Friday, April 17, 2015

Last Night at the Blue Angel

Sophia's mother has spent ten years performing, on the verge of becoming famous.  As Sophia sits and watches her mother perform night after night, she is used to the nightclubs and the constant stream of people that seem to come in and out of their lives.

Naomi is a mystery, both to her daughter and the reader.  Sophia knows little about her mom's past, which is slowly revealed as Naomi narrates a portion of this story.

Last Night at the Blue Angel is an interesting story about a mother and daughter, about a woman and her choices, and a way of life not accepted in 1965.  

It did take me a while to get accustomed to Rotert's style of writing, which italicizes dialogue instead of using quotation marks.  In other books that has bothered me more than it did in this one, but for some readers that may be a turn-off.

I did enjoy the time period of this novel - 1965 (with parts set in the 1950s), and the Chicago jazz scene during this time period.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of Last Night at the Blue Angel to enjoy.

Friday Five

Another week of interesting things to look at on the internet - some to eat, some to wear, some for the home.  There is never a shortage of great stuff out there.  So, enjoy. Let me know what's kept you busy this week.

You know, just about the time I can kick one food addiction, another one pops up.  Now M&Ms come in the Crispy variety.  They still aren't as good as the peanut butter M&Ms. but they are quite tasty.

We have need a new rug for YEARS.  We bought a cheap area rug at Wal-Mart which served its purpose, but after remodeling and dog hair gathered on it last year (and dog hair continued to gather this year), we really needed a new rug.  However, my husband is on his no spending soapbox, which I have joined him on, and therefore we haven't purchased a rug. However, Target has rugs on sale this week AND I had $30 in gift cards saved up. So this rug was less than $50.  Yesterday Big Sister and I went to look at rugs and came home with this one.  

I think it looks rather nice in our living room.

I remember tasting my first Larabar a few years ago. I had bought a giant economy size box from Sam's, tried one, and gave the entire thing to my sister because they were disgusting. I wasn't holding out much hope when I met with a dietitian who really wanted me (and everyone she planned diets for) to find a bar with a certain number of grams of sugar and very few ingredients.  Basically, the Larabar was the only thing on her list.  I think they're an acquired taste, but I totally love the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar now.  

Can the quality get any worse?  These anti-running shorts from Title Nine are something I feel would be a great item to wear to my exercise classes. We have our bodies in all sorts of contortions, and I really don't need anyone having to look up my shorts- not that they'd want to.  However, I also don't always want to wear a pair of tight spandex bottoms.  I think these are ones I could wear to run errands, exercise, and pretty much almost anywhere I need to go in the summer.

I have a very old pair of Birkies that were a tie dyed pattern. I wore these absolutely everywhere. I haven't had a pair for forever, although I am wondering now if this old pair is somewhere in a box that I could dig up.  I am liking this new floral version a lot.

What things have caught your eye this week?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Life From Scratch

I had this review posted on Tuesday for a bit (at least when I looked online) but when I got home and looked at my blog it was gone.  So, I'm reposting this since Life From Scratch is too good not to know about.

I've read quite a few food memoirs, and generally enjoy books centered around food.  I mean, who doesn't?  I also enjoy eating.

Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin sets out to be a memoir about food, but the result is a memoir about much more.

Martin's childhood was rough. She and her brother never doubted their mother's love, yet after many hardships, their mother was forced to terminate her parental rights and allow her children to be raised by friends.

In her new home, Martin travels extensively and is well provided for, yet she continues to remember bits and pieces of her childhood- especially the cooking her mother did.  

As an adult Martin has made peace with her mother, and as she begins her own journey into motherhood, decides to begin a project of her own, cooking her way around the world while chronicling this on her blog, Global Table Adventure.

I picked up this book simply because I love reading memoirs, not because I had ever heard of Martin's project or her online presence. However, I have already enjoyed looking around a bit on her site, and have earmarked a few recipes to try out at home.

Seeing photographs of Martin and her family helped make her story seem more real and allowed me to connect with her beyond just the pages of her book.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick:  Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford
Due out: August 18, 2015

Product Information taken from Goodreads:

An extraordinary debut novel by New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford—a Bonfire of the Vanities for the 21st century mixed with Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep and Amor Towles's Rules of Civility.

It’s 2006 in the Manhattan of the young and privileged, and a new generation of heirs and strivers are jockeying for social power and discovering that class, especially on the Upper East Side, still holds sway.

At 26, Evelyn Beegan is the product of new money, propelled by her social-climbing mother through an elite prep school, a posh college, and into Manhattan. Evelyn has always managed to stay just on the periphery of this world her mother so desperately wants her to become a part of. But when she takes a job at a new social networking site aimed at her very elite peers, she’s forced to leverage her few connections to work her way to the front of the pack. With the help of her prep school friends, Evelyn goes from lush "camps" in the Adirondacks and "cottages" in Newport, to Southampton weekends and clubs thick with socialites and Wall Street types, eventually befriending target #1, Camilla Rutherford—a young woman who is a regular on the front page of every society blog.

In order to be accepted by this rarefied set, Evelyn must be seen as someone with established old money. Her lies start small, but quickly grow, and as she relentlessly elbows her way up the social ladder, the ground underneath her begins to give way.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Kind Worth Killing

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson is one of those books I read about somewhere, checked out, and then let it sit on a TBR pile.  I almost returned it without reading it. But then I read another little blurb about it and quickly picked it up.

Having read it (quickly, I might add) I have proceeded to recommend this book to pretty much anyone who can read.  

Ted is flying home when he begins talking to the woman sitting next to him on the plane, Lily.  He reveals to her that his wife is cheating on him and then jokes that he would like to kill her.  And Lily responds seriously that she would like to help him.

This is a psychological thriller with so many twists and turns I was constantly surprised - and unable to put the book down for more than a few minutes.

It's been over twenty years since I watched the movie Single White Female (which creeped me out a ton), but Peter Swanson's novel is reminiscent of that type of story.

Anyone who enjoys suspense or psychological thrillers should check this one out.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Salon

We're just finishing up some corn on the cob along with chicken and veggie kabobs from the grill, which makes it feel a lot like summer.  

However, soon I will be getting things laid out for tomorrow and the week ahead.

Today we cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more. The house looks better, but there are definitely some jobs that still need to get done.  Big Sister and Middle Sister had their first lesson on cleaning toilets. They were reluctant students at best, but I think my husband is going to become the supervisor for this job and not the one who actually does the cleaning on a weekly basis.

The week ahead looks busy: two track meets, four soccer practices, my final graduate class (and project due) for the semester, two meetings for my husband at church, an author event on Tuesday evening, a work conference all day Friday for me, and two late nights for me at work this week.   Luckily I have meals figured out for the week, and the house is looking organized at this point.

I am hoping for a few quiet moments to read amidst the busy-ness. Several good books arrived in my mailbox this past week, too, and I can't wait to get lost in them.

How was your weekend?  Hopefully you are feeling ready to tackle the week ahead. Enjoy what's left of the weekend, friends!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Gifts For Book Lovers

I know it's not the holiday season and you might not be out and about shopping for presents at this point.  But, who doesn't enjoy a little gift from time to time?  These five gift ideas are perfect for book lovers.  And, if you can't use these ideas now, tuck them away for the future.   


I first saw this thumbprint idea at My Head Is Full of Books.  Anne was lucky enough to have a thumbprint  made of her sixty favorite books.  I wish this was a more affordable gift I could treat others (and myself) to, but right now I'm just going to admire them online.  Check out Cheryl Sorg's website and Etsy store.

2.  Nancy Drew bracelet

Also available on Etsy, I am a proud owner of a Nancy Drew bracelet myself. The design on mine is a bit different, but I love it just the same.  

3.  For Kids, a Future Librarian T-Shirt

My girls all had a t-shirt exactly like that when they were younger.  I wasn't quite sure who to pass it on to after they outgrew them since this is a shirt for a select few.

Little Librarian is a great little gift for young librarians to organize their own libraries and loan books to friends.  


Owl Crate is a monthly YA subscription service that my friend Jamie told me about. My name is still on a wait list to get to try this out.  Monthly rate is around $30 for a YA book and other book-ish items to be delivered to your home.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Five

The weeks just keep flying by, folks.  It's Friday again.  Here's my collection of five things that have caught my eye this week.

I rarely wear skirts in fall or winter, but in the summer I actually enjoy skirts.  This is a great skirt from Garnet Hill.

Cross Training Couture has this awesome tank on sale right now. I love it! I'm a t-shirt wearing gal when I work out, but I love that 1 Corinthians 6:19 is on it and want my focus to be on being healthy, not on being skinny. Their website has a bunch of other faith themed workout apparel.

This black Travex jacket is on sale at Eddie Bauer right now. I bought a skirt from there when I was at the Mall of America last month, and they featured this jacket with the skirt.  So, of course I wouldn't mind having it to wear with that but it also goes with jeans, khakis, or pretty much anything it seems.  

A few weeks ago I was visiting my friend Jamie and noticed she had a wreath made of printed pages much like this one.  I was intrigued by it, but then never thought more about it until I saw this one on Pinterest.  I wouldn't need the book club circular in the center, so that could be something else, but the whole project didn't look that difficult (which is usually what I think and then end up with something fairly hideous looking when I attempt a craft project on my own).  Still.  I might give this one a try.

It seems like it wasn't that long ago (probably because it really wasn't for me) that I was just figuring out how to use emojis on my phone and where they were.  Yesterday my daughter informed me that there are new emojis with the ios 8.3 download.  This apparently was big news.  So we all gathered round her cell phone while she showed them off.  I'm not sure yet if I will update my phone.  I will probably have to at some point.  But if/when I do I will be happy to use these new racially diverse emojis.

What's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Head Case

Cole Cohen has spent her life struggling through school. She has been unable to learn how to drive, and anything involving science or math are a lost cause.  Her parents have subjected her to numerous tests, which have revealed that she has a learning disability of some type. 

Although the testing reveals little, Cole and her parents keep pushing and asking questions. Finally she is given an MRI which reveals a lemon sized hole in her brain. 

At first Cole believes that since the problem is finally diagnosed, it can be fixed.  Yet, there is no fix for her problem. Instead, Cole must learn to live with and compensate for her disability.  

Cole is highly intelligent and has been compensating for her disability for years, yet there are certain things she cannot overcome - such as her inability to accurately see and react to objects in motion (which makes driving impossible and crossing the street perilous as well).  As she attempts to find organizations that could give her assistance, she finds many obstacles as her disability is so unique and unusual.

Head Case was interesting and well written, allowing readers to see Cohen for the intelligent woman she is, despite the one area of her brain that makes some day to day encounters impossible for her.  

Cohen's honesty about her struggles and her triumph over them make this a fantastic memoir.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick:  Coming of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlante

Due out: August 4, 2015

Product Information taken from Amazon:

Alice LaPlante's acclaimed psychological thrillers are distinguished by their stunning synthesis of family drama and engrossing suspense. Her new novel is an affecting foray deeper into the creases of family life—and the light-and-dark battle of faith—as LaPlante delves into the barbed psyche of a teenager whose misguided convictions bear irrevocable consequences.

Never one to conform, Anna always had trouble fitting in. Earnest and willful, as a young girl she quickly learned how to hide her quirks from her parents and friends. But when, at sixteen, a sudden melancholia takes hold of her life, she loses her sense of self and purpose. Then the Goldschmidts move in next door. They're active members of a religious cult, and Anna is awestruck by both their son, Lars, and their fervent violent prophecies for the Tribulation at the End of Days. Within months, Anna's life—her family, her home, her very identity—will undergo profound changes. But when her newfound beliefs threaten to push her over the edge, she must find her way back to center with the help of unlikely friends. An intimate story of destruction and renewal, New York Times bestselling author LaPlante delivers a haunting exploration of family legacies, devotion, and tangled relationships.