Sunday, July 25, 2021

Monday Mini-Reviews: The Monday After Vacation

 We had a great time in North Carolina this past week.  There was hiking, white water rafting, card games at night, great food, exploring new towns, shopping, and catching up with great friends.  It's always sad when this time comes to an end each year, but I'm glad we have been able to do this for the past several years now.

I read some great books while we were gone, but aside from riding in a car, we were actually busy much of the time.  

This is a picture from one of our hikes:

You know you are high up when birds are flying below you.  I am not a fan of heights, so I had to be coerced for quite a while to go stand out on this rock. the whole thing was slanted and I never felt quite safe seeing how far up we were. 


We enjoyed white water rafting as well.  Big Sister agreed to go with the grown-ups in our raft while the rest of the kids crammed themselves into the other raft.  She still looks like she's having a fine time.

We made it to Dolly's Ice Cream twice. It was great both times.

I have tons of pictures I could post - and I might do just that throughout the week -but I'll get to the books now:

Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey-Stein - this is Dorey-Stein's first foray into fiction. Her first book was a memoir of her time working for the Obama administration.  This is a story of three adults in their mid thirties who are back in their hometown (two have returned, one hasn't left), and their lives aren't exactly panning out how they thought they would. This is a look at friendships and finding your way.  It's an easy read and would be perfect for the beach.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray - I love that Benedict continues to tell the story of little known women in history.  I know her work is fiction, but her books are based on real people and pique my interest so that I want to know more.  Belle da Costa Greene is a young woman when she is hired as the personal librarian for JP Morgan. The two work tirelessly to increase his collection, carefully bidding on masterpieces and adding them to what he already owns.  What is most amazing about this story is that Belle was really an African American whose mother chose to disassociate herself and her children from her husband who was an important figure in trying to obtain equal rights for black people.  I found this whole story fascinating and definitely want to read more about her.

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange - I love a story about a dysfunctional family.  The Brennans are an Irish American family and as the story unfolds we get to know the four Brennan siblings, their spouses and father.  There are secrets that are slowly revealed which impact every single person in the family. I loved Lange's character development. And I loved her technique of starting a new chapter with the last line from the previous chapter.  It helped to know where the story was picking up since the narrator changed in each chapter.  This would make a great book club pick.  

I loved all three of these books and right now feel like I've hit a little slump.  I'm hoping that I can snap out of it, but this is the last week of summer school and I have a lot to do each day as I wrap things up there.  

When I looked ahead at my August calendar I realized that my first day back at school is August 17. That just seems incredible to me.  Where does time go?  I still have projects to get done at home before starting back at school, so I guess we'll see how much reading time actually takes place.   I'm crossing my fingers.  

Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: Friends Like These

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: Friends Like These by Kimberly McCreight

Due out: September 7, 2021

Synopsis taken from Goodreads: 

In this relentlessly twisty literary thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight, a desperate intervention brings together a group of college friends 10 years after graduation—a reunion marked by lies, betrayal, and murder.

Everyone has those friends. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been, or how badly they’ve occasionally behaved, or how late it is when that call finally comes—you show up. No questions asked.

Honestly, that’s how the five of us ended up here in the Catskills. We did have the best of intentions. Especially after what happened to Alice all those years ago, we can’t bear to think of losing anyone else. In fact, we’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ll go so much farther than we ever thought we would.

In the end, maybe that’s what caught up with us. That, and the fact that we’re such a complicated group—so much history and so many big personalities. Secrets, too, that can slip out at the most inopportune moments. Of course, we love each other despite all of those things. We love each other no matter what.

There’s something so beautiful about that kind of unconditional love. It can turn ugly, though. Or maybe that’s just us. After all, we’ve already been through so much together. And we have so very much to hide.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Monday Mini-Reviews

It's been quite a while since I wrote a mini-review post and I certainly have books to share.  These half dozen aren't even all of them, but I'll save them for after I get back from vacation.

All of the ones I'm sharing today were fantastic, and I'm having such a great summer of reading. 

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann - this is a debut featuring the dysfunctional Briscoe family. There are lots of secrets - and one doozy of a surprise- that are revealed throughout the book.  I really enjoyed the setting of this one along with the way Swann developed her characters.

Where The Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger - Weisberger is an expert at writing the "wealthy New Yorker with problems"  novel and I love this kind of book.  Peyton is the host of a morning TV show, always striving to stay thin enough, rich enough, when her husband is arrested in a college admissions scandal.   From there the story unfolds and secrets are revealed.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid - I feel like this is THE novel of the summer.  I don't know anything about surfing or Malibu, but I loved this story about a family that lives in Malibu and we follow their lives over the span of a couple of generations. I loved the name dropping (Desi Arnaz, Gidget) and the setting.

Cheat Day by Liv Stratman- this is another debut novel about Kit and David who were college sweethearts and are now married. Although they are happy enough, Kit meets a guy who her sister hires to do some renovations on her bakery (where Kit works) and the two begin an affair. I won't lie.  Kit's choices made me sad, but I thought the ending was interesting and the entire book made me wonder about peoples' motivations.

Falling by T J Newman - if Malibu Beach is THE novel of summer, I feel like this is THE suspense novel of the summer.  What would you do if you, as the pilot of a commercial jet, was told that unless you crashed the plane your family would be killed? This is the premise of this page turner that I think would make a great movie.  

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner - Weiner's books are a sure sign of summer and this is one that I enjoyed a lot.  Daisy Shoemaker's life seems pretty great- nice husband, a teenage daughter, a house in a nice neighborhood.  But when she receives an email for someone else the two women become friends.  Little does Daisy know that their friendship is anything but random and that it will change her life forever.  Weiner has a message she wants to convey in this book and she does a great job getting that across while still writing a story that is entertaining.

I've already read a couple more books during our vacation that have been fantastic and with several more days before heading home, I'm hopeful that I can find a little more time to squeeze in a few more great books to share next week.  

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Friday Five: Out of Town

 We're heading out on vacation, and I've tried to plan ahead a bit with my posts, although I've been busy with summer school stuff.  My reading this week has been non-existent, so hopefully the long car trip will allow me some time to read. 

Here are ten things that caught my eye this week:

1.  Twist Front Linen Blend V-Neck Tank

2.  Big B Pants

3.  Puff Sleeve Cotton Dress

4.  Paperbag Linen Shorts

5.  Retro National Parks T

6.  Reading Comfy Sweatshirt

7.  Regatta Dress

8.  Castle Hill Top

9.  Brooks Launch Running Shoes

10.  Crumbl Cookies - I have yet to go to Crumbl cookies, but today should be the day. My oldest daughter has been researching cookie flavors and locations for a while now. It turns out we will be driving right by a Crumb in Kentucky and since we are so close, we are going to stop. I'll report back. 

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: The Royals Next Door

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 Royals Next Door by Karina Halle

Due out: August 30, 2021

Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

An ordinary summer goes royally awry when a prince and princess move next door, bringing their handsome bodyguard with them, from New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle.

Piper Evans: elementary school teacher by day--avid romance reader and anonymous podcaster by night. She lives a quiet, reclusive life, taking care of her mother, who struggles with mental illness, avoiding her regrettable ex, who bartends in town, and trying to make inroads in the tight-knit island community that still sees her, five years in, as an outsider.

And she's happy with how things are--really--until British royals rent the property next to hers and their brooding bodyguard decides she's a security threat. Piper quickly realizes that one person's fairy tale is an ordinary woman's nightmare as a media frenzy takes over the island and each run-in with Harrison Cole is hotter and more confusing than the last. But beneath Harrison's no-nonsense exterior lies a soft heart, one that could tempt a woman who's sworn off attachments into believing in white knights.

But when Piper finds herself smack in the middle of a royal scandal that rocks the island she'll need more than Harrison's strong arms to shield her--she'll have to do a little rescuing herself. With careers, hearts, and friendships on the line, Piper and Harrison will have to decide what they're willing to give up for a chance at their own happily ever after.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Blast From the Past: July 2011

 A decade ago these five books were ones I was enjoying.  Some I remember more than others, but I do remember a general enjoyment of them all.

The First Husband by Laura Dave  - this is a tangled web/relationship novel that is a quick read. I don't remember details of this one, yet because I just read and LOVED Laura Dave's latest novel, I feel like readers may want to check out her backlist.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - a cute YA rom com that has celebrated its 10th anniversary with a beautiful new cover.  I enjoyed this one and her books that came after this one.

Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton  - this book follows up Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'Easter (which I loved). I loved Leelee's story continuing in the South after she leaves Vermont. I love this series.

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood- I loved that this story takes place in a small town on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Madeline has relocated from Chicago and is quickly learning the small town way of life

Rawhide Down by Del Quinton Wilbur -I've read this - and so have my husband and older daughter.  We've all enjoyed this detailed account of the assassination attempt, which for my husband and me was a chance to think back to what we remembered from the news coverage in our childhoods of this event.   

What were you reading back in July of 2011? Have you read any of these titles?

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Friday Five: The Saturday Edition

 Once again your Friday Five is a little bit late, but at least I've got it done, and you can now enjoy the things I've found this past week.  

I'm not seeing much for fall at this point, but I'm sure soon it will be all over the place.  I'm going to enjoy the summer weather - and therefore, the summer clothing that is still in the stores. I am most definitely not ready for fall or winter.

This has been a low-key week around my house. Summer school had a week-long break that I enjoyed.  This does not mean I got any additional projects or cleaning done, but I did enjoy the time off and did get several books read.  

Enjoy this week's finds and have a great weekend!

1. Resort Dress

2.  Magnolia Sleeveless Top

3.  Mock Neck Short Sleeve Floral Printed Blouse

4.  Flag Cotton Crewneck Sweater

5.  Pop Monogram Pendant Necklace

6.  Embroidered Ruffle Blouse

7.  Beaded Floral Blouse

8.  Spark Woven Sandal

9.  All Gender Clifton Suede Hokas

10.  Women's Lightweight Shaker Stitch Sweater

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: The Party Crasher

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 Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

Due out: October 12, 2021

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Your Life comes a humorous and heartwarming novel about family, set against the backdrop of the most fabulous party you’ve ever snuck into.
It’s been over two years since Effie’s beloved parents got divorced, destroying the image of the happy, loving childhood she thought she had. Since then, she’s become estranged from her father and embarked on a feud with his hot (and much younger) girlfriend, Krista. And now, more earth-shattering news: Greenoaks, the rambling Victorian country house Effie called home her whole life, has been sold.
When Krista decides to throw a grand “house cooling” party, Effie is originally left off the guest list—and then receives a last-minute “anti-invitation” (maybe it’s because she called Krista a gold-digger, but Krista totally deserved it, and it was mostly a joke anyway). Effie declines, but then remembers a beloved childhood treasure is still hidden in the house. Her only chance to retrieve it is to break into Greenoaks while everyone is busy celebrating. As Effie sneaks around the house, hiding under tables and peeping through trapdoors, she realizes the secrets Greenoaks holds aren’t just in the dusty passageways and hidden attics she grew up exploring. Watching how her sister, brother, and dad behave when they think no one is looking, Effie overhears conversations, makes discoveries, and begins to see her family in a new light. Then she runs into Joe—the love of her life, who long ago broke her heart, and who’s still as handsome and funny as ever—and even more truths emerge.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Non Fiction Tuesday: Upcoming Release

I've been reading biographies/autobiographies since I was a kid and love them.  There are still a few I think about years after reading them. Andre Agassi's Open and Rob Lowe's Stories I Tell My Friends were excellent, but honestly there are so many I've enjoyed that I can't pick favorites.  I'm excited that Billie Jean King is sharing her life story with us and can't wait to pick this one up.


All In by Billie Jean King

Due out August 17, 2021

Synopsis taken from Goodreads:

An inspiring and intimate self-portrait of a champion of equality that encompasses her brilliant tennis career, unwavering activism, and an ongoing commitment to fairness and social justice.

Billie Jean King was only seven years old when she told her mother, I'm going to do something great with my life someday. But the world she wanted did not exist yet, so she set out to create it. In this spirited account, King details her life's journey to find her true self. She recounts her groundbreaking tennis successes that came at a breathtaking pace--six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty-nine grand-slam titles, and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes. King poignantly recalls the cultural backdrop of her career and the profound impact on her worldview from the women's movement, the assassinations and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and, eventually, the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

King describes the myriad challenges she hurdled, including entrenched sexism, an eating disorder, near financial ruin after being outed, and accepting her sexual identity. It was not until the age of 51 that she began to publicly and unequivocally acknowledge, I am gay. Today, King's life remains one of indefatigable service. She offers insights and advice on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, marriage equality, parenting, sexuality and love. She shows how living honestly and openly has had a transformative effect on her relationships and happiness. Hers is the story of a pathbreaking feminist, world-class athlete, and an indomitable spirit whose impact has transcended her achievements in sports.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Friday Five: Fourth of July Edition

I have often thought that once the Fourth of July hits, summer seems to be almost over.  I'd like to think that isn't the case because I've only had one week off because of teaching summer school.  This coming week we have a weeklong break, and then we are back for three more weeks. 

We've got plans tomorrow for the holiday: a nice, relaxed cookout with friends, and I'm hoping that there will be a little reading time before we go and socialize.

Here are some things that have caught my eye this week.  I'm sure soon we will be seeing some fall/winter items, but for right now I'm enjoying the summer clothing that's still all over the place.


9.  Dot's Honey Mustard Pretzels

10. Noble Blood Podcast

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