Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Another Side of Paradise

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

This week's pick:  Another Side of Paradise by Sally Koslow
Due out: May 29, 2018

Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

The author of the acclaimed international bestseller The Late, Lamented Molly Marx imaginatively brings to life the shocking affair of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his longtime lover, Sheilah Graham, in this dazzling novel of romance, celebrity, and Gatsby-esque self-creation in 1930s Hollywood

In 1937 Hollywood, gossip columnist Sheilah Graham’s star is on the rise, while literary wonder boy F. Scott Fitzgerald’s career is slowly drowning in booze. But the once-famous author, desperate to make money penning scripts for the silver screen, is charismatic enough to attract the gorgeous Miss Graham, a woman who exposes the secrets of others while carefully guarding her own. Like Scott’s hero Jay Gatsby, Graham has meticulously constructed a life far removed from the poverty of her childhood in London’s slums. And like Gatsby, the onetime guttersnipe learned early how to use her charms to become a hardworking success feted and feared by both the movie studios and their luminaries.

A notorious drunk famously married to the doomed “crazy Zelda,” Fitzgerald fell hard for his “Shielah” (he never learned to spell her name), a shrewd yet soft-hearted woman—both a fool for love and nobody’s fool—who would stay with him and help revive his career until his tragic death three years later. Working from diaries and other primary sources from the time, Sally Koslow revisits their scandalous love affair, bringing Graham and Scott gloriously alive in this compelling page-turner saturated with the color, glitter, magic, and passion of 1930s Hollywood and Sheilah’s dramatic transformation in London.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

TLC Book Tour: Meet the Frugalwoods

I love  good memoir, and Meet the Frugalwoods sounded like a book that would not only provide an inside look at the lives of one couple, but also provide some information about living frugally.

This topic has always been of interest to me.  I haven't ever thought that I was especially frugal -  at least not in some areas of my life- yet, I do know people who spend far more money than me.

The entire first half of Meet the Frugalwoods is spent learning about Liz and her husband, Nate: their childhoods, relationship, education and early career.  She does a great job of showing how their privileged (and Liz shows how it is privileged by most standards)lives have set her and her husband up to save enough money to achieve the dream of financial independence.

I was totally sucked in right away because Liz seems like someone I could be friends with.  I appreciated the way she shared her thoughts and questions about their lifestyle, whether they really wanted to be a part of the consumer society.  (I know plenty of people who haven't given this a thought in their own lives.  They have bought or built new houses and make sure they get a newer, better car frequently, and take themselves on tropical vacations each year).  I can relate to Liz and Nate who want more from life than that.  

The second half of the book shows how this couple managed to live frugally. They no longer paid for haircuts, bought all furniture and vehicles used, and Liz even gave up wearing makeup since she considered it an unnecessary expense.   Reading about these changes in their lives was extremely intriguing.

I don't think I'll ever be frugal like the Frugalwoods, but I can certainly give up a few things and spend less than I do.  I'm planning on checking in with Liz and Nate often on the website Liz keeps,  

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 learn more about this book.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Mini-Reviews: A Spring Break Recap

With a whole week off, it would seem that I would have zipped through many books.  However, we were pretty busy much of the week.  (At some point I might even get around to sharing the various places we visited). I did get some good reading in, just not as much as I would have liked.

Highlights of the week include the titles below:

The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe- I really like Thorpe's books so I was happy to see she had a new one out. The Newcomers is the story of a group of students in a newcomer ELL classroom in Denver, Colorado. Thorpe spends the year in the classroom and also visits the families of these students to learn their stories. I was not at all surprised to hear stories of hope and survival, but am always appreciative of life in the United States when I see how many other countries cannot provide their citizens basic essentials.

Roomies by Christina Lauren-  this is just a fun, quick book with some romance. Holland has had a crush on a subway busker for quite a while.  Eventually through a strange series of events, she gets the busker, whose music she adores, an audition with her uncle who happens to be a musical director for a famous Broadway show.  However, Calvin (the busker) can't take the job because he is in the country illegally.  Holland saves the day by volunteering to marry him.

The Late Bloomer's Club by Louise Miller- this book is not yet published and I received an ARC via NetGalley -  I loved Nora, the protagonist. She runs the local diner, takes care of her younger, carefree sister and struggles with finances. When a local cakemaker dies and leaves Nora and her sister, Kit, her farm, you would expect their money woes to be over. But, there's an opportunity to sell to a big business - something that may hurt the small town.  Miller's newest book is just as good as her first, and I couldn't help but root for Nora to find happiness  - not just financial freedom.

Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way The World Eats by Maryn McKenna - this book is so interesting and thought provoking.  There's plenty of science-y information in it, yet it is written in a way that anyone can understand and appreciate.  Although I knew a little about antibiotic resistance, McKenna's explanation and information definitely blew me away. I think this is a book I could hand off to many adults - definitely worth a discussion.

This Love Story Will Self-Destruct by Leslie Cohen - narrated by Ben and Eve, these two characters lives' intersect a variety of times, yet there isn't a romance....until the time is right.  I liked the set-up of this book, hearing from both characters (which I realize is something that happens often) and getting their take on things before the two of them became interested in each other.  

And's Monday morning.  The real world is calling and spring break is over.  I'm off for a run on the treadmill in the hopes of starting off my week the right way. 

Anything you've read this past week that's worth a mention?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Five: The End of Spring Break is Upon Us

I'm not sure how a week off can go by so quickly, but a week of school can last forever.  It's Friday already and even though we didn't have any big spring break plans or a beach vacation, we did enjoy a little time to relax.  

I am ready for spring weather, but it looks like there are some chances for snow still on the horizon for us, so for now, I will just have to enjoy looking at new spring clothes and dreaming of a day when I can wear them.

1.  Printed Logo Crew Sweatshirt - Abercrombie has all their sweatshirts for $25 right now.  I love the look of this logo, and although these seem to be selling out quickly, they have t-shirts that are identical to these sweatshirts.

2.  Organic Cotton Tunic - Middle Sister gets confirmed on Palm Sunday.  I had wanted a new dress or something dressy to wear to church.  But I just wouldn't wear it very often (if ever again).  I'm thinking this tunic, which comes in a few colors, might be a nice shirt for the event.  I'm also envisioning a nice new pair of sandals and some jewelry, too.  However, it's only 9 days away and I haven't ordered anything yet, so at this rate, I'll be stuck wearing something I already own.  

3.   Born Orbit Platform Slingbacks - in fact, these are the very sandals I want for confirmation.  

4.  Sperry Patent Penny Loafer - my spring wardrobe consists of lots of navy and white, and I love a good penny loafer.  I would love to put these on with my white cropped jeans.  

5.  Patagonia's Barely Baggies - Big Sister took notice of these Patagonia shorts while we were shopping on Monday.  They come in a variety of sizes and colors, but for whatever reason she is drawn to the gold color.

6.  Amalia Whipstitch Boots - I seem to be in the mood to buy shoes this week.  I saw these featured on a lady wearing a short-ish skirt and loved the look. I don't think I could carry it off, but it looked great on her.

7.  Rain Down Necklace - and my jewelry for Middle Sister's confirmation? I love the stone in this necklace.

8.  Embroidered Fable Top - I saw this top in person at the Mall of America and loved it.  In fact, I loved a lot of stuff I saw there, but bought nothing.  How amazing is that?

9.  Boxy Cashmere Sweater - and on my way out of the mall at the Nordstrom entrance I saw this very lovely sweater.  I ran my hands over it and exclaimed to my girls how lovely I thought it was. And then I saw that it was $438.  So, yes, it is lovely, but it will have to be lovely for someone else.

10.  Rise - I'm not a huge TV watcher and my girls kind of poo-pooed me when I said I wanted to watch this, but two of them stuck around for the entire show, and I think it has potential.  

That's it for me this week. What's caught your eye?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Undiscovered Country

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature that highlights a soon to be released title that I can't wait to read.

This week's pick: Undiscovered Country:  A Novel Inspired by the Lives of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok 
Due out: April 3, 2018

Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

In October 1932, at the tail end of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign, Eleanor Roosevelt took an overnight train from Potsdam to Albany with Lorena “Hick” Hickok, one of the top Associated Press reporters in the country. That train ride marked the beginning of an extraordinary relationship that would last the rest of Hick and Eleanor’s lives.

In Undiscovered Country, Kelly O’Connor McNees adroitly mixes fact and fiction to present an intimate portrait of the love that bloomed between these two women, hidden in plain sight. Using historical records (including the more than three thousand letters the pair exchanged over a span of thirty years), McNees portrays their relationship from their introduction as reporter and subject through their intense first meetings, their burgeoning affair, and the conflicts that arose as journalist Hick’s ethics were hopelessly compromised by her affection for the woman she was supposed to be covering.

A remarkable portrait of Depression-era America (including Hick and Eleanor’s work on the founding of Arthurdale, the federal housing project in West Virginia for homeless ex-miners), Undiscovered Country is thoroughly researched, highly readable, and beautifully subtle—an extraordinary portrayal of one of the greatest unknown love stories in American politics.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

TLC Book Tour: In Praise of Difficult Women

In March I typically purchase and display many books in the library about women who have been important throughout history.  Most of the time the teachers and students are not aware that March is Women's History Month.  (February is Black History Month, April is Poetry....).  This year I'm pretty sure that everyone is aware that March is all about women.  The celebration on March 8 of International Women's Day was just the beginning of a month focused on females.

In Praise of Difficult Women has been published just in time to get in on all of this praise of females.  

Karen Karbo's book looks at twenty-nine women who have made an impact on this world.  Each chapter features a different woman, and Karbo's list is well-rounded (Josephine Baker, Billie Jean King, Diana Vreeland, Laverne Cox, Janis Joplin, Martha Gellhorn to name a few), and some I knew more about than others.  All the women featured are from modern history and each chapter provides an interesting look at their lives, focusing on the way each of them lived their lives a little (or a lot) outside of what was expected of a traditional woman.

I skipped around while reading, picking people randomly, intrigued by names I had never heard before, and I learned a lot about so many interesting women.  This book is perfect for the person who wants to read just a chapter before bed each night, a great gift book, and definitely published at the perfect time as we are hearing women around the globe claim their place in society.

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

In Praise of Difficult Women is published by National Geographic.  Visit their website for more information.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday Mini-Reviews:

It's the first official day of spring break, and I've convinced the girls to get up early so we can do a few fun things. I should have written my blog post last night, but I was in the middle of two books and was determined to finish them both.  I did, but only because I stayed up super late (which means I skipped the morning workout and will have to find time for it later).  

These three books are ones not to be missed- and definitely worth staying up late for.

Rebound by Kwame Alexander is a prequel to Crossover, which won a Newbery a few years ago.  It is amazing!  A novel in verse (of course) it is set in the late 80s and features Chuck Bell, the father to Jordan and Josh Bell from Crossover. We see him grow up, struggle in adolescence, fall in love, and eventually Alexander wraps it up with a letter Chuck has written his sons.  This could definitely work as a stand-alone novel, but I can't imagine anyone who reads this won't want to go pick up Crossover immediately.  This one's not out until April 2, but keep it on your list of titles to be looking for.

Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch - this is an author whose work I read all of.  She has the women's fiction/chick lit, not too fluffy/not too deep concept down, which is something I love.  In Between Me and You we meet Ben and Tatum, a couple who has it all - at least they did at one point.  Although Tatum is now famous, Ben's career is flailing and the two have grown apart from each other.  We hear their story through alternating narrators and at different parts of their lives together, eventually piecing together their love story.  Of course I was rooting for them the entire time, always looking for a happy ending.  I don't think there's anything earth shattering in this book, but I was OK with that.  It was a fun, interesting, and hard to put down book.

After You by Jojo Moyes is one of those books that I've been meaning to read since it was published.  I loved Me Before You so much that I just couldn't believe anything after it could measure up.  I will say I didn't love it nearly as much as the first book, but now knowing there is a third book, I'm excited to see where Louisa's life will go.  Moyes sets up some interesting prospects: a trip to New York, a possible love interests - in After You that can be played out in Still Me. (I'm hoping to find time for Still Me over spring break).

These were all good reads I'd hand to friends and family looking for something they can enjoy.

I'm off for a day of adventure and hope to get some reading done along the way.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday Five: Spring Break Begins Today

At 3 PM my spring break officially starts. Not that I'm counting down.  I'm not sure what our plans are for next week, but I am hoping I can come up with something more entertaining that sitting in my house, reading, and cleaning.  

I found a few things this week to share with everyone.  Spring must be coming (despite the fact that we did get more snow) because there are lots of cute spring clothes out there right now)

1.  Women's 3D Cotton Boatneck Sweater - Uniqlo's boatneck sweater looks so crisp and clean. I love their clothes more in person and wish I had a store somewhere around us.

2.  Brooks Ravenna  - Nordstrom Rack had a great sale on Brooks the other day. I technically don't need new running shoes yet, but since they were on sale, I bought myself this pair.  

3.  Peplum Tee - this style of shirt is all over the place right now. I've yet to get myself one, but eventually I will probably need to just do it.  I like that they are dressier than a regular T and not too tight - hiding some areas I want hidden.

4.  Stitch Stripe Sweater - I saw this while browsing on Nordstrom and felt like this would be a great transition sweater from winter into spring. 

5.  Jersey Midi Skirt - this long skirt looks pretty versatile to me. I love a good stripe.

6.  Girlfriend Girl Stripe Chinos in Color -  I have a few pairs (in different colors) of these pants from last spring and love them. This is the color I'm eyeing right now.

7.  Camo Cardi - Anthropologie has this fantastic camo cardigan right now. I love the subdued colors in it.  

8.   Wedgie Platform High Top Sneaker - Facebook is so sneaky. These shoes popped up in my feed and I love them. How did they know that would be the case?

9.  Women's Cotton Linen Roll Sleeve Shirt - gingham is one of those things that just screams "spring" to me.  This green color is the one I'm loving now, but Lands End has a few color options if green isn't for you.

10.  Book Club Trailer - I know nothing about this movie, but with a title like Book Club and the cast listed, this is a must-see for me.  I can't wait for it to come out.

So that's it for me this week.  What's caught your eye?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Tangerine

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

This week's pick: Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Due out: March 27, 2018

Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

"As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated in a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock—suspenseful and atmospheric."
—Joyce Carol Oates, author of The Book of American Martyrs

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there was Lucy, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.

Optioned for film by George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, with Scarlett Johansson to star

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

TLC Book Tour: Promise

Several years ago now a nearby town experience an F5 tornado that absolustely devastated the community.  The power of Mother Nature is truly amazing.  

Promise by Minrose Gwin explores an F5 tornado that hit Tupelo, Mississippi in April of 1936.  Gwin's work is fiction, but she explores what the devastation must have been like, especially since the white and black communities were separate from each other and the black community was not given as much care or help as the white community.

The story begins just prior to the storm's coming, and Gwin explores this event by telling it through the eyes of two families- one black and one white.  Interestingly enough, these families are connected to each other through an infant, Promise, whose mother, Dreama, was raped by the wealthy white family's oldest son. 

Dreama has been raised by her grandparents and has dreams for her future.  The arrival of Promise is unexpected and unwelcome, yet she finds herself loving this baby.

Jo is the teenage girl in the white family whose voice we hear.  It is her brother, who she admits is evil, that is the father of Dreama's baby.  When the storm hits their house Jo watches her brother die, her mother get seriously injured, her baby brother disappear, and her father also leave to find help.  Jo herself has a serious head injury that she needs to receive medical attention for (I admit visualizing this kind of grossed me out).

Gwin takes her time developing the story of the storm.  Mere hours pass in each chapter.  From time to time I wanted things to move more quickly.  However, the payoff is in the second half of the book.  As the town tries to recover from the storm, the devastation seems almost too immense.  Dreama cannot find her baby and her search for Promise is the focus of the story.  I felt myself becoming entirely sucked in - knowing where he was the entire time- and wondering how this would be resolved.  I was not disappointed.

I loved learning about a little known event in history that certainly impacted Tupelo for a long time.  I loved that Gwin included photographs of the storm's devastastion at the book's end.  

This would make a great book club selection and readers who enjoy historical fiction - or just a good story in general, will want to pick this one up.

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.