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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.

Guest Book Review: The Painter of Time (Audiobook Version) by Matthew O’Connell – Susan Fouche (Narrator)

Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest book review courtesy of my husband, also known as The Audiobook Guy. He spends a LOT of time in the car, and as a result audiobooks are his preferred format for “reading”. This title was a little outside of his wheelhouse, but when the opportunity to review it arose, he jumped at the chance to get back in the game. I hope you enjoy it – and perhaps we can convince him to share his audiobook thoughts with us again soon!

About the Book
Art can live forever… and it can even be brought back to life if cared for by a talented restorer with the right tools. And that’s just what Mackenzie Ferrara wants to do when she joins the team at NYC’s prestigious Cloisters in Matthew O’Connell’s highly acclaimed suspense novel, The Painter of Time, newly available in audiobook. Continue reading Guest Book Review: The Painter of Time (Audiobook Version) by Matthew O’Connell – Susan Fouche (Narrator)

Book Review: A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks

I really enjoyed this one… I like above-stairs/below-stairs stories, and have long been a firm believer in the old adage that “servants see everything” (or, more aptly put, “those who go largely ignored in society see more than they are given credit for”). There were just enough twists to keep things interesting, particularly when coupled with the behind-the-scenes social dynamics and interactions of early twentieth century New York. Jane is a great protagonist; she’s clever and underappreciated and just this side of naive in a way that made her a delightful narrator. The high society (established and nouveau) surrounding her was fun to witness through her eyes, and I liked the dynamic with Michael. Continue reading Book Review: A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks

Guest Post: “Growing Up” Into an Author by Honore Nolting

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a fascinating author, Honore Nolting, whose new book 128 Days and Counting is a touching true story of endurance, survival, and recovery. The book is the touching and inspiring memoir by Honore Nolting, who at twenty-eight learned that her thirty-year-old husband, Tom, had late stage-three cancer. They begin with a positive attitude and apply the philosophy “Laughter is the best medicine” to cope, but soon the extreme nature takes its toll during the cancer battle—and after. The tumor in Tom’s chest is oddly shaped and touches his heart, lung, and liver. He is recommended four treatments of chemo each lasting three weeks, totaling twelve weeks with twenty chemo treatments. The tumor shrinks, but surgery is still required. Despite the painful procedures, Tom is cancer free 128 days later. However, they learn that the aftermath of being a cancer survivor has its own ramifications, including PTSD, depression, and anxiety. The story will touch your heart and move you to tears, and this introduction about Honore’s inspiration to write will do the same. Enjoy!

“Growing Up” Into an Author
by Honore Nolting

Becoming an author was always a dream of mine; I’ve enjoyed writing since as far back as I can remember and I never had a shortage of ideas. On top of my creative mind, I was quite literally raised around books. My parents are the owners of a small independent children’s bookstore and felt strongly that books, reading, and writing were something they wanted to be sure had a strong presence in our community. The store reminds me of something out of Mayberry and I’ve been surrounded by the world of books, and thus booklovers, my whole life. It was a unique “playground” in my life growing up.

From a young girl helping stock books on the shelf, to excitedly opening a box of new books to see what was inside, I always wondered what it would be like to see my name on a cover of a book. What an accomplishment that would be to see my name, and my thoughts, all in one place. I thought about our own customers and how amazing it was to see a customer thumb through a children’s book and a smile come across their face. There is real power in books, and to see that around me all the time – a real appreciation for the simple things in life – was something special.

I had tinkered around with ideas through the years, from a children’s book to a novel. It seemed like something I could do, I just needed the right topic or inspiration. Unfortunately, the inspiration for my memoir came at the age of 28 when my husband received a late stage three cancer diagnosis. The book really began when I started blogging about his treatments so we could keep our family informed about his progress. As the link was shared and the readers increased, it became clear that how we were handling his diagnosis, and the perspective from a caregiver, was something that could help others in our situation.

As we dealt with his diagnosis and recovery I began to pull together the memoir, leveraging parts of the blog, focusing on the challenges of survivorship, and addressing the stress it can cause on a young marriage. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the writing had become my coping mechanism, it was my therapy. To write about our ordeal made me feel like we had control of what had happened to us, I was telling a story, not detailing a series of events that happened to us. Writing was no longer a creative outlet it my life, it had become a lifeline. There were times when I had to step away from writing the book because it was too much to think back on such dark days, but even then, it was helping me cope through such a dark time in our lives.

My first book signing event took place in my parent’s bookstore on a cold February day – the store I had grown up in. As I sat signing books a woman I had not yet met walked to the table, picked up the book, and opened it to the dedication page. After reading for a moment she smiled and looked up at me. I had tears in my eyes as it was a full circle moment; my book had just done what I had always admired in books – it had created a moment of happiness.

As I sat in the back of my parent’s bookstore, I knew that my book would do exactly what a book should do – create emotion and an appreciation for the simple things in life. The book is raw, I hold nothing back. We chose laughter as the best medicine and as a result readers may cry and then laugh shortly after. There is real irony in how this all played out. Within the book the reader finds out about the most horrendous time of our life and how we have such an appreciation for the simple things in life. I took those bits of wisdom, and detailed the power of hope and perseverance into a book – and as we know books are one of life’s simplest pleasures.

About the Author
Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Honore Nolting’s love and appreciation for books began at an early age.  In her debut book, 128 Days and Counting, Honore recounts the shock and aftermath of her 30-year old husband’s Stage 3 cancer diagnosis from the caregivers perspective. Her honesty, with a twist of humor, has given her the opportunity to show the reader how to take adversity and turn it into an opportunity to help others.

When she is not writing books, she works as a Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Communications for a Fortune 500 company and loves mentoring younger talent within the company. She is an active volunteer for a variety of causes, enjoys running for a great cause, and loves the Green Bay Packers, red wine, and a good sunset. She can be reached at

About the Book
128 Days is a vivid and detailed account of a young couple during a cancer diagnosis and their relationship during the most difficult time of their lives. Honore and her husband, Tom, who went through chemo, an operation, and a difficult adjustment period, come alive in these pages as a loving and upbeat couple who are as familiar as your best friends. They are strong and scared, normal and quirky, determined and silly. Excerpts from the blog written during Tom’s cancer answer many questions about what it’s like to get cancer, and be a caregiver, as young adults. Honore’s raw and emotional account about every aspect of the experience, and their relationship, brings the reader fully into the magnitude of the diagnosis but what lingers is the joy, resilience, and effervescence of love.

Book Review: The Bricklayer of Albany Park by Terry John Malik

A few weeks ago I introduced you to author Terry John Malik and promised a review of his new book – The Bricklayer of Albany Park, a peek behind the curtain of detective work that addresses whether it takes a monster to catch a monster. The book was a fantastic read and I’m pleased to finally share my thoughts with you! Enjoy…

This was a fascinating, engaging read and a very well-crafted tale. Alternating perspectives seems to be the new favorite format for thrillers/killer-drama. When it doesn’t work it’s a woeful failure. When it does, as here, it’s a great way to tell a complex story without forcing the reader to sit through a slog of backstory/atmospherics. Malik uses the format to great success, rendering both the Bricklayer/Anthony and the Detective/Frank human and relatable, even when their actions take them in directions that are difficult or questionable. Continue reading Book Review: The Bricklayer of Albany Park by Terry John Malik

Book Review: Idyll Hands by Stephanie Gayle

This is such a great series! If you haven’t seen my earlier reviews of book one and book two, check them out. This is definitely a series that builds, and I think it would be tough to jump into it via this third book. That said it’s more than worth the back-reading. The books are easy to read – which is not at ALL to say that they are simplistic, just that the writing and pacing are so well managed that they are easy to fall into and burn through. I keep thinking the series can’t possibly get more engaging, and then with each new book I find myself grinning and calling out a mental “well done!” to the talented Stephanie Gayle…

In this latest installment, Chief of Police Thomas Lynch finds himself caught up in the backstory of Idyll’s police department. The resultant tale is a back-and-forth between Lynch and his part-time detective Michael Finnegan. Finny’s at the heart of this one, and it was fascinating to see him fully develop as a character. He’s played a relatively minor role in the previous books – present and part of the gang, but not a fully-fleshed out character in his own right. Continue reading Book Review: Idyll Hands by Stephanie Gayle



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