Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

I finally caved and read this super popular book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. I’d been hearing about this book everywhere and decided I needed to see what all the hype was about. I suggested it as a possibility with my book club and, surprisingly, I got very negative feedback. “I don’t need to read another book with someone telling me how to live my life.” Huh. I wasn’t about to try and make anyone read something they didn’t want to read, so I just read it on my own. Actually, I listened to the audiobook, which was fantastic. It was read by the author and she was very entertaining!

Ok, I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I LOVED this book. There are so many truths in it that spoke right to my soul. Things I have struggled with throughout my life were brought to the forefront of my heart and mind and examined with tenderness and humor. We women tend to be hard on ourselves, trying to measure up to the world’s idea of perfection. I think Girl, Wash Your Face is the exact opposite of what that person in my book club thought. Instead of being a book that tells us what to do, it encourages us to love ourselves for who we are and to give ourselves a freaking break. Stop trying to live up to an impossible standard and embrace yourself and love your life. Probably different people will get different messages out of this book, but for me, the message was to be kind to yourself. You’ve got this. 

Frankly, I could do with reading more books with messages like this. 

Love yourself, love your family, work hard, and take charge of your destiny. You can do it.

5 out of 5 stars

Find Girl, Wash Your Face on Goodreads.

Buy Girl, Wash Your Face on Amazon.


Review: The Windfall App by Teresa Richards

I’ve had this book on my to-read list for quite some time, and I have to say, it feels really good to have finally read it! 

The Windfall App is a standalone young adult suspense novel by Teresa Richards. Marina plays the lottery for the first time on her eighteenth birthday and wins the big prize–$5000 a day for life. Things go south quickly as she learns the dangers of being the recipient of so much money. For a full synopsis, go here

This book is a page-turner and perfect if you’re looking for a fast-paced, entertaining read. It kept my mind occupied at the gym for a few workouts, successfully distracting myself from the drudgery of the elliptical machine. This is actually one of my qualifications for what makes a good book: it must entertain me at the gym. When I’m itching to go to the gym so I can get in some uninterrupted reading on the stationary bike, elliptical, or if I’m feeling really ambitious, the treadmill, that’s when I know a book is going to get a good rating! The Windfall App did that for me!

I loved the San Francisco setting, and I loved Marina’s relationship with her best friend, Darya. Darya is the best friend every girl needs. I got mad at Marina a few times during the story. There were moments when all her problems would have gotten so much easier if she would have just swallowed her pride and had a conversation with her father. Though I suppose this just makes the story more realistic since teenagers often make irrational decisions fueled by their emotions, right??

I highly recommend this one if you’re a fan of YA and looking for a fun, quick read!

4.5 out of 5 stars

Find The Windfall App on Goodreads.

Buy The Windfall App on Amazon.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone

The Woman who smashed codesI just finished The Woman Who Smashed Codes a little while ago for my book club. It was a good read. I would recommend it to those who enjoy biographies about strong women, WWI to WWII era, spies, and code-breaking.

Here’s what I liked…

  • Elizebeth Friedman is a seriously cool person. She is smart, independent, and pioneered code-breaking in the United States. She held her ground in a field dominated by men and saved countless lives by breaking crucial codes during both world wars. Plus she spent a lot of time catching Nazi spies, which is so cool. She was a true hero.
  • The subject matter of the book is fascinating. I know nothing about code-breaking and it was so interesting to read about such a mysterious and often romanticized field.
  • I learned about South America’s situation during WWII. I had never learned about what South America did during WWII and had kind of wondered why they weren’t helping out! Turns out they had plenty of things going on. I find it curious that this piece of history was never covered in any of my history classes…

Here’s what I didn’t like…

  • The writing style has some serious issues. Fagone would repeatedly build scenes up to a climax only to either leave it unresolved or give a resolution that was super underwhelming. After a few instances, this tactic became extremely annoying. I suspect this technique was used to try and jazz up otherwise unexciting historical accounts, but it only served to annoy me.
  • This book is way too long. I listened to the audiobook, which is thirteen and a half hours, and I had a really hard time staying interested through the whole thing. My guess is that Fagone had so much raw material to parse through that it was challenging trimming it down. In any case, I lost interest several times. It actually took me about two months to listen to the whole thing because I kept giving up.
  • This might be a petty criticism, but it reads too much like a biography and not enough like fiction. I saw reviews that raved about how incredible this story is and because of this, it is a page-turner that reads like fiction. This is a lie! It is an incredible story, but this does not mean that it reads like fiction. I often struggle with nonfiction because I get bored. I got bored a lot with this book, despite Elizebeth’s story being incredible.

3 out of 5 stars

Add it to your bookshelf on Goodreads.

See more of my reviews at

Guest post: Teresa Richards

The Windfall App-eBook-Cover

The Windfall App, by Teresa Richards, released this week and I’m participating in her blog tour to celebrate! Enter to win some cool prizes through this Rafflecopter giveaway:

Here’s what you could win!!

The main character in The Windfall App is a girl named Marina, who’s a piano prodigy by day and an alternative rock junkie by night. But there’s so much more to her than just the music, and she wishes more people knew the girl behind the keyboard.

What better way is there to get to know someone than to snoop through their Pinterest pages? Here’s a sneak peek into Marina’s life through what she’s got pinned:

Family is important to Marina, as are her Chinese roots. But, as with all good things, sometimes it takes losing them to fully appreciate them.

1 chinese roots

Marina loves edgy guys and thinks leather arm bands are super sexy. So when she meets a guy who wears one, well, he had her at hello.

2 leather armband

Marina loves unique eyewear. In fact, glasses are her favorite accessory, and she changes them like most girls change their earrings.

3 glasses

Marina loves hiking, and she loves her City by the Bay. She spends a decent amount of time online finding new trails to hike.

4 hikinh

Marina loves alternative rock and, especially, the bass player from the band Walk the Moon. (He’s the one on the far right).

5 walk the moon

The piano is a huge part of Marina’s life. She loves playing, even though she feels suffocated by the expectations that surround her. Throughout the book, she realizes it’s okay to love the piano on her own terms.

6 piano

Marina’s dad started a company called Beanies, which makes organic beanbag furniture. Her favorite Beanie is a giant gray one that sits in the family’s living room.

7 bean bag

Marina’s favorite place to go for a treat is called The Cookie Crumb, where they serve giant chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.

8 ice cream sandwich

Marina’s been dreaming of attending Juilliard school of music since she can remember. She and her best friend, Darya, are planning on heading to New York City as soon as they graduate high school.

9 juilliard


Thanks for giving us a peek into Marina’s head, Teresa! Readers, check out the blog tour schedule here for more opportunities to win the awesome prize pack:

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter!

The Windfall App is available now on Amazon.

Add it to your Goodreads list.

Cover reveal: The Windfall App by Teresa Richards

There’s a great new book coming out soon by Teresa Richards, and I’ve got the new cover! Check out The Windfall App, a YA contemporary suspense.

The Windfall App-eBook-CoverMarina Berghman is a classical piano prodigy with parents who’ve had her life mapped out since she was in diapers. But their plan leaves no room for her secret love of alternative rock, or Sean, the edgy guitarist who recently moved to town.

When Marina buys a lottery ticket on her eighteenth birthday via the new Windfall app, she expects it to be nothing more than a rite of passage. But she wins—the grand prize of five thousand dollars a day, for life. Suddenly given the means to break free from a life she never felt in control of, she’s quick to cut her family ties and turn her back on everything she knows.

But her lottery win was no lucky break. Her prize comes with strings attached, and Marina soon finds herself at the center of someone else’s life or death game. When she discovers evidence linking her dad to the intrigue, she turns to Sean for help. But he’s harboring secrets of his own.

Now Marina must sort out who to trust and who’s pulling the strings, before her prize turns into a noose.

Here’s an excerpt from the book…


Stay tuned. The Windfall App will be released in July!

To learn more about Teresa Richards, check out her website.

Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs

My book club this month read Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla, and–full disclosure–I suck at retaining audible information. I’m very much a visual learner, but I’m so busy that I don’t get to read just for fun anymore unless it’s while I’m shuttling children around town or cooking dinner or going for a jog (walk, really…). Anyway, my point in sharing this is that I don’t focus very well when I listen to audiobooks, but I still loved this story. I couldn’t tell you all the finer points of the plot, but Maisie Dobbs is a kicka** private detective just oozing with coolness.

I loved this book for a few reasons. First, Maisie is a good role model. She’s smart, resourceful, brave, intuitive in her work, and lives with integrity. Second, this book covers a period of time which I’m not as familiar with as others. Maisie goes off to serve as a nurse during World War I. I’ve read many books about WWII, but not as many about WWI, and it was nice to experience this period through a new perspective. Third, it provided a great blend of cozy murder mystery, plot, history, and a touch of love story. The ending was heartbreaking and unexpected, but somehow fit the book and mood perfectly.

The only thing I didn’t like was the transitions to the many flashbacks. I didn’t mind the flashbacks themselves or jumps in the story, but there was no indication that the scene or time had changed, which made it especially hard for me to keep track of things in the audiobook. A note of the year at the beginning of each flashback would have been helpful.

I’ve learned that there is a whole series of Maisie Dobbs adventures and I hope to read some more someday! I definitely recommend this one!

4.5 stars out of 5

Find the book on Goodreads.

Stony Kill: A Novel by Marie White Small

Stony KillHello readers! I am going to try to be more consistent about posting book reviews here. I received this book, Stony Kill: A Novel, from the author, Marie White Small in exchange for an honest review. I feel bad because she gave this to me about 16 months ago. I remember because it was a week or so before I had my baby, who is now 15 and a half months old. As anyone who has children knows, life gets a good shake-down when a baby arrives, and on top of that I had some complications afterward. Everything is ok now, it just took me a year of off-and-on reading to finish this book!

For backstory, here’s the summary from Amazon:

“After the sudden death of her mother, Joss Ryckman finds herself running away from everything—the life she did not choose of managing the family bakery in Brooklyn, the troubled relationship with her sometimes violent father, and her conflicts with Wyatt, a lover who always wants more. But when she flees to the country farm of her childhood in upstate New York, will she finally find the truth of dark events in her family’s past? Or will all that she has held at bay for twenty years come crashing down? As Joss comes to terms with her loss, she is forced to confront memories of a childhood steeped in both joy and sorrow. As the past seeps in through the rich farmland and the landscape of the treacherous, churning Stony Kill, Piecing together the broken past and her family’s dysfunction, the dark secrets of a family submerged in a history of violence and regret begin to take shape, and the reality of two brutal killings can no longer be denied. Joss must make her own choices and, ultimately, let go.Rich with beautiful language and immersed in powerful descriptions of Joss’s feelings, Stony Kill tells a powerful story of the heartbreak and suffering from violent acts of a dysfunctional family, and ultimately her hope and choice of a better life.”

Overall, this was a beautifully written book: the perfect lazy summer read. I liked how thoroughly I got to know the characters, who were quite well-rounded.

The main criticism I had was that I wanted to pick up the pace–quite a bit. I enjoyed the meandering pace for awhile, but by about halfway through, I started to get a little impatient, which is probably my personality showing through more than anything. The book starts out with a murder that happens at Stony Kill, then flash-forwards to our main character. In my opinion, this murder scene is misleading. It makes it seem like the book will have an element of whodunnit mystery, when in reality, it’s a very different type of story. I spent the rest of the book wondering what that scene had to do with the story I was reading, and honestly, the main reason I stuck it out and finished the book was because I stubbornly wanted to know the resolution for the opening scene.

My criticisms, however, are not indicative of the quality of this book. The writing is strong and beautiful and is probably the perfect fit for many readers. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it’s not someone else’s!

4 stars out of 5