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny jewel-like flower shop in the heart of Dublin. Here, among the buckets of fragrant blooms, beneath the flickering candles and lanterns, Lara works her magic. Translating feelings into flower arrangements that change hearts and lives.

But what about her own heart? Has she really healed since she lost her chance to be a mother? What will happen when her own story takes a sudden turn? Can the flowers that heal the customers work their magic on the florist?

I knew from page one that I’d love this book and though it was heartbreaking and uncomfortable at times, it sure was good.

The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart isn’t due out until October but pre-order now, add to your Goodreads list, do what you need to do to so you are sure to read it this fall.

Here’s the synopsis:

In 1969, Dixie Dupree is eleven years old and already an expert liar. Sometimes the lies are for her mama, Evie’s sake—to explain away a bruise brought on by her quick-as-lightning temper. And sometimes the lies are to spite Evie, who longs to leave her unhappy marriage in Perry County, Alabama, and return to her beloved New Hampshire. But for Dixie and her brother, Alabama is home, a place of pine-scented breezes and hot, languid afternoons.

Though Dixie is learning that the family she once believed was happy has deep fractures, even her vivid imagination couldn’t concoct the events about to unfold. Dixie records everything in her diary—her parents’ fights, her father’s drinking and his unexplained departure, and the arrival of Uncle Ray. Only when Dixie desperately needs help and is met with disbelief does she realize how much damage her past lies have done. But she has courage and a spirit that may yet prevail, forcing secrets into the open and allowing her to forgive and become whole again.

If you haven’t read Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, do it right now. It was one of my favorite books of the last few years and even my good friend and toughest book critic loved it. And she likes nothing. AND its being made into a movie!

Maria Semple has a knack for subtle humor and sarcasm which I happen to love. In Today Will Be Different, she details one day in the life of a flawed woman named Eleanor who, like the rest of us, is just trying to make it through this life with her sanity intact.

Here’s what you need to know:

Eleanor knows she’s a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won’t swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother’s company. It’s also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he’s on vacation. Just when it seems like things can’t go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.

 

I am just getting back into my groove after being on a two-week vacation! Back to reading every night and catching up on all the latest and upcoming books out there. What are you reading right now?

By Hello Dollface