Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Five

I've always know that I'm a person who functions better with a schedule - and gets much more accomplished when my list of daily activities is too long rather than too short.  This has become even more evident this summer as I have had quite a bit of "free" time and accomplished very little.  Even getting a Friday Five post done seems to be difficult.  And it's not for lack of finding awesome things I want to buy

Here are this week's finds:

1.  Go-Dry High-Rise Side-Pocket Compression Crops for Women  I love these capris. I saw them at the store and even carried them around for a while before I put them back.  I just didn't feel like spending money that day but now I'm wishing I would have bought them.  

2.  Ruffle Sleeve Swing Top for Women - I saw a top like this as well during my most recent Old Navy visit.  I don't remember the sleeves being like this, and the color is what really hooked me. Unfortunately I don't think this picture does the color justice.

3.  Mayari Birko-Flor - Middle Sister has been after me for a while to get a different pair of Birkenstocks.  I think they are great shoes, but too spendy unless they are a gift (and maybe the only gift) for an event like a birthday or Christmas.  She's been doing some work for my mom and was gifted a pair of these.  I probably would have chosen black, but I really do love them. And so does she.
4.  Elephant and Piggie Shirt - If I bought this shirt and wore it to school, elementary kids would think I was amazing.  However, I'm moving to a middle school library position next year and I don't think this shirt will be amazing to pre-teens.  It just depends how dorky I want them to think I am.
5.  Make a Statement Breton - How many different Bretons can Boden make? There are several I'm loving on right now.

6.  Color Your Own Map Duvet - this is a potential birthday gift for Little Sister who will be eleven in August.  I think it looks kind of fun and is something she would at least use (as opposed to the gifts that are looked at for ten seconds and discarded).

7.  Ripped Denim Leggings - and just this morning Big Mama posted her Friday favorites.  A friend of mine has a similar pair of these.  Of course she is tall with thin legs, so she looks great in them. I've admired them many times on her.  I'm debating these for myself.  I'm not tall and my legs aren't skinny, so I'm not sure this is a good investment, but maybe it would be worth trying them on since I've envied them for so long.

And that's all for today. How about you? What's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The Red Year

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.  Learning about little known events in history is a big perk to reading these books and I continue to be fascinated by how much I still need to learn about the past.

I knew going into Red Year that I knew very little about China or the Soviet Union in the 1920s. And what I discovered is that there was a lot of interesting and exciting things taking place in this part of the world then.

Rayna is in China with her husband, a journalist, looking for adventure.  While there she begins an affair with Mikhail Borodin, a Russian Communist leader who is in China trying to help out there.  Her relationship with him leads her to Russia as she engineers a way to accompany the widow of the Chinese revolution to Moscow.  

Since Rayna initially embarked on a trip to China with her husband in search of adventure, she cannot be disappointed with how things turn out.  Her life is full of adventure.  When the idea of returning to Chicago doesn't excite her she applies to an espionage school to learn how to become a spy.

While this is a work of fiction, the events of the time period are fascinating. My own experiences in high school history class were dismal at best and I know that nothing was ever explained or discussed about this time period or place.  I love that Shapin was able to bring this era to life and develop a story around it. 

Shapin has a few other books available which I am intrigued by.  This one was a delight to read.

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

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

This week's pick: Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan
Due out: October 3, 2017

Product information taken from Amazon:

 How well do you know the people you love…?
Best friends Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad have always been inseparable.  But when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol's Feeder Canal, Abdi can't--or won't--tell anyone what happened.
Just back from a mandatory leave following his last case, Detective Jim Clemo is now assigned to look into this unfortunate accident.  But tragedy strikes and what looked like the simple case of a prank gone wrong soon ignites into a public battle.  Noah is British.  Abdi is a Somali refugee.   And social tensions have been rising rapidly in Bristol.  Against this background of fear and fury two families fight for their sons and for the truth.  Neither of them know how far they will have to go, what demons they will have to face, what pain they will have to suffer.
Because the truth hurts.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Sons and Soldiers

I love reading narrative non-fiction and I love World War II books. Sons and Soldiers combines both of these things, giving me a fantastic reading experience.

Sons and Soldiers recounts a part of history I knew nothing of.  During World War II, the United States trained German born Jews who had come to the United States in an effort to escape Hitler, in interrogation techniques.  These men were called Ritchie Boys and were sent to Europe to question German POWs.  Although they were fighting against their homeland, and many had families still in Germany who had not escaped with them, these soldiers were instrumental in helping the United States win World War II.

Henderson instantly drew me in by sharing the stories of various boys and their lives in Germany. I wanted to know more about each of them and their families.  Within the stories of the boys' lives Henderson also weaves in the events occurring in Germany as Hitler continued his plans to eliminate Jews.  

The boys and young men Henderson introduced me to eventually move to the United States and train as interrogators with the military. It is their expertise that helps the United States in World War II.  

Henderson has done a great deal of research in order to write Sons and Soldiers.  I appreciated each boy's story and the fact that once they serve as Ritchie Boys their story does not end. Henderson includes information about their lives after the war and allows readers to know what happened to their families as well.

This is a great non-fiction account of a group of people that were so important to our country, yet little known.  I can't wait for Sons and Soldiers to be talked about and discussed much like Boys on the Boat or Unbroken.  

Sons and Soldiers releases today and would be the perfect book to read while enjoying this summer weather.  

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

For more information about Sons and Soldiers, visit the HarperCollins website.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Five x 2 on Saturday

Time got away from me yesterday somehow.  And so here it is, Saturday morning, and I'm just now working on a Friday Five post.  There are lots of cute things I'm eyeing right now, and sadly, many of them are with the "I can wear that to school" mindset, which I guess means that school is right around the corner.

So, here is what I've found this week:

1.  Soft Sophisticate T - simple, yet a little bit dressy, and perfect to wear to work or with jeans.

2.  Striped Tie-Back Shell - I can't wear anything sleeveless to work, so this would have to be for weekends or something else, but I love the idea of the tie in the back.

3.  Sarabeth Tunic - way out of my price range at $235, this is a beautiful shirt. I'll just keep admiring it from afar.

4.  Personalized Library Card Pillow - this pillow on the Uncommon Goods website caught my eye....perfect for all the book lovers out there.

5.  Embroidered Flutter Sleeve Dress for Women - I saw this one hanging up at Old Navy last weekend and thought it looked super cute.  And comfortable.

6.  Faux Leather Leggings - I'm not sure how many places (if any at all) I would find to wear leather leggings, but I do think they look cute. And they're on sale at Nordstroms right now.

7.  Camo Girlfriend Chino - these were in the Gap store a few weeks ago when I was in Des Moines visiting my sister. They had every size available, except the one I needed. So, when I finally saw them online I figured it was a sign. Right?  And Gap is having a sale (when aren't they having a sale?), so I had to order a pair.  

8.  Happy Birthday, Prince George.  CUTE! All week I've enjoyed seeing the royal family on the news as they show clips from their European tour, and now they have released a picture of Prince George for his fourth birthday.  

9.  Halo Top Ice Cream - this ice cream may not be quite like visiting my local ice cream place, but it's at least relatively healthy, so I've been keeping some on hand, just in case I need to have a late night snack.

10.  Thirty For Thirty podcast - I've listened to two episodes and enjoyed them both.  Interesting true stories.  Definitely worth a listen.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

TLC Book Tour : My Sister's Bones

Nuala Ellwood's debut novel kept me turning pages long past my bedtime a few nights ago.  There's a lot to enjoy about this first novel.

Synopsis taken from the HarperCollins website:

In the vein of Fiona Barton's The Widow and RenĂ©e Knight's Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother's death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?
The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.
As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

My Thoughts:

I can't write a synopsis any better than the one from the publisher.  There are lots of twists and turns to this story, and my attempting to write a synopsis wold no doubt lead to forgetting something important, or including a spoiler.

More than psychological suspense, I feel like this book falls under the family drama umbrella.  Although there is some suspense, it occurs later in the book, and by that point the resolution of the story was no surprise.  That doesn't mean I didn't like this book, because I did enjoy it a great deal, but I read a lot of books termed psychological thrillers. With so many experiences reading these novels, I'm getting rather good at predicting endings.

Ellwood's novel includes a few things not found in most novels of this type: the inclusion of information on world/current events.  Kate's job as a journalist in a war zone brings a bit of reality to this novel that many of this genre lack.  In addition, I found the way the plot moves between Kate to her sister Sally to be another rather novel approach to telling this story.  It kept me guessing a bit as to who the story was focusing on and what the resolution would be.

Because this is Ellwood's debut novel, I'm hopeful she has a few more ideas she wants to share with readers in the future.

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

Visit the HarperCollins website for more information about this book.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: George and Lizzie

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

This week's selection: George and Lizzie by Nancy Pearl
Due out: September 5, 2017

Product information taken from Amazon:

From “America’s librarian” and NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl comes an emotionally riveting debut novel about an unlikely marriage at a crossroads.

George and Lizzie have radically different understandings of what love and marriage should be. George grew up in a warm and loving family—his father an orthodontist, his mother a stay-at-home mom—while Lizzie grew up as the only child of two famous psychologists, who viewed her more as an in-house experiment than a child to love.

Over the course of their marriage, nothing has changed—George is happy; Lizzie remains…unfulfilled. When a shameful secret from Lizzie’s past resurfaces, she’ll need to face her fears in order to accept the true nature of the relationship she and George have built over a decade together.

With pitch-perfect prose and compassion and humor to spare, George and Lizzie is an intimate story of new and past loves, the scars of childhood, and an imperfect marriage at its defining moments.

Monday, July 17, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The Almost Sisters

Joshilyn Jackson's latest book has been given high praise by many readers.  I agree wholeheartedly. I've read nearly all of Jackson's books and this is one of the best.  

Almost Sisters is set in the South and I felt like I was a part of tiny Birchville, Alabama, and the goings on there.

Leia is a comic book illustrator/graphic novelist, single, thirty-eight, and newly pregnant as the result of a one night stand at a recent comic con where she met up with a handsome Batman.  Her grandmother is aging and possibly needing her help so Leia heads off to Birchville to help Birchie, her grandmother.

She arrives in Birchville to find that her grandmother is suffering from dementia and shouldn't be living on her own any longer.  Wattie, her grandmother's lifelong friend and companion resists this idea as she can see their independence ending.

While Leia is back in Birchville trying to help these two women and come to terms with her pregnancy, a secret that Birchie had been hiding in the attic is uncovered, changing the way most people viewed past events.

Jackson's novel is a five star read for me.  I loved how she revealed some secrets slowly. I loved Birdie and Wattie's relationship.  I loved that the title's significance had different meaning for me as I continued to read and things were revealed.  I loved Leia's relationship with the father of her baby and how high my hopes were for them to find happiness together.

Although I have enjoyed all of Joshilyn Jackson's books, this is at the top of the list.  

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

For more information visit the HarperCollins website.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Happy Sunday

I may not be getting around to posting every Sunday, but at least I'm finding some time every once in a while.  It's very hot and humid here and I'm happy to report that I've started walking with a friend in the evenings when it is a little cooler in addition to my morning workout.  I love summer.

Here are a few things I've read online that have stuck with me this week as I am enjoying not having to be at work and have a little more "free" time.

I love vacation - if only taking trips didn't cost money. The Today Show had a feature this week with forty vacation must-sees for your family before your children are grown.  Sadly I think we've only hit six of the forty, although I do think we have taken our kids on some great trips.

Earlier this week I made a recipe I pinned on Pinterest quite a while ago.  It is a family favorite, although it is not my favorite to make simply because it involves a lot of dishes getting dirty.  Anyway, I had Middle Sister looking up the recipe only to discover that the site it was on has been removed.  Talk about bad news.  Luckily I searched for a while and found an identical recipe on a different site.  Click here for this creamy chicken asparagus recipe. My husband suggested I take the time to write the recipe on a piece of paper because it is too good to get lost.

The ESPY awards were earlier this week. I can't even begin to convey how amazing I feel their pick for the Pat Tillman award is. Watch the video of his acceptance speech.  What an amazing person!

I shared an article on Facebook earlier this week that resonated with me.  I have few pictures of myself -  mostly because my husband doesn't ever think to take any of me with the kids when we are on trips.  Although some of that happens just naturally because I usually am the one doing the picture taking, some of it happens because I don't particularly think I look very good in pictures.  My husband doesn't really like to have pictures taken, but not for the same reasons I have.  

And here are a few pictures to leave you with this week:

A stop at Cracker Barrel for a big plate of pancakes 

Slip-n-Slide in Des Moines on a hot summer evening 

Afternoons at the pool 

Some cake baking and frosting when it's too humid to want to play outside

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Five

I've read on a few blogs this week that summer is half over, but that seems nearly impossible to me.  I feel like I'm just now getting in the swing of things: lots of walks at night with a friend, sleeping late, reading lots of books, trips to the's hard to believe that school might be right around the corner.  So, I'm going to pretend that I've got plenty of summer left and enjoy every single minute.

I did find a few things this week (of course).  So, here they are:

1.  Garment Died Utility Popover - I saw this at the JCrew store last week when I was in Des Moines and was so in love with the rugby I saw (featured last week).  Maybe the rugby started it all, transporting me to 1993, but I saw thsi shirt and was reminded of a shirt I had in 1987 that I was in love with.

2.  Altar'd State You're The One Bag - I think this purse is so cute, but probably not big enough for me.  Maybe one of my girls would like it, though, and then they could let me borrow it.

3.  Girlfriend Twill Striped Chinos - I've had good luck with this style in the past and there are a few color options as well. Gap always has 40% off which makes them a nice, fairly cheap pant option.

4.  Ravello Top - I made the mistake of opening my new Boden catalog and found several things I really like. This top is at the top of my list.

5.  Women's Summer Sandals by Plaka - Melanie over at The Big Mama Blog featured these sandals today. I really need a new pair of sandals and these are not expensive at all and have lots of good reviews.

6.  Bai Bubbles Drink - when I was visiting my sister last week she had a variety pack of these drinks in her fridge. I tried one and was in love.  I have my own variety pack now and will admit I don't like the coconut at all, but the rest are fantastic.  Unfortunately I have to limit myself on these or I would drink them all the time.

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