Thursday, March 30, 2017

Five Star Picture Book: We're All Wonders

I don't review pictures books individually very often anymore. Usually, I have a whole group of them centered on a theme or some such thing. However, We're All Wonders by RJ Palacio deserves a post of it's own.

Maybe it's because I read Wonder when it first came out and fell in love with it. And since then I have read it to groups of students and they have fallen in love with it.  But, I was so excited to see (months ago, mind you) that a picture book about Auggie was in the works.

It arrived on my doostep on Tuesday, the day it was published. And already yesterday I had shared it with students at school. And they loved it.

This is a great book that talks about differences in appearances, what it feels like to be made fun of, or laughed at because of how you look, and finally, how we are all wonders - special and unique.

Palacio can add illustrating to her list of accomplishments as well. The pictures are fantastic and I had good discussions with students about each page as we read.

A must read book with a powerful message.  We're All Wonders is Wonderful!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Stars Over Clear Lake

Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme once hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill no longer hosts this meme, I am continuing to post information about a soon to be released title each Wednesday that I can't wait to read.

This week's pick:  Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth
Due out: May 2, 2017

Mesmerizing and romantic, Stars Over Clear Lake transports readers to the Surf Ballroom, where musical acts became legends in the 1940s and which holds the key to one woman’s deepest secret.

Lorraine Kindred’s most cherished memories are of the Surf Ballroom, the place where youth lost themselves to the brassy sounds and magnetic energy of the big band swing, where boys spent their last nights before shipping off to war―and where Lorraine herself was swept away by a star-crossed romance.
Returning to the ballroom for the first time in decades, Lorraine enters a dazzling world she thought long vanished. But as the sparkling past comes to life, so does the fateful encounter that forced her to choose between her heart and her duty all those years ago―and Lorraine must face the secret she’s buried ever since. Along the way, she’ll rediscover herself, her passion, and her capacity for resilience.
Set during the 1940s and the present and inspired by a real-life ballroom, Loretta Ellsworth’s Stars Over Clear Lake is a moving story of forbidden love, lost love, everlasting love―and self love.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Mississippi Blood

Mississippi Blood is the third in Greg Iles' trilogy that began with Natchez Burning and continued in The Bone Trees.  This last novel is just as action packed and full of suspense as the first two.

My husband and I rarely read the same books, but this trilogy is an exception.  And while I enjoyed all of the books, my husband LOOOOOOVVVVEEEED this series.  

I'll read just about anything, so I'm not a particularly hard sell when it comes to book, but my husband is very picky.  And these books stood up to all of his criteria for great reading.  In fact, he asked months before Mississippi Blood arrived in the mail when it would be coming.  Now, after reading all three in the series, he talks about re-reading them.  

It's not very often that a book (or series) can be placed on your "best ever" list, but these books are on that list of my husband's.

Mississippi Blood is a continuation of the first two novels, so reading the first two books in the series will be important to understanding this third installment.

Penn Cage is watching his family being destroyed around him.  His father is about to be tried for the murder of his former nurse, Viola (which occurred in the first book) and Penn would like to help exonerate his father. However, he isn't being allowed to help Dr. Cage, who seems hellbent on destroying his own life.  

Secrets are revealed as Penn teams up with a writer who has come to Natchez to write about his father's case. 

Page turning is an understatement when I describe Mississippi Blood - and even though there are plenty of pages to turn- I was still sad when this book was over.

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, visit HarperCollins website.

Monday, March 27, 2017

TLC Book Tour: May Cause Love

The issue of abortion is definitely a hot topic.  In fact, when I was asked to be a part of this blog tour, I didn't hesitate to read May Cause Love, because I will pretty much read anything. But, I did contemplate for a few minutes what reviewing the book would look like on  my blog.  

This is a book that I hope people read and appreciate because it gives voice to an experience that many women have had (Underwood states that one out of three women has had an abortion).

Underwood receives an email from a woman who had an abortion and is finding it hard to deal with.  She emails her back and this begins May Cause Love. 

Underwood explains how she found herself nineteen, pregnant and unable to have an infant that would forever change her life.  Although this decision was made because it seemed like the best of a bunch of bad choices, Kassi still feels a wide range of emotions after the abortion is over.

Although her choice is not the right one for everyone, and it certainly is in opposition to a variety of religions, her book is the only one I've ever seen that chronicles what this experience is like. For those women who have experienced abortion, this book is an amazing resource where they can find someone who went through something they have also experienced and feel a connection to Kassi.

And they can see that she survived.  

Kassi spent years dealing with the effects of her decision, looking in a variety of places for some peace and closure.

Reading this account of what one woman's journey after having an abortion was like is something that will resonate with many readers.  

May Cause Love is not meant to present a position as pro or anti abortion. It is meant as a way to reach other women who are looking for a connection after making a devastating choice.

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

For more information visit HarperCollins website.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Five

Woo-hoo! March is almost over. I've been enjoying March Madness and the somewhat warmer weather.  This has been a busy week, but I still found time to look online a bit.

1.  Guadalupe Pom Pom Necklace - I think this is super cute and will add a little to some of the white shirts I have in my wardrobe.  

2.  Wonder Tote Bag - I  have a Wonder shirt, but a tote bag would take it to a whole new level.  There is also a little pouch that is on sale now, too.

3.  Talk Dewey To Me - My fourth graders are just starting to learn about the Dewey Decimal system.  This would be a great shirt to wear when I teach this unit.

4.  Criss Cross Sweatshirt - Athleta has this sweatshirt in a bunch of colors. I like how the criss cross adds to this very plain clothing item.

5.  Sloane Ranger Banana Leaf Cross Body Bag - I am a bag lady. I love bags....and I have a bunch of them.  I don't need this, but I sure think it's cute.

6.  Missing Richard Simmons Podcast - I don't care much about Richard Simmons, but this podcast is totally entertaining.  Love it.

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

TLC Book Tour: A Widow's House

Carol Goodman is one of my favorite authors.  I read The Lake of Dead Languages years ago when it was first published and have recommended it to many people.  It is still one of my favorite books.  I have ready everything Goodman has written and while I like some of her work more than others, she is a must-read author.

The Widow's House is Goodman's newest novel and it does not disappoint. 

Jess and Clare move back to their former college town in an attempt to revive Jess' writing career.  After a first novel that was well received, Jess' career has been in a slump.  Their marriage isn't exactly thriving, either.  

A former professor hires the couple to act as caretakers at his estate and although this should be a new start, Riven House, their new home, has an air of sadness and mystery hanging over it.  

Things get worse when Clare starts hearing babies crying at night and a person standing on the estate.  After she studies the history of the area and realizes the darkness surrounding where she lives, Clare's life becomes even more terrifying.

Goodman's novels are typically a little creepy and suspenseful, with a college setting.  She's managed to check off all these things in this novel, and I love everyone of those aspects to her books.  I'm always glad to read what Goodman puts out and already have three friends who have been waiting for her next book. I'm excited for them to read The Widow's House and talk it over with them. 

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, visit the HarperCollins website 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Captain's Daughter

Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill is no longer hosting this meme, I am continuing to post one book each week I can't wait to see published.

This week's pick: The Captain's Daughter by Meg Mitchell Moore
Due out: July 18, 2017

Product Information taken from Goodreads:

For fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Emma Straub comes an emotionally gripping novel about a woman who returns to her hometown in coastal Maine and finds herself pondering the age-old question of what could have been

Growing up in Little Harbor, Maine, the daughter of a widowed lobsterman, Eliza Barnes could haul a trap and row a skiff with the best of them. But she always knew she'd leave that life behind. Now that she's married with two kids and a cushy front row seat to suburban country club gossip in an affluent Massachusetts town, she feels adrift.

When her father injures himself in a boating accident, Eliza pushes the pause button on her own life to come to his aid. But when she arrives in Maine, she discovers her father's situation is more dire than he let on. Eliza's homecoming is further complicated by the reemergence of her first love--and memories of their shared secret. Then Eliza meets Mary Brown, a seventeen-year-old local who is at her own crossroad, and Eliza can't help but wonder what her life would have been like if she'd stayed.

Filled with humor, insight, summer cocktails, and gorgeous sunsets, THE CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER is a compassionate novel about the life-changing choices we make and the consequences we face in their aftermath.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Five Star Fiction: Standard Deviation

Is it possible to have two five-star reads in one spring break? Apparently, yes.  At one point I thought keeping track of five star reads would simplify my end of year favorites list I come up with.  But now I am realizing that I have already had too many five star reads for this to work.  

The good part of this is that there are some really good books out there and I am getting to read many of them.  

I absolutely loved this book! There is no big reveal, no suspense. Instead, Heiny's novel provides the picture of one couple and their life which all readers will be able to identify with in some way or another.

Graham's second wife Audra is a talker. She makes friends with everyone she meets and somehow manages to find out intimate details about everyone she knows. Their house is often full of house guests, some who take up residence for a while. Graham marvels at this ability, which he witnesses on a daily basis. Audra's big personality is a contrast to his first wife, Elspeth's. This becomes very obvious after Audra decides to include Elspeth in their social circle. Suddenly Elspeth and her boyfriend Bentrup are being invited to dinner parties and other outings with Graham and Audra, an awkward arrangement at the beginning, but something Audra seems determined to continue. Graham starts to notice the good qualities of both women, and even wonders a bit about the path he has chosen in life.

Graham and Audra have one child, a son Matthew, who presents his own set of challenges. Graham reflects on parenting a child who has Asperger's, and how his own way of dealing with Matthew is so different than Audra's.

Graham and Audra's marriage goes through highs and lows, and readers are privy to the inner workings of this couple's life. I loved this story especially for the character development in it. While there is no big a-ha moment, the entire novel was a delight to read.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Five Star Fiction: The Second Mrs. Hockaday

Spring break has been filled with some amazing time spent reading.  I've tried to work on ARCs that are piling up, but also wanted to read from my library stack.  The Second Mrs. Hockaday is a book that has holds on it which means I can't renew it, so I either needed to read it quickly, or take it back and put a hold on it for the future.

On Saturday night at 10 PM I chose to read it.  And I was finished by 9 AM the next day.

This novel rang two of my bells immediately: it's an epistolary novel, something I love, and it's historical fiction.

Told in letters mostly written by Placidia and her cousin, we find out that Placidia has given birth to an illegitimate child while her husband was away fighting in the Civil War.  When he discovers this upon his return, he immediately has her arrested.  As she awaits trial she writes to her cousin, still unwilling to speak of what happened while her husband was gone. 

Later, her son comes across a journal that his mother kept during the war, which details the events of the years his father was gone. As he reads, he comes to know his parents in a different light, and talks with his mother's cousin about the events that occurred before he was born.

Rivers slowly reveals what happened during this time in the letters and journal Placidia kept.  I found myself racing to then end, curious to find out the parentage of the illegitimate child myself.  

This is a fast read that is easy to get into.  I love historical fiction, but am not always interested in Civil War era books. This book, however, was a winner for me.  I enjoyed every minute of reading and was sad to see it end.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Five

Spring break is nearing it's end, which hardly seems believable. What seems even more unbelievable is that come Monday I have a full work week ahead of me.  The only thing keeping me going is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and summer up ahead.

We were in Chicago for a couple days this week and there is plenty to spend money on there. I found lots of cute things, which I held off on mostly until I entered the Gap. It was like everything there was calling my name.  I also discovered a new to me - and my new favorite- store, Uniqlo.  I don't think their website does it justice, but there are super cute things in there for pretty cheap.

I've got a few featured today, but I could have highlighted only Uniqlo items on my Friday Five for the foreseeable future and not run out of things.

So, here's what I found this week:

1.  Women's Haibara Short Sleeve Graphic T-Shirt - yep, this is from Uniqlo. There are several t-shirts that have various flowers on them.  This is my favorite right now.

2.  Uniqlo Women's Cotton Lawn Embroidered Sleeveless Blouse - and I'm a sucker for anything with embroidered stitching.  This comes in a few colors. At this point, I like several of them.

3.  Pintuck Eyelet Short Sleeve Top - and eyelet just screams spring to me.  This is so much cuter in person.  

4.  Drapey Mix Print Tie Top -I'm not sure where this top was hiding when I visited the Gap, but it is probably a good thing I didn't see it. I'm pretty sure i would have come home with it.

5.  Bartalino Bootie - I bought myself a pair of white jeans in Chicago, and I think the outfit will only be complete if I get a pair of booties to go with them. Right?

6.  Audible Channels -and as if I don't have enough podcasts to listen to, I discovered that Audible has a bunch of "shows" avaiable with an Amazon Prime membership.  So far I've only made my list of all the shows I want to listen to. If I start listening now, I might be done in 2020.

And that's it, folks. What's caught your eye this week?