Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Five: I Guess It's Not Spring Yet

Last week at this time I was basking in the spring-like weather.  Today, it seems that it isn't quite time for spring yet.  Sigh.  Mother Nature might not be ready, but I am.

Here are a few things I've found this past week:

1.  Locally Grown T  - I have known about this T-shirt company for a while, but last weekend, I got to visit their store in Des Moines. I loved it.  I ended up with a unisex, baseball jersey with this graphic on it.  And every day after school I change clothes and put it on.

2. Nerdette Podcast - I'm always on the lookout for a new podcast to pass the time while I'm driving to and from work or walking the dog.  I have only listened to a few of these so far, but enjoy it.  It certainly breaks up the monotony of driving and walking.

3.  Slip on Sneakers - I love the crisp look of these navy and white sneakers.  That's all.  

4.  Make a Statement Breton - and maybe I just like stripes? I love the bretons from Boden...this one has a little more flair to it. 

5.   But First Books T -  and can anyone ever have too many book related t-shirts? This is the newest from Book Riot. I like both men's and women's styles. I should get one of each, right?

6.  Do in New York City - Right about now I need some cookie dough....seriously. I would love to open a franchise here in Iowa. I think it might be the next big thing to take off.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

TLC Book Tour: A Piece of the World

I liked Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline a lot.  I absolutely loved A Piece of the World, her newest novel.  This novel rang all my bells.

Kline imagines the life of the woman in Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World, which depicts a woman sitting on a prairie with a house and barn in the distance.

I had no trouble believing Kline's story and becoming involved in Christina's life.

Kline deftly changes the time period in this novel at several points.  Readers meet Christina as a child who has been crippled by an illness.  We witness her fall in love when she is a young woman, daring to believe for a bit that despite her disability she could have a life like other people.  We see her care for her parents and grow old on the farm she has always called home.  

Sometimes I liked Christina, or felt sorry for her, or was disgusted with her bitterness.  Kline made her feel real.

I enjoyed Andrew's visits with Christina and how he was able to tell her story.  

This is a work of fiction that brings the woman in Wyeth's painting to  life.  Kline has knocked it out of the ballpark with this novel, which should quickly become a book club favorite.

Thanks to TLC Books for providing a copy of A Piece of the World for my review.  All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.

For more information visit the HarperCollins website 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Widow of Wall Street

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that Jill from Breaking the Spine hosted for several years. Although Jill is no longer hosting this meme, each week I am continuing to post a soon to be released title that I can't wait to get my  hands on.

This week's pick: The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers
Due out: April 11, 2017

Product Information taken from Amazon:

A provocative new novel by bestselling author Randy Susan Meyers about the seemingly blind love of a wife for her husband as he conquers Wall Street, and her extraordinary, perhaps foolish, loyalty during his precipitous fall.

Phoebe sees the fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers. As he creates a financial dynasty, she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.

When Phoebe learns—along with the rest of the world—that her husband’s triumphs are the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. Lies underpin her life and marriage. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her gilded life was fabricated by fraud? Did she partner with her husband in hustling billions from pensioners, charities, and CEOs? Was she his accomplice in stealing from their friends and neighbors?

Debate rages as to whether love and loyalty blinded her to his crimes or if she chose to live in denial. While Jake is trapped in the web of his own deceit, Phoebe is faced with unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning Jake, a man she’s known and loved since childhood, feels cruel and impossible.

From penthouse to prison, with tragic consequences rippling well beyond Wall Street, Randy Susan Meyers’s latest novel exposes a woman struggling to redefine her life and marriage as everything she thought she knew crumbles around her. “Meyers is quickly taking her place among the ranks of women’s fiction authors who write big-issue novels that explore the inner lives of women in crisis without descending into melodrama or cliché. Readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult will want to add Meyers to their to-read list” (Booklist Review).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The Possessions

What a book!  I have been at the state wrestling tournament this past weekend. Unlike some people who worry about what clothing to pack, I am more concerned with which books should make the trip with me.  I am so glad I tucked The Possessions into my bag.  I found myself absorbed in reading, not watching wrestling, and couldn't help but take this book out any chance I had.

Edie works as a body for the Elysian Society.  She helps her clients connect with their loved ones who have passed away, and she is good at what she does. After working as a body for five years, she is the Elysian Society's longest lasting employee.

When she meets Patrick who wants to get in touch with his wife, Sylvia, who died under suspicious circumstances, she is taken with this beautiful, glamorous couple.  Edie is successful at her job because of her detachment from her clients. Yet, she can't help but be interested in Patrick.  As she gets to know him, she begins to ask questions about what happened to his wife, and can't help but wish that she could have him for herself.

There is some paranormal activity in this novel, that would normally not be my cup of tea. But, it works well.  This book is also a little bit creepy, and suspenseful and easy to read.  Flannery Murphy reveals little bits and pieces of what the Elysian Society is throughout the novel, eventually giving the full picture of Edie's profession. In the same way, bits of Edie's past are also revealed and readers finally have a fuller picture of this woman.

I have lots of friends I want to read The Possessions. Flannery Murphy's book was also chosen as a February Book of the Month selection, a well deserved honor.

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

For more information visit HarperCollins website.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Five Star Read #4: Goodbye Days

Jeffrey Zentner's novel is one I picked up from Amazon Vine without knowing much about it. It is a perfect YA read.

Carver Briggs' life has gone from nearly perfect (he's looking forward to spending his senior year with his three best friends. He's got a big sister who he considers a friend as well, and parents who love him) to something worse than he could ever imagine. 

In the blink of an eye a text message changes everything.  Carver texts his friends Mars one day, knowing that three friends: Mars, Blake and Eli are out together.   He also knows that Mars always answers his texts right away.  Except for this time Mars was driving when Carver texted him and he tried to reply.  And texting while driving resulted in the three boys dying in a car accident.

Carver is grieving.  He is also worried that he is going to be charged with negligent homicide.  

Zentner does an amazing job of developing Carver's character and allowing him to deal with his grief in an authentic way. I so appreciated the way Carver would remember different things about his friends, silly times they spent together.  I enjoyed the way Zentner had each friend's family grieve in a different way, showing that there is no right way to get through a death.

The idea of negligent homicide is something that is also explored and should give teen readers something to think about when the idea of texting while driving arises.

I can't say enough good things about this novel.  Goodbye Days will be published in March.  Pre-order your copy immediately.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Five

It's State Wrestling Tournament time here in Iowa.  My husband is an assistant coach, so this is a week that's super busy.  He and Big Sister (a team manager) left on Tuesday after school. The team qualified to wrestle in duals and five individual wrestlers qualified as well.  I am taking a personal day today to travel to Des Moines with Middle Sister and Little Sister for the tournament.

And when I say "travel to Des Moines for the tournament" I  mean "go shopping, eat at some great restaurants, and socialize."

Here are a few things that have caught my eye this week (and this is BEFORE) I've even been to Jordan Creek Mall.

1.  Enamel Pins from Book Riot -there are some super cute enamel book related pins on Book Riot. I could purchase any of them and enjoy them.  These are probably my two favorites, but I won't lie.  I like them all. 

2.  Twist Front T - this cute t-shirt comes in a variety of colors from Nordstroms.  It's only $22 which is a steal. I am in need of some type of closet overhaul and feel like this would be versatile and something I would wear often.  

3.  Ravenna Top - Boden always has cute stuff. The biggest worry is which item to purchase first.  I like this top, but there are a few others I've been keeping my eye on as well.

4.  Girlfriend Twill Stripe Chinos - last year I bought some salmon chinos identical to this from Gap. I am interested in adding the celery colored ones to my wardrobe this year. And  right now Gap is offering 50% off for President's Day.

5.  Celie Top - I don't often look at the Anthropologie website, but they have cute stuff.  Some of it is outside of what I'm willing to pay, but every once in a while I luck out.  

6. Book Club Appetizer Podcast   - I love, love, love book podcasts. This one publishes only once a month, but interviews some fantastic authors with recent books popular with book clubs. I've listened to a few episodes and love it.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The Runaway Midwife

I loved Patricia Harman's novel The Midwife of Hope River so much when it came out. And then I loved her second novel, The Reluctant Midwife, as well.  When I saw that her new novel The Runaway Midwife, was soon to be published, I was thrilled.  

Knowing nothing more than the title and author, I was surprised to find out that this is a stand-alone novel set in the present day.  But, upon reading it, I was not disappointed at all.

Clara Perry is a midwife who loves her job.  That is the one bright spot in her life filled with a philandering husband and grown daughter who seems to have no time for her.  When a patient that Clara was caring for dies tragically, fingers point in her direction for possible medical negligence. 

With so much going wrong, Clara decides to start over.  She assumes a new identity, relocating to Sea Gull Island, just over the US/Canada border, and quickly makes friends with a variety of locals.  

Although Clara loves her new life, she is always looking over her shoulder wondering if her past will catch up with her.  And to truly make a new start, she  may have to make peace with what sent her running in the first place.

Harman's novel was entertaining. I loved the Sea Gull Island setting and the local characters that lived in the town. I loved Clara's guts to start fresh. I loved the midwife portions of this novel, although it was not the focus.

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

For more information on The Runaway Midwife, visit the HarperCollins website.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Music of the Ghosts

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that Jill at Breaking the Spine hosted for several years. Although Jill is no longer hosting this weekly event, I am continuing to post a title of a book each Wednesday that I can't wait to be published.

This week's pick:  Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner
Due out:  April 11, 2017

Product Information taken from Amazon:

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of In the Shadow of the Banyan comes a novel about a young woman who returns to her homeland after receiving a letter from a mysterious man who claims to have known her father before he disappeared in the Cambodian holocaust.

Teera, a thirty-seven-year-old American, returns to Cambodia for the first time after her harrowing escape as a child refugee more than two decades earlier. She carries back with her the ashes of her recently deceased aunt and a letter from a stranger who claims he knew her father in Slak Daek, the notorious Pol Pot security prison where her father disappeared.

When she arrives, Teera finds a country of survivors, where perpetrators and victims of recent atrocities are finding a way to live side by side. She reacquaints herself with places that ignite long-buried memories, meets a young doctor who begins to open her heart to a new Cambodia, and prepares herself to learn her father’s fate from the author of the letter, known as the Old Musician. Now a half-blind elderly man who earns his keep by playing music at a temple, the Old Musician waits for Teera’s visit, anticipating the confession he must make. He remembers his love for her mother, his admiration for her father, and the passion with which they all embraced the Khmer Rouge’s promise of a democratic society, embarking on a journey that ended in the horror chamber only he survived. 

Who can we forgive? What is justice? How do we atone? Together Teera and the Old Musician confront the truth of their intertwined past, weaving a redemptive melody that will leave both transformed, and freeing Teera to find a new home and a new love in the places she least expects.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TLC Tour: Unbound

I have been skiing exactly once in my life. And that experience was so incredibly memorable simply because of how comical my skiing was.  I have happy memories of tumbling down a mountain, out of control with a good friend while  my boyfriend looked on. He obviously had no idea how terribly uncoordinated I was.

Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery by Steph Jagger is a memoir of the months Jagger spent downhill skiing (4,000,000 vertical feet as a matter of fact) at a variety of beautiful locations around the world as she follows winter around the globe.

Jagger grew up in Canada with a cabin in Whistler where she spent her weekends.  She's has a successful career and seems to be checking off the boxes on her list of what she feels are the things one does in life.  Although she isn't particularly unhappy, she isn't happy, either.  

Instead of just carrying on, Jagger decides to make some changes in her life.  She takes out another mortgage on her house and sets off on an adventure that change her life, visiting five different continents and skiing the best slopes in each.

I loved the descriptions of the picturesque towns. I loved the romance Jagger finds herself in.  I loved the way she so willingly shares the private parts of her life, willing to bare all and allowing readers to see her vulnerabilities.

I didn't get into Jagger's issues with her femininity, but I could respect that those were feelings she had because of some of her life experiences.  I've seen this book compared to Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and can seem some similarities myself.

A great memoir, arm-chair travel book, non-fiction self-help motivational type of read, there's a little bit of something for everyone in Unbound.

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 on this title, visit the HarperCollins website.

Monday, February 13, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Dragon Springs Road

Janie Chang's novel is a great novel of life in the early twentieth century in Shanghai. It's a heartbreaking story of what one girl went through, yet a story full of hope, too.

In 1908, Jialing is just a young girl when she is abandoned by her mother.  Because she is Eurasian her chances in life are greatly diminished, and now without a mother, Jialing must find someone who is willing to take her in.

Many times in this novel Jialing is rescued at the last second by someone who will help her.  At first it is the Yang family who take her in, and she finds a friend in Anjuin, a daughter in the family. She is given a great opportunity and allowed to attend school, giving her an education most girls do not have a chance of getting.

Yet, schooling does not open up many avenues of employment for Jialing because of her mixed heritage.  Jialing is also desperate to find her mother, wanting to know what happened to her so many years ago that caused her to leave her young daughter with nothing. With some help, she attempts to locate a woman who has been gone for many years, and who she quickly realizes, she knows little about.

Chang's story features suspense, a bit of romance, a lesson in the history of Shanghai in the early 1900s, and a character who is able to persevere despite all the odds stacked against her.

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

Visit the HarperCollins' website to find more information about Dragon Springs Road.