Thursday, October 2, 2014

Butternut Summer



I was a little reluctant to begin reading Butternut Summer by Mary McNear after I found that it is the second novel in a trilogy. I'm a read a series in order type of gal, but once I began reading I couldn't stop.  And, Butternut Summer is great as a stand alone novel, although I have already downloaded the first in this series to my kindle.




This novel focuses on Caroline and Daisy, mother and daughter who live in Butternut, Minnesota, a small town located on one of Minnesota's lakes.  Caroline runs a restaurant, Pearl's, where Daisy helps out during the summers when she is home from college.

Both characters have their own stories: Caroline tries to deal with the financial difficulties her restaurant is facing, while Daisy meets and falls head over heels in love with Will, a former bad boy who is trying to reform his ways. To add a little more drama, Daisy's father, Jack, who deserted his daughter and wife has come back to Butternut after nearly two decades of no contact, planning to win his ex-wife back.

There are other characters who contribute their stories to Butternut Summer. We again meet Caroline's friends, who were the focus of the first novel, Up At Butternut Lake, and the various members of this small community are developed a bit further.


I absolutely loved this novel.  I raced through every page, enjoying the romances of Will and Daisy, and Jack and Caroline.  I loved the small town feel, and couldn't help but feel as though I knew the characters that McNear created.  The only downfall was the ending which left me hanging a little, wanting more.

I can think of many readers who will enjoy the Butternut Trilogy, especially those who have liked the Mitford series by Jan Karon or the Cape Light novels by Thomas Kinkade.

I'm already counting down for the final novel, and wish that McNear had plans for more than just three books in this series.

This novel was sent to me to review by TLC book tours.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

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




This week's pick: Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway
Due out: April 7, 2015



Product information taken from Goodreads:

The critically acclaimed, award-winning author of How to Be an American Housewife returns with a poignant story of estranged sisters reunited when a request from their ailing mother reveals a long-buried family secret.

Rachel and Drew Snow are sisters. Though they were confidants and cohorts as little girls, their lives have followed completely different paths. In fact, as adults they appear to occupy different planets.  
 
Rachel hasn’t returned to her childhood home since being kicked out by her strict father after an act of careless teenage rebellion. Despite the estrangement from her parents, Rachel married a good man and is a mother to two strong-minded teens—she has a full, authentic life. Drew, younger by four years, followed her passion for music and works a variety of side jobs to supplement gigs and recording sessions. She’s now at an impasse, longing for the stability that has always eluded her. Both sisters recall how close they were, but the distance between them seems more than they can bridge. When their deferential Japanese mother, Haruki, is diagnosed with dementia, the family is surprised when she gives Rachel power of attorney. But no one is more surprised—and angered—than Rachel’s domineering father, Killian. Killian’s relentless anger, Haruki’s seeming favoritism: each is a wedge in the gulf dividing the sisters.
 
In a rare moment of lucidity, Haruki mysteriously asks Rachel to find a book in her sewing room. To get into the house, let alone find the book, Rachel needs her sister’s help. But finding the book turns out to be just the beginning. The book—which tells the tale of real-life female samurai Tomoe Gozen, an epic saga of love, loss, and conflict during twelfth-century Japan—reveals truths about Drew and Rachel’s relationship that resonate across the centuries, and helps them connect in a way that turns their differences into their strongest asset. The two sisters realize that courage is not just for the bold warrior women of ancient times, but for them, as well.

Monday, September 29, 2014

It Was Me All Along

Andie Mitchell's memoir It Was Me All Along could be the story of many a person who struggle with their weight.

That didn't make it less interesting to me.

Instead, I enjoyed Andie's story, which begins with her childhood and the home she grew up in.  It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to see that her relationship with food had something to do with her father's alcoholism and her parents' marital troubles.  I'm not sure you can blame Andie's overeating on this entirely, but it does seem fairly obvious that the stress in the home caused Andie to turn to food for comfort.




As she enters adulthood and has a physical, her doctor says her weight aloud: 268 pounds, putting her on the path to weigh 300 pounds if she continues with the way she is currently living.

This causes Andie to take a look at her eating.  There are ups and downs, some binge eating, but Andie begins exercising and looking at how much food she is eating, making better choices.  The weight loss journey isn't easy.  

And it isn't just about the food.  Even after Andie has reached her goal weight, there is still the issue of food - this time restricting her eating too much.

I was instantly sucked in to Andie's story, and inspired by her own account of overcoming her issues with food.  A picture at the book's beginning shows Andie both before and after her weight loss, and it is easy to see that she is a beautiful woman at 268 pounds or 130 pounds, and as I read it became obvious that the beauty we see on the outside is also present inside.

It Was Me All Along is a must read memoir for anyone who has struggled with their weight, and even for those who haven't , to gain a better understanding of what people with food issues struggle with on a daily basis.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Salon: The Late Edition

Beautiful fall weather this entire weekend has kept me busy outside, enjoying this while it lasts.  So, it is way later than I want it to be right now, and I haven't yet thought about lesson plans or the week ahead.




Last night was a night to sit around the bonfire with friends.  We managed to get invited and actually show up at two different bonfires in our neighborhood.  It was a late night with a lot of good food and a few drinks. 



My best intentions of working off the extra calories after church this morning quickly fell by the wayside, as our family began a major purge in our garage.  We still have stuff sitting out in our driveway and in our front yard that we will need to put away tomorrow, but we have made great progress: one full truck load to a friend's dumpster, many huge black trash bags waiting for garbage pick-up, 20 (give or take) plastic crates, tubs, etc. taken to recycling, lots of dirt swept up along with sawdust from the kitchen project, and lots of junk burned in our bonfire.  

Anywho....this means I didn't have a lot of time to sit around and read today.  Or work on lesson plans.  Or cook for the week.  Or basically get organized.  

So, I need to quickly do a few things before heading to bed.  I'm setting my alarm for a super early wake up call, so I can try and get a few things done before the week officially begins.

Little Sister's pumpkin decorating

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five

I'm thankful it's the weekend, but wishing already for more than just Saturday and Sunday to catch up and recharge.  Here are the things that have caught my eye this week:








I love looking through the new Athleta catalogs that show up in my mailbox.  I already have several pairs of exercise capris, leggings, and shorts, but would still love to add these to my collection.  I also wish I looked like the model wearing them. Sigh.



You know how Facebook seems to know everything about you and things pop up that you might enjoy buying?  Well, I've been getting quite a few pop-ups from Modcloth lately, and have really enjoyed looking at the clothing they have.

I am a sucker for Kohl's Cares stuffed animals.   I love adding these to my school library collection.  This past weekend I added Little Critter and his sister.  

Joss and Main is another one of the websites that constantly pops up on my Facebook newsfeed.  My friend, Jamie, has recently moved in to a new house and purchased a lot of items from there.  I love, love, love her house which has caused me to look at the Joss and Main waaaaayyyyyy too much this week.




One of my fellow teachers brought a bunch of snacks for an in-service we had.  She was nice enough to share with those of us who didn't pack any extra food, and all I needed was one little bite of Cracklin' Oat Bran before I decided to buy myself a box.  Sadly, this is not something I will be able to keep in the house because I gobbled the entire box up within a day.  Soooooo good!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

One Kick

I feel pulled toward mysteries more lately, and have been pleasantly rewarded with some great finds.

One Kick by Chelsea Cain has received a fair amount of buzz, but even though Cain has published other books, I have never read her work.



One Kick is the first in what Cain intends to be a series, and I am anxious for the next installment, barely wanting to put this book down.  (I picked it up at bedtime one night, and was nearly through all 300 pages by the next morning.  Needless to say, I was a bit tired the next day!)

Kick Lanigan was kidnapped as a young child, rescued five years later, having lived with her captors who moved frequently and presented her as their child.  She was a part of their child pornography ring, and her experiences have left her with some issues of her own.

When Kick learns of two missing children she is asked (ordered might be a better word) to assist with the case.  Her skills in martial arts, boxing, knife throwing (and pretty much any other method of fighting), give her a way to defend and protect herself, although it doesn't prevent her from reliving some of her own past as she is confronted with trying to locate these missing children.

Cain's One Kick is suspenseful in two different ways: in solving the mystery of where the missing children are, and also in revealing parts of Kick's past and what happened to her.

I am a huge fan of One Kick and can't wait to read more in this series.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

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



This week's selection: The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
Due out: February 10, 2015



Product Information taken from Goodreads:

A novel about three generations of midwives (a woman, her mother, and her grandmother) and the secrets they keep that push them apart and ultimately bind them together

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world—and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever. Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby’s father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s—a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family's Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue, and Redemption

Vinh Chung's life is nothing short of amazing.  Born in Vietnam in the 70s his family fled the country in an attempt to find a better life.  



Vinh's grandmother made her living after her husband's death by starting a rice mill, which eventually led to great prosperity. Vinh was born into a family with wealth, yet when Vietnam fell to the Communists, the family fled the country for life in America, where they hoped to start anew. 

Their journey was dangerous from the outset. They joined the "boat people" despite knowing that thousands of other who had embarked on this journey never reached their destination. Pirate attacks, dehydration and near starvation were all faced with immense courage.

When the Chung family finally arrived in Arkansas, their new home, their struggle was not over.  They faced a language barrier and discrimination.  Chung shares stories about the ways in which his family made their way in a new country, and the work ethic his father passed on to his children.

Where The Wind Leads is an inspirational story, Chung's memoir is not full of sorrow despite everything his family lost.  Instead, his family chose to work hard and take every opportunity given to them.  

As I looked at Where The Wind Leads on Amazon, Chung's memoir has over one hundred reviews, and still retains a 5-star rating, the highest it can garner.

I am recommending this memoir to everyone; it is truly a tale of inspiration everyone should read.




Monday, September 22, 2014

The Secret of Raven Point

I know I'm not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I will tell you that as soon as I saw the cover on Amazon, I added The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbees to the list of books I wanted to read.




Then, to add to my desire to read this book was my friend, Kristin's glowing recommendation.  

I started The Secret of Raven Point on my iPad, using my kindle app during our all day in-service on Friday night.  By Saturday afternoon as we sat at a friend's house watching a football game (and a good game at that), I was trying to find any reason to sneak my iPad out and continue reading.

Juliet Dufresne and her brother, Tuck, have had a sheltered life in South Carolina until World War II breaks out. Her brother decides to enlist, and after he is MIA, Juliet goes overseas to work as a Red Cross nurse. Although her goal is to find someone who knew her brother, and therefore give some closure to what happened to Tuck, Juliet is also finding herself a bit as well- growing up quickly as she cares for the wounded and dying.

The mystery of what became of Tuck takes a few twists and turns, which created a bit of suspense as I read. Vanderbees resolution is satisfying, although not what I expected.

I still have an earlier novel, Strangers at the Feast, by Vanderbees that I am excited to dig into after reading The Secret of Raven Point.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Salon


Well, aside from a little rain yesterday morning that occurred during the girls' soccer games (and ended up canceling them), the weather has been beautiful. This upcoming week looks like more of the same. 

My husband is in Washington, D.C. for a few days for work.  The rest of us here at our house are all jealous since this is where we had contemplated vacationing.  Instead of visiting national monuments we are folding laundry and vacuuming while he is gone.

I have enjoyed sitting around this weekend and reading - and even getting a little organizing done.  Hopefully by the time he returns it will look like we have done some cleaning.

I still have lesson plans to write along with a few blog posts for the week.  Although it is supper time and we just returned from the grocery store a bit earlier, I have no idea what I will make.  I would be happy if everyone would find something on their own, but doubt that will happen.

Enjoy what's left of your weekend, everyone!