Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: Last Dance on the Starlight Pier

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:  Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird

Due out: April 12, 2022

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird's Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman―and a nation―struggling to be reborn from the ashes.

July 3. 1932. Shivering and in shock, Evie Grace Devlin watches the Starlite Palace burn into the sea and wonders how she became a person who would cause a man to kill himself. She’d come to Galveston to escape a dark past in vaudeville and become a good person, a nurse. When that dream is cruelly thwarted, Evie is swept into the alien world of dance marathons. All that she has been denied―a family, a purpose, even love―waits for her there in the place she dreads most: the spotlight.

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a sweeping novel that brings to spectacular life the enthralling worlds of both dance marathons and the family-run empire of vice that was Galveston in the Thirties. Unforgettable characters tell a story that is still deeply resonant today as America learns what Evie learns, that there truly isn’t anything this country can’t do when we do it together. That indomitable spirit powers a story that is a testament to the deep well of resilience in us all that allows us to not only survive the hardest of hard times, but to find joy, friends, and even family, in them.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Monday Mini-Reviews: Finding Time to Read Amidst Some Fun XC Memories

Last Thursday was the district XC meet - the qualifier for the state tournament.  Middle Sister and Little Sister both qualified individually (MS took 6th place overall, and LS took second place overall) and their team took first place (the top three teams qualify). The continue to have a "dream season" and are looking to go up against Mid-Prairie, the number one rated team in the state in class 2A. The girls have their work cut out for them, but they are focused right now and really ran well last week -despite the fact that it was cold and windy and all of us spectators were bundled up in coats, hats and mittens. 

They were interviewed for the news as well - another exciting recognition.

So, while that was going on, I tried to get in a little reading.  I devoured a few books this past week and want to highlight two I will be thinking about for a while:

The Wonder Test by Michelle Richmond- long ago I read Richmond's The Year of Fog and loved it. It was women's fiction with some suspense and I remember not wanting it to end.  I totally forgot about her book The Marriage Pact which was also a book I couldn't put down -but it was also a bizarre and disturbing story.  Well, the Wonder Test is definitely un-put-downable -and it is also disturbing.  The narrator is one I felt like I could relate to quickly as she and her son are starting over, moving to California to live in her father's house after his death to start afresh after the death of her husband. And while everything in this beautiful California town seems nearly perfect, there are a lot of things going on that are anything but OK.  The synopsis of this book made me think it was going to be science fiction, but it's not at all and I can't wait to talk about it with someone whose read it.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza- this one has "book club" written all over it as these authors tackle the touchy topic of best friends who are not of the same race. Despite knowing each other since childhood, there are lots of things they aren't saying to each other and plenty of ways to give - and take- offense.  This one is so timely right now and I feel like everyone should read it to try and understand things from a perspective different than your own.  I will be thinking about this book for a long time.

I've started The Paper Palace this weekend and hope that I can curl up with it again tonight after getting some school work done for tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

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 Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Alison Pataki

Due out: March 22, 2022 

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

An epic reimagining of the remarkable life of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American heiress and trailblazing leader of the twentieth century, from the New York Times bestselling author of Sisi

Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.

Marjorie’s journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post’s Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.

And yet Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.

Bestselling and acclaimed author Allison Pataki has crafted an intimate portrait of a larger-than-life woman, a powerful story of one woman falling in love with her own voice and embracing her own power while shaping history in the process.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Monday Mini-Reviews: Three Novels of Suspense

I check out a lot of mysteries/psychological thrillers/novels of suspense from the library, but often those are the ones I return without cracking them open.  I know they are fast reads and that I will probably enjoy them, but there are just soooo many of them to choose from that it's hard to know which one to pick up.  

This past weekend I devoured three of this type of book.  It must have been exactly what I needed because I found myself unable to put them down and thoroughly enjoyed them all.


The Stolen Hours by Allen Eskens - Eskens is a must read author for me.  I feel like he deserves a little more attention than he gets because his books are fantastic. I enjoy the Midwest setting but I really, really enjoyed the story.  I could barely put this one down yesterday. Lila is working for the Hennepin County Attorney trying to prove herself in the job when a young woman is found washed up on the shore of the Mississippi River. Her attempted murder is much like the murder of three other women - and when Lila sees the accused in court her reaction is so visceral and takes her back to her own assault that happened eight years previously.  I loved how Eskens connected everything together.  

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead - this is a college campus murder mystery that has many twists and turns.  I love anything that's a college story and the seven friends in this novel and their tight knit group return ten years after graduation to reconnect. There are only six in their group now after Heather, one of the seven, was killed during their senior year.  Heather's brother, Eric, works for the college and when the friends arrive they are confronted by him as he wants to finally out the killer.  I thought I knew where some of the twists and turns were going, but I was wrong on every count.   This is a fast read and once I started I found it totally absorbing.

The Fiancee by Kate White - Kate White is another must-read author I enjoy.  She's written a mystery series, but this (along with some of her other books) is a stand alone.  Summer and her husband are vacationing with her husband's side of the family ready for a week of relaxation. When her brother-in-law brings along his new girlfriend, Summer instantly recognizes her as an actress who was in a workshop with her a few years ago.  However, when she asks Hannah about it, Hannah insists it wasn't her.  There are lots of inconsistencies in Hannah's story and Summer is sure she's up to no good. When a family member dies tragically - and a little mysteriously- Summer has her suspicions of who is to blame, but there are secrets that are revealed as no one knows who to trust.

After reading three of this type of book in a row, I'm not sure what I should pick up next.  I have too many options to choose from, but can't wait to find some more time to curl up with another great book.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Friday Five

This week was full of parent/teacher conferences, carpet being installed in our three bedrooms on our main floor,  and the conference cross country meet.  Today I had a day off so I treated myself to a massage and am still trying to figure out how to best restore our house to order.  There's a lot of purging that needs to happen as well as some organizing.

Highlights from yesterday's meet were Little Sister winning the conference championship-beating a runner that had been undefeated all year in our conference.  Middle Sister took seventh, and the team took first place.  All seven runners came in 19th place or better and all were named to either first team all conference or second team all conference. They are having such an amazing year and it is so much fun to watch them run.  We are looking forward to districts next Thursday which is the state qualifier.

Tonight I walked the dog with a sweatshirt and coat on. It is definitely getting a little cooler and getting dark earlier.  I love fall, but I hate both of those things.  Here are some things I found to share this week:


10.  Bad Blood Podcast - I loved the book by this same name. This podcast carries on the story where the book left off as the court case against Elizabeth Holmes has begun.

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: Home or Away

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:  Home or Away by Kathleen West

Due out: March 29, 2022

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

Two friends, one Olympic dream, and the choice that stood in the way.

Once Leigh and Susy were close friends and teammates bound for Olympic hockey gold, but when Leigh’s sure-fire plan to make the final roster backfired, she left everything behind to start over, including the one person who knew her secret.

Two decades later, Leigh’s a successful investment banker, happily married, and the mom of a hockey prodigy, so when a career opportunity lands the family back in Minnesota, Leigh takes the shot for her kid. Back in the ultra-competitive world she left behind, the move puts her in Susy’s orbit, a daily reminder of how Leigh watched from the sidelines as her former teammate went on to Olympic glory.

Despite the coldness between them, Susy can’t help but hope that Leigh might lace up her skates and join her in the coaches’ box—after all Leigh knows better than anyone how hard it is to be a woman in this world. Susy’s coaching decisions are undermined by the all-male board and she knows soon her daughter, Georgie, will be seen as a “girl athlete,” relegated to the B team, with less support and opportunity to advance.

But Leigh’s sure keeping Susy at arms’ length is the only way to hide her history with her coach Jeff Carlson. When he hints of new favors in exchange for her son’s ice time and allegations arise over his conduct, Leigh is caught in the ultimate bind: come clean about what happened when she was an Olympic hopeful and risk her marriage or play Jeff’s game. In a moment of desperation, Leigh turns to Susy and realizes the one person she thought was her biggest competitor might turn out to be her biggest ally.

Told with Kathleen West’s trademark wit and compassion, Home or Away is a story about overcoming our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of female friendship.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Blast From the Past: October 2011

I was so busy last week that I never even got around to posting my Blast from the Past post.   

This past summer I managed to read two different books and once I finished them realized (by looking on Goodreads) that I had already read them years ago.  I was kind of appalled that I didn't remember them at all, but I do remember many of the books I read.

These three are ones I read a decade ago - and I still remember them.

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian- Bohjalian is a must-read author for me and I will pick up whatever he writes.  This one centers around Chip and Emily and their ten year old twin daughters.  They are trying to rebuild their lives after Chip, an airline pilot, had to ditch his airliner in the Hudson river after double engine failure. This is just the tip of the iceberg and this story has some twists and turns - and a little suspense.

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagan - I loved this book so much. Set in the late 1950s, Sally is supposed to protect her sister, there's a killer on the loose in their town and her mom is in the hospital. I loved Sally's voice in this novel as she tries to make sense of the world.

Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson - Jen and her Midwest family move to Croatia exploring a new country and way of life.  I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and the way Wilson shares their travel and move to a country foreign to them.

What were you reading back in 2011?  What about last October?

Friday, October 8, 2021

Friday Five: Cross Country Season is Taking Up All My Free Time

 It's been another busy week with cross country.  Little Sister set a school record on Saturday, and then turned around on Tuesday and broke the record again.  Middle Sister ran well in both meets and set a PR on Tuesday as well.  We are gearing up for the conference meet next Thursday which will be followed by Districts the following week to qualify for state.  

It's so fun to watch this sport and see how hard everyone works and how positive they are to each other.  

So my blogging and reading are in short supply right now.  

Here are the things I found to share this week:

2.  Aerie Waffle Long Sleeve Henley T-Shirt

3.  Button Down Jacket in MicroCorduroy

4.  High Rise Vintage Slim Cords

5.  Women's Patagonia Radalie Jacket

6.  Isadorra Hiking Boots

7.  Multi Foil Sweatshirt

8.  Read Return Repeat Shirt

9.  Matching Print Flannel Pajama Pants

10.  The Babysitters Club Season 2 - I still love anything Babysitters Club related and I can't wait to see the second season of this show.

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: The Good Left Undone

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 Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani

Due out: April 12, 2022

Synopsis taken from Amazon:  

From Adriana Trigiani, “a master of visual and palpable detail” (The Washington Post), comes a lush, immersive novel about a hardworking family of Tuscan artisans with long-held secrets.
Matelda, the Cabrelli family’s matriarch, has always been brusque and opinionated. Now, as she faces the end of her life, she is determined to leave no stone unturned, including her own mother’s revelation about her two great loves: her childhood friend, Silvio, and proud Scottish sea captain John Lawrie McVicars, the father Matelda never knew. . . .
In the halcyon days of the past, Domenica Cabrelli thrives in the coastal town of Viareggio until the day her beloved home becomes unsafe as Italy teeters on the brink of World War II. As her journey takes her from the rocky shores of Marseille to the mystical beauty of Scotland to the dangers of wartime Liverpool—where Italian Scots were imprisoned without cause—Domenica experiences love, loss, and grief as she longs for home. A hundred years later, her daughter, Matelda, and her great-granddaughter, Anina, face the same big questions about life and their family’s legacy as Matelda contemplates what is worth fighting for, and when to let go. The Cabrellis have survived so much, and it is only through the transformative power of love that they can hope to truly heal. But Matelda is running out of time, and the two timelines intersect and crash together in unexpected and heartbreaking ways that lead the family to redemption.
Epic in scope and resplendent with the glorious themes of identity and belonging, The Good Left Undone unfolds in breathtaking detail. Based on a meticulously researched true story, it is Adriana Trigiani’s opus, a worthy successor to The Shoemaker’s Wife.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Non-Fiction Preview: Admissions

 I've been on the hunt for non-fiction publishing in 2022 that I want to read.  I'm sure there are lists somewhere, but I can't seem to find any just yet....this is the first one I've pre-ordered:

A sharp-witted and deeply insightful look into the storied world of elite prep schools from the first African-American legacy student to graduate from The Taft School.

Early on in Kendra James’ professional life, she began to feel like she was selling a lie. As an admissions officer specializing in diversity recruitment for independent prep schools, she persuaded students and families to embark on the same perilous journey she herself had made—to attend cutthroat and largely white schools similar to The Taft School, where she had been the first African-American legacy student only a few years earlier. Her new job forced her to reflect on her own elite education experience, and to realize how disillusioned she had become with America’s inequitable system.

In ADMISSIONS, Kendra looks back at the three years she spent at Taft, chronicling clashes with her lily-white roommate, how she had to unlearn the respectability politics she'd been raised with, and the fall-out from a horrifying article in the student newspaper that accused Black and Latinx students of being responsible for segregation of campus. Through these stories, some troubling, others hilarious, she deconstructs the lies and half-truths she herself would later tell as an admissions professional, in addition to the myths about boarding schools perpetuated by popular culture.

With its combination of incisive social critique and uproarious depictions of elite nonsense, ADMISSIONS will resonate with anyone who has ever been The Only One in a room, dealt with racial microaggressions, or even just suffered from an extreme case of homesickness.

If you know of any great 2022 non-fiction, let me know.  I'm always willing to add to my toppling TBR.