10 July 2020

Five Things for Friday / Book Beginnings / #Friday56

What a week! I feel like my stress has gotten worse for having seen more of the state, but I also enjoyed my experiences while we were out for a bit. I think it's inevitable that Michigan should be locked down more again. The COVID-19 infection numbers are climbing, and they'll continue to do so based on the behaviors I saw. I wish people cared more about others, and acted like it.

  1. Last weekend we started out Friday by leaving to visit my husband's father and his wife. They have a cabin next to their house, so we were able to mostly social distance (we did choose to enjoy a few meals out on the porch together and visit a bit). While the visit was nice, seeing the people at the nearby campground watching the sunset made up my mind to continue staying home as much as possible. We were the ONLY people wearing masks in the crowd. And social distancing? What's that? There were more than 20 people seated on the stairs going down to the beach for a group picture. My husband said of course they were all brothers - fraternity brothers! I can't help feeling like Michigan is doomed.
    Francisco Morazan shipwreck
  2. Saturday we were able to spend quite socially distant - on the boat! Hubs loves to borrow his dad's boat and get out on the water again (we had our own boat years ago, but it just wasn't practical when the kids were babies). The water was super calm and we rode past North Mantiou Island, South Manitou Island, The Francisco Morazan shipwreck (my favorite!!), and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. We rafted off for a bit so the kids could swim before heading back.
  3. Monday I finally went to the credit union to open new accounts (mine were compromised by a computer virus in mid-June). I loved their safety protocols. Everyone in the building wore a mask, and there was also a plexiglass partition between the member service woman opening the account and me.
  4. Tuesday the kids and I went for our dental cleanings. When we arrived, we called before going in. Then each individual appointment started with taking off our masks and using an anti-viral rinse. During the cleaning, the hygienists wore two masks and a plastic shield over their face. Since there are two hygienists in the office, our family was also the only clients there during our visit.
  5. The rest of the week has been my daughter starting all her new summer jobs. She's 12-years-old, and I posted a couple of years ago on our neighborhood page that she was interested in jobs like walking dogs, acting as a mothers' helper, and watering plants. She has regular clients each summer now. This week she is watering plants for two houses, and watching the three-year-old across the street while the girl's mother works from home three days/week. Loving seeing her be so responsible, and her excitement over having spending money.

The more my stress goes up, the more a book should help, but sometimes instead it's even harder to focus. I'm reading a bit from three books currently - Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel (with a review due later today), Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld (a book I'm borrowing from the library), and Fire and Vengeance by Robert B. McCaw.

Today I'm using Fire and Vengeance for my Book Beginnings and #Friday56 because it's a print book and easier.

The opening paragraph: 
Disaster rode the gale force winds of Hurricane Ida across the Big Island of Hawai'i from the southwest. Ferocious gusts felled century-old trees. Sonic booms of thunder chased lightning bolts sparking through ominous black clouds. Torrential rains pounded the mountains, filling gulches, and gathering into flash floods. On Hualālai Mountain, one of the five volcanoes that make up Hawai'i Island, ten inches of rain fell in a single hour. Water cascaded into cracks and caverns, pouring deep into the earth. The pressure of the floodwaters opened long-sealed fissures in the faults on the west side of Hualālai. Water entered the volcano's magma reservoir and flashed into steam. Steam under astronomical pressure.

And now from page 56:
The two women peppered Koa with questions while they waited for the flight. What had happened to Ikaika? Had he been attacked in jail? How badly was he hurt? Why did prison officials move him to O'ahu? Koa told them what little he knew -- that Ikaika blacked out in the local jail while waiting to testify in a criminal trial. He hadn't regained consciousness, and local medics had ordered him airlifted to Queen's Medical Center, the best hospital in the islands. His vital signs remained strong, but he hadn't awakened from some sort of coma.

09 July 2020

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts - July.9.20 - In the Neighborhood of True

This is my first time joining and checking out Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts, hosted at (un)Conventional Bookworms.

Easy enough - we just share someting from a book we're reading or recently read, that talks about food or drink. Here's my quoted section from In The Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton. My full review and a giveaway (through 7/16/20) are here. After I finished reading this book yesterday, I did make up some brownies last night.

"We'll get you a crown of your own, but first we'll bake."
"Bake?" I asked.
"Your mother rather conveniently forgot any southern recipe in her repertory. But you're of the perfect age -- you need a go-to dessert you can whip up in a pinch."
The kitchen of the main house stretched along the screened-porch side. It was always cool, even when the air conditioner wasn't plugged in. Birdie was watching something on a little television with a fuzzy picture. She flicked it off as Fontaine clanged around.
"Where do we keep the bowls?" Fontaine asked.
"Want me to make something up for you?" Birdie said, taking out a glass bowl, measuring cups, and a whisk. Her hair was curled under in neat rows.
"I've got it, Birdie," Fontaine said. "No need to keep us company."
"I'll catch the ironing then,"Birdie said before descending to the basement.
"What were you watching?" I asked. But she was already gone.
As I washed my hands, Fontaine said, "Tell me more about this first day of yours."

Not to spoil it, but their brownies burned when they got distracted. Mine turned out great.

01 July 2020

The Lightest Object in the Universe - Book Review

The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele
Publication date: July 9, 2009
Pages: 325 pages
Genre: Speculative/post-apocalyptic fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars ✰✰✰✰
Strengths: Characters
Weaknesses: Could have been deeper, but then wouldn't have been as hopeful ;)

After the flu has ravaged the nation and everything has given up, the power goes out once and for all. No phones, no internet, no lights, no video games. Just dark, oh, and radio!

Carson finds himself in New York with no reason to stay there, and Beatrix makes her way home to the west coast where she's presuaded to be an advocate and community builder with her neighbors. We learn about their lives through several perspectives.

Carson starts making his way west to find Beatrix. He meets good people and bad people, and overall does pretty well without the comforts of home. Beatrix works with her neighbors to farm a little bit, garden, and use everyone's strengths for the benefit and safety of their community. Also in Beatrix's community are 15-year-old Rosie and her abuela, who arrived shortly before Beatrix returned home.

I was pulling for all the good guys, and reassured by how many people showed goodness. This was a great book of human resilience, good hearts, and recognizing when something may be too good to be true. The love and the loss are powerful. I'd give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it for those who enjoy a more promising version of dystopian fiction - how people keep going, instead of just watching it all fall apart.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my e-copy of this book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my opinions.

28 June 2020

Sunday 6 : June 28, 2020

The blogger over at Seaside Simplicity started something last week called Sunday 6. I didn't realize it was their first edition, but I saw it and it looked cool.
So now I'm back, to let you know (did you sing that?).

Anyway, I'm joining in with Seaside Simplicity for the Sunday 6.

1. Weekly Recap

Scheduling very little makes it both easy and hard to recap - at the same time.

  • Our house was bustling, as hubs got ready to go to the racetrack with his racecar this weekend (he comes home later today). 
  • My Tuesday was originally a long-awaited visit with one of my best friends and her baby, who I haven't seen since JANUARY. But then I was selected for an online focus group exactly when our visit was scheduled, and that paid $75. So we canceled our visit so I could do the job. Now she's coming over next Tuesday, and then the focus group canceled that morning. Since it was less than 24 hour notice for the cancellation, the client still pays us - yay!
  • Wednesday was the first in-person meetup of my book club (formerly our Battle of the Books team). Only three out of the four of us were able to make it, but it was wonderful. We sat six feet apart on the dock of one of our team members and visited for FOUR HOURS! 
  • Friday I got my hair cut, and then my daughter had a visit at a friends house for a few hours around lunch. 
  • Now I'm reading, reading, reading, and working on cleaning out my huge corner desk in my office so hubs can repurpose it as his new desk in the basement. I'll get something much smaller for a cozy workspace now that I don't have a direct-sales business for the first time in decades.
2. To-do List for This Week
  • Finishing emptying my desk, preferably to the closet so there's room to move the desk out of the office. I still have my doubts that it will actually fit out the door again. Hubs had to put part of it back together after we got it in there. It doesn't move well.
  • The rescheduled visit from last week!
  • The cleaning people will come on Wednesday, so I need to take the kids somewhere else. They won't clean if we're here. I also need to call them the day before to find out a window of time when they'll arrive. Without trying to get better info from them, we'd need to be gone from 8am til they're done (yeah, without knowing when they arrive, I can't know when they've left, right?).
  • I have a book review due for another blog today, then one due on my blog to publish Wednesday. I also got Rodham from the library and want to read that (I also want to watch the documentary on Hillary for the 'real' story. I think it's on Netflix).
3. Menu Plan

I'm really awful at these. See, if hubs has a day unpacking the race trailer, I won't bother cooking dinner that night. I do need to make a better plan and go get some groceries, but we have a steak dinner and a chicken dinner ready to make from Home Chef this week. And I think I have stuff for crockpot chicken & dumplings. 

4. Something I'd Like to Share

Just some bookish reminders - 

If you're an Amazon Prime member, don't forget to get your free First Reads book for June by Tuesday. Wednesday is July already!

If you like to read, you should totes be on Goodreads, and don't forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaways you're interested in. Someone's got to win - why not you?

5. Photo of the Week

Photos are actually on the list of something I'd like to improve. My mom has some service that I can send her pictures of the grandkids each month and they'll print the ones she likes, but I hardly ever take pictures. I promised to do better in July. That will help out here too. ;)

Here's my lil dude, making himself a pizza for lunch or dinner one day this weekend.

His shirt says '1st Grade Rocks,' but it just happens to be one of his favorite shirts. He's actually on his way into 3rd grade in the fall. 

6. Closing Notes

So much of my brain buzzes with the craziness that is our world now. I'm in Michigan, and our COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. One stupid bar is linked to 76 new cases. People are making bad choices, and it's upsetting. Even with the official 'lockdown' over, I keep repeating that we're safer at home. 
If everyone respected everyone else, maybe I'd be more comfortable going out more, but so many people are spouting off that 'no guvnor can tell ME what to do.' I don't respect other people because someone in authority tells me to. I don't know right from wrong because of bible stories. My conscience is smart about this stuff, and I do what's right because that's how my heart insists I behave.

26 June 2020

Five Things for Friday

  1. I finally got my hair cut! The woman who does my hair said she doesn't remember ever seeing it as long as when I got there this morning. LOL See, I need to have a hairnet and/or my hair completely gone when I work in the kitchen, so I usually go get it cut again once school gets out. And this time I even made an appointment to get it trimmed again next month!
  2. We accidentally got a box from Home Chef yesterday. My credit card was reported lost or stolen, but I guess it just charged to the new one? Whatever. But I didn't get to pick the meals, so we have a steak, a chicken and a shrimp. Hubs will never want the shrimp, so I'll try and make that one before he gets home.
  3. Hubs is at his first car race this summer! I think there would have originally been one in April that was canceled. This one is at his 'home' track (about four hours away towing the trailer), and has no spectators allowed. That being said, there are still at least four drivers with each car. They're supposed to be social distancing, etc, etc. Fingers crossed everyone stays healthy!
  4. It's looked like rain for half the day today, but hasn't actually stormed yet. Luckily I watered the flowers anyway. Looked like I missed the ones on the back deck yesterday, but they're perky again now. Sorry guys!
  5. Still dealing with Paypal drama from the computer virus a few weeks ago. HP charged my Paypal account for the fraduently purchased computer, but then refunded instead of shipping. And then I did NOTHING, but they transferred the refund to my bank account. At the same time as I unlinked all accounts from my Paypal. So now my Paypal account is substantially negative, but they won't let me link anything to it - so I can't give them their money back. LOL Customer service via Paypal is closed because of COVID-19. I think my next step is to call my credit union and see if they can reverse that transaction from my account. Wish me luck!

Hope all is well and you and yours are staying safe and healthy :)

22 June 2020

Sunday Salon and Mailbox Monday 21-22.June.20

Welcome to another post for the Sunday Salon with Deb at Readerbuzz.
Her rules are simple.  There are no requirements for linking up at Sunday Salon. Sunday Salon is simply a place for us to link up and to share what we have been doing during the week. Sunday Salon is a great way to visit other blogs and join in the conversations going on there. 
Some of the things we often talk about at the Sunday Salon:
  • What was your week like?
  • Read any good books? Tell us about them.
  • What other bookish things did you do? 
  • What else is going on in your life?

What I Read

I finished three books this week - Final Judgment (Samantha Brickman #4) by Marcia Clark (my full ⭐⭐⭐ review and a giveaway ending 6/26/20 here), The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards (my ⭐⭐⭐ review here), and Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein (finished hours ago, my full ⭐⭐⭐⭐review to follow).

Currently Reading

I started The Last Sword Maker by Brian Nelson last night (a print book from the publisher - thanks!). Once I finish up my review from yesterday, my kindle will turn to Prairie Fever by Michael Parker (thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this one).
I'll also be jumping in to Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small Town Politics by Heather Lende later this week (thanks again to the publisher and Netgalley).


We're having our first book club in-person meet-up since before stay home/stay safe! We are still mostly staying home and safe for now, but figured since it's just four of us, and we're meeting outside, it's a small step we're comfortable with. We've still been meeting most weeks via zoom, although we haven't really discussed books too much. Hahaha...

Off the Blog

While a lot of people are suffering additional hardships due to job shutdowns, paycuts, etc, I've been lucky. While I only got paid for the hours I was scheduled (and I usually add in a lot of substitute shifts when we're open), I still got paid every two weeks for something! One of my old classics as a stay-at-home-mom was always focus groups. I was lucky enough to qualify for a $75 zoom focus group tomorrow! Yay for a few extra bucks in my pocket.
As a marketing major back in college, I learned enough about focus groups to get their purpose and motivation. I found a company that I enjoyed working with near my old house. I don't often drive the hour for in-person groups anymore, but this zoom one sounds perfect!

Three Good Things

I always hear this like the Olaf quote from Frozen.

Anyway. Three good things, eh?

1) Hot weather! I have loved sitting on the front porch to read, and then frequently moving to the back deck in a bikini to sunbathe. The sun definitely makes things better with the world.

2) Hubby's race next weekend! He is SO excited to take the racecar he's worked so hard on to the track to see how they can do. It's a 24 Hours of LEMONS race. They're not allowing spectators, and I don't think concessions are open, but these guys will take a chance to get on the track regardless of the limitations ;)

3) My house on Animal Crossing - New Horizons is expanding again today! LOL Hey, it's a good thing for me. I take a little time each day to go shake some trees and chase some bees :)

Mailbox Monday

And now a bonus! Since my computer has been presenting me with some extra challenges lately, I thought the whole house lost internet last night. Now I think it was just my computer. Regardless, I'm not posting all this til Monday, so I may as well join Mailbox Monday, right? I did get a pretty good haul last week!

On June 15, I downloaded The Preserve by Ariel S. Winter. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this one. Sounds creepy!

On June 16, The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele joined my kindle collection. Thanks again to the publisher and Netgalley.

June 16 was also a very fun day at the post office! The postal service to my house is pretty bad, so I keep a PO box for my special deliveries ;) I received three packages at my PO box - The Last Sword Maker by Brian Nelson, The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson, and No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O'Callaghan. Thanks to the respective publishers for all three of these.

And just like ginsu, but wait, there's more! When I got home, UPS delivered a treat next door. My neighbor brought over my copy of Legends from Mom's Closet by Sasha Olsen. I reviewed this one on Books I Think You Should Read via a pdf last month. The finished project is truly gorgeous! Thank you to the publisher.

19 June 2020

The Black Swan of Paris - Book Review

The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards
Publication date: June 30, 2020
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3/5 stars ✰✰✰
Strengths: History, characters, plot
Weaknesses: Inconsistent pacing

What a great cover for spies! Genevieve Dumont is the Black Swan, a talented and beautiful singer with perfect cover to travel all over Europe during the war with few questions asked. Whle she didn't originally volunteer to work for the Resistance (as she laments in her head over and over - she was TRICKED), it's better than being a genuine collaborator.

Her manager, Max, is actually a British soldier in disguise. He tells her as little as possible about their illicit activities to keep her safe. Her job is to sing, and occasionally pass on a playbill or sign something special as an autorgraph - all messages she doesn't even understand.

But Genevieve begins to care a bit more about beating the Germans when she hears news about her family. Even Max doesn't know Genevieve's true identity. She travels now as a new person after walking away from her first life in response to a tragedy. When Max and Genevieve tell each other the truth and work together with other spies in their networks, can they successfully complete their missions and survive to dream about life after the war?

This book had a little of everything. Spies and intrigue, war dramas, romance, and well researched telling of the allies landing at Normandy. It definitely sounded well researched and inspires me to look further and see what was history, and what was fiction. Overall I'd give this book 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for those who enjoy historical fiction.

Thank you to MIRA and Netgalley for sharing a copy of this book with me. Receiving the book for free did not influence my review. 

Five Things for Friday

Five things for Friday - because 10 was just too many. Does this whole stay home - stay safe thing feel a bit like Groundhog Day to anyone else? That being said...I'm quite happy to stay home and stay safe, and grateful to Michigan's governor for insisting on it as long as she did, and helping Michigan stay in great shape on our Coronavirus numbers. But I was an introvert to start with, so.....

  1. Last Friday was a very full day. My computer got an awful virus. Someone in Indianapolis had access to all my info. They ordered a computer from HP, and a music mixing..thingy.. for $900 from some music company. Hubby and I spent at least an hour cancelling orders in my name. And it wasn't over. I canceled an HP delivery through FedEx on Saturday, after HP apparently didn't cancel the order? Whatever.  Ya'll are not getting my money, so I suppose send out computers for free if you feel like it? Anyway. Many much stress. Hubby didn't hear me ask to have all of my book files saved, so I lost all the reviews I've written, and my to-be-read list (like 50 books, please don't judge). It took me a couple more days to recreate the TBR list. It's done now.
  2. And after all that fun? Hubs and I had a few family members over to celebrate our back-to-back birthdays (he turned 45 on Friday, and I turned 48 on Saturday).
  3. Saturday? Seriously one of my best birthdays ever. My daughter helped hubby find sandals that were EXACTLY what I wanted, as well as a beautiful solar-lit wind chime for my front garden, and my own Lil Beyonce (inspired by The Bloggesss). If you haven't yet read The Bloggess's post about the original Beyonce the Metal Chicken - go read it. You'll thank me later.
  4. Since then? We're still chilling at home. I meet with a weekly book club via Zoom (we were originally a Battle of the Books team, but the event was cancelled in April). Now that the kids are officially done with the school year (and I'm a school employee), we're officially DONE with commitments.
  5. Because of all the computer drama, all of my credit and bank accounts are currently canceled or on hold, which means I can't order my regular weekly meal boxes. I'm expecting a replacement credit card any day, so my life will get back on track, but hubs is gone next weekend with racecar stuff, so my kids are really working on their cooking skills to stay, you know, nourished and stuff. LOL It's okay, they're good kids, and we're all holding it together.