Entries for the ‘books’ Category

What I’m Reading 2016 edition

Friday, February 12th, 2016


I really enjoy keeping track of the books I’ve read over the years- here are the following years


This year I am serious about using Goodreads for suggestions and book summaries.  I’m still figuring the site out and how to “friend” someone, but I’d love to be your reading friend!  If you know how to do the whole friend thing- you can find me on Goodreads as HeatherInAZ.

Without further ado- here is what I’ve read so far….

  1. In the Unlikely Event– Judy Blume
    I really enjoyed the writing, the characters and the story…but I felt like the story had no point…there was really never any resolution. It was just a snapshot of a moment in time and I didn’t care for the ending.
  2. Yes Please -Amy Poehler
    This was a fun read. I enjoyed hearing Amy’s voice, and I appreciated her honesty.
  3. Carry On Warrior– Glennon Doyle Melton
    This was a very easy read- Glennon writes as if she were sitting next to you.  She talks a lot about God and religion, I skimmed through a few of those parts. She shares her story of addiction, recovery and continual self growth and acceptance.
  4. Murder On the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
  5. The Sound of Glass -Karen White
  6. Letters From Home– Kate Mc Morris
  7. Fiercombe Manor– Kate Roirdan
  8. The Boston Girl -Anita Diamant
  9. I Gave My Heart To Know This– Ellen Baker
  10. The Gilded Hour – Sara Donati
  11. The House on Tradd Street – Karen White
  12. The Goldfinch-Donna Tartt
  13. Sea Change – Karen White
  14. Keeping House- Ellen Baker
  15. Falling Home – Karen White
  16. The Nightingale – Hannah Kristin
  17. The Color Of Light- Karen White
  18. A Long Time Gone- Karen White
  19. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin

Books of 2015

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

books 2015

Every year I keep track of the books I read so when december comes I can feel like I accomplished something. Is there a book you just loved, leave me a comment, I love suggestions!

Previous Lists

1. The Friday Night Knitting Club This book was alright. I didn’t like it enough to read the sequel.

2. Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time I liked this book for the insight it gave me on how men view marriage and relationships. I really found it illuminating.  I was familiar with some of the music he and his wife recorded on their mixed tapes, but not much- mostly because I was still in Jr High at the time.

3. American Wife: A Novel (Random House Reader’s Circle) This was a fictionalized version of the GW Bush and Laura Bush story.  It was a well crafted and interesting story.  Having read Laura Bush’s biography I read this book seeing all the glaring differences.

4. The Dressmaker: A Novel I enjoyed this story of a Parisian dressmaker who under values himself and through the love of a woman he begins to realize his potential.  I think part of the reason this story appealed to me was because I too sew clothing and i understood and appreciated the details of sewing in the story.

5. A Hundred Summers I loved this story because it was set in NY during the 30’s, but the story is captivating too!  A story of love and jealousy and family obligations. There were some crude parts as well…

6. Summer People: A Novel (P.S.) I did not like this book. It was equal parts lame and vulgar. There was almost no plot.

7. If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Marri ed I literally laughed my way through this book, Jenna is HILARIOUS.  I think there should be a pre-requisite to reading this book: Married 10+ years (but less than 20) and have at least 2 children under 16. If you meet this criteria the book will be even more enriching!

8. Clair de Lune

9.The Ladies’ Lending Library: A Novel

10. The Queen’s Handmaiden – the seamstress in me loved this book. I loved the detail about the clothes and fabrics.  The story behind all the clothing was equally fascinating. I don’t know a whole lot about the British Monarchy so I don’t know how accurate the story was, but it was interesting with a twist at the end.

11. Dad Is Fat– a quick and funny read, lots of good stuff from Jim Gaffgin, one of my favorite comedians.

12. My Name Is Resolute -Wow!!  I loved this book! I loved Nancy Turners other books as well, I love her tradition of strong -yet culturally realistic- female characters.

13. A Good American

14. The Secret Life of Violet Grant

15. The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Koppel, Lily (2013) Hardcover – with the new ABC series coming out, I wanted to read the book that sparked the show. This book does not read dry like a typical non-fiction account.  Koppel wrote with actual dialogue and almost in story form, I really enjoyed the book and I am NOT a space/science person at all.  I think it kinda turned my husband on when I could talk astronauts with him.

16. Secrets of a Charmed Life

17. The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War (P.S.)

18. The Red Leather Diary byKoppel

19.Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

20. The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

21. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

22. Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith

23. A Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

24. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

25. The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelley

26. The Bookseller

27. Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander



The Library

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

I get nearly all my books from my public library or Goodwill.  I love that my library even offers Kindle books and I am amazed at the number of “romance novels” available for Kindle.  I’ve never read a romance book in my life, but when I scroll through my libraries fiction titles I sure do laugh at some of the titles.

I had to do a double take on this one.  At first glance I thought the title was “Ride Me”, and while I’m told romance novels are supposed to be pretty graphic I was surprised the author was being so bold.  After a second glance I saw the “with”, but I suspect the cover designer did that on purpose!

Anyway- I’ve updated my Books of 2013 page recently, I promise, no trashy romance novels!  If you haven’t read The Shoemakers Wife I strongly recommend putting it on your summer reading list, it was such a good and well written story!

Books I’ve Read in 2013

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Books I'm Reading heatherhalesdesigns.com

You can read last years list here.

1. We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive – Laurie Notaro

2. The Persian Pickle Club -Sandra Dallas

3. Alice’s Tulips – Sandra Dallas

4. The Shoemaker’s Wife: A Novel– Adriana Trigiani
Trigiani cast a spell over the reader with detailed descriptions of Italy, New York City, the Met, the costumes….so descriptive. This is a beautiful story of Ciro and Enza, their lives, loves and losses. The story begins in 1904 and spans the end of WWII. A captivating and emotion filled story of love, family, hard work and grit!

5. Calico Joe – Grisham
A very quick read, probably due in part to the fact that I skimmed all the baseball stat pages. Despite my ignorance to all things baseball, I still found the story entertaining. The book was light with a few deeper themes of forgiveness and accepting responsibility. Two themes that could lead to a great discussion if this was read in a book club.

6. Tending Roses (Tending Roses Series, Book 1) – Lisa Wingate

7. Chasing Paris – Jen Carter
The story was compelling which kept me reading despite the weak dialogue and poor writing. The plot was interesting and I wanted to know what happened to Lizzie, but most of the characters were so flat which was a real detriment to the book.

8. License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver – Rick Harrison

9. Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood – Laurie Notaro
Laurie has a great self deprecating sense humor and ability to see the absurdities of life. I laughed out loud as Laurie described her husbands “man hands”!

10. Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America -Morrison

11.Summer at Tiffany Marjorie Hart
What a fun quick read! This is a non-fiction account of Marjorie’s 1945 summer job at Tiffany. She and her girl friend were the first women employees to be “on the floor”, they worked as pages. In addition to fantastic encounters with celebrities, is a detailed description of daily life during the war years. Anyone who loves nostalgia and historical account will enjoy this book. Well written and easy to read.

12.The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards (author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter) At first I didn’t like the book, as the story began I really did not like the main character Lucy. I kept reading and gradually began to not like her a little less. Once the mystery began to unfold I found the story to be very interesting. The discovery of a long lost relative that was hidden from family history. A relative who had ties to the Women’s Suffrage Movement and showed great strength and grit through hard times.

13.The Fire Chronicle (Books of Beginning) here is the review I wrote for Book One (The Emerald Atlas). I finished Book Two just as fast and enjoyed it just as much! I realize this book is meant for a far younger crowd than the middle aged mother of 3 that I am, but I really enjoyed this book. It was a birthday gift for my 9yo son and I wanted to read it along with him…well, I ended up reading WAY ahead (finished the 400+ page book in 3 days). He is a fine reader but doesn’t enjoy reading for pleasure. Some of the language and sentence structure was a bit difficult for him to grasp (for example: “…Kate couldn’t hear, and it was as if a heavy curtain was drawn around her mind, obliterating the man in the doorway, the light, her mother, everything.” he had trouble understanding that this was describing the girl falling asleep). However I think any child who is really well read and understands the cadence of the written word will surely be able to understand this book.

The story is very captivating and the point of view goes back and forth between people and time making the story that much more rich and exciting to read. It is set in modern times and the traits of each child make them very believable.

The only downside is that this book JUST came out…which means I am totally hooked now and have to wait who knows how long for the next installment!

14.The American Heiress: A Novel Daisy Goodwin. Enjoyed this story- although it starts out slowly. The reader can see a lot of things about the Duke that the wife simply doesn’t see and for that reason it is easy to get an idea of how the book will progress, however I found the ending to be quite a surprise! A refreshing surprise!

15. The Chaperone Laura Moriarty

16. The House at Tyneford: A Novel Natasha Solomons

17. Rebecca’s Tale Sally Beauman
Having never actually read the original Rebbecca story I still found this book interesting. It did take me a good 50 pages to really get into it though.

18. Little Bee: A Novel Chris Cleave
Wow. A story about human kindness and how far you would really go to help your fellow man.

19. Buster Midnight’s Cafe Sandra Dallas

20. Home to Big Stone Gap: A Novel (Big Stone Gap Novels) Adriana Trigiani
This book was just so-so, I learned after I read it that it is part of a series. Maybe I would have appreciated the story and caught more of the provenance had I read the other books.

21. Lucia, Lucia: A Novel (Ballantine Reader’s Circle) Adriana Trigiani
Oh I loved this story, it reads like a memoir and reminded me a lot of Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. I finished it in a day or so, a quick easy read, perfect for summer.

22.I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames: My Insane Life Raising Two Boys with Autism by Jeni Decker
Meh, I wanted to like this book, I really did. It was funny, but also crass. I’m guessing Jeni is a blogger and in small doses (a post a day or so) her stories can be a great read, but in a book it was just too much. Enough crass that the funny parts fell flat. Just wasn’t for me.

23. Anonymous Sources Mary Louise Kelly
What a fabulous story! Alex James is an absolutely believable character-her whit, her looks, her weaknesses (alcohol and ridiculous shoes).

All through the story I found myself wanting more and more, I just could not put it down. It is a well written (well researched) thriller. The main character really lends herself to future story lines, and I hope that Kelly will write more of the adventures and scoops of Ms. James.

The only reason I didn’t give 5 stars was for some odd sentence structures through out the book. Maybe one every other chapter or so. The structure would lend it self better to being spoken, but when read, comes across a little odd and causes a stop in the reading flow. Just a minor thing that bugged me, do not let that stop you from reading this book.

24. The Paris Wife: A Novel Paula McLain
Great read. I’ve never been a fan of Hemingway but really enjoyed this book. Colorful descriptions of Paris in the late 20’s, all the “important” people to know. A wonderful story of love and loss and the depth of human relationships.

25.Prayers for Sale (Reading Group Gold) Sandra Dallas
Another sweet tale by Dallas, set in the late 1800’s early 1900’s in a mining town in Colorado. The friendship of two unlikely woman and the struggles of mountain/mining life.

26. The Time Between by Karen White

27. Next to Love: A Novel by Feldman

28.Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times By Worth

29. The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession When I read the book jacket I was worried it was going to be some weird time traveling type book but it wasn’t. I really enjoyed the story. The author does flit back and forth between time, each chapter is from a different time frame…it wasn’t too bothersome (especially if you can read Kate Morton’s works) however I felt that he jumped to a new time frame right as you were almost at the climax of the last chapter. Almost made me want to skip ahead a few times, but I persevered! The love story between Amanda and Peter is really quite beautiful and ties you to the characters.

30. Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse Just like the PBS series, if you’ve watched all the seasons there is very little “new” information in the books.

31. The Ashford Affair it was meh. The characters were captivating and the story interesting with enough twists to keep you reading.

32.The Orchardist

33. Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves such a well written and researched book. A sweet love story tangled in with the fantastic details of WWII America and the Japanese interment camps.

34. The Shadow of the Wind Loved this book. It isn’t a book that should be ready slowly over time, but read in a short span. There are many stories woven together and it is easier to keep track of it read frequently. It is a classic tail of forbidden love and dire consequences, but is told so eloquently and with such respect for each character. Such a good read.

35. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel Hmmm. I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped. It was a really quick read (read it in a day). The target audience for this book the tech savvy late 20’s set. It read like a 21st century sci-fi book.



Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

I updated my Books of 2012 page recently.  Six months into the year and I have 21 books under my belt, not bad if you consider I am also raising 3 kids, managing a house and freelancing from home!

Next up on my list is The Great Gatsby, I’m embarrassed to admit I have never read it.  One of my favorite directors (Baz Luhrmann) has just wrapped up a production of The Great Gatsby that is due out in theaters this December.  I am a firm believer in reading the book before seeing a Hollywood adaptation of literature ( you know Hollywood, butchering good books since the early 1920’s!)

I also keep a list of books I would like to read in a board on pinterest, which you can follow here.  Pinterest is also where I found this info-graphic with some great summer reading ideas (FYI, I have read twelve of the books they have recommended).

What are you reading this summer?

Rain in Texas

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Every time I visit Texas (for the last 10 years) it rains.  I always feel lucky, since rain is such a treat here in these parts!  My long weekend trip was no exception- there was even flooding!  I took my almost 7 year old with me this time, the trip was to celebrate her birthday and my mom’s birthday (happy birthday mom!).

Yes, she wore the crown everyday of our trip…even on the airplane ride home!  You’re only seven once I say- so live it up!

My only new years resolution this year (I’m not a fan of new years resolutions in general, I feel if you notice something in your life that needs adjusting you should take care of it right away, rather than wait for some silly day to start! ) is to keep track of all the books I read (my mother suggested I quantify even farther and keep track of how many pages each book has).     Today is the 11th and I have already finished 2 books (hooray!).  I’ve decided to keep track of them over here– on a page devoted to books!  I’d love to hear from you, add a comment and recommend a book, or tell me what you thought about one of the books on my list.


Baby’s Words

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Ya’ll know how much I love pinterest, which explains why I’ve been absent from this space recently.  I just wanted to pop back in and share this awesome project that I pinned from say YES! to hoboken.

Source: sayyestohoboken.com via Heather on Pinterest

I love this idea so much so that I went out yesterday and bought some white poster board and started snapping away today!  I’ve done baby, strawberries, mom, dad, (insert brother and sister names), kitty & ball.  Hoping to do banana, book, and ???.  Anyone have any more suggestions of things I should add?


Crossing my fingers to be back here on Tuesday to show you some progress on the (toddler size) dresden plate quilt I am hand quilting!  Hope you have a great weekend doing things that make you happy, with people that you adore!

Roller Derby

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

A few months back I received an unexpected box from my mother…but it wasn’t really unexpected as it seems I regularly get boxes of “stuff” from her.  She’ll clean out a few boxes from her storage unit, or run across some stuff hidden somewhere else and decide to ship it off to me.  The benefits of being the oldest I guess.

I opened the box wondering if I would find more yarn (anyone want a box of vintage yarn?!) like last time.  I was surprised and tickled to find a bag of vintage family hankies and some of the hand dyed fabric from her days at UC Davis!  However, underneath all the fabric-y goodness was this book.

Hard Knocks

Hard Knocks, Rolling with the Derby Girls, by Shelley Calton.  The first thought I had was, “Roller Derby, isn’t that like hockey but on roller skates?”.  Well, no people, Roller Derby is hardcore racing on skates around and oval rink!  My second thought was, “Why did my mom send me a brand new book(!) about Roller Derby?”  Then I remembered years ago when she told me she went to photograph the Houston Roller Derby with a friend.  I remember her telling me how dangerous the photography session was, she fell over/got knocked over at one point and bruised her entire leg!

So I quickly flipped through the book thinking that maybe my mom’s photos were in the book…nope.  Then I saw this:

My Mom

My mom wrote the fore word for this book!  She had sent me a signed copy of the book, endorsed to my daughter and I!  I flipped though the book and read the names of the Derby girls and enjoyed the visual imagery.

Derby Girls

I love that the women come from all walks of life, professionals to suburban mothers!  It was a kick to flip through, to read about the injuries, the comraderie, and the costumes!  Don’t think I’m gutsy enough to race, but I would get a thrill out of watching sometime!

Thanks Mom & Shelley!

Night Reading

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

i need a tripod

Last week I went to the library and checked out all the Jennifer Haigh books…if you are looking for some good fiction (people I swear I try to read non-fiction but ugh, it’s so dry and clinical!) may I recommend:

a story of a family in concord, ma.  The struggles and joys that result from their daughters diagnosis of Turner’s Syndrome.  Read more about the book here.

mrs. kimble

Mrs. Kimble is the story of 3 women, who become Mrs. Kimble by way of marriage to the con artist- Mr. Kimble.  as a mother it was physically painful to read the chapters about Birdie Kimble, I can almost feel the emotion from all sides and it caught me really off gaurd how these chapters effected me and have changed my prespective regarding my own children.  Read more about it here.

This one I found at Goodwill and bought because the story starts in Post WWII, and you know I love any story about daily life in the 40’s.  It turned out to be an engaging story which is what prompted me to read the rest of the authors books.  Read more about Baker Towers here.

I finished The Condition last night and am ready for a new book/author.  What can you recommend?

Resolution Smesolution

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I’ve never been one to make (or keep) resolutions.  The beginning of the new year may seem like a great time to start something that you think you should do, but to me it seems like a great way to start a fresh new year with a large helping of guilt.  Well, at least that’s what it looks like to me.

However, that being said…I think 2009 would be a great year to start reading more non-fiction.  I tend to fill my reading lists with title after title of fiction (I swoon for historical fiction-do you think I can get that on a bumper sticker?).  As much as a love getting lost in a riveting story, I think it is about time I grow up and read some non-fiction.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I FINISHED a non-fiction book (I optimistically start them all the time!)…probably in college (and that was a long time ago).

Now, in case you are thinking that 2009 would be a great year for you to read more fiction, I just finished Year of Wonders.  A fabulous story of Anna Firth who lives through the plague in a small country village in England.  The story is both gut wrenchingly sad and incredibly beautiful and selfless.  The book is based on the real town of Eyam that when it’s residents began to die of the plague, closed its borders and sealed themselves off from the rest of the world in an attempt to contain the disease and prevent the spread to others.  FYI- did you realize that the plague still effects people today?  The WHO reports between 1,000-3,000 cases a year, however a course of antibiotics is all that is needed to treat it.

But, that’s only if you are focusing on fiction this year.  I’m focusing (not resolving) on reading more NON-fiction.  I have a gift card for Barnes & Noble (thanks Sara!) burning a hole in my pocket.  What can you recommend for me?