Friday, October 31, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Discussion

Happy Friday! Here are the discussion questions for the October Group Read...
  1. At the beginning of the story, Amelia says she is considering quitting online dating. How would you compare the act of buying books online to the act of dating online? Is it relevant to the story that Amelia meets her eventual husband in a very analog location, a bookstore?
  2. Consider the setting. Why do you think the author chooses to set the book on an island? How does the island setting reflect A.J.'s character?
  3. Perhaps oddly, vampires are a recurring motif in the story: for example, when A.J.'s wife throws the vampire prom and when A.J. watches True Blood to court Amelia. What do you make of the references to vampires?
  4. Lambiase moves from an occasional or nonreader, to a reader, to a bookseller. How do you think becoming a reader changes him? Consider the scene where he decides not to confront Ismay about the backpack. Do you think Lambiase's reaction is different than it would have been if he hadn't taken up reading?
  5. Did you find Ismay's motivations for stealing Tamerlane to be forgivable? How do you think she should pay for her crime? Why do you think Lambiase lets her off?
  6. At one point, Maya speculates that perhaps "your whole life is determined by what store you get left in" (page 85). Is it the people or the place that makes the difference?
  7. Compare Maya's "fiction" about the last day of her mother's life to Ismay's version. Which do you consider to be more accurate and why?
  8. What do you think the future holds for physical books and bookstores?
Thanks for participating!

Sadly, I do have to announce that I need to take a break from hosting a monthly group read.  My life is a bit too chaotic at the moment to fully commit to a specific book and what not right now.  I'm trying to stay afloat with my current in person book club and possibly join another parenting one and well work is crazy and sadly right now this is what has to give.  I may revisit it again in the new year or do it sporadically but right now I can't give it the attention and time that I have in the past.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2014


I've been super busy lately.  Work has been insane.  Social life has been insane.  Family life has been insane.  I'm looking forward to a relatively better week.  By better week I mean I only have book club, a field trip, half-day training with time to work in my classroom on Friday, Halloween and then a weekend with no hard commitments.  It's been a month.  Basically, it's been a fall!  But, I love busy.  I just hate when it keeps me away from my loves.  My loves  being my kid, books, my blog, friends, alone time and a clean semi-non messy house with laundry caught up.

A MONTH ago, my school had homecoming and we enjoyed the parade with my parents.  After the parade in my hometown we headed to my husband's hometown and enjoyed our favorite nachos at our favorite establishment there and then went to the football game in that town to see his old high school team play against their rival.  That was surprisingly the child's first live football game.  She was in a mood that was probably caused by a long day and then a parade, some candy, sitting through dinner and then an outdoor event near bedtime. 

In the middle of this month we had family pictures taken.  This was on my cell phone while we were waiting for the photographer.  This is at her school and she was telling us about the 'field trip' they had taken to the farm and how there were 2 goats.  I was not super impressed with our family pictures but I was thrilled with a couple of shots of the kiddo.
I spent a weekend in the Louisville area with my parents to attend a wedding of a family friend.  My mom and I decided we needed a selfie to capture our beautifulness before the wedding.  I also felt like crap this weekend and ended up in urgent care that Monday because of a severe abdominal /back pain that never was truly explained away but answers given were NOT pregnant, NOT a UTI and nothing showing up on an ultrasound.  But it was bad.  I have a physical scheduled with my midwife practice but couldn't get in until December.  To say I am a bit worried is an understatement.

While I was in Louisville, this cutie made a cake with her dad.

I also got to spend two days with my dad to travel to Ohio for a football game! We got to eat our favorite pizza together on Friday night and then tailgate with friends and go to the game on Saturday! I love that place! It is just magic.  If I could bottle fall Saturday's on OSU's campus for a bad day, I would!
 Our town has an annual Pumpkin Festival where they have TONS of free activities for families.  We met up at my husband's downtown office for a pizza picnic before we took the snow queen to the festivities.  We did the trick or treating and played two games but it was super crowded and we aren't really at the stand in a long line for fun age.  The parents stopped at the local taproom for a growler on our way out of downtown. ;)

My sister-in-law and I took our kiddos down to Lansing to the Potter Park Zoo for their Zoo Boo and the kids had a riot.  I totally credit her cousin for her even attempting to sit on top of this to take a picture.  She's not a risk taker.

On the way back they passed out quickly! My kid was trying to channel weekend at Bernie's here.  I was dying at the book placement while passed out!

To continue with our fall fun my mom and I took the little one to a pumpkin farm to check out some animals and pick out a carving pumpkin because the pumpkins our garden grew were not big enough to carve. ;) We may have also got donuts and hot chocolate.  It was a good fun morning.

I do have some sad news to end with unfortunately.  My grandpa who suffers from dementia has been diagnosed with three different cancers and has been moved to a hospice facility in a VA hospital.  I'm trying to process this as best I can while also trying to help process this as being the mother of a three year old who also loves her great papa.  It's so hard.  And it sucks.  And it's so not fair.  Dementia nor the cancer.  And I hate them both and it's awful.  I just don't really have the words to process yet.  Just the tears. Grandparents, special people they are for sure.

Here's hoping November treats us a tad gentler than our busy, fun, crazy, stressful October.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Double Strike

The third installment of the Davis Way Crime Caper series is as laugh out loud funny as the first two.  I read it in less than 24 hours and it had got me rolling with laughter.

"She'd mentioned it.  She made me hang my head out the window on the ride over.  No hair and Makeup Angela had somehow gotten her hands on a gallon jug of bull goo (I didn't ask) and I was treating myself to a Viagra mask before this Monday got into full swing.  Angela taped a note to the bucket: Get it on for an hour in the mornings, let it sink into your scalp, and even after you shampoo it out it will work its magi all day.  I had a shower cap over the bull mask and a cashmere sweater tied around the shower cap (a last-minute grab because I tossed ten drawers in our closet and still couldn't find a scarf) but bulls are stronger than plastic and cashmere.  I couldn't do the keep-it-cold business, because I just didn't have time to fashion an ice hat for myself, and I didn't want to freeze to death.  After battling the sleeves of the sweater out of my face a hundred times, I gave up and tied them in a knot on top of my head.  "This isn't a fashion show, Fantasy."

The book begins the day before Davis is supposed to marry Bradley Cole, but of COURSE nothing goes as planned. 

Description: Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way knows three things: Cooking isn't a prerequisite for a happy marriage, don't trust men who look like David Hasselhoff, and money doesn't grow on Christmas trees. None of which help when a storm hits the Gulf a week before the most anticipated event in Bellissimo history: the Strike It Rich Sweepstakes. Securing the guests, staff, and property might take a stray bullet. Or two.

Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way has three problems: She's desperate to change her marital status, she has a new boss who speaks in hashtags, and Bianca Sanders has confiscated her clothes. All of which bring on a headache hot enough to spark a fire. Solving her problems means stealing a car. From a dingbat lawyer.

Bellissimo Resort and Casino Super Spy Davis Way has three goals: Keep the Sanders family out of prison, regain her footing in her relationship, and find the genius who wrote the software for futureGaming. One of which, the manhunt one, is iffy. Because when Alabama hides someone, they hide them good.

DOUBLE STRIKE. A VIP invitation to an extraordinary high-stakes gaming event, as thieves, feds, dance instructors, shady bankers, kidnappers, and gold waiters go all in. #Don'tMissIt

This book was great.  Davis, Fantasy and Baylor keep getting into ridiculous predicaments and it is down right hilarious! I really enjoyed all the different hash tags and the making fun of social media.  It was genius.  I also loved the new story lines and new characters that brought hilarity to the group. 

This is a smarter, funnier Stephanie Plum series.  Or maybe like the early Stephanie Plum was.  It's great!  If you need a laugh or a new series to check out I highly recommend the Davis Way Crime Capers by Gretchen Archer!

The only sad part is that I will have to wait so long until the 4th book comes out.  YOU however can catch right up to the series as this book comes out today!!!

What was the last laugh out loud book you read? Do you ever wonder what behind the scenes at a casino would look like?

I received this book from the publisher for review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Stitch Fix #2

I got my second Stitch Fix last week, a day earlier than it was expected again, and I once again loved my selections! After my first Fix when things weren't exactly fitting well but were all things I liked, I adjusted my settings and this second Fix was a much better fit!

The first thing I noticed was the WHITE Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse.  I had pretty much decided before I even looked at how it fit or the price that it would go back because me with white is just asking for disaster.  At work, I have 14 little bodies to hand print it with another color and at home I have a 3 year old buddy to do the same.  And ANYWHERE, I have my clumsy self to deal with.  I did however try it on and it was very see through so it would require a tank underneath.  However, it was snug in my chest area but lots of material on the sleeves, so just no.

The second thing I tried on were the Kaleigh Ankle Biter Skinny Jeans.  While in the last fix I couldn't even get the pants all the way up, these I could and they fit! I tried these on probably three different times debating on them.  I didn't LOVE them.  They were amazing.  They bunched a little weird on my lower leg.  I also own a pair that is slightly similar in color.  So I decided no, because I didn't NEED them or LOVE them for $88.

I though the Mico Cut Out Drop Earrings looked super cute.  I tried them on and I just wasn't comfortable in them.  They are super cute, but I am not used to wear BIG earrings and I just wasn't in love.  Honestly, now with my new hair cut I may have liked them a bit more.  I just felt a little uncomfortable wearing them.  I think I only own stud earrings and a few drop earrings but not even a hoop.  So I may need a earring stylist ha.

Next I tried on the Corinna Striped Dolman Top.  I really liked the green color and I loved the length.  It was perfect for me to wear with skinny jeans or dark work pants.  The arms fit and the chest area fit.  However, it was very roomy in my stomach area.  Like so roomy that it then didn't lay right.  I honestly tried this on multiple times with multiple pants and looked in multiple mirrors because I WANTED to like this shirt.  I've been wanting a shirt just like this.  But, I knew if I got it, I would constantly be worried about the baggy-ness of the stomach area.  So, this was sent back too.

I have a cardigan problem.  I adore them.  I live in them.  I was so excited to try on the Chamberlin Striped Drape Front Cardigan.  It's a nice long perfect length for what I like.  So perfect with my jeans and boots and PERFECT with my leggings.  It was a bit pricey so I tried it on a gazillion times with almost my whole wardrobe and I finally decided to ignore my cheapness and get it! Also, the sleeves fit perfectly and it is so soft! I'm worried how the drape will lay occasionally, but I don't really care.  Because it is so soft and comfy!

I decided to sign up for another fix, but not until December.  I've been impressed with the selections because they've all looked like things I'd enjoy on the hanger, but the putting it on my body is always up for a crap shoot!

If you'd like to check out Stitch Fix and give me a credit for my next fix, please and thank you! Please click here for my referral link!  Otherwise, this is solely my opinion and paid for by my hard earned dollars. 

If you don't know about Stitch Fix, it is a service where you pay a $20 styling fee and get 5 pieces delivered straight to your house.  You can try them on and keep what you want and mail back what you don't.  You can spend as little as the $20 if you don't like anything but if you do buy something the 20 is taken off that item.  You also get a discount if you order all 5 things!  It's pretty fun and it will sure beat going out into the crowds this winter!

What was your favorite item pictured? (Sorry, I suck at actually photographing my stuff! ha)

And a bonus pic.. My new hair.. I kinda love it.  I just hope I can make it cute on my own!

Monday, October 6, 2014

GI Brides

I love WWII stories.  I love reading about the people, how it happened, what life was like, and what they did to make do.  I really enjoyed GI Brides by Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi which is a TRUE story of four different British women who married American GIs.  It isn't all roses, but what marriage is? There is pain, trouble love and perseverance.  There is polio, alcoholism, gambling, ridiculous in laws, courageous women, fabulous sister-in-laws, supportive parents and great new friends.

Description: For readers enchanted by the bestsellers The Astronaut Wives Club, The Girls of Atomic City, and Summer at Tiffany’s, an absorbing tale of romance and resilience—the true story of four British women who crossed the Atlantic for love, coming to America at the end of World War II to make a new life with the American servicemen they married.

The “friendly invasion” of Britain by over a million American G.I.s bewitched a generation of young women deprived of male company during the Second World War. With their exotic accents, smart uniforms, and aura of Hollywood glamour, the G.I.s easily conquered their hearts, leaving British boys fighting abroad green with envy. But for girls like Sylvia, Margaret, Gwendolyn, and even the skeptical Rae, American soldiers offered something even more tantalizing than chocolate, chewing gum, and nylon stockings: an escape route from Blitz-ravaged Britain, an opportunity for a new life in affluent, modern America.

Through the stories of these four women, G.I. Brides illuminates the experiences of war brides who found themselves in a foreign culture thousands of miles away from family and friends, with men they hardly knew. Some struggled with the isolation of life in rural America, or found their soldier less than heroic in civilian life. But most persevered, determined to turn their wartime romance into a lifelong love affair, and prove to those back home that a Hollywood ending of their own was possible.

G.I. Brides includes an eight-pages insert that features 45-black-and-white photos.

My favorite part about this book is that it is true and it does NOT read like a boring non-fiction read.  Not to say that non-fiction is boring, but we've all read the type! This reads like fiction and you would never know it was true if you didn't read the back cover.  Err, that would be me ha.  I apparently didn't read that little fact until midway through the book they had the pictures and I was like oooh and I looked on the back and read "true story" yeah...

I loved reading all the different stories.  I enjoyed reading about Sylvia's time during WWII when she worked at a hotel and volunteered for the Red Cross.  Margaret's situation with her husband kept me intrigued and I couldn't wait to get back to the chapters about her.  Lyn had a fascinating life and I really enjoyed reading about her Italian mother-in-law who she feuded with! Rae was a very brave and strong person and her story was very interesting as well. 

I can't really pick a favorite because they each had very interesting parts of their stories.  Hence why they were picked.  In the back the authors were interviewed and they said they had interviewed thousands of women who came across to marry their GI's but they picked these four because they all over came an obstacle. 

A very quick and entertaining read.  Super informative and a new look into WWII for me!

Have your read books about what was happening in Great Britain during WWII? Did your grandparents meet during that time period? What is your favorite WWII book?

I received this book from the publisher but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Looking Forward

The weather has been amazing but it's right at that point where it's turning into the dreaded 9 month winter.  Please let EVERYONE be wrong and have a super mild winter.  PLEASE.  I'm getting old and can not take anything under 60 anymore.  I need to play the lotto to get myself outta here! ;)

Today - Hump Day! I'm excited that I only have students one more day this week after today! We are learning about apples right now and it's exciting watching them just soak up new information.

This weekend - I am getting my hair cut and dyed! I am so ready.  I haven't been since April.  My hair is a weird color and it needs to go.  And my hair has hit the length where I'm always like CHOP IT OFF! I can't decide if I want to do 3 inches or four.  I know I want a dark brown color with no red hints.

This month - Louisville! A family friend is getting married and I am headed down with my parents.  A whole weekend child and husband free!! WOOO.  I am stoked to hang out with some friends and drink and read! And not be in charge of anything! I'm also excited for our family pictures! But I need to figure out what we are wearing!

This year - My bff is getting married! I can't wait.  I am so excited for her!

What are you looking forward to?