Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Red Lotus

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 Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian
Due out: March 17, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant comes a twisting story of love and deceit: an American man vanishes on a rural road in Vietnam, and his girlfriend, an emergency room doctor trained to ask questions, follows a path that leads her home to the very hospital where they met.

The first time Alexis saw Austin, it was a Saturday night. Not in a bar, but in the emergency room where Alexis sutured a bullet wound in Austin's arm. Six months later, on the brink of falling in love, they travel to Vietnam on a bike tour so that Austin can show her his passion for cycling and he can pay his respects to the place where his father and uncle fought in the war. But as Alexis sips white wine and waits at the hotel for him to return from his solo ride, two men emerge from the tall grass and Austin vanishes into thin air. The only clue he leaves behind is a bright yellow energy gel dropped on the road. As Alexis grapples with this bewildering loss, and deals with the FBI, Austin's prickly family, and her colleagues at the hospital, Alexis uncovers a series of strange lies that force her to wonder: Where did Austin go? Why did he really bring her to Vietnam? And how much danger has he left her in? Set amidst the adrenaline-fueled world of the emergency room, The Red Lotus is a global thriller about those who dedicate their lives to saving people, and those who peddle death to the highest bidder.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday Mini-Reviews: Fantastic Fiction

I loved the Oprah Winfrey Book Club when she featured a new book and author each month on her show.  I loved the anticipation of waiting for her to reveal her next book pick and I quickly found myself a copy as soon as her announcement came.

Several celebrities have book clubs that I follow now, but most of their selections are hit or miss for me.  Until recently.

Jenna Bush Hager's Read With Jenna book club is my new favorite place to get great book suggestions.  Just as with Oprah, I'm anxiously awaiting the day she reveals her new book club selection.  And so far there hasn't been a single book that isn't amazing.

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall is the current Read With Jenna selection.  This is a quiet novel with a lot to think about.  Taking place over the course of several decades, we see two couples: Charles and Lily and James and Nan brought together because the two men have been hired to jointly lead a Presbyterian Church. Each man brings different skills that the church is in need of, and so their partnership begins.  The relationships between these four are complex as is their faith (or lack of).  I found myself wanting to highlight parts of this novel, as well as talk it over with a friend or two.  

Patsy by Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn - Patsy is thrilled to learn that the visa she has been waiting for has finally arrived and she will be moving to America. This move means leaving her daughter, Tru, behind in Jamaica in order to make a future for herself. But the promise of reuniting with her childhood friend in America and the opportunities that she thought would be awaiting her are much different than what she had envisioned.  As years pass, Tru tries to understand her mother's decision to leave as well as find her own way in the world.  This story felt so real to me, like Patsy was someone I might meet while walking down the street in New York City. My heart ached for how hard her life was and how few of her dreams were realized.

Both of these books were five star reads for me.  I can't wait to hear what Jenna picks for October and hope that her book club continues for a long time.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday Five

Today is our first PD of the school year, a day full of meetings without students.  It's nice to spend a day with colleagues, but the meetings? I could do without them.  It's been hot and humid here this week, but the things I'm sharing are definitely not summer-weather clothing.  Fall and winter are truly right around the corner.  

1.  Rae Dunn Mugs- I've been admiring these for a while, but have yet to get any for myself.  I need to find a cheap place to pick some of these up.  When I price them online they are anywhere from $21-$35 for one mug. I refuse to pay that for one mug, so we'll see if I can find them discounted somewhere

2.  Books Build Better Brains - I'm always looking for a new tshirt that promotes reading and libraries and Raygun has a new one out this fall.

3.  Leopard Faux Fur Coat - seeing this coat reminds me of a fake fur coat I had shortly after college. It was such a fun thing to wear, and as I look at this one, I'm beginning to wonder whatever happened to that coat.

4.  Staccato Pattern Sleeve Pullover - I bought this shirt last weekend when I went shopping with my oldest daughter to pick out some clothes for senior pictures.  She ended up with nothing, although I did try to help her find things my choices were decidedly uncool.  And while she thought there was nothing good at any store, I found lots of stuff I'd like.

5.  Open Front Fleece Cardigan - I'm a camo girl in any color and I like the blues in this one.

6.  Patch Detail Camo Cotton Jacket - years ago I bought a camo jacket for myself that I still wear. I really like this one but can't justify purchasing something so similar to what I already own.

7.  British Tweed Mini Skirt - I love a good plaid and this skirt comes in three different patterns.  

8.  Annora Snake Print Sneaker-snake skin seems to be really in this year. I'm loving it on these shoes.

9.  Ingham Shoe Cubby Storage Bench- my daughter's friend has this in her bedroom. I like it, but already know I own more shoes than there are slots in it.  Probably not a good purchase for me, but I will continue to admire it from afar.

Ingham Shoe Cubby Storage Bench

10.  Office Ladies Podcast- I'm late to The Office and just started watching episodes this summer.  Now I'm excited to see that a podcast is on its way dishing on all the Office behind the scenes ins and outs episode by episode.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Westering Women

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: Westering Women by Sandra Dallas
Due out: 

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

From the bestselling author of Prayers for Sale, an inspiring celebration of sisterhood on the perilous Overland Trail
"If you are an adventuresome young woman of high moral character and fine health, are you willing to travel to California in search of a good husband?"
It's February, 1852, and all around Chicago, Maggie sees the postings soliciting "eligible women" to travel to the gold mines of Goosetown. A young seamstress with a small daughter and several painful secrets, she has nothing to lose.
So she joins forty-three other women and two pious reverends on the dangerous 2,000-mile journey west. None of them are prepared for the hardships they face on the trek through the high plains, mountains, and deserts, or for the triumphs of finding strengths they did not know they possessed. And not all will make it.
As Maggie gets to know the other women, she soon discovers that she’s not the only one looking to leave dark secrets behind. And when her past catches up with her, it becomes clear a band of sisters will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own.

Monday, September 9, 2019

TLC Book Tour: The Last Widow

I've seen plenty of buzz about The Last Widow, and was excited when I realized that I was part of the blog tour for this book. I don't think I've ever read anything by Karin Slaughter before, but I love a good suspense-filled novel.

The Last Widow does not disappoint.  From the very first page this story takes off as we read of the abduction of Dr. Michelle Spivey, a woman enjoying a night out with her daughter. No one has seen her since.  A month later there are  explosions at Emory University.  While Will Trent and his girlfriend, Sara, try to get to campus to help, they encounter a car accident and stop to help.  Within just a few pages, Will is badly beaten, guns are fired, and Sara is gone.

There is so much action in this book that I found myself racing through each page, trying to figure out where the story was going. Parts of this story are narrated by Will as he and his boss, Amanda, and coworker Faith try to find Sara. The other portion is narrated by Sara, which allows readers to see what these men are after.  

This is the ninth in the Will Trent series, and because I hadn't read anything by Slaughter before, my first experience with these characters. I was able to read it and thoroughly enjoy it as a stand-alone, but will admit that I'd love to go back and read all of these books.  I know there is history to these characters' lives that I've missed out on and would love to know more about them. 

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for review.  All opinions expressed are, as always, my own

For more information visit the HarperCollins website.

Blast From the Past: September 2009

I love looking back at the books I've read in the past and remembering bits and pieces of the stories as well as what was going on in my life while I was reading them.  Of course, there are some books that I remember better than others and some I'd like to pick up again.

These five are highlights of my reading back in September of 2009.  

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - I love this middle grade novel that has some time travel elements in it and connects in an amazing way at the end of the book. I have recommended this to teachers and students for years and will continue to press it into the hands of readers.  And thinking back on this book, which I devoured in one sitting, makes me want to buy enough copies to read with my book club at school.

Burn My Heart by Beverly Naidoo - this novel is one I don't remember the plot of, but do remember enjoying it.  Set in Kenya in the 1950s, this novel tells the stories of two boys - one white, one black - Mathew and Mugo who are friends despite their differences in class as Kenyans try to regain their land from the British.  I love historical fiction where I can learn about events that I am unfamiliar with.  

Betsy- Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace - I've been hearing about Betsy Tacy since I really started studying childrens literature, yet I had never heard of them, despite the fact that there is even an entire conference on Betsy-Tacy each year.  I read the first one, and enjoyed it enough and can understand why kids who grew up reading these books have such a connection with them.  It's probably much like how I feel about the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder or the Betsy by books by Carolyn Haywood.

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler, MD - this non-fiction book has so much good information in it that explains why people continue to eat despite the fact that they aren't hungry and are trying to make good choices. He explains how the food manufacturers manipulate ingredients to stimulate our appetites and how difficult it really is to keep from overeating in today's world.  This is a book I could re-read because there is probably much I've forgotten.

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow- Molly narrates this story, trying to determine whether her death was suicide, murder or accident.  She is able to watch over her family and relives parts of her life that led up to her death.  There's a lot of humor in this book as Molly unravels what happened to her and finds some peace in her death.

How about you? Have you read any of these titles? What were you reading back in September 2009?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday Five: It's Beginning to Feel Like Fall

Some years we have crazy hot days after school has started. So far, our back to school weather has been beautiful, but very fall-like.  The things I'm sharing this week seem a little more fall and winter ish, and I'm glad that animal print and buffalo plaid seem to be hanging around for another season.

1.  Asymmetrical Snap-up Fleece - I have this top in a navy and love how cozy it is.  This one is a must-purchase for me.

model 1

2.  Long Sleeve Utility Shirt Dress - my daughter found this dress online as she is trying to find some things to wear for senior pictures. She is extremely picky about clothing, so if this dress works, I will be ecstatic.

model 1

3.  Jacquard Ruffle Flutter Top - just a nice top to pair with some nicer pants for work or even a pair of jeans.

Jacquard Ruffle Flutter Top

4.  Leopard Print 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan - I have a lot of leopard print, but not a leopard print cardigan.  

Leopard Print 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan

5.  Women's Hawthorne Snap Button Cardigan-this cardigan comes in several solid colors as well as prints.  I'm loving the dots, but there is also one in camo. 

Navy Dots

6.  Palma Platform Slip-on - several years ago I had leopard print shoes and was so upset when my dog at the back off of one of them.  I'd love to have another pair.

TOMS Palma Platform Slip-On

7.  Organic Daily Camo Crew - I'm all about camo in any color combination.

Organic Daily Camo Crew

8.  The Simple Circle Cross Body Bag in Calf Hair - realistically this purse is too small for me, but I think it is so cute.

The Simple Circle Crossbody Bag in Calf Hair in dark coffee multi image 1

9.  Cashmere Sweatshirt in Reedham Stripe - and there's no way we can go too long without having something striped in the lineup.  I love the colors in this one.

Cashmere Sweatshirt in Reedham Stripe in romantic coral image 1

10. Charlotte's First Day of School - it's always fun to see the royals - especially the children.  I remember watching Prince William's first day of school (and then his brother's first day) long ago.

Image result for princess charlotte's first day of school

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Antidote For Everything

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

This week's pick: The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin
Due out: February 18, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

A compelling new novel about how far two physicians will go to protect the right to treat their patients from acclaimed author Kimmery Martin.

Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked people, but her romantic life has fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend, Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, and who has become as close as family to her.

Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah receives startling news: the hospital intends to fire doctors who refuse to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Disturbed by the hospital’s actions, the two of them concoct a plan to persuade the board to reverse its decision. But when the strategy spirals out of control, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers in a last-ditch effort to battle injustice.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

TLC Book Tour: The Chocolate Maker's Wife

I love historical fiction, although I'd be the first to tell you that I rarely read books set before the 1800s.  This novel takes place in the 1600s, during the Restoration of King Charles, a time period and event I knew nothing about, but found completely enjoyable to read about.


Australian bestselling novelist Karen Brooks rewrites women back into history with this breathtaking novel set in 17th century London—a lush, fascinating story of the beautiful woman who is drawn into a world of riches, power, intrigue…and chocolate.
Damnation has never been so sweet…
Rosamund Tomkins, the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, spends most of her young life in drudgery at a country inn. To her, the Restoration under Charles II, is but a distant threat as she works under the watchful eye of her brutal, abusive stepfather . . . until the day she is nearly run over by the coach of Sir Everard Blithman.
Sir Everard, a canny merchant, offers Rosamund an “opportunity like no other,” allowing her to escape into a very different life, becoming the linchpin that will drive the success of his fledgling business: a luxurious London chocolate house where wealthy and well-connected men come to see and be seen, to gossip and plot, while indulging in the sweet and heady drink.
Rosamund adapts and thrives in her new surroundings, quickly becoming the most talked-about woman in society, desired and respected in equal measure.
But Sir Everard’s plans for Rosamund and the chocolate house involve family secrets that span the Atlantic Ocean, and which have already brought death and dishonor to the Blithman name. Rosamund knows nothing of the mortal peril that comes with her new title, nor of the forces spinning a web of conspiracy buried in the past, until she meets a man whose return tightens their grip upon her, threatening to destroy everything she loves and damn her to a dire fate.
As she fights for her life and those she loves through the ravages of the Plague and London’s Great Fire, Rosamund’s breathtaking tale is one marked by cruelty and revenge; passion and redemption—and the sinfully sweet temptation  of chocolate.

My Thoughts:

Readers shouldn't be scared off by the size of this novel.  Although it is long, it is easy to get into, and reads quickly.

Rosamund is the illegitimate child of a nobleman taken in by a grandmother and treated well, until the woman dies.  Then Rosamund's life changes dramatically as she must work instead of being taken care of.  When she meets another member of the nobility who wants to marry her and take her away from the hard life she is living, she agrees.  But of course, things are not what they seem.  The nobleman is not her prince charming at all. However, he does put Rosamund in charge of the Chocolate House that has just opened where other nobles come to indulge their addiction to this sweet.

Brooks' novel has a little bit of everything: intrigue, suspense, a well developed setting and plot, interesting characters and romance, this is a book you won't want to miss. Brooks is a new-to-me author, but after reading The Chocolate Maker's Wife, I'll be looking for more of her work.

Thanks to TLC Books for providing a copy of this book for my review.  All opinions expressed are, as always, my own.

For more information on The Chocolate Maker's Wife, visit the HarperCollins website.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday Five: I've Survived A Full Week With Students

We've made it through a full week of school and the three day weekend is nearly here.  I'm excited to have a little time off to recover a bit.  I also looked at my kitchen counter today and all the clutter covering it and am looking forward to getting things straightened up at home as well. 

I did find some lovely things to share this week with you, though:

1.  Prudence Butterfly Chair - I bought a chair from Wayfair, so now I get their emails and ads constantly popping up.  I love this chair and have nowhere for it to go, but am still seriously considering it.

Prudence Butterfly Chair

2.  Hippy Dance Boots - The flowers add such a nice touch to these boots. I'm loving them.

3.  Camo Skinny Pants - yep...camo...

4.  Pullover-this is such a simple looking top but I feel like it is really classy and would be great with jeans or a pair of nicer pants.

5.  Josie Espadrille Flats - I am also loving the detail on these shoes and wouldn't mind a pair of casual shoes to wear to work.

6.  Iowa Camo Limited Edition T -and more camo.  I'm not sure I can resist this one.

Iowa Camo Limited Edition

7.   High Rise Leopard Print Ankle True Skinny Jeans - I looked at a pair of leopard print pants from Boden, but the reviews aren't great. These are from the Gap, which is having 40% off this weekend. I might need to try them out.

High Rise Leopard Print True Skinny Ankle Jeans with Secret Smoothing Pockets

8.  Double Breasted Corduroy Blazer - I've got mixed feelings about this blazer. I love a good blazer, but I got rid of all of mine because I feel like they've gone out of style. Are they back in style now?  I love the color of this one, and I also have a thing for corduroy...

Double-Breasted Corduroy Blazer

9.  Chick Fil A Mac and Cheese - the newest item on the CFA menu is a hit at my house.  My youngest daughter is a CFA addict, but doesn't like their waffle fries (I know....what is wrong with her?!). She does enjoy being able to substitute the fries with mac and cheese, though.

Image result for chick fil a mac and cheese

10.  American Factory - and the Obamas first show they have released on Netflix is on my weekend watch list.  I'll have take a break from watching The Office to sneak this in.

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