Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: A Woman of Intelligence

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: A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe

Due out: July 20, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From "a master of historical fiction" (NPR), Karin Tanabe's A Woman of Intelligence is an exhilarating tale of post-war New York City, and one remarkable woman’s journey from the United Nations, to the cloistered drawing rooms of Manhattan society, to the secretive ranks of the FBI.

A Fifth Avenue address, parties at the Plaza, two healthy sons, and the ideal husband: what looks like a perfect life for Katharina Edgeworth is anything but. It’s 1954, and the post-war American dream has become a nightmare.

A born and bred New Yorker, Katharina is the daughter of immigrants, Ivy-League-educated, and speaks four languages. As a single girl in 1940s Manhattan, she is a translator at the newly formed United Nations, devoting her days to her work and the promise of world peace―and her nights to cocktails and the promise of a good time.

Now the wife of a beloved pediatric surgeon and heir to a shipping fortune, Katharina is trapped in a gilded cage, desperate to escape the constraints of domesticity. So when she is approached by the FBI and asked to join their ranks as an informant, Katharina seizes the opportunity. A man from her past has become a high-level Soviet spy, but no one has been able to infiltrate his circle. Enter Katharina, the perfect woman for the job.

Navigating the demands of the FBI and the secrets of the KGB, she becomes a courier, carrying stolen government documents from D.C. to Manhattan. But as those closest to her lose their covers, and their lives, Katharina’s secret soon threatens to ruin her.

With the fast-paced twists of a classic spy thriller, and a nuanced depiction of female experience, A Woman of Intelligence shimmers with intrigue and desire.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Book Pairing: Let's Talk About the White House


I always find it interesting that often I will unintentionally pick up a couple (or sometimes more) books that pair so well together.  This month I read along with Janssen at Everyday Reading who picked Upstairs At The White House by J. B. West for her online book club and then picked up a new book in my middle school library: Exploring the White House by Kate Andersen Brower.  

Upstairs At The White House: My Life With the First Ladies by JB West is a re-read for me. I am totally enthralled with life in the White House and love that West served several presidents and is able to provide anecdotes about each one.  I chuckled to myself when I read the story of Mamie Eisenhower thinking she was rubbing Vics under her nose while in bed one night, only to awaken the next day with ink all over her face, having mistaken the two containers in the dark.  I also am more appreciative than ever that West's book really isn't a tell-all. He is careful about what he shares and doesn't try to tear anyone down or divulge personal details (he never makes mention of JFK's affairs or the fact that Roosevelt had a mistress).  I loved listening to this one on Audible and may even listen again someday.

Exploring the White House by Kate Andersen Brower is perfect for elementary or middle grade readers- or even an adult like me who enjoys learning more about the White House.  This is broken up into easily digestible pieces that can be picked up and put down easily.  I loved that there were references to JB West and his experiences in it, especially since I had just finished West's book.  This is slightly different because while West's book focuses on the administrations he served under, Brower's book looks at all of the presidents and their families who have lived in the White House.  

I know there are more White House related books out there.  If you've got a title to recommend that fits in that group, feel free to share it with me. I can't seem to get enough of this topic.

Monday Mini-Reviews: Cold Weather Fiction

 It's another snowy Monday here in my neck of the woods.  We spent the weekend doing a home improvement project - putting in flooring in our basement exercise room. This room has needed some work since we moved in (fourteen years ago) and finally we are taking care of it.  Just like with any home improvement project, this one seems to take a lot of time.  While I didn't do any of the flooring, I provided food for the day and ran to get things they needed from the hardware store.  

We also watched the state wrestling finals on TV and celebrated my mom's 75th birthday with a little lunch at her house.  And today I drove on snowy roads to get back to school. 

I am sharing two books I read this past week that would be worth picking up:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig - the premise of this book is interesting.  Nora is caught between life and death in the midnight library where she can choose any of the books on the shelves that contain alternate forms of the life she might have chosen for herself.  Although she finds a few lives that she enjoys there is always something that pulls her back to the midnight library in search of a different story.  This is a fast read that was much hyped to me. I don't think it lived up to my expectations but that is likely because I had heard so much about it already.

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson - Johnson covers big topics like racism and motherhood in her debut novel.  Ruth's husband has been talking about having children, and finally Ruth confesses that when she was seventeen she gave birth to a baby boy that her grandmother gave away.  Now Ruth is going back to her hometown, finally confronting her past and trying to determine what happened to the baby she gave up.  There are some secrets that come to light, but what I most noticed about this book was the character development and the way this family is fleshed out.  I'm hoping we get to see more from Johnson in the future.

I've just started Kristin Hannah's new book and although I'm hopeful that I will get through more this week, I also know that I want to savor each and every page.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Friday Five On Saturday

I have the day off today- after a long week with two nights of conferences.  I am happy to get to have a day to myself, although my husband also took today off so we can get some things organized for the new flooring we are installing in our basement exercise room tomorrow.  

I'm still hoping for spring clothing sometime soon. However, the weather is not spring-like at all, and I've ended up ordering a few winter things for myself that are on clearance right now.

Here are this week's finds:

1.  Felicity Floral Hoodie - I think this is absolutely adorable. It's priced at $118 right now, so I'll be watching to see if it ever goes down in price.

2.  Mikki Henley - I also love the colors of this henley.

3.  Sorel Kinetic Sneak High Top Sneaker - I ordered these for myself and my girls are appalled.  I didn't like them initially when I saw them, either, but they've grown on me.  

4.  Cowl Neck Sweater - I feel like this would be perfect with jeans, dress pants, or leggings.

5.  Marseilles Daisies Bower Popover Shirt - this Madewell shirt was unavailable last year when I finally decided to order it.  Now it's on sale on Nordstrom Rack.  I also think this looks a bit springy.

6.   Northface Vest - after several years of wanting a North Face vest, I found this one on clearance. I am loving it.  

7.  Crewneck Pullover - a basic piece that comes in several color options

8.  Crossbody Bag Strap: Inked Leopard Webbing Edition  - Madewell has several different strap options for their bags. I am wondering how many different ones it's OK to have.

9.  Dots Homestyle Cheese Curls - when we bought the Dot's Southwest pretzels there wasn't a single person in our family that liked them, but these cheese curls are a winner.  They've got a little spice to them that I love.

10.  Meghan and Harry and Baby #2 - while I love this photo and am excited about baby #2, I've got conflicted feelings about their latest announcement that they won't be returning to royal duties.  

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Thing He Told Me

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: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From internationally bestselling author Laura Dave comes a riveting new suspense novel about how one woman must learn the truth of her husband’s disappearance—no matter the cost.

We all have stories we never tell.

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dazzling plot twists, and unforgettable characters, The Last Thing He Told Me is bestselling author Laura Dave’s finest novel yet, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn. This propulsive thriller with a heart is for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Upcoming Non-Fiction: Come Fly The World

 I'm always looking for entertaining and informative non-fiction to read and enjoy.  I don't read nearly as much non-fiction as I'd like, but I try to work it in as much as I can. 

This title, releasing in March, is one I have my eyes on:

Come Fly The World: The Jet-Age Story of the Women of Pan-Am by Julia Cooke

Due out March 2, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Glamour, danger, liberation: in a Mad Men–era of commercial flight, Pan Am World Airways attracted the kind of young woman who wanted out, and wanted up

Required to have a college education, speak two languages, and possess the political savvy of a Foreign Service officer, a jet-age stewardess serving on iconic Pan Am between 1966 and 1975 also had to be between 5′3" and 5′9", between 105 and 140 pounds, and under 26 years of age at the time of hire.Cooke’s intimate storytelling weaves together the real-life stories of a memorable cast of characters, from small-town girl Lynne Totten, a science major who decided life in a lab was not for her, to Hazel Bowie, one of the relatively few Black stewardesses of the era, as they embraced the liberation of their new jet-set life. Cooke brings to light the story of Pan Am stewardesses’ role in the Vietnam War, as the airline added runs from Saigon to Hong Kong for planeloads of weary young soldiers straight from the battlefields, who were off for five days of R&R, and then flown back to war. Finally, with Operation Babylift—the dramatic evacuation of 2,000 children during the fall of Saigon—the book’s special cast of stewardesses unites to play an extraordinary role on the world stage.

Monday Mini-Reviews: Enjoying Some Good Weekend Reads

This morning started off with a two hour delay for me, and my girls ended up with a day off because of the cold weather.  This past weekend would have been a great opportunity to curl up with a good book, but I was busy all weekend.  Prom dress shopping took up one entire day and then yesterday I had grocery shopping along with several other things I needed to get done.  Luckily the books I did read were great!


Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano is a fun mystery. Finn is trying to deal with an ex-husband who is trying to get custody of their kids, a writing career that could use a jump-start, and a serious lack of money.  When a woman offers Finn a large sum of money to get rid of her husband, Finn tries to get out of it explaining that Finn isn't a paid killer.  However, she is curious about why the woman wants her husband eliminated and does a little investigating.  And from there things spiral out of control.  This is such a fun, entertaining mystery. I'm hopeful that the book's ending means we might get to meet up with Finn again in a future installment. 

Meet You In The Middle by Devon Daniels-I know most people are sick of politics right now, but I am here for anything that is West Wing adjacent.  Ben is a Republican and Kate a Democrat.  When they first meet, Kate has nothing good to say about Ben.  But as they continue to run into each other and their hatred eventually makes them frenemies, it is easy to see that there is an attraction between the two of them.  This is an open door romance, so be prepared for some steamy scenes, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Is it predictable? Yep.  That is ok every once in a while and this one was a fun read.  

It looks like we've got another week of this Arctic-like weather still ahead of us, which I hope means I can find some time to sneak in some reading while curled up on the couch with a warm blanket.  

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Friday Five: Freezing in February

We're in the middle of a huge cold snap and it can end anytime.  I am so over winter.  Unfortunately it's going to be at least a week before we see a little improvement.  

I've found some things to share with you this week and although I've got a few spring/summer items, most everything still looks like winter-wear.


1. Dolce Vita Decla Sandals - I'm dreaming of the day I can wear sandals. I love the gold color of these.

2.  Chelsea Stripe Top - perfect with jeans, khakis, or shorts, this would make a great everyday piece.

3.  Shula Modern Zip-up Hoodie - a new twist to camo with the embroidery on top.  

4.  Rhea Sneakers - I love these sneakers that have a variety of colors- and include leopard print.

5.  Striped Tie Neck Puff Sleeve Sweater - I'm kind of enjoying the tie neck look I've been seeing more of.  I feel like it dresses things up a bit.

6.  Slub Crewneck Sweatshirt -who wouldn't want this animal print sweatshirt?

7.  Buffalo Plaid Pajama Pants -the buffalo plaid pajama pants are calling my name. I might also want to purchase the buffalo plaid pajama top.

8.  Love Stripe Long Sleeve T - I think this is a cute holiday shirt without it being too holiday-ish.  

9.  Whisper Featherless Vest - I've been admiring this vest for a while. I feel like it would make a great wardrobe staple.

10.  Wizard of Oz Dorothy bookmark -and for any book lover who needs a cute book mark this one is awfully fun.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dictionary of Lost Words

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 Dictionary Of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Due out: April 6, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

In this remarkable debut based on actual events, as a team of male scholars compiles the first Oxford English Dictionary, one of their daughters decides to collect the “objectionable” words they omit.

Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Young Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word bondmaid flutters beneath the table. She rescues the slip, and when she learns that the word means “slave girl,” she begins to collect other words that have been discarded or neglected by the dictionary men.

As she grows up, Esme realizes that words and meanings relating to women’s and common folks’ experiences often go unrecorded. And so she begins in earnest to search out words for her own dictionary: the Dictionary of Lost Words. To do so she must leave the sheltered world of the university and venture out to meet the people whose words will fill those pages.

Set during the height of the women’s suffrage movement and with the Great War looming, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. Inspired by actual events, author Pip Williams has delved into the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary to tell this highly original story. The Dictionary of Lost Words is a delightful, lyrical, and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words and the power of language to shape the world.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Tuesday Non-Fiction: The Lost Family

This month I've picked up quite a few non-fiction books at the very beginning of the month. What that means is that my reading is slower. I just can't get through non-fiction with the same speed I can read fiction.  But there are just so many great non-fiction books that I want to read.  

The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland is one I found fascinating and would recommend to anyone in need of a great non-fiction read. 

Copeland's book focuses on the availability of DNA tests in our world and how people take them for a variety of reasons: to find out their ancestry, to look for missing relatives, sometimes just for their own curiosity.  Most people don't realize or even think about the fact that the results could change their lives- but they could change the lives of their family as well. The ripple effect is in full force.  

My mother-in-law is someone who used 23andMe to locate her birth mother.  She knowingly bought a DNA kit with this intent.  Although she found the answers she sought (along with nine biological half-siblings) the repercussions of her choice are felt by more than just her.  Her half siblings had no idea their mother had a child out of wedlock.  For them, this must be shocking as they discover another side to a woman who was married to the same man her entire life, but who had a child with someone else while he was serving in World War II.  Copeland shares many stories about people who have had similar experiences with these DNA kits.

I found this book fascinating.  The personal stories are what kept me reading, but there is information about DNA testing that is also very interesting.  Technology is a wonderful thing in many ways, but Copeland does a great job of explaining the consequences of this technology.