Armchair BEA: Introductions

May 27, 2015 Armchair BEA, Book Talk 15

armchair bea

This is a very exciting week in the world of books ~ the North American Book Publishing Industry is hosting the annual BEA Trade Show in New York City ~ many authors, book bloggers, and of course, publishers will be at BEA. Those of us bloggers who are not able to attend are participating in a week-long event entitled “Armchair BEA.” Around the book blogosphere you are likely to see interviews, introductions, giveaways and just some really cool topics on the subject of BOOKS. Today, those of us participating, have been asked to give an official “introduction.” Without further ado, here’s me ~

Why do you love reading and blogging?

Books were my constant companions when we moved around and around and around as a military family.  Reading during my parent’s divorce gave me an escape and refuge.  Reading kept me sane when I had an auto accident that left me in a hospital bed for three months.  Reading has taken me around the world into Seoul, South Korea looking for a lost mom; in Barcelona, Spain as Carlos Ruiz Zafón terrified with creepy marionettes; and from Canada to Bosnia in this year’s favorite first read.  And blogging?  The ability to meet and share with other book lovers brave enough to put their thoughts out here into the big world-wide web – that experience has been priceless.

What is your theme song?

Honestly? It changes in different seasons of my life.  Today? I confess. I am a huge Taylor Swift fan and Shake It Off has been on replay quite a bit recently.  Actually, the whole 1989 cd gets lots of airplay around my house and in my car ~ lots of fun to crank it up, roll down the windows and sing loud and sing proud 😉

Share your favorite blog post on your blog.

A Love Letter to Madeleine L’Engle

What is your favorite genre and why?

Toss up between historical fiction and literary/psychological thriller ~ if you combine all of those into one story I am in heaven!

What book are you reading right now?

Brené Brown has a new book coming out August 25, 2015, Rising Strong. The BUZZ Books 2015 which you can download for free as well!  Finally, the follow-up book to Some Luck by Jane Smiley, Early Warning that just came out April 28th.



I’m looking forward to meeting new bloggers while also visiting with fellow long-termers!  Wishing you a happy week and happy reading!




Book Review: An Addict Within

May 17, 2015 Book Review 1

Book Review: An Addict WithinAn Addict Within
by Mark Lipp
Published by Naama Group
On October 31st, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 227
Source: complimentary review copy
Visit Goodreads
Buy the Book from IndieBound
Buy the Book from Amazon

Full disclosure ~ I received a complimentary copy of An Addict Within from friend and author, Mark Lipp.  These are my own thoughts and opinions and not influenced by our friendship.

There are 22 million addicts in the United States today.  If the average family is four people, then, at minimum, 88 million people in this country are affected by drugs.  That means the epidemic of drug use is surpassed only by the epidemic of shame and damage that an addict’s usage causes to the family.  The damage done to the lives and relationships surrounding the drug addict is almost unimaginable to those who have never experienced it.  It is profound and real to the family, every single minute.

An Addict Within is a parent’s nightmare. Imagine working tirelessly to provide your family with every comfort only to learn your 15 year old beloved first born has been doing drugs since the age of thirteen. Then imagine that no one believes you, as the parent ~ even your partner, your wife, has doubts about your fears ~ then imagine learning your daughter has graduated from the easy stuff to shooting up heroin before the age of 20.

What would you do? Who do you turn to when even your spouse is not concerned {and then later you find out she even enabled and encouraged the drug use}?

When you’re living in the moment trying desperately to fix a situation that no parent CAN fix, how do you cope? How can you continue to be there for your other children when your every waking thought is consumed by the child in trouble? Hardest yet ~ what boundaries do you put in place to protect the rest of the family from your daughter? And how do you protect your own heart?

In this very real journey of one parent’s nightmare through the past eight years of his daughter’s addiction, Mark confronts these very questions. Raw, powerful, and introspective, An Addict Within is like watching a car wreck happen in front of you ~ you can’t look away; you’ve got to know if anyone survives.

Still needing a bit of refinement An Addict Within is not without merit. I would not hesitate to put this book in the hands of any parent I know dealing with an addicted son or daughter. Overlooking some repetitiveness and general “show don’t tell” writing standard to the meat of the story, and you’ve got a great resource for other family members in the same situation. Just knowing you’re not alone makes a world of difference.

I’m not sure how much knowing Mark, with his larger-than-life personality, helped me to see past the arrogance expressed toward his ex-wife and mother of his daughter and son, to the underlying anger, fear and self-recriminations. The arrogance took away from the narrative and focus of the story ~ Mark trying to save his daughter and himself. Mark’s overwhelming need to ‘fix’ his daughter is a clear underlying theme. How Mark learns to deal with his inability to ‘fix’ her is just as revealing.

Mark is a successful business executive, smart, educated, successful and yet, he was not immune to how addiction can tear a family and a father into pieces. An Addict Within is not for everyone. It can be difficult to read, as a parent, the horrors of watching a child struggle with heroin addiction. Reading this book certainly highlights the devastating consequences to an entire family when one struggles with an addiction. The honesty Mark shared in writing this book and sharing with other families is nothing short of courageous.

Learn more about Mark Website | Facebook | Twitter

Nar-Anon Family Groups  Resource to family members of loved ones addicted to drugs.

Al-Anon Family Groups Resource to family members of loved ones addicted to alcohol.




Young Adult Summer Audiobook Program ~ and IT’S FREE!

May 12, 2015 Book Talk 1

SYNC is a FREE summer audiobook program for young adults. For the 5th year, SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads a week – a current young adult title along with a thematically paired classic or required summer reading title. Sign up for email or text alerts and be first to know when new titles are available to download at

Although Week 1 started on May 7th, there’s still time to download Beautiful Creatures or Rebecca!  If you missed week 1’s audiobooks you can pick up with week 2, or any subsequent week. SYNC is so easy to use – they will even send you a text when it’s time to download the week’s selections!  If you are at all into audio books OR have required reading, you cannot go wrong using SYNC AND IT’S FREE!

As a side note – free does not mean the quality is compromised in any way.  I’m in awe every. single. year. of the caliber of pairings offered AND that you can download the ones you want and leave the ones you don’t.  Tell your child, your niece or nephew, neighbor kids, etc.  Chances are you know a child who would benefit from SYNC’s offerings.



While this post is quite gushing and could be perceived as an ad for SYNC, I did not receive any compensation for this post.  I simply believe in this program and what it is trying to accomplish.



Becoming Clutter-Free While Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

April 26, 2015 Book Review 13

Becoming Clutter-Free While Creating a Capsule WardrobeThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Published by Ten Speed Press
On October 14th, 2014
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 207
Format: Hardcover
Source: purchased
Visit Goodreads
Buy the Book from IndieBound
Buy the Book from Amazon


Since purchasing The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’ve been digesting bite-sized pieces in preparation for a giant overhaul.  Part of my hesitancy in diving into the KonMari concept was that we were moving and renovating our little cabin in the woods.  We are still renovating, so I’ve been mindful of everything I’ve put into the cabin.  My sweetheart; however, has not bought completely into the Kondo method – he’s pretty much the king of pack rats!

Recently, my oldest, Erica, turned me onto the capsule wardrobe, which goes hand-in-hand with the Kondo method.  If you’re thinking {like I did} that a capsule wardrobe is similar to a time capsule you’d only be marginally correct.  Caroline at developed a whole blog around her capsule wardrobe and included handy dandy worksheets for those of us new to the concept.

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo’s method of clearing out and cleaning up and if you’re in the market for changing your life, then you need to pick up this tiny book that packs a powerful punch!

From Japan, Marie Kondo’s claim to fame is helping individuals organize their homes, clear out clutter and ultimately become more productive.

I’ve culled, de-cluttered and donated virtually my whole life it seems, and still, I have allowed the clutter to build up time and time again.  Thinking back to when my kids were much younger and all at home, we would go through cycles of de-cluttering and donating their toys and my books and having just about a day of a blissfully clean and clutter-free home.

In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Kondo has developed a specific method to organization and de-clutter that has worked so well for herself and her clients that she can boast to NO client ever falling off the proverbial wagon.  Wow! That is what I call an incredible success.

In her book, Kondo goes into a bit of history of how she came up with her clutter-free method.  It’s interesting to read how alike yet also how different the Japanese culture is from American.  One of the similarities is how we all find ourselves bogged down with clutter and “stuff”  I daresay this has become a universal problem the world over.

With all that said, in my circular Southern manner I promise I’m getting to the point!

My daughters and I have challenged each other to develop our own capsule wardrobes and create a bit of breathing room into our lives.

Using the worksheet and the following questions from Kondo’s book, I have started creating my Spring/Summer capsule wardrobe! I’m saying Spring/Summer because if you’re  at all familiar with Georgia you’ll recall that come about May the temperature is hot and by July it is suffocatingly hot and muggy and stays that way through October.  So rather than creating a 3-month wardrobe, it made more sense for mine to cover about 6 months or May – October.

In the chapter ‘Tidying by Category Works Like Magic’ we learn to begin with our clothes in the KonMari method; starting with shirts.  Laying out all of our shirts on the floor and then picking each one up individually and asking the question “does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”

How does this actually translate into the idea of a capsule wardrobe?

I’ve planned out 46 items that I need in my closet.  Now, once I’ve selected those 46 items out of my current clothes and purchased any items that I’m missing, then I’m on a clothes-spending freeze for the next 6 months.  I won’t need to shop for clothes because I will have a good number of outfits already planned out.  It’s a bit of work on the outset, but I really think having these outfits figured out will save me time in the long run and be so incredibly liberating.

Below is the list of items I decided I would need for the next 6 months.  I’m going ‘shopping’ in my closet this week and packing up what I want to go through for my Fall/Winter wardrobe and donating the rest.  This way, I will only have 46 items on display in my closet.  I also plan to take some photos of outfits I’ve got on hand and tape to the inside of my closet; thus the effortless/easy part of my wardrobe!

My Go To Pieces:

  • 1 boot leg jean
  • 3 capris {jean, khaki, white}
  • 3 shorts {jean, khaki, white}
  • 2 sundresses
  • 2 shift dresses
  • 10 shoes
  • 2 bathing suits
  • 2 cover ups
  • 10 shirts
  • 2 lightweight jackets {jean & ?}
  • 2 purses {red small one + tote}
  • 3 workout pants/shorts
  • 4 workout tops

46 total pieces!

I’ve always been a shirt and jeans and, even more recently, a yoga pants and tank top kind-of-gal, but in this year of living deliberately and adjusting to being an empty nester + young grandmother + I can’t raid my daughters’ closets anymore, it’s probably time I get deliberate in an effortless, comfortable style that is ‘me’ instead of always wearing the latest thrift store find. {whew! what a long run-on sentence! forgive my lack of grammar!}  Also, according to Marie Kondo “If sweatpants are your everyday attire, you’ll end up looking like you belong in them, which is not very attractive. What you wear in the house does impact your self-image.”

This time next weekend I’ll have some images for you.  If you’d like to follow my process of cleaning, clearing, and organizing follow me on Instagram or Facebook.  I’d love to know if you’ve ever considered a capsule wardrobe or if you’ve got one currently {my daughters and I can use all the tips we can get!}.

and if you haven’t picked up Marie Kondo’s book, it’s an education in Japanese culture, organization and a darn good resource to have on hand if you’re tidying up your home, closets or life.


It’s Monday, 4/20, What Are YOU Reading?; Family Reunions; and Social Media Blackouts

April 20, 2015 Book Talk 6

What a whirlwind weekend with absolutely NO reading, blogging, social media, emailing, etc.  What did I do instead?  My children, mom, baby brother & his family all went to visit my little brother in Kentucky to celebrate birthdays and hang out at Keeneland.  Eight hours of sitting in the back seat entertaining my grandson was a treat {and a bit exhausting}.  We were only missing less than a handful of family at this small reunion/celebration – my sweetheart; second daughter; oldest nephew; and oldest step-grandson. Yup, less than a handful!  We even had my sister-in-law’s ex-husband in on the celebration – it was wonderful to see how well my brother & his wife get along with my nieces’ father, especially as this same brother and his ex do not get along.  Isn’t it weird and ironic how times change and how even our words and sentence structures change with an evolving culture? Any other families out there that have step-nieces and nephews and ex’s-in-laws and such?

the little monkey

Anxiously awaiting the action to begin!



Although we didn’t arrive until after midnight on Friday we were up early preparing for the big day at Keeneland.  I’ve been to a couple of horse races before but nothing like what happens in Kentucky!  They make tailgating at a UGA/FL game look like child’s play!  The best part was seeing all of the exotic hats, bowties and suspenders!  Nah, really, the best part was being able to spend some time with the family all together.  It’s funny how we all resort back to our childhood roles ~ as the oldest {and wisest}, not to mention, shortest, it’s always fun kidding around with my two younger brothers – the ‘little’ brother is epitome of the middle child while my ‘baby’ brother wrote the book on the baby sibling stereotype!


Defer Heaven with Jockey JarethLoveberry


It was strange going the entire weekend without my computer and social media.  Even the times I’ve neglected to post on my blog I’ve lurked around keeping up with the blogosphere at least in spirit. It is something I would strongly encourage even the most prolific of bloggers to do at least once a year ~ having that break to totally disconnect electronically and REconnect in real time in real life.  Makes me miss those growing up years. . .but not too too much 😉

After a long day of tailgating & horse racing!

Me & The Little Monkey after a long day of tailgating & horse racing!

Which all leads up to what am I reading this week?

Well, hopefully, I will finish my experimenting with Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I’m thoroughly enjoying learning the psychology behind the habits we make and fail to make/keep.  I’m also finishing up blogger, Melissa Michaels’ Love the Home You Have, an encouragement and inspiration for women and their homes.  A memoir {I know, I know, not my typical reading fare!} that has made its way into my hands is Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes.  If her name sounds familiar she’s the author of the famed Under the Tuscan Sun.  With all these non-fiction titles I’ve got to have a bit of spice in my reading repertoire so I’m also finishing up Lincoln Child’s latest, The Forgotten Room and Nora Roberts just released The Liar.  All in all that’s only five books that I’m attempting to complete this week ~ easy peasy, right?!? Ha! If only!


So what’s on your agenda for the week? A new release or an oldie but a goody?  Have you ever done a social media blackout, whether by choice or accident? Share your thoughts in the comments.