Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: Falling By Jane Green

FALLING: A Love Story

By: Jane Green

Published: July 19, 2016

Publisher: Berkley


Romance novels aren't usually my first choice, but sometimes it is nice to work in a lighter read. After reading the premise of this one, I thought this one might be a bit different. It isn't your typical love story. It's not overly gushy and there are no R-rated scenes that will make you blush. But, as in most love stories, love happens quickly and obstacles are easily conquered. I have heard many readers rave about Jane Green's stories, and this is my first of hers. I can see why readers praise her skilled storytelling. But, will it convince me to read more of her novels? Maybe. It seems even Green's biggest fans are split on FALLING, either loving it or hating it. It seems to have all the hallmarks of a winning novel: likable characters with in-depth and real situations, believable circumstances, and a few mishaps to keep you rooting for them along the way. I was easily wrapped up in the lives of Green's characters. She gets you involved in the character's individual story first so that you are more likely to root for them as their love story evolves. She makes you feel like you would be best friends with them and want to live in their community.  Then as the relationship begins, you feel emotionally involved in the choices they make.

Emma left her stuffy British family behind and became a banker, living the ritzy life in NYC. Now in her late 30's she is tired and uninspired and wants to do something more creative with her life. She moves to Westport, Connecticut, hoping to start her own interior design business. When she finds the perfect home to rent, she never expects to find a landlord she can't stop thinking about. Dominic, born and raised in Westport, loves doing odd handyman jobs, working as a bartender, and most of all, raising his young son. Dominic and Emma soon become friends and begin working together for Emma's design business. Neither one of them was looking for a serious relationship, but one begins to bloom between them. Unfortunately, it isn't without hiccups and Emma begins to wonder if all the drama and hassle of loving someone is really worth it.

There are many different kinds of love shared in this story. There is the love between Emma and Dominic as the reader watches them go from friends to dating to falling in love.  There is the love between Dominic and his son, Jesse. Dominic takes his role as full-time parent very seriously and the love between him and his son is evident on the pages. Emma and Jesse begin to care for each other as Jesse begins to trust her and even helps her get a pet. But there are times when Jesse becomes angry that Emma has invaded his life with his dad. Green delicately handles the balance of a single parent's dating life and how it can impact a young child. There is also the love each set of parents has for their adult child. Both sets are quite vocal about what they hope for their child and Emma and Dominic struggle with trying to please their parents along with following their heart. Both Emma and Dominic want a different life than the one they were raised in, and the reader will find their parents' dysfunctional relationships add a quirky, yet comedic relief to the story.

Emma and Dominic are easy to root for and you hope they can find a way to love each other through the obstacles.  Many of the obstacles are quickly tidied up, and I expected some of that. What I wasn't expecting was the life-changing event towards the end of the novel. Without giving anything away, this event totally changed the scope of the novel for me. I wasn't prepared and even though I appreciate the author's use of surprise, this was harsh. It hurt and maybe that is what Green was going for. But, it also made me mad and left me feeling empty when the novel finished. I was glad that a few pieces of the story ended positively, but this love story didn't end the way I had hoped. Maybe that makes it more real for the reader and less of an escape from reality. But, sometimes we want that happy ending and not the harshness of the real world when we read.

Jane Green - source

Jane Green is a bestselling author of many popular novels. She has been featured in People, Newsweek, USA Today, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Connecticut with her family. 
For more information, connect with Jane at

To purchase a copy of FALLING, click the photo below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I feel like I'm been a bit out of the blogging loop lately. Summer just disappeared before my eyes and our kids have been in school for a week already. Life just keeps moving and I feel like I'm hanging on for dear life to the caboose at the end of the train. So, to bring you up to date a little bit, I wanted to share what is currently going on in my corner of the world.

I'm currently.....


I'm finding myself constantly shaking my head over the ridiculous government bureaucracy while reading this book. What is happening to the many generations of Native Americans in our country is a mess. Reading this book won't solve the big issues facing them, but it may get people talking about what is happening. Review coming later this week.

Drinking: WATER and lots more of it from my YETI

I love having ice cold water all the time. Keeping ice water in my Yeti makes me drink more water. I take it with me everywhere. Even on these hot days, I will still have cold water in my Yeti for hours whether I'm outside, in my car, or in the house.

Waiting: For our home construction to be complete

Construction started on our home the last week of May and we are getting very close to wrapping it all up. I'm just waiting for trim, carpet, countertops and kitchen sink. Then I can start putting everything back where it belongs and start the multiple-day cleaning process.

Cheering: on both of our sons in Cross County

Patrick has been in Cross Country since 7th grade and is now a Junior. But, Bennett decided to join the team this year as a Sophomore. It's been fun having both of them out there running. It's one of my favorite parts of the school year. Cross Country is unique in that everyone cheers for all the runners no matter what team they are on. It is such a supporting and fun atmosphere. I love our Cross Country family!

Nurturing: my new succulents

I found these adorable plant holders at an antique shop and knew they would be perfect for succulents. I haven't had the best of luck, so I'm hoping these survive for me!

Dreaming: of the beaches of Pensacola Beach

I'm always trying to find a way back to this area of our country. It is my happy place and I'm hoping to go back again before the year is out.

Listening: to Podcasts
I have some new favorite Podcasts that are keeping me entertained while driving or working around the house.
Ann Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy is on her 37th episode of WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT where she offers book recommendations based on the guest's previous favorites and current reads. I've added way too many books to my to-read list because of this podcast.
I loved Mike Rowe in "Dirty Jobs" and now he has a podcast titled THE WAY I HEARD IT where he shares a quick story of a famous person with a back-story you would never expect. His episodes are short, usually 7-8 minutes and are always fascinating.

Anticipating: Fall TV

We haven't had a TV in our upstairs living area all summer due to construction. So all the TV I'm really watching lately is a bit of GMA in the morning, a few snippets of the Olympics, and the nightly local news. Lame! So, I'm anxious for these upcoming Fall TV Shows.
Survivor - I'm a total Survivor Geek and can't wait for the season to begin. I've seen them all and can't wait. This season begins on September 21, 2016, on CBS. Unfortunately, I have meetings nearly every Wednesday night, so I'll always have to watch it later.
Project Runway - I've watch sporadically over the years and want to tune in this season...maybe with our daughter who loves fashion. It begins on September 15, 2016, on Lifetime.
Speechless - I am extremely intrigued by this new show on ABC that debuts on September 21, 2016. My DVR will be busy as this it likely on during Survivor. Minnie Driver is the mom in this family sitcom who fights for her family including their son JJ, who has cerebral palsy.
This is Us - I really don't know what this new show on NBC is about, but the commercial trailers have definitely gotten my attention. It debuts on September 20, 2016.

Dealing with: Post Prom

I've taken on the coordination (with another mom friend) the task of planning for Post Prom at our school. It has been a huge time-sucker for me with some complications and lots of paperwork. I wasn't expecting all the details and time it would involve. This is one of the biggest reasons I have been so quiet around here. My one statement regarding this is:

If you are asked to volunteer at your child's school, sporting event, prom, etc...please do. 
The moms that coordinate these events are just as busy as you
 and are trying to raise money/provide a fun event/support programs 
that benefit YOUR kids and can't do it without your support. 

Catching up with: I'm still reading along with the Bible in 90 Days. I'm about 20 days behind and I'm working hard at finding pockets of time to read, even just one chapter to stay with it. I'd love prayers as I work through this challenge.

I hope this gives you a look into my world and what may be keeping me from writing in the space as often as I want to. I'm hoping to get back into a groove soon with school starting and construction wrapping up soon. Thanks for understanding and always reading!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Children's Book Review: National Geographic Kids Weird But True! Sports

300 Wacky Facts about Awesome Athletics

Published: May 17, 2016

Publisher: National Geographic Kids


Our kids LOVED these books when they were younger. I can also attest that these are the most beat up well-loved books in the elementary classrooms I teach in. Kids love looking for the weirdest, most off-the-wall thing and showing their friends over and over again. Honestly, I've never looked through one myself, although I'm sure, over the years, the kids have shown me pages from their books.

This book in particular shares facts and stories related to athletics and organized sports. The graphics pop on the pages and are easy for kids to read and the photos are, of course, National Geographic quality. Some of the craziest info you can imagine about sports is inside this little book. At less than 7 inches square, this is an easy book to tuck in your purse for those long waits in the doctor's office or in your child's backpack for the bus ride to school.  They have even included Olympic trivia to keep your kids excited about the Olympics after it's over.

After climbing to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, this summer (by elevator) I was shocked by the fact that someone used a pogo stick to climb the 1,899 steps in less than an hour.  I also thought it was hilarious that a football player threw a Hail Mary pass that was caught by a nun! Since I've joined a bowling league, I've always wondered where the term "turkey" came from. I had no idea it was because people used to actually get live birds when they got three strikes in a row. Did you happen to watch any of the gymnastics competitions this year on the Olympics? Did you know the balance beam is only four inches wide? I could barely walk across it, let alone do flips on it.

As you can see, parents and kids alike will find this book fun to read. I'll be keeping this one in my school bag for a good behavior incentive and time filler. I do have to leave you with one last book tease....did you know four of our former Presidents were once cheerleaders? I think you'd be surprised to find out which ones.

I will be linking up this post with other bloggers on Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Every Saturday she hosts a link up for others to share posts related to children's and YA books. Click HERE to see the posts.

If you'd like to purchase Weird but True! Sports, click the photo below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you paying a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Children's Book Review: If You Were Me and Lived in...Brazil By Carole P. Roman

A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

By: Carole P. Roman

Illustrated by: Kelsea Wierenga

Published: July 7, 2016

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


With all the excitement of the 2016 Olympics, your children may be asking about the country of Brazil. Roman's book, like her others in this cultural series, will answer all their questions and more.

Not just focusing on the large cities in Brazil, but the rainforest and other famous tour locations, Roman shares the numerous things to love about Brazil. From the language to the activities, children will get a sense of what an average child would experience if they lived in Brazil.

I had no idea that Brazil was the world's largest producer of coffee in the world. I'll have to pay more attention to where my coffee comes from.

The illustrations are bold and drawn to show accurate descriptions of the land and people. I loved how Wierenga portrayed a family taking a selfie at the Christ the Redeemer statue, a famous tourist location in Brazil. Wierenga uses a unique way of placing her illustrations in front of actual photos of the country.

Like the others in this series, children and parents will find much to learn about the country.  This book would make another great asset to a school, home and community library.

Carole P. Roman
Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband. Her most favorite job is being a grandmother to her many grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. Carole has written several books for children including the IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...series as well as a fiction series for children, CAPTAIN NO BEARD involving lots of fun adventure and imagination. For more on Carole, visit her website, caroleproman.comYou can see all of Roman's books by clicking, HERE

To purchase a copy of IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...BRAZIL, click the photo below:

I'll be linking up this review with Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Every Saturday, Kid Konnection offers bloggers a place to share their posts related to children's and YA books. Click HERE to see these posts.

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Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Book Review: Being Mortal By Atul Gawande

Medicine and What Matters in the End

By: Atul Gawande

Published: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Metropolitan Books


I learned a lot about dying during my time working in Hospice. I saw families so overcome with grief that I wasn't sure how they could go on. But, I also saw relief in some families, realizing the pain, suffering, and constant caregiving was behind them. Death is a personal experience that every person handles differently and that experience for both the patient and caregiver can depend on their faith, their life experiences, their family or lack of family support, and also how the medical profession has communicated with them about the reality of death and the process ahead of them. Atul Gawande, a well-known surgeon, and son of a well-known surgeon chronicles the many aging patients he has examined, as well as his father's declining health. He also examines the many ways our lives are extended to due medicines not available even ten years ago.  

After seeing multiple reviews raving about this book and calling it a must-read for anyone with aging parents, I decided to pick it up. Reading BEING MORTAL was an eye-opening and convicting look into medicine and what lies ahead for each of us in our life-extending world of medical care. Whether you are reading this as a member of the aging population or as a child of aging parents, this book will make you stop and question how you want to direct medical care for your future and those of your family.

Some of the fascinating information in the book was related to the history of nursing homes. The level of care has changed astronomically since the very first facilities opened. In 1983, it took an aging mother and a daughter studying gerontology to come up with the idea that many of us see today, a "living center with assistance" for the elderly.  This concept of assisted living began the idea of no one ever feeling like they were institutionalized. Thousands of people have been able to live independently for years because of the creation of this nursing home concept. 

Most of us don't want to think about the years ahead of us where we will no longer be able to live independently. We ignore our parent's shaking hands or unsteady gait because having the conversation is too overwhelming. It's easy to take a few tasks off their hands to allow them to keep getting by. But, frankly, most of the time, many are unprepared for the idea of needing help and our parents refuse most offers of assistance until it's usually too late to do anything about it.  

In many cases, those in the medical field are looking so closely at the ailments and how to fix them rather than focus on how we can maintain a quality of life. Usually trying to fix the multiple ailments makes matters worse for the patient. Ultimately, medical professionals must decide "which mistake they fear most - the mistake of prolonging suffering or the mistake of shortening valued life." page 244.

I know too well how the word “dying” or “death” is avoided by doctors and families alike. Gawande believes if we were allowed to live while dying, and being honest about how we want those days to look, the medical care should reflect those desires, even if it goes against our internal need to “save them”.

Ultimately, Gawande hopes that sharing his knowledge with others and creating a conversation about "death" and "dying", will allow the medical professionals to be more comfortable in having those conversations. The patient is then allowed to write their own life story. As the aging patient, we can have the freedom to shape our final years based on what is important to us and if our body betrays us, then we have laid out the course of treatment that fits best with our needs and desires. 

This isn’t a happy read, as death marks many of his patient’s stories. But, it will offer you a chance to reflect on what is truly important to you in the rest of your life. Whether you leave this Earth without any notice or after struggling through an illness, Gawande wants to be sure you have made choices, shared them with those you love, and lived each day to its fullest potential. 

Atul Gawande - source
Atul Gawande is an author of three bestselling books: Complications, a finalist for the National Book Award; Better, selected by as one of the ten best books of 2007; and The Checklist Manifesto. His latest book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. 

He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, a MacArthur Fellowship, and two National Magazine Awards. In his work in public health, he is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts. For more information, check out his website, HERE

To purchase a copy of BEING MORTAL, click the photo below:

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If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Inspiration This Week from Reading the Bible in 90 Days - Joshua 1:5

Five years ago, I started the Bible in 90 Days Reading Plan, reading with over a thousand others across the world. At that time, I only made it to the Book of Jeremiah, about a month before the finish. I was disappointed in myself but knew I could try it again.

On July 18, 2016, I joined Amy at Moms Toolbox and many others to Read the Bible in 90 Days again. This week while reading I had a crisis come up and it railroaded my reading. I got behind and let other things get in the way. I didn't get all the way through, but I'm doubling up and will catch up this week. I noticed that when I was going through my highlighted verses on my phone, I had highlighted the same verses from my past reading in my Bible. It was comforting that God's words are still ringing true to me five or more years later. But, I did add some new verses to highlight also.

This week the verse that hit me at the perfect time with just the words I needed to hear brought me lots of comfort. When I didn't get time to read a chapter or an entire book, I scrolled back and read this verse and took comfort that God has got my back in this and will find me a way out of this mess.

No one will be able to stand against you
all the days of your life.
As I was with Moses,
so I will be with you.
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua 1:5

Even though this week I felt very alone, I knew someone was watching over me and that was just what I needed.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Children's Book Review: National Geographic Kids Everything Sports and Funny Fill-In

All the Photos, Facts, and Fun to Make you Jump!

By: Eric Zweig with Shalise Manza Young

Published: March 8, 2016

Publisher: National Geographic Kids


With the 2016 Rio Olympics starting this evening, there is a lot of excitement in the air about sports. Watching the Olympics is a great way to get kids excited about sports and introducing them to the wide variety of sports that are offered.  I'm sure tonight's opening ceremony will be like nothing we have ever seen. Over the next several days, I hope you can find time to share the Olympics excitement with your child...rooting for your favorite team or learning about a sport you don't know anything about. That is why there is no better time to tell you about these books from National Geographic Kids.

EVERYTHING SPORTS offers vivid photography, bullet explanations, as well as facts and tidbits of information, to teach your child about their favorite sport or maybe one they have never heard of before.  This isn't a book that just shares the rules of the game, but more a whole picture of sports....comparing professional play with a pick-up game in your neighborhood, looking at what it takes to be a champion, and debunking some common myths about sports.

I loved learning about the particulars of balls in different sports. I've recently become a bowler and had no idea what bowling balls were made of until reading this book.  This book doesn't bog kids down with overwhelming facts but gives you the basics in amongst awesome photography to keep kids interested. The pages are thick and make it possible for even the youngest reader to flip through without damaging the book. There are also several quizzes in the book so readers can test their knowledge. It would be fun for the kids to quiz their parents on what they know before reading the book. There is even a referee quiz where you can see if you make the right call.

Shalise Manza Young shares her story of being a high school athlete and how one event pointed her in the direction of being a sports journalist. Her story teaches a lesson on how your worst moment can lead to something even better.

I appreciated the final article at the end of the book talking about the importance of sports and the benefits it can offer kids and adults. It is important to take sports seriously, especially as an athlete, but if it isn't fun, then it really isn't worth it. It is certainly exciting to attend a professional sporting event and even though these athletes spend hours every day training and working on their game, they wouldn't be out there if it wasn't fun.

If you have a hockey player, a gymnast, a martial artist, a go-cart racer, or any sport in between, this is a fun book to share with them because as a parent, you'll enjoy it too.

Eric Zweig - source
By the age of ten Eric Zweig was already a budding sports fanatic who was filling his school news books with game reports instead of current events. Eric’s first book, HOCKEY NIGHT IN THE DOMINION OF CANADA (1992), was a historical novel set in the early days of professional hockey. He has been working with Dan Diamond and Associates, consulting publisher to the National Hockey League, since 1996. As a freelance writer, Eric is the author or co-author of many non-fiction sports books for adults and children. He is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research and the Society for American Baseball Research. A former member of the Toronto Blue Jays grounds crew, he still has a champagne bottle from the club’s first American League East Division title celebration in 1985. For more on Zweig, check out his website, HERE.

To purchase a copy of EVERYTHING SPORTS, click the photo below:

My Gold Medal Adventure

Published: May 10, 2016

Publisher: National Geographic Kids


If your child likes making up stories, this book is for them. It's a great addition to celebrating the Olympics and will give them something to do during all those commercials or while waiting for the next event.

FUNNY FILL-IN offers full-color pages with silly antics to encourage your child to create fun stories about different Olympic events like archery, synchronized swimming, or soccer. The book even offers helpful reminders of the certain types of speech they are looking for. For example, the ask for an adjective and your child can look if they need a reminder of what an adjective is. Then it states that it needs an adjective ending in "est" so that the story reads right, like "friendliest".

With twenty-two different fill-in stories, this will keep your kids busy and help them work on their vocabulary without them even realizing it. We kept these types of books in the car while our kids were growing up. It was an activity they could do together and kept them busy while driving to our next destination. We always had a good laugh when they got to read the story they created out loud to everyone in the van.

I love the themes relating to different Olympic sports and they will even teach your child a bit about the sport while having fun with the story. I also think it's a great idea that the types of words needed are listed on the left page with the photo while the story is on the right page. That allows the reader to come up with the list of words without spoiling the story until it all comes together.

To purchase a copy of FUNNY FILL-IN: My Gold Medal Adventure, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review with Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Every Saturday she offers a link-up for other bloggers to share their posts related to YA and Children's Books. To see those posts, click HERE

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of these books for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase these books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Books that Came My Way in July 2016

I've been catching up on my reading this month, reading four adult books and five children's books just this month. Not bad since I also have most of my house under construction and am living in complete disarray. Just when I think I can set aside some time to read, something comes up and my day is shot. It's going to get worse yet before it gets better, but I'm hoping the end of the construction is in sight soon. Flooring, cabinets and then finishing up the fine points are coming up soon.

Looking into our new front entrance and dining room
I'm still a bit behind on reviews from books I finished earlier this summer and still hope to write something up about them. They were all worthy of sharing with you.

There are just twenty days until school starts for the kids and then I know the sub calls will start rolling in. So, I need to enjoy these last few days of summer as much as I can. The first day of school, we have a Cross Country meet and the band plays at the home football game that Friday night. Prom fundraising goes into high gear once school starts and my schedule appears to be booked for quite awhile. We will celebrate my parents' 60th Wedding Anniversary this month, so I'm looking forward to spending a day with them yet this month as well. Going home always helps calm me and I'm going to need that this month.

There are a lot of great books in my stack this month. I can't wait to share my thoughts about them with you in the coming weeks. I'm only going to read books that I am interested in. If it isn't working for me, I'm going to put it aside and move on to something else. I can't read every book that comes my way, but I can at least share them with you here and I hope to review them just as soon as I can.

If you would like to purchase any of these books, 
clicking on the photo of the book will take you directly to Amazon.  
If you choose to purchase, I will receive a small commission 
without you having to pay any more for your purchase.  
I appreciate your support of reviews. 

I'll be linking up with The Deliberate Reader 
to share our stacks of books for June
To see her Stack of Books 
as well as other bloggers' Book Stacks, click HERE.


By: Jane Green
Published: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Hardcover

Jane Green is a best-selling author who seems to crank out a book every year. I have yet to read any of her books, but she has frequently been on my radar. The cover alone sold me on this one and I'm anxious to check it out. It sounds like the perfect summer read.

When Emma Montague left the strict confines of upper-crust British life for New York, she felt sure it would make her happy. Away from her parents and expectations, she felt liberated, throwing herself into Manhattan life replete with a high-paying job, a gorgeous apartment, and a string of successful boyfriends. But the cutthroat world of finance and relentless pursuit of more began to take its toll. This wasn’t the life she wanted either. 
On the move again, Emma settles in the picturesque waterfront town of Westport, Connecticut, a world apart from both England and Manhattan. It is here that she begins to confront what it is she really wants from her life. With no job, and knowing only one person in town, she channels her passion for creating beautiful spaces into remaking the dilapidated cottage she rents from Dominic, a local handyman who lives next door with his six-year-old son. 
Unlike any man Emma has ever known, Dominic is confident, grounded, and committed to being present for his son whose mother fled shortly after he was born. They become friends, and slowly much more, as Emma finds herself feeling at home in a way she never has before.
But just as they start to imagine a life together as a family, fate intervenes in the most shocking of ways. For the first time, Emma has to stay and fight for what she loves, for the truth, she has discovered about herself or risk losing it all. 
In a novel of changing seasons, shifting lives, and selfless love, a story unfolds—of one woman’s far-reaching journey to discover who she is truly meant to be.

By: Beatriz Williams
Published: November 3, 2015 (Paperback August 9, 2016)
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Paperback

I really love William's writing. I've read A HUNDRED SUMMERS and THE FORGOTTEN ROOM in which she collaborated with other writers and loved both of them.  ALONG THE INFINITE SEA is the third in her Schuyler Sisters series. I'm not sure how much each of the books depends on the other or if they stand alone. I'll have to do some checking. Otherwise, I may have to hurry and read the first two.... THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT and TINY LITTLE THING

Each of the three Schuyler sisters has her own world-class problems, but in the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler's problems are in a class of their own. When Pepper fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction, she thinks she's finally found a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries, the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician. 

But the car's new owner turns out to have secrets of her own, and as the glamorous and mysterious Annabelle Dommerich takes pregnant Pepper under her wing, the startling provenance of this car comes to light: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle's life from World War II stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts. 

Indomitable heroines, a dazzling world of secrets, champagne at the Paris Ritz, and a sweeping love story for the ages, in New York Times bestselling author Beatriz William's final book about the Schuyler sisters.

How Washington is Destroying American Indians
By: Naomi Schaefer Riley
Published: July 26 ,2016
Publisher: Encounter Books
Format: Hardcover

I usually shy away from such politically motivated titles and I hope it isn't too full of rhetoric. But, I am intrigued. My nephew is a high school English teacher in a Northern Minnesota reservation. He has told me stories of the difficulties his students face. I also live near a reservation and see much of it first hand. I see many of the Native Americans making things worse for themselves and their families due to crime and alcoholism. But, I'm anxious to hear this author's take on the plight of Native Americans.

If you want to know why American Indians have the highest rates of poverty of any racial group, why suicide is the leading cause of death among Indian men, why native women are two and a half times more likely to be raped than the national average and why gang violence affects American Indian youth more than any other group, do not look to history. There is no doubt that white settlers devastated Indian communities in the 19th, and early 20th centuries. But it is our policies today—denying Indians ownership of their land, refusing them access to the free market and failing to provide the police and legal protections due to them as American citizens—that have turned reservations into small third-world countries in the middle of the richest and freest nation on earth.

The tragedy of our Indian policies demands reexamination immediately—not only because they make the lives of millions of American citizens harder and more dangerous—but also because they represent a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong with modern liberalism. They are the result of decades of politicians and bureaucrats showering a victimized people with money and cultural sensitivity instead of what they truly need—the education, the legal protections, and the autonomy to improve their own situation.

If we are really ready to have a conversation about American Indians, it is time to stop bickering about the names of football teams and institute real reforms that will bring to an end this ongoing national shame.

By: Linda Betsinger McCann 
Published: June 2014
Publisher: The Iowan Books
Format: Paperback from the library

This author is coming to our local library in September to give a talk on her book. I am reading it ahead of time to do a promotional piece for The Cedar Rapids Gazette

This book looks at the 13-year span of time known popularly as "Prohibition" through the lens of Eastern Iowa townspeople and others. From the farmers who grew the corn used in making illegal liquor, to the bootleggers who trafficked it and the gangsters who sold it, Eastern Iowa saw its fair share.

By: Jodi Picoult
To Be Published: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: eBook

I am super excited to have received an early copy (ebook) of Jodi's newest book. I can't wait to dig in, but I'll likely wait until closer to the publishing date since I won't be able to talk about with my friends until they've read it. This one sounds as gripping as ever and is surprisingly current.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

300 Wacky Facts About Some Awesome Athletics
Published: May 17, 2016
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Format: Paperback

These books have been around for quite awhile. Our kids loved reading them and now when I am in the classroom, these are often the first books kids grab to read during their free time. 

Everything has its weird side -- even sports! Add wacky stats, facts, and stories to your arsenal of sports trivia with this new slam-dunk addition to the very popular Weird but True series! With the Olympics on the way, discover tons more zany fun, focused totally on the subject of sports!

My Gold Medal Adventure
Published: May 10, 2016
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Format: Paperback

With the Olympics starting in just a couple days, this would be a fun way to tie in the Olympics with a little language fun. This book asks for words to fill in and make a silly story...all related to Olympic sports. 

Do you love sports? Are you excited for the 2016 Olympic games? Here's an activity book that puts you right at the center of the gold-medal action! Fill in the blanks as you and a friend try your best at gymnastics, synchronized swimming, and much more!

All the Photos, Facts, and Fun to Make You Jump!
By: Eric Zweig and Shalise Manza Young
Published: March 8, 2016
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Format: Paperback

Another great book to check out and get your kids excited about the Olympics. 

Become an expert on sports, just in time for the 2016 Olympics! From archery to ziplining this book covers EVERYTHING about the world's favorite team and individual sports. With stunning visuals and energetic, impactful design, readers won't stop until they've learned everything there is to know about the history, rules and regs, training, and practice of dozens of athletic pursuits. Includes popular sports such as baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, and quirkier sports such as fencing, curling, and table tennis. 

A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World
By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Kelsea Wierenga
Published: July 7, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Format: Paperback

I have always been interested in Brazil. My parents hosted a foreign exchange student from Brazil when I was young. After she returned home, we lost contact with her and it has always been a wish that I could find her again for my parents. With the Olympics starting this week in Brazil, this would make another great choice to share with your kids. 

Join Carole P. Roman when she visits the stunning and diverse land of Brazil in the newest book of her informative series. Learn about the varied customs and cultures. Travel to South America to discover what you would eat and do for fun. See the land through the eyes of a youngster like you and understand what life is like in this exciting place. Don't forget to look at the other books in the series so that you can be an armchair world traveler.

By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Mateya Arkova
Published; July 9, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Format: Paperback

Join Carole P. Roman and travel through time to visit the most interesting civilizations throughout history in her exciting new series. Learn what kind of food you might have eaten during the Middle Ages, the clothes you might wear, what your name could be, and children did for fun. If You Were Me and Lived in...does for history what her other award-winning series did for culture. So get onboard this time-travel machine and discover the world through the eyes of a young person just like you. 

By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Mateya Arkova
Published: June 18, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Format: Paperback

Another addition to Roman's historical time-periods. These books are flimsy either, with lots of pages of facts to interest parents and kids.

By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Paula Tabor
Published: July 4, 2016
Publisher: Cardinal Street, Inc
Format: Paperback

I love the cover of this one. I think this is going to be another winning series of books from Roman about our history. 


Discover A Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
By: Bob Goff
Published: April 30, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: Paperback

I was seeing this book everywhere I looked, which is odd because it didn't just come out. So, after seeing it for like the tenth time, I decided to look into it. I like these types of non-fiction books and decided to get myself a copy. It reminds me a bit of Randy Pausch's THE LAST LECTURE, which I loved.

As a college student, he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father, he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren't good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean's office for seven days until they finally let him enroll.

Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world's best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world's most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it's not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob's love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.

When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don't want to miss.

Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob's life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.

By: Nina George
Published: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Broadway Books
Format: Paperback

I sold some of the kids' books at Half Price Books and decided to treat myself to this gem that I've been eyeing. Paris? Bookshop? I'm in!

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

By: Lisa Genova
Published: January 6, 2009 (Paperback December 2, 2014)
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Paperback

I read this back in 2009 when it came out and before I was really writing book reviews on my blog. I loved it and also loved the movie version. This was part of Quarterly's Literary Box for July. I'll save it and maybe give it to the school or to someone as a gift. 

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life--and her relationship with her family and the world--forever.

By: Laura Dave
Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback

I snagged this one a few months ago as a Kindle Deal and then it also showed up in the July Quarterly Literary Box. Since it keeps showing up, I think I better get it read! I have no doubt I'll love it.

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancĂ© is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets.

By: Lauren Weisberger
Published: July 12, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardcover

Lauren Weisberger was the curator of the July Quarterly Literary Box. She chose each of the items to go along with her new book. Along with the above books, I received sunglasses and paper straws. 

This cover is so fun....complete with sparkles for diamonds. I have never read her books, but did love the movie, "The Devil Wears Prada". This one definitely sounds juicy and unputdownable.   

The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and REVENGE WEARS PRADA—a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.

Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.

After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.

Lauren Weisberger’s novel brings us exclusive behind-the-scenes details from all the Grand Slam tournaments: the US Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. Charlie Silver jets around the globe, plays charity matches aboard Mediterranean megayachts, models in photo shoots on Caribbean beaches, walks the red carpet at legendary player parties, and sidesteps looming scandals—all while trying to keep her eyes on the real prize. In this sexy, unputdownable read about young tennis stars who train relentlessly to compete at the highest levels while living in a world obsessed with good looks and Instagram followers, Charlie must discover the secret to having it all—or finally, shatter the illusion for good. 

By: Kodi Scheer
Published: August 1, 2016
Publisher: Little A
Format: eBook

Kodi Scheer grew up near where I currently live and graduated from the school our children attend. Several teachers in the district attended her recent book reading at Prairie Lights Books. Unbeknownst to me, I had selected this from the Kindle First choices, not knowing who she was. From what I have heard so far, it is quite good.

“I had a secret: I wanted to leave the earth in a spectacular fashion. Specifically, by leaping from the Eiffel Tower.” So begins this provocative coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl bent on self-destruction and revenge, set in the City of Light.

It’s the summer of 1999, the end of a millennium. In the mind of Nessa Baxter, a girl from rural Illinois, Paris is the remedy for all of her woes. The death of her beloved brother and the betrayal by her classmate Kat has left Nessa bereft and doubtful about her future. She plans to exact revenge on Kat during their renegade French Club trip. Along with classmates Whitney and Kiran, the four girls embark on a series of misadventures in Paris. As part of her plan, Nessa starts a game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control.

A suspenseful psychological drama, Midair is the story of a young girl’s descent into darkness and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves.

By: Heather Gudenkauf
Published: January 18, 2011
Publisher: MIRA
Format: eBook

It's hard to turn down a $.99 book deal, but especially if it is a Heather Gudenkauf book. These are quick reads and always a good mystery. She's one of my favorite Iowa authors.

When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn--shy, quiet Brynn--who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

That's a lot of books for this month, especially since I am trying to take on fewer books. But these are just too good to resist. As always, if you choose to read or have read any of these books, be sure to let me know in the comments. I hope you are finding time this summer to enjoy a bit of reading! 

A post from today, 7 years ago - Mondays Matter: Week 31
A post from today, 5 years ago - A Chuckle for the Day