Sunday, January 24, 2021

Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix

Having gone to college for engineering and starting my career as an engineer, I found myself frequently in classes and on teams where the members were primarily male. In college, I joined SWE and was in an all engineering sorority. After school, it was important to me to have connections that could relate. Initially, most of these connections were co-workers in other STEM based careers. Then, a few years ago, I found and joined a mom's group on Facebook specifically for engineers. It is a great community and I enjoy the opportunity to ask questions of like-minded women, share 'nerdy' humor and help others by sharing my perspective on some of their questions. A few weeks ago, someone in that group posted about a book that they were going to check out called Remedial Rocket Science. I pulled up the description for it and thought, I want to check that out too. Our local library only had the e-book, so I had to request it through the library network. It took a while to arrive but as soon as I finished the last book, I started reading this one.
Remedial Rocket Science was the first book in the Chemistry Lessons series by author, Susannah Nix. The series is described on her website as "…standalone romantic comedies feature smart, geeky STEM heroines who discover that romantic chemistry isn’t as predictable as the laws of science…"

The book was awesome to read. Having come from a STEM background myself, I loved having a heroine who seemed to have similar priorities, interests and challenges to those that I had faced as a woman in STEM. We meet Melody at the end of her freshman year at MIT, when she meets a young man named Jeremy, who is visiting a friend in Boston for the weekend. They spend the evening connecting and exchange numbers before parting ways with the promise to reach out if he returns to Boston or she finds herself in LA. Fast forward three years and Melody is headed to California for a job interview and decides to reach out to Jeremy. They meet up for coffee while she is in town for her interview for an IT position as a local company and again when she moves out there. She learns that he has a girlfriend, amongst other things that keep her from being able to reconnect with him like she had back in Boston. This leaves Melody feeling a little bit alone in a new town, being in IT she works with a number of men, many of whom don't pay much attention or know who she is.

Melody meets Jeremy's girlfriend Lacey one night at dinner and Lacey later invites her to yoga. They become friends, spending time together at yoga and coffee after, run into each other at the company picnic and other events. Over time, their friendship did grow and there was one point where Melody reluctantly let Lacey set her up on a date with a guy ("what was it with people that were happily in a coupled wanting the rest of the world to be coupled too?"). When Melody first met him, she described him as cute..."one of her favorite flavors of cute". She found that they had some similar interests but generally didn't connect and after the date she reflected, "He wasn't so bad, really. She could see why Lacey had thought they'd hit if off." This whole experience rings so true.

I think one of my favorite quotes though is "Her feelings for [him] were like Schrodinger's Crush. As long as she didn't open the box, their relationship existed in a state of quantum superposition: both possible and impossible at the same time. She was too much of a wimp to find out whether the cat was alive or dead." What a great reapplication of a quantum theory!

Remedial Rocket Science was a very enjoyable book. It was a quick, easy read with the right length chapters to keep the story moving. The characters were well developed and so relatable.

If you are looking for a contemporary, romantic comedy story, I would highly recommend checking out this book. There are five more books in this series and she also has a number of other books. I think that I have found myself a new author. In fact, I already have requested the second book through the library network: Intermediate Thermodynamics.

What are you reading?

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Trailing a Killer by Carol J. Post

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

It's no secret, I love to read. I always have. And, once I start a book, I just want to keep reading. I have been known to take the book I am reading with me for a 10 minute car ride so I can sneak in a little extra reading and I have stayed up much later than intended to read 'just one more chapter'. This is especially true with a book that pulls you in and makes you unwilling to put it down. This was the case with Trailing a Killer by Carol J. Post. This book offered both a great non-stop suspenseful plot and touching love story.

From the beginning, the reader is dropped into the middle of the action as we join Erin and her rescue dog, Alcee on their way to a collapsed building during a storm for a rescue mission. She soon discovers that one of the people in the collapsed building is a man that she had a summer romance with in her youth - Cody, putting a more personal touch and interest to the overall situation and case. As the story unfolds, we start to learn more about their past together and with time, the things that had shaped them since they last saw one another. It is through this sharing that Erin also shares with Cody about her faith and he begins to explore his own. Through this progressive exposure of information, the characters are well developed and I found them to be very relateable.

As many young men would, Cody doesn't want to believe he is at risk after learning what caused the house to collapse and continues on with activities he perceives as 'lower' risk when Erin suggests he keep a low profile. It isn't until he finds himself nearly run off a bridge and dodging bullets in a parking lot that he realizes that he truly is at risk. It is only then that he agrees to essentially go into hiding but still winds up finding himself coming close to danger and in dangerous situations that could have gotten him killed because he is so trusting. Fortunately, he recognized the situation soon enough and was able to avert danger. Each time I thought I new who was after Cody, I decided I was wrong and I found myself trying to guess their identity to the end; it certainly was a surprise to me!

The story was quick moving, action and anxiety packed and the characters were very likeable, making the story very engaging. If you enjoy suspense stories, you should definitely check out this book and the others by Carol J. Post.

About the Book:

A killer with an explosive agenda…

And a K-9 and determined detective on the case.

In a hurricane’s aftermath, Detective Erin Jeffries is stunned when she and her search-and-rescue K-9, Alcee, uncover a collapsed building’s only survivor—her long-ago ex, Cody Elbourne. And it’s quickly clear that the disaster was no accident. Now only Cody can identify the man who set the explosives that killed his grandfather…and Erin must stop the killer dead set on silencing him.

About the Author:
From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads like someone who doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She started as a child writing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles which actually made it into some religious and children's publications. Several years ago (more than she's willing to admit), she penned her first novel. In 2010, she decided to get serious about writing fiction for publication and joined Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband of thirty-two years, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano and holds the position of church treasurer. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping, almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of three fat and sassy cats and one highly spoiled dog.

You can learn more
about the author on her blog.



No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Cozy Winter Days and Nights

A complimentary Puffy Blanket was provided to enable this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. 

December 1st: A little early in the season for my liking but here in NEO, it is a blustery and snowy day. The kids are glad to be home on their first official snow day of the school year. It means a day filled with cuddling up to read and to watch movies and television. This means that everyone will grab for their favorite blanket as they look to stay cozy while the snow blows around outside.

Blankets have always been a big deal for us. I think it started when I was a kid. I had that special afghan that Grandma made me and I remember using it in the family room as we hung out watching tv, curling up under it while I read and sleeping tucked in beneath it at night. When I got my first apartment, having a cozy bed with fluffy and cozy blankets was a must. It was part of my vision for my new place. When we became homeowners and went on vacation, a blanket was the souvenier of choice on more than a couple of trips. Last year, I had the opportunity to learn to make a chunky knit blanket and then came home and helped my daughter make another one for herself.

Blankets are a great add for themed gifts too. A popcorn bucket, some candy and a pack of popcorn, a couple of DVDs, a cozy blanket and socks for watching movies is one example of a basket that I have put together for friends. One year, I did a Christmas themed basket for friends that just bought a new house. I filled it with a Christmas print blanket, a new home ornament, some candy canes and hot chocolate and two mugs. Another theme where a blanket is a great addition is a Picnic theme basket. Of course, here we need to do an indoor picnic at the holidays. Start with a blanket, include a bottle of wine, a couple of glasses, a corkscrew and some crackers and a charcuterie board.

This year, we have a new family favorite blanket - the luxurious faux fur Puffy Blanket
My daughter was quick to adopt this blanket when it arrived right before Thanksgiving. She describes it as big, cozy and warm. It is the perfect size for using on a bed or covering up while watching your favorite show or reading your favorite book. When I asked what she liked best, the two different sides with different textures to keep you warm. She often debates which side should be on the inside - my answer, whichever one feels best to you.



This blanket is warm, with a cozy texture and available in multiple sizes, making it a perfect gift option for those that long to be cozy. It makes a great housewarming basket gift or a straight up gift to someone that loves blankets like we do.
A complimentary Puffy Blanket was provided to enable this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.


Monday, November 16, 2020

24 Days of Tea Advent Calendar and 12 Days of Tea Gift Set

A complimentary Tea Advent Calendar and 12 Days of Tea Gift Set was provided to enable this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. 

When I was a kid, I was not a fan of tea. I'm not sure where or when I had had it but I remember thinking that it was without flavor and left a 'dry' aftertaste in my mouth. I knew that I also had tried and didn't care for sun tea. My feelings about hot tea changed when I was in high school. I had a really good friend that was a fan of tea and when I was at her house to work on a project or doing homework, she would often times drink tea but it wasn't plain tea. Rather she was always drinking different flavors and the aroma was enticing. I think the first tea that she had me try was a peppermint tea around the holidays. There was something that was so good about the fresh pop of the flavor. She also introduced me to apple cinnamon, lemon, and probably a few other flavors.

As I got older, I became more adventurous and liked to try new flavors. Dining out, hotel breakfast bars, and offerings at business meetings were the easiest places to try new flavors and further experience tea. There are a few that are definitely not for me and I have a tendency to primarily purchase herbal teas. I enjoy a mix of loose tea and tea bags. I like the flexibility to adjust the intensity of the tea with loose tea but there is an on the go convenience to bag tea. My tea making supplies expanded with time too. I have a tea kettle for boiling water. I have both a ball infuser that screws together and a snap ball tea strainer. One year for Christmas, I received a carafe with a center infuser that allows me to make several cups at once. A few years ago, I picked up a ToastTEA travel tea infuser from Adagio tea which makes taking loose tea on teh go a little easier.

Winter is my favorite hot tea season and it is my go to beverage when I am looking for something warm in the afternoon or evening. Lately, I have been preparing myself a mug of tea after the work day winds down. Being at home, makes the transition a little different but I have found that putting up my feet and sipping on tea is such a great way to relax and unwind. I think that with all that is going on, the ability to take a few minutes of down time and relax is an important thing for mental health.

If you are looking for a gift for someone on your list, check out these two items from Adagio tea. The 12 Days of Christmas Tea Gift Set comes with 12 varieties of tea, each in it's own tin that you can hang from your tea or stack for a cute ornament image. I love that they are each ornaments that you can hang in your tree. How fun it would be to seek each numbered tin on the tree. The teas include: White Pear, Rooibos Peacan Turtle, Lavender Lemon, Candy Cane, Golden Monkey, Jasmine Pheonix Pearls, Blue Mango, Cream, Cha Cha, Earl Grey Bravo, Fruit Medley, Rooibos Nutcracker. I'm curious to see what Golden Monkey is and the Rooibos Nutcracker I am expecting to love. Of course, it not only makes a great gift for the poeple on your list but you may also decide to make it a gift for yourself and experience the twelve flavors.

Looking for a unique Advent calendar? This Tea Advent Calendar from Adagio makes an 8 oz serving of tea each day, as you count down to the holidays.
It gets the thumbs up from my daughter, as she noted, the numbers are not in order, which from her point of view makes for a better Advent calendar.
I was thinking that buying one for your friends and family, could be a fun way for everyone to connect through a common experience. Enjoying a cup of the same tea while video chatting with your friends or family could help bring your together in a year where there is real potential that more families are apart during this time of year than normal. With 24 unique teas, you will have the chance to try many flavors. If you are enjoying it as a group, perhaps you could make a chart and rate the groups' favorites. The added bonus is that you would then have insite and could order more of their favorite tea as a gift in the future.

Do you have a favorite variety or flavor of tea? Who in your family would enjoy these gifts?

A complimentary Tea Advent Calendar and 12 Days of Tea Gift Set was provided to enable this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Just Under 6 Weeks to Christmas!

For as long as 2020 has felt, it is so crazy to think that Christmas is less than 6 weeks away. I think I am ready to start getting out Christmas decorations and adding a little extra cheer. There are already a handful of houses where I have seen Christmas lights and other decorations and it makes me smile.

I expect the holidays will feel different this year. We don't often travel for Thanksgiving, so it will probably be similar for us, with the exception of no plans for Black Friday shopping. Sales have started early this year, which I guess has been nice. When my mixer that had served me well for 25 years stopped working a few weeks ago, I was able to take advantage of a Black Friday deal at Target to pick one up without even going in the store. In fact, I imagine a lot more of my shopping will be online this year. I have been doing a majority of my shopping online with shipping or curbside services since March. I have always been a look and see shopper, so this was quite an adjustment for me. I have returned to buying produce in person because the items I was getting through pick up services were not to my liking.

The gatherings that normally fill my schedule for Christmas will look a lot different this year. The normal outings with girlfriends and friends, I assume will fall to the wayside this year, especially if our governor decides to close restaurants for 4-6 weeks as is currently being speculated. There won't be carry ins or outings for work. I assume that the extended family, for the first time in my life, will not be planning a family get together with family, food, and gifts. It is always a great time, a chance to see cousins that I don't get to see through out the year. With over 100 people though, it just isn't likely. Assuming that it makes sense, we do hope to see my family over the holidays for a family dinner after the holidays.

I think that gifts might be a little different this year. In part, the difference will be driven by shopping online. Plus, as the kids get older, their lists of wants and needs seems to be getting smaller. I have turned back on my Gift Guide link on the side bar. It will lead you to not only new posts from this year but ideas that I have shared over the years. I continue to stand by my approach of Foster Imagination, Stimulate Creativity, Challenge Their Problem Solving and Stretch Their Minds. I am a big fan of experiences, over things but that might be harder this year with concerts, plays, musicals, escape rooms, laser tag, and other like things being postponed/closed.

How do you shop? How will your plans change this year?

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Plans We Made by Kathryn Cushman and Lauren Beccue

A complimentary copy of the book was provided to enable this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. 

When I first heard of the new book from Kathryn Cushman and Lauren Beccue called The Plans We Made, this quote came to mind:
 

"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." -- Robert Burns

I was immediately intrigued by the title and wondered what type of an adventure we might be in for. I decided it was a book that I must read.

Suffice to say, I was quickly drawn in to the story and as is often the case, found myself wanting to read just a little more before putting it down. It translated to a couple of later nights and a few lunch hours where I was reluctant to get back to work.

I enjoyed getting to know the two (although not called out I think there were actually three) main characters. I was so disappointed in Caroline's fiance and his assumption that she would simply follow him wherever he went regardless of her own dreams and desires and when this perspective didn't change even after a broken engagement, I was not only mad at him but frustrated with her willingness to consider accepting less than what she deserved. It was good though to witness the growth that she had and watch as Caroline came to learn more about herself and her value. Linda was a strong character who recognized that she had to be stronger and vulnerable to do the right things and open up about the secrets that she had kept from absolutely everyone. What a tough spot, the relief she could finally feel by sharing something that no one else has known about her was well offset by the ripples that revealing it caused in her family and community. Chris was the third main character in the story. I loved the foil that he provided to Caroline. They simply were fun together, even though they were on opposite sides with their respecitve employers in the battle for a historic home, there was a nice balance in how they each pushed the other to be better and to be courageous in taking the next steps that each faced as they grew and put their faith in God.

Despite things not turning out the way you might expect, it is refreshing to know that things can still turn out in a way that works.
 

Many plans are in a man's mind, But it is the LORD'S purpose for him that will stand (be carried out). -- Proverbs 19:21


If you are looking for a story that brings together love, loss and growth with a warm and endearing group of individuals, this is one book that is definitely worth checking out.
About the Book
When past secrets hold the only key to hope for the future… Caroline Chapman is reeling from a broken engagement. Determined to start again, she moves cross-country for her dream job of planning events in the historical mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. Just as her life is getting back on track, she gets an email that shakes her very foundations.

Linda Riley’s life looks picture perfect - a wonderful husband, two great kids, involved in church and the community. Then comes the diagnosis that shatters the facade. In order to save her son’s life, she must reveal secrets that can rip everything apart.

Connected by more than painful circumstances, these two women discover a sacred bond. In this beautiful story of love, loss, and the fight for life, Caroline and Linda experience the reality that life doesn’t always go according to The Plans We Made.

About the Authors
Kathryn Cushman graduated with a degree in pharmacy from Samford University. After hanging up her lab coat, she shifted her focus toward writing. Her previous works have received multiple nominations for both the Carol Award and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. The Plans We Made is her tenth published novel. Learn more at kathryncushman.com. Follow Kathryn on Facebook (@authorkathryncushman) and Instagram (katiecushman1).

Lauren Beccue graduated from Holy Cross with a BA in English and now lives with her family in Santa Barbara. She writes about faith and family, with an emphasis on agricultural passages of the Bible. This is her first novel. Learn more at laurenbeccue.com. Follow Lauren on Facebook (@beccue.lauren) and Instagram (@lauren_beccue).

You can check out the trailer for the book here: Enter to win your own copy of the book here:a Rafflecopter giveaway If you pick up a copy on your own online or your local book store, be sure to participate in the author's giveaway:
MAKE YOUR PLANS IN PENCIL! Now, go buy your copy of The Plans We Made online or at a local bookstore, then be sure to head to Lauren’s website to claim your bonus freebie! THREE CUSTOM PENCILS: Make Your Plans in Pencil The Plans We Made Proverbs 19:21 Just contact Lauren with your name, address, and where you purchased the book, and she’ll send you a set. That's it! (US only and get 'em while they last.)
A complimentary copy of the book was provided to enable this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.