Friday, September 18, 2020

Friday Five

It feels like fall around here.  Today is our first professional development day at school and much of the day is spent on virtual meetings.  While I don't like meetings, I like virtual meetings even less.  

I've found some things to share with you, and I'm half listening to my PD while finishing up this post.  Have a great weekend!

1.  Crinkle Tie Sleeve Top - perfect to wear with jeans or capris or shorts. I like the color and sleeve detail.

Striped Crinkle Tie Sleeve Top

2.  Colorblock Ribbed Open Pocket Cardigan - it's getting to be cardigan weather. I love the fall-like colors of this one.

Colorblock Ribbed Pocket Open Cardigan

3.  Daily Ritual Women's Soft Rayon Jersey Slouchy Pullover Top - I feel like this is a good standard piece that would go with any cardigan, under a sweater or on its own.

4.  Lou and Grey Coffee Sweater - I'm not a coffee drinker, but I do think this sweater is extremely cute

Lou & Grey Coffee Sweater

5.  Oversize Pearl Drop Earrings - I always enjoy adding a new pair of earrings that I can put on day after day and add to my rotation.

j.crew: oversized pearl drop earrings for women, right side, view zoomed

6.  Delightful Details Tee - I love this tee and the colors and designs that are combined together.

7.  The Sydney Crossbody Bag in Spotted Calf Hair - look at how beautiful this purse is! I love calf hair (in addition to camo, leopard print, fur....)

The Sydney Crossbody Bag in Spotted Calf Hair in vintage parchment multi image 1

8.  Drape Collar Print Maxi Cardigan Sweater Coat -I like this coat, although I do wonder how overwhelming this would be on me. I'm not very tall, so I'm not sure how that would look. 

Image of JOSEPH A Drape Collar Print Maxi Cardigan Sweater Coat

Curvy Destructed High Waist Slim Pocket Flare Crop Jeans in Indigo Wash

10.  Oprah's Book Club Podcast - I have yet to start the book Caste, but I will soon. And when I do, I can't wait to listen to Oprah's podcast about it.

This week's "Oprah's Book Club” on Apple TV+ takes on the "American Dirt"  controversy

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: The Nature of Fragile Things

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 Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

Due out February 2, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin's silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin's odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn't right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Summer Reading 2020: Final Check-In

And just like that....summer is officially over and for the first time ever I actually read every single book on my summer reading list.  I'm not sure what prompted my discipline in this one aspect of my life, but what a strange feeling to have actually completed the list of books I set out to read.

I have three final books to share mini-reviews about.  I may have saved them until last, but all three were really good.  

Parachutes by Kelly Yang- this is Yang's first YA novel, definitely for a more grown-up audience than Front Desk.  I had never heard the term "parachute" before, referring to young adults who are sent to the US to finish their schooling without their parents.  Claire comes to the US from her posh Shanghai life and moves in with Dani and her mother who could use the income they receive for housing a "parachute." Both girls have encounters that are life-altering -and that finally bind them together as they support each other through them.

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny - this is the fifth book in the Three Pines series.  The first four were all OK...I liked them enough to keep reading, but I wasn't feeling the extreme love for these books that I've seen all over the internet.  Now, however, I think I get it.  This series is a slow burn....and the fifth book was fantastic.  I finally feel a connection to the characters and their community and appreciate the mysteries unfolding.  I just finished this book and am already looking forward to the sixth (thankfully there are sixteen published at this point).

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett- strangely enough I think I've read everything Patchett's written - except this book. And Bel Canto seems to be the title that everyone talks about.  I am not a huge fan of books set during a day or two...I feel like that reading about a specific event shouldn't take longer than the event itself.  And I did have to restart this one, but after getting into it, I could appreciate Patchett's writing and enjoy one of her early  works.  

For a brief moment I have toyed with the idea of creating a fall/winter reading list for myself since I was actually successful this summer. I'm not sure I actually want to do that, but I do have some backlist titles that are on my radar that I'd like to get done with.  

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Blast From the Past: September 2010

 I almost forgot this month's blast from the past to September 2010, but there were some fantastic reads a decade ago that are worth a mention.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes- this is probably the book I mention to anyone who doesn't know Rhodes' name.  This is the first book I read by her and perhaps the first book I read about Hurricane Katrina.  Fantastic look at a life changing event for New Orleans.

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman - I love Littman's books, and this one was a five star read for me.  Dani moves to the US from Argentina after a terrorist attack kills some of her extended family. Now she's in an unfamiliar country taking classes in a language she barely understands.  Meeting some new friends and realizing other people have problems helps Dani cope with all the changes in her life.

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel-  I love the setting of this book, and the cover of the edition I read aptly depicts the houses set on stilts that Frances lives in. This novel spans several decades from the 1960s-90s as Frances deals with motherhood, friendship, loss, and racial tension. This is a character-driven novel at its best.  

Silencing Sam by Julie Kramer - this is the third in the Riley Spartz series and every time I see one of these books pop up in my history, I wish that Kramer would write/publish a few more. I love this series that is set with a television station reporter as the protagonist, and this murder mystery is one that I quickly devoured.

Healer by Carol Cassella- Cassella is a doctor and also has a law degree, and to me, her books are sort of Jodi Picoult-esque in the sense that each one brings up some moral dilemma.  Claire marries Addison and with a huge medical discovery he makes, they are catapulted into great wealth. When a cancer study he invests in yields less than desirable results, the couple no longer has their money to fall back on and there is a question of what money means to those who have it and those who want it. 

What books do you remember reading from September of 2010? What about last year? Have you read any of the titles I've shared?

Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday Five

September 11 snuck up on me this year.  It's hard to believe that happened 19 years ago.  I was a new mom, home with my oldest daughter on maternity leave.  I remember staying up until late every night, sleeping on the couch with the television on, while watching the replay of news and the ticker tape scroll across the screen.  

I have tried to read every 9/11 book that's been published because that moment in time was such a meaningful one for our country - and one I was alive to experience firsthand.  I have a book waiting for me right now that came out last year that I will soon pick up.  

While that time was so difficult for our nation, it was also a time we were unified as a country, and that is a feeling we'd all like to have again.

So here is today's Friday Five on this very dreary, cold Iowa fall day. This is our fifth consecutive day of rain and cold, but the forecast looks promising for next week:

1.  Pull-on Wide Legged Pants - these come in a few color options, but I love these and think the would look great with a denim jacket and white T.

Pull On Wide Leg Pants

2.  Middle Grade Face Mask - my sister bought this mask for me and since I'm a middle school librarian, it's perfect. However, in addition to compliments from people, I've also had several people get way too close as they try to read the titles on the spines.  

Middle Grade Books

3.  Treasure and Bond Plaid Blouse - nothing too exciting about this top, but I love that it would work with jeans, dress pants, or shorts and capris.


4.  Giovanni Kimono - a couple of my coworkers have joined the kimono bandwagon and throw one of these on every day with whatever top they put on. I, too, may have to join them.

5.  Purple Rain T-Shirt - I definitely don't need a Purple Rain t-shirt, but in addition to feeling nostalgic and singing along every time I hear a Prince song, I also recall that our wedding DJ played this as the final song at our wedding reception/dance. 

Women's Prince Purple Rain Short Sleeve Graphic T-Shirt - Black - image 1 of 6

6.  Wide-Button Collar Tunic Sweatshirt - I love that this sweatshirt looks a little dressier than just the regular crewneck.

j.crew factory: wide button-collar tunic sweatshirt for women, right side, view zoomed

7.  Harlow Fair Isle Sweater -my love for Fair Isle is strong.  This is Sundance Catalog's new fair isle sweater for the fall/winter season.

8.  Pull on Skirt in Poplin - anyone who enjoys an easy, casual skirt to throw on, should check this one out.

Pull-On Skirt in Poplin

9.  Book Club For Kids Podcast- I've just rediscovered this podcast and am excited to get listening.  There is even an episode about how to do a virtual book club, and since I can't have kids coming to the library and eating every day like I used to, I'm going to listen in and hope for some good ideas.

Book Club for Kids - podcast

10.  Challenger Documentary - While 9/11 is certainly a watershed moment in our country's history, the Challenger explosion is etched in my mind as well. I was a seventh grader when this happened and I read every bit of news I could find about this tragedy. I'm so anxious to watch this documentary on Netflix.

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: Everything After

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: Everything After by Jill Santopolo

Due out: March 9, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

The Light We Lost mixes with a touch of Daisy Jones and the Six in this novel of first love, passion, and the power of choice--and how we cannot escape the people we are meant to be.

Two loves. Two choices. One chance to follow her dreams.

Emily has come a long way since she lost her two passions fifteen years ago: music, and Rob. She's a psychologist at NYU who helps troubled college students like the one she once was. Together with her caring doctor husband, Ezra, she has a beautiful life. They're happy. They hope to start a family. But when a tragic event in Emily's present too closely echoes her past, and parts of her story that she'd hoped never to share come to light, her perfect life is suddenly upturned. Then Emily hears a song on the radio about the woman who got away. The melody and voice are hauntingly familiar. Could it be? As Emily's past passions come roaring back into her life, she'll find herself asking: Who is she meant to be? Who is she meant to love?

Monday, September 7, 2020

Best Non-Fiction of August

With going back to school in August, my reading for the month was rather slim.  I did find time to read non-fiction books I enjoyed. 


The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene -I became an Office watcher because my oldest daughter can quote episode after episode and laughs out loud every single time.  Finally I decided to drink the Kool-Aid myself. And I love this show.  I also listen to the podcast that Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey host each week as they deconstruct every episode of the show.  This book is detailed and because it's an oral history it's not a fast read.  However, I liked this look back at a very fun time in television.

Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen - this non-fiction book is part self-help, part faith centered.  Allen's book is for the worrier (that's me) and she gives some good advice on how worry and faith are interconnected.  I appreciated the Christ-centered advice she gave as well as her ability to tie in her personal experiences with anxiety and worry.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of An American Family by Robert Kolker- this might make my Top Ten List this year for non-fiction because I absolutely loved this book.  Kolker's book focuses on the Galvin family - and the fact that six of the twelve children were schizophrenic.  The narrative about this family is broken up with some chapters detailing mental illness and the treatments and research that have been done in regards to schizophrenia.  I was worried at first that I would get bogged down by the non-fiction portions, but Kolker writes for the layman and I found myself unable to put this book down.  

I'm hoping that September is a little better for reading.  Maybe once we are all back in our regular routine I can find some extra time to read for pleasure?  We had a beautiful Labor Day weekend, and I did get a little time in for reading, but there was also some cleaning, a long walk with a good friend, a day of kayaking, and laundry, meal prep and exercise as well.  

Friday, September 4, 2020

Friday Five

Fall is most definitely in the air.  It was a cool, crisp forty-eight degrees today as I took the dog for a walk this morning.  And most of my finds from the week are for the cold weather ahead.   Enjoy!

1.  Women's Quilted Quarter Zip Pullover - I am loving this pullover which comes in a variety of colors.  

Women's Quilted Quarter-Zip Pullover

2.  Bower Popover Shirt in Marseilles Daisy - I saw last night that this top is on sale now for just $30.  I might have to break down and treat myself.

Bower Popover Shirt in Marseille Daisies in gengy vintage parchment image 1

3.  Loose Tunic Sweatshirt - Old Navy has several style and color options in this one.  I'm thinking this would be perfect for the upcoming winter.

Loose Tunic Sweatshirt for Women

4.  Pullover Hoodie in Towel Terry - And this would be great to throw on after a workout.  

Pullover Hoodie in Towel Terry

5.  Perfect Vintage Tee in Paradise Toile - I love the color and print of this T.

The Perfect Vintage Tee in Paradise Toile in lighthouse image 1

6.  Fringe Bandana - I've been meaning to buy a bandana for a while and this would go with so many things.

Fringe Bandana in summer breeze multi image 1

7.  Asymmetrical Snap-up Fleece - I have this in same shirt in two other colors already but I'm totally here for the leopard print.

select to zoom model image 1

8.  Fancied Flair Cap Sleeve Blouse - As a librarian I need this blouse!

ModCloth Fancied Flair Cap Sleeve Blouse in Red Books Multi | ModCloth

9.  Classic Crew- Sara - I would also love a nice crisp striped shirt.

10.  Organic Cotton Turtleneck - and as fall looms, I definitely need a few new turtlenecks.

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday: The Survivors

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 Survivors by Jane Harper

Due out: February 2, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Coming home dredges up deeply buried secrets in The Survivors, a thrilling mystery by New York Times bestselling author Jane Harper

Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran's parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away...

Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday Mini-Reviews: Three Recent YA Reads

 Although I've been reading YA, I rarely seem to post about it.  Over the past few weeks I've managed to read three great titles I want to share.

1.  The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed - this book is set during the Rodney King race riots and trial. It was a blast from the past for me and I loved the nostalgia I felt with the various references to life in the 90s.  However, I also loved the story, which is timely and important.  Ashley is realizing for the first time that her color sets her apart from her friends who are white.  Her sister has become involved in the riots, and Ashley finds herself struggling with some serious ideas as the riots become central in her family's life.  I couldn't help but think how much this book would resonate with kids right now.

2.  Parachutes by Kelly Yang - this is Yang's sophomore novel, and every bit as good as Front Desk. Parachutes is definitely more YA, as it covers some more adult issues: the inappropriate conduct of a teacher as well as one character being sexually abused.   I had never heard the term Parachutes prior to reading this, but I was interested to know that there are many Chinese teens sent to the US without chaperones or assistance in order to finish their schooling.  While some are fine, others have horrible experiences in our country.  This story explores what it feels like to be on your own before you are ready and the fact that institutions that should be providing safety are at times part of the problem.

3.  This Is My America by Kim Johnson - Tracy's father has been on death row for years, and she's been writing letters to Innocence X every week for that entire time trying to get their attention so they will help her father fight his wongful conviction.  When her track star brother is accused (wrongly) of murdering the white girl he was secretly dating, Tracy becomes even more intent on fighting for her family.  If you liked Dear Martin or The Hate U Give, this new novel will be one you want to pick up.  

The second week of school is underway.  It has been very busy, but it feels good to see some familiar faces (identifying anyone with a mask on is hard - especially since some students have grown and changed in the six months since I've seen them).  My girls are also back to in-person school and Big Sister is at college. It has been stressful to hear of various friends and neighbors who now have Covid, and I am praying that we continue to remain healthy.