Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Salon: Super Bowl Edition

This is a late Sunday Salon post since we are just now getting back from a Super Bowl party. 

Once again, the two day weekend is just not long enough to feel refreshed and ready for a full week.

Yesterday Middle Sister had an all day volleyball tournament. We left the house before 6:30 AM and didn't get home until 6:30 PM.  The good news is that they won their tournament. There were some exciting games to watch!

Middle Sister is #8, her first time playing Libero.

Tomorrow is a professional development day at school. I'm looking forward to it, but we are now in a blizzard watch, which could make getting to school tomorrow difficult.  Have I mentioned that I'm ready for spring?

We had two snow days last week, that should have given me plenty of time to catch up with everything.  

The snow was beautiful and perfect for building a snowman and a fort.  It was truly a winter wonderland.  And I enjoyed my time off, but I didn't catch up on anything.

I've eaten too much food tonight, had some good conversations with friends, and watched (sort of) the Super Bowl.  Although I'm not prepared for tomorrow, Monday is on the way!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Five: In-Between Seasons

Maybe it's the two snow days we had this week, but I am really feeling ready for spring. Especially when I see all the great spring clothes coming out.  

My school district's dress code doesn't allow us to wear open toed shoes, so as a result I own very few sandals any more- and those I do own are flip flops. I feel like I still need one nice pair of sandals for the summer.  Either of these two pairs would work for me:

1.  Berit Wedge Sandal

Old Navy is back with their cute printed pixie ankle length pants.  I really liked this yellow pattern in person, but I don't think the picture does it justice.

While I was busy looking at spring clothes, I came across Garnet Hill's sale items.  This vest was $148 last year, but is marked down to $34 now.  I pinned it last year, and it is a ridiculously good deal right now, which means I am having a hard time talking myself out of needing it.

This sweater is also on major discount right now, as are the other animal ones similar to it.

Just like the weather -which is winter-like now, but was spring-like last weekend- I'm caught between seasons. I can find a little bit from winter and spring that I'd love to wear.

What's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Forgetting Time

Earlier this week Sharon Guskin's debut novel was published, and I've been waiting for a month to share it with you.

Janie is a single mom who has devoted herself to her son, Noah, a beautiful blond four year old who says things that come out of nowhere. Some remarks seem precocious and others are disturbing.  When Noah is asked not to return to preschool, Janie's attempts to find help for her son grow more urgent.  

Dr. Anderson's career is nearing it's end.  After being diagnosed with a form of dementia, he can't see a way to continue.  Until he finds Noah, and realizes the work he dedicated his life to might finally be recognized.

Guskin explores the idea of reincarnation in this amazing novel.  How is it that Noah continues to look for his "real" mom, that he fears water and drowning, that he knows how to score baseball games without ever having been taught?  

I have heard of this before, and although I have always remained a skeptic, Guskin does a great job of making the idea of reincarnation entirely believable, even including some cases that have been documented.  

Noah and Janie and Dr. Anderson look for the people Noah once knew in an effort to find peace and closure for him, and to find out what really happened to him before he became Noah.  This creates some suspense and kept me turning the pages quickly; I read this entire novel in one sitting.

The Forgetting Time is absolutely unforgettable. Upon finishing this book, I immediately texted a co-worker who I know will love this story as much as I did.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, featuring books that will come out soon that we are anxious to read.

This week's pick: Redemption Road by John Hart
Due out: May 3, 2016

Product Information taken from Goodreads:

Over two million copies of his books in print. The first and only author to win back-to-back Edgars for Best Novel. Every book a New York Timesbestseller.
Now after five years, John Hart is back with a stunning literary thriller featuring his first ever female protagonist.
A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.
A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.
After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free. But for how long?
And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, the unthinkable has just happened…
This is a town on the brink. This is a road with no mercy.
Since his debut bestseller, THE KING OF LIES, reviewers across the country have heaped praise on John Hart, comparing his writing to that of Pat Conroy, Cormac McCarthy and Scott Turow. With each novel Hart has climbed higher on the New York Times Bestseller list, with his last two books - THE LAST CHILD and IRON HOUSE --- landing squarely in the top 10. His masterful writing and assured evocation of place have won readers around the world and earned history's only consecutive Edgar Awards for Best Novel.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Beetle Boy

Beetle Boy would not necessarily be the type of tween book I would normally pick to read.  It's more action/adventure than I normally read, and there are elements of fantasy to it as well.

And yet, despite that, it was a fantastic book.  

Darkus Cuttle's dad mysteriously disappears one day from his job at a museum. Darkus is sent to live with his Uncle Max, who is eccentric, and a bit of a loner.  Next door are two bizarre cousins whose home has been infiltrated by beetles.  As Darkus searches for his father he uncovers a variety of clues that all point back to the beetles next door and the evil Lucretia Cutter who was once a fellow researcher with his father.  Genetic engineering is part of Lucretia's plan for the beetles as she wants them to have human qualities and reasoning skills which would allow them to greatly impact the earth. As Darkus realizes what he's up against, he must enlist the help of the beetle's next door, as they try to rescue his father from Lucretia's clutches.

Sometimes reading out of my comfort zone is a good thing. This was one of those times.  I'm already looking forward to the second installment in this trilogy and think middle grade readers will enjoy this story and it's fast pace a lot.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Katarina Bivald's novel The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a feel good novel that every book lover should read.  It ranks right up with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, two other books for bibliophiles.

Set in Iowa, it also holds a special place in my heart as it refers to towns and places that I know personally.

Sara has traveled from Sweden to meet Amy, the woman she has met only through their letters they have exchanged ever since one of them purchased a book from the other.  When she arrives in Broken Wheel she discovers Amy has died.

However, the residents of the town welcome Sara like an old friend, and Sara feels as though she knows many of them from the things Amy told her in their letters.

Broken Wheel, however, is barely a town.  The storefronts on Main Street are empty and it appears that the town has seen better days.  

Sara decides to stay for a bit, having nothing to return to in Sweden.  She has always enjoyed books more than people, and decides to take Amy's books and open a bookstore on Main Street.  The people in Broken Wheel aren't big readers, but Sara works to change that, recommending books to all who come to her store.

Somewhere along the way, Sara falls in love with Broken Wheel and its residents.

Bivald's book references are sprinkled throughout the novel, and I have a few new titles to add to my TBR list simply from reading this book.  

The plot is predictable, but charming and worth taking time to read.  I read the last page of this novel with a smile on my face.  

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a perfect feel good book and will make a great gift for book lovers as well.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Five: Feeling Blue

Here in Iowa weather is always a hot topic of conversation.  Maybe people who live in a warm climate find themselves talking about it, too, but here with the way the weather changes, it seems to be an endless source of discussion.  There's a huge blizzard forecast to hit us next week.  but, it's almost February which means I'm starting to think spring.

Blue always seems to be a big color for the spring, which I appreciate. And there is plenty of blue out there this year.  Here are just five items that caught me eye this week. 
I'm feeling pretty proud of myself that I haven't purchased anything yet, but Gap has 35% off right now and Loft has 40% off. That's a hard thing to pass up!

Enjoy!  What have you been eyeing this week?

1.  Women's Ravenna Crochet Tank Top

2.  Embroidered Stripe Long Sleeve T

3.  Gap Stripe Crew Sweatshirt

4.  Loft Knit Utility Tunic

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Drifter


Nicholas Petrie has created a wonderful debut novel, a suspense-filled story about Peter Ash, a soldier back from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from PTSD.

Peter doesn't much want to spend time being confined. When he is in situations like that, he hears "white static" what he has taken with him from his time in combat.

However, he pushes himself to go to Milwaukee after her hears of Jimmy's death. Jimmy and Peter were best friends in their time in combat, and Peter can hardly believe that Jimmy killed himself.

In an effort to assuage his own guilt over not reaching out to his friend, he begins doing some home improvement projects for Jimmy's widow and children.  

And when he is repairing the porch he comes across a vicious dog, which turns out to be Jimmy's and a suitcase full of money.  

Peter sets off to find out where the money came from and how Jimmy was involved with it.  

What he finds out puts him in danger and reveals an entire group of people who are out to protect themselves and their plans - and get their money back.  

Petrie's novel is gritty and dark, and full of suspense.  Peter Ash is a well developed character, and The Drifter is what could easily be the first in a series.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, featuring upcoming titles we can't wait to read.

This week's pick: All Things Cease To Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
Due out: March 8, 2016

Product Information taken from

New to Knopf --- and now coming into her prime --- this acclaimed writer combines noir and the gothic in a novel about two families entwined in their own unhappiness with, at the center, a gruesome and unsolved murder.
Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone --- for how many hours? --- in her room down the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at the private college nearby teaching art history, and moved his family into this tight-knit, impoverished town. And he is the immediate suspect --- the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional. While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. The pall of death is ongoing and relentless; behind one crime are others, and more than 20 years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.
At once a classic "who-dun-it" that morphs into a "why-and-how-dun-it," this is also a rich and complex portrait of a psychopath and a marriage, and an astute study of the various taints that can scar very different families, and even an entire community.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League

The Help holds such a high place in my mind, that I am not sure anything can ever quite match it, but Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League sure comes close.

And somehow this book slipped right under my radar this past year. My library has several copies in their book club collection, and I imagine book clubs will be loving it.

Hazel grew up poor but is enjoying the status she has acquired through marriage - and the hard work of her husband.  She doesn't fit in with the hoity-toity ladies in town, despite her best efforts.  When she loses her son, her husband hires Vida, a black woman to take care of her.

Vida has also lost a child, but not in the same way as Miss Hazel. And Vida has another issue. She is scared of the Sheriff after an encounter she had with him as a teenager.

The two women forge an unlikely friendship, and it is Vida who brings Hazel back to life as the two take on the racism in their community.

I flew through this book, loving every single minute of it.  Book clubs will enjoy discussing this one, and anyone who loves reading books set during the Civil Rights era will also enjoy this book.