Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

About the Book

They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She's determined to find out what really happened that fateful night--was it an accident or, as she's always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she'll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

A vivid and suspenseful tale of family, grief, love—and the dark secrets that bind everything together—Tiffany Reisz’s latest is enthralling to the final page.


I'm soooo glad that I read this book. I wasn't expecting the plot to unravel the way it did and it leaves me sitting here feeling sort of all over the place. That was an intense read for a variety of reasons because of all the drama sending you all over the place but what a rush of anticipation this book pushes you to have to know what happens. Let's chat about The Lucky Ones.

Allison was the youngest of a group of kids that were taken in by this beloved doctor. The kids were troubled and he seemed to have the cure to make them better. When her mother died and she was placed in a foster home, Dr. Capello came along and thought she would be the perfect addition to his new family. Everything seemed to be perfect until one day an accident happened and she never returned. One day out of the blue, thirteen years later, she received a letter from one of the kids about Dr. Capello's impending death. She was asked to come there and with the past colliding with the present, she needed to get closure and with that brought her past crashing down. As what happens in the dark comes to light, secrets are revealed that rewrite the past and changes the course of their lives forever.

Did I say how much I loved the book? I don't want to ruin it for you but I can't really explain it. The suspense build up in the book if you want to call it that was crippling because as you learn more about the characters and the way the plot unravels, you don't want to put the book down. Some things will hit you like whoa but then you will realize, it's not as bad as it sounds. For example, I was not feeling Allison in the beginning when I found out she was someone's kept woman. Then I started to warm up because I felt bad for her and she really was a victim of her circumstances. Just like the other characters, you learn their past and there's less judgment from getting to know them. Then when you read about her and Roland, at first I was like, is this wrong? But technically, it not considering. I'll leave that up to you to decide. The secrets, the lies, the love and family all bind this book up to be one heck of a ride. The overall book was paced just right. The characters were great. The plot worked itself out to be what it needed to be. Now, if all her books are as good as this one built up to be, I need to back read. So, here's one to add to the reading list. 

Review: Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames

 Buy on Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Buy on Amazon | Barnes and Noble

The deeply personal story of how award-winning personal finance blogger Elizabeth Willard Thames abandoned a successful career in the city and embraced frugality to create a more meaningful, purpose-driven life, and retire to a homestead in the Vermont woods at age thirty-two with her husband and daughter.

In 2014, Elizabeth and Nate Thames were conventional 9-5 young urban professionals. But the couple had a dream to become modern-day homesteaders in rural Vermont. Determined to retire as early as possible in order to start living each day—as opposed to wishing time away working for the weekends—they enacted a plan to save an enormous amount of money: well over seventy percent of their joint take home pay. Dubbing themselves the Frugalwoods, Elizabeth began documenting their unconventional frugality and the resulting wholesale lifestyle transformation on their eponymous blog.

In less than three years, Elizabeth and Nate reached their goal. Today, they are financially independent and living out their dream on a sixty-six-acre homestead in the woods of rural Vermont with their young daughter. While frugality makes their lifestyle possible, it’s also what brings them peace and genuine happiness. They don’t stress out about impressing people with their material possessions, buying the latest gadgets, or keeping up with any Joneses. In the process, Elizabeth discovered the self-confidence and liberation that stems from disavowing our culture’s promise that we can buy our way to “the good life.” Elizabeth unlocked the freedom of a life no longer beholden to the clarion call to consume ever-more products at ever-higher sums.

Meet the Frugalwoods is the intriguing story of how Elizabeth and Nate realized that the mainstream path wasn’t for them, crafted a lifestyle of sustainable frugality, and reached financial independence at age thirty-two. While not everyone wants to live in the woods, or quit their jobs, many of us want to have more control over our time and money and lead more meaningful, simplified lives. Following their advice, you too can live your best life.

Meet the Frugalwoods was an interesting book. The experience Elizabeth and Nate had was one that takes patience and a strong commitment to do if you are lucky to be in a situation where you are able to have that choice. I'm not familiar with her blog so this was a great opportunity to get to know her and her journey and how she was able to gain financial independence at her age. 

I guess going into the book I was thinking something else from what I took away from after I finished. I'm sure this wasn't how it was intended but there were moments of the book that I thought were a little judgmental and preachy regarding the choices they made and the perspective of certain experiences. Much I think comes from their background of being in the upper middle class and also being millennials. By no means is this a negative, just that the perspective tends to be a bit limited in terms of outside her suburban haven compared to the majority of the country. She does acknowledge her status in the world throughout the book and certain opportunities that allowed her to do what she was able to do but that deters on a certain line for me.

Yes, learning some of the things she did to reach her goal was interesting but then some of the things that had judgments attached I found a little narrow minded. Again, not a negative but a bit more exposure to a broader aspect of different socioeconomical and other cultures would've rooted her life experience points along the way. I'm basing this solely on her opinions and experiences expressed throughout the book and believe this choice of frugality would have a different connotation if this stemmed from a need to rather than a want to. The truth is, the majority of the country has to be frugal because they have to be. Not that there incomes were ever disclosed but considering what they gave up to be considered frugal ($120 haircut) I think her message would've come across more relatable if they didn't have the help that they did and had to make it on their own living paycheck to paycheck on a lower income rather than the comfortable situation they were in to be able to make that choice. 

Overall, her personal narrative was interesting to read. Regardless of any opinions, they set to reach a goal for their own personal lives using frugality to ground and center their lives to a simpler one will have positive longevity. They had the means to do it and good for them regardless of their status. If you are a fan of her blog, I encourage you to get to know her better through her latest book to understand the behind the scene journey.

Review: Then There Was You by Claire Contreras

Overall, I did enjoy Then There Was You. I had a few minor issues with the book, which I explore later on. However, first I want to touch on the positives.

I thought Then There Was You had a nice pace. It never felt rushed and the author allowed for the moments to play out. Because of this I felt a strong attachment to the characters and was invested to their stories. I was completely sold on the romance between Rowan and Tessa. The two of them had amazing chemistry. In addition, I thought they were rounded characters, and I did enjoy them together and separately.

There’s a lot happening in this book; so it is hard to explain. But I will mention that this book is filled with angst. Sometimes that angst does cause you to have a bit of an emotional outbreak.

Then There Was You does end on a cliffhanger. And quite frankly, the cliff hanger felt anti-climactic and predictable. Many New Adults book have ended the same way and because of this I was a little annoyed when it happened in this book as well. Especially, because I do not feel that the book needed that kind of drama. There was already a balanced amount of drama, and it did not need more.

However, I will read the next book because I’m curious to see where the journey is going to lead Rowan and Tessa.

Final Analysis

Then There Was You is a book filled with angst and complex characters. It’s well written and a little addicting but it does feature an overdone and lack luster cliff hanger. 

Review: Through Tick & Tinn: The True Story Of The Greatest Unknown Comedy Team Ever Known by Josh Hickman


Say “Martin & Lewis,” they’ll say, “A phenomenon!” Say “Rowan & Martin,” they’ll say, “Laugh-In!” Say “Tick & Tinn,” they’ll say, “You mean the tailors?” Finally, Josh Hickman bravely attempts to right a tragic comedic travesty which has persisted in the annals of entertainment for decades longer than it should have. Unmercifully digging through personal interviews, yellowed press clippings, grainy videotapes, scratchy kinescopes, scratchier comedy albums, and reams of questionable anecdotes, Mr. Hickman has managed to do the unthinkable—to piece together the most coherent portrait possible of the life of one of the last great comedy teams of the era. 

Through rifts, marriages, divorces, and an infamous accusation of joke-theft, Jerry Tick and Larry Tinn persevered undaunted, spreading laughter through memorable challenges such as “The Pope Lick Monster” controversy, Jerry’s comedy cult involvement, and facing on live television Hobarth Goetz, “The Man Who Couldn’t Laugh.” (less)


I'm not the biggest comedy fan but I do love a good laugh. I had no idea who Tick & Tinn were going into the book, so this was an interesting experience reading about them. They are definitely characters from a different time that at first, I was sort of offended and not at all humored by their experiences. Then, like everyone has a story, I started to see them through a different lens. I don't know what happened but as the book went on, they started to grow on me and I even chuckled here or there.

They definitely went through the grind. I don't recall how the author became interested in writing about them but they both came from some challenging pasts and like other comics, turned tragedy into laughs. Much of their experiences seem a little too good to be true but considering Jerry, anything was possible. They didn't have the sort of careers as megastars of their time but did good as a duo generating interest with signature skits. I really think the author did a great job for the limited information available to give us a glimpse into who they were from his perspective. Like a I said, at first I didn't like them but they grew on me as the book went on but was bummed that there wasn't any information that I could find to see them. Even though the author gives us a great visually on them, places and event, it would've been nice to see pictures to match the face with the words. I should note, I read the digital version so I could be wrong that the actual book might be different. Still, I'd love to see what they looked like.

Overall, it was an interesting experience going through their lives. I thought the book really dove well into their personalities and experiences to bring to life these comedians. If you love comedians and enjoy that era of that sort of comedy, this might be one that you may be interested in checking. 

Review: Textrovert by Lindsey Summers

The premise of Textrovert is that two teenagers, Keeley & Talon, accidentally pick up each other’s phones. Unfortunately, for them Talon leaves for football camp before they are able to switch back.  For a week, the two communicate via a text and strike up an unlikely friendship. And when they finally exchange phones, secrets and true identities are revealed.

The premise of Textrovert is what drew me to this book. It sounding intriguing, fun, and like the plot of RomCom, I could see someone making in the near future. Unfortunately, I felt a little underwhelmed by the book itself. The plot felt a little rushed. There were times where I had to go back and read a paragraph to see if I had missed something, because somethings did not add up.

The dialogue didn’t flow well. Conversations felt awkward and not real.


I wasn’t too invested in the characters. They felt a tad underdeveloped, and immature.  They mentioned college several times throughout the book and even visited a campus, but it felt more as a throwaway line than anything. Not as something that could have been used to show what the character’s interest are or what the characters will be doing in the future.

I started the book knowing nothing about Keeley, and I ended it that way as well. Besides, being Zach’s twin sister, who was she?

The characters had a habit of blowing things out of proportion and overreacting. But only the small things. There were a few things that warranted a serious discussion, that they brushed over; move on that in a second.

One of the major problems I had with Textrovert was Talon. I found him annoying the beginning. However, after finding out that he was problematic and did a terrible thing to someone, I disliked him even more.

Although, what he did was in the past, I didn’t like how the characters treated it like a light subject and there were no real consequences for him. I especially did not like how the “he’s changed” card was pulled. He did something wrong that caused emotional distress to another character that caused her to move.

Final Analysis

Textrovert has a good premise that is poorly executed. It’s predictable, and attempts to sell an instalove romance that falls short and lacks depth.

Review: The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

The Lost Castle, the first in her new series, takes the reader through three different time periods of history: The French Revolution, World World II and the present. Inspired by a forgotten heirloom and a moment of lucidity, Ellie Carver was stunned when her grandmother began to share a glimpse of her past that connected her to an important part of history. With her grandmother slipping away due to Alzheimer's, she wished there had been more moments where she could've learned more.  So as he began to talk about a forgotten past including a castle named, The Sleeping Beauty, Ellie's curiosity is piqued when she uncovers new information about her life and a request to unlock secrets of her past. Finding her way back to Loire Valley, Ellie unlocks the mystery to her grandmother's past as well discover secret about her own. 

Overall, I thought the book was really intriguing. There is something special about that region and history that has always interested me. What was fascinating is how the story ties together but the individual experiences especially of Ellie grandmother's past and present. I really loved her getting a chance to get to know her grandmother more by retracing her past. That journey she took to unlock her mystery really was touching to read. The love she had for her grandmother, especially since she was her only living relative, really hits home for those who wish they had more time. The fairy tale inspiration of what happened to the castle brought something interesting to mix. I thought her details of the historical aspects of those periods with her narrative places you at those moments as well as give you a great visual of what is happening. An engaging plot with wonderful characters, you won't be disappointed. I'd recommend this one to your reading list. 

Review: The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner

About the Book

They think nothing can tear their bond apart, until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy everything.

Every year they have met up for a vacation, but their time away is much more than just a bit of fun. Over time, it has become a lifesaver, as each of them struggles with life’s triumphs and tragedies.

Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been best friends since they were girls. They have seen each other through everything—from Sophie’s private fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside marriage that starts to reveal troubling warning signs, to Melissa’s spiraling alcoholism, to questions that are suddenly bubbling up around the paternity of Emily’s son. But could a lie that spans just as long as their friendship be the thing that tears them apart?


I knew after the first chapter that this was going to be a good one. I love books like this because it reminds me of that sisterhood feeling like with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Not so much the story but that female connection to the characters that will on some level resonate or you find comfort of a sense of belonging. This is one that women will definitely feel something for. You might see yourself in one of the girls or it maybe one of your friends. You forget you're reading the book. You feel like you are one of the girls and trust me they will stay with you. They will make you will laugh, cry, get mad but you will feel the love they have for each other no matter what happens to them at anytime during their life.

What I loved about the characters is that no one is perfect and when you think you know someone you don't. We all would like to think that we know each other well but like these gals, there's always something in our lives that we just are embarrassed, ashamed or insecure but if you open up and trust your friends, they can really bring you out of your darkest despair. What was great about this is how the book really brought home that female friendship/relationship and how important it is to have good friends in your life. Yes, we all eventually live our own lives but it takes a good friend to be there for you no matter what. These women went through it all: infidelity, a miscarriage, domestic violence, insecurities and so much more but the tests of their friendships that happened over again, didn't break that bond that was meant to be. 

Overall, this book was a really good read that you can dive into and really take in. The Story of Our Lives is probably my favorite read this year so far. Their individual experiences as well at their collective ones really make you want to keep reading. I really think the author brought something fresh to the story and told it in a way that really stands on its own. I loved how their experiences are chronicled by year so we can see them change and grow. There is so much to love about this book and I hope you add this to your TBR!

Review: Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood’s Most Famous by Jennifer Buhl

Rarely in media do we ever hear the perspective of the paparazzi. Most of what he hear about paparazzi are that they are these annoying people who refuse to leave celebrities alone. I do get where celebrities are coming from. It would be truly annoying to have a camera in my face every day. However, it’s always intriguing to hear the other side of the argument. The justification from the paparazzi.

Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood’s Most Famous was written by a former paparazzi who spent quite a few years capturing the lives of celebrities.  It’s marketed as a “memoir” that “reveals the lives of Hollywood’s rich and famous – from behind the camera.”

I was originally excited for this book, however, in the end I felt a little disappointment. It felt cluttered, not necessarily organized. And towards the end it got a little repetitive.

I appreciate that she incorporated paparazzi jargon into the book, but it felt a little out of place and odd.

And I think the biggest problem I had with Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood’s Most Famous is that it does a poor job of defending the profession. I wanted a more in-depth look into the conflicting profession. I wanted more an analyzes of the why’s and how’s of paparazzi. For example, where is the line and what happens if it’s crossed?

It worth mentioning that it was not all bad. It’s definitely a quick read and it does have some entertaining moments. For example, her “Being a Celebrity for Dummies” list were my favorite in the entire book.

Review: The Last Days of Oscar Wilde by John Vanderslice

About the Book

How is it possible that the genius author of such 19th century classics as The Picture of Dorian Grayand The Importance of Being Earnest died destitute in Paris at the age of 46? In John Vanderslice’s vivid and heartbreaking novel, we meet Oscar Wilde after a two year incarceration in an English prison for gross indecency. Once free, his reputation and finances in ruins, he leaves England for Paris where, frequently inebriated, he stays in shabby hotel rooms paid for by his few, remaining friends.

In Vanderslice’s deftly-imagined portrayal, Wilde’s idiosyncratic and affecting greatness is revealed. Through his thoughts and interactions, we experience the heart and mind of a literary giant brought down by the “morals” of his time. For a while, Wilde manages to maintain his legendary sense of humor and joie de vivre, a superstitious religiosity, and the dogged pursuit of beautiful young men. Sadly, the formerly prolific author and raconteur no longer has the desire to write. Instead, he distantly observes the world and is ultimately felled by serious illness. It is at his funeral that his artistic reputation begins its slow rehabilitation as friends and a small devoted public flock to the church to honor the artist, who spoke openly about homosexuality, the hypocrisy of Victorian values, and the importance of art for art’s sake.


The Last Days of Oscar Wilde, touching yet heartbreaking all the same, really wasn't what I had expected. Going into this novel, in the back of my mind, I had this image of Oscar Wilde that perhaps mirrored the brilliance of his literary succes. T efault, oining the bandwagon like the rest of ou ultur ha as elevated people to be defined by their talented success bu n their darkest of despair can't understand how they fall. Yes, some people with their judgments and isolation push them, while others are curious about how they went from the top of the world to desolation. Much of the book I was surprised because I didn't know or maybe had forgotten his personal life but I sit and wander had the same circumstances happened today, the narrative of his ending would've been different.

For me, during the progression of the book, you'd think he was older than someone in his forties. I will assume that the circumstances that affected the finality of his days of life took it's toll on the aging process but I can't imagine the emotional toll of such a domino effect on one's quality of life. You really find out who your friends are when the times are tough. I would've loved for the book to dive more into the effects of the trial. Not so much the content but it's effect I believe was the catalyst of his demise and broke him. I can't image living in a world where so many decisions that are accepted today would've put someone in jail. Such a tragedy that he lost his passion for writing and just accepted and settled into a life of nothingness was so depressing.

What I found pulling at my thoughts was, I understand the magnitude of the moral beliefs at that time vs the negative stigma of what had happened to be against the social norms of that time but with the brilliant mind that he had couldn't he have appealed by reinventing himself? From what I gather from the book, he was deeply plagued by his actions and how it affected the people whom he loved but unapologetic for his impulsive desires. At first I was uncertain how I felt about the book, not it a bad way but from his perspective, I couldn't accept how he was. The poverty, the isolated introversion, partly initiated and other by the castout of public perception was really tough to grasp at times considering how he could've appealed to the public and conformed to received their forgiveness. That is tough to say because you should be able to live your life the way you choose but in a time where behavior and thoughts were dictated by morality, one would have to make a decision if they want to be free from perceptual persecution.

As I read on and he grew on me, pity went to hope and then acceptance of his decision to live out his life the way it did. It was a little frustrating for me because I felt like he gave up when maybe he could've fought to choose a better despite the hatred towards him but through his thoughts and actions we get a perspective that illuminated a broken soul trying to exist in the only way that made him feel accepted. I guess it's easier said than done because our society is more open minded and tolerant than his.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book for so many reasons. It was enlightening and heart breaking getting into his head and thoughts to how he could've felt in the finality of his life. To go from greatness to desolation and being stripped of who he was had to have took it's toll. If you've ever admired a literary great who faced a similar trajectory, this is a book that had a terrific narrative that defined it's own path. The reader experiences his vulnerability at it's barest and you felt as if you were experiencing his hopelessness near the end combined with feeling helpess watching someone close to you give up. It really puts much into perspective. I'd recommend this one to add to the reading the list.

Review: In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist

I really had high expectations for this book. I’m not saying that it wasn’t any good but there were several elements that made it a challenge. I felt that those elements took away from the experience to be completely in love with the book. What the book was about was extremely compelling and could’ve had a deeper impact but I feel conflicted with my overall feelings of the book due to those circumstances.

I’ve never been one to care about the technical aspects of a book. What’s important to me is the actual story being told unfolding in front of me. This being a fictionalized autobiography was interesting because I don’t believe I’ve read this type of book before. My frustration comes with the consecutive pages of writing with no breaks of time, emotions or places. There was no separation in dialogue which sort of takes away that visual and by the conversations just being written on the page takes away the depth of what was happening.

If I could divide the book into thirds: the first half was very interesting, the second half was all over the place and third half was very emotional. The way the time and place go from one to the next, it makes it hard for the reader to connect and feel the moment. I’m not sure if there was something lost in the translation but there were moments where I was very moved and then it abruptly goes to something else not related and just takes away that moment. That was extremely disappointing. I don’t have a problem with the alternating of time. I just wished it was introduced differently where you are aware of the transitions.

Overall, Tom’s story was moving and if I separate all the elements of the story, you can sympathize and feel moved by his transition of grief truly to seek comfort and hope through a difficult transition in his life. His experience being able to pour himself out on the pages I'm sure was cathartic for him. The love and loss of his experiences not only with his partner but with his dad really are emotional. With that said, the struggle to connect consistently with the book due to the format and structure I believe affected my experience. It’s been a mixed bag from what I see online but I will leave that up to you to decide if this is a good fit.