Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday: The Beach at Summerly

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

This week's pick: The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams

Due out: June 27, 2023

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

New York Times bestseller Beatriz Williams returns with a ravishing summer read, taking readers back to a mid-century New England rich with secrets and Cold War intrigue.

June 1946. As the residents of Winthrop Island prepare for the first summer season after the sacrifice of war, a glamorous new figure moves into the guest cottage at Summerly, the idyllic seaside estate of the wealthy Peabody family. To Emilia Winthrop, daughter of Summerly’s year-round caretaker and a descendant of the island’s settlers, Olive Rainsford opens a window into a world of shining possibility. While Emilia spent the war years caring for her incapacitated mother, Olive traveled the world, married fascinating men, and involved herself in political causes. She’s also the beloved aunt of the two surviving Peabody sons, Amory and Shep, with whom Emilia has a tangled romantic history.

As the summer wears on, Emilia develops a deep rapport with Olive, who urges her to leave the island for a life of adventure, while romance blossoms with the sturdy and honorable Shep. But the heady promise of Peabody patronage is blown apart by the arrival of Sumner Fox, an FBI agent who demands Emilia’s help to capture a Soviet agent who’s transmitting vital intelligence on the West’s atomic weapon program from somewhere inside the Summerly estate.

April 1954. Eight years later, Summerly is boarded up and Emilia has rebuilt her shattered life as a professor at Wellesley College, when shocking news arrives from Washington—the traitor she helped convict is about to be swapped for an American spy imprisoned in the Soviet Union, but with a mysterious condition only Emilia can fulfill. A reluctant Emilia is summoned to CIA headquarters, where she’s forced to confront the harrowing consequences of her actions that fateful summer, and a choice that could destroy the Peabody family—and Emilia’s chance for redemption—all over again.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Monday Mini-Reviews: Historical Fiction Winners

 It's been a minute or two since I've done a Monday Mini-Review post.  I've read quite a few books this month, rather unusual since this is one of the busiest times in the school year for me.  

I love historical fiction and three of my most recent reads were enjoyable from beginning to end.

Where The Coyotes Howl by Sandra Dallas - I think I've read all of Dallas' books and this is one of my favorites.  It's 1916 and Ellen moves to the small town of Wallace, Wyoming, for a teaching job.  Life there is hard, but within a year Ellen falls in love with the country and a young man named Charlie Bacon.  The two face trials together while still remaining in love with each other.

Only The Beautiful by Susan Meissner - Meissner's latest novel moves from 1938 until 1947.  Rosie loses her parents when she is sixteen and is taken in by the family they worked for.  When she ends up pregnant she is sent to a home for unwed mothers where not only will her baby be taken from her, but so will her ability to have babies in the future.  In 1947, Helen Calvert returns to California and is upset to hear about Rosie, the girl her brother and his wife took in. She starts looking for Rosie, trying to right a wrong from the past.

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry - In 1939 Hazel and Flora are young girls sent to a rural village to escape London during the war.   Hazel, as the older sister, makes up stories to tell her younger sister who longs for their mother.  But then the unthinkable happens - Flora goes missing.  Now, decades later, a book has been published of the story that Hazel told Flora.  Hazel hopes that somehow her sister is still alive and won't stop until she uncovers what happens to Flora. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday: Summer Stage

 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: Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore

Due out: May 24, 2023

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From the bestselling author of Vacationland, a spirited summer page-turner following a family of actors grappling with fame, scandal, and ambition--perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand.

Amy Trevino, a former aspiring playwright, has stayed close to her Rhode Island hometown while her famous brother, Timothy Fleming, pursued and achieved his Hollywood dreams. Now a high school English teacher and occasional drama director, Amy takes on the production manager role for her brother’s play in an effort to mend rifting family relationships. 

Sam, Amy’s daughter, was a Disney child star who continued her pursuit for fame in a Manhattan TikTok house. Now she’s returned home unexpectedly. Her sudden arrival is shrouded in secrets, and Sam refuses to open up to her mother, deciding instead to join her uncle on Block Island for the summer.  

Timothy, a successful and well-loved actor, is directing a summer production at a storied Block Island theater—and his famous ex-wife has the lead role.

As they work together to ensure the production is a success, Amy, Sam, and Timothy are forced to grapple with their desires for recognition and fortune, stand up for what they believe art and fame actually mean, and discover what they really want out of life.

A bighearted and delicious novel about family, ambition, and opportunity, Summer Stage is the must-read book of the summer. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Friday Five


Better late than never!  It was a busy week with state track for Little Sister this past weekend, so I wasn't on my computer at all.  Enjoy this week's finds.

3.  The Hustler Patch Pocket Ankle Jeans

4.  Trisha Shirtdress in Seersucker Stripe

5.  Pull on Ruffle Skirt in Pink Paisley

6.  Canvas A-Line Skirt - Sail Away

7.  Laura Mule Vachetta Leather Loafers

8.  Miller Soft Sandal

9.  Nantucket Graphic Tshirt in Linen

10. Sleeveless Ruffle Top

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday: The Canary Girls

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

This week's pick: The Canary Girls by Jennifer Chiaverini

Due out: July 23, 2023

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Rosie the Riveter meets A League of Their Own in New York Times bestselling novelist Jennifer Chiaverini’s lively and illuminating novel about the “munitionettes” who built bombs in Britain’s arsenals during World War I, risking their lives for the war effort and discovering camaraderie and courage on the soccer pitch.

Early in the Great War, men left Britain’s factories in droves to enlist. Struggling to keep up production, arsenals hired women to build the weapons the military urgently needed. “Be the Girl Behind the Man Behind the Gun,” the recruitment posters beckoned.

Thousands of women—cooks, maids, shopgirls, and housewives—answered their nation’s call. These “munitionettes” worked grueling shifts often seven days a week, handling TNT and other explosives with little protective gear.

Among them is nineteen-year-old former housemaid April Tipton. Impressed by her friend Marjorie’s descriptions of higher wages, plentiful meals, and comfortable lodgings, she takes a job at Thornshire Arsenal near London, filling shells in the Danger Building—difficult, dangerous, and absolutely essential work.

Joining them is Lucy Dempsey, wife of Daniel Dempsey, Olympic gold medalist and star forward of Tottenham Hotspur. With Daniel away serving in the Footballers’ Battalion, Lucy resolves to do her bit to hasten the end of the war. When her coworkers learn she is a footballer’s wife, they invite her to join the arsenal ladies’ football club, the Thornshire Canaries.

The Canaries soon acquire an unexpected fan in the boss’s wife, Helen Purcell, who is deeply troubled by reports that Danger Building workers suffer from serious, unexplained illnesses. One common symptom, the lurid yellow hue of their skin, earns them the nickname “canary girls.” Suspecting a connection between the canary girls’ maladies and the chemicals they handle, Helen joins the arsenal administration as their staunchest, though often unappreciated, advocate.

The football pitch is the one place where class distinctions and fears for their men fall away. As the war grinds on and tragedy takes its toll, the Canary Girls persist despite the dangers, proud to serve, determined to outlive the war and rejoice in victory and peace.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Friday Five

We are in the home stretch as our school year wraps up in a few weeks.  And this means a crazy amount of busy-ness as I still have library inventory to do, the chromebook collection for all students, and trying to get everything returned and put away in the right place.  I do seem to work better when I have too much to do, so I am actually getting a fair amount of stuff checked off my to-do list each day.  

Here is what caught my eye this week:

7.  Fast and Free High Rise Short Airflow 2" - I freely admit these are too short for me, but my daughters are all runners, and they would look great in these.

10.  Coronation Pics

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday: The Celebrants

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

This week's pick: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

Due out: May 16, 2023

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

A decades-old pact offers a group of college friends the chance to throw each other "living funerals," in the next poignant and humorous novel by the bestselling author of The Guncle.

The night after one of their own is tragically taken from them, a group of five college friends form a pact: a promise to reunite in their hours of need to throw each other’s funerals while they’re alive and well as a reminder that life is worth living, and living well – if not for them then to honor their late friend.

Now, twenty-eight years into the hard-worn lines of adulthood, their “funerals” serve to remind them of all the opportunities in life they’ve missed. But when one member of the old gang receives a bracing diagnosis, the pact takes on new meaning, and each friend is forced to confront old secrets, and weigh their now-middle-age lives against the idealistic dreams of their youth.

A deeply honest tribute to selfhood and the people who keep us going, coupled with Steven Rowley’s signature humor and heart, The Celebrants is a moving tale about the false invincibility of youth, and all the beautiful ways in which friendship can transcend our deepest losses.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Monday Mini-Reviews: Back to Normal

 I've had a busy few weeks and after a few different deadlines on Friday, I can finally try and get back in the groove.  

On Friday I agreed to present at a library conference.  Public speaking is not something that I do often and even the thought of it makes me break out in a cold sweat.  But, I also know a lot about children's lit, and didn't want to turn down this opportunity.  So, I spent a lot of time creating my presentation, and survived the whole experience.  And since I survived that, I promptly volunteered to teach a section on new children's books for out district's classroom teachers over the summer.

After a hectic end to last week I was excited to have a weekend that was a little bit relaxing - and included reading for fun.  

I had started Our Best Intentions by Vibhuti Jain last weekend but had to put it down because I had to focus on getting some work done.  I loved that I could pick it back up - and really take time to enjoy it this weekend.

Bobby Singh is a single parent, trying to realize the American dream as he works driving for Uber.  His daughter, Angie, is his biggest treasure, a girl who is attending an affluent school and has a bright future ahead of her.  When she comes across her former best friend's brother, Henry, stabbed and bleeding on the football field as she leaves the high school pool, she is recognized as a hero for calling 911 quickly. However, Henry's friend, Chris, is also a part of the drama and quickly names Chiara Thompkins, a runaway black girl as the person who stabbed Henry.  This story deals with race and class and how communities treat others who are not like them.  There is plenty to discuss and book clubs should be picking this one up.

Several years ago Karen Cleveland's books were introduced to me. I fell in love with the fast paced/CIA/suspense novel that she writes so well.  Alma Katsu is writing a new series, beginning with Red Widow, and after taking a short break this past week from this one as well, I devoured the rest of it yesterday.

Theresa Warner is the "Red Widow," having lost her husband Richard in mysterious circumstances while he was in the field in Russia.  Lyndsey Duncan is brought in to the agency to conduct an internal investigation, an opportunity she jumps at since she is worried that her career is circling the drain after being put on administrative leave. These two women form an unlikely friendship, but there are twists and turns to this story, and it's impossible to know who to trust.  I found myself racing to the end of this book and already have the second one checked out.

Susie Luo's debut novel is a fantastic story that features three separate narrators and stories that converge at the end. Taking place in New York City, this story spans three decades.

Tony is a Chinese immigrant who was an engineer in China, but is a doorman now.  He and his wife have moved to America to give their daughter, Tammy, a better future.  Oliver is a wealthy white lawyer who lives in the building where Tony works.  A violent act causes these three stories to converge, and as we watch years pass we see how Tammy's life unfolds as a first generation American.  

The ending of this one didn't wrap up neatly, and it is the one thing I'd love to talk about with someone whose read it. I can see book clubs enjoying this one as well.  And since it is Luo's debut novel, I can't wait to see more from her.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Waiting on Wednesday: A Good Family

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

This week's pick: A Good Family by Matt Goldman

Due out: May 30, 2023

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

New York Times bestselling author and Emmy Award-winner Matt Goldman's A Good Family is a gripping, emotional thrill ride about the secrets hidden underneath a picture-perfect neighborhood.

Katie Kuhlmann's marriage is falling apart. But she has a secure job, her children are healthy, and her house, a new construction in the prestigious Country Club neighborhood of Edina, Minnesota, is beautiful. She can almost ignore the way her husband, Jack, has been acting--constantly checking his phone, not going to work, disappearing from the house only to show up again without explanation.

Tension in the Kuhlmann house only gets worse when Adam "Bagman" Ross, a mutual friend from college, happens to be in the neighborhood and in need of a place to stay. Jack is quick to welcome him into the sanctity of their home, but Jack's strange behavior only gets worse, and Katie fears their new guest is also harboring a dark secret. As she begins to uncover the truth, she realizes that something is terribly wrong--and she must race to protect her family as danger closes in.