Posts Categorized: Book Talk

January Focus Goals

January 12, 2017 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 16

Word for the Year is FOCUS. This year, I'm concentrating on being more organized and sharing my focus goals each month.


My Word for the Year is FOCUS and though we are only 11 days into January, I’m feeling really good about it. These are not resolutions but a focus on the goals I have for each month.

One thing I am focusing on this year is being more organized and focused on accomplishing my goals. For a few years now I’ve seen several blogs list their goals on the first of the month with a wrap-up of the accomplishments from the previous month. I’ve also seen some very cool monthly blogging income reports and WOW! If only, right!

Please note the links with an asterisk* are affiliate links. Should you make a purchase using one of these links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no cost to you. If you do use one of these affiliate links, please accept my most sincere thanks.

January Focus Goals

In blogging

  • Continue to learn about SEO and Sticky Blogging from *Kelly of Sticky Blogging – LOVE HER! Of all the courses I’ve ever taken, both Sticky Blogging and Sticky Blogging SEO were by far the most informative and helpful. Plus Kelly is incredibly gracious, responsive and truly a wonderful person. I would take any course she offers, and have! 1. For January, I plan to create my Trophy Case of posts. and 2. Begin process of organizing old posts/reviews into better accessible lists.
  • 3. Update 20 old book reviews with SEO and the *Ultimate Book Blogging app {I’m embarrassed to say my first 2 years of book blogging are still not on the UBB app and not showing up on my book review lists}

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. ~Zig Zigler

In reading

  • I’ve avoided challenges in the past because I never stick it out or if I do, it’s only by accident. Then I forget to update. Aargh! So this year I’m using a spreadsheet from BookRiot that incorporates the Reading Hard Challenge, Litsy A-to-Z Challenge and I’ve added the Travel the World in Books Challenge from Mom’s Small Victories, Fictional 100 and Guiltless Reading. Proud to say my first book of the year went on all 3 lists: *Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante! 4. Continue to update the spreadsheet at a minimum of once/week, preferably immediately as I begin reading a new book.
  • In the past I’ve been a finicky reader, reading only what I’m in the mood to read at any given time. This year my reading is much more deliberate and, yes, focused. 5. For January, I plan to read a nonfiction book written by an Australian author, *Whole Health Life; and a fiction book by a POC – *Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah.

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. ~Melody Beattie

In my life

  • 6. Exercise 4-5 days/week by walking or yoga.
  • I started the *Hormone Reset Diet is December 26th and have just a few more days left in the 21-day cycle. 7. continue eliminating sugar and gluten. So NOT easy, but since I’ve been following the 21-day reset by Dr. Sara Gottfried I have not had a migraine. I want to shout from the rooftops how incredible it has been having 16 days migraine-free! I haven’t experienced that since before my brain injury 20 years ago! You’ll probably see more healthy eating posts on here this year as I revamp my eating from typical southern home cooking to a more health-focused fare. If you have cookbook suggestions I can use all the help I can get!

There’s no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A. ~Will Smith

Wishing you a most wonderful January!

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Word of the Year: FOCUS

A New Year. . .A New Word. . .A New Focus


December in Review

January 2, 2017 Book Talk 5

december in review

Happy New Year Lovely Readers! How was your December? Are you looking forward to a new year? For me, a new year brings so much possibility. Fresh starts. New beginnings.

December was a relatively slow reading month for me. Between traveling, family time and life there was not as much time to read as I would have liked. What I did read was all top notch. More to come on Grit and The Sleepwalker!


The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff {review here}
Grit: Passion, Perseverance and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth {review coming soon}
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian {review coming soon}



Best Fiction Read in 2016 – I love to look back over the books read during the past year, don’t you!

How the Circus Saved Innocents in The Orphan’s Tale – I couldn’t wait to tell you about this book! It’s not being released until February 21st, but oh my goodness it was SO GOOD!

7 Must-Have Blogging Resources for #AMonthofFaves – I ended up not being able to participate more in this fantastic month-long challenge, but hopefully 2017 will be different.

13 Amazing Author TED Talks – I’m a huge champion of TED Talks. From anywhere between 4 minutes – 25 minutes, these inspirational, motivational talks are both great entertainment AND immensely educational. If you have know of one you think I’d enjoy, please do let me know!


Normally I’m not big on watching much television or Netflix but these past few months my sweetheart and I have been working our way through The Office. I know, we’re a little late to the office party, but oh wow! so many innuendos and jokes make sense now! We are on the last season now so should be finished sometime January. We need another good show to watch afterward – any suggestions?

After Christmas I had the most awful stomach bug that kicked my tail. I felt too icky to concentrate on reading and couldn’t watch The Office alone so I stumbled upon a new show that rocked my world! If I admit to watching all of Season 1 in just a few days promise not to think too badly of me?!? What’s the show? Oh yeah, that would help, right? Traveler’s – a show exclusively on Netflix. It. Is. Amazing.

Looking forward to January and . . .

A new year. I won’t lament 2016 or talk about how awful it was. This year has got to be better. It simply must.

I’m almost ready for a new dog. Last June my darling Obie had to be put down, and though I’m still grieving, it’s almost time to add a new member to the family. My first love is big dogs – Obie was a standard poodle. AND, I love the poodle intelligence. But, traveling back and forth between Arizona and Georgia is not conducive to a large dog. We would love suggestions on a good travel companion or tips on traveling with a dog if you’ve got some!

Wishing you a most wonderful 2017 and a January filled with love and light.



Best Fiction Read in 2016

December 30, 2016 Book Talk 14

Best Fiction of 2016

What is the second favorite thing for list makers to do if they’re not making a list? Reading a list! Ok, well, maybe that’s the third favorite thing cause checking off lists is right up there with making a list. But for flow and purposes of this post can we agree reading and checking off lists are one and the same 😉 My ‘upholder’ daughter is cringing if she’s reading this post! “What? Mom, {be sure to add the correct amount of inflection into that ‘mom’} you can’t make up rules like that!” Poor thing ~ it’s hard having a rebel for a mom and for a husband!

But I digress – you’re here for the list, right?

General Fiction

Favorite reads from 2016
Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Timely. Scary. And unfortunately, based on a true occurrence.

My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
It took me awhile to finally pick up the first in the Neapolitan quintet, but oh my goodness when I finally read My Brilliant Friend, I could totally see why these books were taking the world by storm. Reading this quintet is a completely immersive experience. Some of the best storytelling I’ve ever read.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
My first Ann Patchett book and definitely will not be my last.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
ovely, feel-good book about those who love books. Had me laughing, crying and sometimes both at the same time. Loved it!

Science Fiction

by Justin Cronin
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 resisted reading this one for so long because I’d read it was about vampires. I’ve been over vampires since before vampires were even a thing, so I really didn’t want a ‘vampire’ novel. This is more end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it plague kind-of book. And phenomenal.


Best thrillers of 2016
The Kept Woman
by Karin Slaughter
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Karin Slaughter is one of those authors I automatically buy. She never fails to live up to the hype, and I’m always impressed with the detail and focus she brings to crimes against women.

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjilian
Buy the Book Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Another author I automatically buy. Chris Bohjilian’s novels are in that same social consciousness category as Jodi Picoult’s. Both authors tackle a current issue in each of their books with deft and precision.

What are some of your favorite reads from 2016?


Image Sources:
Post Header Image: Aliis Sinisalu
Book Cover Images: Goodreads


13 Amazing Author TED Talks

December 3, 2016 Book Talk, Life Well Lived 4

13 amazing author talks on ted


If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook then you know my sweetheart and I are going back and forth between Georgia and Arizona for his job. We’re fortunate that most of my work can be done remotely, and I’m not waiting weeks at a time for him to come in from traveling.

When we are in Arizona, the sunshine and perfect weather beckon me outside, a lot. I like to skip the gym and walk to the park to get in my daily steps, and what better way to stay up to date with the world than to listen to TED Talks?

Are you familiar with TED? Such a tremendous and varied resource. There is not a single talk I have listened to that I haven’t gleaned some valuable nugget. The following list of 13 Author TED Talks will inspire you with their passion, honesty and creativity. Let me know if there’s an author talk I’ve missed! I need more talks for my walks ~ hey that rhymed!

First though, a disclaimer. The links below are affiliate links. This means that should you make a purchase using one of these links, I may make a very small commission. Please know I will only recommend products and services that I use and love.

Favorite TED Talks

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time you know Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, is somewhat of a hero to me. I love her book. And both her TED Talk and book reveal the benefits and power of being an introvert. I’m a true introvert and raised one introvert and two extroverts. If you are or know an introvert Susan Cain’s TED Talk will give you great insight.

Then there’s Brené Brown, author of, most recently, Rising Strong {review here}. A shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené has profound insights into how we can overcome our self-talk of guilt and shame. She’s also pretty darned hilarious, a great storyteller and incredibly relatable.

Shonda Rhymes. Oh how I am a glutton for her shows. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder are all queued and ready to binge watch at any given moment. Her book, The Power of Yes, had me nodding along and feeling like Shonda’s bestie. Her TED talk only enhanced those feelings!

There’s J.K. Rowling‘s talk about failure. We’ve probably all read, at least a few times, about J.K. Rowling’s path to success. And even after her Harry Potter success, J.K. Rowling still had trouble getting published when she used the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. This talk will encourage you to keep striving for your goals. Don’t give up.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie author of Americanah, We Should all be Feminists. Yes. We. Should. Need I say more?

13 author TED Talks on inspiration, overcoming fear and creativity. Click To Tweet

Mac Barnett, children’s author on why a good book is a secret door. I love reading stories to my grandson and Mac Barnett has so many great ones like Extra Yarn! and How This Book Was Made. His talk is like going through that secret door us readers are all familiar with – that of opening a book.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and most recently, Big Magic, on creative genius. Another favorite TED Talks. A bit of brutal honesty on the creative process. Gives just the right amount of kick in the pants to get up and get busy!

Author of The World Between Two Covers, Ann Morgan, completed the self-challenge of reading a book from each of the 196 countries around the world in one year. She has since had her first thriller published and given quite the TED Talk on cultural differences and how we are the same.

Amy Tan on where creativity hides. Another talk on creativity – can you see where my focus has been lately!

Karen Thompson Walker on the age of miracles and the connection between fear and the imagination. Creativity and fear seem to be close cousins, at least in my mind. Karen’s talk is as beautiful as her first novel, The Age of Miracles.

Author, poet and publisher Chris Abani on Africa and humanity. Still relevant over ten years later, Abani’s talk will move you to tears.

Angela Lee Duckworth from her popular book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to study resilience in children – what makes some kids overcome overwhelming odds, abuse or neglect and go on to be successful adults while other children can never seem to move past the pain. Grit goes further than resilience delving into commitments we make and can keep for years to come. It’s a brilliant talk that will have you reconsidering all you thought you understood about showing up.

Amy Cuddy author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges gives a motivating talk on “You’re Body Language Shapes Who You Are” – she taught me how helpful it is to do the Superwoman stance before any important meeting. A must listen to TED Talk for women!

Do you have a favorite TED Talk? Share in the comments!



Who Is The 4th Man + Enter to Win Phone Consult with Lisa Gardner

November 29, 2016 Book Review, Giveaway 0


lisa gardner phone consult

I’ve been a fan of Lisa Gardner’s since reading The Perfect Husband so many years ago. When I found out she was offering a phone consult to kick off her new book, Right Behind You, I knew I had to share the opportunity with you! Wouldn’t it be so amazing if you were chosen to consult with an author at the top of her game! Imagine all the possible ways the conversation could go “Hi this is Lisa Gardner, so you like my books?”….

“Hi, this is Lisa Gardner, you have a concept for a possible book you want to write? Let’s talk…”

“Hi this is Lisa Gardner, you’ve written a book and want to know if it’s ready for publication…”

Ok, you can probably tell I’ve been imagining all kinds of things to talk about once I got over the absolute fandom act. If you win, you’ll have to share with me all the details – inquiring minds want to know!

the 4th manIf you’ve been around The Novel Life for any length of time, you’ll know I thoroughly enjoy the book that delves into the reasons behind the action. Give me a book that digs into the behavior that led up to the crime or the climax, and I’m quite the contented reader.

Which is why I enjoy Lisa Gardner’s books so much. She not only creates unbelievable plots, but she gets at the why.

In The 4th Man we have a college student found strangled on a stairwell in the library with only her sneakers missing. Three men become possible suspects. It takes ten years and FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer, to solve the mysterious murder. There’s no motive, no sign of sexual assault and no physical evidence other than the body.

Though it is a short story, only 40 pages and therefore a quick read, The 4th Man is a great escape from politics and news. It’s the book you can enjoy while taking a long bath, waiting at the doctor office, or while in the school pickup line. A quick read with a satisfying ending only made weirder by the fact it’s based on a real case!

Are you a fan of short stories? Share your favorites in the comments.