Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Five: Memorial Day Weekend

It's Memorial Day Weekend!  Woo-hoo!  We have several graduations this weekend, which means good food and no cooking.  It's a win-win for me.  I've been online a bit, but school is hectic at this time of year. I have started the inventory process in the library and that will be consuming my working days right now.

Here are a few things I've found online this week:

1.  Pink Bull Necklace - Necklaces are something I've started wearing more - especially the kind  I can just toss on over my head.  I love the looks of this one.

2.  I'm Game Women's Sidewalk Surfers - a few weeks ago I bought myself a pair of Sanuks.  I have been wearing them to school a lot.  However, if I had seen these I would have had to get them. I love anything with an animal print.

3.  Hi-Lo Jersey Cardigan - this cardigan would be a great staple to my wardrobe and something I could wear with jeans or a pair of pants to work.  

4. Radnor Modal Top  Bungalow 123 has this shirt in a variety of colors.  It is featured with several different pairs of pants and shoes, and I haven't found one that I don't love yet.

5.   Pippa Middleton's wedding - which was as close to a royal wedding as is possible.

I have loved looking at the pictures online and seeing video footage on the news.  It's the cover story of People magazine this week, and my daughter pointed out that the story is over 10 pages long.  

6.  Caramel M&Ms - I never should have allowed myself to buy these.  I did share my bag with some friends so at least I didn't eat them all myself, which is perhaps the only good thing about the experience.  They are lovely.  I'm going to need to watch myself with these.  

So, what's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Same Beach, Next Year

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank returns to her magical Lowcountry of South Carolina in this bewitching story of marriage, love, family, and friendship that is infused with her warm and engaging earthy humor and generous heart.
One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.
A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.
Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.
Bursting with the intoxicating richness of Dorothea Benton Frank’s beloved Lowcountry—the sultry sunshine, cool ocean breezes, icy cocktails, and starry velvet skies—Same Beach, Next Year is a dazzling celebration of the infrangible power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer, and the indelible bonds of love.

My Thoughts:

I've read several books by Dorothea Benton Frank.  This is my favorite of the past three I've read, but still doesn't live up to my love of her early novels.  It seems like other reviewers either love this one, or hate it.

I'm definitely more on the love end of the spectrum.  Here are things I liked about Same Beach, Next Year:

1. the Southern setting - I love a novel set in the low country and this is something Frank does well.  From the sweet tea to the weather, this story transported me to the south.

2.  the time frame of this novel stretches over the decades and we can see characters grow and change. I love novels that stretch over time. Eliza and Adam and Carl and Eve's friendship begins one summer with a chance encounter and each summer the couples reconnect.  

3.  the focus of this novel is the friendship and how it grew and changed. There weren't any big surprising plot twists or suspense, but I found myself returning to this book because of the women in the novel. From Eliza's initial wariness and jealousy about Eve to her eventual warming and true friendship with the woman who her husband loved as a teenager, I felt like I could relate to her and her struggles and challenges in her life.

This novel practically screams "summer" and "beach."  Fans of DBF should give Same Beach, Next Year a chance and readers not yet familiar with her work, should check out this fantastic author of Southern women's fiction.

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, visit the HarperCollins website.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Watch Me Disappear

Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Although Jill no longer hosts this meme, I am continuing to post information each Wednesday about a soon to be released title I can't wait to read.  

This week's pick: Watch Me Disappear by  Janelle Brown
Due out: July 11, 2017

Product Information taken from Goodreads:

A woman vanishes on a solo hike in California’s Desolation Wilderness and leaves behind a family reeling from the loss of this charismatic, enigmatic wife and mother, who, they come to learn, was very good at keeping secrets. A bold departure from the author of the national bestseller All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

Billie is vibrant—a beautiful, outdoorsy California mom, a far cry from the reckless youth she’d been, but her troubled past seems only to enhance her natural charisma and allure. She and her husband Jonathan have an enviable life - a great house in Berkeley, a lovely, sensitive daughter, friends, nice things. As their daughter Olive reaches adolescence and needs her mom less, Billie throws herself into extreme sports—marathons, scuba diving, rock climbing. These challenges make her feel alive, but one day, on a solo hike in the Desolation Wilderness, she vanishes from the trail—no body, only a hiking boot, is found. Her family is devastated. Jonathan drinks; Olive grows remote. But a year after Billie’s death, Olive starts having waking dreams—hallucinations?—that her mother is still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he uncovers a secret that sends him on his own quest for the truth—about Billie, their marriage, and the stories we tell ourselves about the people we love.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Summer Reading: What's On My TBR For the Summer

Next week Tuesday I'll be posting my Summer Reading suggestions.  I have been reading quite a few new books that will be perfect for throwing in your beach bag or sitting outside and reading while the sun is shining.

However, there are still so many good books out there that I want to get to.  Here are nine books that are on the top of my TBR for the summer months:

1.  At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider- I love Tsh's podcast, The Simple Show, and this book about her travels with her family is something I plan on reading while I'm on vacation.

2.  We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is a novel that my friend Kristin just finished. She has proclaimed it the best book she's read in 2017.  World War II, about the author's family.  

3.  Once and For all by Sarah Dessen- YA romance.  Dessen is one my favorite authors and this will be a perfect book to take to the pool.

4.  Into the Water by Paula Hawkins- a second novel from the author Girl on the Train.  I loved Hawkins' first book, and I've heard great things about this one

5.  Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers To When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco - We're going to D.C. for a family vacation this year and I plan on reading this one while we're there.

6.  The Light in Summer by Mary McNear - the fifth Butternut Lake novel. This is a sweet series and I enjoy reconnecting with the characters each year.

7. The Thirst by Jo Nesbo- I'm definitely not caught up on this series, but I love Jo Nesbo's books, and this is the newest installment.

8.  Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza - I've read the Knockoff by these two and really enjoyed it.  I am anxious to read this one, too. The cover alone makes me think that I will want to throw this in my beach bag.

9.  Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson - Jackson is one of my must read authors. I'm lucky that there is a new book coming out this summer.

I've got a lot more on my TBR as well, but these nine are ones I will make sure to get to.  Be looking for my summer recommendations next week Tuesday.

Monday, May 22, 2017

TLC Book Tour: Goodnight From London

Goodnight From London is set during one of my favorite time periods: World War II.  I felt like I was in London right along with Ruby as she reported on the war and the people affected by it.

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—author of Moonlight Over Paris and Somewhere in France—comes a lush historical novel that tells the fascinating story of Ruby Sutton, an ambitious American journalist who moves to London in 1940 to report on the Second World War, and to start a new life an ocean away from her past.
In the summer of 1940, ambitious young American journalist Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it's an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby's new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.
Goodnight from London, inspired in part by the wartime experiences of the author’s own grandmother, is a captivating, heartfelt, and historically immersive story that readers are sure to embrace.
My Thoughts:

I loved this novel.  I instantly fell in love with Ruby, her lonely childhood, and the way she persevered.  This is one of my favorite time periods to read about and Robson left me feeling as though I could actually see the devastation in London and around England as Ruby traveled to various places. I especially loved Ruby's encounter with Eleanor Roosevelt, and her description of the First Lady.

Although I wouldn't classify this novel as a romance, I so loved Bennett and Ruby as a couple and was rooting for them throughout the novel.  Ruby's reporting of the war is the focus of the novel, but Robson had many more subplots going on that I wanted to keep reading and uncover how each of those would be resolved.

This was a great novel to curl up with on a rainy Saturday. I'm excited that Robson has three other published novels that I can read as well. I only wish we could catch up with Ruby in a few years and see how her life is unfolding.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for my review.  All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.
Visit Jennifer Robson's website  

For more information visit the HarperCollins website

You've Read This? Now Read That!: The Compound

You’ve Read That?

Many times while I am reading I will find a similarity or connection to a book I have already read. It might be the same topic, but sometimes it's something not as easy to pinpoint.  I'm highlighting three books I think readers will enjoy based on their experience with a certain book.  

This week's pick: The Compound by S. A. Bodeen

The Compound was our book club pick for May.  I read it over the weekend while I sat in the car waiting for my older daughters at the movie theater and my youngest daughter at a birthday party.

Bodeen's novel was so fast paced that time flew.  Eli was nine when he and his family began life in the Compound.  Fleeing the effects of a nuclear attack, his billionaire father had created a compound where the family could live for fifteen years until it was safe to come back out and not suffer from radiation sickness.

Unfortunately, their grandmother and Eli's twin brother didn't make it into the Compound before the doors had to close, and they are most certainly dead.  

Although it does seem his father thought of everything, there are a few problems with life in the Compound.  The food supply isn't going to last for fifteen years.  And what happens if there is a health crisis? 

Although Eli has never really questioned his father before, when he finds a wi-fi connection (something that supposedly no longer exists after the nuclear attack) and realizes his father has not been honest with the family, he confronts his dad.

And then things get even crazier.

I seriously could not put this book down.  

So, if you've read The Compound....

Now Read This!

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix-
I feel like this is one of the standard books I hand kids in Grades 3-5 at school.  It's fast paced, and gets kids thinking.  The Population Police don't allow families to have more than three children. But Luke is the third child in his family and must remain hidden. When he discovers other Shadow Children like himself, he is no longer content with remaining hidden.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer- 
I think this novel is definitely for the high school age group and up.   When an asteroid knocks the moon closer to the earth, everything in the world is affected. Miranda and her family quickly buy up food, but even that isn't enough to survive the devastation. Although Miranda continues to hope for her future, things continue to get worse throughout the novel and daily survival is sometimes difficult.

The Giver by Lois Lowry -
this is a novel that nearly every student reads at some point in school.  Jonas lives in a world where everything is decided for it's residents and it appears everyone is happy there.  However, Jonas starts to question things about this life, especially when his father brings home an infant for them to take care of for a time.  When he is twelve he is named as a Receiver of Memories and learns what his community is really like.

What other books could be added to this list?

Friday, May 19, 2017

TLC Book Tour: A House Without Windows

Hashimi's novel is as entertaining as it is informative as she creates a story centered around women in a traditional culture that treats women as second-class citizens, without rights of their own.

Zeba is found in her backyard, covered in blood. Her husband lies dead near her, with a hatchet sticking out of his back.  Because Zeba doesn't, or cannot, speak for herself when she is asked what happened, she is taken to prison to await trial.  The chances that she will be freed and that her life will be spared are almost nothing.

Yusuf comes to Afghanistan to work as a lawyer. Although born in Afghanistan, he and his family fled to the United States when he was still a child.  Now, he has returned, wanting to give something back to his homeland.  As he takes on Zeba's case, he quickly learns what life is like for women in Afghanistan.

Zeba's time in prison in made more bearable by the friendships she forms with other female prisoners, all there for a variety of reasons.  Hashimi's depiction of these women and Zeba really makes this novel feel real. 

I've always loved novels set in Afghanistan, and this one allowed me to see and feel what life is like there.  As I was reading I was never quite certain how Hashimi would resolve Zeba's case, although she was an easy character to root for.  

I also really enjoyed Yusuf. While I know that this is a stand-alone novel, I feel like Hashimi could easily create another novel with Yusuf as the clever lawyer who can defend another client.  He is likable and his background and relationship with his family allowed him to seem real, not just a bit player in Zeba's fight for her life.

I haven't read Hashimi's other books, but I'm excited to see she has published previously so I won't have to wait around for more books by her and can check them out right away.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for my review.  All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.

Visit the HarperCollins website for more information.

Friday Five

The temps have been in the 80s most of the week, but now that the weekend is upon us, today's high is 52 degrees.  Boo.  We have five soccer games in the next two days, so I'd love any sun or warmth while I'm sitting in my lawn chair for much of the weekend.

As I've been online this week, here are a few things that have caught my eye:

1.  Embroidered Springtime Top in Eyelet White - I love embroidery (about as much as I love fur and sequins) and this top is so cute. I like the up-close photos better, and right now it's on sale at Madwell.

2.  Women's The North Face Destination Short - I don't need many nice shorts for summer. Most days I'm just hanging out at home. I feel like these shorts could be dressed up with a nicer shirt, or be just fine with a t-shirt.

3.  Firecracker Oreos - my youngest daughter convinced me she needed to try these.  Apparently they pop in your mouth, which makes me think there are poprocks in the frosting.  And that I don't need to try them for myself.

4.  Danica Moto Jeggings- Vintage Navy - these jeggings come in a variety of colors. I love how they look on the model, and I've been intrigued by them for a while. However, I'm not convinced I have a jegging body.

5.  Wonder Woman Stripe Raglan T - I keep hearing about the Wonder Woman movie coming out this summer. This cute Wonder Woman T from the Gap would be a nice nod to the movie without being too obnoxious.

6.  Up and Vanished - another new podcast. I've been subscribed to this one for quite a while, but it made Boo Mama's list of things she was excited about. I'm thinking I will have plenty of time for podcasts this summer when I can take my dog on some marathon walks.

So, that's it for this Friday. What's caught your eye this week?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Good Books: 2 Middle Grade Reads and 1 YA Romance

There is no way I can possibly keep up with all the great books out there.  However, middle grade and YA books are just faster reads than some of the adult books that are stacking up all over my house. Here are three great choices if you are looking for a great story and have a few hours you can spend reading.

Lemons by Melissa Savage

Lemonade has been dealt some big lemons in life. Her mother has died and she is being taken to live with her grandfaher, a man she doesn't know. Although she is used to city living, she is quickly busy helping Tobin, an eleven year old neighbor boy with his Bigfoot Detective Agency. The two have many adventures together looking for Bigfoot, and the small town Lem thought would never feel like home, slowly does.

The book is set in 1975, which is important for two plot points: Tobin's father has not returned from the Vietnam War. Although he was missing in action, he was eventually found, but still has not returned home. Spotting Bigfoot was a craze at it's peak in the 1970s and Savage's characters reflect the obsession many people had with this legend

Savage's novel is sweet with a little heartbreak and hope thrown in. Tween readers will enjoy this novel and the adventures that Lem and Tobin have as they hunt Bigfoot and look for happiness.

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh

A lot of tween readers will be able to identify with Bea. She is dealing with some friend issues as some close friends find other people to hang out with - a time when some girls are maturing more quickly than others. Instead of eating alone at school, she finds a room where another student, Will, spends his lunch hour. The two get to be friends, Bea accepting Will's peculiarities (never officially stated in the book, but perhaps on the autism spectrum or OCD) and the two try to find a way to experience a labyrinth in New York City that Will has a minor obsession with, but that is closed to the public.

Yeh tackles some subjects middle grade readers will easily identify with: shifting friendships, acceptance of others with differences, the addition of a baby to the family, and feelings of not fitting in. This is a fun novel and readers will love Bea and her honesty.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I thought this was an adorably sweet romance featuring two Indian American teens that are trying to decide how much of their Indian culture will play a part in their American teen-age experience.

Dimple has no plans to date anyone soon - and she especially has not intentions of being a part of an arranged marriage. She is ecstatic when her parents agree to let her be a part of a six week coding camp and have a little freedom doing something she loves. When on the first day Rishi introduces himself to her by declaring her to be his future spouse, Dimple immediately realizes her parents agreed to the coding camp because the son of some Indian friends would also be attending - and this would be a way they could spend time together.

Dimple tries to get rid of Rishi at first, but soon his kindness becomes evident to her. Although some readers might consider this storyline predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked how gentlemanly Rishi was and appreciated his respect for his parents and his culture. I also liked Dimple's need to find her own way and appreciated her pushing back a little when it came to acting like a traditional Indian female. Menon has plenty of other action in this novel. There are subplots involving the coding competition at the camp, Dimple's roommate, and Rishi's brother.

While other reviewers (at this point, anyway), aren't giving it as much love as I am, I think this is a great novel for middle school and high school readers. Although I'm not even close to my teen years anymore, I appreciated this book for the fun romance it is and enjoyed Menon's deeper message (intentional or not) of pursuing one's passions, and getting to know someone before you judge them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Break Down

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that was hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. Although Jill no longer hosts this meme, I am posting a soon to be released title each Wednesday that I can't wait to read.

This week's pick: The Break Down by B. A. Paris
Due out: June 20, 2017

Product Description taken from Amazon:

Named One of the Most Anticipated Thriller Novels Of 2017 by Bustle!
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.
But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.
The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.
Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…