Sunday, March 31, 2013

Catching Up On Sunday

Happy Easter, Happy Passover to those who celebrate!! We are finally getting some warmer weather here and it's especially nice to have sunshine! I'm anxious for the new season of Call the Midwife to start tonight on PBS. Does anyone else watch it? I'm a fan of the British PBS shows, there is nothing in comparison in the US, in my opinion. 

This week, my son and I were on spring break and we had an easygoing week which was nice. We both needed the break. Fortunately, we only have 9 more weeks of the school year until summer. 

This week on the blog:

On Monday I posted my Mailbox Monday and new books I received.

I am reading The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister and posted a Tuesday Intro

I posted a review on Where'd you go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Saturday, I posted a Saturday Snaphot

I updated my facebook page for Redlady's Reading Room and added a link on my sidebar to the right. Please follow me there. 

Giveaway for ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes has been extended until April 14th, 2013. US only.  Please go here to enter, or link on the sidebar to the right. 

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Snapshot

I took this picture last summer, at a duck pond near where we live. It's actually set nicely among outlet stores and is a nice quiet spot to watch or feed the ducks. We often ride our bikes here in the summer. It's not warmed up here enough for spring, the trees are bare and the skies are gray. This picture reminds me of how much I'm looking forward to the blue skies, sunshine, flowers and green of the trees. Spring, where are you?! 

 (Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go Bernadette is a unique, humorous and fun story. It is told from the perspective of Bernadette's teen-aged daughter Bea who is considered mature and smart beyond her years. The story is told in epistolary fashion through letters and email switching to Bernadette's perspective and it also included her father Elgie and a few other interesting characters. The story is set in Seattle where Bernadette is an antisocial mom married to Elgie who is a workaholic at Microsoft. The book pokes a bit of fun at Seattle, Microsoft, rich entitled kids and their families and private schools. I appreciated the fresh style and humor of the book.  I found myself laughing at many of the  outlandish situations Bernadette gets herself into that are for the most part, unrealistic, although very funny. 

I listened to the book as an audio book (loaned from my local library) and found it worked well in this format. I listened to it in my car on my commute to and from work and looked forward to driving so I could listen to the book. The narrator Kathleen Wilhoite made the audio book work perfectly for me. Kathleen was a character on Gilmore Girls, a favorite show of mine. For those who are fans of the show, Kathleen played Luke's sister Liz. She has the perfect unique voice to fit the characters. 

This was an enjoyable, fun and engaging book. I'd highly recommend this novel in either audio or print editions. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Intros~ The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

Every Tuesday Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph where we share the first paragraph or two of a book we are reading or thinking about reading soon.  Feel free to grab the image and participate. 

My Tuesday Intro Pick is The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister. I read and loved Erica's first book The School of Essential Ingredients, (read my review here) so I knew that I had to read  the sequel.  It's actually one of my favorite books and I featured it in my new blog header at the top of my blog. You can see the book featured on my favorites bookshelf, right in the middle! I am reading an e-galley on my kindle and it's already pulled me in. Since I am on spring break this week, I expect to finish it quickly. Although this may be the kind of book that I don't want to end quickly. 

Here are the first two paragraphs from an excerpt posted on the authors website, go here to read the rest of the excerpt. 


Lillian stood at the restaurant kitchen counter, considering the empty expanse in front of her. It was a Monday morning at the end of December and the restaurant held the calm that occurred only after the onslaught of holiday feasts, the culmination of a culinary season that began in the fall. In those months of ever shorter days, sometimes the only ingredients Lillian’s customers could be bothered to take from their own kitchen cabinets were boxes of macaroni and cheese, bread for toast, and the restaurant provided both memory and inspiration—golden half-globes of squash awash in butter, a lamb shank braised with the patience it would take to get through winter. After the exhilaration that was summer in the Pacific Northwest, autumn was like the sigh of an adolescent who realizes he must indeed grow up. It was Lillian’s job to remind the people who sat at her tables that being an adult, the passing of a season or a year, was about more than just being older.
Still, Lillian thought, sometimes it was nice to be in the hush of an empty kitchen, without the heat of the ovens, the extra bodies of prep cooks and,dishwashers and bussers and servers. This was what fed her—this moment of stillness, the long, cool stretch of the counters and the give of the thick rubber mat beneath her feet.

What do you think? Would you keep on reading 
or move on to something else?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mailbox Monday

~Mailbox Monday~

Is a place for readers to share what books came into their house last week and explore great blogs!

(March host is Caitlin at Chaotic Compendiums)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Catching Up On A Sunday

It's later than usual for my Sunday Post but as you can see I have a "New Look" here on the blog! I've been wanting to change things up and finally worked on it today. I took a picture of some of my favorite books for my header picture...can you see the titles? I thought that was fitting for a header picture. I am still tweaking things as the background color is a bit too pink for me, I wanted it more red/burgundy and I'm not sure about the font. I'd love your honest feedback...even if you don't like something I want to hear it! 

I have some reviews to write up this week and I'm on spring break this coming week with my son which is exciting! I really needed the break, I think I have tendonitis in my shoulder from all the typing I did on the reports I had due by Friday. I work in special education and there were 14 students that had evaluation reports due. I have to look into some options as I use a laptop and ergonomically it's not the best. A coworker uses her ipad and I'm considering that as an option. I even went out and bought a Brookstone Portable Laptop Desk today at Bed, Bath & Beyond with my handy 20% off coupon and am not sure how much I like it yet. I will give it a try and will even try to use it for kindle and book reading. Does anyone use a laptop desk? How are you blogging using your laptops? Or do you use ipads? 


Don't forget to sign up for a giveaway I am hosting to win a copy of: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, ends on March 31st. Click on the book cover below to enter:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Snapshot

Menongahela Incline- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

My husband took this picture of the Menongahela Incline at the top of the cliff before we would take the trip down to the city in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Wikipedia  states that this Incline was built in 1870. It is also "the oldest continuously operating funicular in the USA. Yes, I had to look up funicular, Wikipedia states 

"funicular, also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on railsmoves them up and down a steep slope; the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalance each other."

What amazed me is that the incline is essentially built into a mountain called Mount Washington. Many people live atop Mount Washington and take the Incline daily to work in the city below. We spoke to a few people who took the incline daily, they work at Station Square, a shopping area you can see by the river front. It is a beautiful view of the city when you are going down the incline. If you have a fear of heights, it may be a challenge although there are seats that face away from the view of the city. This was taken last May when my sweet husband planned a weekend getaway for our family to celebrate my birthday. He rarely plans any trips like this so it was pretty special. He also made reservations at an Inn to stay overnight and we visited Fallingwater which I posted about last year. It was a place that we both had wanted to visit for a long time and we had a nice weekend. 

(Saturday Snapshot is posted by Alyce from At Home With Books)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Intros~ Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Every Tuesday Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter, First Paragraph where we share the first paragraph or two of a book we are reading or thinking about reading soon.  Feel free to grab the image and participate. 

My Tuesday Intro Pick is Daring Greatly by  Brené Brown. I recently watched a few videos of  Brené Brown's and two of her TED talks. I liked her authentic style and sense of humor and the message she shared. I picked up a copy of her newest book, Daring Greatly at the library and just started reading it. Brené Brown was also on the OWN show Super Soul Sunday this past Sunday which I have recorded on my DVR but have not watched yet.  
"THE phrase Daring Greatly is from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.” The speech, sometimes referred to as “The Man in the Arena,” was delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910. This is the passage that made the speech famous:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.…”
The first time I read this quote, I thought, This is vulnerability. Everything I’ve learned from over a decade of research on vulnerability has taught me this exact lesson. Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.
Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection. "

 What do you think? Would you keep on reading 
or move on to something else?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mailbox Monday and It's Monday...What Are You Reading?

~Mailbox Monday~

Is a place for readers to share what books came into their house last week and explore great blogs!

(March host is Caitlin at Chaotic Compendiums)

 The Island Girls by Nancy Thayer and Copycat by Gillian White from Netgalley

We discuss books that we've read and 
what we are planning to read for the week.

What I read and wrote about last week:

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

*Giveaway posted for: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, go here to enter

Reading this week: 

The Good House by Ann Leary (Audio Book) 

A Year at 32 September Way by Mary Ylisela (Kindle)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Giveaway: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes


(On-sale: December 31, 2012; Pamela Dorman Books/Viking; 978-0-670-02660-9; $27.95) is an emotionally powerful tale of an unlikely love affair between two people who represent each other’s last hope. Like Love Story and One DayME BEFORE YOU will remind readers that sometimes the best love stories aren’t fairy tales.  When it was published in the UK earlier this year, it became a word of mouth sensation and then a major bestseller. Its phenomenal success in the UK is only the beginning; so far, translation rights have been sold in twenty-eight countries. Readers in the U.S. will easily fall in love with the novel’s true-to-life characters and heart-breaking love story.


JOJO MOYES is the author of The Last Letter from Your Love. Her follow-up, ME BEFORE YOU, was a Top 3 bestseller in the UK (12 weeks on the bestsellers list), a Richard and Judy Pick, a World Book Night Pick, and National Book Award nominee. She is a writer for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail.  She currently lives with her husband and their three children on a farm in Essex,England.

ME BEFORE YOU Book Club Kit: Everything you need to make your next meeting a smashing success!

 ME BEFORE YOU Inspirational E-Cards:
 Live BoldlyWear Those Stripy Legs with PrideDon’t SettlePush Yourself, and Just Live Well

ME BEFORE YOU Video: The Novel Women Everywhere are Talking About


I have ONE Galley Copy to give away complements of  The Penguin Group (USA)

This is open to *US ONLY, NO PO Box Numbers* by request of the publisher.

To Enter: All you need to do is leave a comment with your email address so that you can be contacted if you are the winner. If there is no email, entry will not be allowed. One Winner will be chosen randomly from entries. 

*Enter by April 14, 2013*

Catching Up On A Sunday

   (Picture one)

I'm surprising myself at the ease that I've been able to get back into blogging. I've posted more than I expected to this week and I even stopped and visited some blogger friends and commented! I've been experimenting with PicMonkey thanks to Staci who recommended this site awhile ago to make my own pictures and headings for the blog. It's very user friendly and I've had some fun with designing some new things. I've made two pictures for my Catching Up On A Sunday post and would love to hear your honest opinion of which one you like better or fits the blog. They are both pictures of books from my own bookshelves. There is picture one, above that has a more faded, rustic polaroid look. There is picture two, below that I posted last week:

(Picture two)

Please share your comments as to which one you like better, be honest!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

Debbie Macomber novels have always been favorites for me, go to novels that are easy, comforting reads with great characters and beautiful settings in the Pacific Northwest.  The Inn at Rose Harbor is a new series with characters and stories set in a charming bed & breakfast in Cedar Cove. The owner is new to the area and recently purchased the inn after suffering a loss in her life and wanting a new start. The running of the inn helps her to heal while the guests that visit have their own issues to work through during their stays. For me, I found the story a bit similar to other novels written by the author even the setting of Cedar Cove was familiar. That may be comforting to regular readers of Macomber's novels. The novel was mainly about issues related to grief and grieving the characters were dealing with over loss or death in their lives. The ending was a bit rushed and the characters problems were resolved with unrealistic simplicity. Macomber's books are usually feel good books, this is a quick read that may pull at your heartstrings. Personally, I didn't find the kind of characters that I usually find in Macombers book. Those kind of friends that you could imagine befriending. This just didn't work for me as the plot was a bit grim and depressing, the characters didn't draw me in and it ended too simplistically for my liking.  

Here are a few reviews that you can read that share a different perspective:

*An e-galley copy of The Inn at Rose Harbo was kindly provided for me to review through NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group

Saturday Snapshot~ Double Sunset

This photo was taken by my husband last fall as the sun was setting. We loved the effect of the double sunset as the setting sun reflected upon the lake. This was taken at one of our favorite places, a park with a beautiful lake and walking trails around it. It's very peaceful to walk there. We are looking forward to the end of winter so we can spend more time there walking the trails and enjoying the peaceful sounds and sights of nature. 

(Saturday Snapshot is posted by Alyce of At Home With Books)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Intros- A Year at 32 September Way

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea
posts the opening paragraph (or two) of a book 
she is reading or thinking about reading. 
Feel free to grab the image and participate.

This is my first time participating in Diane's First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros. I thought it sounded fun and interesting to see what others are reading and how that first paragraph can effect a reader. My Tuesday Intro Pick is A Year at 32 September Way by Mary Ylisela. I just started reading this with my online book club this month on my kindle. The beautiful cover art, the characters living in Italy for a year, all drew me in. I've been doing a lot of armchair traveling lately. 

Chapter 1 
Carlisle read the email one last time while nervously nibbling the last bit of nail from her index finger. Her eyes deftly scanned the message for a sign that the decision she was about to make was the right one. As promised, Signor Benedetto had sent her the email two days ago to confirm her apartment lease for one year starting in September. Since then it had sat unopened in her inbox while Carlisle hemmed and hawed about whether or not she should go. That is, until this morning. Moving to Italy for a year was a big step but she’d come to the realization that, at this point in her life, she had nothing left to lose. 
Her eyes glanced over the body of the email once more in between sips of steaming hot coffee. Signor Benedetto outlined the basics of the lease agreement in perfect English, unlike the garbled, hard-to-understand correspondences she’d received from other potential landlords. At the bottom of the email was the address of the apartment she’d live in: 
Via Settembre 32 
Verona, Italia

Would you continue reading this 
based on the opening paragraphs?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Blackberry Winter

I must start by telling you that Sarah Jio is one of my new favorite authors. When I read her books, they sweep me in and I am immersed into the story being told. Blackberry Winter weaves two stories together both set in Seattle, 70 years apart. Two women, Vera and Claire who both suffer losses that are unimaginable, are connected in an amazing way. We walk beside them as a reader and I found myself captivated by their stories. The Seattle setting is beautiful, as we are taken through the streets and the times of both characters. I was not familiar with the term Blackberry Winter although living in the Midwest I can imagine it occurring. As you read, you unravel the connection these two women have and how they help each other in ways that are touching beyond measure as mothers who have suffered losses. Sarah Jio has the ability to tell a story that draws the reader into that world and you care deeply for the characters on the pages. She has done this in every book she has written and I highly recommend them all. I recommend Blackberry Winter for anyone who is a fan of Sarah Jio's writing, as well as for those who enjoy a well written tale of suspense. 

*An egalley copy of Blackberry Winter was kindly provided to me through Edelweiss and Plume Paperback

Mailbox Monday

~Mailbox Monday~

Is a place for readers to share what books came into their house last week and explore great book blogs!

(March Host is Caitlin at Chaotic Compendiums)

I found the first two books The Gilly Salt Sisters and Angel Falls at Half Price Bookstore on their $1 Bargain shelf. I was thrilled to find them both for such a great bargain. Since I am trying to read more from my shelves, I didn't feel too bad about adding two more books at such a great bargain. I also sold a bag of books that I had already read and have more books ready to go to the library for donation. I grabbed Love Water Memory  from Netgalley as I am a fan of Jennie Shortridge's books. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Catching Up On A Sunday

As I shared yesterday, the blog has been quiet here and I took a blogging break. My plan is to get back into regular blogging. I've missed it and writing about books and other things as well as connections with the wonderful people that I have met through blogging. I have been reading, although not as much and I plan to change that as well and read more. My focus will be  on reading books of my own choosing and not being pressured to review books on a deadline. So, I will be very selective about what I write about in my reviews. I believe I was also struggling with burnout and writers block. I felt pressure to write reviews and my focus now will be on quality reviews/thoughts on books that are short and to the point.  

I have dealt with some health issues that have taken my focus away from many things. I am still dealing with this but realized that I need to focus on things that I enjoy and find that balance. Reading and books have always been my favorite things and they bring me joy and happiness so I plan to focus on that along with my's all about balance! As an Occupational Therapist, I started a new part time job, this past fall and work with preschoolers. Besides being exposed to a lot of germs, I have enjoyed the sweetness of these little ones. Early intervention is so important with special needs children. 

I appreciate those who are still checking my blog and commenting, your support means a lot to me. I've stayed connected to many bloggers through facebook and I've started visiting blogs today and plan to continue that. 

I will share with you what I am reading and I plan to start posting reviews of some of the books that I have been reading. 

Currently Reading:

Currently listening to on audio book

*Note: The Catching Up On Sunday banner at the top of this post is my own creation from a photo of my own bookshelves.