Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop

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: The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg
Due out: October 27, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

A heartwarming novel about secrets of youth rediscovered, hometown memories, and everyday magic, from the beloved author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, with his mother Ruth, church going and proper, and his Aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town's popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its friendly, fun, and famous "Fried Green Tomatoes." And as Bud often said to his daughter Ruthie, of his childhood, "How lucky can you get?"

But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and the town became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time.

Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see where his beloved Whistle Stop used to be. In so doing, he discovers new friends, new surprises about Idgie's life, and about Ninny Threadgoode, Evelyn Couch, other beloved Flagg characters, and also about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, which change his life and the lives of his daughter and many others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you go home again?

Monday, June 29, 2020

Monday Mini-Reviews: Reading at the Lake

While my kids loving being out on the water- kayaking, fishing, boating - I am perfectly content to sit up by our cabin with a good book.  In fact, I saved some of the books I had been looking forward to just for the short trip we took.

In just the few days we were away, I devoured three fantastic books.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub was Jenna Bush Hager's book club pick for May. I love everything Jenna has picked so far, and I also have loved Straub's previous books.  Sometimes high expectations end up letting me down, but not in this case.  I thoroughly enjoyed this family drama.  Astrid has been keeping a secret from her adult children and when she witnesses the accidental death of a long-time acquaintance she decides she needs to really live her life and be honest with her family.  Her children have their own struggles and secrets as well, and each of their stories also make up a great portion of this novel.  Part of me would like to call this family dysfunctional, yet I recognize that each family had its own dynamic and degree of dysfunction.  

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett- this is another novel that has been raved about a lot.  This, too, could have ended up badly but Bennett's sophomore novel may be even better than her debut.  Twin sisters leave their small Louisiana town as young adults.  One sister returns years later with her daughter.  The other, Stella, seems to have disappeared.  We get glimpses of both sisters and their children at different times in their lives, and realize that when Stella left Desiree, she did so because she was able to "pass" and married a white man.  Secrets never stay secrets for forever, and the way Bennett addressed Stella's choices and the impact they had kept me turning the pages quickly.  This might be the book that I can't help but press into every reader's hands for the foreseeable future.

Beach Read by Emily Henry - this was my third vacation read and I liked it a lot....I may have loved it had I not read it right after the two books above.  They were a tough act to follow.  This is a rom-com, perfect for a summer afternoon.  January and Augustus, college writing rivals, end up living next to each other as both struggle with writer's block.  Although they initially resurrect their feelings of animosity, eventually the two spend time together and fall in love. Of course, nothing is that easy, and there are plenty of problems along the way.  A little predictable, perhaps, but I really enjoyed this one, and the fact that the story centered around books and writing.

I came home with a few books in my bag that I hadn't even had time to touch, but I thoroughly loved the ones I picked up to read and only wish there was more time to spend at the lake reading.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday Five

We had a great quick get away to a cabin with friends in northern Minnesota earlier this week.  After returning home I received a phone call from my school secretary informing me that the sprinklers had gone off in my school's library.  

I went in yesterday to get a picture of what kind of damage we are talking about.  There are a lot of moldy books.  I will have plenty to keep me busy this summer as I get together a list of all book titles and authors and work to find replacement titles.  

This morning I went in and tore covers off of the books so that I can work from home.  There is so much mold growing on them that they need to be destroyed sooner rather than later. 

But, things could always be worse.  

I did find some things online this week to share.  Enjoy!

1.  Aerie Weekend Oversize Hoodie - this looks like such a comfortable, cozy top.  I wish I could wear this to work (I've become accustomed to comfort these past few months).

Aerie Weekend Oversized Hoodie

2.  The Cotton Weave Romper - I don't know that I could carry this off, but I do like the look of it.

3.  The Espadrille - this comes in a few colors and I like them all.  

4.  American Woman Tank - I'm not a big tank top wearer, but it's hot right now and this would be perfect to wear for all the walks I've been taking the dog on.

EveryWear Americana-Graphic Tank Top for Women

5.  Margot Broderie Jersey Top - I love that this white top looks dressy because of the detail on it.

BODEN Margot Broderie Jersey Top, Main, color, WHITE

6.  Linen Popover Tunic - I still love the JCrew popover.

j.crew factory: high-low linen-cotton popover tunic for women, right side, view zoomed

7.  JCrew Shorts - I'm also in the market for a new pair of khaki shorts

j.crew: 7 stretch chino short for women, right side, view zoomed

9.  Missing In Alaska podcast - my mom and a good friend are enjoying this podcast. I've got it ready and waiting for me as well.

New Podcast 'Missing In Alaska' Takes On 50-Year-Old Mysterious ...

10.  Prince William's Birthday on June 21 - Prince William  turned 38 and the event was comemmorated with some pictures he had taken with his kids.  I love watching this family grow up (I also enjoyed watching Prince William grow up).

Prince William's new birthday photos show him playing with family ...

Prince William's new birthday photos show him playing with family ...

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: Sex and Vanity

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: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
Due out: July 14, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with the glittering tale of a young woman who finds herself torn between two men: the WASPY fiancé of her family's dreams and George Zao, the man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.

On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can't stand him. She can't stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can't stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can't stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin Charlotte. "Your mother is Chinese so it's no surprise you'd be attracted to someone like him," Charlotte teases. The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world--and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Two Royally Good Non-Fiction Books On My Radar

I've had a thing for the royal family since 1982 when Prince William was born.  I've got a collection of beautiful books with fantastic photographs of Princess Diana as well as a variety of other collectibles.  I'm not the collector I once was, but I am excited about two books coming this fall that feature the royal family.

The first book: Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand
Due out: August 11, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Here is the first, epic and true story of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s life together, finally revealing why they chose to pursue a more independent path and the reasons behind their unprecedented decision to step away from their royal lives, from two top royal reporters who have been behind the scenes since the couple first met. Finding Freedom is complete with full color photographs from Harry and Meghan’s courtship, wedding, Archie’s milestones, and many more unforgettable moments. 
When news of the budding romance between a beloved English prince and an American actress broke, it captured the world’s attention and sparked an international media frenzy. But while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have continued to make headlines—from their engagement, wedding, and birth of their son Archie to their unprecedented decision to step back from their royal lives—few know the true story of Harry and Meghan.
For the very first time, Finding Freedom goes beyond the headlines to reveal unknown details of Harry and Meghan’s life together, dispelling the many rumors and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond. As members of the select group of reporters that cover the British Royal Family and their engagements, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand have witnessed the young couple’s lives as few outsiders can.
With unique access and written with the participation of those closest to the couple, Finding Freedom is an honest, up-close, and disarming portrait of a confident, influential, and forward-thinking couple who are unafraid to break with tradition, determined to create a new path away from the spotlight, and dedicated to building a humanitarian legacy that will make a profound difference in the world.

And the second title:

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes
Due out: November 17, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Veteran fashion journalist Elizabeth Holmes expands her popular Instagram Stories series, "So Many Thoughts," into a nuanced look at the style, branding, and positioning of the four most influential contemporary British Royals: Queen Elizabeth II; Diana, Princess of Wales; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Today, the fashion choices of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle are frequently headline news. More than just wearing beautiful clothes ― and they are really beautiful ― these women dress with purpose. Their choices of color, silhouettes, and brands send a message about their values, interests, and place within the royal family. But to fully understand what Kate and Meghan are wearing, one must look to two style icons that came before them: Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales. For nearly seven decades, the Queen has made her wardrobe work for her, settling into a uniform of colorful coats and hats that make her instantly recognizable. Diana unlocked royal fashion’s ability to shock and awe, earning a spot on the front page and rejuvenating interest in the crown. Kate introduced a welcome relatability with her accessible choices, unleashing a shopping frenzy in the process. Meghan, a biracial American and a working actor, brought a new audience and aesthetic, as well as her social media savvy to the mix.

With one section devoted to each woman, HRH pairs hundreds of gorgeous photographs with extensive research to paint a vivid portrait of each woman’s fashion preferences, messaging, and evolution. The sections on each will be a seamless combination of major moments and notable details, from the choice of each woman’s wedding dress designer to the meaning of a single bow tied on a ponytail. But mostly, through these four biographies, a picture emerges of the evolution of the British monarchy over the past century, showing royal fashion is so much more than what meets the eye.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Monday Not-So-Mini Reviews: The Lager Queen of Minnesota

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradel was on my TBR for a long time.  But I picked a few books to read over the summer, and since this is one of the sixteen and I'm feeling some odd sense of responsibility in completing this (it's never happened in previous years), I decided to pick it up.

I've heard many people say that there is no knowledge of beer required to enjoy this book. I wholeheartedly agree (I can't stand beer), and although this was a five star read for me without any background in beer, I do know that my husband who does enjoy a beer from time to time might enjoy this book, but for different reasons than I did.  Because of his knowledge of beers, he will no doubt be able to understand the beer making process that is described in detail.

J. Ryan Stradel's first book, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is a novel in stories.  Although I don't think this sophomore novel is quite the same thing, it does have three narrators.  Edith is the older sister, the responsible daughter who has two of her own children and a husband who is suffering from dementia.  Her sister, Helen, was the one who received the entire inheritance from their parents, beginning a silence between the sisters that lasted for decades, and who operates and owns a brewery with her husband.  We follow Helen from her adolescence when beer brewing was just a dream to her later years when Blotz is no longer a beer making power in Minnesota. The third narrator is Diana, Edith's granddaughter. Edith's parents died in a car accident leaving Diana and Edith to eke out their existence in Nicolett, Minnesota.  Diana has some creative ways to make money (not necessarily legal), but when she meets Frank, a man she tries to steal from, he introduces her to his beer brewing business and she decides to develop a beer of her own to sell. 

Stradel does a great job of bringing this story full circle and I loved all the narrators.  My only wish is that the conclusion with Edith and Helen would have lasted longer.  

I absolutely want to press this into everyone's hands and am so happy I managed to pick this up instead of letting it linger on my TBR for any longer.  

Friday, June 19, 2020

Friday Five

Another week of beautiful weather here in Iowa.  I love summer.  In fact, I keep asking myself why it is we live somewhere that is only nice a few months of the year.  I've found some great things again to share this week.  Enjoy!

1.  Prana Shorts - I actually want to return to Scheels to buy these, but since I can order them online, I might settle for that. I love the color and need another pair of active shorts that I can still wear out and about.

2.  Women's Cotton Interlock Flutter Sleeve Top - as you know I love a good stripe.  

3.  BBQ Stain Tee - I feel like this sums up how my life goes.

4.  It's a Good Day to Read a Book T - my girls groan when they see the multitude of bookish shirts I have, but I want this one, too.

5.  Striped Boyfriend Sweatshirt - this sweatshirt looks so crisp and clean and I love a good stripe.

j.crew: striped boyfriend sweatshirt in magic rinse cotton for women, right side, view zoomed

6.  Embroidered Cotton Tunic Coverup - I have no reason to buy this because my pool time has been greatly reduced as my girls have gotten older, but I do love how relaxed this looks.

j.crew factory: embroidered cotton tunic cover-up for women, right side, view zoomed

7.  Halogen Smocked Sleeve Top - This comes in white, but I kind of enjoy this floral print.  

HALOGEN<SUP>®</SUP> Smocked Sleeve Top, Main, color, BLUE- CORAL FLORAL

8.  Women's Faux Leather Ankle Strap Sandals - I love the pair of sandals I bought years ago from Target and these are similar.  It might be time for a new pair.

Women's Tera Faux Leather Ankle Strap Sandals - Universal Thread™ - image 1 of 3

9.  Apt 2B Beverly Sofa - I've been eyeing this couch....with our basement under construction, it would be the perfect time to update our couch (the current one is in a bad state)

10. The Stacks Podcast - another bookish podcast with lots of episodes for me to catch up on.

The Stacks Podcast

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: Leave The World Behind

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

This week's pick:  Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Due out: October 6, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But with a late-night knock on the door, the spell is broken. Ruth and G. H., an older black couple who claim to own the home, have arrived there in a panic. These strangers say that a sudden blackout has swept New York, and—with nowhere else to turn—they’ve come to the country in search of shelter.
But with the TV and internet down, and no cell phone service, the facts are unknowable. Should Amanda and Clay trust this intruding couple—and vice versa? What has happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from each other? 
Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Monday Mini-Reviews: Reading From My Shelves

Not only am I trying to read the sixteen books I've selected as ones I want to get to this summer, but I also want to read more books from my shelves so I can enjoy them and move them on to other readers to enjoy.  This is a slow process.  Years ago my sister had  me do some math to determine how many years it would take me to read the books on my shelves if I didn't purchase anything new.  At that point, it was more than a decade. Now, I'm afraid it is far longer.  

So a few books here and there don't seem to add up to any free bookshelf space, but I'm making an effort.  

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper - When Judd Foxman's father dies, the entire family returns to sit shiva at his dead father's request, despite the fact that they really don't practice any religion.  We get to hear about Judd's failed marriage and the struggles he's had in his life, all with humor.  I found myself chuckling quietly while reading, and just wish I hadn't waited for 11 years before picking up this book.

The Hole We're In by Gabrielle Zevin - takes a look at one family who lives beyond their means. The Pomeroys claim to have put faith at the center of their lives, but most of their focus seems to be on acquiring possessions and keeping up with the Joneses.  When they have to rethink how they've been living, the youngest daughter, Patsy, is the most deeply affected.  While this story does share the stories of the entire family, it is Patsy's story that is told in the most depth.  This one was published in 2010, so it's only waited a decade for me to enjoy it.

The Quality of Life Report by Megan Daum- this book reads like a memoir, but tells the story of Lucinda, a lifestyle writer for television who pitches to her boss that she should move to a small town in the midwest and write about what life is like from a different perspective.  Living in the midwest myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and felt that Daum didn't make us midwesterners look too backward (I'm also OK with poking a little fun at myself).  This one sat on my shelf or 17 years, but at least I finally picked it up and enjoyed it.  

I can't guarantee how many books I'll get through from my shelves, but it does feel good to clear a few things out.  However, because I enjoyed all three of these - and it took me so long to get to them - there is no incentive for me to get rid of books I haven't read.  After all, I might miss out on something great.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday Five on Saturday

Not only was I already slow in getting this post done (despite starting it days in advance), because I left the link open for days when I finally got around to finishing it up today, it wouldn't publish. I had to close out of everything and when I reopened this post, everything I had added was gone.  Ugh.

So you are getting the pictures and links, but not my additional commentary. I'm tired and I couldn't remember exactly everything I had shared.  So, hopefully this works this time and I can move on with my evening.  Happy Friday a day late!

1.  10-Inch High Waist Skinny Jeans Button-Through Edition 

MADEWELL 10-Inch High Waist Skinny Jeans Button-Through Edition, Main, color, BERKELEY WASH

2.  The Split-Neck Puff-Sleeve Air Shirt

3.  Edgy Tiger Tee

Edgy Tiger Tee

4.  Carrie Underwood's Bermuda Anywhere Women's Shorts

CALIA by Carrie Underwood Women's Anywhere Bermuda Shorts (Regular and Plus) product image

5.  Calia Women's Everyday High Neck Muscle Tank Top

CALIA by Carrie Underwood Women's Everyday High Neck Muscle Tank Top (Regular and Plus) product image

6.  Women's Wide Leg Denim Overalls

Wide-Leg Denim Overalls

7.  When In Doubt Tee

When In Doubt, Go to the Library Tee (Royal)

8.  Bandana

Bandana in tropical coral image 1

9.  Momentum Camo Tee

Momentum Camo Tee

10.  Truly Lemonade Pack

Truly Hard Lemonade Seltzer Mix Pack, 12 cans / 12 fl oz - Fred Meyer