Friday, November 30, 2018

Simon and The Bear

I was at the library yesterday looking for some new books for the kiddo and I stopped by the Hanukkah display and looked through a few titles.  I find that books are one of the easiest ways to introduce topics and ideas to children and adults! My child LOVES historical fiction and as a result we've gone from a love of Laura Ingalls Wilder to reading Tales from Maple Ridge series about another pioneer boy,  Blast to the Past series -- which has multiple famous people put into stories, the Who Was? series - where she has devoured the stories of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King and Malala Yousafzai.  Of course these have bounced into other books and others.  While she is entertained and improving her reading, she's also learning empathy, struggles of past generations, and how people stood up for themselves.  I'm pretty proud of my kid and my job of leading her to viewing the world as not 'just our way,' but a place where so many viewpoints are and how they get to those viewpoints.

Simon and the Bear caught by eye as it was one of the prominently displayed books, but as soon as I turned the page the illustrations grabbed me.  I didn't pre-screen it, so we sat down to read it last night and wow.   The book starts out with Simon getting ready to leave his homeland and his mom giving him food and a menorah to take with him to the new world.  As he is on a giant ship, it hits a lifeboat and Simon gets the last place.  A man is right behind him wanting on but isn't allowed.  He throws a watch to Simon and asks him to give it to his son when he gets to America so his son can remember him.  Simon who has grown up without a father, knows this is no way to remember a father so he jumps up, gives up his spot and returns the watch to the man.  Right as the ship is about to sink he jumps off and miraculously lands on the iceberg. 

Simon is scared because he is all alone and is sure he will die here.  He remembers it is the first day of Hanukkah and lights his menorah.  Far out in the water he sees the shape of a ghost and a bear appears on the iceberg.  Simon shares food with the bear so that the bear won't eat him.  The bear keeps Simon warm through the night and the next day the bear brings back a fish to share with Simon.  This continues on for a week.  Simon lights the menorah, the bear returns with fish and the days repeat. 

Simon is worried that the bear won't keep returning and that now it is the last night of Hanukkah he won't have light from the menorah.  But a final miracle occurs and a boat has seen his light.  He gets to America and is reunited with the man who took his spot in the lifeboat.  He happens to be the mayor of New York City.  He pays for Simon's family to come to America in first class and gives Simon a job.

Such a beautiful story that incorporates the Hanukkah traditions with a story of hope, empathy, and the rewards of helping others.  The illustrations are TOP NOTCH.  Highly recommend.

What holiday books do you enjoy reading with children? What are your favorite children books currently?

Thursday, November 29, 2018


Reading We Were Liars by e. lockhart.  I'm not really feeling it like I thought I would! Family read is By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the kiddo and me read aloud currently is David's Search by Joan Lowery  Nixon.

Loving all the family time we had this past weekend.  We had lots of time together, just hanging out and and we all also got to have some time doing things we enjoy.

Feeling tired as apparently 3:45 was the time my body wanted to wake up today.  I did fall asleep from about 6:15 to 7:00 but yawnnnnn.

Thinking about what else I need to do for Christmas shopping.  I'm almost completely done and wrapped.  Which is the first time this has ever happened.  I just need to decide what my husband and I are doing for each other officially and I'm holding out to see if the 7 year old changes her mind on anything.  I still need to get her a Santa gift and probably a couple other things from us.  I think I just have my best-friends son, my best-friend, and my daughter's teacher to think about.

Anticipating a big fat bill for my car.  And crossing my fingers that I can get it fixed and not need a new car.  Yesterday, I was driving and I heard a thunk and smoke started coming out.  I was able to pull over and I ended up calling a tow truck because I was scared to drive it.  Which it was a good thing I did because when we got it up on the tow, we could see SOMETHING HAD FALLEN OUT. WTF???? Let's all cross our fingers that isn't too big of a bill.  Or a new car.   We only like to have 1 or 0 car payments at a time.  My husband got a truck a year ago, so we have his payment.  Our house is paid off in August so we were really hoping to not have another car payment for another year or longer!

Watching blackish! I'm in the middle of Season 3.  We got Hulu on Cyber Monday so I'm excited to check stuff out on there.  Oh and Hallmark Christmas movies!

Working on deciding what to do about Christmas cards.  We usually just use a picture of just the child, and we may need to do that this year but we need to get a GOOD picture.  We don't have any family pictures.

Grateful for road side assistance and insurance that covers a tow!

Listening to podcasts! I just started a new one I'm excited about Countdown to Capture  from the Newport Beach Police Department about an actual open case they are trying to solve.  

Wishing that salads tasted like cheeseburgers!

What are you reading,watching, and listening to? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Tony's Wife

I am ever so thankful for my friend Nora, who introduced me to the writing of the lovely Adriana Trigiani.  The first book of hers that I read was Lucia, Lucia on a camping trip and I devoured it in about a day.  I loved the Big Stone Gap series (which I still haven't finished, but I've been trying to get a hold of the third book in the series), and the Valentine series.  If you love books about family, strong women and delicious sounding Italian food, she is your woman!

Tony's Wife covers singer Saverio Armandonada's life starting at age sixteen in Detroit and follows him through his career around the world.  Just before WWII he meets Chi Chi Donatelli when he is visiting the New Jersey Shore, and a relationship blooms.

Saverio struggles with a lot of self-esteem issues relating to a father who was cold and unmoving in his thoughts and beliefs.  This struggle effects all of those in close relationships with him.  He is written in a sympathetic light about the time he seems to grow up while on board a submarine during WWII.   This growing up is short lived and Saverio lives life like a man child while all the women around him do all the hard things.

This is a theme throughout Trigiani's books, where a man messes up and the woman is in control of her life, her children's lives, the cooking, the money, and basically doing all the adulting as the man child runs free.  Chi Chi is no different.  She kicks ass and does so behind the scenes.  She's a song writer, singer, mother, accountant etc. and basically stands up for herself.  Most of the time.

I really enjoyed how the book was split into chapters by different parts of music, since Saverio and Chi Chi are both big band singers.  I loved how it flowed throughout the years and talked about life on the road, etc.  I only got a little irritated at the man child aspect while Chi Chi did it all.  I mean she does it all well and is a great feminist character but I just can't handle the 'prop the man up to the children' even when he's a deadbeat.  I know kids eventually figure it out, but dude let's just all tell the children the truth.   "Your dad is not here because he thinks where ever he is right now is more important." 

Even though this book is close to 500 pages I read it in two days.  It moves fast.  I'd recommend it if you enjoy books that cover a lifetime!

Description: Set in the lush Big Band era of the 1940s and World War II, this spellbinding saga from beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani tells the story of two talented working class kids who marry and become a successful singing act, until time, temptation, and the responsibilities of home and family derail their dreams.

Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio, and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?

From the Jersey shore to Las Vegas to Hollywood, and all the dance halls in between, this multi-layered story is vivid with historical color and steeped in the popular music that serves as its score. Tony’s Wife is a magnificent epic of life in a traditional Italian family undergoing seismic change in a fast paced, modern world. Filled with vivid, funny, and unforgettable characters, this richly human story showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a storyteller and her deep understanding of family, love, and the pursuit of the American dream.

If you are interested in purchasing this for yourself or a loved one for Christmas you can get it from HarperCollins!

Have you read any of Adriana Trigiani's books? Which are your favorite? Who is your favorite singer? What is a book you've read with strong female characters?

I received this book for review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Murder in Her Stocking

I've been on a roll this fall with cozy mysteries.  I've really enjoyed them.  I used to be a huge thriller person, but lately those have irritated me when I read them too often.  Cozy mysteries are apparently my jam, since I am blowing through them.

Murder in Her Stocking by G.A. McKevett is set in McGill, GA.   The Prologue is present day but the bulk of the story is a Christmas thirty years earlier in the 1980s.  The story is told from the perspective of Stella Reid.  It appears this is a spinoff series from the Savannah Reid series by this author. I have not read any of those!

The book starts out by introducing us to small-town Georgia in the 80s.  Stella is walking down the street with her seven grandchildren whom she mentions are all named for cities in Georgia that their delinquent mother has lived.  The time is right before Christmas and we learn about how poor the Reid's are and how neglected they are from their parents.

In a surprising turn of events, there is a murder in this super small town.  The murdered person is someone who didn't have too many friends because she paid a bit too much attention to the married men in town.  Stella injects herself into the investigation with Sheriff Gilford, as one does in small town Georgia and we learn about all the interesting characters in McGill.

This book is funny, quick *read it one day* and gets you invested in the Reid family.  There is a lot of folksy endearments and one liners that at times make it seem like it may be trying too hard,but it works for the book.

If you are looking for a quick Christmas time cozy mystery to snuggle up with I'd recommend it.  Grab some tea and settle in the couch while the snow flies!

DescriptionAs the Moonlight Magnolia Agency revisits old memories on Christmas Eve, Granny Reid takes the reins back thirty years to the 1980s--back when she went by Stella, everyone's hair was bigger, and sweaters were colorful disasters. But murder never went out of style . . .

Christmas has arrived in sleepy McGill, Georgia, but holiday cheer can't keep temperamental Stella Reid from swinging a rolling pin at anyone who crosses her bad side--and this season, there are plenty. First an anonymous grinch vandalizes a celebrated nativity display. Far worse, the scandalous Prissy Carr is found dead in an alley behind a tavern. With police puzzled over the murder, Stella decides to stir the local gossip pot for clues on the culprit's identity . . .

Turns out Prissy held a prominent spot on the naughty list, and suspects pile up like presents on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the more progress Stella makes, the more fears she must confront. With a neighbor in peril and the futures of her beloved grandchildren at risk, Stella must somehow set everything straight and bring a cunning criminal to justice before December 25th . . .

What are some Christmas time books you have read and enjoyed? Have you read any book with an older woman as the main character? What's your favorite beverage to enjoy while winter reading?

I received this book for review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I know it's a day early, but I don't believe I will be in front of my computer tomorrow and I wanted to share the things I'm most thankful for this year.

1. My kiddo - She is my most favorite kid ever.  Every day she is getting older, wiser, more funny and I love it.  We are sarcastic people and now we have a very sarcastic 7 year old.  Which is good and bad.  She is also hysterical but doesn't realize it and gets so mad when we bust out laughing.  I love her to pieces.

2. My husband - He is a rockstar.  He makes me laugh, he let's me be ridiculous, and always tries to make things easier for me.

3.  The library - The keeper of the books! Such a great place in our local community.  It has great FREE programs for all ages and awesome books for free! Love it!

4.  My parents - They do so much for us.  They are our main babysitter when we need one.  They ASK to have our child over and they truly cultivate a relationship with her.

5.  My kids teacher - She is amazing.  She works hard, long hours and is always looking for new ways to engage students.  She's calm, loving, and I know she cares for my kid.

Among other things include the typical --- my warm house, heat, blankets, and my husband's jobs. 

I hope those who celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow have a wonderful time.  What are you most thankful for this year?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Recent Library Haul

I have been in a major reading slowdown lately and I need to push through it.  It has NOT slowed down my library visits and collecting of library visits that I keep renewing and then have to return and they may not have been read.  Whoops.  Some day I'll get back to it.  Maybe.

Today's visit was for the 7 year old.  She wanted the next book in a series she is reading and I thought I better grab just a couple more before she is off school for a longer break.  Not that we don't have enough books here already. :)

Molly & Mae looks like it's a good book on friendship, so I grabbed it for us to read together.  The Three Little Superpigs is purely because I love all variations of the three little pigs! She is loving the Blast to the Past series and is now on to book three.  We just started reading Meet Addy from the American Girl series so I'm hoping that series will be a win for us too.  I grabbed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because we watched Willy Wonka 2 weeks ago and she loved it, so I thought I'd grab the book.  We've read a few of Dahl's books before but she didn't really care either way about them. 

I am currently finishing up The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin from the library and then I need to read Tony's Wife and Murder in her Stocking for reviews.

What are you reading this week? What are your latest library reads? Do you like Roald Dahl books?

Friday, November 16, 2018


After last Friday's snow, it pretty much went away and I saw sun once this week.  Then yesterday it snowed during the afternoon and covered the ground.  Then over night a winter wonderland occured.  I can appreciate the beauty of the snow on the trees but I'm already over the ugly slushy crap.  I shoveled this morning and then came in to enjoy a hot cup of coffee while looking out at the snow.  My favorite way to enjoy this crappy season.  Also, if I see one more meme telling me how I should find joy in the snow or I will have less joy in my life I'm going to show them where they can shove their MLM side hustle.  :)

My favorite picture from the week:

She was excited to find a unicorn tree!

The high of my week was watching my girl at swim lessons this week.  She's doing so well.  I hope it's something she will keep liking and enjoy doing.

The low of my week was  the constant cold feeling that stays with me from late October to mid-April.  Why do I live here? See also - my favorite past time is to look for vacations or lake homes.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday - Beef Enchiladas, and Spanish Rice
Tuesday -  leftover enchiladas and spanish rice and a salad
Wednesday -  we went out for a wings/beer special and also split a bbq flatbread
Thursday -  Cheese Ravioli and roasted broccoli and cauliflower

We hadn't made enchiladas in awhile and they were delicious! I am going to need to make chicken ones soon.

What I’m listening to  Christmas music and podcasts.  My favorite listens of the week were Episode 2 of Atlanta MonsterChapter 2 The Change from The Wilderness Podcast and Annotated's episode The Patron Saint of Libraries.  

What I’m watching Blackish!  I only have 2 epsiodes left in season 2!

What I’m reading: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin .  I need to finish that this weekend because I got Tony's Wife by Adriana Trigiani in the mail and I can't wait to read that!

My plans for the weekend include we have ideas for tomorrow but no firm plans.  It basically depends on weather and a few outside factors.  We are thinking about attending the Santa Parade and/or the last weekend of the season for our favorite local cider tasting room.  We will watch football and we may or may not have people over tomorrow night since a friend is in town.  Sunday we have a funeral and visitation that will take up most of our day.  Tonight we will probably do a friday night date night at home movie again.  Debating between a Hallmark Christmas movie or Fiddler on the Roof.  It's my night to pick!

What are you listening to? What are you reading?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bookish Quotes

I love quotes.  When I was younger I would write quotes in notebooks all over.  Then I would copy and paste them into a massive Word Document and print them out and hang them everywhere.  As an adult I buy sayings and hang them on my wall.  Set them on my mantle. But them on my bookshelves.  And now I've come full circle and started writing them in my notebook I carry around with me.  This time I'm just focusing on book quotes.  Sometimes to remind myself I want to include it in a review, or share it with a friend, or just because I feel so much YES YES YES about a statement.  I've filled up a page in my notebook, since I started copying them down and decided I would share them here since I've done nothing with them. :)

"A trigger - happy government.  Suspicious of everyone, regardless of citizenship.  No, not citizenship, she corrects herself, race. " Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

This quote is in regards to the German government at the onset of WWII.  I loved this fictionalized tale on the way the Hindenburg may have met its fate. 

"But Clara had her own little secret.  She didn't really let go of everything.  Most things, yes.  But some she secretly held and hugged and would visit in moments when she needed to be comforted by the unkindness of others." Still Life by Louise Penny

This quote is just dark enough to be so so true about moments of self-doubt and loathing.  It's from the first book in the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny.  Highly recommend!

"You do not let them win.  Not ever. There is nothing in the world they like more than tearing a woman down for having too much courage.  And there is nothing in the world that makes them angrier than not being able to break her.  A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

Feminist Romance novels for the win!

Description: Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren
Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke
The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town
Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much..

"Most Americans understand that being born in the United States, with all opportunities that entails, is a matter of sheer serendipity.  Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

So much yes.  If you haven't read Enrique's Journey which details a VERY young child sneaking into the United States to join his mother in America. 

Do you collect quotes? What are some of your favorite bookish quotes?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Premeditated Peppermint

Premeditated Peppermint came to me at the perfect time.  I've got an evening peppermint tea problem and the peppermint candies this book kept mentioning fit right in.  I may have convinced my husband to even try the peppermint bark recipe that was shared at the end of the book!

This is the third book in Amanda Flower's Amish Candy Shop series.  It definitely was a stand alone book if you are in the mood for a cozy Christmas mystery.  I actually picked up the first in the series today from my library, Assaulted Caramel!

Premeditated Peppermint finds chocolatier Bailey King preparing for her town's Christmas Market.  Bailey has recently moved to Harvest, Ohio to help her Amish grandma run their candy shop after her grandfather's passing.  While Bailey never grew up Amish her grandma and her cousin Charlotte who works in the shop are Amish, as are most of the town's residents.  

Bailey is surprised with a visit from chef Eric Sharp from New York, who brings a television crew to film a Christmas special starring ----- Bailey! Shocked, and a bit peeved to see Eric, Bailey struggles to figure out what she wants for herself now that she is helping her grandma with her shop and left the big city life behind her.  

Another shock has someone dead and Eric the suspect.  Bailey helps out the local deputy in piecing together who was where at the time of the murder and who would have motive.

This book was a quick read with a nice plot.  The characters were fun and there was a bit of humor that reminded me of the Stephanie Plum series that I love so much.  If you are looking for a cozy mystery this winter or a nice holiday read -- pick this one up!

And like I said, I've already checked out the first book in the series from the library.  I also found another series of Flower's that has an Amish aspect to it, A Plain Death, and checked it out too!  We all know how much I love my series reads!

What's your favorite holiday read? Do you have a favorite holiday drink or treat you make?

I received this book for review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Friday, November 9, 2018


Well, we woke up to our official first sticking snow this morning.  In positive news, just 136 days until my behind is in a beach chair on a WARM BEACH.  The weather in Alabama better cooperate for me! Since, I will also be turning 35 while we are there this spring!

My favorite picture from the week:

My girl earned Crazy About Reading Day and chose to dress up as Laura Ingalls as her favorite book character! I'm pretty proud of my braids!

The high of my week was having the kiddos conference and hearing how great she is doing in school. :):

The low of my week was  snow.  Damn winter.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday - Steak, sweet potatoes, and applesauce
Tuesday -  Skillet Chili Mac and Cheese, salad, garlic bread
Wednesday - Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, and Toast
Thursday -  Tuesday's leftovers
Friday -  Pizza!

The Chili Mac hit the spot this week with the colder weather.  Plus, it makes enough for at least two meals!

What I’m listening to   podcasts of course! Up and Vanished is new to me and I'm liking it.  Still really enjoying Slow Burn.

What I’m watching Blackish!  I'm about half-way through Season 2.

What I’m reading: Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower which is a cozy mystery set in Amish country and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  Really liking both! Hopping to get some tea and reading time in this weekend!

My plans for the weekend include tonight the kiddo is having a friend over for a sleepover.  The husband and I are going to watch Tombstone and have pizza and pop when they go to bed.  Probably need to clean out the garage this weekend so I can park in it again since it is snowing, and on Sunday we are making homemade Clam Chowder, since my husband has now dubbed it Soup Sunday!

What are you listening to? What are you reading?

Monday, November 5, 2018

What I've Read Recently..

I have been doing a lot of read togethers with the 7 year old of middle grade novels and I'm loving it.  I've sorta struggled with adult books lately, so it's nice to be finishing something and having the kiddo be so into reading and writing stories! It's like myself 27 years ago!

I slowed down a bit in October and 'only' finished five books.  I loved Forever Fudge and Freedom Train.  Freedom Train is a middle grade novel about a young boy whose brother is a solider who guards the Freedom Train.  The train is traveling to all 48 states and will stop in Atlanta.  When it does, Clyde (main character) is expected to deliver a speech and he stutters when nervous and talking in front of large crowds.  He gets bullied a lot and a young black boy sticks up for him.  When Clyde's dads boss tries to get his new friend kicked out of his house due to his race, Clyde has some big choices to make. 

Will's Choice was a middle grade novel that I read together with the kiddo.  It is the second book in the Orphan Train series.  For any adult who liked the book Orphan Train, this series for kids is a good one.  It follows different orphans that were on the trains.  We also finished Aggie's Home, which is the 4th book in the series.  It was probably my favorite so far because it includes feminist characters and about women's right to vote.

Southernmost was a novel about an evangelical preacher from the south who realizes that all the judgment that his church and parishioners are doling out towards gay people is wrong, and when he tries to be more publicly accepting it turns his whole life upside down.  He gets a divorce and his wife gets a southern judge to award her majority custody because there is something clearly wrong with the preacher.  He makes a few questionable choices and the book follows how he changes his viewpoints and how it changes his life.

Wicked City was not anything I'd recommend. 

In 1955, Look magazine called Phenix City, Alabama, "The Wickedest City in America," but even that may have been an understatement. It was a stew of organized crime and corruption, run by a machine that dealt with complaints forcefully and with dispatch. No one dared cross them-no one even tried. And then the machine killed the wrong man. 

When crime-fighting attorney Albert Patterson is gunned down in a Phenix City alley in the spring of 1954, the entire town seems to pause just for a moment- and when it starts up again, there is something different about it. A small group of men meet and decide that they have had enough, but what that means and where it will take them is something they could not have foreseen. Over the course of the next several months, lives will change, people will die, and unexpected heroes will emerge-like "a Randolph Scott western," one of them remarks, "played out not with horses and Winchesters but with Chevys and .38s and switchblades.

Our October book club pick was The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.  It is based upon the author's families real life history with the Salem Witch Trials.  A lot is fictionalized but some of what is included is from family lore and the actual documents that surived.  The main character is Sarah Carrier, who was arrested along with most of her siblings and her mother.  The book covers right before the witch trials and a little after.  It was really good!

What have you recently read and loved? What are you currently recommending?