Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Weekend Reflections 11/14

Looking outside....it's sunny, but cold. Currently 39 degrees.

Listening...to silence. I like slow Saturday mornings. The Doctor is at work and The Artist is helping with Scouting for Food and The Boy is helping at a fundraiser for the high school golf team.

Loving...friends and family and a comfortable, warm home. 

Thinking...that can't stop thinking about the attacks on Paris. I love that beautiful city. I have wonderful memories of walking her streets with family and friends. My heart breaks for her people.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and a piece of warm, grilled naan bread right now and no idea what to do for dinner.

Wearing...BSU pajama pants and a gray turtleneck with gray fuzzy socks.

Needing...to clean the kitchen and go to the grocery store.

Reading...I have several that are overdue to be reviewed.

Today...is still somewhat up in the air.

Hoping...to relax a bit.

Planning...the next week. It's college application time. Strange to think I have one old enough to apply to colleges!

Gratitude...for a world filled with amazing, compassionate people. For all the horror of yesterday, I love the reminders that there are good people everywhere. The people of Paris opened their homes to those who were stranded by tweeting the hashtag #PorteOuverte to let others know that there were safe homes for them to stay in. Beautiful.

From my world... 

Confession time: back in our high school days, my best friend and I watched Days of Our Lives. We had our schedules figured so we could leave school, grab lunch and go to her house to watch it and then go back to school. I even watched it into my college years. While it's been a good 25 years since I've seen an episode, I well remember Days in the 80s: Bo & Hope's wedding (best television wedding ever!)...Roman and Marlena...Eugene and Calliope and...my list goes on. This fun surprise arrived in my mailbox yesterday with little post-it note memories from my girlfriend. It was a sweet walk down memory lane!

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Plain Return...Review

About the book:
Amanda Beiler, a young woman raised Amish, is determined to make her marriage to internationally beloved Cuban singer Alejandro Diaz work. Since they spend more time apart than together, she decides to join her superstar husband in the spotlight and accompany him on his South American tour.

Despite their deep love for each other, the pressures of maintaining Alejandro’s fame and the media’s constant hounding begin to take a toll on the young couple. When someone from his past makes a startling appearance during the tour, Amanda is forced to face not only the complexities of his hedonistic past—and the unexpected responsibilities that accompany it—but also her own desire to return to a simple life rooted in devotion to family and God. As Amanda’s needs start to conflict with Alejandro’s obligations, the couple must decide if their love is strong enough to save their new marriage.

Just as the previous books in this series do, this one picks up where Plain Again leaves off. Amanda has returned to her husband's side while he is on his South American tour. In love with Alejandro, Amanda wants nothing more than to become pregnant and start a family with him. But, as pregnancy eludes her, Alejandro's secret daughter comes back into his life when he discovers that the child's mother has died.

Amanda embraces the child and grows to love her. When she realizes that a life on tour is no place to raise a little girl, she takes the child back to the farm. Alejandro struggles to accept his daughter's place in his life, but he resents it and believes he is losing Amanda's love and affections.

Alejandro has never been my favorite character and I think he's incredibly selfish and self-centered. He has improved since the first book, but not enough. The story ends with somewhat of a cliff-hanger and you must read the fifth one to know what happens. Unfortunately, the fifth one hasn't been published yet and so we're all left hanging, which you know is a huge pet peeve of mine.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sarah Price here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/15

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Secrets of a Charmed Life...Review

About the book:
She stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades...beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden--one that will test her convictions and her heart.

1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed…

England, during World War 2 is one of my favorite literary settings. The perspective is so different from what Americans know about the war and the resilience of Londoners during war time still amazes me. Books about sisters are high on my list because I am the oldest of 4 sisters.

I loved the alternating past/present perspective here. And how Kendra had all these questions to ask Isabel, but when she simply said, "What do you want to tell me about the war?", that is when the story flowed and Isabel shared her secrets.

War time stories are compelling and this one captured me right from the start. I literally read it in two sittings. This isn't simply a war story although Emmy's experience during a bombing raid was certainly harrowing and her fear for her sister palpable. This is a story about relationships: mothers and daughters; sister and sister; friends and acquaintances. It is a story about love and loss; regret and contentment.

I'm part of a newly formed book club and this was our first read. The discussions that followed were fantastic and I so enjoyed hearing the viewpoints and thoughts from these other women. We had a delightful evening and the consensus from everyone was that they loved the story. I don't give many books 5 stars, but this one? This one deserves it.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can learn more about Susan Meissner here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/15

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Monday, November 9, 2015

Plain Again...Review

About the book:
Young Amish woman Amanda and international Cuban superstar Alejandro surprised the world by tying the knot. But for the celebrated singer, time doesn’t stand still after the big “I do.” Alejandro must return to his life on the road and into the fray of a demanding tour and his adoring fans. After their brief period of marital bliss, the new couple struggles under the media’s constant intrusion into their romance and fights to sustain the bond they first discovered at Amanda’s Pennsylvanian farmland home.

When the paparazzi report a juicy story that could threaten Alejandro’s reputation and cause Amanda to doubt their promises to each other, the two face a hardship that may put their budding union at risk. Can their love survive worldwide scrutiny and the distance his stardom creates between them?

Continuing off from Plain Change, Amanda struggles with Alejandro's fame and notoriety. When she must return home to the family farm because of her father's illness, she worries about the separation from Alejandro.

What I found most enlightening was Amanda's response and impressions to once again return to her Amish roots, after having lived so much in the world. Her awareness at the darkness inside her parents home because of no electricity, for example. Her gratitude that her husband offered financial help and hired a man to help on the farm. I did appreciate that Alejandro finally realized his manager was a jerk and disrespectful to Amanda and her faith. I enjoyed the honest discussions Amanda could have with her sister.

This is book 3 in the Plain Fame series, and it really doesn't stand alone. They are meant to be read in order. This one has more of an ending and from what I can gather, it was originally a trilogy. However, there is a fourth book in the series.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sarah Price here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/15

* * *
3/5 Stars

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Weekend Reflections 11/7

Looking outside....fall has arrived. Leaves cover the ground and the temperature has definitely dropped.

Listening...to blissful silence. I like slow Saturday mornings. The Doctor is at work and the boys are at the church for a youth leadership training activity.

Loving...good friends, good books, good discussions.

Thinking...that I'm already thinking ahead to Christmas gifts.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now and Grilled Lime Chicken for dinner.

Wearing...BSU pajama pants and a black turtleneck with fuzzy socks.

Needing...to do some housework.

Reading...I just finished Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner. Loved it!

Today...movie night with the family. I think we're finally going to see The Martian.

Hoping...to relax a bit.

Planning...the next week. Deciding on Thanksgiving plans.

Gratitude...for an amazing IEP meeting at the high school. The Artist is doing amazingly well and his transition from middle school to high school as been fantastic. I am so grateful for the teachers and administrators who work with us as a team in his behalf.

From my world... 

Received this surprise package in the mail from a dear friend. As children, we loved the Nancy Drew stories and would act them out in the backyard. She was Nancy and I was George. Over 35 years later, we still call each other Nancy and George on occasion. 

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