Categories
Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship – the fastest then in service – could outrun any threat. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small – hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more–all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history. 

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster that helped place America on the road to war.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the LusitaniaDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent account of the Lusitania. I listened to this via audiobook narrated by Scott Brink, who had a soothing, deep voice, also excellent.

The Lusitania, described as a luxurious transatlantic passenger ocean liner with a hull of a battleship, sank on May 7, 1915. It only took 18 minutes to sink. Over 1,000 innocent people drowned. A maritime disaster, changing the course of WWI.

This book described the surrounding events in great detail, from the design of u-boats, the U-20 in particular, from the making and outfitting of the torpedo that hit the ship, characteristics of a zig-zag course in question as the Lusitania made its way through the Celtic Sea. The book also covers events of the time including parties, the oppression of war, German naval policy, President Woodrow Wilson’s decision-making process, and a dynamic love story.

I liked the organization of the book, integrating backstory with current events of the time. I really enjoyed the additional tidbits of sailors’ superstitions such as unlucky days to sail and the thought-provoking presentation to better understanding of English supremacy of the seas.

Cleverly done were the inclusions of multiple inquiries of the time as well as today such as how such a sinking of sorts could have happened to such a large, sturdy ship, with so many lives lost, its course of action, course of sailing, and the major questioning of the additional contents on board: weaponry and its role in the 2nd explosion that happened on board after the torpedo hit. It offered explanations and alternative theories about the curious circumstances.

What I really appreciated about this book were the tributes to individual victims. The book also discussed the emotion felt between loved ones attempting to find closure in the absence of a victim’s body and being caught between hope and grief, as well as the overall aftermath of the disaster and how their lives went on.

I highly recommend this one to anyone, especially those who may be less clear as to how the sinking of this ship played a major part in leading the United States into WWI.

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Categories
Entrées Featured Recipes

Portobello Mushroom and Creamy Clam Sauce Dinner

Portobello Mushroom and Creamy Clam Sauce Dinner | Erica Robbin

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

So hearty and delicious!

Here is an easy seafood recipe!


Credit: ericarobbin.com

Ingredients


PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM AND CREAMY CLAM SAUCE DINNER:
– 2 pounds clams in shells, rinsed clean
– Water, for boiling
– 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
– 3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
– 1 cup fresh portobello mushrooms, sliced
– 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
– 1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, to taste
– 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions


PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM AND CREAMY CLAM SAUCE DINNER:
1. Steam clams in pan of shallow water until they just begin to open.
2. Drain water, reserving a few tablespoons, and set clams aside.
3. In the pan, melt butter and cook over medium heat until light brown.
4. Add garlic and cook until just beginning to turn golden.
5. Add mushroom and cook on medium heat until just tender.
6. Add cream, garlic salt, and pepper.
7. Deshell clams and add to mushroom mixture along with a few tablespoons of clam juice.

 

Enjoy! Let me know what your favorite summer seafood dishes are in the comments below!

Categories
ARCs Book Reviews Books Featured Romance

Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas

A heart-warming tale about reclaiming your life, set amongst the lavender fields of Provence.

Can Del find her recipe for happiness? 

Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie. 

Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? After discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?

Perfect escapism from the author of Late Summer in the Vineyard and The Honey Farm on the Hill.

Escape to the French Farmhouse: The most refreshing, feel-good story of the summerEscape to the French Farmhouse: The most refreshing, feel-good story of the summer by Jo Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

Such a great book for the perfect reading escape!

I loved this book, all the components. As far as the story goes there were elements of connection, community, and belonging interlaced with real life challenges and celebrations that were relatable on so many levels.

The author brought forth all the emotion in just enough detail where I could easily sink my teeth into without feeling an incompleteness or feeling drained. The book overall was actually happy and uplifting, even though some stories were quite sad and deeply resonating with me. Stories with subplots that read like I was having a conversation with a best friend. Sometimes the main character was like, ok, what are you doing? But it was a story, her story, and life is not perfect and all the elements of her life were brought in full circle.

I was looking forward to wherever the story was going to take me.

As far as the writing goes, I loved the pacing and tone. Just enough moving the story forward, balanced with backstory, revelation, and self-reflection. Overall the amount of events were fast for the length of time they were set in, but it worked as a driving, yet delicate force to include necessary happenings that were realistic enough to be attainable.

1st person present is my least favorite POV to read, but this was done well because every word, every sentence was intentional, purposeful. It was written with such fluidity that it was a joy and pleasure to read.

The subplots with bigger stories flourished with a diverse enough cast of characters where each had distinguished charm all in their own both in the main character’s description and interaction with them, as well as in dialogue.

And simply the setting. The description of the French countryside, encompassing the main character’s house, market, and lifestyle centered around the beautiful scenery and delicious bakes from the star of the show, lavender, really made me feel like I was there enjoying it along with them. I’ve only been to Charles de Gaulle airport mind you, but through this story of imagine, I was among the lavender fields and dining out, the warm sun on my face, with a crisp, chewy lavender macaron and glass of wine, loving every bit it.

Highly recommend for an absolutely lovely summer read and I will be looking forward to reading more from this author.

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Categories
Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Historical Fiction

Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

What if the history of the transatlantic slave trade had been reversed and Africans had enslaved Europeans? How would that have changed the ways that people justified their inhuman behavior? How would it inform our cultural attitudes and the insidious racism that still lingers today?

We see this tragicomic world turned upside down through the eyes of Doris, an Englishwoman enslaved and taken to the New World, movingly recounting experiences of tremendous hardship and the dreams of the people she has left behind, all while journeying toward an escape into freedom.

Check out the audiobook at Libro.fm and support your local bookstore

Check it out on Amazon

Blonde RootsBlonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really liked the concept of this book. Unfortunately that’s where it ended for me. I read this one for Life’s Library Book Club.

The story.

I love satire. Satire that takes a contrasting view and turns it into a narrative that pushes it so far that it becomes believable, relatable, immersed in an idea that can cause you to question reality, cause you question yourself, your own ethos at times.

However I didn’t see the point in this book. It took aspects of African culture and experiences of slaves during the trade and imposed them onto “whytes” as a juxtaposition, which to me, lost the very cause and effect it tried to steer its way through. Its whole foundation, all of its substance, disorientating. Whether satire or not, there was this attempt to draw parallels that just weren’t there.

I would rather have liked the portrayal of satire as an extreme to evoke an empathetic sense. It banked on stereotypes upon stereotypes, trite propositions that did not give rise to irony, sarcasm, or human connectivity. It played it safe. Sardonic but not in a clever or meaningful way.

Apart from the so-called satyrical take, I didn’t feel a stronger connection to it in any sense of the idea that I think the author was trying to convey. I suppose the story is what really felt forced to me. Contrived in such a way that it was running away with itself, losing power, perspective, and what I had high hopes for in achieving the main idea. And the idea was there, but the details to get there were less developed for me. Some parts read like an outline.

The heavy topics seemed to only be there for shock value and it was the explanatory tidbits that followed that really threw me off, especially because the tension seemed to be drawn off of this shock value which didn’t make a strong story of fiction for me in and of itself and were less supported even more so by the over-explanations of them.

Then there was a red-hot poker searing, sending warm bloody tears streaming down your body. Peeling “hairy” skins of a guava. I’ve eaten a lot of guava in my lifetime. I’ve had a guava tree. Had a really good harvest this past year. First, they’re not hairy and second, it’s actually quite common to eat them whole, skins and all. Perhaps the author was thinking of kiwi? There’s also a notable difference between coconut milk and coconut water.

I won’t comment on other discrepancies or even what I thought were less accurate portrayals of rationales behind certain historical events because they’d be tediously beside the point to mention in a story like this, which I felt began to ignore the strengths of context, community, and redemption which would have helped to guide readers and answer the questions proposed in the description in the first place.

The writing.

The writing as a whole wasn’t much of anything new. Read a bit mundane and unoriginal. Fire cackling, wind slapping, cloudy gray skies, heavy wooden door, tan leather boots. The prose toward the end depicted the movement of the story in a more unique way, but then focused more on actual events and became tethered to the dialogue rather than expressing emotional energy, reflection, or perception, which I think was lacking in majority of the book.

There was a lot of explaining away in the narrative. I didn’t feel at ease with the writing style. I wanted imagery and creative language. I had a hard time getting through this book and it wasn’t just the heavy subject matter, but the style in which it was written.

Sentence structure and effect. In recognizing race in a language, the phonic sounds were too formal, too complete and long-winded, too gibberish at the same time, the effect was nonsense to me.

Time. I had the hardest time understanding what time frame it was written in and who it was for. Then realizing it was a mix of time periods and time frames, including a blend of old and modern day vernacular, letting me know early on that this book wasn’t for me. Terms like freaking out, getting mojo back, Inheritance Tax for Dummies along with a twist on geography for role reversal effect wasn’t my cup of tea and was less effective at conveying a message of what I thought of as a more serious and important issue. Time and setting can really solidify a story, this had neither to enhance or support the story in the way I wanted to connect with it more.

POV and tense. The back and forth tenses sort of took me out of the story rather than add to or strengthen the premise. From past to present. There wasn’t a lot going on to drive me forward in the story.

The tone. Monologic tone didn’t fit with the structure of the story. The more graphic parts read just the same as light-hearted ones. Not in a cohesive way, but disjointed actually.

Characters. The growth and development wasn’t there for me. They read the same, not much personality to them. I knew about them but didn’t really know them. As I read on, I even questioned if they were meant to have any emotional capacity, undermining the whole premise.

The voices. The voices were less distinguished. Both main characters read the same people to me.

I will say on my most positive note of the book, “The Middle Passage” was my favorite part of the story and had the most complete concept, thought, and meaningful writing.

Overall this book fell incredibly short for me. I didn’t want to nitpick over this one, but it was just not a good book to me for multiple reasons. I’d be curious to read another book by this author though.

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Categories
ARCs Art Biography Book Reviews Books Featured Graphic Historical Nonfiction

Tolkien’s Worlds: The Places That Inspired the Writer’s Imagination by John Garth

A lavishly illustrated look at the locales familiar to J. R. R. Tolkien, the creator of Middle-earth.

This book takes you to the places that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien to create his fictional locations in The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other classic works. Written by renowned Tolkien expert John Garth and prepared with the full cooperation of the Tolkien estate, Tolkien’s Worlds features a wealth of breathtaking illustrations, including Tolkien’s own drawings, contributions from other artists, rare archival images, and spectacular color photos of contemporary locations across Britain and beyond, from the battlefields of World War I to Africa.

Garth identifies the locales that served as the basis for Hobbiton, the elven valley of Rivendell, the Glittering Caves of Helm’s Deep, and many other settings in Middle-earth, from mountains and forests to rivers, lakes, and shorelands. He reveals the rich interplay between Tolkien’s personal travels, his wide reading, and his deep scholarship as an Oxford don. Garth draws on his own profound knowledge of Tolkien’s life and work to shed light on the extraordinary processes of invention behind Tolkien’s works of fantasy. He also debunks popular misconceptions about the inspirations for Middle-earth and puts forward strong new claims of his own.

An illustrated journey into the life and imagination of one of the world’s best-loved authors, Tolkien’s Worlds provides a unique exploration of the relationship between the real and the fantastical and is an essential companion for anyone who wants to follow in Tolkien’s footsteps.

The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The places that inspired the writer's imaginationThe Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The places that inspired the writer’s imagination by John Garth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

This book was awesome.

From gorgeous illustrations to the impressive amount of research, it’s a must have book for any Tolkien collector out there. It will make a beautiful coffee table book in my home and one I’d also recommend as a companion piece to anyone reading one of his pieces or for those just being introduced to the world of Tolkien.

I loved the organization, the range and amount of photos and illustrations, and the amount of detailed discussion of the origin and inspiration that Tolkien depicted in his writing style and world-building mega feat of what I think is the epitome of writing genius.

This book packed so much punch, I admired every bit of information covering the incredibly detailed influences of his work such as geographical processes, ancient architecture, even his recurring nightmares of a wave engulfing the land, bereavements to shipwrecks, and the Elvish language creation which ranged from onomatopoeic words and his studies of Latin.

His imagination was incredible. Some of which also being rooted in a multi-cultural, Gothic atmosphere incorporating unusual caricature from backgrounds of Celtic, Welsh, English, South Africa, and Icelandic tradition, folklore, and wartime events. This book covered it all.

I’ve been a fan of Tolkien since first picking up my first read, The Hobbit, in the 5th grade, and this gave me an even greater appreciation for the creativity that went into his writing.

It was also compelling in the way it made me want to visit all the glorious places, exhilarating locations as some of the foundations for settings in his books, a Tolkien tour.

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Categories
Audiobooks Featured Humor Nonfiction

Wanderlust, USA by Flula Borg

Flula Borg’s life is the stuff of myth. A frequent guest of Conan O’Brien, the German-born actor (think Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat crossed with Billy Eichner) regales audiences with stories from his outlandish travel exploits, and his fascination with America and its “peoples” have warmed hearts nationwide. Flula fell in love with the United States on his first visit as a young boy, and calls this vast country full of exciting, creative, weird, and compassionate people superoberaffengeil – “incredibly top monkey sassy” or, simply, “cool.”

In this zany, eye-opening and delightful six-part audio series, Flula travels the breadth of the United States in search of its coveted and weirdest pastimes to learn more about the country, and better understand what drives people to these cultural events. His adventures include:

Experiencing the famed Iditarod dog-sledding race in Alaska
Partying Up during the World Cup of Surfing in Hawaii
Donning Elvis duds for Elvis Week in Memphis
Portraying a Minuteman at Lexington’s famous Revolutionary War reenactment

In each episode, Flula can be found “shooting the poops” as he calls it with the people he meets, including event organizers, participants, founders, and spectators. His goal is to understand what these quintessentially American event means to the communities involved, how each came to exist, and why they have all persisted – and of course, how he can take part! In addition, each segment is filled with fictional advertisements and mini episodes that explore a region or city’s local haunt, as well as techno tracks created entirely from the sounds he recorded at each event.

Infused with Flula’s infectious enthusiasm, Wanderlust, USA is an immersive and uproarious experience that reveals the heart of America in a unique way. Boom!

Wanderlust, USAWanderlust, USA by Flula Borg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh goodness this was hilarious!

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Libro.fm for providing me with a free copy.

I enjoyed this one as an audiobook, narrated by the author himself which was awesome.

This book was such a great mood setter for me, light-hearted and making me laugh the entire time. And it came at the perfect time. Some parts were silly and a little over the top but unremarkably amusing at any rate.

It featured first-hand experiences of a German-born foreigner learning about American pastimes and command of the English language, and I loved it. I liked the production of telephone interviews and music, super clever.

From surf culture and Keanu Reeves to pen pals and germs, the Kentucky Derby post prime unicorns, I felt that every topic mentioned was described with such entertaining enthusiasm and fresh perspective.

The author, well-communicated and with innocence, almost naive wordplay, brought incredible awareness of American culture and historic events from a non native point of view, and it just spoke to the comedic brilliance that the author has in any story he wants to tell.

There were point of references of mainstream societal expectations, out-of-the-box social norms, modern and nostalgic pop culture, and American history that really depicted the uniqueness of both the content of his stories and the talent of the author himself to make such connections and inferences while portraying them as funny in a book type format.

And I’m still laughing as I write this!

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Categories
Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Romance

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Beach ReadBeach Read by Emily Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A spectacular read! Perfect for the beach, get out of a reading slump, or an escape type of book.

I listened to this one as an audiobook, narrated by Julia Whelan, which I’d highly recommend. Her answering machine voice was just so spot on.

The story itself was lighthearted at times, also uplifting, and with a deeper sentiment, making it a complete and memorable read for me.

I liked the life perspective the author brought out in the characters who celebrated and struggled with feelings of loss, feeling lost, hope, trust, making amends, finding peace, love, and a slew of wavering emotions ranging from hurt and disappointments, as well as wonder and gratitude.

Since it is a book about authors in and of itself, there were some pretty good bits of irony and satyrical takes on the writing process, publishing, and the authorship community. The literary references and sources of writing inspiration were timeless, some, downright hilarious.

As far as the writing goes, I liked the simplicity brought forth with a single timeline and single POV. It wasn’t complicated which was nice and refreshing, one where I could focus on the actual enjoyment of the story. It read like some people I know.

The voices were distinct and the snarky, playful banter was deeply entertaining. A few bits were a little juvenile for the age group and life stage, but they also made it more amusing in a way. The self-reflection was more of a saving-grace for those parts. Yet it was clearly understood why the characters did what they did which made all the difference in connecting and relating to the story and the characters. And to that, it was also an approachable read for most anyone anyway.

All in all, just loved it!

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]

Categories
Featured Inspiration Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Switching to the New WP Block Editor: Late Adaptor to Gutenberg 2.0

Welcome to Gutenberg

I’m not sure what the official name of the newest version of Gutenberg is or how WP ambassadors are distinguishing the two “block” editors. All I know is that I was one of those very reluctant, old school WP users who was using Classic up until today.

The initial version of the block editor had many glitches, it was bulky and cumbersome to use. It didn’t feel ready for prime time to me and it was time consuming for me, so I had a delay in switching over.

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And I Really Liked Classic

I actually liked typing my posts out in one large paragraph with bits of code in it. It was fast, easy, no-fuss.

I didn’t mind having to switch between the two interfaces, the main and the admin dashboards.

I could accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. There were limitations of course and I didn’t really know the full extent of what the new editor could offer.

I didn’t know what the advantages of the new block editor were. It seemed to be a round-about way of doing something I was already used to doing and I could do it with less clicks, in less amount of time.

My First Post

On January 28, 2918, my first post, Road Trip to Beautiful Taos, New Mexico, was the first post I ever created. It took me a little while to get it down, to learn a bit of code, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, using Classic all the way long.

So far I have published 286 posts.

I hadn’t given the new editor a second thought though for a while.

A New Era in Website Building

However after an opportunity to participate in a bit of beta testing with the newest block editor recently, it appeared that most of my troubles with the first version had been fixed. So I decided to give it another try and have since switched over.

I have also changed themes, cleaned up a few posts.

It’s actually not half as bad as what I thought it would be now that the main bugs have been worked out. The discovery of some pretty neat features and shortcuts have also been a treasure.

It’s a learning curve for sure and has created a totally different workflow for me. A few minor buggy things and quirks still have to be worked out but they’re not a deal breaker for me any longer.

The two interfaces haven’t gone away but the tasks have been solidified in their assigned allottment, with admin view being the dominant, post builder, which is ok, I’m getting used to it.

Navigation is much more intuitive and user friendly this second time around. I’m getting faster at building these blocks.

Still Learning

I have a ways to go before I feel completely comfortable and up to speed compared to my usual process.

After perusing a few posts from the WP Reader where some members mentioned bailing on the platform, I was a little bummed to hear that because I really enjoy our WP community. It is unique to the website building world out there.

I hope you, like me, are able to revisit the latest version of the editor and find a little joy in this.

I just finished a cute book called Beach Read by Emily Henry, so when I saw the option to create a clickable button, Amazon embed, I thought, ok this is pretty awesome.

Overall Thoughts

It took me a couple of hours to convert my site content to the new theme I picked out, Twenty Twenty. About 2 hours to create this post, but it worked!

Take a moment to look around my new style of website, I hope you can appreciate the blocks I used for a more simplified, clean, modern look.

I like how my newly accommodating site uses the full width of the screen, expanded covers as seen on my Photography page, and perfect side-by-side posts like I built on my Recipes page.

There are quite a few options you can make and modifications within those options that allow a lot of visual creativity at first glance.

To know and understand code is an amazing skill and the possibility to use it is still there. The CSS modifier is still there. Both the Visual and HTML Code editors remain. I definitely don’t want to forget what I’ve learned.

I’m still testing it all out. Making tweaks here and there. Deciding if I even need to add any CSS.

I think the amazing thing is, is that I actually have no code in my CSS box at the moment. Below are the codes I embedded to better customize my site before I switched over from Classic. I was using the Rosalie theme at the time.

CSS


/*
Welcome to Custom CSS!
 
To learn how this works, see http://wp.me/PEmnE-Bt
*/
.site-content a:link {
                                    color: #53808a;
}
 
.site-content a:visited {
                                    color: #53808a;
}
 
.site-content a:active {
                                    color: #3364FF;
}
 
.site-content a:hover {
                                    color: #6D6A59;
}
/*Change color of certain text inside recipes #10600201-hc*/
 
div.jetpack-recipe-notes {
                                    color: black;
}
 
div.hrecipe.jetpack-recipe > h3 {
                                    color: black;
}
 
div.hrecipe.jetpack-recipe > ul {
                                    color: black;
}
 
/* hide header image everywhere except home page | 11968709-hc */
.page-id-4938 .image-header-flexible.container img {
                                    display: inherit !important
}
 
/* Hide the site logo / #12026071-HC JB */
 
.site-logo {
                                    display: none;
}
 
.image-header-flexible.container img {
                                    display: none;
}
/* Adjust the color of the diamond element throughout the main content font */
p {
  color: black;
}
 
.site-title a {
color: black !important;
border: none;
font-size: 25px !important;
font-family: Montserrat !important;
}
 
.site-description {
color: black !important;
border: none;
font-weight: lighter !important;
font-size: 25px !important;
font-family: Montserrat !important;
}
 
/* Adjust the color of the diamond element throughout the Rosalie theme | 10453438-hc */
.site-description:before, .entry-title:before {
  background-color: #53808a;
}
.site-description:after, .entry-title:after {
  border: 1px solid #53808a;
}
 
/*Hide all meta except date*/
.entry-meta .reading-time {
                                    display: none;
}
 
.single-post .entry-meta {
                                    display: none;
}
 
/* Change Slider Max Height to 500px */
.flexslider .slides>li {
                                    max-height: 500px;
}
 
.flexslider .slides > li .hentry.has-post-thumbnail h1 {
color: white !important;
font-size: 20px;
font-family: Arimo!important;
}
 
.flexslider .slides .entry-meta span.posted-on time {
color: white !important;
font-family: Arimo
!important;
font-size: 18px !important;
}
/* Reduce additional margin/padding space at the top of website — 20049005-hc */
.site {
                                    padding-top: unset !important;
}
.image-header {
                                    margin-top: unset;
}
/* remove gray background of menu | SKO #10440350-hc */
 
.navbar {
  background: #EDE7E3;
}
 
/* widget background white | SKO  #10440350-hc */
 
wf-active .widget-title {
    font-weight: 400;
    font-style: Arimo;
    background: black;
}
 
/*— removes opacity from the related posts / #10440350-HC-PK —*/
#jp-relatedposts .jp-relatedposts-items-visual .jp-relatedposts-post {
    filter: alpha(opacity=100);
    -moz-opacity: 1;
    opacity: 1;
}
 
.site-header {
                                    background-color: #cc0000;
}
 
.widget-title::after {
                                    border-color: #53808a transparent;
}
 
.widget-title {
                                    background-color: #53808a;
}
 
/* Adjust the font and box colors of the read more box */
.entry-summary a.more-link {
background: black !important;
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Categories
Featured Inspiration Photography Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Summer is that You? 9 Things I’m Looking Forward To

It’s so hard to believe it’s almost June!

Yet it also feels like it took forever to get here at the same time. Things are opening back up again and it’s such a good feeling. It really felt like summer out today.

1. Yard sales

I don’t really shop a whole lot, nor do I need anything. However yard sales mark the beginning of summer and I visited a really good estate sale this morning and boy was it packed! It was nice to look around, nice to get out. I ended up buying 2 concho belts and some silver turquoise rings.

I came across these antique dishes, aren’t they gorgeous?

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2. Caterpillars in the garden

Posing for my camera, what a cutie!

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3. Flowers

My mother always has the most beautiful roses growing in her yard.

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4. Summer lipsticks

Underneath my mask, you’ll find me wearing Lisa Eldridge’s Summer Pinks Collection. You can read more about these lipsticks on my post here.

Such a soft, fun, summery color range. Pictured below is Go Lightly Luxuriously Lucent Lip Colour, one of my most favorite go-to colors for the season, it really brightens my day.

Lisa Eldridge Summer Pinks Collection © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

5. Ice cream

My favorite summer treat! The recipe to my Rose Petal Syrup can be found here.

Rose Petal Syrup | Erica Robbin

And it’s awesome to know that there are parts of the world that still celebrate summer with ice cream trucks going through the neighborhood.

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6. The ocean

Oh my goodness, my summer will not be complete without it.

What places are you wanting to visit this summer?

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7. Summer scents

My favorite summer scent. Bobbi Brown Beach Body Oil. It’s glorious. Totally sold out, I don’t think they are making it anymore, so I’ll be savoring my last little bit. #bringbackbobbibrownbeachbodyoil

What’s your favorite summer scent?'beach' Body Oil by Bobbi Brown © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

8. Summer reads

I just received this one in the mail and I’m so looking forward to reading it.

The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain.

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The Secret Seaside Escape  is the perfect read this summer, promising sandy beaches, stunning rockpools and breath-taking romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Sarah Morgan.

***THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR***

Escape to the seaside with the brand new novel from Heidi Swain, the Sunday Times bestselling author of feel-good women’s fiction!

Tess Tyler needs a break. Weighed down by her high-pressure job and her demanding father, she’s left little time to take care of herself. But after a shocking discovery sends her spiralling, she flees to Wynmouth, the seaside town she fell in love with as a child, to escape it all.

With its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community, Tess feels like she can finally breathe again. And as she grows ever closer to local barman Sam, she dares to dream that she might never return to her real life. But when a familiar face returns to town, Tess realises that there are secrets in Wynmouth too, and that her own past may be about to catch up with her . . .

Check it out on: Goodreads, Amazon, Libro.com audiobook

9. Ice cream

I think this one is worth mentioning again.

Cotton Candy Dipped Cone from Dairy Queen! Oh my, sounds so yummy! Not my photo on this one, but hopefully you’ll see one in my hand soon with an update as to how it tastes. I usually get the butterscotch one. I’m so curious. Have you tried it yet?

 

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I hope you enjoyed this post, all the things I’m looking forward to this summer, in response to Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, with the theme being “delicate colors.”

Let me know what you are most looking forward to and if you participated in this challenge in the comments below!

Categories
Adventure Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin

With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the dramatic and surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”―spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s―when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond. Best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them.

Through engrossing episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period, among them towering Blackbeard, ill-fated Captain Kidd, and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey.

Also brilliantly detailed are the pirates’ manifold enemies, including colonial governor John Winthrop, evangelist Cotton Mather, and young Benjamin Franklin. Upending popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides this wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose raids reflect the precarious nature of American colonial life.

Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious PiratesBlack Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! I listened to it via audiobook, narrated by Paul Brion who was excellent. He was easy to listen to, being well-paced and unstrained, which was perfect for this book. I did miss the illustrations in the physical copy unfortunately, but I felt like the audio version was way to go for informationally dense, topically focused subject matter.

It followed pirate chronicles, mostly those sailing around the Caribbean during the 17th and 18th century, covering a vast amount of interesting material from their goals and accomplishments, the pursuits, intention, tactic and missions, flag identification, penalties, colonization, the weaponry, and even clothing, busting the myths and telling the truths of widely known events and biographical detail.

I liked how it was organized that being both chronological and topical as to not double back over certain points and being easy to follow, keeping the story going in a direction where there was focused story building and climax unique to most nonfiction books.

I also liked the outlook the author brought into the history, taking speculation and known facts into context for the time, even when it came to brutality and forms of entertainment as understood by the people living it whether observer or participant.

I’d highly recommend this well-researched book for anyone interested in a general overview of pirate life as a whole or for anyone wanting to gain insight into a specific pirate, time, or place and build from there.

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Categories
ARCs Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Romance

A Perfect Cornish Escape (Porthmellow Harbour #3) by Phillipa Ashley

Summer in Cornwall is the perfect time for a fresh start…
Seven years ago, Marina Hudson’s husband was lost at sea. She vowed to love him for the rest of her life – but when kind-hearted Lachlan arrives in Porthmellow, should she deny herself another chance at happiness?

Tiff Trescott was living life to the full as a journalist in London – until her boyfriend’s betrayal brought it all crashing down. Fleeing to her cousin Marina’s cottage, Tiff feels like a fish-out-of-water. And when brooding local Dirk wins a day with her in a charity auction, she’s thrown headfirst into Cornish life.

This summer promises new beginnings for both Tiff and Marina. But are they too good to be true?

A Perfect Cornish Escape by Phillipa Ashley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Avon Books UK for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

The stories in this book were excellent! It read as bright and cheery with unexpected deep sentiment as subjects of loss, grief, PTSD, betrayal, desire, belonging, and ambivalence in navigating life’s way were charted.

As far as writing, I really liked the way the characters were shaped. Guiding me to be drawn in rather quickly and profoundly, embracing and opposing certain characteristics of both the protagonistic and antagonistic qualities of the other, well done.

The incorporation of an inner monologue to help form/validate their actions and ideas was a little bumpy for me at first. It was the ease of reading, something about how much of the dialogue was followed by an underlying explanation for saying/feeling that way much of the time at the beginning. It just felt a little interruptive where instead I wanted the dialogue to be more genuine and more easily identifiable/distinguishable to each voice, to have a better understanding of the characters so it would come as a natural understanding without having it be pointed out in the inner workings of their head as much as it was. But I warmed up to it about 1/3 of the way in. Maybe it was more of a stylistic choice and was less pervasive and bothersome to me as the stories went on.

I also would have liked to have seen a little more involvement from the other friends and families of the characters to confirm character qualities and certain circumstances they found themselves in.

Loved the setting! Beachfront, Cornwall, England, the lifestyle of characters, jobs/businesses, leisure time, homes, all to go with it. It made so much logical sense and added a drawn in, dreamy, escapism-type attribute that complimented the overall themes of the stories and brought magnetic value to the succinct title of the book.

It was such a lovely read as far as plot was concerned. The connectedness and portrayal of relatability and realistic life circumstances, not cheesy, not overdone, nor over simplified. And the similes and metaphors, the pop culture references, I love it when writers take risks and just dive into such stuff.

I will definitely look forward to reading more stories from this author.

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Categories
ARCs Biography Book Reviews Books Featured Nonfiction

The Real Coco Chanel by Rose Sgueglia

Coco Chanel lived her own life as a romantic heroine.

Fuelled by 19th century literature, she built a life which was partly myth and, partly, factual.

She was the fashion designer everyone admired. The business woman whose fortune was impossible to track. She was also a performer, lover of many high profile intellectuals and, as believed by many, a nazi spy.

Her life was, extraordinarily, affected by history (the nazi movement and World War II), symbolism and literature.

This biography explores her life from her troubled and poor past to the opening of her first hat shop, passions and secrets; the biography also draws parallelisms between myths and facts and how, and if ever, they match at all.

The biography also features chapters on the Chanel Maison and the creation of her iconic trademark as well as her ‘little black dress’ and ‘Chanel No 5’.

Finally, the biography ends with a reflection on how the myth of Coco Chanel is represented today in pop culture.

The Real Coco ChanelThe Real Coco Chanel by Rose Sgueglia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Pen & Sword for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

I was so enlightened by this book!

From little black dresses to the world’s first abstract fragrance, Chanel No. 5, there are these known iconic ventures that Coco Chanel was known for. This book provided a great background of her life, which covered her fashion firsts, fashion influences, her childhood, her lovers.

It was unique in how it took a deeper dive into controversies and successes of her career and personal life, including those surrounding her signature fragrance, whether or not she was a spy, her social connections, and it provided an insightful synopsis of societal viewpoints and the context of the time.

I liked the way it was organized, an easy to navigate blend of topical and chronological. I wanted the last portion of the book, the more personal encounters, to be somehow integrated into the book, but I also didn’t mind it being separate though.

I would have liked the photos to be integrated throughout as well, with more photo examples of the subject matter. Though I’ll have to revisit this and see how it plays out in the final publication. But I often go on a Wikipedia spiral with anything historical nonfiction so it was still a treat to look up styles, photographed relationships, and business journeys as I read along.

It connected a lot of dots for me, historically, from war events to socialites to fashion moguls, industry, and design, business undertakings, and how it all unfolded into her own personhood and characteristic style for simplicity, self-assurance, practicality, her hope, her persistence, her dreams.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for an interesting overview of her life and for gaining deeper insight into dispelling the rumors and confirming the knowns and unknowns out there.

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