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Friday, August 31, 2018

5 Books I Want to Read: Memoirs

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 3234. Yikes.

I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

I think I have highlighted memoirs before, but these are all new and they've popped up on my radar recently.

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Becoming by Michelle Obama

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.

Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher

A revelatory and touching tribute to the lives of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds written by the person who knew them best, Todd Fisher’s poignant memoir is filled with moving stories of growing up among Hollywood royalty and illustrated with never-before-seen photos and memorabilia.

In December 2016, the world was shaken by the sudden deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, two unspeakable losses that occurred in less than twenty-four hours. The stunned public turned for solace to Debbie’s only remaining child, Todd Fisher, who somehow retained his grace and composure under the glare of the media spotlight as he struggled with his own overwhelming grief.

The son of "America’s Sweethearts" Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Todd grew up amid the glamorous wealth and pretense of Hollywood. Thanks to his funny, loving, no-nonsense mother, Todd remained down to earth, his own man, but always close to his cherished mom, and to his sister through her meteoric rise to stardom and her struggle with demons that never diminished her humor, talent, or spirit.

Now, Todd shares his heart and his memories of Debbie and Carrie with deeply personal stories from his earliest years to those last unfathomable days. His book, part memoir, part homage, celebrates their legacies through a more intimate, poignant, and often hilarious portrait of these two remarkable women than has ever been revealed before.

With thirty-two pages of never-before-seen photos and memorabilia from his family’s private archives, Todd’s book is a love letter to a sister and a mother, and a gift to countless fans who are mourning the deaths of these two unforgettable stars.

Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson, Tara F. Chace (Translation)

An extraordinary memoir of one woman’s fight to find her true self between the life into which she was born and the one she was given.

Christiana Mara Coelho was born into extreme poverty in Brazil. After spending the first seven years of her life with her loving mother in the forest caves outside São Paulo and then on the city streets, where they begged for food, she and her younger brother were suddenly put up for adoption. When one door closed on the only life Christiana had ever known and on the woman who protected her with all her heart, a new one opened.

As Christina Rickardsson, she’s raised by caring adoptive parents in Sweden, far from the despairing favelas of her childhood. Accomplished and outwardly “normal,” Christina is also filled with rage over what she’s lost and having to adapt to a new reality while struggling with the traumas of her youth. When her world falls apart again as an adult, Christina returns to Brazil to finally confront her past and unlock the truth of what really happened to Christiana Mara Coelho.

A memoir of two selves, Never Stop Walking is the moving story of the profound love between families and one woman’s journey from grief and loss to survival and self-discovery. 


Betty Ford: First Lady, Women's Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer by Lisa McCubbin

An intimate and insightful biography of Betty Ford, the groundbreaking, candid, and resilient First Lady and wife of President Gerald Ford, from the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Five Presidents and Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer is the inspiring story of an ordinary Midwestern girl thrust onto the world stage and into the White House under extraordinary circumstances. Setting a precedent as First Lady, Betty Ford refused to be silenced by her critics as she publicly championed equal rights for women, and spoke out about issues that had previously been taboo—breast cancer, depression, abortion, and sexuality. Privately, there were signs something was wrong. After a painful intervention by her family, she admitted to an addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. Her courageous decision to speak out publicly sparked a national dialogue, and in 1982, she co-founded the Betty Ford Center, which revolutionized treatment for alcoholism and inspired the modern concept of recovery.


Lisa McCubbin also brings to light Gerald and Betty Ford’s sweeping love story: from Michigan to the White House, until their dying days, their relationship was that of a man and woman utterly devoted to one another other—a relationship built on trust, respect, and an unquantifiable chemistry.

Based on intimate in-depth interviews with all four of her children, Susan Ford Bales, Michael Ford, Jack Ford, and Steven Ford, as well as family friends, and colleagues, Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer is a deeply personal, empathetic portrait of an outspoken First Lady, who was first and foremost a devoted wife and mother. With poignant details and rare insight, McCubbin reveals a fiercely independent woman who had a lively sense of humor, unwavering faith, and an indomitable spirit—the true story behind one of the most admired and influential women of our time.


Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose by Joe Biden

A deeply moving memoir about the year that would forever change both a family and a country.

In November 2014, thirteen members of the Biden family gathered on Nantucket for Thanksgiving, a tradition they had been celebrating for the past forty years; it was the one constant in what had become a hectic, scrutinized, and overscheduled life. The Thanksgiving holiday was a much-needed respite, a time to connect, a time to reflect on what the year had brought, and what the future might hold. But this year felt different from all those that had come before. Joe and Jill Biden's eldest son, Beau, had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor fifteen months earlier, and his survival was uncertain. "Promise me, Dad," Beau had told his father. "Give me your word that no matter what happens, you're going to be all right." Joe Biden gave him his word.

Promise Me, Dad chronicles the year that followed, which would be the most momentous and challenging in Joe Biden's extraordinary life and career. Vice President Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq. When a call came from New York, or Capitol Hill, or Kyiv, or Baghdad -- Joe, I need your help -- he responded. For twelve months, while Beau fought for and then lost his life, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his responsibilities to his family. And never far away was the insistent and urgent question of whether he should seek the presidency in 2016.

The year brought real triumph and accomplishment, and wrenching pain. But even in the worst times, Biden was able to lean on the strength of his long, deep bonds with his family, on his faith, and on his deepening friendship with the man in the Oval Office, Barack Obama.

Writing with poignancy and immediacy, Joe Biden allows readers to feel the urgency of each moment, to experience the days when he felt unable to move forward as well as the days when he felt like he could not afford to stop.

This is a book written not just by the vice president, but by a father, grandfather, friend, and husband. Promise Me, Dad is a story of how family and friendships sustain us and how hope, purpose, and action can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future.


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What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader and A Literary Vacation.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

#CoverCrush: Whisper

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


A journal, a rustic setting. So many questions. What is the story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered PagesA Literary Vacation.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Wiregrass

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.



I love pathways and dirt roads. Where do they lead? This road with it's red dirt and tunnel of trees and moss evokes the American south. Where is it going? What is the story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Childhood Favorites...Happy Hollisters

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

I adored series'. I absolutely loved books about siblings who solved mysteries. The Hollister children were among my favorites.


Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly, and Sue had many adventures together. Their father owns The Trading Post, a hardware store and toy shop, in the fictional town of Shoreham. The children sometimes help in the store and go on trips as a family when their dad travels to find things to sell. There is always an adventure to be had and the children have many opportunities to solve mysteries.

One of my favorite stories was when the Hollisters went to Denmark.

These books were written in the 50s and 60s by the same publishing syndicate that published Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. They were clean and fun. And I adored them.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

#CoverCrush: The Runaway Family

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


It's likely World Ward 2 because of the Nazi flags. This family flees something. War? Persecution? What is their story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered PagesA Literary Vacation.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Together Forever...#BookReview

About the book:
Will the mistakes of their past cost them a chance at love?

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children's Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she'll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won't go away--and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden.

As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer...until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

Thank goodness for sequels. Together Forever picks up not long after With You Always. Marianne Neumann still searches for her younger sister Sophie, convinced that she has gone west. When given the chance to join the orphan train as a placing agent, Marianne takes it, hoping to find her sister in one of the cities along the journey.

Where the first story was focused on the plight of women and how they went west looking for work, this story focuses on the orphan train itself. We come to know these children and see how Marianne and Andrew become attached to them and then suffer the difficulties in letting them go.

There is romance and drama. There are darker sides to the orphan train and the situations in which children were placed and the author isn't afraid to address those. The burgeoning romance between Andrew and Marianne is at times humorous, but also emotional.

Characters from With You Always return, but the story stands alone well. I am looking forward to the next story in this series where we finally discover Sophie's story.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jody Hedlund here.

Read 7/18

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4/5 Stars

Thursday, August 9, 2018

#CoverCrush: where hope begins

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.


An old book. Dried forget-me-not flowers. Someone is starting over. Why? What is the story?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Historical Fiction Reader. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Historical Fiction Reader, A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Books I Have Forgotten

Each month I revisit some of my past reviews. One of the reasons I started this book blog was to remember what books I have read. My memory isn't the greatest anymore and I found that I would read a book and then not remember if I liked it or what it was even about.

Maybe one of these will prompt you to seek out an older, but amazing book. Or, if you've read one of these and your review was different, please share!

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The Secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum
4/5 Stars
10/2008

"Kathy Colton doesn't remember her older brother. He was 17 when he died from Leukemia and she was two. But, in her family's eyes, Brett was perfect and could do no wrong: he was the perfect son, the beloved high school football player adored by all. She grows up feeling resentful of this mysterious, perfect person. On her 16th birthday, her mother gives her a letter. Written by Brett to her, it leads her to the journal Brett kept during his illness. Rather than simply recording what happens to him, Brett writes his journal as if he's writing a letter to his beloved little sister.

Kathy was also asked to tutor a football player in English. Jason is a Mormon, and a star quarterback. Hating football because of her brother, Kathy struggles with her burgeoning friendship with Jason. Her mother hates Jason simply because Jason is Mormon. It's during this time that Kathy finds Brett's journal. The journey that Kathy embarks on, as she reads it, changes her life.

Kathy is very much an angry teenage girl: she doesn't feel like her parents understand her, her remaining siblings are significantly older than she is, and they all control her life and, in her mind, have never "gotten over" Brett.

I've never read Kay Lynn Mangum before, but I enjoyed this story. She tells the story from the non-Mormon perspective of someone who is drawn to the faith through her experiences with others. I found it well done and very thought-provoking. I never felt the religious aspects were at all preachy. I enjoyed seeing Kathy change and become a kinder, softer person as she found the LDS faith. It's predictable, but enjoyable, and highly emotional. You'll need a box of kleenex to get through it.

I was surprised at how much I liked this book. I don't normally read teen books."

I don't remember anything about this. I'd like to reread it.

Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins
3/5 Stars
10/2008

"Set in 18th century Scotland, Maggie Duncan is the sole survivor of a horrific massacre. She is taken in by a midwife and learns the woman's healing skills. After her foster mother's death, and seeing her own prospects for a happy life in Scotland dim, Maggie voluntarily goes to Colonial America as an indentured servant. What follows is an adventure beyond any she could have imagined...

This would be classified as a historical romance, and is hard to put down. The history of the early colonists has always fascinated me. And, having my own interest in natural healing and herbs, I found the accounts here fascinating. What herbs and techniques Maggie uses to help with healing and childbirth, and how she brings her Scottish knowledge and blends it with what she learns about healing from the colonists and Indians is interesting...

The story is compelling and grabs your attention quickly. At some points I wished for more details and at other times, I wished for less. Overall an interesting read."

I wish I could remember this one.

Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan
2/5 Stars
10/2011

"This was one that I really wanted to like. It was meant to be a heartwarming and beautiful novel about a woman searching for truth about her family and discovering what she really wants out of life. Unfortunately, Ellie wasn't someone I really connected with. Her mother was a shrew and her husband was a one-dimensional selfish jerk.

I liked the southern beach setting and I enjoyed Ellie's discovery about her mother's past and how it explained Ellie's relationship with her mother. I just wish I could have liked Ellie. "

Hmm. No recollection whatsoever.

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What about you? What are some of the books you've read in previous years?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Daughters of the Night Sky...#BookReview

About the book:
A novel—inspired by the most celebrated regiment in the Red Army—about a woman’s sacrifice, courage, and love in a time of war.

Russia, 1941. Katya Ivanova is a young pilot in a far-flung military academy in the Ural Mountains. From childhood, she’s dreamed of taking to the skies to escape her bleak mountain life. With the Nazis on the march across Europe, she is called on to use her wings to serve her country in its darkest hour. Not even the entreaties of her new husband—a sensitive artist who fears for her safety—can dissuade her from doing her part as a proud daughter of Russia.

After years of arduous training, Katya is assigned to the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—one of the only Soviet air units composed entirely of women. The Germans quickly learn to fear nocturnal raids by the daring fliers they call “Night Witches.” But the brutal campaign will exact a bitter toll on Katya and her sisters-in-arms. When the smoke of war clears, nothing will ever be the same—and one of Russia’s most decorated military heroines will face the most agonizing choice of all.

I've written before about my appreciation for stories about strong women. This novel is full of them. The premise was absolutely fascinating. I am not familiar at all with the Russian perspective of World War 2 and I certainly had no idea about their female pilots. I enjoyed this glimpse into their world. As with her previous novels, Aimie Runyan has written about women who support and encourage each other

Katya is a strong heroine and although a bit too perfect, she was someone I enjoyed getting to know. The relationships between the women were the core of the story and their resilience and strength was refreshing. Relationships, regardless of type, are never drama-free and here they are explored in a realistic way. Especially between Katya and Oksana.

Predictably, most of the men were stereotypical chauvinists of the time, but there was one scene in particular where the male major was verbally dressed down by his female counterpart. I loved that scene, because he'd been a jerk.

There is growth and maturity among these pilots from when they first arrive at training camp to when the war ends. There are battles and death and victory and loss. I could see the ending that was coming and while it fits with the story, I'm still not sure I loved it. But the story itself? That I enjoyed. That I can recommend.

Thanks to Netgalley and Novel Expressions for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Aimie K. Runyan on her website and follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Read 7/18

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4/5 Stars

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Weekend Reflections 8/4

Looking outside...it's sunny and supposed to be pleasant today. There is still a lot of smoke in the valley from fires.

Listening...to silence. The Artist is rafting, the Boy is at work and the Doctor saw patients this morning and isn't back yet.

Loving...time with my family. It is precious. I love watching these boys of mine grow up and become amazing men.

Thinking...I have so many healthcare rants floating inside my head and they're doing battle with the logical side that says it's not worth it to complain. But, I want to just yell and scream. 

So because I want to do that. I won't. I really am trying to see the positive, good things in life because complaining is only negative and it rarely, if ever, results in something good.

We are blessed to be in a profession that helps people. I will leave it at that.

In my kitchen...Crio Bru. Not sure what we're doing for dinner tonight. We had Goodwood last night. They do the best take out. Seriously.

Wearing...ratty, paint-spattered shorts and a t-shirt because I'm coloring my hair.

Reading...I should just take this category off the reflections post. I did finish Daughters of the Night Sky and now I need to write the review.

Today...coloring my hair. Maybe some errands. Probably laundry. I might just sit and read. Novel idea...

Quoting...
Every drop of rain that falls in Sahara Desert says it all,
It's a miracle.
All God's creations great and small, the Golden Gate and the Taj Mahal,
That's a miracle.
Test tube babies being born, mothers, fathers dead and gone,
It's a miracle. We're having a miracle on earth, mother nature does it all for us,
The wonders of this world go on, the hanging Gardens of Babylon,
Captain Cook and Cain and Able, Jimi Hendrix to the Tower of Babel
It's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle.
The one thing we're all waiting for, is peace on earth - an end to war,
It's a miracle we need - the miracle, the miracle we're all waiting for today,
If every leaf on every tree, could tell a story that would be a miracle,
If every child on every street, had clothes to wear and food to eat,
That's a miracle.
If all God's people could be free, to live in perfect harmony,
It's a miracle, we're having a miracle on earth,
Mother nature does it all for us
Open hearts and surgery, Sunday mornings with a cup of tea,
Super powers always fighting,
But Mona Lisa just keeps on smiling,
The wonders of this world go on,
It's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle, it's a miracle.
The one thing we're all waiting for, is peace on earth and an end to war,
It's a miracle we need, the miracle, the miracle,
Peace on earth and end to war today,
That time will come one day you'll see when we can all be friends.

-- The Miracle, Queen

Feeling...tired, but I'm always tired. Reflective. I've been reflective a lot this year. 

I have been listening to Queen. We are so excited for Bohemian Rhapsody to come out. Our boys love Queen too, and their music is very often heard in our home and vehicles. Lately, I've loved their song, The Miracle. It was released in 1989, but is still so very relevant today. As I watch the internets and see the news, so much of it is negative. There is so much hate. Social media hasn't made us a kinder people. Instead, I think that the anonymity of the internets has emboldened many to say things, they hopefully wouldn't say in person, although that is changing too.

I love it when people share the good things that happen in this world. Because I know they are out there. They just get overshadowed by hate and anger and an unwillingness to listen and to understand.

So this song? This song has resonated with me so much this week. I think we could use some more miracles in our lives. I think we should do a better job of recognizing the miracles in our lives.

Planning...this next week. School is starting in a couple of weeks and this next week we get to finalize The Artist's class schedule for his Senior year.

Gratitude...for my husband. For his love, his insight and his acceptance. I am so blessed. 

From my world... 


Avengers: Infinity War. 

Tony Stark: I'm sorry, earth is closed today. You better pack it up and get outta here.

The Infinity Gauntlet. As created by The Artist. He's amazing.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?