Literary Look: Jacinta from Great by Sara Benincasa

Literary Look Great by Sara Benincasa

Great by Sara Benincasa is a modern, LGBTQ retelling of the Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby, and in a word, it’s great and the perfect book for my Literary Look feature! I’ll write more on the book in a couple of days, but for today I thought it would be fun to choose an outfit for Jacinta, the Jay Gatsby of Great. Jacinta, a mysterious fashion blogger who throws the best parties of the summer in the Hamptons, wears unique, gorgeous clothing throughout the book. The outfit I put together above is loosely inspired by this passage from Great:

She was wearing purple eye makeup that set off her enormous green eyes, and a beautiful mint-green sleeveless dress that consisted of finely wrought lace over a satiny sheath. Little, slouchy green leather elf boots and lavender fishnets completed the look. It was delicate and sweet and sexy and hip.

Dress / Eye Makeup / Shawl / Booties / Fishnets


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Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) Reading A Book


Yusuf Islam aka Cat Steven’s music has always been part of the soundtrack of my life. From childhood on through present day if I’ve ever needed to clear my head and find a little bit of peace, I turn on a Cat Stevens song and zone out. He’s a beautiful person with a beautiful voice. I was so happy when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon recently, and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performance was amazing. I heard he might be going on tour this fall and I really hope Nate and I are able to see him live.

I found this picture of him reading on his Instagram account. I hope it brings a smile to your face. Have a great Sunday.

Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

Peace Train, Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens


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Literary Look: Detective Hank Palace from World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

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I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for World of Trouble (The Last Policeman Book Three) by Ben H. Winters. Ben is one  of my favorite authors. His book Bedbugs is one of my top ten favorite horror novels, and I loved The Last Policeman (Book One) and Countdown City (Book Two).

Today I’m going to break down Hank’s wardrobe. Hank keeps working missing person cases in the face of a crisis of apocalyptic proportions (an asteroid is about to obliterate Earth), and he dresses the part of no-nonsense detective. In an unpredictable world readers can count on one thing from Hank: his attire stays pretty much the same throughout the books. He’s kind of like this Biology teacher I had in high school who owned five blue, oxford cloth, short sleeve shirts and five pairs of navy blue pants so he could wear the same thing everyday. Hank’s not quite as extreme in his clothing choices as my old high school teacher, but readers get the feeling Hank is trying to keep a sense of normalcy by adhering as best he can to the dress code from his days on the police force.


1. Hank would try to wear a white non-iron dress shirt (he’s practical like that) as often as possible. That’s just so Hank.

2. Hank’s often depicted wearing a sport coat or blazer in the books. I think this tan, slightly rugged blazer looks like it would be Hank approved.

3. The watch pictured above is a Timex. I can picture Hank looking down at it and thinking it takes a licking and keeps on ticking alright.

4. I think Hank would wear a pair of sturdy oxfords or loafers. I can also see him rocking hiking boots if he could get his hands on a pair.

5. I chose navy blue, wrinkle resistant chinos for Hank, because he would want a heavier fabric than suit pants as it gets colder and even harder to get around than it was before.

6. Hank is constantly reaching for a notebook to write down observations, clues, etc. Even when he doesn’t have one he automatically reaches for it.

Look for World of Trouble (Quirk Books, 320 pages, $14.95) in bookstores on July 15th (also my 14th wedding anniversary!).

More World of Trouble Links to Checkout

Click here for The World of Trouble Pre-order Campaign. By pre-ordering readers have a chance to get all kinds of cool extras.

Click here to check out Ben H. Winter’s blog. He’s doing a reverse blog tour over at his site.

Follow along with the other stops on the blog tour:

Monday, July 7th:
The End of a Series: The tour launches with Ben H. Winters on the challenges of finishing a book series and tackling a trilogy.
Tuesday, July 8th:
The Making of a Book Trailer: The book-trailer for The Last Policeman revisited, a discussion with Opie Cooper and Ben H. Winters.
Wednesday, July 9th:
Ben shares some of the best writing advice he’s ever gotten from his peers.
Thursday, July 10th:
Pre-Apocalyptic Fashion: What would it take to dress up as Hank? A post that details Hank Palace’s attire.
Friday, July 11th:
Hank Palace, a geek? It’s true. Ben H. Winters talks about the geekiest moments in The Last Policeman trilogy.
Monday, July 14th:
The Almost & Original Covers: Ben talks about some of the original cover ideas for The Last Policeman, as well as the almost-covers for World of Trouble.
Tuesday, July 15th:
#WriterWednesday: Research. What goes in to researching for a book like this? Ben H. Winters shares some advice.
Wednesday, July 16th:
#WriterWednesday on Loss & Character: A discussion / guest post on what drives a character in the wake of everything ending / losing so much.
Thursday, July 17th:
Man’s Best Friend: An ode to Houdini. Ben talks about Hank’s furry best friend in The Last Policeman trilogy.
Friday, July 18th:  
#FridayReads for Aspiring Mystery Writers. Ben discusses books every aspiring mystery or thriller writer should read.
Monday, July 21st: 
From stage to novel, Ben talks about writing plays and how it helped him become a better novelist.


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FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of World of Trouble from Quirk Books. I receive a commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon, affiliate, and ShopSense links on this site.

5 Summer Acitivities Your Kids Will Love

LittleMerciesOver the weekend, I read the novel Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf. The book begins on the hottest day of the summer and leads up to a family dealing with a horrible mistake. The novel examines themes like family, forgiveness, love, and what it means to be a mother. This lead to me thinking about my children and the gift it is for my husband and I to parent two amazing little boys.

We live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The summers here can be unbearably hot, and it’s taken me a few years to work out parenting in sometimes 100 degree weather.

Here are some of my favorite summertime activities to do with my kids:

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1. Mama’s Little Helpers: Sometimes the best kind of play for wild little ones is to “put them to work.” When I’m working in the garden, I let the boys come outside with me and tell them they’re my helpers. They love this! Even though they typically get too excited to really help and end up using the tools to “dig a hole to the earth’s core” (pictured above), it gives them a sense of what I like to call “playful purpose.”

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2. Swimming: A blow up pool in the back yard is my favorite standby summer activity. My boys love anything that involves getting wet. Swimming, water balloon fights, and the slip n’ slide all make appearances in our yard throughout the summer. It’s a great way to play in the sweltering heat while staying cool.

3. The Classics: Activities like flying a kite (Pictured above) or blowing bubbles (pictured below) can occupy the kids for hours. The same activities we enjoyed as kids can become your children’s summer favorites. You can find kites, bubbles, and a ton of other fun activities for the kids at the dollar store.

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British at The Little Beach

4. The Beach: If there’s a beach in your area, put it to use. Bring a cooler filled with drinks and snacks for the kids, some beach toys, and of course, loads of beach towels, and make a day of it!

British at Mary Mahoneys

5. Have a Staycation: Did you know that you don’t have to leave town to have an awesome vacation? Take your kids out to explore your town. Go to a museum or a restaurant you wouldn’t normally go to during the school year. Every week I try to take my boys to a place we rarely go. Last week we went for dessert at Mary Mahoney’s (pictured above). It’s a “fancy” restaurant and I used it as an opportunity to learn a little bit about table manners and etiquette for the boys.

Tip: One thing I took away from the novel Little Mercies was the importance of safety. Make sure your kids stay hydrated while playing outside. If they aren’t strong swimmers, make sure they wear floaties. Also, have fun! Your kids make memories all summer long that they’ll hold in their hearts as adults. Cherish the time that you have with them while they’re little. It all goes by in the blink of an eye.

Find out more about Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf:

·         Watch the Book Trailer

·         Visit Heather Gudenkauf’s Official Site

·         Follow Heather Gudenkauf on Twitter,Facebook, and Pinterest

·         Visit Little Mercies page on Goodreads

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Harlequin.


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Book Review: Written In My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon


Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander  is my favorite series. Seriously. Favorite. Series. Ever. I’m thrilled that Outlanders will come to life as a series on the Starz network August ninth, and I’m even more excited I finally got a chance to read the latest book in the series, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood (Delacorte Press, 848 paes, $35.00).

If you’ve never read the series, explaining it is complicated. There’s time travel, a beautiful love story, and excellent character development – but there’s so much more. Way too much to explain here. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (AKA WIMOHB) is the eighth book in the series, so there’s a lot of back story. This one picks up where the action of the last book, An Echo In The Bone left off. At this point in the series Claire, who is a a time traveler from the 20th century currently living in 18th century America, believes Jaimie (her husband – he’s super hot and sometimes wears a kilt) is dead as a result of a failed voyage from Scotland to the States. Circumstances have forced Claire to marry Lord John Grey, Jaimie’s best friend, in order to remain safe in 1778 Philadelphia.

Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon on Mandy Boles Life between books

Jaimie comes back and Claire is shocked to learn that he didn’t die. Their reunion is short lived as George Washington asks Jaimie to serve in the war. You can’t really say no to George Washington, right? Gabaldon’s depiction of life during wartime is fascinating as always, and she describes battle with such detail that I felt like I was fighting and working alongside Jaimie and Claire. I love the many descriptions of the medical procedures Claire performs on the sick and wounded. I can’t imagine how many hours of research Gabaldon must have done just to get the details of the battles and surgical procedures correct.

The secret concerning William’s true father finally comes out in this book. I would like to have seen more interaction between Jaime and William, but I assume the next book will explore their relationship further.

Written In My Own heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon Mandy Boles Life Between Books

Brianna, Jaime and Claire’s daughter, and her husband Roger (they and their two children are also able to travel through time) are living in the 1980 Scotland at the beginning of the book when things go horribly wrong. Roger travels back to he past because he believes their son Jem has been kidnapped and taken back to the 1700’s. Back in the 1980’s Brianna discovers that Jem is still in the present and must figure out how to reunite her husband with the family while dealing with problems on her homefront. The Roger/Brianna storyline has been my favorite in the last couple of books. I wish Diana Gabaldon would consider writing a spin off series featuring the couple.

Gabaldon’s story of enduring love through time is captivating. She ends the book with a tease that left me on the edge of my seat for the next book in the series. I have a feeling I’ll be on the edge of that seat for at least a few years since writing such detailed novels understandably takes years to do. Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, is a page turner! Readers who enjoy historical fiction and time travel romance will love Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.

Fell free to comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts about WIMOHB or any other book in the Outlander series.

Shop Spring 2014
The dress I’m wearing in the photos above is by Cynthia Vincent. Click on the graphic above to shop the Cynthia Vincent site for lots of pretty clothes.:)


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FTC Disclosure: I receive a commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon, affiliate, and ShopSense links on this site.