Women’s What To Read Next: A Cold Weather Booklist

Women’s What To Read Next: A Cold Weather Booklist

Preview: In this booklist, you’ll find my current version of women’s what to read next. Strong women, powerful women, good stories, and inspiration. This is what I’ve been reading lately.

This post contains affiliate links which means I make a very small percentage if you click through and purchase something. All opinions are strictly my own!

We’ve made it to that time of year it’s actually starting to feel like fall. The high is a mere 54 fabulous degrees Fahrenheit today, and it’s a little cloudy. I don’t know about you, but that signals tea and book reading time to me! So naturally, I took myself off to Barnes and Noble. I made the excuse to my husband that Children’s Place is right there too, and the child really needs new jeans since his are two inches too short with holes in the knees.

I love bookstores

Like I really ever need an excuse to go hang out in a bookstore.

I love visiting bookstores, and it makes me very sad there are so few of them about nowadays. I’m sounding old, but many moons ago when I was in high school my best friend and I used to spend our Friday nights at bookstores. We’d get our latte or tea (I wasn’t doing black coffee at this time), listening to the new music, going through every book and picking just the right one. It was fabulous, and hey, you can’t get into a lot of trouble at a bookstore now, can you?

Women's what to read next booklist. Looking for the perfect book for chill weather? Literature, historical fiction, tragedy, comedy, pick one here! #booklists #whattoreadnext #whattoread #womensbooks #reading #explorermomma

 

Women’s what to read next

After a while of not being thrilled with my book choices (something was off), I’ve recently had a fabulous run of winners I’d strongly suggest to anyone. There are tales of inspiration, ghosts of the mind, difficult circumstances, powerful, intelligent women, and great storytelling. You know when a book pulls you in, and your mind won’t let you, and indeed you don’t want to, leave that world until those final pages have been turned? That happened to me on almost all of these books.

So let’s get started.

The Great Alone

by Kristin Hannah

This was a book recommended by someone in a Facebook group I’m in, and yes, I’m in several bookclub type groups. It caught my eye because of the location, to be honest. The setting is on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska in 1974, and the book begins with the main character’s family arriving from the Lower 48. My grandparents used to live in Homer, Alaska, a key location in the book and a place I’ve visited several times myself, so it naturally piqued my interest.

I agree there is this idea that if you need to get away from society you can escape to Alaska. In The Great Alone, after the Vietnam Conflict, one family is given land near Homer and their adventure begins. They have no idea what it will take to survive off the grid in an untamed wilderness. They encounter all types of people, all with their own stories and reasons for being there. It is the story of the family, a father fighting the demons of the Vietnam War, his wife who will do anything for him, and their daughter and her coming of age and survival story. A beautifully written book and one I stayed up until 3 am one night to finish! It’s engrossing with good story-telling, and I highly recommend it.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

 

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

by Genevieve Valentine

Imagine a well to do New York family in the 1920s. The father is a determined businessman who wants an heir and son. He and his wife have daughter after daughter until they have a collection of them upstairs he won’t admit to society. They don’t go to school, don’t go out, don’t visit others socially, they are kept in the house.

“Dressed up in the thrill and sparkle of the Roaring Twenties, the classic fairy tale of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ has never been more engrossing or delightful. Valentine’s fresh, original style and choice of setting make this a fairy tale reimagining not to be missed” (Library Journal, starred review).

So what do they do? It’s the roaring 20s! They learn to dance, and organized by their eldest sister Jo they sneak out at night to the clubs and find a home at the Kingfisher Club. Put on some 20s music as you read for there are bootleggers, raids, and drama. The story goes deeper focusing on each girl and is a fun read.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ****1/2 Four and a half out of five stars.

 

The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist I happened upon I believe through my library app suggesting it to me. I read it, and it was interesting because I then noticed it on the PBS list of top books to read and in my Barnes and Noble promo email. Quelle coïncidence! It seemed fated for me to read it.

This is the sweeping story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel. We already have something in common. But he wants to travel in search of worldly treasures. What does he truly want? How can he get it? Will he give up? Santiago learns many lessons along this mystical journey. He reads and listens to omens that come to him and follows his dreams. We all need some inspiration every now and then, and The Alchemist certainly delivers.

I liked this book very much and appreciated the positivity and determination in Santiago to never give up. Live your life and your dreams.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

Ready for the holiday season?

Are you ready to start your pile of cozy Christmas books by the fire? Here are some I recommend.

Cozy Christmas books, a Christmas booklist #christmas #christmasbooks #fireside #explorermomma

Cold Sassy Tree

by Olive Ann Burns

I picked up Cold Sassy Tree on the recommendation of a friend, and it was indeed a hilarious journey and character study. In the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia news and/or gossip spreads like wildfire. It’s 1906 and Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee announces only three weeks after Grandma Blakeslee’s in her grave that he’s going to marry the young milliner in his store, Miss Love Simpson. Yes, half his age and a Yankee! Gasp! His grandson, young Will Tweedy finds himself in the scandal while having adventures of his own. At 14, he’s growing up and has to deal with class and place, is run over by a train (literally), and does his best to keep the peace in his own household.

There are lots of characters from all over town in this one and an amusing read. I took this one about a chapter at a time and had fun with it.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ****1/2 Four and a half out of five stars.

 

The Woman Who Smashed Codes

by Jason Fagone

I have to say, I came upon this book quite by accident, and I consider myself lucky to have done so. This is not a novel but a popular history book that reads like a spy thriller, about a real-life character hidden in history in government secrets. This era of codebreaking is fascinating, and while I’ve seen movies and read books about the British side in Bletchley Park with Alan Turing and others, I didn’t know much about the American efforts in codebreaking in World War II.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes is the true story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman. We are introduced to her when she meets her partner in cryptology and future husband, William Friedman, at an eccentric tycoon’s estate just outside of Chicago where they both worked in 1916. They become an unstoppable team in codebreaking, or cryptology, in WWI and WWII.

See a part of the Amazon summary:

In The Woman Who Smashed Codes, Jason Fagone chronicles the life of this extraordinary woman, who played an integral role in our nation’s history for forty years. After World War I, Smith used her talents to catch gangsters and smugglers during Prohibition, then accepted a covert mission to discover and expose Nazi spy rings that were spreading like wildfire across South America, advancing ever closer to the United States. As World War II raged, Elizebeth fought a highly classified battle of wits against Hitler’s Reich, cracking multiple versions of the Enigma machine used by German spies. Meanwhile, inside an Army vault in Washington, William worked furiously to break Purple, the Japanese version of Enigma—and eventually succeeded, at a terrible cost to his personal life.

Due to the secrecy of Elizabeth’s missions and work, her story had never been told before, and she herself never spoke of it. She was true to the oaths she made to the government, and only recently have some of her records be declassified.

I LOVED this book, and if you have any interest in codes, codebreaking, espionage, and the history of World War II, you need to read this book. Elizebeth Friedman was a dynamic and powerful woman who was not afraid to use her mind. Read it!

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars!!! Maybe more.

 

The Thirteenth Tale

by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is a book for those of you, like myself, who love the brooding stories of the Bronte sisters such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, with perhaps a bit of Wilkie Collins thrown in, The Moonstone. (And by the way, if you haven’t read those three books, by all means order them all now or get to your local library and remedy that error in your book reading ways).

Our main character, Margaret Lee, is summoned to the country to write the biography of famous author Vida Winter. Throughout her life, Ms. Winter has invented many versions of her origins and life story to shield the truth. Now is the time to share her tale with Margaret, who has her own clouded and troubled story of her birth and childhood.

In this book, you get great characters, abandoned country houses, destroyed topiary gardens, ghosts, wild twins, a great house fire to conjure up scenes of Jane Eyre, and so much more. It’s a way of bringing those past ghosts to light and freeing those in the present of their haunting.

I know those who absolutely obsess over this book and how good it is. Yes, I enjoyed the book very much and a return to the feel of some of those Victorian novels. Each character (and there are quite a few of them!) is well-developed and well-placed in the setting. I don’t obsess over it, but I do definitely recommend reading it! It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time to really transport me back in time through good storytelling.

Women’s What to Read Next Rating: ***** Five out of five stars.

Sugar free latte with almond milk at Barnes and Noble #booksandcoffee #ilovebooks #explorermomma

Books and coffee

So now, this is me telling you, go to your local bookstore! Enjoy your sugar-free almond milk latte (that’s mine above) or coffee, or tea, or whatever! Take some time for yourself and just breathe in the books. Wander about the bookstore and find the perfect one for your mood or pick one on my list above.

Today I found myself perusing the military history section of the bookstore. Why? Well, why not? I love history, and read a lot of historical fiction, but sometimes the true stories are even more compelling. If I hadn’t hung out in the military history section I might never have found The Woman Who Smashed Codes. Of course, you can do this section hopping on your phone or online too, I just happen to enjoy the luxury of doing it in a real bookstore!

So I challenge you! Try a new genre or section to choose your next read. You just might find your new obsession.

Best of 2017: My Favorite Things

Best of 2017: My Favorite Things

 This week I reflected back on 2017 and took the time to indulge in thinking about my favorite things from the year. It’s been a great year, and I’ve been super-involved in my kids’ lives, but sometimes it’s good to think about yourself too. While it may appear I should be a little old lady in a cottage in England, these are some of my favorites and what I consider my best of 2017.

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Best of 2017 pin

Best of 2017: Food

My Favorite Recipe

Low Carb Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

This is my most-used recipe this year, and it has gotten me through a lot! In case you didn’t know, I started following a keto diet/lifestyle this fall, and it has been amazing! However, I have a gigantic sweet tooth, which was a huge part of my problem and one of the main reasons for going keto. As a matter of fact, I’ve dropped the sugar but kept some of the sweet with this awesome recipe. Because who doesn’t like peanut butter cups?! I can’t recommend the blog All Day I Dream About Food enough. Truly, I’ve made a ton of the recipes on the blog and loved every single one of them. For example, the Low Carb Gluten-Free Brownie Cheesecake was an especially huge hit with the family.

My Favorite Food Box

ButcherBox unboxing ground beefButcherBox is an awesome mail order food box. It comes once a month (or less depending on what you select) frozen in dry ice, with great quality meats. Already, I’ve ordered the grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage breed pork and loved the selections sent. My husband especially thought the rib-eye steak was amazing. You can read my blog post about it, and see my unboxing video, here.

Also, if you’d like to try ordering your own box you can use my affiliate link here to get $20 off and free bacon in your first box. 

Best of 2017: Travel

My Favorite Trips

Tbilisi, Georgi with Kids

Tbilisi, Georgia

This summer we took the kids to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia south of Russia on the Black Sea. My husband’s family lives there so it was an amazing opportunity to visit family, expose the kids to a different language and culture, and visit new places. We visited the Black Sea city of Batumi, family cities and villages in between, but for the kids, the capital of Tbilisi was a truly amazing experience. Read about Batumi here, doors and windows of Tbilisi here, and traditional Georgian bread making here.

 

Ruidoso, New Mexico, best of 2017Ruidoso, New Mexico

One of our favorite family destinations in summer is Ruidoso, New Mexico. Because we live in Northern Colorado we love our Colorado mountains, but traveling south to New Mexico is an entirely different mountain experience. It’s awesome to see the terrain change, the earth colors change from tans, to reds and browns, and explore a new area of the country. Ruidoso is up in the mountains and a fun place to get a cabin and hang out with family.

Look for the Top 10 things to do with kids in Ruidoso coming soon!

 

Grand Lake, Colorado best of 2017

Grand Lake, Colorado

Grand Lake moose, best of 2017

One of my favorite places on this earth is Grand Lake, Colorado. It’s the perfect place for families to enjoy the ideal Colorado mountain, hiking, fishing, etc. experience right on the lake. We usually stay at one of the cabins at Lemmon Lodge right on one of the beaches of Grand Lake. There’s a play area, the perfect fishing spot where the river enters the lake, and even a campfire spot for making s’mores.

Roundup River Ranch best of 2017

Roundup River Ranch

This year we had the most amazing experience to be a part of Roundup River Ranch near Gypsum, Colorado. Roundup River Ranch is a camp is for kids with chronic illnesses who otherwise would never be able to experience a true traditional summer camp. Doctors and nurses provide support along with many other amazing volunteers to make these kids feel like a “regular” kid, forget about their troubles for a week, and enjoy camp with their friends. I won’t go into detail, but my daughter was able to attend and had the most awesome time. These people and this place bring joy to others, and if you are looking for a cause to support this might possibly be the one. Check out the Roundup River Ranch website.

Roundup River Ranch best of 2017

Best of 2017: Learning

My Favorite Books

We Were The Lucky Ones

The book is set during World War II and told by the viewpoints of various members of a Polish Jewish family. It’s based on a true story making all the more amazing and a true picture into some of the horrors of our history yet the powerful love and strength of family. Read my review about it here or check it on Amazon here.

 

Arcanum Unbounded

Arcanum Unbounded comes as a book of short fiction in his Cosmere world by acclaimed author Brandon Sanderson. For me, the best part was the novella “The Eleventh Metal”, a part of the Mistborn Saga. If you’ve read the Mistborn Saga and then read “The Eleventh Metal”, a whole new dimension is opened up.  Amazingly, an entirely new story revolving around Kelsior is presented. Moreover, this story took place at the same time as the trilogy, yet you were unaware of it when first reading. It is mind-boggling and completely awesome the way Mr. Sanderson wove something he knew was there all the time but didn’t choose to tell his readers (except for clues here and there) until this novella. Loved it. See it on Amazon here.

A Gentleman In Moscow

I loved the history and characters involved in this book and how everything plays together until an ending I was not at all expecting. Great writing. See my review here or find it on Amazon here.

 

A Duty to the Dead

The Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd has been my go-to series this year for familiar characters and an engrossing mystery. Set in World War I, Bess Crawford is a British army nurse in France tending to the wounded and dying. In A Duty to the Dead, she’s injured when her ship is sunk crossing the Channel, and she must return to England to convalesce. Ultimately, I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read in this series. They’re sometimes a bit unbelievable, sometimes predictable, but always a great cozy mystery and a page-turner. Moreover, the characters you grow to love and see as a family in their world. Read more about it on Amazon here.

My Favorite Podcasts

Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses is like a class in writing genre fiction, hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. It’s a great motivational podcast for any aspiring or even published writers. Topics include world building, character development, character voice in the first person, switching genres, and so much more. Every season, different hosts pop in with their own expertise as well.  http://www.writingexcuses.com/

Simple Pin Podcast

“Kate Ahl is the owner and founder of Simple Pin Media, a Pinterest management company that specializes in managing Pinterest pages for businesses and bloggers. She is passionate about teaching simple, actionable Pinterest marketing strategies to help business owners and bloggers boost their business using Pinterest without wasting their time. In her podcast, The Simple Pin Podcast, she interviews people who are using Pinterest in creative ways to drive traffic to their website and increase revenue. She’s on a mission to rid the world of Pinterest myths, crazy hacks to ‘game’ the system and rabbit trails that waste valuable business-building time. She wants to give her audience solid Pinterest Marketing advice using data-driven results. Keep it simple, be authentic, and pin with purpose.” Check it out on iTunes here.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

In college, I majored in History, French, and International Studies. I admit to being a complete history geek, and I LOVE this podcast. Hardcore History is just that, and I’ve listened to several of the series. Right now I’ve gone back to an older one and am listening to “Blueprint for Armageddon”, a series of episodes on World War I. Each podcast, or episode, is about four hours long brought to you by Dan Carlin, who sounds like a super-excited history professor, although he claims not to be a formal historian. His voice is great for the topics, he pulls references and drama from everywhere and just creates a fascinating study of history. History buffs, don’t miss this one! Click here for Hardcore History.

Best of 2017: Fun

My Favorite TV Shows

First of all, to be honest, I don’t watch a lot of TV except for a daily dose of Wild Kratts (highly recommended) with the 5-year-old. What I do watch is on Amazon Prime or Netflix, and these are some of the favorites discovered this past year.

The Dr. Blake Mysteries

“Dr. Lucien Blake left Ballarat (Australia) as a young man. But now he finds himself returning, to take over not only his dead father’s medical practice but also his on-call role as the town’s police surgeon.”

This is a fun mystery series with great characters, acting, and Australian point of view. The series becomes addictive after the first few, and I’m eagerly waiting for seasons 4 and 5 to come to Netflix.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Shetland

“Eight puzzling murder cases keep good-natured Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez busy – and keep you guessing – in the breathtakingly beautiful Shetland Islands. As Perez and the viewer quickly come to realize, not all is what it seems in this close-knit island community. Based on the best-selling Shetland novels by author Ann Cleeves (Vera).”

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Rebellion

“Ireland natives face emotional and physical turmoil as they decide to take up arms against the British.”

This was an intriguing version of the 1916 Easter Uprising with strong female points of view and great acting.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne

“From the creator of Downton Abbey. Dr. Thorne lives a quiet life with niece Mary in Greshambury, home of the wealthy Gresham family. Unbeknownst to others, the Greshams have lost their fortune and matriarch Lady Arabella has a scheme to regain it via an arranged marriage with her son and an American heiress. However, her son plans to elope with Mary, which complicates Lady Arabella’s plans.”

This was a fun series for those who love British period drama. While it was not Downton Abbey, it was well-acted with beautiful scenes of the big British houses and countryside. I enjoyed it very much.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

The Great British Baking Show

This is one of those shows that’s just relaxing to me. Even though I’ve pretty much gone gluten-free, I’ve always been a huge baker and love to see these traditional European recipes. The British just do everything better, don’t they? 😉

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Interested in Ireland?

Read about all my Irish favorites. What do you love about Ireland?

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Your Best of 2017

Do you love British drama? Where did you travel in 2017? Or maybe what was your favorite recipe? Take a second and let me know if you’ve liked my favorites or give me some ideas for 2018. What were your favorites? Write them out in the comments below!

Here’s to a great year!

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