Tuesday, March 17, 2015

World Gone By

I've read a lot of great books recently and World Gone By, by Dennis Lehane is yet another! I devoured Mystic River, and did the same with World Gone By! I read it in just over 12 hours with obvious parenting/cleaning/life breaks.

Description: Dennis Lehane, the New York Times bestselling author of The Given Day and Live by Night, returns with a psychologically and morally complex novel of blood, crime, passion, and vengeance, set in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida, during World War II, in which Joe Coughlin must confront the cost of his criminal past and present.

Ten years have passed since Joe Coughlin’s enemies killed his wife and destroyed his empire, and much has changed. Prohibition is dead, the world is at war again, and Joe’s son, Tom├ís, is growing up. Now, the former crime kingpin works as a consigliore to the Bartolo crime family, traveling between Tampa and Cuba, his wife’s homeland.

A master who moves in and out of the black, white, and Cuban underworlds, Joe effortlessly mixes with Tampa’s social elite, U.S. Naval intelligence, the Lansky-Luciano mob, and the mob-financed government of Fulgencio Batista. He has everything—money, power, a beautiful mistress, and anonymity.

But success cannot protect him from the dark truth of his past—and ultimately, the wages of a lifetime of sin will finally be paid in full.

This was fast paced and the mystery of who would want Joe Coughlin dead made for quite a page turner. 

My only complaint of this book how Lehane had Joe seeing ghosts.  It was just odd to me and took away from everything else.  I mean, in the sense of the book I get it and I get where the book was going, but it wasn't doing it for me.

I loved the different gangsters and the stories of things that had happened.  I loved how people would say or do something and it would make you wonder if they were the one plotting to kill Joe.

This is the third in a series of books about Joe Coughlin, but honestly I hadn't read either and I didn't think it was necessary to read this one.  I know some people complained about how some threads to the plot were just there and how many different people were involved but only one instance did it stand out to me when he ended up at at house and knew everything about the guy in what seemed in the timeline of the book like a day after knowing about him and not having mentioned anything about having someone follow him but then tells the guy that's how he knows things, did it really stand out to me.  For the most part, it's a quick thriller not meant to make you think too much and it's good.

I definitely recommend it if you like thriller fast paced books!

Have you read any books by Dennis Lehane? Watched any of the movies based off his books? Do you like books or movies about the mafia?

I've only read Mystic River and only seen Mystic River.  LOOOOVED the book, hated the movie.  I have a few others of his that are on my shelves that I need to read. I love books/movies about the mafia.

I received this book from TLC Book Tours, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My 5th Stitch Fix

I got my 5th Stitch Fix today! I always get excited to see what will be in the mail. 

I like how the scarf is the pop of color here!I got a vest, a tshirt, a dolman top, the scarf and another casual shirt.

First thing I did, was pop on the scarf over the shirt I wore today...

Henry Birds on a Branch Infinity Scarf - $28.00

I'm leaning towards yes on this.  It's so soft and I've wanted a new scarf for awhile but haven't found one I love. And I don't own one this color.  Need to decide if it will match enough items in my closet.

Pixley Malynn Aysmmetrical Soft Moto Vest - $58.00

I zipped it and then unzipped it.  Bad photo.  It fits, it's soft and cute but I'm not sure I want to pay $58.00 for it.  Maybe if it was another color since I already bought a vest this winter that is black and for only $14.99.  So, probably not. 


Sawyer Space Dye Dolman Sleeve Knit Top - $58.00

So... I didn't think I'd like this when I saw it  And I didn't much like it much on. I was going to try it on again with some black pants I have and I just don't think I will.  The shirt is too big.  I feel like when they send me a shirt that's stretchy or loose the are always far too big.  Eh...
Loveappella Canon Button Detail Striped Knit Top - $48.00

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this but I really ended up liking it on.  So I'm debating on getting this.  I want to try it on again with a cardigan and what not.  Think about it.
Market & Spruce Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee - $44.00

I'm kind of disappointed I got sent this.  I've seen others get it and I had no desire.  It's a tshirt.  And it's an unflattering tshirt at that.  It's also super thin.  I had it on for like 30 seconds and yeah, no way.
I was a little disappointed because I asked for some cardigans or shirts to wear under cardigans and I suppose if I liked the tshirt I could wear it under a cardigan and possibly the Loveappella shirt.  And I'd much have rather gotten a cardigan than the vest.  Oh well. 
So... leaning towards scarf and possibly the loveappella shirt.. Thoughts? What would you keep? I was contemplating the vest until I thought about the fact that I really like my other vest that I got for 14.99 but it was soft.  But yeah...   What do you think?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shattered by the Wars but Sustained by Love

Last year I participated in a TLC Tour for Blossoms and Bayonets by Jana McBurney-Lin and Hi-Dong Chai.  I really liked that book which was based off of Hi-Dong's family and their experience in South Korea.  After my review, I was contacted by both authors and Hi-Dong offered to send me his memoir Shattered by the Wars but Sustained by Love.

It covers the same content of the first book but not so much that you feel like you've read the same book if you've read both.  This focuses on the youngest son, Hi-Dong, and his personal experiences growing up through the age of 15 in Korea until he leaves for America on the final page.

Like I mentioned when I read the other book, I do not have a lot of information on Korea or on how WWII or the Korean War affected the Korean people.  This book was very informative in that way.  It definitely gives perspective when you think of a 14 year old boy willing to chop and clean fish in order to help feed himself and his friends.  That same boy as a 15 year old, willing to work in a restaurant dish washing/doing hard physical labor in exchange for food for himself and his mother.  Waking up early to continue to learn English to please his mother so that he could go to America and not be conscripted into the military.

Description:I hate war. War kills. War maims. War orphans. And it leaves a deep scar not only on the land, that will take years to heal, but also in the hearts of those who are affected by the war. I am one of those who carry a deep emotional wound to this day, more than sixty years later.

During World War II, under Japan, my father was imprisoned because he was a Christian minister who refused to bow down to the picture of the Japanese emperor. My elder brother volunteered to join the Japanese military in the hope of having his father released from the prison. He left home as a vibrant, fifteen-year-old boy and returned home as a worn-out, injured, eighteen-year-old man after the war; he died a year later. During the Korean War, two North Korean officers came to my house and took my father away because he was a Christian minister. He never returned.

"Shattered by the Wars" is a story of love, sacrifice, faith, and suffering, all wrapped in one package. The heroine in the story is my mother, as seen by her youngest son. Mother prayed without ceasing. Through her unceasing prayers, she was able to walk through the dark tunnel of trials and tribulations and lead us onward with love and grace and absolute faith in God.

This book was definitely a thank you to his obviously strong and loving mother.  She sacrificed so much and never lost her absolute faith that God is good.  She willingly gave what little she had to others who were in need and passed that on to her young son.

And as a teacher this cracked me up...

"I guess your ancestors had plenty time on their hands and were bored," I said  "And they decided to make English complicated for the future generations to sweat and suffer."

After reading both the fiction and memoir based on the same family I would recommend reading Blossom and Bayonets first and then Shattered by the Wars.  However, reading just one or the other would not be a problem either. 

Have you ever read a fiction and non-fiction book based on the same story? Which do you prefer, memoirs or historical fiction? Do you have stories or memories of your mother sacrificing to make your life easier?

Thank you to Hi-Dong Chai for a copy of his book.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Squat Challenge and Feb Recap

January I did the #mileaday challenge and it was a fabulous jump start into 2015.  Then I decided to try the squat challenge for February.  I started off strong and then the month totally fell apart on me. Sunday I thought about continuing on the challenge and finishing it at my slower pace and then Monday when I attempted my 150 squats I needed to accomplish I decided I'm just over squats.  As per usual, too much of one thing turns me off.  A month of squats got me bored.  So while I didn't finish, I can say my bum is a lot firmer!  I also plan on incorporating more squats into my workout.  Maybe at a more manageable number like 30 to 50 in a workout ha.  I know my body is capable but blargh.  I needed to be done with it.  Just like I was over the treadmill by the end of January, February ruined squats for me ha.

Speaking of the treadmill, I did not get on it as much as I did in January.  I did try out different work outs and I found some winners and losers.  It's definitely just easiest for me to hop on the treadmill at home.  I did however like the Leslie Sansone YouTube workout I found and another Butts & Thighs workout I found.  YouTube will be utilized again.

So my very low mileage number for February was 22.94.

The positive on that was that most of the times I got on the treadmill I did at least 2 miles. ;) 

February was a short month but it felt miles long.  I did manage to have an awesome home cooked Valentine's Day dinner with my husband (steak and lobster), met up for drinks with friends, and saw GARTH BROOKS in concert!!! THAT was THE best part of the month.  Amazing.  One of the best concerts I've ever attended!

Books read...
The All Girl Filling Station;s Last Reunion
The Long and Faraway Gone
Necessary Lies

I loved all of them! If you are going on spring break and need books for the beach, all of these would be great!

Not a good full body photo but it's one of my favorite sweaters from my Stitch Fix boxes and I have sunglasses on my head because there was sun!!!!!!

For March my fitness plan is to work on arms.  (Thank you 30 day fitness challenges).  I kinda made one my own and will keep alternating YouTube videos and treadmill workouts.  I didn't make it to a WERQ class this month so hopefully this month!

What was your favorite book you read in February? Best meal?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Necessary Lies

“Sometimes coloring outside the lines can cost you. Only you can figure out if it’s worth it.”  

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlin is the second book that our Books & Bars Group have read by her and I would definitely recommend it! It's a great book to discuss with others as well.

The book is set 50 years ago in the past.  Jane is a newly married, newly employed social worker with Grace County.  Her husband is a pediatrician who barely humors her desire to work because it makes him feel like others will think his practice is not doing well if she 'has' to work.  He's a bit of an ass.

“All the love in the world doesn't put food on the table.”  

Jane's clients are very poor and some are not very smart.  Be that because of lack of resources or IQ.  One family, the Harts, really connects with Jane.  Her superiors want Jane to sterilize 15 year old Ivy, just like they did her older sister.  However, Jane finds out that they did not tell the girl she was being sterilized because she was a minor and her grandmother signed off on it.  Jane really struggles with putting the paperwork together to have Ivy sterilized as well since her grandmother also signed off for her to have the procedure done as well.

The book delves into the Eugenics Program and the forced sterilization of tons of North Carolina girls and women and men.  Many poor and black.  Is it right to sterilize a 17 year old girl without her knowing? Is it okay to sterilize people that are on welfare? Who gets to decide? It also shows the beginning of the change when women started choosing to work instead of automatically staying home.  About putting a career in front of 'just being a wife.'

“They're threatened by you,' she said. 'You chose to do something they'd never have the gumption to choose for themselves. Being their own person.”  

A great fast paced thought provoking read.

Have you read this book? Have you read any others by Diane Chamberlin? Do you think it is okay to sterilize people without their knowledge?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Suitcase Secrets..

Today I am sharing a post from KJ Steele, the author of The Bird Box that comes out today!

When a dead man speaks people listen. There is just something compelling about a voice that reaches out to us from beyond the grave. I’m not referring to spooks here, but rather to mankind’s phenomenal ability to impress ourselves onto the fabric of this world even long after the physical self has departed.

 Music, literature, art, etc., are some of the common daily communications we have with the dead. The emotive essence lingers on. But for one fragment of society their voices came forward in a much humbler way.

When I set out to write my novel The Bird Box I spent some time on the grounds and in the buildings of a former insane asylum. Although the physical location was beautiful it was best described as a melancholy beauty. The memory of the former patients lingered.

I began to wonder about them. Not as patients but as people. Who were they? Before and during their committal’s? What had their lives been like? Their childhoods? Had they flown kites? Liked kittens? Plums? Had they been bold and adventurous or shy and cautious? What had formed their hopes and dreams and secret fears?

I went to the Mental Health Archives in search of answers. I found none. Researching patient files was often heartbreaking. Not so much by what was written there, but by the lack thereof.

After the initial admittance notes there was very little new information. Staff were busy and it was not uncommon to have whole lives –40–50–60– years condensed down to a few brief notes.

The brevity of it haunted me. Not that I blamed the staff. Their hands were more than full with practical matters. But still, it felt inhumane to me that whole lives had been pared down to a few paltry lines. I wanted to know who these people were. Above and beyond the narrow label of psychiatric patient.

 I was soon to find out. Their voices began a torrent of stories into my mind. They demanded a place on my page. They had stories to tell; lives and loves, laughter and tears. They too had experienced great joys and devastating loss. They had suffered deeply as well and yet none of these things fully defined them.

 Synchronistically, as I was writing their stories I was sent a link to Jon Crispin’s stunningly evocative photographs of the Willard Asylum Suitcases. Jon’s photographs visually dovetailed so perfectly with my written efforts to portray the person behind the label of psychiatric patient that I knew immediately I had to travel to the exhibit The Changing Face of What is Normal in San Francisco to further explore his work.

What followed was an astounding opportunity to speak with the dead. Or rather – listen. Displayed alongside some of Jon’s photographs were the original suitcases and their contents. Each suitcase, no matter how carefully or haphazardly it had been packed for that initial trip to the asylum, spoke volumes to me. Each one was a virtual time-capsule illuminating the individuality of its owner. Bibles and poetry books, family pictures, lotions, musical instruments, detailed diaries, loving letters. Objects as seemingly disparate from one another as mending kits and (in one case) a small hand-gun. Items that symbolically spoke of the desperate need to either mend or end the suffering.

Few people in our society’s history have been so reviled and disenfranchised as the mentally ill. Our discomfort and fear of those we could not understand or control led to some less than glorious years.

Those committed to the care of an asylum were in some ways excommunicated from the rest of humanity. They were held in institutions where their sense of autonomy was met with resistance. Their personal mail was opened and relieved of any unsettling or dissenting content. Their objections were routinely overruled. Not only did they become powerless they became voiceless as well.

Obviously it was far easier to silence people back then in an age before today’s instant and ubiquitous technology. Problematic dissenters were easier to erase; sometimes permanently.

And sometimes not so permanently as evidenced with the Willard suitcases. The contents of the suitcases serve to form an intimate choir of ghostly voices. They speak of each person’s individuality. Of their uniqueness. Some of them give evidence of seemingly competent minds while others show an obviously distorted grip on reality. Mental illness can be frightening. Perhaps to no one more so than to the person caught within its shifting shadows.

The people who filled the wards of the former insane asylums were as individual as they were unique. To paint them all the same would be but an erroneous reverse stroke of history. The contents of the suitcases they left behind now speak formidably for these long dead patients.

I have listened to their stories and endeavored to capture the echo of their hearts and minds in my novel The Bird Box. These were people who contributed to the diversity of life. And their lives mattered.


Here is the description of The Bird Box: Society said they were insane, and in 1954, that was enough to put someone away in an asylum and separate them from the world. Even here, though, it was possible for souls to flourish.

Jakie was one such soul. He was all but lost until he met the girl. She is locked away in a cellar room, but he can feel her presence by imagining he is a small bird visiting her through a hole he has made in a stone wall. He spends hours whistling a cardinal's song to her and she learns to whistle it back to him. She doesn't even know that Jakie exists, only the bird, but their communication is changing her. And the overwhelming, protective love that Jakie feels for the girl will compel him to find more of himself than he ever knew there was – and through this, he will alter their worlds profoundly.

A remarkable exploration of the spirit, a sharp indictment of our blindness to what makes us human, and an unforgettable portrait of the power of the will, The Bird Box will move you in ways you never anticipated.

Have you ever visited a former mental institution? Did you ever have older relatives tell stories about people going to them?

Friday, February 13, 2015


This week flew by.  It helped that I only had students 3 days this week.  ;) Lots of paperwork aka computer work though to finalize and plan for home visits.

High of the Week:
Isla came home from school and told me SURPRISE! I made you a card today at school. ;) I love that she wrote mom on there!!!!
Low of the week: Workkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.
Book I read: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney! Loved it! Check it out.  Quick intriguing and never a dull moment.  And funny. ;)
Monday - 100 squats and 2.5 miles
Tuesday - 105 squats and 2 miles
Wednesday - active rest.. I was planning on doing another 2.5 but I got stuck at the mall (ha ha) waiting for an eyebrow waxing appointment and by the time I got home I had already walked over 15,000 steps according to my fitbit and I was exhausted and we had a water issue that made us turn our water off meaning no shower soooo... no. ha
Thursday - 110 squats I was supposed to do Wednesday and then I tried a Zumba for dummies youtube video and umm yeah.. no so I ended up doing the 1 mile express Walk away the pounds with Leslie Sansone on YouTube and then I did 1.11 miles on the treadmill in between my squats..
Friday - The plan is 120 squats and the 3 mile walk away the pounds workout.  Not sure how this will play out because we now have plans but for sure the 120 squats will be done.  May have to switch it up to the treadmill and use it in between squats again depending on when we get home
Saturday - I am doing 125 squats and I found an ab/thigh/buns YouTube video I am going to try..
Best Money I Spent: Probably my new workout clothes that were on sale at JcPenny and the new makeup I got at Target.
Plans for the Weekend: Dinner and basketball game with family on Friday, my dad and hubby are doing some plumbing work on Saturday and I think the plan is still on for us to do pot roast and mashed potatoes for dinner and Sunday I have a benefit dinner for a family friend that I need to make a salad for and we may go to but it is during nap so I think I will just purchase the tickets.  Meal planning and workout planning will happen as well.
What books did you read? What workouts did you do? Do you use YouTube for workouts?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Long and Faraway Gone

Wow, I've read a lot of good books so far this year.  The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney did not disappoint.  I flew through this book over the course of the weekend.  It hooked me right from the start, but I was the idiot who started it at 11:30 on a Friday night.  Why do I do that?

Goodreads: In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

Like Wyatt, Julianna struggles with the past—with the day her beautiful older sister Genevieve disappeared. When Julianna discovers that one of the original suspects has resurfaced, she’ll stop at nothing to find answers.

As fate brings these damaged souls together, their obsessive quests spark sexual currents neither can resist. But will their shared passion and obsession heal them, or push them closer to the edge? Even if they find the truth, will it help them understand what happened, that long and faraway gone summer? Will it set them free—or ultimately destroy them?

The book mostly switches between the perspective of Wyatt and Julianna and their present day issues with their past with occasional flashbacks to the summer of 1986 when both of their lives were forever changed.  I loved both characters but probably liked Wyatt a bit more.

Wyatt is a PI who has spent his adult life moving from one city to the next and quite the smooth talker.  He ends up back in his hometown of Oklahoma City for his job.  A client sends him to help Candace the new owner of a club who is being harassed.  Being back in the town pushes Wyatt to look into the robbery which left 6 of his coworkers dead.  He constantly wonders, why is he still here? Why him?

Julianna is a nurse and still desperately wants to know what happened to her sister who disappeared many years earlier, before cell phones and digital cameras when it made it easier to track a person.  She is close to the detective in charge of her sister's cold case and does some detecting over her own.

Only issues, were a few parts where the wrong character name was used and a mix up when one character said it was a weekend and then another called it a week night.

The mystery is good and keeps you on your toes.  I would like to say as a serial reader of mystery and suspense I had suspicions on how it was going to play out and besides one true surprise I was correct in my guesses.  I'd totally pick up another book by him again and recommend it!

I just can't express enough that this is a good book, greatly placed humor and you should read it. ;)

Do you ever wonder why certain things happen to you? Ever had your view of a past event or image of a friend completely changed? Dos you ever wonder how many missing person cases would be different with new technology?

I received this book from TLC Book Tours, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friday Five

Wahooo.  First week of February done, one week closer to the first week of JUNE! I'm a copier and wanted to participate in this when I saw a few others including Amber doing this and I think this is the first time I've gotten myself around to make it happen.

High of the week - "I love you too, Mama.." best words ever.  <3 p="">
Low of the week - Wednesday was a no good, very bad day.  I was hoping for a snow day, but I didn't get one.  My kid moved slower than slow out the door.  We left the house 10 minutes late and the roads were bad.  I had to work.  Just little thing after little thing pissed me off.  I really could not get myself out of the funk.

Books I read - The All Girl's Filling Station Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg which turned out to be an awesome book that tied in some WWII stateside women history with a time period flip between then and now which I think would appeal to Sarah Jio lovers.

Workouts - Sunday I began my squat challenge so I did 50 squats while I watched the Super Bowl. Monday I did 2.26 miles on the treadmill and 60 squats.  Tuesday I did 2.3 miles on the treadmill and 65 squats.  Wednesday I did 1.2 miles on the treadmill, 100 crunches, 90 jumping jacks, 10 lunges per leg, 70 squats, 20 second plank, 40 jumping jacks, 20 high knees per leg and 1 measly push up. Thursday I did my 70 squats, did half of the 30 day shred before my laptop died on me, booooo and did 1.5 miles on the treadmill.  Tonight I plan on doing about 2 miles on the treadmill and maybe a workout DVD depends on lap top battery and what not.

Best Money I Spent - Hmm... I bought two things online that haven't come yet.. a book and some tinted moisturizer.. but the coke that saved the day on Tuesday was a good dollar spent. ;)

My plans for the weekend - I plan on a Sunday night date with my hubby because my daycare is closed Monday and the child will be spending the night at her grandparents.  Possibly story hour at the nature center on Saturday and I really need new makeup and an eyebrow wax so that may happen

What workouts did you do this week? Read any good books?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The All Girl Filling Station Last Reunion

A few weeks ago I popped into the library with Isla one night and I was looking for the newest Linda Castillo book.  Sadly, it wasn't in but as we were walking by a display The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg stuck out and I grabbed it.

Description: Mrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with is her mother, the formidable Lenore Simmons Krackenberry. Lenore may be a lot of fun for other people, but is, for the most part, an overbearing presence for her daughter. Then one day, quite by accident, Sookie discovers a secret about her mother's past that knocks her for a loop and suddenly calls into question everything she ever thought she knew about herself, her family, and her future.

Sookie begins a search for answers that takes her to California, the Midwest, and back in time, to the 1940s, when an irrepressible woman named Fritzi takes on the job of running her family's filling station. Soon truck drivers are changing their routes to fill up atU the All-Girl Filling Station. Then, Fritzi sees an opportunity for an even more groundbreaking adventure. As Sookie learns about the adventures of the girls at the All-Girl Filling Station, she finds herself with new inspiration for her own life.

Oh man did I have some flashbacks to Steel Magnolias as I read.  This is hilarious, serious, intriguing all in one.  It switches between Fritzi in the 1930s-1940s and present day Sookie.  It slowly reveals the family history of both women and how they connect.  It really reminded me of a Sarah Jio book with how it flipped back and forth from present day to the past and uncovered a secret.  The humor was well timed and not out of place at all.

I also learned more about women's roles in our military during WWII that I didn't before.  When I read Code Name Verity I learned about women in England and their role and this told about our women pilots.  It led me to googling and learning all tons of information.

Pick it up if you have the chance.  It reads quick. ;)

What books have you read about women and their roles in WWII? Do you like books that change narrators/time periods?