09 August 2019

Friday, Friday, Friday!

Welcome to Friday! With just a few weeks left til school (and my work) start back up again, I'm feeling even more focused to read, read, read!

I found a few book-ish memes to play along with this week. If that's how you found me, welcome! I've just started jumping on a few memes again lately, remembering how fun they all were way back when this blog was new (15+ years, whoa!).

This is my first time on the Book Blogger Hop from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This week's question (suggested by Elizabeth at Silver's Review) is:
What authors do you always read and recommend?
 I really needed a few minutes to think on this question. See, most of my reading is books I've been given to review. So when I finally get around to choosing, I usually have other people's recommendations or books that I've heard about lately and want to read.
One author I've read some really varied books from and enjoyed is Kristin Hannah. With a lot of books with different characters and subjects, I really feel she has a lot to offer for a variety of readers. Even while recommending her, there are some books of hers that I have yet to read.
I'm excited to read others' responses to this question, since my list of books/authors recommended to me is always growing :)

A couple weeks ago I really enjoyed the Book Beginnings meme from Rose City Reader, so I'm back!

The book I'm reading this week is a translated winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize called A Fist or a Heart by Kristin Eiriksdottir. It starts out:
My hands get no cleaner than an old bathtub. My fingernails are all clipped as short as possible, but the chemicals have managed to claw their way through the dead skin, into the bone. As if there's no enamel.

And last but not least for this week is the Friday 56 from Freda's Voice.

Here is my excerpt from page 56 of A Fist or a Heart:

SON:He'll never leave, will he? And if he does leave, he'll just come right back again?GRANDFATHER:You may have to kill him.
Wow. Sort of a deceptive excerpt - actually an excerpt of an excerpt. Part of the book is about a playwright, and this is just part of a play that character has written.

08 August 2019

Blinded by the Light - My Review

My husband and I had the opportunity to see Blinded by the Light a couple weeks ago. It opens in theaters August 14, 2019. I'm glad we saw it, and it was better than I expected.

In talking on our way home, I said I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars, and hubby said he'd go with 4 out of 5 stars. It's not too often that hubby likes a movie more than me. I think the biggest detractor for me was the camera style. Some of the bike scenes made me a little dizzy. I did enjoy the story, the characters, and the music montages. I also have a soft spot for 80s-based movies. I remember the 80s vividly as my own growing-up years.

The story is about Javed, a British-Pakistani Muslim teenager, who changes his whole view of life in 1987 and finds inspiration when presented with the music of Bruce Springsteen by a fellow student at his high school. The movie is based on Safrad Manzoor's acclaimed memoir, Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion, and Rock 'n Roll.

29 July 2019

Happy Homemaker Monday - 7/29/19 edition

Happy Monday! I'm joining up with Diary of a Stay at Home Mom this week for Happy Homemaker Monday.

This week is sort of our week off, if you will. Last week Jack had On Your Mark Youth Fitness camp, and next week Maggie has Young Americans camp. So this week started with glorious nothing, but we now have lunch plans on Tuesday and Wednesday, and meeting friends at the zoo on Thursday. Today, though? I'm not going anywhere!

The weather::
I've been watching the forecast trying to plan our zoo trip for Thursday. Last week they were calling for rain, but now it looks like the thunderstorms are just today. And I honestly like watching  thunderstorms, so one is fine with me.

Maggie had a friend sleep over last night, so I made cinnamon rolls for the kids this morning. Yum!

Right now::
I just finished writing my review for At the Narrow Waist of the World.  I'm getting ready to review How to Read a Book once I'm done with this post. I'm also hoping to work on a stitching project.

On my reading pile::
Starting Off the Grid next. It published on July 2. Next up will be a memoir I received that will officially publish in August. And I keep itching to order The Handmaid's Tale graphic novel. One of these days it will end up in my Amazon cart. Hahaha....

Hubs and I are working through the final season of Orange is the New Black. I also read that the Deadwood movie has released. And of course there will be a new episode of The Handmaid's Tale this week.

On the menu this week::
Monday - Taco Salad
Tuesday - Chicken with stuffing
Wednesday - Spaghetti or Hamburger Helper
Wednesday is also payday, so I'll do some grocery shopping and menu plan for the rest of the week and next week. Sort of. Hubby and Maggie are headed to a boat race, so no cooking for me and Jack this weekend. :D

On my to-do list::
The cleaning people come on Wednesday, so I'll make sure things are straightened up by then.
Also need to strip the beds, wash the sheets, make the beds..
I'm waiting to hear if we'll be hosting two of the college students with the Young Americans program for next week. If so, I'll have a bit more prep for that.

From the camera::
Last night Maggie had a friend over, and we all headed to the local Round 1. The girls and hubby played a game of bowling, and Jack and I spent an hour in the arcade. One of his favorites is Mario Kart.

What I'm wearing today::
Jeans and a t-shirt. Skipped the shower this morning so I could get right to making cinnamon rolls for the short people.

One of my simple pleasures::
The kids and I made pineapple upside down cupcakes over the weekend. I haven't seen anyone else eat any of them, so I've got my work cut out for me! I think they're delicious, so I don't want them to go to waste. ;)

26 July 2019

Friday - Book Beginnings and Friday56 - July 26, 2019

So apparently when I'm procrastinating on Fridays, and don't feel like reading the book I should be reading, I blog about it instead.

I'm currently reading At the Narrow Waist of the World by Marlena Maduro Baraf for a review. It is scheduled to publish and be available August 6, 2019. It's a memoir of a Spanish Jewish woman being raised in tropical, Catholic Panama in the 1950s and 1960s.

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader.  Here's how At the Narrow Waist of the World starts:
"In the 1950s the country of Panama was small -- about 750,00 people. We lived in the capital city and knew everyone who was white and the people surrounding our lives who were darker, un cafe-con-leche mix tipico de Panama."

The Friday56 is hosted by Freda's Voice and shares a snippet from page 56. I haven't read quite that far in At the Narrow Waist of the World yet, so this is a preview for me too! Here's a bit from page 56:
"There are not many rules. Ham but not pork. We eat shellfish now. My country is the land of the shrimp. Far from other Jewish groups, we are on our own."

25 July 2019

Thankful Thursday - July 25, 2019

I'm having such a hard time carving out time to blog in coordination with inspiration this summer! Today I'm joining in the Thankful Thursday link-up, hosted at Knit By God's Hand with Rebecca Jo.

I am a strong believer in gratitude, and the idea that 'what you focus on, you find.' I first learned it as an '-ism' when I was in training at Quicken Loans years ago. Instead of a mission statement, they have their -isms. Obviously they made an impression on me. :)

This is our week for celebrating our daughter! Maggie turned 12 on Tuesday. I am SO thankful for her. She is smart and so fun to be around. I love how she helps around the house and with her brother. Her contributions are vital to our family (and my sanity!).

So we know she is awesome and fun, but through celebrating, I also got to go out for brunch and dinner on Tuesday, we got lunch and ice cream with a friend yesterday, and today she and I went to the mall to spend birthday gift cards.

She's fabulous, and celebrating a birthday is always a good time.

I am thankful for my favorite TV shows. Which sounds kind of odd if you know me - I really don't watch much TV! But I've been enjoying The Handmaid's Tale (just three more episodes left this season!), and I'm looking forward to the final season of Orange Is The New Black (which releases tomorrow on Netflix).

I'm really not into clothes and shoes too much, but I got these Tieks last year and I still love them. I'm thankful for shoes that make my feet feel like they're being hugged by a cow.

Last but not least, I'm grateful for a job that gives me summers off, and that I enjoy enough so I'm not dreading going back to work next month! Some recently compared summer to a weekend - June is Friday, July is Saturday, and August is Sunday. I'm not one to hate Mondays, or spend Sunday dreading the return to work ;)

19 July 2019

10 Random Things for Friday

It's a hot one! I think we'll actually have
some storms to break it up.

  1. Yup - it's supposed to be really hot today and this weekend. But you've heard me complain about the cold. The worst thing for me about the hot is everyone setting the air conditioner to a cold enough temp to make me want a sweater! LOL I may have a different opinion tomorrow...
  2. Tonight we're going to the Tastefest at Trenton, Michigan's 'Roar on the River.' Hubby is the new crew chief this year for a boat racing team. This weekend is his second race. The whole family is going down for dinner tonight. Races will be on Saturday and Sunday.
  3. Has anyone gotten rid of an old appliance and gotten a check from Detroit Edison? I've heard it's $50 for any fridge, and I'll take it! Hahaha.... Our garage fridge just isn't getting the job done anymore. But things can never be simple - I want the one in the garage to go away, but then instead of putting a brand new one out there, I want to move the old one from our rental property, and let those ladies pick out a new fridge for the house. 
  4. I do love sleeping in for summer! While I love the structure (and income!) of my job during the school year, sleep is an excellent trade for being broke and unmotivated for a few months. But I'll be taking as many hours as I can once we're open again to try and get the most spending money possible for our Disney trip next spring.
  5. Did you watch the third season of Stranger Things? Last year we finally said the now 11-year-old was old enough to watch it (she doesn't scare too easily), so we all watched the third season together by binging two episodes each night for almost a week. We've been done for a week or so already, and I miss it! I keep singing the Neverending Story scene in my head...and sometimes out loud.
  6. We've got a creepy tiny nest in the handle of our doorwall. At first I said, "Oh, little black and white bees," but then when I googled 'little black and white bees,' it said BALD FACED WASPS. No, thank you. Any advice on helping these not-so-cute little buggers relocate without any collateral stings?
  7. So dinner is all done for the weekend! Tonight is our Tastefest adventure, and then hubby will  probably stay with the boat team til Monday. Summer gets so hard for meal planning! And while the longer days are really cool in a lot of ways, I'm tired before it's dark out, so when I want dinner, everyone else is still out doing stuff! I try to just have dinner ready as soon as hubby comes home from work, so he can eat and then just go do what he wants to for as long as he wants until bed. 
  8. Hubby and I were going to have a date night to Fogo de Chao in Troy way back in June (our birthdays are a day apart), but the youngest offspring ended up sick that day. We canceled our reservation, and now summer is so busy we haven't rescheduled. I'm starting to think it will be like our Christmas gift card that wasn't used for almost 18 months from when we received it. Hahaha....
  9. I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the guy with the boat my husband is crew chief for, and the time has come for them to start dying off. Am I the only one who really hates this part? I feel so hard - pulling some out, throwing them away.... as my lovely arrangement gets smaller and smaller. But they totally knew the way to my heart - I love taking care of flowers!
  10. Summer is essentially at least half over! Our schools don't go back for students until after labor day (although I have a meeting a week earlier). Those who go back earlier are past the half way mark til they're back to the daily grind. Are you a parent who is excited to send the kids out for six hours/day again? Or does the school year not really change your life? I know I say it all the time, but the beginning of the school year feels more like a new year to me than January ever does....

17 July 2019

Books - June 2019

While I 'only' finished five books in June, I ended the month exactly one book shy of my total goal for 2019 (which I've met since then...).

Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir by Cinelle Barnes

Early this summer, I decided that I HAD to read a few of the older books on my Kindle. Most of them are books I got through the Amazon First Reads program over the last couple years. Monsoon Mansion was the oldest book I had waiting (published in May, 2018).

I didn't realize as I was first reading this that it was a memoir. Wow - crazy childhood! It makes me sad sometimes to find out how some children grow up, not realizing their parents are doing anything 'unusual.'

"Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.
In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up."

Overall, I'd give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. I still think about parts of this book and feel terrible that her childhood was like this, but glad that she was able to make something so intriguing out of it.

Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller

I read this book to review for Books I Think You Should Read, so check out my full review there. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

"Lost in the mystery and turmoil of her sister’s disappearance, Payton must overcome the aftermath of being the one left behind. She’s unable to remember even the smallest piece of what happened the day Dylan vanished. When sudden and reckless outbursts throw her from the graces of popularity to the outskirts of high school society, her new status attracts a crowd of friends she never anticipated—including a troubling romance with her sister’s boyfriend, Cole.
New clues unearth about the circumstances of her disappearance when another missing girl’s body is recovered from a nearby lake, the victim’s features eerily similar to Dylan’s. The more Payton pries open the clenches of her blocked memories, yielding to her need to know what happened, the further down the path of danger she goes. The darkness around her sister’s disappearance grows and the truth becomes more and more unbearable. And what she finds might just cost her her life."

Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King

This was another book that had been on my Kindle for a long time. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I read the description/summary. It ended up being a great suspense-filled story of family secrets finally coming to light. I'd give it 3.75 out of 5 stars.

"Single mother Maisey Addington has always fallen short of her own mother’s expectations—never married, a bit adrift, wasting her high IQ on dead-end jobs. The only thing Maisey’s sure she’s gotten right is her relationship with her twelve-year-old daughter, Elle…until a phone call blows apart the precarious balance of their lives. Maisey’s mother is in a coma, and her aging father faces charges of abuse and neglect.
Back at her childhood home, Maisey must make a heartrending life-or-death decision. Her confused father has destroyed family records, including her mother’s final wishes. Searching for answers, Maisey uncovers one unspeakable secret after another when she stumbles upon a shattering truth: a twin sister named Marley.
Maisey’s obsession with solving the mystery of her sister forces her to examine her darkest memories and triggers a custody battle with Elle’s father. Will Maisey’s love for her daughter be strong enough to break a cycle of abuse and create a new beginning for them all?"

Puddin' by Julie Murphy

I had been waiting to borrow this online from the library since I read Dumplin' back in March. The writing style is fun and easy to read, and the characters are so likeable. Puddin' picks up with the same characters where Dumplin' left off. I'd recommend reading them in order. While the characters are introduced a bit in each book, the events they've gone through are chronological, so Puddin' does reference a few events from Dumplin'. I'd give Puddin' 3.75 stars out of 5, as it was a fun summer read. No one from Netflix has commented so far if there's likely to be a movie sequel to go with the book sequel.

"Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.
Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend.
When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined."

Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

This is another book I read to review on Books I Think You Should Read. Check out my full review there to find out why I gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

"David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriage’s middle years—raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply.
Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, “I think you might be my father.” And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat—but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?"