books

Little Lovely Things | Blog Tour & Review

Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly begins with the unthinkable happening. Claire, a mother and physician-in-training has caught a bug going around her hospital and is having an allergic reaction. In her rush to get her daughters squared away at daycare and to make her rounds, she collapseLittle Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connollys at a gas station. When Claire comes to, the unthinkable has happened: her daughters have been taken right from her car.

This story is told from the perspective of Claire, racked with grief and devoted only to her career, as she comes to terms with both of her daughters’ deaths, as well as Moira, an Irish traveler who is responsible for the worst day of Claire and her husband’s lives. The two other narrators bring the story full circle, as we understand the deep grief that Claire and her husband Glen are experiencing.

Restless spirits and travelers are an underlying theme in this story; everyone is very unsettled and there is the constant desire to move around and an attempt to outrun the past. I enjoyed the elements of Lakota culture, as well as the backdrop of the Midwest in its most unforgiving state. Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly | Blog Tour www.deniseadelek.com

This book is Connolly’s debut novel, and kept me racing to the finish. I was excited to get to read this book early as part of a Suzy Approved Book Tour in partnership with the publisher, Sourcebooks.

For: Readers who love a fast-paced thriller, but could do without being scared to get out of bed at night.

Pairs well with: Grilled cheese sandwiches and a cup of warm tea. This book made me think of rainy days and wanting comfort.

Rating: 4/5 stars. What kept me from giving this 5 stars was that some of the traveler slang and phrases didn’t add anything to the story, in my opinion, and were sometimes hard to understand. I think if I had a better knowledge of travelers, that I might have appreciated it more. For a debut novel, this was a great read, and I’m sure that the slang will make for a very enjoyable audiobook version.

Thank you to Suzy Approved Book Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog book tour!

books

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton | Book Review

I was excited to read American Princess because Alice Roosevelt was not a historical figure I knew much about. I absolutely loved learning about this time period and seeing the world through Alice’s eyes, especially as she rolled up on the DC scene as a young woman looking to make waves. A beautiful story told over 96 years with enjoyable detail that left you rooting for Alice the whole way.

Despite being more than 400 pages I read this in two days bAmerican Princess by Stephanie Marie Thorntonecause I enjoyed her fearless spirit in pursuit of supporting her family, advocating for herself, and following her heart. The writing kept me turning the pages and left me sad to close the book when I reached the last page.

I’m realizing how much I love realistic historical fiction, thanks to some recent titles, as well as American Princess. Can’t wait to recommend this to my friends!

For: Readers looking to learn more about the Roosevelts, as well as a realistic portrayal of what life is like to be the “First Daughter.”

Pairs well with: I was craving an Old Fashioned something fierce during this book, as well as one (or ten) beef wellingtons.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Loved the strongly fierce and independent female characters in this book!

Thank you to Berkley for letting me preview this read.

Uncategorized

that awkward moment when you forget to blog

61c83377-cd68-473b-8668-568120bb54e3As I write this, our sweet little girl dog Delaney is trying to use my lap and arms as a dog bed… which should be reason enough to explain my brief absence from the blogging world. Lately, I’ve been all over the place- beer fests with friends, bridesmaid dress fittings, work trips that extend to much-needed R&R. Most of 2019 has been the antithesis of me being in front of my computer!

Read on for a couple of additional things that have kept me away from my blog!

Setting up a Qapital account
I love the concept of set-it and forget-it. All of our charitable donations are done through recurring monthly gifts, and I love how easy it is the use small gifts to make a big impact. I love saving money in this same way. Brendan and I set up a joint Qapital account to save towards a trip, build a nest egg, and reward good habits with money toward things we want to buy.

Saving with Qapital www.deniseadelek.comI turned the round up feature on, and all transactions on my card get rounded up to the nearest dollar, and that change goes into our travel slush fund account. Every time we use our debit cards, a dollar goes to our nest egg. Additionally, whenever I hit 10,000 steps, or enter the geofence I made for the gym, I get $1 toward the Louis Vuitton Neverfull I’ve been lusting after.

It’ll feel so rewarding to press buy on the purse after I “earned” it, as opposed to just buying it straight up. Get your own account here.

Still doing WeightWatchers
I started doing WeightWatchers last fall as an opportunity to be accountable with my nutrition, and also try to lose some weight. I’ve had a great time discovering low-point treats and making fun substitutes. Who knew that cauliflower crust pizza could be so good? The new SmartPoints (SP) make it really easy for me to load up on zero-point veggies and save my points for yummy cider and champagne.

My favorite treat is to whip up a batch of sugar-free vanilla pudding (1SP per serving), throw in some slices bananas (0SP) and top it with a dollop of Cool-Whip (1SP for 2 tablespoons). You can sprinkle graham crackers on top for another point or two, and it feels like a really decadent dessert.

Reading a million ARCs

American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

I went a little crazy over on Netgalley and ended up with 12 books to read and review for the first half of 2019. I’m on a book buying and library book hiatus until I can make a dent in these reviews, but naturally this hasn’t stopped anything. Books keep showing up at my doorstep!

I recently read and LOVED American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton. I’ll be sharing a review of it soon, but it comes out next Tuesday and is worth tracking down. I’ve been on such a historical fiction kick lately, that I couldn’t resist!

Booking a bunch of trips
Nothing is more satisfying than putting a trip (or three) on the calendar! This spring and summer, we are going to be traveling all over. My mom and I booked a girls weekend trip to New Orleans (of course) to celebrate a few milestones. Brendan and I will be heading to Austin and Des Moines to visit friends and family, then we’ll end the summer with two weddings in Denver and Milwaukee. Nothing like getting those hotel and airline points!

Now accepting any and all Austin & DSM suggestions in the comments below! Happy Friday Eve!

books

historical fiction is my (surprising) jam | Daughter of Moloka’i Review

If you’d asked me a few months ago if I liked historical fiction, I think I would have said no. Fast forward to The Great Alone, Lilac Girls, Where the Crawdads Sing, American Princess, to name a few, and I think it’s safe to say I like historical fiction.

I recently had the chance to read the follow-up story to Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, called Daughter of Moloka’i. If you haven’t gotten to read Moloka’i yet, I’ll stop you now and suggest grabbing a copy to savor before you read my review (or the sequel)! Daughter of Moloka’i is out 2/19/19.

Daughter of Moloka'i by Alan Brennert book reviewa | www.deniseadelek.com I can’t imagine a better ending to the beautiful saga of Rachel Kalama and her life after leaving Moloka’i. Rachel is forced to give up her daughter shortly after she is born, due to the contagious nature of leprosy and the lack of knowledge surrounding how the disease is spread.

Her daughter, Ruth, is brought up in an orphanage until she is 5 years old. Ruth longs for a home, but is constantly stuck between two worlds- being Japanese and being Hawaiian. She is finally adopted by a loving, Japanese family with two sons, and they begin a new life together in California. Life is not always perfect for Ruth and her new family. Shortly after arriving in California, the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and Japanese-Americans are rounded up and sent to internment camps.

Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert review on www.deniseadelek.com

My uncle is a third generation Japanese-American, and his parents were forced into an internment camp similar to the one Ruth and her family lived in. This story brought to life the struggle that my uncle’s family had to endure, and is an important lesson to those who were unfamiliar with this horrible scar on our nation’s history.

In a devastatingly beautiful story, we learn more about Ruth and her family’s life interned, as well as the road that eventually brings her back to

Rachel. I cannot put into words just how much I loved this book.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the exciting opportunity to read this highly anticipated read early!


Have you read Moloka’i? Are you an unwitting lover of historical fiction like me? Let me know in the comments below!

Travel

24 hours in Miami

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- like the eternal optimist that I am, I love to be on the first flight out to make the most of my travel day. When my husband and his family booked a Caribbean cruise out of Miami, we decided to skip any *Midwest Winter Weather Shenanigans* and fly in the day before our cruise was scheduled to leave.

This might be one of my favorite strategies, because it felt like our vacation was almost two times as long just from the bonus day that we had in town!

24 hours in miami www.deniseadelek.com

Eat
Our 6:00 AM flight got us to Miami just in time for lunch. By the time we checked into our hotel and got situated, it was time to hit up South Beach for some regional food. We went to La Ventana for Columbian food, and of course, mojitos. We quickly learned that all mojitos are not created equal, but the mango mojito at La Ventana IS the end-all-be-all.

La Ventana is tiny, and has about 8 tables inside and a handful outside. Imagine yourself in South America when you make expectations for the speed of your service, but know you’ll be in for a treat.

24 hours in Miami | www.deniseadelek.com

Wander & Shop
Leaving La Ventana and wandering up and down Ocean Drive was a blast. There were a bunch of funky stores to stop in at, and prime people-watching. Art Deco design is out in full force here, and the buildings are absolutely Instagram-worthy. My mother-in-law and I snagged a few last-minute unique gifts at Helium, including a seriously cool globe and some snarky socks.

We snuck right across the street and walked on the beach to get our toes in the water on Day 1. The public beaches along South Beach are pristine, with neon and pastel lifeguard shacks to add to the overall aesthetic.

24 Hours in Miami's South Beach | www.deniseadelek.com

Visit
There is so much outdoor art and architecture in Miami that you can make the most of whatever day you happen to be in town. The Wynwood neighborhood features street art and graffiti on the side of buildings completely out in the open. I set my alarm and headed out to Wynwood early on Sunday morning, so that I had time to squeeze this excursion in.

A trip to The Salty Doughnut is a must-do, and it seemed to me that you couldn’t go wrong with any food or drinks you found in the trendy Wynwood area. Definitely be sure to pack your camera (which I forgot) and bring a friend to take pictures of you against all the awesome walls! I relied on the kindness of random people to photograph me (everyone else had slept in) and ended up with some good gems.

24 hours in Miami | Wynwood | www.deniseadelek.com

We boarded our cruise ship a little less than 24 hours after we stepped out of the Miami Airport, but I was so glad to have taken advantage of the time we did have in the 305. When we boarded our cruise, we didn’t feel frazzled from just stepping off a flight, and we were able to take advantage of day zero right away.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Miami?

-denise adele k

books

January 2019 New Releases

Happy end of 2018, everyone! This year I was fortunate enough to reach my 2018 goal of 100 books in early December, aided by the sheer volume of books, audiobooks, galleys and ebooks that seem to come in and out of our house on a daily basis.

I spent the month of December traveling and celebrating the holiday season, but also trying to get ahead of the various ARC titles that I needed to read and review for you all! Read on for my reviews on four new titles coming to you in January of 2019!

An Anonymous Girl  | Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen | www.deniseadelek.comAn Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
4 out of 5 stars, out 1/8/2019

Whoa. An Anonymous Girl was a fun, twisty thriller that was refreshing after a sea of many other “thrillers” that seemed to read the same. Jessica, a young makeup artist in New York City, volunteers for a paid psychological study under false pretenses with the well-known Dr. Shields. She is tasked with answering questions on ethics and mortality, and is selected for a higher level of interviewing.

Jessica gets mixed up in a very cat and mouse sort of way with Dr. Shields as the project quickly goes off the rails. This book nailed all of the necessary twists and turns to make a good psychological thriller, and I appreciated the gratuitous level of creepiness that didn’t leave me afraid of the dark.

Watching You | Lisa Jewell | www.deniseadelek.com

Watching You by Lisa Jewell
2.5 out of 5 stars, out 1/9/2019

Do you ever finish a book and you’re not entirely sure what just happened or if you liked it? While I LOVED Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, I can’t say that Watching You lived up to my expectations. I struggled to get into this book, but was cheered on by a few friends on bookstagram who had deemed it un-put-down-able.

Nestled in a nice suburb, where all eyes are on all of the town’s citizens, a gruesome murder happens. The book switches between perspectives as well as time periods and police depositions, which helped to keep the plot moving. Most of the characters seem like they could be guilty, and the reader is strung along until the very end to learn who the real killer is.

The Last Woman in the Forest } Diane Les Becquets | www.deniseadelek.com

The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
4.5 out of 5 stars, out 1/22/2019

Living a life relatively isolated from other people, Marian works with trained dogs to track and monitor endangered species in pockets across the country. When on assignment in rural Montana, she falls for her mentor and colleague, Tate. Tate has a domineering personality, and he makes Marian feel like he can give her the world.

This story is set against four very graphic murders by an at-large serial killer in the vicinity, and some of Tate’s actions give Marian cause for concern. After his untimely death on assignment in Washington State, Marian begins to questions the things she thought were true.

I loved that this book featured a forensic psychologist who was developing profiles of the women who were murdered, as well as the potential suspect. I learned a lot from these chapters, as well as about tracking endangered species!  This book kept me guessing until the end, and I really enjoyed it.

Freefall | Jessica Barry | www.deniseadelek.comFreefall by Jessia Barry
3.5 out of 5 stars, out 1/31/2019

Freefall tells the story of an estranged mother-daughter duo (Maggie and Allison) in the wake of a plane crash that is thought to have taken the life of Allison and her fiance. Maggie feels that more than a few things are amiss, and is in denial that her daughter is actually dead. Allison’s body was not found at the scene of the crash, and even though the two have not spoken in years, Maggie feels that Allison is still out there.

Allison’s side of the story alternates between telling the tale of her survival, and how she got into the situation. Overall, a good page turner that kept me going from start to finish.

 

What books are you looking forward to most in 2019? Tell me in a comment below!

 

beauty & lifestyle

Last-Minute Gift Guide

We’ve all been there. You forgot about the 7th Christmas party that you were invited to, you need a hostess gift, or you’re struggling to find some goodies for your coworkers in the eleventh hour.

While I’m all for shopping local and shopping small, sometimes Amazon Prime same-day shipping is second to none. When you’re in full-on Grinch mode and don’t want to set foot in another store, ordering from the comfort of your warm house without having to talk to another human is key.

Stay tuned for my favorite small business picks, but in the meantime here are some Denise-tested and approved choices to save the day!

Amazon Gift Ideas

Wristology Rose Gold watch | What Do You Meme game | Kendra Scott Elisa necklace | Bridgewater Candles Sweet GraceCozy pullover | Le Pen 30-Pack