Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: A Good Neighborhood

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: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Ann Fowler
Due out: February 4, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

“Therese Anne Fowler has taken the ingredients of racism, justice, and conservative religion and has concocted a feast of a read: compelling, heartbreaking, and inevitable. I finished A Good Neighborhood in a single sitting. Yes, it’s that good.” ―Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light
A provocative contemporary novel that examines the American dream through the lens of two families living side by side in an idyllic neighborhood, and the one summer that changes their lives irrevocably, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z and A Well-Behaved Woman.
In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door―an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.
Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he's made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn't want to live in Oak Knoll?
But with little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie's yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers. Told in multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today ― what does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don't see eye to eye? ― as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Friday Five on Monday

The days are getting away from me. I've been going in to work half days at a school library this summer that is needing some help.  I've enjoyed it, yet realize that it has drastically cut short my summer and any time off I was counting on.

Reading has been at an all-time low, and I am always amazed at how fast the days go by.  I had started this post on Thursday last week, but just never quite finished it up.  I'd hate it to go to waste, so here are the things I've found that I want to share:

1.  Oh Yeah Sweatshirt - I love the Boden sweatshirts and this is perhaps my very favorite.

2.  Navy Flocked Zebra Sweatshirt - I also like this Boden sweatshirt.  I could pretty much live in a Boden sweatshirt every day.

3.  V-Back Tie Waist Jump Suit -I know jumpsuits are in style, and I like how they look but I just can't quite warm up to wearing them.  The idea of going to the bathroom while wearing this is one strike against it.

V-Back Tie Waist Jumpsuit

4. Floral Whimsy Thermal T - I bought a thermal T from Sundance last winter that I love. I like this floral pattern as well.

5. Central Popover Shirt in Eyelet White - I like the simplicity of this top and can already think of what to pair it with for work.

Central Popover Shirt in Eyelet White in eyelet white image 1

6.  Thompson Pocket Pullover Sweater - this sweater looks just plain cozy and comfortable. 

Thompson Pocket Pullover Sweater in heather lipstick image 1

7.  Boucle Tweed Jumpsuit  another jumpsuit. I like boucle tweed, which is what attracted me to it.

8.  Striped Cozy Jersey Crop Top - stripes!  What's not to like about a simple striped t-shirt?

Striped Cozy Jersey Crop Top

9.  Hektar Floor Lamp - I bought two of these lamps during my last IKEA visit. I can't tell you how much I love them. My eyes are getting older and I really appreciate having this lamp behind me as I lie on the couch reading.

HEKTAR Floor lamp with LED bulb IKEA

10.  Designing Women on Hulu - coming August 26. I can't wait!

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

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Middle Grade With A Message: Maybe He Just Likes You

I grew up on Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books.  I don't remember ever viewing these novels as more than entertainment.  Nowadays the books coming out geared toward middle grade readers are a little more complex and most seem to have a message they are trying to convey.

I've read a lot of middle grade books this summer, and most seem to have some type of meaningful message.  Barbara Dee's newest novel Maybe He Just Likes You is a book that covers a tough topic in the best way. 

Mila, a seventh grader, has some big things she's trying to deal with.  Her single mom is unhappy in her job and they always seem to be living paycheck to paycheck.  That's enough to make Mila  little worried, but what is really bothering her is the attention she's getting from some boys at school.  A hug from one boy for his "birthday" (which she later finds out was a lie), some off-hand comments, another boy sitting extra close during band....just small things, but they make Mila uncomfortable.

And the small things don't stop.  Mila isn't sure who can help her with this problem. Is she making these small events into something bigger than they really are?  

Barbara Dee expertly shows what harassment looks like and how hard it can be to tell the difference between harassment and flirting, or decide whether to let some things go or stand up for yourself.  

I think this story is one many- most- girls will be able to relate to. Maybe this type of behavior hasn't happened to them, but I can almost guarantee they've at least seen this type of behavior happen to someone they know at school.  

Dee's book is a must purchase for school libraries and with school starting in just a few weeks, I can already think of several girls I want to hand this book to.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Lady Clementine

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: Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict
Due out: January 7, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

New from Marie Benedict, the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room! An incredible novel that focuses on one of the people who had the most influence during World War I and World War II: Clementine Churchill. 

In 1909, Clementine Churchill steps off a train with her new husband, Winston. An angry woman emerges from the crowd to attack, shoving him in the direction of an oncoming train. Just before he stumbles, Clementine grabs him by his suit jacket. This will not be the last time Clementine Churchill saves her husband.

Lady Clementine is the ferocious story of the brilliant and ambitious woman beside Winston Churchill, the story of a partner who did not flinch through the sweeping darkness of war, and who would not surrender either to expectations or to enemies.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

TLC Book Tour: Becoming Superman

Prior to reading this book, J. Michael Straczynski was a name I had heard, but didn't associate with anything in particular. I was impressed with his Hollywood writing career that is blurbed on the book jacket, but more impressed by his life and the way he overcame a childhood that was anything but carefree and happy.


In this dazzling memoir, the acclaimed writer behind Babylon 5Sense8, Clint Eastwood’s Changeling and Marvel’s Thor reveals how the power of creativity and imagination enabled him to overcome the horrors of his youth and a dysfunctional family haunted by madness, murder and a terrible secret.
Joe’s early life nearly defies belief. Raised by damaged adults—a con-man grandfather and a manipulative grandmother, a violent, drunken father and a mother who was repeatedly institutionalized—Joe grew up in abject poverty, living in slums and projects when not on the road, crisscrossing the country in his father’s desperate attempts to escape the consequences of his past.
To survive his abusive environment Joe found refuge in his beloved comics and his dreams, immersing himself in imaginary worlds populated by superheroes whose amazing powers allowed them to overcome any adversity. The deeper he read, the more he came to realize that he, too, had a superpower: the ability to tell stories and make everything come out the way he wanted it. But even as he found success, he could not escape a dark and shocking secret that hung over his family’s past, a violent truth that he uncovered over the course of decades involving mass murder.
Straczynski’s personal history has always been shrouded in mystery. Becoming Superman lays bare the facts of his life: a story of creation and darkness, hope and success, a larger-than-life villain and a little boy who became the hero of his own life.  It is also a compelling behind-the-scenes look at some of the most successful TV series and movies recognized around the world.

My Thoughts:

Despite the fact that parts of this book were hard to read- nearly unbelievable in some ways- this is also an inspirational story.  Readers know from the moment they crack this book open that Joe has somehow survived his childhood, which was marked by poverty and abuse.  This isn't the first book I've read about someone defying the odds stacked against them, but I appreciate each of them that I've read for the positive message they share with others. 

Although some of those stories have faded from my mind, Joe's, like a few others is one I will always remember.  He had so many different issues to deal with: poverty, unfit living conditions, alcoholism, mental health issues to name a few.  In the end Joe was able to find some escape in reading comics.  As a book lover and librarian I appreciated the power of the power of books in Joe's life.

This is a well-written memoir, made all that much better by the fact that Joe does survive and live the happily ever after he deserves.  

And if my review doesn't already encourage you to go pick up a copy of Becoming Superman, Joe also reveals a long-held family secret that involves a mass murder.  He certainly knows how to tell a good story!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for a copy of Becoming Superman. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Visit the HarperCollins website for more information on purchasing a copy of Becoming Superman.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Blast From the Past: August 2009

Looking back at the books I read in August 2009, I was excited to see that I actually remember a lot of what I read that month.  Anyone needing a good read now would certainly still enjoy any of these titles.

Standing By: The Making of An American Military Family in a Time of War by Alison Buckholtz - I love memoirs, and this one about a woman whose husband is deployed is one I was fascinated by. I have friends whose husbands have been deployed, but because they live far away, I hadn't really considered her day to day reality.  This is a great look at what being a military family looks like.

Jelly Belly by Robert Kimmel Smith - I read this book as a kid and then read it to my own children.  I love this book, which tells the story of Ned, a young boy trying to lose weight in order to be healthier. I hate to admit that I could relate to Ned as a child, but I definitely could.  Reading and watching TV (my two favorite pastimes) didn't burn many calories so my parents were always trying to find ways for me to be active.

Life's That Way: a Memoir by Jim Beaver - this is another memoir, but devastatingly sad as Beaver writes of the birth of his daughter and the beginnings of his young family and then learning shortly after her child's birth that his wife has terminal lung cancer.  

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman - diversity in children's literature is the big buzzword now, but I've been reading books about other cultures for many years. Vidya is living in British occupied India during World War II and wants to go to college.  Unfortunately some circumstances force her into a traditional role, one where schooling is not in her future.

The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies - this is a book that seems to have become a staple read aloud for many lower elementary teachers.  I found it to be a little too preachy, but overall, this is a solid story about siblings who are in a competition to make money at a lemonade stand.  This is just the first in a great series that kids will be anxious to read.

What were you reading back in August of 2009? Anything good I need to add to my TBR?

Friday, August 2, 2019

Friday Five: I'm Freaking Out Just a Little Bit

Although I love summer, I can't help but get a little bit excited about back to school shopping. I love school supplies and getting a few new things to wear.  I'd like it even better if we could push back the back to school shopping until say September or October.....I am just not quite ready to be thinking of the rat race starting up again.

1.  JCrew Striped Pajamas Set - I decided long ago that I would not spend money on pajamas for a few reasons.  First of all, I get up and exercise every morning, so I mostly wear my exercise clothes to's one less thing to have to do in the morning and one less excuse I have to skip working out.  It's also one less thing to buy or keep up with. However, part of me is wishing for a pair or two of pajamas in the event that I ever want to wear some to bed.  I like this pair for the summer months, and of course I would have to find something much warmer for winter.

2.  Robyn Jersey Tee - I bought a few similar Ts from Boden a year or two ago. I like how light weight they are and the foil on them make them seem a little bit dressy.  This is this year's version.

3.  Denim Indigo Floral Shirt -I love denim and although I have a several denim shirts, I don't have any with a pattern on them  

4.  Popover in Bold Stripe - and the popover is one of my standard items....this striped one is JCrew's newest version.

5.  Girlfriend Twill Stripe Chinos - I love my white pants, and I love the many colors of girlfriend chinos I already own. This combines these two things together and just might be one of my must-haves for fall.

Girlfriend Twill Stripe Chinos

6. Seersucker Ruffle Shift Dress - Draper James has a few variations of this dress.  I wouldn't mind the denim version, but also think this seersucker version would be a nice change of pace.

7.  Read Return Repeat TShirt -I've decided I can't ever have too many library shirts. Here's the newest one I want for my collection.

8.  Tie Front Tank - I like the tie front shirt, and this one looks so comfortable.

9.  Chaise Lounge - one of my couches has been well loved - by our family and our dog.  It is time to find something else to put in the corner where our couch has resided for several years.  I'd like to switch things up a bit and wouldn't mind doing some painting or changing the color of our decor. The problem is I can't do all of it at once.  So instead of buying an oatmeal/tan/brown chair I am looking at getting a gray one and eventually replacing our furniture with some grays, and repainting the wall that is brown, a navy blue.  This may all take years.  Baby steps, I guess.

Newton Chaise Lounge

10.  Best of Enemies Movie - I've been waiting to see this movie for several months. I checked it out from the library but apparently I have no clue how this works because when I finally sat down to watch it, I realized I couldn't just check it out on my own, I had to take it to the desk and have them remove the plastic case around it.  Guess I won't be watching this movie after all.  I might just break down and rent it from Amazon tonight.  

The Best of Enemies

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