Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday Five: It's All About Cross Country At Our House

It was an exciting day for my daughters yesterday.  They ran with their team at the district cross country meet and took second place, which sends them to the state tournament next weekend.  My middle daughter finished ninth out of 120 runners and qualified individually as well.  It was a perfect day for running and we're all excited to cheer the team on next weekend.  And, to make it an even better day, the boys team also qualified for state yesterday, too.

Despite the fact that we have been focused on running at our house, I did find some things online.  The weather is definitely colder, and I've even been looking at coats.  At this point, I'm all about being warm and cozy.

1.  Flannel Bell Sleeve Top - I like this plaid, and I like the bell sleeves. For whatever reason, I feel like this top looks dressy and would be perfect with a pair of black pants for a holiday party, or even just for work.

2.  Pintuck Top - I have a light blue shirt similar to this that I've worn a ton. I love it, and think that adding a pink one to my wardrobe would be great.

3.  High Rise Printed Compression Leggings - Old Navy has some super cute leggings right now. I always feel like I could add another pair to my stash of workout clothes, even though I don't necessarily need another one.  Maybe it makes me actually look forward to exercising?!

4.  Relaxed French Terry Cross Front Sweatshirt -I like the criss-cross look of this sweatshirt which comes in several covers.

5.  Sherpa Military Parka -  I love this shirt, which isn't super long, but does look nice and cozy.  

6.  Gap Tretorn® Rawlins Retro Lace-Up Sneakers - I truly do need a pair of tennis shoes, and would love to have these. My only hesitation is that they are not very neutral.  So maybe I should buy these shoes AND a pair of neutral ones.

7.   Gap Tretorn® Marley Velvet Lace-Up Sneakers - and after seeing those tennis shoes, I instantly fell in love with these velvety ones. 

8.  Navy Beanie - I've admire the Love Your Melon hats for a while now.  I especially like this dark navy one.

9.  Soft Spun Short Sleeve Cowl-Neck - really simple, but I like the look of this, and the fact that it comes in several neutral color options.

10.  All the Royal News - between Eugenie's wedding and the announcement that Harry and Meghan are expecting a baby, I'm on royal overload and loving it.  I am also enjoying all the pictures of Harry and Meghan's tour Down Under, which reminds me of Charles and Diana's in 1983.  

That's it for me this week.  What's caught your eye?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Year of the War

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a soon to be released title I can't wait to read.

This week's pick:  The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
Due out: March 19, 2019

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.
Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Newly Published: A Well Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts

Several years go I read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and loved it.  As soon as I saw that Therese Anne Fowler had a new book coming out, I instantly ordered it from Amazon.  And I loved it.  

This fictionalized account of Alva Vanderbilt's life could have focused on high society in the late 1800s: the fashion and social happenings of New York City's upper class. Instead, Fowler's novel treats us to the life story of Alva Smith Vanderbilt, a complex and interesting woman with more on her mind than clothes and parties.

Alva Smith was the daughter of a wealthy Southern plantation owner whose family fell on hard times during the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. Needing to secure her future and those of her sisters, Alva manages to receive a marriage proposal from William Vanderbilt, an attractive and eligible bachelor, part of New York's new money. Although this is not a love match, Alva enjoys the status she acquires with her marriage.

And Alva's life makes many twists and turns along the way as she proves she is not just a fashionable, wealthy woman, but has interests in architecture and women's suffrage among other things.

Fowler's novel transported me back to the late 1800's in New York City. I loved the name dropping, the different events in history that are chronicled from this vantage point, and the way Alva's story is shared. I have always been curious about the Vanderbilts and this novel has piqued my curiosity even more.

Fans of Fowler's novel, Zelda, will thoroughly enjoy this fictionalized account of a strong woman who is certainly not all that well-behaved!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday Mini-Reviews: Books About Books

Most book lovers enjoy reading about books and reading.  I'll admit this is one of my favorite topics to read - and somehow I managed to read three books in a row that all deal with it.

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson is a little bit of an ode to the indpendent bookstore.  Miranda's estranged uncle dies and although she is saddened by it, she hadn't seen him in sixteen years.  His death brings up a lot of memories, and Miranda wants to understand what happened between her uncle Billy and her mom so many years ago that they cut him out of their lives entirely.  Uncle Billy left Miranda his bookstore and despite it's floundering, the happy childhood memories Miranda has of the bookstore has her unable to sell it, as she begins to feel a deep sense of loyalty to keeping Prospero Books open.  I loved this story, and even though I guessed the family secret pretty early on, enjoyed all the bookishness in this novel, as well as the story.  This is Meyerson's debut, and I'm hoping she has more in store for readers in the future.  

The Library Book by Susan Orlean is a non-fiction account of the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986.  Occurring at the same time as the Chernobyl nuclear crisis, it received barely a mention in the news, despite the fact that over a million books burned and the library itself was damaged extensively. I like narrative non-fiction and I like reading about little known events in history, so this one was definitely in my wheelhouse.  There are a few rabbit trails Orelan takes readers on that weren't necessary (in my opinion), but overall, I did enjoy learning more about this event.

Ban This Book by Alan Gratz - a middle grade novel, I loved this book. When Amy Anne Olinger goes to the library to check out her favorite book, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and finds out that it has been banned, she is very upset.  However, she is a rule follower, and not someone who ever speaks up and lets her voice be heard.  Yet, she does start a collection of all the books that a parent succeeded in getting banned, and begins to check them out of her locker to kids.  And of course, she does get caught. This is a great look at how banning one book is a slippery slope, and in addition to being a book that will generate lots of discussion, it also had me laughing out loud. 

I'm so glad that there are great books about books and reading out there.  These just happen to be the three most recent that I've read, so if you've got more to recommend, I'd love to add them to my TBR stack. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Friday Five

Another crazy week of work is coming to a close.  Today there aren't students and the district's librarians get together to talk about a variety of library stuff.  Fun times.  I've already made a pan of rice krispie bars this morning and thrown in a load of wash - and it's not even 6 AM yet.  

I heard the dreaded S word twice in the last twenty-four hours, and I am desperately hoping the people who said it are wrong.  I am not ready for winter.
I did find a few cute things to share this week, so take a look:

1.  I Am Silently Judging Your Grammar Socks - I've seen cute socks with messages like this before, but never end up buying them. I do like them, though.

2.  London, Paris, Tokyo, Portland T-Shirt - I love a good JCrew T, and long ago - maybe back in my high school or college days- I had one similar to this.

3. Arabella Sweatshirt - Boden has several cute sweatshirt designs right now. I like that these sweatshirts look dressy enough for me to wear to work.

4. Apolis Live More Worry Less Bag - I probably never need to buy another bag in my lifetime because I do have quite a collection of them, but I really like the looks of this one.

5.  Women's Ampersand Ave Double Hooded Sweatshirt - these sweatshirts are all over right now and when I finally took an up close look at one that a friend's daughter was wearing, I decided I like them even more in person than in an online photo. Hers is striped, and although I do love a good stripe, I also think this plaid is cute.


6.  Longline Hooded Cardigan Sweater - I am a sucker for a long cardigan.  I especially like the stitching detail on top and the fringe bottom which give it a somewhat different look.

7. Shaker Stitch Pullover Turtleneck Sweater - this sweater comes in several different colors and would be a nice staple for the winter months. 

8.  Seeing Stars Zip-Up Hoodie - and who doesn't need a nice hoodie? I love the white stars with the navy and can see lots of uses for this one.

9.  Bush Family Wedding - Barbara Bush's wedding totally caught me by surprise.  I love a good family wedding and I love all things presidential, so I was excited to get to see pictures of this.  

Image result for bush family wedding

10.  Currently Reading Podcast  - I was clued in to to this podcast recently and am in love with it. I've listened to all seven episodes in the past week, and am hoping these two friends who talk about books stick around for a good long time. (I'm also kicking myself because I think I could have done a podcast with a friend of mine about the books we read).

Image result for currently reading podcast

So how about you? What's caught your eye this week?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: When We Left Cuba

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a soon to be released book that I can't wait to read.

This week's selection: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
Due out: April 9, 2019

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life--and heart--to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. 

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost. 

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...

Monday, October 8, 2018

TLC Book Tour: Bess and Frima

I love historical fiction. I especially love the 1940s, and this novel written about two young women setting out for the first time on some adventures of their own, is one I absolutely loved.

Bess and Frima are Jewish girls from the Bronx who head out to the Catskills to spend the summer working at two different hotels. They're both nineteen and excited for the adventures of the summer. 

Set in 1940, this time period is such an important one as World War II is underway, and Bess and Frima are becoming more and more aware of the world around them.

The girls are at different hotels, and the chapters move back and forth between the two girls.  I liked both characters, and was never disappointed to read about either of them.  I appreciated Rosenthal's ability to create life in this time period. I felt like I could have spent the summer with them at the hotel, either working alongside them or as a guest.

The love interest and romance in the book is also something I liked.  Frima seemed to have her relationship a little more sewn up than Bess, and I really liked Bess' storyline that revolved around Vinny, an Italian American that didn't fit into the picture her parents had of who their daughter should end up with.  

This has been a fantastic book to curl up with and enjoy. It's nothing I flew through, but I was always surprised while reading how many pages I actually got through and how much I was absorbed by this story.

Thanks to TLC Book for providing a copy of this book for my review.  All opinions expressed, are as always, my own.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday Five: Feeling Lazy This Week

Maybe it's the weather, which is cold and rainy here, but every single day this week I've struggled with my workout - that is, when I actually did work out.  I have stayed in bed well past my normal waking time and slept a bit longer on several days. I like the extra sleep, but I don't like the guilt I feel when I get up and missed my workout.  I'm hoping next week I feel some ambition and can make myself stumble out of bed to get some exercise in.

1.  Babysitter's Club T-Shirt - as a reader of the original BSC books, I can't resist anything that brings up the happy memories I feel when I think of those books and that time in my life. I actually already ordered this shirt and can't wait for it to get here.

2.  Promisa Top-Blue Stripe- I like the diagonal striping in this sweater and the front tie.  It does seem a little springy (at least for my area of the country), but I could definitely see wearing this with my white capris.

3. Point Sur Alpaca crew neck sweater in stripe - and this lovely JCrew sweater is calling my name as well.  It's not quite sweater weather yet, but it's definitely heading in that direction.

4.  Wiener Dog Collector's T-Shirt- JCrew always has some fun collector's t-shirts.  This cute dog shirt would help me revamp my sad T-shirt collection.

5. Marbleized Stone Cluster Earrings - I'm always looking for a new pair of earrings I can wear often.  These are versatile and would go with just about anything.

6.  Striped Open-Front Sweater for Women- I love a good cardigan sweater.  I like the striping in this one, and the fact that I could throw it on over a variety of tops.

7.  Free People Joshua Tree Jacket - everyone needs a good camo jacket.  I have one that I bought several years ago, and absolutely love it.

Slide View 1: Joshua Tree Jacket

8.  Floral Vines Tassel Square Scarf -before last week I hadn't seen the "tassels hanging off of a scarf" look.  This must be the style this year. I can't say I mind it at all.

9.  Cashmere-Blend Boucle Cropped Boxy Sweater - the neckline of this one is what I was initially attracted to. I have never bought myself anything cashmere, although I would love to. 

Cashmere-Blend Bouclé Cropped Boxy Sweater

10.  Sherpa Half-Zip Pullover - and in case I don't have enough buffalo plaid in my wardrobe already, Abercrombie has a cozy looking pullover.

product image

So that's it for me this week. What's caught your eye?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Daisy Jones and the Six

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a soon to be released title I can't wait to read. 

This week's pick: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid 
Due out: March 5, 2019

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Out Today: The Kennedy Debutante

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher is a novel that couldn't have been a better selection for me.  It is exactly the type of book I love.

I'm all about reading fictionalized biographies, and Maher's novel focuses on Kick Kennedy, the second oldest daughter of Joe and Rose Kennedy.  I loved learning more about her and the glamorous life she led in England.

Although I know this is a work of fiction, I still felt like I was learning more about the Kennedys, one of my favorite families to read about.  Maher transported me to England in the late 1930s and early 1940s as the country was busy fighting Hitler. The descriptions of that time truly made it feel real. I loved the name dropping of people from that time period that Kick got to know as she made a life for herself in England. And I loved seeing her relationships with her siblings, who I know from other memoirs and biographies.

Although it might seem unbelievable in today's world for a family to object so strongly to a relationship between a Protestant and a Catholic, in that time period, Kick dating a man who was not Catholic was definitely something to raise eyebrows.  Her romance with Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire, is a great romance, yet because of religious differences, the two struggled to find a way to make their relationship work.

Learning about Kick in this novel made her seem much more real.  I already knew about her tragic death at a young age, but I so appreciated knowing more about her and the years leading up to that.

Anyone who enjoys a good fictionalized biography, reading about the Kennedys, watching the Crown, or historical fiction should pick this book up.  

Thanks so much to Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book for my review. All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.