Monday, November 20, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Garden of Lamentations

Deborah Crombie is an author not entirely unknown to me.  But although I've heard her name for quite a while, I have yet to read any of her work.  Upon a little research, Garden of Lamentations is part of a series - and although I usually try to read series novels in order, I felt like I caught on to this one enough that I wasn't totally lost and was still able to enjoy it.

Gemma James and Duncan Kinkaid are the two main characters in this series. Married to each other, they share many things, but in this story, they don't share much about their cases with each other.

Reagan, a young woman is found dead in a garden in Notting Hill. Gemma is drawn in to finding out what happened to her because she is the nanny of a boy that Gemma's son takes dance lessons with.  There is definitely something not quite right about a young woman dying in a garden one night.  And to make things worse, this is not the only death. There was another suspicious death a few months previous.

Duncan is struggling with his own issues. He is unhappy with work circumstances which has caused him to be relocated to a different department.  When he meets up with his former boss and finds the boss has been beaten and left for dead on his way home from their meeting, Kincaid begins to look into the possibility of some criminal activity within Scotland Yard and isn't sure who he can trust.  

I really liked this book, and I think it works as a stand alone novel. However, I will say that I think I would have enjoyed it even more had I read the previous books in the series and felt like I was catching up with some familiar characters, not just trying to meet up with a group of people I didn't know.

I will definitely put this series on my radar -and go back and start with Book #1.  I liked the British setting, the characters, the writing.....Deborah Crombie has a fantastic mystery series that was under my radar for far too long.  

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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Five: The Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away?!  I am ready for a few days off and some good food, but this morning I realized that in addition to grocery shopping, I also need to clean. That part I'm not looking forward to.  

There are some cute wintery things on my list this week.  And a few rather random items as well.

1.  Cozy Fringe Scarf - Gap has  bunch of plaid scarves. I like the look of a plaid scarf with a nice sweater. 

2.  Merino Wool Turtleneck Sweater - And there are some great plain sweaters out there that would be perfect paired with a plaid scarf.  

3.  Metallic Midi Skirt - I've got a winter party coming up....every year I struggle with what to wear. I do like this skirt, but winters in Iowa are so cold and having bare legs seems so unappealing when it comes right down to it.  However, I like to dream about fancy winter skirts and dresses....

4.  Moose Pattern Crew Sweater - Abercrombie is turning out to be one of my new go-to retailers. I love the moose sweater.

5.    Twelve Days of Socks - my girls have all been on me to get into the Twelve Days of Socks spirit.  I have reminded them that we have two huge laundry baskets and a hamper in the basement full of socks. Why would we need more?  Somehow they think we do.

6.  Women's Squatch Boots - fur!  I love fur!  I had a pair of furry boots from Eddie Bauer a few years ago, and I love this updated version.

7.  Harry Potter Spatulas - my oldest daughter is still a Harry Potter fanatic. I have no need to get a set of spatulas for her, but I do think it's a great gift idea.

8. London Destination Collector T-Shirt - Someday I hope to get to London. I've been wanting to go since I was ten years old.  For now, I guess I'll have to settle for a t-shirt.

9.  Pigeon Socks - as a middle school librarian, I'm not sure how cool Pigeon socks would be.  Except to me.  I love Mo.

10.  Real People on Amazon Streaming - this is certainly dated, but I love this blast from the past and trip down memory lane.

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Non-Fiction November: Favorites From 2017: Part 2

2017 has been a year full of great non-fiction books. I could potentially list 50 of them that I could recommend to people.  Here are a few more I am highlighting for you:

1.  Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years by David Litt-  I would read any political type memoir no matter party affiliation.  I loved this look that Litt provided as the speechwriter to President Obama. He was extremely young when he took this job, which is also amazing.  I gave this one a five star rating. It's one of several recent political books to be published about the Obama White House years, and one of my favorites.

2.  The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore- this is an incredible work of narrative non-fiction that tells the stories of individual women (most very young, just entering the work force), and their work at painting the glowing numbers on watches.  Their exposure to radium led to serious health problems, including death, yet the company who employed them refused to take any responsibility for it.  

3.  Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg, Adam Grant, Adam M. Grant- I loved the first book Sandberg wrote, Lean In, and this one is also fantastic. It could be read in short snippets, or in one sitting (like I did).  So much inspiration, common sense, great advice...self help, but not too preachy.  I think no matter your life situation, this would be a great read.

4. The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance Into a Hopeful Future by Joselin Linder - when Joselin was in her mid-twenties, her legs started to swell. This initial problem led to years of misdiagnoses and a connection to her family's health history that was scary and linked to a genetic condition not previously documented or successfully treated.  Fascinating and hard to put down.

5. This Is Just My Face by Gabourey Sidibe -I listened to this on audio and loved it. I loved hearing Sidibe's voice as she read her memoir, and I loved her story.  She shows herself to be an intelligent and successful woman.  

Start with these five (or those in my previous Non-Fiction November post) and if you run out of non-fiction reads, I have plenty more to recommend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Surprise Me

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a soon to be released title that I'm anxious to read.

This week's pick: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
Due out: February 18, 2018

Product Information taken from Amazon:

#1 bestselling author Sophie Kinsella's emotionally charged new standalone novel about marriage and family, and how those we love and know best can sometimes surprise us the most.

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.

In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.

With a colorful, eccentric cast of characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella crafts a humorous, yet thoughtful portrait of a marriage and shines a light on the danger of not looking past the many layers of the ones you love to discover how infinitely fascinating--and surprising--they truly are.

Monday, November 13, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The Missing

I love a good suspense novel, and this one was a great one to curl up with this cold, rainy weekend.  Strangely enough, I read another novel also set in Bristol, England, that dealt with a missing teen this weekend.  It has been fun comparing the two since I read them one right after the other.

Claire Wilkerson's son, Billy, a fifteen-year old disappeared from their home one night.  Now, as the novel begins, six months have passed.  The family is struggling to move on, each person having their own ineffective ways of dealing with Billy's disappearance.

At a hearing they must attend to find more information on Billy, things seem to hit a low point and begin to unravel.  

There are secrets that begin to surface, and Claire especially is intent on finding her son who she believes is still alive, looking in rough and seedy areas of Bristol.

There is a lot of buildup to finding Billy and a quick resolution.  I liked the twists and turns of the story, although I wish the ending wouldn't have felt so rushed.  I also appreciated how Taylor really got into the minds of her characters and was able to portray Claire as a desperate mother who would do anything for her child.

This novel will appeal to the many suspense/psychological thriller readers out there.  It's a quick read, and although I finished it in an afternoon, have thought about it several times since then.

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.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Five

I am ready for the weekend.  It seems that the closer we get to the holidays, the more I am counting down days of work.  I don't usually do that because I like my job and going to work is not really something I am anxious to get out of.  But I love the holidays and having some time to relax at home.

The weather is COLD and the things I am looking at are definitely winter things.

1. Lightweight Popover Tunic for Women - I found this while I was browsing Old Navy's site and feel like this would be perfect with my black pants to wear to work or church.  

2.  Classic Flannel Shirt for Women -I've worn my buffalo plaid shirt a ton over the past few years and am really wanting this Black Watch plaid one to add to my rotation.

3.  Fleece Lined Flannel Shirt - and since I've got black watch plaid on my brain, this lined shirt would be one I wouldn't mind having, either.

4.  Peanuts Thanksgiving Plates - I don't have many Thanksgiving decorating things.....these plates are super cute. Pottery Barn Kids also has a few other Thanksgiving decorations that would be worth looking at.

5.  Annapurna Sweatshirt - doesn't this look cozy? I love the arms on this. Sundance has such nice things.

6. Logo Crew -Abercrombie has really come through for me this fall and the fact that they have a camo sweatshirt with their logo on may be too hard to resist.

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7.  Sherpa Lined Jacket - I really like this style of jacket. I've had one like this years ago - comfortable and warm.

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8.  Dolly Python Necklace - I don't wear a ton of jewelry. This necklace could be worn with lots of different tops.  

9.  UGG Milla Fur Cuff Boot - I love my UGGs.  This furry version looks so warm and cozy to me.  And right now I'm all over anything that looks cozy.

10.  Dirty John Podcast - I'm late to the party on this one.  It's so cold that I don't walk my dog as much as I used to which has seriously cut down my listening time.  My commute is also down to half what it once was so this may take me a while to get through.

How about you? What's caught your eye this week?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Mrs.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature where I showcase a soon to be released title that I'm excited to read.

This week's pick: Mrs by Caitlin Macy
Due out: February 13, 2018

Product information taken from Goodreads:

In the well-heeled milieu of New York's Upper East Side, coolly elegant Philippa Lye is the woman no one can stop talking about. Despite a shadowy past, Philippa has somehow married the scion of the last family-held investment bank in the city. And although her wealth and connections put her in the center of this world, she refuses to conform to its gossip-fueled culture. 

Then, into her precariously balanced life, come two women: Gwen Hogan, a childhood acquaintance who uncovers an explosive secret about Philippa's single days, and Minnie Curtis, a newcomer whose vast fortune and frank revelations about a penurious upbringing in Spanish Harlem put everyone on alert. 

When Gwen's husband, a heavy-drinking, obsessive prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office, stumbles over the connection between Philippa's past and the criminal investigation he is pursuing at all costs, this insulated society is forced to confront the rot at its core and the price it has paid to survive into the new millennium.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Two on Tuesday: The Hate U Give and Dear Martin

These two YA novels are brutal and wonderful at the same time.  I loved both of them and have so many students I want to hand them off to.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - Starr witnesses the death of her friend, Kahlil, when he is shot by a police officer on their way home one night.  Starr's recollection of events is much different than the officer's who tries to defend his choice to shoot Khalil.  Starr is the only witness to the crime, trying to deal with her grief and the way the events are being portrayed by the press.  Thomas writes this book in such an honest way. The language is rough, but I felt it was accurate to the teens in this situation.  The novel was inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, and may very well end up on required reading lists in high schools. Such an important story.  Amazon has nearly one thousand five star reviews - and this book is so deserving of every one of those.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone- Honestly, this book felt as amazing to me as The Hate U Give.  Written in a boy's perspective, Justyce is a black teenager attending a mostly white prep school. He's smart and has a lot going for him, yet he is becoming quickly aware that the color of his skin matters more than he ever thought possible.  Stone covers some tough topics: affirmative action, filling quotas, guilt based on the color of skin - she doesn't shy away from anything.  This is another novel that could easily make it's way onto required reading lists.  I found myself nodding my head to the points brought up in this novel and still can't stop thinking about it.

These two books nicely compliment each other. They cover some tough topics and do it well. Be sure to add these to your TBR list.

Monday, November 6, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The It Girls

The It Girls is a fun historical fiction novel about two sisters, Elinor and Lucy Sutherland, both ambitious and wanting to pursue their careers despite the fact that the world they live in is still a man's world.

Love is elusive to both of these women and their husbands less than desirable.  They have money issues to contend with that cause them to make choices because of their financial situation.

The most exciting part is the sinking of the Titanic which the sisters are a part of- Lucy and her husband Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon are passengers on the fateful voyage.  One of the best part of historical fiction novels is that they pique my interest in real-world events.  I had heard of Duff-Gordon previously, but enjoyed looking up additional information about him and discovering that his reputation suffered as he made sure he was saved before many women and children.

There is a lot of name dropping in the It Girls (I loved that), and a little bit of a Downton Abbey feel to this book.  I also enjoyed the fact that this book covers decades of the sisters lives.  It isn't just a short snippet of time, but rather provides a look at how their lives unfold from young adulthood until their children are grown. We see the ups and downs in their relationship with each other, and despite their many disputes, do ultimately have each other's backs.

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 the HarperCollins website.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday Five

After driving to work in the dark this week, I am excited to turn my clock back this weekend.  I can't wait for the extra hour of sleep, either.  However, this makes it really seem as though winter is coming.

As usual I have found some good stuff this week. The challenge is for me not to actually purchase everything I like.

1.  Beach Cocoon Cowl Neck Pullover - Doesn't this look cozy while still being something that could be worn with jeans or even with a pair of khakis? There are several colors available.

2.  Crazy Stripe Crewneck Sweater - I feel like Gap has had a stripe sweater option for the last several winters. I love the look of a multi-striped sweater.  This is the 2017 version.

3.  Print Popover Shirt - I love the blues together and have a pair of gray jeans myself I would pair this with.   The last time I checked it was only $16.99. a bargain!

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4.  Lifetime Leather Mini Sling Bag - I love a good leather bag. The Duluth Trading Company has several options. This is just one I have my eye on.

5.  Large Points of Light Ornament - and since winter is coming, so are the holidays. I love adding a few ornaments to my collection each year.  This is one of the ones I like.

6.  Coaster Go-To Sweatshirt - I wasn't an initial fan of the cut-out back sweatshirt style, but I'm warming up to it. I like the looks of this one, but if you aren't thinking this is the one for you, Athleta has several options.

7.  The Christmas Breton - I bought a Christmas Breton last year and loved it. There are four options this year - this is my favorite.

8.  On the Go Salad Container - for years I have taken salads to work for lunch and struggled with how to pack it. I don't like soggy lettuce, which is what happens if you have to put the toppings with it hours before you are ready to eat. This salad container seems like a win-win to me.

9.  Elephant and Piggie Enamel Pins - Even though I've moved up to middle school this year, I still love Elephant and Piggie. I wear my Elephant and Piggie sweatshirt all the time, and I might have to add these pins to my collection.

10.  Ivory Fair Isle - I managed to talk myself out of two Eddie Bauer sweaters last weekend when they had a 50% sale, but then I got a Lands End catalog this week, and I'm just not sure I can talk myself out of this one.  It's 40% off for the next few days.

Womens 3/4 Sleeve Fair Isle Turtleneck Sweater

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