Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Non-Fiction November: Week 3

This week's Nonfiction November Prompt:

Three ways to join in this week! You can share 3 or more books on a single topic that you’ve read and can recommend (be the expert); you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you’ve been dying to read (ask the expert); or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Head on over to Katie at Doing Dewey to read some of the other posts.  

As a teacher librarian I love books about education.  I'm sharing a few that specifically deal with college admissions and education in our country.

Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe is not entirely focused on education, but it does show how the four teenagers in this book are limited in their post high school choices because of some immigration issues they face.  Teaching in a district with a large immigrant population, I can see firsthand how our students are affected.  Some of it is heartbreaking, but I truly enjoyed every page of this book.

The Smartest Kids In the World And How They Got This Way by Amanda Ripley - show three different education systems: Finland, South Korea and Poland.  These systems are different from each other - and different from our system in the US.  This book provides so much to discuss....and as a teacher I love this topic and want to talk about it with everyone.

The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins provides an in-depth look at several high schoolers who are all over-extended and wanting to get in to their first choice colleges. The high expectations are self inflicted in some cases but all of the students featured in this book are interesting and it was easy to root for them and hope they achieved their dreams.

The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes Or Breaks Us by Paul Tough is my current read and I fell in love with it from the first page.  My oldest daughter is looking at colleges for next year and this one is interesting on a personal level for that reason. My husband and I have long believed that our college taught us both so much - more than can adequately be conveyed in a diploma - and this book (so far) does much to back that up.

So, I'm not an expert, but I if you are looking to learn more about education, these four books won't disappoint.   And if you have a book about education not mentioned here, please feel free to leave me a comment. I love adding to my TBR!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Monday Mini-Reviews: It's Been A Long Time

It's been quite a while since I've done some mini-reviews, and honestly, this past week might have been my worst for getting anything read that I can remember. I prepared all week for a big library meeting on Friday. On Saturday I was part of a librarian panel at UNI and then yesterday was scholarship day at Wartburg College for Big Sister followed by the cross country award ceremony last night.  Reading seems to have taken a back seat to the various activities that are going on.

However, I did get through a few books this past week that are worth mentioning.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms is one I thoroughly enjoyed. When Amy's estranged husband returns after several years overseas as he tried to find himself, he is intent on developing a relationship with their children.  This leaves Amy at loose ends as she tries to find out who she really is. The summer she spends in New York City finding herself is entertaining and although this might seem a light read, there are some real nuggets of wisdom in it as well.

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella is the latest in her Shopaholic series.  I've read all of these books and some are better than others.  This is a fun installment as Becky tries to hunt down the perfect gift for her husband and plans on hosting Christmas this year. Of course there are plenty of misunderstandings as usual, but this is story is definitely enjoyable.

Akin by Emma Donoghue -I didn't love Room as much as some of my friends and found that story disturbing, but that didn't mean I wouldn't try another book by Donoghue.  This story is one ties into the history of World War II in Nice, France, as Noah, a retired professor returns to France and his hometown for his first visit since he left as a young child.  He has some photos he found that his mother took that he'd like to research - and he also has his eleven year old great nephew (who he has never met) along on the trip.  I loved the historical aspect of this story and only wish that I hadn't had to read it in such short bursts over the past week.

All three of these books are worth curling up with on these cold, dark November evenings.  

Friday, November 8, 2019

Friday Five

We've had another few inches of snow here and it is definitely sweater weather.  

1.  Knit Sweater with Beads - I love that this is a little bit dressier - and only $20.  It also comes in a few colors.

Knit Sweater with Beads - Beige - Ladies | H&M US

2.  Bellis Waterproof Bootie - I would love to add another pair of boots to my wardrobe.  I love the lighter color of these

3.  Christmas Breton - I bought a Christmas breton a few years ago with pom poms on it but I wouldn't mind adding this little bit of Christmas bling to my wardrobe.

4.  Modern Fair Isle Sweater - the blues in this sweater are calling to me. I bought a pair of off white corduroys recently that I think this would look great with.

5.  Woven Heart Leopard Pullover -and yet another leopard print shirt.  Can you have too many leopard print items?

6.  Actloe Women Casual Turtleneck Long Sleeve Chunky Knitted Pullover Sweaters - this chunky knit is a little different from what I already have in my wardrobe, and it comes in many colors.

7.  The Quinn Pant  - I like a good plaid pant and I'm excited to see that this is coming back in.

8.  Plaid Tie-Neck Blouse - I love a good Christmas plaid....

Plaid Tie-Neck Blouse

9.  Ruffle Plaid Popover Blouse - and a good popover....

Ruffle Plaid Popover Blouse

10.  Soft Brushed Crewneck Sweater...and buffalo plaid as well.

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

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 title: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
Due out: March 3, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

In this next captivating love story from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One Day in December, a young woman is reunited with her late fiancĂ© in a parallel life. But is this happy ending the one she really wants?

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They'd been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible.

But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident.

So now it's just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonas, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life--and perhaps even love--again.

But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened.

Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there's an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there's someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

Written with Josie Silver's trademark warmth and wit, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a powerful and thrilling love story about the what-ifs that arise at life's crossroads, and what happens when one woman is given a miraculous chance to answer them.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Blast From the Past: November 2009

Looking back at books I've read in the past is always fun for me.  Here are my highlights from 2009. There are some great books!

The Shepherd's Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter - I still think about this book from time to time.  The cover is one that piqued my curiosity, but I almost passed it up because I had so many other books on my TBR.  I was fascinated by this story of a family who tend animals like the shepherds of old.  Amani loves this way of life and wants to take over as a shepherd for her grandfather, but this old way of life is being threatened by people who want their land.

Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn - I love a good women's fiction novel set in New York City. I don't remember the details, but I loved the setting, the young mothers in this book and the drama that unfolded along the way.

Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is a middle grade novel set in coal mine country.  It is the first year for a student exchange program and the students that take part in this are from different backgrounds.  I love this author - she also wrote Shiloh which is set in the same area as this novel.  

Cures For Heartbreak by Margo Rabb - Mia's mother is diagnosed with cancer and dies shortly after that diagnosis. This is a story that is heartbreaking but not without hope.  This is a great middle grade/YA novel  for anyone wanting a good cry.

A Wish For Christmas by Thomas Kinkade - Kinkade's Cape Light series provides a slice of small town life for readers. I've read this entire series and although some people think these books are predictable (they are), I do enjoy them.  This Christmas novel was written ten years ago, and this year there is another installment I am excited to read.

These books are all worth picking up if you are in need of something great to read.
What were you reading last year? Ten years ago?  Have you read any of these novels I've shared?

Friday, November 1, 2019

Friday Five

Happy Friday!  Tomorrow is the state XC meet and despite the fact that it won't be very warm, I am still excited to see my older two girls run.  This is Big Sister's fourth time at state and it's a little bittersweet knowing it's her last.  

I am happy that we get an extra hour of sleep on Saturday night, because tomorrow will be busy and fun.  I will need any extra sleep I can get.

1.  Striped Crewneck Sweater in Ultrasoft Yarn - I love the bright colors in this sweater. I also have a thing for stripes.  And this is something I could wear with cords or jeans.

2.  Reversible Swing Coat - this plaid is one I love...and the coat is reversible.  It's out of my price range....nearly $300, but it is lovely.

3.  Pull-on Peyton Pant in Velvet - I love velvet and I love how these pants look. I wish Iowa weren't so cold....I usually need socks instead of bare feet in my shoes during the winter, though. And I love how they look with denim.

4.  Big Bow Midi Skirt - If I had a holiday party to attend, this might be the skirt I'd pick. I love the black watch plaid and the bow off to the side.

5.  Yarn died flannel pajama pants - I have buffalo plaid in nearly every form...but not pajama pants yet.

6.  High Rise True Skinny Cords - I love a good pair of cords....I don't have any pants in olive yet and I've been looking for a while.  

High Rise True Skinny Cords with Secret Smoothing Pockets

7.  Merrell Tall Haven Buckle Boots - with cold weather coming I've been looking at books quite a lot.  I know I'm going to need a new pair at some point - both snow boots and boots to wear to school.

8.  Iowa Plaid Limited Edition Hoodie - I love the HomeT and have really enjoyed everything I've purchased from this website. This is a limited edition style and I'm having a hard time using willpower and not just quickly buying one immediately.

9. Lace Up Poncho - this is cozy looking AND I love the laces that makes it seem a little dressier.

10.  Today Show Halloween on the Plaza -I'm not a big Halloween fan, but I do love to see what the folks on the Today show come up with each year.

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: You Are Not Alone

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:  You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen
Due out: March 3, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

The thrilling new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of An Anonymous Girl and The Wife Between Us.

Shay Miller has three strikes against her: no job, no apartment, no love in her life. But when she witnesses a perfectly normal looking young woman about her age make the chilling decision to leap in front of an ongoing subway train, Shay realizes she could end up in the same spiral. She is intrigued by a group of women who seem to have it all together, and they invite her with the promise: "You are not alone." Why not align herself with the glamorous and seductive Moore sisters, Cassandra and Jane? They seem to have beaten back their demons, and made a life on their own terms―a life most people can only ever envy. They are everything Shay aspires to be, and they seem to have the keys to getting exactly what they want.
As Shay is pulled deeper and deeper under the spell of the Moore sisters, she finds her life getting better and better. But what price does she have to pay? What do Cassandra and Jane want from her? And what secrets do they, and Shay, have that will come to a deadly confrontation?
You are not alone: Is it a promise? Or a threat?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Non-Fiction November: Week 1


My calendar hasn't flipped to November yet, but I see Nonfiction November posts popping up all over the place and when I got out of bed this morning I noticed a blanket of white covering our lawn.  November is just around the corner, whether we like it or not.  

I'm not thrilled about the winter weather, but I've been waiting to share some of my non-fiction reads for a while, looking forward to November for that reason.

Here is the prompt for the first week of Nonfiction November:

Your Year in Nonfiction, hosted by Julz of JulzReads: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
What is your favorite non-fiction book of the year?
I've read quite a bit of nonfiction this past year, but always wish I had read more. There are so many great books out there that I just can't get to them all.
I don't have one specific favorite of this past year. 

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M Graff is one of my favorites, though.  9/11 was such an important, devastating event in our nation's history, occurring when I was a new mother that I felt a strong connection to the women who lost their husbands in the attack.  This oral history is so detailed, bringing to light so many different perspectives and memories of people who experienced the events of 9/11 first hand. It was not easy reading, but it certainly brought back many memories of this time in history.

What topic have you been most interested in this year?
As I listed some of my favorite non-fiction reads, I noticed that this year I've read quite a few memoirs and biographies I've enjoyed.  
Some of my favorites:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart - I loved this biography and learned so much about RBG.  After reading it, I went to the movie that had just come out about her life as well. The two nicely complemented each other.

Becoming by Michelle Obama - I'll read any political memoir and this one is so well written that I enjoyed every single page. Michelle's memoir makes her seem like she could sit down with you at Starbucks to talk about life.

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip Williams - such a devastatingly sad memoir that this is one I have a hard time telling others about and encouraging them to read, but it is so good.  good.  

I'll Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Laura Mary Philpott - Philpott is one of those writers who I feel could be a friend. We're close in age, so the issues she is encountering and writing about her own life seem to mirror many of my own.

The Kennedy Heirs: John, Caroline and the New Generation by J. Randy Taraborelli -I love reading about the Kennedys.  In this book, many familiar stories about the third generation of this family are fleshed out. I enjoyed revisiting some previous known stories and learning some new ones. 

What am I wanting to get out of Nonfiction November?
I'm excited to connect with other bloggers who participate in this event and add many new selections to my growing TBR.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Friday Five

I feel like my picks this week are all about being comfortable and cozy. Much of this week has been rainy and cold, so I'm all about keeping warm right now.  

I'm writing this before the district cross country meet which happens on Thursday this week.  It's hard to believe that the season is coming to an end. The season started out so well, but a few weeks ago our oldest daughter, who is a senior, ended up with walking pneumonia.  There is no easy recovery for that. She's missed a few meets but has been practicing as much as she possibly can.  I am still hoping that she can run in the meet.

1.  Women's Z Supply Leopard Weekender Tunic - this is big and boxy and might not be something I would wear to school, but I would totally wear it all weekend long.  This would be perfect to throw on with some sweats or leggings.

2.  Calia by Carrie Underwood Printed 7/8 Leggings - I just heard about this brand name and have looked at many of the workout wear in the collection.  I especially love the printed leggings.  I have so much workout wear already, but would definitely enjoy something with a little more color to it than what I've been wearing recently.

CALIA by Carrie Underwood Women's Energize Printed 7/8 Leggings 1

3. Plaid Ruffle-Neck Popover Shirtdress - hmmmmm.....why have I not thought about a buffalo plaid dress yet?  I like this a lot, but the reviews are mixed.  

Plaid Ruffle-Neck Popover Shirtdress

4.  Plaid Wool Blend Coat With Detachable Sherpa Collar - I'm seeing Sherpa pretty much everywhere.  This looks like a sort-of buffalo plaid that would be so cozy to throw on in these cold months.

Plaid Wool-Blend Coat with Detachable Sherpa Collar

5.  Attitude Lined Pant - I love the ruched legs and the colors available.  I have a black pair very similar to this that are unlined that I love.  

Attitude Lined Pant

6.  Women's Cable Knit Hat - my oldest daughter has a Spyder hat that I've adopted as my own....until she takes it back. I might have to break down and buy my own soon.

7.  Women's Mossbud Insulated Reversible Vest - I've got more wear out of my cheap vest from Old Navy than one would think possible. I wear it nearly every day. I'd love to upgrade to a North Face vest and this one is even reversible.

8.  Velour Sweatshirt - this is such a good deal...just $20 right now.  I love the feel of velour and think I could wear it to work and not feel guilty at all that I'm technically wearing a sweatshirt.

9.  Leopard Print Hoodie Sweater - the vast amounts of leopard out there is just amazing.  I don't have anything hooded in my collection of leopard at this time, so I'd be happy to put this in my collection.

10.  Buffalo Plaid bag - Vera Bradley is apparently ready to get in on the buffalo plaid craze.  I will have a hard time resisting adding a bag to my collection.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Dear Edward

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: Dear Edward 
Due out: January 14, 2020

Synopsis taken from Amazon:

A twelve-year-old boy struggles with the worst kind of fame—as the sole survivor of a notorious plane crash—in a heart-wrenching and life-affirming novel for readers of Small Great Things, Little Fires Everywhere, and The Immortalists.

What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live? 

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them are a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward's story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery—one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? 

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.