Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

It was a pretty great week, which ended with my niece's first birthday party today! It was pink lemonade themed and it turned out so cute! The desserts were spot on - lemon cookies, lemonade cupcakes, fairy wheels - it was adorable. Wyatt loved it too, and put away a few fistfuls of cake.


Seriously, how cute is this cupcake? My niece's maternal aunt made these!

Read Last Week:

  

I loved School for Unusual Girls - now I can't wait to read the next one. 

Joyland was a reread of an old favorite for my book club - my pick. I love this book and it was interesting to hear my book clubbers thoughts!

Reading This Week:

  

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel - A NetGalley read

I will probably throw something else in the mix too - tomorrow is library day!!

Posted Last Week;


Watching:

The Office (American) - this is sometimes almost painful to watch!

The Olympics, and we are about to start Bloodline. Otherwise, just waiting for my regular shows begin. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Book review: The Girls in the Garden

Title: The Girls in the Garden
Author: Lisa Jewell

Goodreads Summary:

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really? 

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.


My Thoughts:

I could not put this book down! I was fascinated by the dynamics of the characters in this story. I am so drawn to books that are character driven with cool settings, and this book was both.

This book was unusual, and I think that is why I liked it. It didn't follow the normal path that I expected it would. Everything in this book played with conventions - traditional vs. alternative, from parenting to living arrangements, to children's names and even pets. Things were turned upside down everywhere, forcing your brain to look at things in ways you didn't expect. Was this always successful? Perhaps not, but it was always interesting.

The children in this book ran free and wild, without much supervision from parents, either through a parenting choice (Adele), neglect (CeCe), or too much trust in the park itself (Clare). Where one may believe this kept the children safe or innocent, it had mixed results. The girls in the garden I believe refers to more than just Pip and her sister Grace, who were the new girls in the park, whose presence upset the whole social ecosystem that was in place. An influx of new thoughts and ideas, girls who had not been raised in this communal environment their whole lives and brought with them, in essence, the rest of the world. Despite this, they began as the most innocent.

The mystery itself kept me guessing - Jewell did a great job at making everyone seem suspect. The ending was unexpected, and slightly unsatisfying, but I think it fit the story and the characters well. And, I think, it is an ending that could actually happen in reality.

 You have to wonder, can such a self-contained world remain pure, or will it eventually warp upon itself?

One last thing - these giant rabbits! I totally want one! One of the characters in the book has a giant rabbit on a leash, and a cat in a box. Again, with the upside down. I looked the rabbit up, a Flemish Giant, and it appears they are definitely real. I wonder how one would get along with my cats?

Click on the pic for source and more info!
For more info on this guy, click his photo. I loves him!!


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked how Jewell skewed things, instead of doing the expected. I hate writing such vague reviews but  I really don't want to give anything away!! My suggestion: if you are in the mood for a quick read, but one that keeps you guessing and introduces you to interesting characters, then this book is for you. Give it a whirl - maybe even read it in a park on a warm day with a breeze, surrounded by the sounds of children playing, and think about how children playing can sometimes be less than innocent.
 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


  

It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

My lazy summer all of a sudden got really busy! I didn't get a chance to do anything on the blog last week, but this week will be different. It's been busy. All good stuff but phew I am tired and we have just begun. My husband was off for four days which was awesome! We had a mini staycation and did all sorts of fun things, just bopping around town. I also have lots of things coming up on the calendar, so Wyatt and I will be whirling through August. Should be fun!

We also saw Suicide Squad over the weekend. Billy and I realized it is the first time we have seen a movie in the theater since Jurassic World came out last year!! Yikes! We need to get out on date nights more often.

Read Last Week:


Wow I loved The Girls in the Garden!!! I never figured it out either.

The Drafter was a fun departure from Harrison's Hollows series - bonus: it is set in futuristic Detroit!

Reviews upcoming.

Reading This Week:

  

 Joyland is my book club pick - and book club is Wednesday! I have already read it, I just need to refresh my memory. I loved this book!

A School for Unusual Girls is a series I have seen around and it sounds awesome. I am excited to start it.

Watching:

The Olympics!! I love the cycling and swimming.

We also finished up Stranger Things which was amazeballs - I can't wait for season 2!!! We are also catching up on Outlander - it is getting so good.  We are trying to find a half hour sitcom though, sometimes you just need something light and funny. We finished up Community and Wrecked and now we are out of our funny shows!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

  

It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

This week was a looooonnngg week. Wyatt is getting his back molars and has woken us up every night for a few hours - which is not fun for any of us. :( Poor kid. We are a bit sleep deprived over here. Hopefully these suckers come in soon! 

We have a fun week planned - well kind of planned. It is Billy's birthday Thursday and he is taking Thursday and Friday off of work. Not sure what we are going to do, but I am looking forward to seeing where the days take us. 

Read Last Week:

I read a bunch of books but didn't finish any. I couldn't focus on just one for some reason. Maybe exhaustion, lol. The books I picked at were-

  


The Drafter by Kim Harrison: This is the book I read the most of. I am actually really enjoying it, even though I wasn't sure I wanted to read it. I miss Rachel and The Hollows but Peri is slowly winning me over.

All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank: So, I usually love Dottie's books. This one though, might be a miss for me. I just can't get into it for some reason. Although, I do totally covet a suit like the one on the cover. 

Relish by Lucy Knisley: I am enjoying this book as well, it just happens to have the bad luck of being the book I try to read before bed - therefore, I read about 5 minutes of it a night.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson: I truly intended to read more of this! Maybe this week?

Reading This Week:


The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell: I am so excited this came in! I have heard such good things about it, I can't wait to start it.

Watching:

Stranger Things - I love this show, very 80s and reminiscent of Stephen King. I just can't watch it before bed!

Community, Wrecked, Wayward Pines, Outlander are some other shows we have been watching.

Posted Last Week:



What's been going on with you all?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summertime Baseball

We all recognize the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowds, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs, the vivid green of the field - is there anything more quintessentially summer than baseball? I remember going down to old Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan Ave. and Trumbull as a kid- it was getting rough, and old but it was majestic and seemed so huge! I was sad when it was torn down- where it used to stand is now an empty lot, just grass but the bases remain. 

We recently took my son to his very first baseball game, and all three of us had a blast with my cousin, his wife, and son. We headed south to Toledo, to see the Mud Hens play. My cousin works for the Mud Hens as head of their events department, and it was awesome to spend time with them. We don't get to see them very often, so this was a real treat.  If you ever have the opportunity to go to a Mud Hens game, I recommend it. The stadium itself is so clean and sparkly and bright, and is very easily maneuverable for a family, especially one with small children. Not too big, but not too small, you get all the best of the game minus a lot of headache. 



We had great seats along the first base line, and most important in my opinion, in the shade. Wyatt loved when the crowds clapped and cheered, when the music played - he didn't really watch any of the game which was to be expected; I took him for the experience. He was one happy kid! 



We also did a little pre-gaming - parents of a toddler style. The day we went was Muddy's birthday, so there was a birthday celebration being held at Hensville, the entertainment complex across the street from the stadium. Hensville is my cousin's other baby, and he should be proud: It contains a full bar/restaurant, two rooftop seating bars that have a clear view of the game (you actually need tickets to sit there during a game!), and a concert venue. The space used to be a parking lot and an old warehouse; now it is a fully functional green space with ample places to hang out and have fun with friends and family. We ate at the Fleetwood Tap Room, which was gorgeous. For beer lovers they have over 75 craft beers, 48 on tap! The menu had many options, all reasonably priced. We had such a good time, we want to go back for an "adult night" on the town - maybe take in a game from the roof, enjoy a few cold beers from the Tap room; or if not a game, a show! Regardless, we are definitely trying to get this in the works.



We had such a great time, we can't wait to do it again!! 

And summer just isn't summer without a little baseball.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

  

It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date 

Woo this heat!! It looks like a lot of the United States is experiencing this heat wave - I am not a fan! I know some people who are ok with high temps, but I am a girl who values temps that don't rise above 85. Lol. We have been pretty much taking refuge in the air conditioning, and not venturing out until evening, like nocturnal creatures.

Read Last Week:


The Weekenders: I am so so close to the end of this book, and I just haven't had the time to finish it, which is making me crazy!! I very much enjoyed it.

Reading This Week:

  

I am really excited to start both of these!

Posted Last Week:



Watching:

Wayward Pines, The Tour de France (over today!). We are about to start Stranger Things, I have heard some good stuff about it!



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Reviews: An Age of License and Displacement by Lucy Knisley



I don't read too many graphic novels generally. I have read some good ones - I love Craig Thompson's Blankets for one. However, faced with a reading slump I couldn't get over, I tried a suggestion from Rita at View From My Books, and switched things up. I had spotted this author on one of  my friend's Facebook page, so here I am. And I am glad I listened to these two people!

I love this author/illustrator. Knisley bases her writing off of journals that she keeps of her travels and adventures, and it makes the writing for these books so much more personal. I think part of my problem with graphic novels sometimes is the removal of myself from the story, or an inability to feel like I know the characters well. Knisley's books are more memoir, travelogue, and she is honest about her life and adventures. The illustrations are not overwhelming, glaring from every page in a maze of boxes, but calm and meaningful. 

It was an odd experience to read these two back to back. I read An Age of License first. License is about Lucy's adventure through Europe, meeting up with friends, family, and her Swedish love interest, while young and unfettered. She was carefree, enjoying life, food, midnight picnics under the Eiffel tower. She was struggling a bit with the angst that happens in your twenties with thoughts of the future, marriage, career, etc, but she realizes that this is just a phase of her life, where she has "license" to have fun and try new things.

In contrast, where An Age of License is about beginnings, Displacement is a story about endings. This book straight up made me teary in many places. Lucy's elderly grandparents, both in their 90s, sign up for a cruise through their nursing home. When their family hears about it, none of the have the heart to tell them they can't go, but know in their hearts that they can't do it, at least alone. So Lucy, being young and unencumbered, volunteers to travel with her grandparents and assist them. Her grandmother has dementia, pretty advanced, and her grandfather is losing his memory as well, and is also incontinent. The love that Lucy feels for her grandparents is evident in every page, everything that she does, from making sure they make all their connecting flights, to washing her grandfather's pants every night before bed. By the end of the trip she is exhausted- for someone who is not used to being a caregiver, taking care of two elderly people on a cruise would be a huge change. Lucy's eyes are opened to how some of the people in this world treat the elderly - like they are invisible people who don't matter.  Lucy deals with this, as well as her own personal feelings of sadness, frustration, that go hand in hand with caregiving, even for a loved one. She remembers her grands as they were when they were healthy - to see them decline is heartbreaking. 

It was a long two weeks for Lucy, but one that was also made easy - everything she did, she did with love for her grandparents. You do for family, to quote "The Middle" and isn't that the truth? Her grandfather thanked Lucy for making the trip possible and memorable for them, and told her that he loved her. I cried. 

The book is also interspersed with passages from the memoir that Lucy's grandfather wrote about his time in the war, so we the reader see Lucy's grandfather through two lenses, the one of his youth at the prime of his life, and the way that he is now, in his 90s. 

I very much enjoyed both of these books. It was unintentional, reading these two back to back, but it gave me such a different perspective on age and on the stories themselves. I hope to read her other work soon!