Thursday, October 20, 2016

TLC Book Tour: Just Fine With Caroline

Just Fine With Caroline is the perfect novel for someone looking for a nice story with a town full of interesting characters to get to know, a little romance, and some lovable pets as well.

Caroline moved back home a few years ago to help her father take care of her mother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Caroline's life seems to be on hold because of this, although she does appreciate the time with her parents and her cousin Ava Dawn.  

Caroline runs her mother's bait shop and is enjoying the presence of Noah Cranwell, the newly-returned grandson of Jep Cranwell, who has some connection from long ago with Caroline's mom.  Caroline and Noah definitely have some chemistry together, but Noah has a few troubles of his own.

I loved the setting of this novel and the way Noblin included information about the Missouri Ozarks in her book.  The small town way of life is definitely something I understand, and I felt a little bit like a story like this could be written about my hometown.

The Butternut Lake novels and Cape Light novels are read-alikes to Just Fine With Caroline. I'm hoping that this is just the beginning of getting to know these Cold River residents and can't wait to learn more about them.

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

Visit Harper Collins to learn more about Just Fine With Caroline. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

TLC Book Tour: Six Days in Leningrad

Six Days in Leningrad is a fantastic memoir, a pleasant surprise I wasn't expecting.  I have never heard of Paullina Simons before, but quickly jumped at the chance to review this book because of my love of memoirs.

Simons traveled to Russia with her father as part of the research she was conducting for an upcoming novel, The Bronze Horseman.  Born in Russia, Paullina lived there until she was ten, then moved to the United States. Although this trip back home was for research purposes, it was also an amazing experience for Paullina to go back to where she had lived when she was little.  

Places that Paullina had built up in her mind were not always as she remembered them. The home she has happy memories of is dilapidated looking.  In fact, although she has no recollection of her bedroom being in a kitchen, that is what she comes to realize when she sees her former bedroom as an adult. 

She tries to find her great-grandmother's grave with her father, a task they find extremely difficult and almost give up on, only to be rewarded with their driver's persistence in finding it.

These personal stories made Paullina's trip to Leningrad come to life for me.  I loved the way Simons wrote about her trip by incorporating her own childhood memories into this book.  

This is a fast read.  I flew through it quickly and also loved seeing the photographs that Paullina included

I know that fans of Simons other books will love this one, but even without knowing Simons previously, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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

Six Days in Leningrad is published by Harper Collins and can be purchased on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Sleepwalker

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that highlights a soon to be published book.

This week's pick: The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian 
Due out: January 10, 2017

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room comes a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire—the mesmerizing story of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night. 

When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee's disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee's husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs' Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee's disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body? 
     Conjuring the strange and mysterious world of parasomnia, a place somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, The Sleepwalker is a masterful novel from one of our most treasured storytellers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Would the Newbery Committee Please Read These?

I feel like I am usually so bogged down with books I need to review that I never get around to reading a lot of the children's books that are on my TBR.

This past weekend I camped out on the couch with a cold one morning and enjoyed two fantastic books.

Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet was a book I had heard about as a possible Newbery contender a few weeks ago.  Upon reading it, I implore the Newbery committee to consider it. I loved it.

Set in 1989 Noah and his family move from the United States to East Germany where the Berlin Wall is still standing. Noah's parents change their names as they leave the United States and now Jonah (as Noah is now known) is told to keep quiet in his new home.  Noah has a stutter which makes him stick out a bit everywhere he goes, and this is also the case in his new home.  

He meets a neighbor his age, Claudia, and gets to know her. But when her grandmother refuses to let the two spend time together, they are devastated.  

There are lots of secrets and the East Germans are very suspicious of everyone fearing for their own safety.  The 1989 setting is also important as it is near the time when the Berlin Wall comes down.

I felt a bit as though I was watching an episode of The Americans while reading this one and loved the way Nesbet incorporated so much history in this book without it coming across as preachy or educational.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds was my second great read of the weekend.  Ghost tries out of the track team one day. He's got talent but he doesn't have running shoes or any clothes to wear to practice except jeans that are baggy and belted tightly.  The coach decides to take a chance on him, telling him that he can be on the team as long as he stays out of trouble.

Which of course is impossible for Ghost since there's a kid at school who feels the need to pick on him.  Ghost is dealing with some heavy stuff: his dad's absence, not having very much money, and not feeling like he fits in.

Reynolds does such a great job of creating Ghost's character. I loved Ghost. I loved the coach and I loved that Ghost got to be part of an amazing team.

This is another one I couldn't put down. 

I've already passed both books on to friends and can't wait to hear what they think. And I am hoping that the Newbery Committee takes a long hard look at these books, too.

Monday, October 17, 2016

TLC Blog Tour: Spot 12: The Story of Birth

Spot 12: The Story of a Birth by Jenny Jaeckel is a graphic novel that chronicles one mother's scary experience in the NICU after it is determined that there was potentially something wrong with her baby.

Although I've been meaning to try reading a graphic novel, I have never actually done it.  So, Spot 12 was a reading experience that was out of my comfort zone, but one I enjoyed.

I admit to not spending a great deal of time looking at the illustrations, but I really enjoyed the story. 

My oldest child spent over one hundred days in the hospital in 2005 after she was diagnosed with stage IV hepatoblastoma (liver cancer) and endured eight rounds of chemo and an eleven hour resection surgery among many other procedures.  Reading Jaeckel's account brought back some not so pleasant memories, but also allowed me to relate to this mother and her time in the hospital in a way many other readers probably (and hopefully) cannot.

I would encourage readers who haven't tried a graphic novel before to give this one a chance.  I feel like the story is interesting enough that even if you don't normally read graphic novels, this is one many readers will enjoy.

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Salon: Another Weekend Is Almost Over

How do the weekend seem to go so quickly?  Here it is Sunday already and I'm not at all prepared for the upcoming week.

Yesterday was the conference XC meet.  Both Big Sister and Middle Sister participate, so it was a big day at our house.

Middle Sister finished a two mile run in 13:24 and took sixth place in the race.  She has had a great first season in this sport.

Big Sister has been running varsity much of the year - as a freshman. She had a personal best yesterday, too, with 22:45 for her 3.1 mile run.  The girls team took second place and run again on Thursday. If they finish in the top three teams they will go on to the state tournament.

Today we had church, Little Sister's soccer game, and a Green Bay Packers game to watch. Big Sister helped out by folding all the clean laundry, so at least it is in organized stacks.  

There is a beautiful tree in our neighborhood right now, and as I look in our backyard most of our trees are getting very yellow.  It must be fall!

I'm looking forward to starting up my exercise class again tomorrow morning. We've been off for a week, and it's great to do that three mornings a week and be in a routine.

I've also got several books that I've read and need to review.  There are so many great titles coming out right now and absolutely no way for me to get to everything I want to read.

How was your weekend? And what's up for your upcoming week?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Five

It's Friday!  We've got a day of professional development planned for us at school and later tonight a home football game where Little Sister will perform a cheerleading routine at half time.  

Yesterday morning it was a brisk thirty degrees, which might not have been so bad except my heater doesn't work in my van.  I'm taking it in today to get fixed because I just don't think it's going to warm up a lot any time soon.

I've had a little time to do some online browsing this week, and this is what I've come up with:

1.  Podcast In The Dark - my friend Kristin recommended this podcast to me. It was in production prior to the remains of Jacob Wetterling being found, and chronicles the case of his disappearance.  My middle daughter was in the car with me when I started listening and now she's hooked, too.

2.  Terrell Cardigan - I'm not sure what it is about camo, but I love it.  I have a short sleeve T that I've been wearing with a denim jacket for fall, but if I had this cardigan I could wear camo all year long.

3.  Curvy Skinny Corduroy Pants - I have a pair of these from Loft in a burgundy color from last year and love them.  Right now they're on sale for $39.50 in a few different colors. I'm loving this marine blue.

4.  Mixed Stripe Wool Cardigan - Anthropologie is having a great sale right now but unfortunately this sweater doesn't qualify for it.  I'm going to be keeping my eyes on this one.

5.  Knuffle Bunny Fabric - Sadly I have probably spent more time looking at this fabric than anything else online all week.  In my defense, the kids at school are crazy for Mo Willems, and this quilting fabric themed after his Knuffle Bunny series of books is super cute.  I might have to look into having a quilt made for me with it.  

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that features soon to be released book.

This week's pick: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Amy Tan
Due out: March 21, 2017

Product information taken from Amazon:

A thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa See explores the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple.

Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and a stranger arrives.

In this remote Yunnan village, the stranger finds the rare tea he has been seeking and a reticent Akha people. In her biggest seller, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, See introduced the Yao people to her readers. Here she shares the customs of another Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha, whose world will soon change. Li-yan, one of the few educated girls on her mountain, translates for the stranger and is among the first to reject the rules that have shaped her existence. When she has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city.

After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.

A powerful story about a family, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance, Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane paints an unforgettable portrait of a little known region and its people and celebrates the bond that connects mothers and daughters.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Psychological thrillers seem to be all the rage right now and there are plenty of them coming out.  

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie is a novel I devoured over the weekend.  I stayed in my pajamas all day Sunday, unable to accomplish anything until I read the entire book.

Julie is an author, having written a best-seller called The Murder Game that seems to bear some resemblance to her own life.  After dealing with a former classmate turned stalker, she and her family relocate to a new city, attempting to start anew.

The new neighborhood they move into has an active neighborhood association and the self appointed neighborhood president spends a great deal of her time knowing everything about what goes on on her street and is a bit over the top in her efforts on this front.

Julie meets her neighbor, John, and the two take up running together.  Aside from John, friendships don't happen easily for Julie or her husband. It seems almost from the beginning they get off on the wrong foot, and the initial impression just gets worse as time goes on.

The novel is written in Julie and John's perspectives changing between the present, which happens to be a court case, and the past which shows the events that lead to this point. 

There is suspense as well as you know a death has occurred but you are not sure whose.  McKenzie does a great job of creating the tone of the story and I was absolutely sucked in from the first page.  

McKenzie has several other books to her credit, and I am anxious to check out more of her work.

Monday, October 10, 2016

TLC Book Tours: The Ramblers

The Ramblers is a novel set in New York that explores the lives of three thirty-somethings that are struggling with growing up.

I missed this book when it was released in 2015 and has just now been released in paperback.  Liberty and Rebecca featured it this past week on their podcast, All the Books, as I was reading it myself and loving it.


Clio is living with her best friend Smith, involved with an older man, Henry, and unable to decide if she is ready (or ever will be) to settle down with him. She's hiding a lot of baggage from Henry about her childhood and can't decide if she can move on from her past.

Smith has been dumped by the love of her life, and is still working at getting back on her feet from the breakup.  To make things worse, her younger sister's wedding is fast approaching and Smith is finding it hard to accept that her younger sister will be married before she is.  

Tate runs into Smith at a college reunion. He, too, is suffering from a broken heart.  His wife has left him and the two are divorcing.  Despite the fact that he's not totally over Olivia, he is interested in Smith and having more than just a fling with her.

These three take turns having their story told, and their lives intersect at a pivotal time for each of them.  

I loved the New York setting, the way these characters felt real, and how the story was developed. Liberty and Rebecca compared this novel to The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney and The Vacationers by Emma Straub. Having loved both of those novels I was excited to see these comparisons. Having now read this novel, I concur with comparing The Ramblers to those books.  

This was a perfect book to curl up with this past weekend.

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

Purchase information available at Harper Collins and Amazon.