Book Review: “How Starbucks Saved My Life” by Michael Gates Gill


Title:  How Starbucks Saved My Life

Author:  Michael Gates Gill

Synopsis (from

In his fifties, Michael Gates Gill had it all: a mansion in the suburbs, a wife and loving children, a six-figure salary, and an Ivy League education. But in a few short years, he lost his job, got divorced, and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. With no money or health insurance, he was forced to get a job at Starbucks. Having gone from power lunches to scrubbing toilets, from being served to serving, Michael was a true fish out of water.

But fate brings an unexpected teacher into his life who opens his eyes to what living well really looks like. The two seem to have nothing in common: She is a young African American, the daughter of a drug addict; he is used to being the boss but reports to her now. For the first time in his life he experiences being a member of a minority trying hard to survive in a challenging new job. He learns the value of hard work and humility, as well as what it truly means to respect another person.

Behind the scenes at one of America’s most intriguing businesses, an inspiring friendship is born, a family begins to heal, and, thanks to his unlikely mentor, Michael Gill at last experiences a sense of self-worth and happiness he has never known before.


My thoughts:  I just love how book suggestions come about in life.  I frankly would have never known about this wonderful little book had a friend not suggested it to me after one of my Facebook posts that went something like this: “You know the thought of being a full time Starbucks barista is looking better and better by the day.”  And hence my journey with the wonderful, inspirational story began.

The premise is simple, a high-tech advertising executive with plenty of money, all the right friends, the beautiful home, the perfect family finds his true happiness after losing it all and becoming a barista at Starbucks.  An absolutely wonderful riches to rags story that serves as an inspiration to all of us who strive to live the “perfect” life.

I truly enjoyed the authors style of mixing in the details of his “past” life with his current life at Starbucks and in doing so not focusing too much on the past life.  If he had focused too much on that “past” life inclusive of, let’s face it a lot of name dropping (having met Ernest Hemingway, Jackie Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, and the list goes on), it would have seemed that the author was ultimately quite cocky and hadn’t really learned from his new experience.

I also really enjoyed the simplicity of the book.  It is a super fast read (I finished it in 2 days) that merely shares one man’s journey from rich and successful to poor but extremely happy.

I highly recommend this book to anyone.  It is full of wonderful kernels of truth if you will that inspire, motivate, and set priorities straight.

And remember,

Books Are Life,


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Filed under Book Reviews, Non-fiction

Book Review: “Spider Bones” by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan #13)

spider bones

Title:  Kathy Reichs

Author:  Kathy Reichs

Series:  Temperance Brennan #13

Synopsis (from

One man, two deaths—four decades apart. This story can’t stay buried forever.

Shocking discovers await Tempe at the scene of a Quebec drowning: the victim—identified as one John Lowery—was engaged in a bizarre sexual practice when he died; the same John Lowery was an American soldier declared dead in 1968, after a Huey crash in Vietnam. Who then, Tempe sets off to find out, is buried in the vet’s North Carolina grave? Exhuming the remains and having them analyzed at a military compound in Hawaii gets complicated when Tempe’s ex, Detective Andrew Ryan, appears, and a Honolulu ME consults with her on a lethal shark attack—or is it a more sinister predator? Then Lowery’s dog tags turn up linked to yet another corpse, and Tempe must deconstruct a deadly deception that spans years, continents, and too many tragic losses.


My thoughts:  I have been following this series for years and forgot how much I love it until I got back into it with of course the goal to catch up on the series before the next one comes out in the next couple of months :)

This is a great mystery series with a wonderful mix of excitement, great plots, great characters, science, humor, and everything else.  And I must admit, I particularly liked the setting in this book, namely Hawaii!  Hawaii happens to be one of my favorite places on the planet and it was just kind of neat to recognize some of the places that they were talking about and feeling like I was there.

This was an incredibly fast read.  I highly recommend this book and this series to anyone who loves a wonderful mystery series!

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Filed under Book Reviews, Detective/Police, Fiction, Mystery

Book Review: “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett

bel canto

Title:  Bel Canto

Author:  Ann Patchett

Synopsis (from  Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening — until a band of gunwielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.


My thoughts:  I know I am a little late to this party since apparently the rest of the world read and loved this book when it came out in 2001.   From reviews I have read about the book, I am getting the picture that people either loved or hated this book.  I usually can come up with some redeeming value in most books I read, but I have to fall on the side of strongly disliking this book for any number of reasons.  And I for the life of me can’t figure out how this book won extreme accolades and numerous awards.  How is this even possible?


First of all, I just couldn’t seem to get passed how completely unrealistic the entire overall theme of the book was.  A group of terrorists come in and take over a large birthday party of diplomats and other important people holding them all hostage.  Sounds like an exciting and plausible plot, until you realize that they are held captive for months and months and seem to be living just normally in this house.  What???  The book describes in painful detail how the terrorists are often off sleeping or doing other things, and you are telling me that out of the 59 hostages that are left, they wouldn’t even once try to plot to overthrow the terrorists.  Hmmmm.  Perhaps she was trying to portray the realities of Stockholm syndrome, but it missed the mark for me.  I know it’s fiction, but I just couldn’t get past the ridiculousness of it.

Secondly, I found almost all of the characters portrayed ultimately unlikeable.  Even through the description of their daily activities in “captivity” (and I use this in quotes, because it certainly didn’t feel like they were in captivity), I wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the characters.  In fact, I could argue that there were many characters, including the famous opera singer, Roxane Coss that were just annoying, needlessly overdramatized, and unlikeable.

Thirdly, to me at least, the book seemed to go almost no where.  It was simply an account of these 59 hostages living out their daily lives in this house.  It was boring, dragged along, and frankly was just plain tedious with the author’s overdetailed passages about completely meaningless things.  Yes, I believe I know the themes the author was trying to go for in this novel, perhaps the power of music to bring people together in a time of tragedy. . . missed the mark.  Perhaps, that love transcends all differences and obstacles . . . missed the mark.

Lastly, but certainly not least of course was the ending.  In short, the ending was abrupt and just plain ridiculous.  And don’t get me started on the epilogue . . . if I thought the ending was ridiculous, the epilogue felt like it came completely from outer space.  What??

I picked up Bel Canto to give Ann Patchett another try after my book club State of Wonder and I just couldn’t get on board with it.  I think I may have to be done with this author, because it is clear we are just not on the same page.

Overall, Bel Canto missed the mark for me in so many different areas.

Kudos to the thousands and thousands of readers who absolutely loved this book.  I just don’t see it.

And remember,

Books are life,


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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes

mebeforeyou  Title:  Me Before You

Author:  Jojo Moyes

Synopsis (

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?


My thoughts:  I bought this book a couple months ago for a book club and of course never read it.  I let it sit around for a couple of months as I felt it “wasn’t my kind of book”.  Well let me tell you how very wrong I was.

This book is absolutely fabulous in so many ways.  It grabbed my attention from the very first chapter and relentlessly didn’t let go until the last page!  I couldn’t put it down it was that fast.

It is a beautifully written love story that is thought-provoking, controversial, and full of wonderful life lessons.

Me Before You is one of those novels that makes the reader stop, think, and ask themselves questions . . . which I love.  What would I choose to do if I were in Will’s situation?  Is he being selfish or ultimately giving Lou the greatest gift?

Love, love, love the juxtaposition of the title and how it fits with the storyline.  Who comes first, Lou or Will?  Is it Lou that is truly helping Will or is it Will that is helping Lou?

Great book!  You won’t be disappointed.

And remember

Books Are Life




Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction

Blog Tour & GIVEAWAY: “Well Read, Then Dead” by Terrie Farley Moran (Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery #1)


I am very happy to once again be participating in a Blog Tour for Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours (keep up the great work Lori!!!).

This tour is for Terrie Farley Moran’s new Read ‘Em and Eat Cozy Mystery series book #1, Well Read, Then Dead!!!

wellreadthendea Synopsis (from

First in a new series!

Nestled in the barrier islands of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Myers Beach is home to Mary “Sassy” Cabot and Bridget Mayfield—owners of the bookstore café, Read ’Em and Eat. But when they’re not dishing about books or serving up scones, Sassy and Bridgy are keeping tabs on hard-boiled murder.

Read ’Em and Eat is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch treats, along with quite a colorful clientele. If it’s not Rowena Gustavson loudly debating the merits of the current book club selection, it’s Miss Augusta Maddox lecturing tourists on rumors of sunken treasure among the islands. It’s no wonder Sassy’s favorite is Delia Batson, a regular at the Emily Dickinson table. Augusta’s cousin and best friend Delia is painfully shy—which makes the news of her murder all the more shocking.

No one is more distraught than Augusta, and Sassy wants to help any way she can. But Augusta doesn’t have time for sympathy. She wants Delia’s killer found—and she’s not taking no for an answer. Now Sassy is on the case, and she’d better act fast before there’s any more trouble in paradise.

Includes a buttermilk pie recipe!


My thoughts:  Watch out cozy mystery lovers . . . there is a GREAT new cozy series in town!  I really loved this first book in the new Read ‘Em and Eat series for many reasons.

I am a fairly avid cozy reader and when the setting is not only a book store, but also a café, you know you have a winner on your hands!  Great setting.  Anyone who has ever read my blog, also knows that I really enjoy my cozies to actually spend most of the action in the book right in the setting whether it be a café, a store, etc etc and this one does not disappoint.  For me that is the joy of the cozy genre.. . to spend as much time possible in that cozy space.

I also love my cozies to be in a setting that I feel I want to immediately visit . . . The Read ‘Em and Eat bookstore/café certainly fits the bill.  I’m so there, when can I visit.

The characters in this book are fabulous . . . fun, charming, quirky, engaging, and very important I want to know more which is a testament also in my humble opinion to a great cozy.

I very much look forward to returning to this series and am hopeful there are many more books on the horizon!

Cozy lovers . . . do yourself a favor and put this one on your list.  A great plane or beach read for anyone still getting in that last minute summer vacation!



Now let’s not forget the important part . . . the giveaway.

The author has been gracious enough to giveaway one print copy of the book to each blog participating in this blog tour.

I’m not all cool enough to be up to speed on the whole Rafflecopter thing so here is how you can enter:

1.  Leave a comment on this post with your email address.  (It is not necessary to like the blog or follow the blog, but that sure is nice as well and makes us bloggers feel good :) :)

2.  I will close the comments on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 5 pm CST!!!!

3.  I will randomly select the winner and email you for your mailing address/contact information and pass that info along to the tour host to get you the book!


And remember,

Books Are Life,




Filed under Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Cozy, Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Giveaways, Mystery

Book Review: “Vile” by Debra Webb (Faces of Evil #8)



Title:  Vile

Author:  Debra Webb

Series:  Faces of Evil series #8

Synopsis (from  Deputy Chief Jess Harris knows her time is running out. Somehow she must protect the people she loves and any more innocent victims from the serial killer obsessed with her.

Is sacrificing herself the only way to stop this evil?

Don’t miss the latest installment of this thrilling series!


My thoughts:  Anyone who has even glanced briefly at my blog recently knows that I am working my way through this great series . . . and am seriously hooked!

Again, book #8, Vile, picks up the storyline right where we left off.  Jess is back solving another case and continues to be stalked by The Player!

This series is a great psychological thriller with the serial killer aspect.  I like that as each book goes by we find out more and more . . . and more bits and pieces about other characters in the story, very interesting.

Now all that being said, as much as I love the series, I am getting to the point where I feel the underlying storyline of Jess being pursued by the serial killer is being played a little too long.  This series is really different than other serial books in that it is really one story carried out over the course of 10 books (or more?) rather than simply the same characters moving forward with other cases, etc.   I have to say it is time to move on from The Player story.  Jess, Dan, and the other characters in these novels are great . . . it is just time they get something else to be concerned about.

On to book #9 . . . come on, just because I feel it should move on, doesn’t mean I don’t want to see how it plays out :)

And remember,

Books Are Life,





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Filed under Book Reviews, Detective/Police, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Book Review: “Vicious” by Debra Webb (Faces of Evil series #7)


Title:  Vicious

Author:  Debra Webb

Series:  Faces of Evil #7

Synopsis (from  Serial killer Eric Spears is far from done. He has chosen his next victim and Deputy Chief Jess Harris knows it’s only a matter of time until he comes for her.

The murders are vicious, the killer relentless. Has Birmingham’s major crimes team run into its most baffling and deadly case yet?

Don’t miss the next thrilling installment of the Faces of Evil!


My thoughts:  Another great, fabulous, wonderful addition to the Faces of Evil series.  I don’t know, but I think this series just keeps getting better and better.  I am realizing at this point however that this is really more of one continuous story split up into 10 books that it is a series.  One book literally leads right into the next one . . . which of course make the plot twists and turns even better.

The author definitely has a feel for cliffhangers, suspense, and compelling characters.

I have embarked on book 8, Vile, and book 9 came in the mail last week.  I have my fingers crossed that one of the previous storylines surrounding Jess’s family gets addressed and doesn’t get dropped . . . noooooooooooo.

This series is definitely worth the read.  Fast-paced, exciting  . . . and what mystery lover doesn’t just love a serial killer plot!

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Filed under Book Reviews, Detective/Police, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller