Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Last Town on Earth

I was introduced to Thomas Mullen by my friend Alli who suggested Darktown by him, but when I went to my library that wasn't in so I got The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers and The Last Town on Earth which he also wrote.  I read Firefly brothers first and that was super good! I enjoy historical books that have a bit of truth but a lot of the authors imagination involved and he delivers.

The Last Town on Earth is set in Washington during 1918.  The Great War is on in France and and the Spanish Flu is raging around the globe.  Commonwealth is a town in the state of Washington that was started by Charles Worthy and his wife, Rebecca, who is a political activist.  They own a mill and he believes in fair wages and treating workers with respect. 

The town decides that they will cut themselves out from the rest of the world to try to keep the flu away from them.  They close off the road to town and set out guards to keep people away.  Anyone who wants to leave can leave, they just will not be allowed to re-enter until after the quarantine is lifted.

As the quarantine continues and food supply starts to shrink and the townspeople start to learn some interesting traits about themselves and their neighbors.  Was the quarantine the best solution? Would they do it again?

It brings up a lot of questions to think through and would be a great book for discussion.  I liked that it took ideas from the time (Great War, Spanish Flu, women's right to vote, patriotism, unionizing, etc) and put a personal spin to the situation.  And I liked that the characters were developed enough to re-think some of their past choices and see how what they did had a domino affect on others in the community.

DescriptionSet against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced-the 1918 flu epidemic-Thomas Mullen's powerful, sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval. 
Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For Philip Worthy, the adopted son of the town's founder, it is a haven in another sense-as the first place in his life he's had a loving family to call his own. 
And yet, the ideals that define this outpost are being threatened from all sides. A world war is raging, and with the fear of spies rampant, the loyalty of all Americans is coming under scrutiny. Meanwhile, another shadow has fallen across the region in the form of a deadly illness striking down vast swaths of surrounding communities. 
When Commonwealth votes to quarantine itself against contagion, guards are posted at the single road leading in and out of town, and Philip Worthy is among them. He will be unlucky enough to be on duty when a cold, hungry, tired-and apparently ill-soldier presents himself at the town's doorstep begging for sanctuary. The encounter that ensues, and the shots that are fired, will have deafening reverberations throughout Commonwealth, escalating until every human value-love, patriotism, community, family, friendship-not to mention the town's very survival, is imperiled. 
Inspired by a little-known historical footnote regarding towns that quarantined themselves during the 1918 epidemic, "The Last Town on Earth" is a remarkably moving and accomplished debut.

Have you read any historical fiction recently? Any that you'd recommend? What are your thoughts on quarantining a community when there is a mass outbreak of illness? Do you think that it is wise? UnAmerican?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Not Quite Narwhal

Since our children section in the library is back in action we got visited and got books last week.  My kiddo is in full on unicorn obsession mode and this book had a cute cover and beautiful illustrations so I convinced her to give it a try.  (SHE HATES WHEN I TRY TO GIVE TOO MUCH ADVICE on book picking ha).  


Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima is a winner! My seven year old could read it on her own, but she enjoyed it more when I read it to her.  (As did I).

Kelp is a little different from his family of narwhals.  He can't swim as well, his tusk isn't as long, and he's not a fan of the narwhal diet.  No one in his family ever makes him feel bad about himself, but he just doesn't feel like he fits in.  And I'm sure we all have felt that way at one point or another.

One day the current pulls him away and he ventures on to land where he meets unicorns and realizes that he's actually been a unicorn his whole life and the traits that made him a lousy narwhal were on par with other unicorns.

He misses his family and then he goes back and tells them he realized he was a unicorn.  His family responds that they KNEW but loved him anyway.  SO FREAKING CUTE!!!

I really like it and will probably be gifted to a few other unicorn loving kiddos I know on their upcoming birthday's.

The message is great and the illustrations are too! Definitely check this one out if you need a cute story or have a unicorn lover too.

Have you read any great children's books lately? What is a book you usually gift?

Friday, June 8, 2018

TGIF!

It's been awhile since I was able to post one of these!  I tend to remember them on Monday's or Tuesdays ha.

The high of my week was painting part of the outside of our house.  Our house was built in two parts a decade or so apart.  So the bottom have has a concrete look and above is siding.  The concrete part REALLY needed a paint fix up so we painted it on Tuesday after about a week of postponing due to weather.  Hopefully weather permitting this weekend we can do the floor of our porch and the tops of our steps! It looks so good now and starts the slippery slope of now our siding looks like it needs a touch up! New siding is a wish list, but first comes our central air (being installed NEXT FRIDAY), then new windows.. then dealing with siding and or an addition.


we also took a trip to one of our favorite local places after school this week



The low of my week was the slow process after you've gone so long neglecting yourself via eating/working out and no immediate improvements.  



my mug after a walk this week

The book I am reading is The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen.  I went to start this last week but had to finish another book for the library first.  So far I really like it.  It's about a closed off town in Washington State during the flu epidemic of 1918.  

A Recipe I made was Chicken pesto sandwich! I took canned chicken and mixed with with pesto.  I cut up radishes and onions to put it on and then ate it on bread.  It was delicious! I can't wait to make it again this summer and add some mozzarella and tomatoes!

The best money I spent was a new hat for the beach/boat this summer.  I've wanted this hat since I saw it last summer on Zulily and they had it in stock again this year in the color combo I wanted.  I'm excited for it to get here!

My plans this weekend include probably putting up our pool.  We were supposed to have a day date tomorrow going kayaking down the river but the weather is not looking good so we may go downtown and have a few drinks instead.  This is probably one of the last few non-crazy weekends for awhile.  My husband got poison ivy this week so I'm not sure how much more yard work we will get done but we have to finish pulling out a bush/tree for the ac to go next week.  A bonfire if it's not too rainy.  And possibly just having a night sitting on the porch listening to the police scanner and talking.  A lot of this is weather dependent.  If all else fails we may just clean and watch movies ha.


What are you reading? Any fun weekend plans?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Finally!!!

Last June, there was a very sudden rainstorm that drenched our local area.  I forget the specifics but inches of rain fell over night.  We luckily slept through the ENTIRE thing.  We woke up and nothing seemed abnormal to us until we looked out the south side windows of our house.  We were 'lakefront' and we live in farm country ha.  At the corner which is a house away from us the road was under water.  Further down our road it was washed out.  The way I took to get to the main road had lawns covered in water.  We actually had gotten water in the very corner of our basement but wouldn't notice it until later.  Luckily, nothing was damaged.  We were lucky.


In my town, many roads were under water.  Neighborhoods had were full of ruined basements.  Because there was also a sewer backup.  For months, you could be in some neighborhoods and contents would be on lawns.  It was horrific.  Our mall and supermarket parking lots were underwater.  It was just incredibly crazy.  Roads would be open one minute and closed the next.  Our HIGHWAY closed.  It was also the weekend my SIL was getting married and our route was okay on the way there, but coming home we got trapped on a dirt road off a dirt road and powered through because we were looking at MILES of back tracking.  When we got home after her rehearsal our road was closed because water was over a bridge  and THANK GOODNESS we lived on the south side of it or we'd have been out of lock for 48 hours and no wedding clothes. 


this is supposed to be a ditch and then a farm field

This is a lot of backstory to lead up to one of the most devastating community wide losses.  Our local library's lower floor had extensive damage.  The lower level is all of the amazing kids and teens area.  It happened right at the beginning of the summer reading program.  It was over $1.5 million dollars in damage and no insurance covered it at all.  For the past year, we've had a very subdued kids area in an underused room of the library.


this is supposed to be a park/ball field next to the road..

Until this week... It FINALLY RE-OPENED!!! It's not 100 percent finished and books are still being moved in but it's back in business.  You can bet we were there the very next day after school to check it out.

We love the new floors and the new set up.  They reconfigured a few things that just make sense and the teen area looks really neat now too. 

We spent about 40 minutes playing with toys and looking at books.  Also, can I say how much I LOVE our library? My daughter and I are greeted with smiles and even know a few of the employees who greet her by name.  LOVE IT!


The kiddos library selections yesterday

I'm so glad it's back just in time for the summer reading program to start next week!!

Do you utilize your public library? Did you use the library as a child?

Monday, June 4, 2018

Monday Rambles

- Why do people water their sidewalks? Like what a waste.  In the neighborhoods I've been in lately the owners are basically watering the sidewalk and the yard.  Also, WHO CARES SO MUCH ABOUT A LAWN THEY WATER IT??? This is just one of the many reasons I probably cannot live in a neighborhood.

- Why can I not focus on reading lately? I was kicking butt at the start of this year and the last 2 months I can barely get through a book. I keep finding books I want to read though! And I want to be reading the books I've read too.  Why brain, why?


books read in May

- We've been watching old movies lately and trying to incorporate kid friendly movies for the kiddo too.  We've seen Stagecoach, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Hugo, and a few more old westerns.

- What is the appeal of unicorns? Why is my child obsessed?

- I wish campfires did not attach their smoky smell to your hair.  Like I just bathed and now I reek again.  So annoying.

- Lemon in water really is magical.  I can drink so much more water and drink it quicker than if it's just plain.  Though, I will drink warm plain water just as easy as cold flavored.

New books I added to my list after my library visit today ---
The Immortalists by Chloe Benajamin
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn  Ward
Sunburn by Laura Lippman
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

What randomness do you have to share? Did you read any books this weekend that you'd recommend?


Friday, June 1, 2018

Currently

Here's what's up with me currently..

Reading Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon.. it's due at the library Friday so I'm hurrying!!
Loving the weather!!


Feeling so much better now that I quit my job.  I feel like I'm a bit of failure in that aspect because I just quit, but I need to take care of myself and taking care of myself is NOT working full-time busting my ass.  I always wanted to be a boss, and I was.  And now I'm not.  And I'm happier for it.
Thinking about how to revamp my eating to make it healthier but still yummy.
Anticipating the summer with my kiddo! I have big plans for us.


Watching Southern Charm, S.W.A.T. and lots of old movies.
Working on clearing out a bunch of clutter in our house and selling stuff we no longer use.
Grateful for a husband who as much as he can't understand me, allowed me to quit my job to be happier.  He's the best!!!
Listening to an abundance of podcasts! Current faves are The Girl Next Door , Oprah's Super Soul Conversations, and Annotated.
Wishing that our quest to get central air installed this month goes off without a hitch!


What are you reading? 
What are you watching?
What are you loving? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Living in a Book World

Am I the only one that puts themselves into a cast of characters in a book? When I fall in LOVE with a book, I put myself into the setting, maybe as a player in the book or as a character.

I LOVED Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton.  I read this about 10 years ago, but I still think about it and envision a certain neighborhood in my town as where the book would have taken place if it was HERE at the time. 

Summer makes me nostalgic for the book and I honestly think I may need to re-read it this summer, but I'm afraid it will break the spell the book has on me.

But as I walk through this neighborhood looking at the well-kept lawns of the older homes, situated on shaded lots near the local park I just imagine what this neighborhood was like in the 1960s and wonder about the women who probably walked their little ones down to this park and the friendships they forged.  The secrets they kept even from the closest of friends as they watched their babies waddle around and get dirty in the sad. The lives behind those beautiful homes --- who had a drinking problem, a wandering husband, a secret of some sort.  It probably wasn't perfect and ideal, but I'm the voyeur who wants to tour the old homes and think of the people who lived there before.


throw back photo of a visit to said park that puts me into my dream world

Please tell me I'm not alone in this weirdness.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Summer TBR List

Ahhh, Summer! We had 80-90 degree weather all weekend long and so now I'm firmly in the WOOHOO it's Summer state of mind.  

I thought I'd share what is on my radar for reading this summer.  It's my current stack from the library/what I'm keeping my eye out for at the library.



Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon - Recommended to me by Lisa and I just had finished The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by the same author, which was super good! Hits my favorite topics, history and fiction! It's about the people on the final flight of the Hindenburg!

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen - My friend Allie, suggested Darktown by this author and when I went to the library I found two other books by him.  I finished The Many Deaths of the Firefly brothers which was really good.  It was set in the 1930s about brothers who robbed banks.  So I'm excited to check out more by this author!

Still Life by Louise Penny - Lisa also introduced me to the Armand Gamache series.  And I have not read them in order, so this is the first one and I'll be trying to hit up as many as my library has this summer.

Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson - Because it's summer and I love Joshilyn's books! Excited to try this one.

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean - Because what is summer without a little romance? :)

We're Going to Need More Wine  by Gabrielle Union - I've heard great recommendations on various podcasts so I felt summer is a great time to check this one out.

American Lion by Jon Meacham - I've been reading books about presidents and/or their wives recently and this looked like a good one!

I'm also hoping to finally read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, Love and Ruin by Paula McLain, and probably more mystery/thrillers.

What is on your Summer Reading List? What should I add to mine?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Looking Forward

Lately, I've been wanting to write more but felt too exhausted with life to come up with too many of my own thoughts.  So, here's too pre-scripted prompts..

This weekend we actually do not have anything planned, but a lot of our winter weekends have turned into extra chapters read in whatever Little House book we are in and extra episodes of the show.  I'm not quite sure what we will do when we come to an end to both!

This month not much.  February is such a blah month for me and after January felt like 2 years, this seems like this month at least has flown by.

In March my birthday! And the beginning of our road trip for Spring Break.  We will be spending the last bit of the month in Morgantown, West Virginia.  I can't wait!

In April I'm looking forward to our site seeing adventures in Washington D.C.  We have been watching you tube videos and talking about people in history and their memorials to get our daughter excited! 

This spring I'm looking forward to my program ending for the school year session in May.  It's been a very trying first year.  I will be glad to see it be done with!

This summer I'm looking forward to the sunshine! And hopefully visiting lakes and beaches in our pretty state!

What are you looking forward to these days?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Currently

Reading : I just finished The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure.  I'm about to start Longbourn by Jo Baker.

Loving: How obsessed my daughter is with Little House right now.  The books and the TV show.  We have been reading the series as a family read aloud and watching episodes together too!  Also plotting out a road trip to check out the various Laura spots.

Feeling: DONE WITH WINTER.  SO done.

Thinking: about summer and what our plans will be.

Anticipating: spring break and our road trip to Washington D.C.!

Watching: S.WA.T. is my new favorite this year.  I mean Shemar Moore.. :)

Grateful: we've been mostly healthy this winter!

Listening to podcasts.  I just started "My Favorite Murder," and its good!

Wishing: for vacation.  and the sun.

What are you reading, watching and listening to currently?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Because of Winn Dixie

I'm generally not a book after movie person, but I so rarely read middle grade books that I thought it wouldn't matter.  So I recorded the movie and watched it a few years ago.  It's just a glimmer in my memory.  I've owned the book for several years and in December I decided it would be a great last book of the year or a great first book of the year.

First book of the year it was! Such a great quick read.  It would be a great read aloud, which I plan to do with my own daughter after we finish the Little House Series. 

India Opal is a very lonely girl who has just moved to a brand new town with her preacher dad, who she calls, Preacher.  Her mama left and she doesn't really remember her.  Opal lives in a trailer park with no other kids and hasn't made any new friends since she moved.

Enter Winn-Dixie.  Winn-Dixie is a lovable dog that Opal claims one day while shopping in the produce section of the local... Winn-Dixie.  Winn-Dixie brings Opal a bright spot that opens the door to friendships and belonging.

Such a cute tale and I good see glimmers of the movie in the back of my mind as I read.

Definitely recommend!

Are you a book before movie person or does it not matter?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

House Plans

I'm participating in Apartment Therapy's January Cure and today's task is to go through the house and find 3-5 big things in each area to attack this year.  I'm using this things that I need to update/organize better too.  Here is my list.

Entry Way
- Empty/clean/organize the closet
- Look into new tile
- Paint if windows/heating gets done

Living Room
- Empty/clean/organize my catch all drawer/cabinet
- Get bins to organize dvds (and/or get rid of them)
- Get bin to organize blanket area

Dining Room
- Clean Walls / add new photos to wall collage
- Get a system for storing homework/mail that doesn't include my kitchen table / possibly a small desk/table
- Look into getting a new overhead light

Kitchen
- Empty/clean/organize gadget cupboards
- Find a new overhead light
- Get new kitchen blinds

Kid's Bedroom
- Organize closet
- Get carpeting
- Paint/if windows/new heating system gets in

Bathroom Upstairs
- Organize Cabinets
- Clean Walls

Office
- Clean closet shelves
- Clean/organize desk
- Go through filing cabinet

My Bedroom
- Clean Out closet
- Get new comforter
- Go Through sheets

Laundry Room
- Donate the donate bin
- Go through closet
- Organize left over items

Downstairs bathroom
- Paint

Bar/Hang out Area
- Organize the toys

Storage Room
- Go through boxes

This seems super overwhelming but I need to get this house under control.  Our new big projects are to get central air and replace the windows.  We also want to get an estimate on an addition for a master bedroom/bath and deck.  Basically, if that's out of our budget/won't be worth it in our neighborhood we may sell.  However, we do need to do the central air and windows.  And carpet in the living room and bedrooms.  And then the entire house needs painted.  After windows are done we will most likely need to get new siding.  So it's a huge mess.  I suggest we just move.  Since we can do none of the things.   I basically need Fixer Upper to come and completely redo my house for me to even like it.  And that's not going to happen.  I'd rather be in a different neighborhood with a house that is all ready.  The end.

What big house projects are on your agenda this year?


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Best Books Read in 2017

I went through a lot of reading spurts in 2017.  I like different little rituals that I do in different situations.  Listen to a gazillion podcasts? Monday, I go by the most episodes per episode and the least amount of episodes back and forth when I have time to listen.  Tuesday, the latest downloaded episodes and the newest.  Wednesday, I scroll down twice and pick the shortest length podcast.  Thursday, I scroll down once and pick the shortest podcasts.  And Friday, I go to specific podcasts I want to catch up on.  I am a bit weird.  Also, in the card and need a new one? That's one scroll and a random pick.

Around November I decided to help pick up my reading by grabbing one book from the New Section of the library which was a two week check out and one from the Express Section that was a one week section.  I'd say since I read 15 books between November and December it was a good decision. So this new reading ritual (obsession) may be my new thing.

Some of my favorites in 2017 in no particular order...

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
I read this very early in 2017.  I was a super quick read and I wanted to then put it in the hands of all my friends that are going through rough patches and need a little encouragement.

Description: Goodnight Moon is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the "great green room" might have come to be.

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature


Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
I love Laura Lippman's books,  and this one did not disappoint. 

Description: Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected—and first female—state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It’s not the kind of case that makes headlines, but peaceful Howard county doesn’t see many homicides.

As Lu prepares for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. What details might have been withheld from her when she was a child?

The more she learns about the case, the more questions arise. What does it mean to be a man or woman of one’s times? Why do we ask our heroes of the past to conform to the present’s standards? Is that fair? Is it right? Propelled into the past, she discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. Lu realizes that even if she could learn the whole truth, she probably wouldn’t want to


The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Wow.  This was so good.  Such a good book about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley.  An interesting fictional insight into the Jazz Age Paris and the artists they came in contact.  What a time it must have been!


The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh
This was a great book I heard about on one of the Book Riot podcasts and one of my ritual pick ups from the library! Definitely recommend!

Description: Imagine a place populated by criminals-people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who’ve been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime, or just witnessed one. What’s clear to them is that if they leave, they will end up dead.

For eight years, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace—but after a suicide and a murder in quick succession, the town’s residents revolt. Cooper has his own secrets to protect, so when his new deputy starts digging, he needs to keep one step ahead of her—and the mysterious outsiders who threaten to tear the whole place down. The more he learns, the more the hard truth is revealed: The Blinds is no sleepy hideaway. It’s simmering with violence and deception, aching heartbreak and dark betrayals.


The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Ah! I loved this.  It was good ole Karin Slaughter at her best.  If you are into  suspenseful thrillers you need to check it out! I mean any book that has the description.. "Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind."

Beartown by Fredrick Backman
This was probably the book that was recommended the most that I held off the longest.  The description was sort of off putting to me, especially coming after reading A Man Called Ove, which I liked but took a bit to get into!

Refugee by Alan Gratz
This is a middle grade book that I highly recommend! It goes back and forth between 3 young kids in different time periods in different places throughout the world that need to seek refuge in other countries.  It is heartbreaking as hell and it makes you want to throat punch people who do not want to help those less fortunate than us lucky enough to not be a minority, under rule of a dictator or persecuted because of our religion. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
I love The Daily Show.  It's been a nightly ritual going back to 2002.  I was very leery when Trevor took over for Jon Stewart as Jon was my guy for so long.  So I was skeptical, but Trevor is Trevor.  And he's gotten my late night approval.  This collection of essay's of his life growing up in South Africa under apartheid was so damn good.  Highly recommend it and you don't even need to be a fan of the show.  Nothing about his current career is touched upon, but really focuses on his childhood and ridiculous adventures.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

This is so so good.  Highly recommend to all lovers of books.  Especially those of us who write letters to them in our heads or on paper or on the internet.  And you will then need to add 23434234 more books to your TBR list.

Description: A Gen-X librarian's snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.

Librarians spend their lives weeding--not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover's birthday present, stocking stuffer, holiday gift, and all-purpose humor book.


What were some of your favorite reads of 2017? Which book should I pick up next? Did you read any of these picks this year? What were your thoughts?