Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Best Day Ever

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

Product Description taken from Amazon:

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he's the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That's why he's planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever. 
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? 
Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

Monday, August 14, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Whispering In French

Whispering in French was a fast, entertaining read by a new to me author, Sophia Nash.

I thoroughly enjoyed the French setting of this story and especially appreciated Kate, a character I could identify with.  

Kate has come to France to convince her aging grandfather to sell his home. He, of course, does not like this idea despite the fact that he has run out of money to pay for it's upkeep.

Kate, who is a therapist, meets Major Edward Soames, who is with the British military and is suffering from PTSD. I especially appreciated her interactions with him and what her role as a therapist brought to their relationship.

Perhaps the only thing that I didn't enjoy was the portions of the novel where the animals speak to each other. I wasn't sure if this was essential to understanding the story later on (it wasn't), and as I'm not one to enjoy talking animals in my stories, this didn't appeal to me.  

Readers will enjoy the steady pace of this novel, the French setting, and the characters.

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 about Whispering In French, visit the HarperCollins website.

Friday, August 11, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Dryland

Dryland: One Woman's Swim to Sobriety by Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a memoir I enjoyed so much that the only fault I could find was that it left me wanting more from her.

This memoir's focus is Bercaw's alcoholism that has been a problem for her for several (maybe even many) years.  However, even though that is the focal point, there are several other aspects of her life that I found fascinating:

Bercaw was a champion swimmer, qualifying for the 1988 Olympic swimming trials.

Her father and grandfather's death from Alzheimer's impacted Bercaw's own belief and actions about her future and a disease she believed awaited her.

She lived in Kenya as a Peace Corps volunteer, where a friend was murdered.  This story especially piqued my interest and I am still wondering what really happened.

Bercaw and her husband and son live in Abu Dhabi, US expats, an interesting place to move and make a home.

This memoir moves back and forth in time sharing portions of her past and the present and her eventual decision to quit drinking.  So many aspects of Bercaw's life were intriguing to me.  I wish I could sit down with her and get to know her; she definitely has some amazing stories to tell.

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

Friday Five: The Dog Days of Summer

We are at the point in the summer where I am sick of hanging out all day with my  kids, yet not quite ready to embrace the idea of going back to work.  And we will officially be on high speed next week as we finish up some last minute summer errands.

I'm loving looking at new fall clothing, but am also enjoying some of the summer items that are still being featured.  I missed last week's Friday Five (summer laziness on my part), so I've got ten things for you this week:

1.  Women's High Rise Floral Embroidered Mossimo Light Wash Jeans -  I love embroidery on jeans.  These have a nice, affordable price tag, but I'm not so sure about the "high rise" part of the description.

2.  Women's Crocs Leigh-Ann Ankle Strap Leather Mini Wedge - my middle daughter has been dying for a pair of crocs (had I known they would ever come back in, I would have saved her my pair that I got rid of several years ago).  So, we stopped at a Croc outlet last week. I am always pleasantly surprised by the different styles of shoes they now sell.  And how comfortable they are.

3.  Sofft Somers Slip On Sneaker - I've seen a variety of this shoe for a while now. I could wear these with jeans or khakis, so they might eventually be something I need to add to my wardrobe.

4.  Sugar Mill Wedges - Since I can't wear open toed shoes to work and my normal summer wardrobe consists of black Lucy shorts and a t-shirt, there isn't a great need for a dressy pair of sandals. But I love these.

5.  Rafaela Printed Sweater - Boden's new catalog came this week. I love this sweater which comes in a few designs. This is my favorite.

6.  Statement Pullover - Gap Factory Outlet had great deals last weekend. I'm still kicking myself for not getting this sweatshirt.  

7.  Nindi Long Sleeve Thermal - my mom recently purchased this shirt was in beautiful in person.  It's a bit of an investment, but I'm hoping someday she gifts it to me when she is tired of it.

8.  Women's Rugby Stripe - my new Eddie Bauer catalog also arrived. I don't order from them as much as I once did, but I love these stripe rugbys.

9.  Lay's Potato Chips - our household has tried them all.  I can't pass up a good chip and although I didn't love any of them, none of them were too bad, either.

10.  Fully Booked Podcast - my list of podcasts is ridiculously long and I'm never caught up, but of course when I heard there was a book podcast I didn't yet have on my radar, I quickly subscribed. I've listened to and enjoyed two episodes.

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: We Were Strangers Once

Each Wednesday I highlight a soon to be released title I can't wait to read.

This week's pick: We Were Strangers Once by Betsy Carter
Due out: September 12, 2017

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

For readers of The Nightingale and Brooklyn, an exquisitely moving novel about friendship, love, and redemption in a circle of immigrants who flee Europe for 1930s-era New York City.

On the eve of World War II Egon Schneider--a gallant and successful Jewish doctor, son of two world-famous naturalists--escapes Germany to an uncertain future across the sea. Settling into the unfamiliar rhythms of upper Manhattan, he finds solace among a tight-knit group of fellow immigrants, tenacious men and women drawn together as much by their differences as by their memories of the world they left behind.

They each suffer degradations and triumphs large and small: Egon's terminally acerbic lifelong friend, bestselling author Meyer Leavitt, now wears a sandwich board on a New York street corner; Catrina Harty, the headstrong daughter of a dirt-poor Irish trolley driver, survives heartbreak and loss to forge an unlikely alliance; and Egon himself is forced to abandon his thriving medical practice to become the "Cheese Man" at a Washington Heights grocery. But their spirits remain unbroken, and when their little community is faced with an existential threat, these strangers rise up together in hopes of creating a permanent home. With her uncanny ability to create indelible characters in unforgettable circumstances, Betsy Carter has crafted a gorgeous novel that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt adrift and longed for home.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The Cottingly Secret

This is a novel any book lover will fall in love with.  The old bookshop that Olivia inherits upon her grandfather's death is a reader's dream.

Summary taken from Amazon:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story.
1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.
One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

My Thoughts:

I loved so many things about this novel.  I loved Olivia's story - her quest to learn more about her grandmother's life, her realization that her relationship with her fiancee was not working, her desire to hang on to her grandfather's bookstore.  

And then I loved the portion of this novel set in 1917 as two girls staged pictures of themselves with fairies that the rest of the world believed were authentic.  The manuscript that Olivia finds explaining all of this was so entertaining.  

Of course reading Gaynor's notes at the book's end added to my love of The Cottingly Secret.  I was happily surprised to learn that the photographs the novel centers around really were in the news in 1917 as people questioned their authenticity. I have been busily reading more about them online. (This is one of my favorite aspects of historical fiction: learning of little known events in the past).

I can think of many readers who will enjoy this book and reviews I've seen are also singing it's praises.

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 The Cottingly Secret.

Released Today: The Great Quake

I've been reading a ton of non-fiction this summer and loving it.  The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed our Understanding of the Planet by Henry Fountain was interesting. I learned a lot and enjoyed every page.

On March 27, 1964, an earthquake that measured 9.2 on the Richter scale hit Alaska.  The state was young and much of it uninhabited but still left 130 people dead.  George Plafker a geologist with the US Geological Survey arrived to investigate the quake which he believed to be the result of plate tectonics.

This account is full of great information, but Fountain's book is readable by anyone, not just people with an interest in earthquakes or geology.  He has interviewed some of the residents who experienced the quake personally and shared their stories.  Getting to know these people is by far my favorite part of the book.

Prior to reading The Great Quake I wasn't even aware there had been an earthquake in Alaska, and yet once I began reading I was totally fascinated by this piece of history.  

This is an amazing account of a devastating event and it's aftermath. If you're looking for a great non-fiction book, The Great Quake will keep you engaged from beginning to end.  

And, best of all, it's being released today.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

TLC Book Tour: The Dress in the Window

I am always excited to dig into a new historical fiction novel.  The Dress in the Window did not dissappoint!

I love reading books set during World War II, but the time period directly after the war is another one of my favorites.  This book hooked me nearly immediately.  

Jeanne and Peggy are living with Peggy's mother-in-law after all three of them have lost the men in their lives (Jeanne was engaged, while the other two women are widowed).  Financially they struggle to make ends meet, and both Jeanne and Peggy harbor dreams of making it on their own. Jeanne is an accomplished seamstress and Peggy a fantastic clothes designer.  

Thelma, Peggy's mother-in-law has kept some secrets that have impacted their futures, and slowly these secrets become known.  There's also plenty of sibling rivalry as Jeanne and Peggy have also told some lies of their own in an attempt to further their own careers.

I loved the descriptions of the dresses Peggy designed and Jeanne's ability to recreate these clothes. I also loved how Grant accurately depicted the limited roles women were allowed to play during this time period.  Despite wanting a career, having a child was something that could end any aspirations beyond motherhood.

This story shows how dreams can come true, and that you never know what the future may hold.

Rarely do I comment on a book's cover, but this is one that I think would benefit from a facelift.  The cover seems so dark and depressing to me, and although the sisters are struggling to survive and the time after the war was not a happy one for them, their dress making was bright and stylish and their future was bright.

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, August 2, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Something Like Happy

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

This week's pick:  Something Like Happy by Eva Woods
Due out: September 5, 2017

Product information taken from Amazon:

With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment.

“It's simple, really. You're just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we're doing one right now…”

Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she'd once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn't want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it's that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie's convinced it's impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there's still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly's about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Releasing Today: Happiness

I love memoirs and Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time.  I loved every single word.

Heather Harpham's story begins with her romance to Brian, a writer, who she loves deeply.  The story of their relationship alternates with the story of the birth of their daughter, Gracie.  

Shortly after Harpham discovers she is pregnant, she becomes aware of how serious Brian is about not wanting to be a father.  This is a deal-breaker in their relationship.  So Harpham leaves for her home in California where she is surrounded by friends and family who can give her support in her new role as a single parent.

And then, shortly after Gracie's birth it becomes obvious that something is not quite right with her blood.  What follows are several years of blood transfusions, no definitive diagnosis, and some hard choices as Harpham (along with Brian who eventually has a change of heart) try to navigate the best way to give Gracie the best chance of survival.

I felt like Harpham took the many things I have felt and put them into words much better than I could ever dream possible. I also had a child with a life-threatening illness. My daughter and Gracie went through treatment at the same age- four years old.  Harpham brought up a lot of memories for me while reading, and I felt instantly that we could have been friends, could have been two moms sharing space, and our stories,  in a hospital room as we cared for our children. 

The story that Harpham shares is so well written, so beautiful, and so reaffirms what really matters in life. This five star memoir is out today.  

It is also an IndieNext pick for August and an Amazon Best Book of the Month pick for August.