Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Five

I've had a second great week of book reading, cleaning projects, and some fun with my kids.  We managed to do some deep cleaning (and clutter removing) in our basement family room on Tuesday. I also took the girls to see Incredibles 2, made a few trips to the swimming pool, and had three separate doctor/dental/orthodontist appointments to get to.  Not bad for Week 2. 

And of course, I found some things I like online to share:

1.  Tortoise Rose Garden Statement Earrings -I love a nice pair of earrings and I feel like I've worn the ones I own a lot.  It might be time to change it up and try something new.

2.  Women's Short Sleeve Bottle Source Limited Tee - North Face had these t-shirts in the store we visited while in NYC. I looked at them then, and still like them, but I've resisted so far.

3.  Britton 2 Sneaker - I think these sneakers look like a lot of fun.  

4.  Stitchy Raglan Sweater - I bought a sweater from Gap a few weeks ago and have been happily surprised by how much I love it.  This looks like a similar stitch.

5.  Women's Legend Wash Crew Sweatshirt - Eddie Bauer has a lot of red, white and blue patriotic themed stuff available now. I love stripes and I love patriotic clothing. 

6.  Women's Aster Tie the Knot Dress - I'm still in need of a good dress that could be dressed up or dressed down.  Later today I'm actually going to a mall that has an Eddie Bauer, so I've got it on my list that I need to try this on.

7.  Stripe Story Pullover - I could pretty much buy anything from Sundance and be happy.  I love the color combination of this striped shirt.

8.  Crochet Tank Dress - I know I couldn't carry this off, but I think it is really cute.

9.  Ghost Racerback Tank  - and this tank would be great to hang out in, or wear to work out. 

10.  Everything But the Bagel Seasoning by Trader Joe's  - I keep reading rave reviews about this Trader Joe's seasoning.  We don't have a Trader Joe's near us, so I ordered some from Amazon. I would agree. This is delightful on a piece of toast with avocado. 

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: America For Beginners

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: America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
Due out: July 24, 2018

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Recalling contemporary classics such as Americanah, Behold the Dreamers, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a funny, poignant, and insightful debut novel that explores the complexities of family, immigration, prejudice, and the American Dream through meaningful and unlikely friendships forged in unusual circumstances.
Pival Sengupta has done something she never expected: she has booked a trip with the First Class India USA Destination Vacation Tour Company. But unlike other upper-class Indians on a foreign holiday, the recently widowed Pival is not interested in sightseeing. She is traveling thousands of miles from Kolkota to New York on a cross-country journey to California, where she hopes to uncover the truth about her beloved son, Rahi. A year ago Rahi devastated his very traditional parents when he told them he was gay. Then, Pival’s husband, Ram, told her that their son had died suddenly—heartbreaking news she still refuses to accept. Now, with Ram gone, she is going to America to find Rahi, alive and whole or dead and gone, and come to terms with her own life.
Arriving in New York, the tour proves to be more complicated than anticipated. Planned by the company’s indefatigable owner, Ronnie Munshi—a hard-working immigrant and entrepreneur hungry for his own taste of the American dream—it is a work of haphazard improvisation. Pavil’s guide is the company’s new hire, the guileless and wonderfully resourceful Satya, who has been in America for one year—and has never actually left the five boroughs. For modesty’s sake Pival and Satya will be accompanied by Rebecca Elliot, an aspiring young actress. Eager for a paying gig, she’s along for the ride, because how hard can a two-week "working" vacation traveling across America be?
Slowly making her way from coast to coast with her unlikely companions, Pival finds that her understanding of her son—and her hopes of a reunion with him—are challenged by her growing knowledge of his adoptive country. As the bonds between this odd trio deepens, Pival, Satya, and Rebecca learn to see America—and themselves—in different and profound new ways.
A bittersweet and bighearted tale of forgiveness, hope, and acceptance, America for Beginners illuminates the unexpected enchantments life can hold, and reminds us that our most precious connections aren’t always the ones we seek.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

TLC Book Tour: The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers

It's early in the summer and I've been reading some great novels of suspense, flying through them quickly.  The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers and Their Muses has definitely been a change of pace.  

This novel is quieter, more character driven, yet just as good as all these page turners I've been sucked into.

Aging writers live out their last years in the Bar Harbor Retirement Home, where authors as well as others in the book industry are welcomed by the home's workers who are discreet and able to care for their notable guests.

Cecibel is one such worker.  Still a young woman, she works at the Bar Harbor Retirement Home as a penance of sorts. Her face was badly damaged in an accident that also took her sister from her.  Unable to truly move on with her life, she spends her time caring for aging writers.

When Alfonse Carducci moves in, Cecibel suddenly has something happen that may make her choose to live in the present.  And Carducci, a famous author at one time is left to evaluate his life decisions and how he has come to live out his days at the Bar Harbor Retirement Home.

This novel has lots of things about it I enjoyed. First of all, the idea of a retirement home for writers and other literary greats is a fun one and I had a good time imagining a group of now famous writers spending their golden years together. I also liked both Cecibel and Alfonse and the way their characters choices affected each other.  DeFino moves the novel from past to present seamlessly which provides some background information for the story and does a good job of setting the stage at the retirement home.  

Book lovers will especially enjoy this novel that is quiet, character driven, and well written. 

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 this book, visit the HarperCollins website.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Monday Mini Reviews: The First Week of Summer Reading

It's kind of amazing how many books I can get through when I don't have to go to work every day.  June is usually a month when I can fly through books.  Eventually I burn myself out and reality hits me and I see the projects I need to be working on at home. But for right now, I'm just enjoying some extra leisure time and enjoying some great books

The War Outside by Monica Hesse- this is coming out in September and although it's YA, could easily cross over to adult.  The story centers around Margot, a German from Iowa, and Haruko a girl from Colorado. Both of their families have been sent to Crystal City where they must stay until the war is over.  I've read many books about the Japanese experience in internment camps, and also the non-fiction adult book The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell, but this is the first YA book I've read that explores a friendship between two girls from different backgrounds in this setting.  I loved this one and am excited to give it to my older middle school readers. (My other interesting tidbit is that Hesse, who wrote Girl in the Blue Coat - also YA- wrote American Fire, a non-fiction book that made my top 10 list last year).  

The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon - is a fast read, a little bit suspenseful.  Abby and her husband Nate have a happy life together.  He was the one who rescued her from a car accident that killed her brother.  Abby has always blamed herself for her brother's death and even twenty years later hasn't really gotten over it.  When new neighbors move in - and the husband happens to be Abby's boyfriend from the time of the accident - old memories are stirred up.  Abby and Liam can't help find themselves attracted to each other again.  There are secrets that are revealed slowly and some twists I didn't see coming, making this book hard to put down.

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman - Reese Witherspoon recently picked this as a book club selection which means it is definitely getting some press.  I thought this book started a little slowly, but it quickly became impossible to put down.  Erin and Mark are newly married and honeymooning in Bora Bora when they discover something that will change their lives forever.  Although at first they are excited - maybe even happy - with their find, they soon realize there are many secrets they must keep and they can trust no one.  Some of the time I just wanted to close my eyes because I knew there was a train wreck about to happen, but I just couldn't stop reading, needing to know what would happen to Erin and Mark.  This would be a great summer beach read, and although it is nothing like Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, the well crafted storyline reminds me of that book.

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde was a happy surprise. I knew nothing about this book before I started reading, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Three adult siblings spend a weekend with their father at his home.  The oldest, Ruth, is checking up on their dad and his ability to care for himself. George, is taking time with his father and siblings, away from the stress of his job, and the youngest child, Lizzie, has managed to create drama by breaking up with her much older boyfriend by pouring boiling water on him and his computer.  The bickering between siblings, the way they fall back into the roles they had as children, the family dynamics - all of that is done perfectly.  The "kids" are also learning more about their mother and the night of the accident that killed her and their brother.  Hyde's book is one that will appeal to a wide audience and readers young and old will be able to relate to this story.

There are just so many great books out there that I know I won't get to them all this summer.  These four are ones that are definitely worth picking up

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday Five: First Week Of Summer Break

I have enjoyed my first five days off from school, but will admit that it is a little bit of an adjustment every single year.  I don't have to get up at 4 AM to work out.  But if I sleep in, it's hard to get motivated to exercise later.  Usually by the time I figure things out, it's time to head back to school.  

My big (and maybe only) accomplishment this week was cleaning out our refrigerator. All shelves were taken out and wiped down and a variety of old things were thrown away.  It looks great right now.  I've got a million more little projects like that and just need to pick a few each week.

I've also enjoyed extra free reading time and more time to browse online.  Here are a few things I found that caught my eye.

1.  Wild At Heart Shorts - I love embroidered denim and these jean shorts would be a great summer wardrobe staple.

2.  Short Sleeve Fringe Sweater -  I saw this featured on a blog I read and was happy to see that it's 50% off right now at JCrew Factory Outlet

3.  Women's On The Go Shorts - we're going on vacation in a few weeks and hiking is on the list of activities. I need some shorts I can wear while hiking and walking the dog and just around the house during the summer. I am hoping these fit the bill.

4.  Camo Clare Tee - Camo?  And although I love this color, there are also a few other color options.

5.  Relaxed Tie Cuff Linen Blend Top - summer seems like a great time for anything floral print. I like this coral color and the white option as well.

6.  Women's Under Armour Threadborne Siro Graphic Twist Tank - I'm also in need of some tanks for wearing on vacation and while working out and while walking the dog. I have rarely bought tank tops and for whatever reason, really feel like I want to have a few options this year.

7.  Striped Vintage Soft Smocked Racerback Tank - this tank is a little dressier and would work great with my khaki and gray shorts I bought from Gap.

8.  Bermuda Roll Shorts - I feel like these longer shorts would be something I could wear to church or out for a nice dinner - slightly dressier than the shorter shorts I wear for every day.

9.  Kalama Ruffled Top - and this ruffled top is something I could throw on with shorts or white capris.

10.  Cover Up Podcast - I've listened to the first episode and am loving this podcast. I also want to catch the recently released movie on this same subject when it comes out on DVD in July.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

My Summer Reading List

Over the summer I am able to get a lot of books read.  Not having to go to a job every day makes free reading time more plentiful. I've still got lots of projects I need to do around the house, but it's just not the same.  

Some of the time I like just picking up whatever book strikes my fancy, but there are a few others I want to make sure I read over the summer months.

These nine titles are ones that I'm planning to get in before summer fades away:

What summer reading plans do you make? Do you have a list of must read books for the summer months?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Late Bloomer's Club

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

This week's pick:  The Late Bloomer's Club by Louise Miller
Due out: July 17, 2018

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

A delightful novel about two headstrong sisters, a small town's efforts to do right by the community, and the power of a lost dog to conjure up true love

Nora, the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, is perfectly happy serving up apple cider donuts, coffee, and eggs-any-way-you-like-em to her regulars, and she takes great pleasure in knowing exactly what's "the usual." But her life is soon shaken when she discovers she and her free-spirited, younger sister Kit stand to inherit the home and land of the town's beloved cake lady, Peggy Johnson. 

Kit, an aspiring--and broke--filmmaker thinks her problems are solved when she and Nora find out Peggy was in the process of selling the land to a big-box developer before her death. The people of Guthrie are divided--some want the opportunities the development will bring, while others are staunchly against any change--and they aren't afraid to leave their opinions with their tips.

Time is running out, and the sisters need to make a decision soon. But Nora isn't quite ready to let go of the land, complete with a charming farmhouse, an ancient apple orchard and the clues to a secret life that no one knew Peggy had. Troubled by the conflicting needs of the town, and confused by her growing feelings towards Elliot, the big-box developer's rep, Nora throws herself into solving the one problem that everyone in town can agree on--finding Peggy's missing dog, Freckles.

When a disaster strikes the diner, the community of Guthrie bands together to help her, and Nora discovers that doing the right thing doesn't always mean giving up your dreams.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Expo 2018: The Books and Authors

Last week I shared pictures from my second trip to New York City for Book Expo and all the places we went aside from BEA. 

So, this week, after I've had some time to recover from this big trip - and finish up my school year- I'm sharing the book related parts of the trip.

First of all, I have yet to get tired of Book Expo and love getting there well over an hour before they open the doors.  The mass of people hanging out, going through the daily PW newspaper, and talking about books is something I enjoy.  This year I even managed to meet up with two of the women I met last year while standing in line. This year we exchanged contact info, and parted with a, "see you next year."

On Thursday, Middle Sister, my  mom and aunt attended Book Expo with me.  Mostly I walked around by myself, trying to grab the books I wanted, and sent Middle Sister to stand in the autographing area with a list of books and signing times.  We also made several trips to the mailing area.  This year I had already determined I wasn't going to try to squeeze books into my luggage. I would just pay (through the nose, I might add) to ship them home.

I didn't have any must have authors or books on my list, but still managed to send home four boxes.  I also got an autographed copy of an excerpt from Kwame Alexander's next book, Swing, which will be published in the fall. And I got to meet Doris Kearns Goodwin and get a signed ARC of her new book Leadership: In Turbulent Times, also coming out this fall.

I have enjoyed standing in line with other book lovers and talking about books for the past three years. This year I actually have made some contacts that I will get in touch with before BEA next year.  The trip is expensive and not very practical because it falls at the end of the school year, but I love being with other book crazy people and getting to see what's coming out soon.

There are too many good books I now have sitting in the ever growing TBR piles at my house. Picking just nine that I want to read was nearly impossible, but these are the ones that have made their way to the top of my stacks.  

Although the touristy part of the New York trip was fun, I honestly would be happy going to Book Expo and returning to my hotel room at night to read.  Book Expo 2018 was another great experience, and as I told the women I've now stood next to in line for two years, "see you next year."

Monday, June 11, 2018

The First Monday in June on the Second Monday in June: Blast From the Past

Last month I missed writing about the books I read a decade ago simply because I put the notebook where I kept track of my reading in a safe place. Obviously I have no idea where that is.  That notebook got filled up at the end of May 2008, so my next notebook is still in a place I can locate.  

It's always fun to look back at what I was enjoying ten years ago. Here are five of my highlights from May 2008:

1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - this might be the first book I read by Strout. I can't remember the plot, but I do recall that this writer is able to capture the details of daily life, that the novel has well developed characters, not a flashy, fast plot.

2.  Free Baseball by Sue Corbett - this is an Iowa Children's Choice book - one of the few that I actually read when I brought it home from my school library over the summer.  Felix's dad was a famous baseball player in Cuba, and sent Felix to the United States to grow up in a free country. When Felix hears there are Cuban baseball players coming to town he plans to meet them in an effort to meet his father.

3.  Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix- - the beginning of a very popular series - time travel, important people in history, page turning suspense....I have always meant to read the others in this series and still haven't gotten around to it.  

4.  Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri- a collection of short stories (perhaps the first I ever read in its entirety) by this fabulous author.  Perhaps the only thing I know about this book is that short stories are nearly impossible for me to remember the details of ten years after I've read them.

5.  A Champion's Mind: Lessons from A Life in Tennis by Pete Sampras- I've read several autobiographies of tennis players and have enjoyed them all.  From his experiences at Wimbledon to his dating Kimberly Williams, this book was a little bit of a blast from the past for me.

So what books were you reading back in 2008? Or what about last year at this time?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Friday Five: School's Out For Summer

School officially ended for the students in my district yesterday. Teachers, however, get to work today and Saturday.  I am so ready to be done with the year.  My own girls have been off for a week now and I've been leaving a list of jobs each morning for all of them and managed to not even realize there was no food for them to eat for lunch until about Wednesday.  I'm lucky that I get to be off during the summer when they are.  I think they are getting the picture a little bit this year since without me - and my chauffeuring- they are stuck at home.

In the midst of the end of year frenzy, I did find some things to share with you this week.  Most are actually from The Gap, which I visited in Times Square last week.  I found many, many things I wish I could have squeezed into my suitcase.

1.  Side Tie Crochet Tank Top - in pink and a tan color- this is a beautiful sweater that would go great with a pair of shorts or a pair of white jeans.  I didn't buy it while I was in NYC, but I might have to order it sometime.

2.  Crewneck Pullover Sweatshirt in French Terry - this is just a simple sweatshirt, but I love the blue color (it does come in a few colors) and the vision I have of myself throwing it on while I sit around a campfire.

3.  Short Sleeve Popover Shirt in TENCEL - I have a long sleeve denim popover and this spring I have often wished it were shortsleeved. I have a few things I could wear it with and the long sleeved version is just too hot.

4.  Short Sleeve Flutter Crochet Smock Top - this is pretty and light and would look great with white pants or shorts.

5.  Sleeveless Victorian Lace Blouse in Swiss Dot - swiss dot is sort of becoming my thing.  I like the detailing on this one and the fact that it's sleeveless for these hot summer days.

6.  Metallic Logo Crewneck Shirt - my middle daughter looked at this one with me and it's one of the few items she didn't think was awful.  Basically I just need to overhaul my t-shirts and get rid of the junk I have. I'd love to replace it with this.  

7.  Girlfriend 5" Chino Shorts with Floral Print- I can't find the exact pair of shorts I bought at the store, but I did look at this pair. I liked all of their Girlfriend 5" chinos this year. And again, my summer wardrobe needs some cleaning out and restocking.

8. Summer Ryder Stripe Madewell Cardigan - this is not from The Gap, but kept popping up on my instagram page. I like this cardigan a lot and think it would go great with a pair of white jeans.

Summer Ryder Stripe Cardigan,
                        color, Heather Blush

9.  Lightweight Pleated-Back Top - this is super cute in person and since I own a lot of navy I might need to add this to my wardrobe.

10.  Global Amici Milk Glass - totally unrelated to any clothing.... these glasses are something I've been eyeing. They are on sale right now for $36 for a set of six and since my cups are mostly a hodge-podge of vacation purchased mugs, I might break down and buy these.

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