Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: You Will Know Me

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine featuring soon to be published books we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick:  You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Due out: July 26, 2016

Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with "exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl," (Janet Maslin) YOU WILL KNOW ME is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Terrible Virtue

Although I had heard the name Margaret Sanger at some point in my life, I couldn't determine who exactly she was or why she was important until just the other day when I sat down with Terrible Virtue by Ellen Feldman.

Feldman's work has been on my radar for a few years, and since I enjoy historical fiction, I continue to look forward to learning more about the various people and topics she constructs her novels around.

Terrible Virtue is a fictionalized story of Margaret Sanger, the woman credited with founding Planned Parenthood.  

Sanger's own life experiences gave her the perspective of what life was like in a family that had too many children and not enough money.  Her mother died young from tuberculosis after giving birth to nearly a dozen children (which did not include stillbirths or miscarriages).  Losing her mother and seeing how her life had unfolded gave her the desire to help other women avoid a life without choice, overcome with too many mouths to feed.  

Sanger led a life that focused on women's health issues; she often was absent from the lives of her children, and started and ended relationships with men with seemingly little emotion.  Her true passion was her quest to allow women to choose whether or not they wanted to have children.

I really liked this fictionalized book about Margaret Sanger. I'm a sucker for any fictionalized biography, and this one didn't disappoint.

Monday, May 2, 2016

In A Dark, Dark Wood

I had this novel sitting on my TBR stack for quite a while before I cracked it open.  Once I did I could barely put it down, finding myself racing to the end.

Psychological thrillers have been the in genre ever since Gone Girl, and I have read several of them, noting that some are better than others.

This one ranks right up there with Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.

Nora has been invited to a hen party (or what we call a bachelorette party here in the US) by Flo who is organizing the weekend for their mutual friend, Clare.  Nora thinks about sending her regrets, but when she emails another friend, Nina, the two agree to go. 

The weekend takes place in a remote wooded home which sets the stage for some creepy things to occur.  Nora and Nina almost instantly regret coming for the weekend, and tracks in the snow, a downed phone line, and a possible break in all add to the mystery and suspense.

I loved how fast paced this was and the twists that Ruth Ware had in store for the reader.  I can't wait for her next novel to be published.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Five: It's Almost May

These weeks really do keep flying by.  We made it through another week of track meets, soccer practices, and softball practices.  I've been putting my computer in a place that is out of sight now when I'm not using it. This has led to a bit more computer-free time, apparently proving the idea of "out of sight, out of mind," but which doesn't help in finding things to share on Friday.  

I did manage to come up with SIX things today, so apparently there is plenty on the internet that interests me.

1.   Genoa Italian Leather Gladiator Sandals

I found a cheap pair much like these at Target last year. I wore them everywhere, and amazingly the gold coloring didn't even wear off.  I still like them and need to find where I stored them over the winter.

2.  Levi's 501 Desperado Patch Jeans

I love jeans that have a bit of character to them. These are new releases at Sundance.

3.  Camo Utility Jacket

My husband has never been a fan of any camo I have bought, but I love it.  This camo jacket is so cute.

4.  Geode Drops-Pink/Turquoise

 I have Big Mama to thank for these earrings.  I need to look around the Bauble Bar website a bit more, but I love the splash of color these would add.

5.  Mona B Bags

Our local gift shop, Wispy Willow, has these Mona B bags in.  I have seen them before and admired them, but now that I know they are so close, I am going to have to stop by and check them out.

6.  Litsy

This has been described to me as Instagram for book lovers. I am still trying to figure out this app, which I've downloaded and only played with for a short time.  
So, that's it. What's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Secrets of Flight

The Secrets of Flight is an interesting story that moves from past to present as Mary Browning turns eight seven and begins to work on writing her memoir.

She finds Elyse, a fifteen year old, who agrees to help her with this project, and is perhaps drawn to her because Elyse looks so much like her sister, Sarah. 

Mary then begins recalling her time as a Fly Girl, when she worked flying supplies during World War II.  This dream of flying planes ended after the war's completion when men returned to their jobs, and Mary searched for what to do with her life.

Elyse is struggling with things in her own life: her father moves out, she is assigned to work with her secret crush on a project, and she tries to navigate the usual teen pressures.  She develop a connection to Mrs. Browning through their work together.

The connection they develop is more than just the project they are working on together. As Mrs. Browning decides to undergo a routine gallbladder surgery and suffers complications, there is more of a connection than either woman can imagine.

Leffler does a great job of weaving these stories together, and in creating a little suspense as readers eventually figure out how Elyse and Mary are tied to each other.  

It took me a while to get into this novel, but once I did I was intrigued by the secrets this book revealed, and the look at life for the fly girls during the war.

This will be a fantastic book club selection, and should appeal to many readers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Singles Game

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that highlights soon to be published books we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick:  The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
Due out: July 12. 2016

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and Revenge Wears Prada—a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.

Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.

After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.

Lauren Weisberger’s novel brings us exclusive behind-the-scenes details from all the Grand Slam tournaments: the US Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. Charlie Silver jets around the globe, plays charity matches aboard Mediterranean megayachts, models in photo shoots on Caribbean beaches, walks the red carpet at legendary player parties, and sidesteps looming scandals—all while trying to keep her eyes on the real prize. In this sexy, unputdownable read about young tennis stars who train relentlessly to compete at the highest levels while living in a world obsessed with good looks and Instagram followers, Charlie must discover the secret to having it all—or finally shatter the illusion for good.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Different Kind of Daughter

Maria Toorpakai is Pakistani and a famous female athlete. Those two descriptors don't easily fit in the same sentence.  In Pakistan girls are not permitted to play sports.  However, Maria's family is not a traditional Pakistani family. Her father believes in education for all of his children - his sons AND his daughters.

And Maria is fine with bucking tradition. She enjoyed her childhood dressed as a boy, roaming freely, something not allowed of girls.  Her athletic skill was hard to believe for many, considering she was a girl.

Maria fell in love with the sport of squash, rising to become her country's number one female squash player.  Her notoriety left her as a target for the Taliban, and Maria eventually had to leave Pakistan for Canada where she could pursue her dreams.

Toorpakai's account of her childhood and quest for freedom and equality was interesting, and reinforces the many books I have read about the role of women in Pakistan.  Hopefully Toorpakai's example will allow other girls to see themselves as capable of taking a risk and realizing their dreams, even if the dreams differ from that of their country's expectations.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Art of Not Breathing

Sarah Alexander's novel The Art of Not Breathing is the tragic story of one family torn apart by the death of a child.  

Elsie narrates this story as she grieves her twin brother, Eddie's, death.  Although it happened five year ago, the entire family is still working through their grief in various ways.  Elsie has spent portions of time unable to talk.  Her older brother, Dillon, has nightmares and suffers from an eating disorder.  Their parents' relationship is full of problems as well.

At various points Elsie remembers bits of life with Eddie.  Eddie had some developmental issues because of being without oxygen for a time during his birth, and therefore she is used to being his protector, yet she was unable to save him from drowning.

As the novel unfolds it becomes apparent there is more to Eddie's death than the original story of his drowning.  Bits and pieces are revealed that shed more light on the time period surrounding Eddie's death.

Elsie also takes up the sport of freediving, a dangerous pasttime that sends her to the ocean's floor where she attempts to find her brother.  Tay, the boy she is dating is the person who introduces her to this activity, and in a bizarre twist of fate, he is also the one who holds the key to unlocking what happened to Eddie.

Alexander's novel is set in Scotland, a locale I have not visited very frequently (if ever) in young adult fiction. This is a quick read that covers some hard topics and provides a little suspense as well.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Salon: Relaxing and Recovering

I only worked one day last week: Friday.  I spent four days at home sick with what turned out to be walking pneumonia.  I am still tired out, and have attempted exercising this weekend for just very short spans of time.  

Luckily we only had a few scheduled things for the weekend.  Yesterday we had soccer games in the afternoon and today we had church in the morning.  I also managed to get groceries for the week.  

Now I need to think about the schedule for the week. Big Sister has two track meets.  Plus there are soccer practices, softball practices, Lego League and piano lessons which we need to work around, so there is some thought that needs to be given to who to pick up when, and where the other parent needs to be for another child/children.  Thank goodness grandmothers live close and help out when we need to be three places at the same time.  

I have book club this week which I am looking forward to. We are discussing Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. I am finding it hard to think of it as a stand-alone novel (which it is) because of my previous experiences with To Kill A Mockingbird.  I'm not done yet, but I need to think through this one a little bit, and wish I still had enough time to read To Kill A Mockingbird again. (This is what happens when I wait until the weekend before book club to even start the book).  

I am looking forward to feeling better and more energetic this week. It was a long week of napping and lying around.  I did do a bit of reading, but didn't feel good enough to watch TV or do much of anything.  

How was your weekend? 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Five

I have been sick all week with what turns out to have been walking pneumonia.  One would think I would have had plenty of time to get a Friday Five ready. But, honestly, I've felt sick enough that I haven't done much online.  I did do a fair amount of reading and resting. And that's just about it.

1.  Perfect Core Short I had never heard of the brand name Lucy, but there were several things I saw last weekend while shopping that had this brandname. I then promptly checked out the Lucy website when I got home and found even more great exercise gear.  Here's a pair of shorts I'd love to have to wear this summer - and while I'm exercising.

2.  Born Claudia Sandal - I'm wanting a nice pair of sandals for the summer and am still doing some looking around before I decide on which pair I want to wear every day.  Born has such comfortable shoes that these look great to me.

3. My Fitness Pal is a fantastic app that I downloaded this morning. I've used it before and for whatever reason it wasn't still on my phone. However, I weighed myself today which was a really stupid idea since I am just recovering from being sick and any happy thoughts and good feelings I was having promptly evaporated after I saw the number on the scale - a number I have NEVER seen (unless you count after giving birth which is not quite the same situation as now).    

Before I realized just how fat I have gotten, I tried a chocolate chip cookie from Chick-fil-A this week. Oh my. Delish.

4.  I can't not mention the passing of music icon Prince. Facebook is full of pictures and videos. When I told my daughters he had died they asked, "Prince who?" which makes me feel like I have failed them a bit.  But don't worry. I did subject them to a night of my favorite Prince tunes.  

5.  I am enjoying the photos that have been released to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday. Isn't Prince George cute?!  

And how cute is Zara Phillips' daughter, Mia, holding her great-grandmother's purse?

Happy Friday, everyone!