Review: The Madeleine Project

Clara Beaudoux

on Tour

July 12-18

with

Madeleine Project-Cover

The Madeleine Project

(biography/history)

Release date: September 12, 2017
at New Vessel Press

ISBN: 978-1939931498
288 pages

Website
Goodreads

MY REVIEW

As someone who just decluttered and moved (and needs to continue decluttering), this was an interesting book to read! Imagine finding a storage room filled with someone else’s belongings from a different era… and then imagine tweeting about it! It is an interesting way to glimpse into the life of Madeleine. At times, I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t “click” to enlarge a photo or “click” on a link that was provided (etsy, youtube!), so I did end up going online and finding the songs she linked to (listen while you continue to read!):

I didn’t look for the audio of her interviews with those who knew her, as I don’t speak French, but I am glad that the author went in search of those who knew and remembered Madeleine, as I loved their thoughts about her.  The common thread seemed to be “I wish I had asked her more questions, got to know her better,” which led to, “I wish I knew my own parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents better, had asked them more questions.”  And that made me grateful that in my family we bought both of my parents a Story Worth subscription** so they are receiving weekly emails with questions about their lives which will be compiled into a book at the end of a year.

Ultimately, this book was not fully satisfying to me. I love Twitter, so I am now following #Madeleineproject and the author (@clarabdx) and will check in occasionally.  This book takes you through Seasons 1 and 2 and currently the author is working on Season 4, so I have some catching up to do. I would have loved more of the interaction with other Twitter followers to more fully develop the story of Madeleine and Paris. Unfortunately I don’t read or understand French, and the Storify links don’t translate, so I probably will not delve too much further into the life of Madeleine.

But maybe with all my decluttering, I will create a time capsule of life in the early 2000s that can be discovered by grandchildren in their adulthood. And I will be more purposeful in asking questions and learning about all the people in my life.

**I really should work for Story Worth, because I love it so and recommend it to everyone I know! CLICK Story Worth for more information!

I received a copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review.  I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.  Click below to enter a giveaway!

SYNOPSIS

A young woman moves into a Paris apartment and discovers a storage room filled with the belongings of the previous owner, a certain Madeleine who died in her late nineties, and whose treasured possessions nobody seems to want. In an audacious act of journalism driven by personal curiosity and humane tenderness, Clara Beaudoux embarks on The Madeleine Project, documenting what she finds on Twitter with text and photographs, introducing the world to an unsung 20th century figure. Along the way, she uncovers a Parisian life indelibly marked by European history. This is a graphic novel for the Twitter age, a true story that encapsulates one woman’s attempt to live a life of love and meaning together with a contemporary quest to prevent that existence from slipping into oblivion.
Through it all, The Madeleine Project movingly chronicles, and allows us to reconstruct, intimate memories of a bygone era.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeleine Project-Beaudoux

Clara Beaudoux
is a Paris-based journalist for the France Info news network.
The Madeleine Project has been wildly popular in France.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Clarabdx

In French: on Facebook, The Madeleine Project page,
and the author’s main website

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Buy the book: on Indiebound | on Amazon

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It’s May!

It’s IMPOSSIBLE to land on May 1 and not think of the song from Camelot – the Lusty Month of May (as evidenced by two blog posts in my history referencing the song!). So go ahead, take a minute and have Alexa play it for you or find it on YouTube…

Ok. So I’ll forever think of that and sing it often – in my head and aloud – throughout the month.

Since it’s May, that means it’s TIME FOR A WEDDING!  Last March (2016) Marissa got engaged and dreamed of a destination wedding – so here we go!  She and Adam are celebrating their marriage on Cinco de Mayo in Cancun! How fun. We are all looking forward to warm weather (upper 80s during the day! 70s at night!), family time (every Grimsrud child and grandchild will be there!), and fiestas galore!  I’m hoping I’m not a blubbering fool because it’s going to be a joyous day – so I will do my best not to blubber! I worry about finding words of wisdom or having an eloquent speech, but actually there is lots of life ahead to share wisdom, so I’ll try not to stress about that.

More about the wedding when we get back… it will be a memorable time!

Haven’t done a post in a while, so I’ll just blather on here a bit about what’s been making me happy in these last few months.  So much to be thankful for (always!).

  • We have been searching – first casually and then more seriously – for a new home. It all started with wanting a gas stove.  We tried to see if it would be possible to update the kitchen in our townhome. And then we started dreaming about aspects of our dream homes.  Me, I wanted big windows, lots of light, an open floor plan, not too big but big enough to be able to host gatherings. Chris wanted a fabulous bathroom with tile shower and a glass door and granite countertops. We both wanted that elusive gas stove.  Well, we found it. It’s just big enough for us but with that open floor plan that will make it fun and possible to host Christmas and Thanksgiving and singalongs and game nights and backyard BBQs.  But it’s small enough that we won’t have to spend all our free time taking care of it. It’s just perfect. More on that later, as well!  We will close in June, so this summer will be filled with changes!
  • Movies – not as many of those lately, but we did get to one movie during the International Film Festival. We saw a Romanian film called Two Lottery Tickets. It was a funny little film.  So glad the festival is here in Rochester and so glad that I got to at least one movie.
  • Books – I’m on a bit of a reading streak, so that is fun!  Book Club is meeting MONTHLY so that helps!  Recently we read “The Light Between Oceans,” “Euphoria,”  “Big Little Lies” and “Thirty Rooms to Hide In.”  Next is “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.” I’m also reading “When Breath Becomes Air” for a book club at work. Looking forward to beach book time in Mexico!
  • Food – We haven’t been going to as many restaurants because we are cooking at home! We have now tried Marley Spoon, Hello Fresh, and Blue Apron in the past few months. We are going to stick with Marley Spoon, because all the meals were so very tasty, although the most challenging to make, and you have control over the meals you get (unlike Blue Apron) and have an option for 2 meals in a week rather than 3 (unlike either of the other two).  We find it hard to cook at home 3 days out of a week and most need to be eaten within that time frame. So we have had some really good food at home recently – today we had a spicy rigatoni with lemon ricotta.  Looking forward to cooking on our gas stove in the new house! I do love having the house smell like good food!
  • Wedding Wedding Wedding! – There have been showers, bachelorette parties, a USA wedding, too-many-to-count Mother of the Bride dresses tried on and returned, and the various ablutions that come with a fancy to-do. So that has taken up quite a bit of time recently!  The day-long mermaid themed bachelorette was an incredible time on a beautiful April day (April 1!). We had mimosas in the morning with a Beyonce drag show, failed an Escape Room in the afternoon, had a patio party at Betty Danger’s in the evening and then went clubbing into the wee hours. Oh my. So fun! Looking forward to more such shenanigans in Mexico!

20170325_122050

Be of love (a little) more careful than of anything.
— E. E. Cummings

20170402_101336

May you find many things to be happy about in this Lusty Month of May!

I Promise You This by Patricia Sands

 

I Promise You ThisI am thankful to have been given the opportunity to read the third in the Love in Provence trilogy in advance of release date.  I reviewed Patricia Sand’s first book in the trilogy, The Promise of Provence in July of 2013 (and it is a pretty great review, if I do say so myself, so please click through on this link and re-read it!), so when Emma from Words and Peace sent out an email looking for reviewers for the third in the series, I quickly devoured the second and signed up!   I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  See below for a giveaway so that you can get your own copy!  

Patricia’s books read like travel guides with some plot thrown in.  The descriptions of the locales and the food and the people make it feel as though you’re there!  It helps that I follow Patricia’s Instagram account (@patricialsands) and see her eautiful photos of France and her travels ! Click HERE to see her travel journal and Fall in Love with Provence!  

The second book (Promises to Keep) finds Kat remaining in France with Philippe and exploring their relationship. There’s some drama and intrigue, but nothing scary.  I don’t do scary, after all.  The book ends with a cliff hanger and I Promise You This picks up with Kat returning to her native Toronto to care for her great friend who was in a bad auto accident.

This third and final book in the Love in Provence series has Kat looking in her heart and wondering if she can leave the first and only home she has known for a new life in France. Being in her childhood home while her friend recuperates from her life-threatening accident brings Kat closure – with her ex-husband’s betrayal and with her mother’s death.  She packs up her treasured memories and boxes them for their voyage to her new home in France, wondering if she will ever return.  She is never unsure about her feelings for Philippe and their life together in Provence, even though an old beau professes his feelings.

This is a satisfying  resolution to this story of a woman starting her life over after an emotional crisis. In the first book her mother taught her that “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Her friends taught her to “Take a chance. Make a choice to change your life.” In this final book in the trilogy, her new found friend, Simone, teaches her “Once you choose to do what you really want to do, you will begin living a different kind of life. It will be the life you are meant to be living in that moment of time.”  Kat and Philippe are looking forward with great happiness to opening their Inn, to developing the website blending their love for photography and cheese (Fromagegraphie – love it!).  Their happiness exudes and Kat realizes that home is, truly, where your heart is.  

Kat and Philippe are living the life of their dreams – doing what they love, loving what they do.  Seems like I just read some articles about happiness that insist that very same theme – live authentically! (Like this one and this one!) And here are some quotes:

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Ghandi

“The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.” – HH The Dalai Lama

“Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.” – Helen Keller

As I said earlier, these books read as travel guides and make you yearn for your own travel adventures – thankfully I now have a fresh passport and am always ready!   France is definitely on the list!

Patricia Sands

on Tour

May 17-26

with

I Promise You This

I Promise You This

(women’s fiction)

Release date: May 17, 2016
at Lake Union Publishing

ISBN: 978-1503935723
365 pages

Author’s page | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Suddenly single after twenty-two years of marriage, the calm of Katherine Price’s midlife has turned upside down. Seeking to find her true self, she took a chance on starting over. A year later, she is certain of this: she’s in love with Philippe and adores his idyllic French homeland, where he wants her to live with him.

But all that feels like a fantasy far removed from Toronto, where she’s helping her friend Molly, hospitalized after a life-threatening accident. Staying in her childhood home full of memories, Katherine wonders: Is she really ready to leave everything behind for an unknown life abroad? And if all her happiness lies with Philippe, will it last? Can she trust in love again?

Searching her heart, Katherine finds the pull of the familiar is stronger than she thought. An unexpected meeting with her ex, the first time since his cruel departure, and a stunning declaration of love from an old flame spur her introspection.

With sunlit backdrops and plot twists as breathtaking as the beaches of Côte d’Azur, author Patricia Sands brings her trilogy about second chances to a provocative and satisfying close that proves that a new life just might be possible—if you’re willing to let your heart lead you home.

BOOK TRAILER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I Promise You This Patricia Sands

A confessed travel-addict,
best-selling author
Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada,
when she isn’t somewhere else,
and calls the south of France her second home.
I Promise You This,
is Book 3 in her award-winning Love in Provence series.
Find Patricia on Facebook,
on Twitter
on Instagram
at her Amazon Author Page
or her website

Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases.

Buy the book : Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Amazon.fr | available on Barnes & Noble on May 17

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.

Enter here

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Cookbooks

I certainly don’t cook as much as I used to, and my baking (which I love to do and used to be good at) is often sub-par, but I still love to look through cookbooks! Although I have a cupboard full of them, I use the internet and iPad apps most of the time to search for whatever recipe has the most positive reviews (or has the most ingredients in my house!).  Last night I was at the grocery store trying to figure out what ingredients I would need to make a delicious chicken casserole and I remembered my mom’s recipe from the old Highland Prairie Cook Book.  I did my best guessing and today I pulled it off!

Cook Book Cupboard - well-stocked!

Cook Book Cupboard – well-stocked!

I know that my cookbook cupboard is missing some staples, but I’m thankful that they have traveled with me through the years.

The cookbooks in my cupboard can tell stories, for sure.

  • Some I’ve had since I was a child (Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls),
  • some are discarded library books (Betty Crocker’s International Cookbook, Russian Cookbook, Cookbook of India), 
  • some are books – fiction and non-fiction – filled with recipes (A Homemade Life, Bread Alone, Lunch in Paris),
  • some are basic and standard (Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray),
  • and some are specialty (coffee, chocolate, Christmas, party food, Trader Joe’s).

I have a few years of Eating Well and Cook’s Illustrated magazines tucked up in there, as well. I have one old blank journal that I filled with handwritten recipes, with numbered pages and a typed index in the front and back. Quite a hodge-podge mixture of recipes in there – literally soup to nuts!!   I also have a recipe box which is filled with hundreds of hand-written recipes – mostly desserts and sweets!

In the cookbooks, you can tell the well-loved recipes by the stains on the page. The Gingerbread People recipe in Betty Crocker is on a torn and stained page with notes for future reference – obviously a well-used recipe!  Those old church cookbooks are fun, especially when you know the people who contributed the recipes.  From the Highland Prairie cookbook I always make Karla Holland’s banana bread recipe, Darlene Johnson’s sugar cookie recipe is amazing, and of course, recipes from Mary Jo are delicious! I bookmarked every single rhubarb recipe in there – there are quite a few!  And where else do you find the classic Norwegian recipes or the favorite “funeral sandwich” meat you love?

Today I made these delicious Brownie Cookies at request.  They are delicious.  They’re from the Pioneer Woman website (click here for the recipe), and I wrote it down to share with the requester.  And I’ll write it down for my recipe box – it’s a keeper!

Brownie Cookies - delicious!  An internet recipe

Do you have a favorite cookbook?   What are your favorite cooking apps or websites?

Club Day Chicken ‘N Dressing – Mary Jo Grimsrud, Highland Prairie Anniversary Cook Book 1854-1979

1 (8 oz.) package seasoned bread stuffing
1 stick margarine/butter
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups cooked diced chicken
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
grated cheese (topping)

Mix packaged stuffing with melted butter and water, toss lightly to blend.  Place half of mixture in buttered 12×8 baking dish. Mix chicken, onion, celery, mayonnaise, and salt. Spread over stuffing.  Top with remaining bread mixture. Beat eggs slightly and add to milk.  Pour over bread mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Take out one hour before baking, spread with soup. Bake uncovered at 325 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle top with cheese. Return to oven for 10 minutes.  Serves 8-10.

February Fairly Flew!

Time just keeps “March”ing on, doesn’t it?  Hard to believe we are moving into the end of the first quarter of 2015 – and creeping up on the 6 month anniversary of my wedding/birthday!

So far #marriedlife2015 is just grand.  We both work crazy hours at our job, which means we have random days off during the week and every other weekend off together.  We try to make the most of our time off.  In January, we had a daytrip to LaCrosse, WI where we met Chris’s friend from high school who is moving from Madison to Rhode Island in a few months.  We visited the Dahl Automotive Museum and Pearl Street Brewery, Buzzard Billy’s and the Starllte Lounge and then drove to the Ponderosa for movie time by the fireplace.

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Two weeks later we drove to Madison to see them before Tien moved mid-February.  We weren’t able to make the going away party, so had our own time with them, which was very fun.  Chris and I got there early and enjoyed a Restaurant Week restaurant, a Mustard Museum, and then we enjoyed a pub meal before retreating to their bar for darts and drinks.  Saturday we walked on State Street, went to the Madison Modern Museum of Art and then visited my old “haunts” – Ella’s Deli and Few Street!  Was quite a blast from the past.  My old stomping grounds revolved around a 4 year old, so they weren’t too exciting, but it was a great reminiscence.  We also had a delicious Vietnamese meal before we travelled back to Rochester.  It was a great weekend.  Next time we go there it will be to drop Chris off for his road trip to Rhode Island / New Hampshire with Tony!  Less than a month away!

Mom, Marissa, Gracie and I had a little daytrip to the Cities for Mom’s birthday in early February.  We went to Marissa’s apartment and said hello to the kitties, and then went to an art open house at Pam Weisdorf’s home  Afterwards we had a delicious hibachi meal and avoided all malls.  It was a nice little road trip!

In January, Chris’s new little granddaughter was born – Emilee Ashlyn.  What fun to hold a baby!  And what fun to witness Chris’s discomfort at the same.  He says he’s afraid he’ll drop her. She is a little peanut, but growing every day, as babies are supposed to do.  We took her big sister, Kaydee, to Soccer World one bitterly cold morning and played during their open gym time.  That was a hoot.  Fun to be inside, warm, and running around on fake grass.

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January and February means there is basketball almost every day of the week if you want.  It was fun to watch Rees, Gracie and Trajan play basketball.  And fun to witness Gunnar sign with SDSU for his collegiate football career. And I made it to section wrestling to see Trevor wrestle a few!  Phew, there is an abundance of sports in the winter!

February also means SocialICE – a yearly festival of the cold!  They moved it back a few weeks, so it coincided with Marissa’s birthday weekend.  They were hoping that it would be warmer, but it just wasn’t to be.  Chris and I went for about 45 minutes on Thursday night and it was sooo cold (-5).  Hot drinks were not hot, cold drinks were freezing – literally.  Chris had a beersicle.  We eventually moved inside for a cocktail at the Doggery.  Saturday we went back during the daylight with the kids, because the ice sculptures are really fun to see, but it got cold and windy and crowded fast, so we didn’t last long.  We celebrated Marissa’s birthday with the family tradition of pizza and ice cream cake!  Delicious…

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And the Oscars 2015 happened, as well!  I haven’t seen all the movies up for Best Picture, including the winner, but I did see a few.  I already loved The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood.  I thought The Imitation Game was ok and American Sniper was very hard to watch.  I haven’t seen Birdman (the winner), Whiplash (looks painful), Selma or the Theory of Everything.  I have seen a few movies in the theatre in 2015 – Into the Woods (Rees’s “worst movie ever,” but I loved it!), The Imitation Game (just OK, not super-great), Paddington (sooooooo fun… used to LOVE Paddington!), and Still Alice (the book is SO much better – this is a watered down version, but with a great performance).

At home we’ve watched The Long Way Round series (documentary about a motorcycle trip around the world! Love it!  Ewan McGregor, so fun), The One I Love, The Wolf of Wall Street, They Came Together, The Hundred Foot Journey (nice little movie – I read the book!), The Edge of Tomorrow, and 84 Charing Cross Road (such a sweet story about this eccentric woman – so fun! Very true to the book!)

And speaking of books, we had book club last week.  We read The Perfume Collector and had great fun planning our French food theme!  Lots of fromage, French Onion dip, potatoes au gratin, quiche and croissants.  Topped off by French silk pie!  What was the book about?  Hmmm…   It happened in France in the 50s and was about gifts and independence and the role of our senses.  I read it in December, so had trouble with the details but we had a good discussion anyway!

Other books I’ve read in 2015 include: The Beautiful Daughters (see review here – it is released soon!), Yes Please (audiobook read by the author, Amy Poehler!  Loved it!), The Supreme Macaroni Company (Adriana’s book continuing with Valentine’s life in NYC), and Apple of My Eye (sooooo good!  Helene Hanff is quite the character and brings NYC in the 70s to life!  Loved it!)

I can’t decide what to read next… so I’m catching up on magazines.  Looking forward to diving into that next good book, though!

Would love to hear what you’re reading, what you’re watching, what you’re doing, while waiting for spring weather to arrive! Comment below!

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ~Hal Borland

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

If you know me, you know I love authors.  I love to listen to them talk about their books, about their writing process, about their view the world, about the books the love to read.  I’m also loyal to authors.  If I like a book, I will continue to follow that author to see what they will come up with next.

If you know me, you also know I’ve been in a reading slump – planning a wedding and getting married takes a lot of brain power and time!  So when Nicole Baart, (an author I’ve followed since I read her book The Moment Between in 2009) posted on Facebook that she was looking for members of a “street team” for her newest book, The Beautiful Daughters, I applied!  The opportunity to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy, offer it for a giveaway, and then to receive a copy of the book when it is published on April 28, 2015 – I love stuff like that!  I was tickled to be chosen for her Street Team and for The Beautiful Daughters to be the first book I read in 2015.  Bonus:  She sent her favorite chocolates, book marks, signed book plates, and homemade soap made receipt of the package even sweeter!

Below is the description of the book from the Digital Catalog at Atria Publishing (a branch of Simon and Schuster), the tentative cover design, and a little info about Nicole Baart, the author.

Below that is my review and details on how you can get your hands on my ARC!!

The Beautiful Daughters – 

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

The Beautiful Daughters
by Nicole Baart

From the author of Sleeping in Eden, described as “intense and absorbing from the very first page” (Heather Gudenkauf, author of The Weight of Silence), comes a gripping new novel about two former best friends and the secrets they can’t escape.

Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

Nicole Baart’s lush and lyrical writing has been called “sparkling” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (Romantic Times). The Beautiful Daughters is another exquisitely rendered, haunting story that will stay with readers long after the last page.


Nicole BaartNicole Baart is the mother of four children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, Sleeping in Eden. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.

My review:

I really enjoyed this book.  I love books with rich character development.  I love beautiful descriptions.  This book has all that, plus a suspenseful plot with insight into how tragedy affects people.  The book also tackles sensitive topics, but I don’t want to spoil the suspense.

Some of the passages that I re-read and bent the pages for include:

Regarding Adri’s father, Sam:

“Her father was one such daydreamer, the kind of man who spoke volumes in silences and heard God whisper in the song of distant stars keeping watch over the land that he plowed.”

Regarding Adri’s fiance’, David:

“In his personal life he was sensible and composed, able to take up and set aside the mantle of a playboy as easily as donning a coat.  To laugh and joke and drink until his imposing mother slipped into the room, a quiet and watchful revenant whose presence instantly sobered and reined in her son.”

Regarding The Five:

“Jackson was hand in hand with Nora, a new girlfriend who didn’t quite fit.  Harper couldn’t help resenting her.  When Nora was around, they were quick to pair up, but when it was just the five of them, they were a unit.  A fist clenched tight.”

This book is about young adults who meet at a small college in Blackhawk, Iowa.  Adri and her brother Will grew up on a farm in Blackhawk, and David grew up at Piperhall, a mansion down the road.  Along with Harper and Jackson, The Five become fast friends and spend most of their out-of-school time playing grown-up at Piperhall and when Harper suggests a trip to commemorate their college graduation and mark endings and new beginnings, they are unaware of the tragic event that will happen and change their lives forever.  They scatter – Adri to Africa and Harper into dark relationships – and are called home five years later when the matriarch of Piperhall dies.

This is a page-turner and I’m so thankful it was the first book I read in 2015!

Now, to get your hands on my Advanced Readers Copy, please COMMENT BELOW with the FIRST BOOK YOU READ OR ARE READING in 2015!  If you share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter (and share the link), you 10933699_10152994556774210_1188091013014551439_nwill get extra entries!

I’ll pick a winner WEDNESDAY JANUARY 28.

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. ~Celia Thaxter

Always so much to be thankful for!  We are marching in to June and the calendar is filled with fun things on the days that work isn’t scheduled (and even on some days when work is scheduled!).

Here are a few things I am thankful for from the past few weeks —

  • Friday nights!  Spent a seemingly rare Friday night off at Jabbers (and evidently the last Friday night we’ll spend there, as it just closed!) getting in some Jabbering with Jabber Juice.  Fun fun.   And even after work last Friday night, it was fun to sit outside on the patio at Fat Willy’s!  Fridays still rock!
Love this selfie with Rushford in the background!

Love this selfie with Rushford in the background!

  • Rushford friends and family – had a lot of fun showing Chris around Rushford – the bluff, the new coffee shop – and hanging out with friends.  Take Note! sang at the ExpoCulinaria and it was a lot of fun with good food tastes and good company!  Followed by more good food and a good campfire at Brenda and Roger’s!  It was chilly so that fire felt good!  It was a Starry Starry Night!
  • Speaking of Starry Starry Nights – loved the time with Beth at the painting event by Wine & Canvas!  It was a challenging painting but I think we did a respectable job – and it was so fun!
Love Starry Night with Rochester Wine & Canvas!  And Beth!

Love Starry Night with Rochester Wine & Canvas! And Beth!

  • Memorial Day weekend I had to work overnights, but I still was able to indulge in a last minute invitation to hear Temple Grandin speak on Friday night, followed by coffee at Chester’s!  And Monday Chris and I went for a good meal on a rainy afternoon before I went in for night four. I always manage to fit in the important stuff!
Love last minute invitations and loved hearing Temple Grandin again!  She's something!

Love last minute invitations and loved hearing Temple Grandin again! She’s something!

  • Trajan turned 15 in May and we celebrated him at Texas Roadhouse!  I also love that I’ve been able to help out and drive him to his basketball practices in the Cities and to watch him play a few games.  He’s on a competitive team and they are all so fun to watch!
Love this kid who isn't afraid of the saddle on his 15th birthday!

Love this kid who isn’t afraid of the saddle on his 15th birthday!

  • The weather has been great so I have been getting in some great walks!  Some with friends, some with Chris, and some with his daughter and granddaughter.  It’s been fun to play with a 2 year old again!
Love this guy and love hanging out with a 2 year old every once in a while!  It's been a while...

Love this guy and love hanging out with a 2 year old every now and then! It’s been a while…

  • Books – I’m finally on a little reading streak!  I finished Allegiant, moved on to The Fault in Our Stars (heartbreakingly beautiful… just lovely), and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (a fun little read with dares all over NYC!).  I bought a used Kindle so it’s exciting to fill it up (it holds a TON!) and look forward to reading it at the end of the dock.
  • Audiobooks – I’ve officially been an Audible member for a year!  Yikes… I have purchased more than I’ve listened to (sound familiar??  I guess I’m growing my TBL (To Be Listened to) pile, as well!).  I tend to buy the long books that I want to read but doubt I’ll have the time or stamina for.  So far I’ve listened to 11.22.63, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Fin & Lady, Ready Player One, The End of the Affair, The Goldfinch, and The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog.  I’m currently listening to Whistling Past the Graveyard for book club (if they don’t give up on me!).  Love listening in the car, still, but much less commuting time so now it’s while puttering around.  Love it!
  • Movies – always thankful for movies!  Movie nights at home on the couch, movies while trying to sleep, movies in the theatre with a tub of popcorn.  Love them!  This month in the theatre I’ve seen Neighbors (pretty funny, Seth Rogan stuff) and Belle (interesting story about Britain’s position in the slave trade business).  From Netflix on DVD I’ve seen Here Comes the Boom (very funny and fun!) and Love Is All You Need (unexpected story about Danish people traveling to Italy for a wedding, with Pierce Brosnon! Pretty good!).  Mindless instant viewing includes Drop Dead Diva (series) and The Sweetest Thing (Cameron Diaz craziness that was pretty fun).
  • Of course, Jimmy Fallon always makes me laugh, which is a thing to be greatly thankful for.  Fun stuff.  Look for his clips if you can’t commit to an entire week of shows!  🙂

As usual, I have much to look forward to, as well.  We are working fewer weekends than last summer, so I’m looking forward to that!  I am penciling in fun plans with friends and family – so give a shout if you want to get together!  Let’s make this the best summer ever!

If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance. ~Bern Williams

Where did January go?

It’s hard to believe that today is the last day of January 2014.  I haven’t written my 2013 re-cap yet, I haven’t thought much about goals or theme for 2014, I haven’t even organized photos for my photo book for 2012 yet!

But all the “haven’t”s are only because I have been doing so much.  Here’s what I’m thankful for today —

  • Chris and I found a delicious authentic Mexican restaurant – and I crave it almost daily!  Can’t wait to go back there.

    Yummy!

    Yummy!

  • Got through another weekend of overnights, and was able to have dinner with Marissa one day and with Chris and his daughter the day I was recovering.  Working overnights makes me want to hibernate and put life on hold, but it doesn’t hurt to fit in a little social life!  I’m thankful I don’t work all overnights, but can’t wait to try to spread them out even more. 🙂
  • On a day off, Chris and I were very close eyewitnesses to a woman driving through the exit door at my local Target.  We were the last people out that door, and I looked her in the eye as she backed up and slowly drove away.  I felt scared that she was going to use her vehicle as a weapon against us, because it appeared intentional, so I am very thankful that everyone was safe and that I wasn’t alone in experiencing it!  Koni was inside the store and saw it from a different angle… quite a story!
  • And then NYC… how to recap that in a few short words?  Travel in January is not without its complications – the flight was delayed out of Rochester and we nearly missed the last flight from Chicago to NYC that night, but we arrived – as did our luggage! Our flight home was cancelled, so we were able to enjoy one more full day in NYC – and we made the best of it!  Our flight out of O’Hare was delayed delayed delayed, but eventually we made it home.  And the trip was so much fun… I’ll write more about that in another blog.  Monday.  🙂

    Cheers!

    Cheers!

  • January 30 is the 2 year anniversary of my employment at Mayo Clinic – and I got to enjoy it with a day off!  Yesterday and today I have been able to take care of things at home (laundry, mail, groceries), enjoy time at Caribou with Chris and a book, go to the ED book club, attend an author talk at the library, and now tonight a BBB game.
  • By the skin of my teeth (and with the help of Sparknotes summaries!) I finished reading “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway for book club last night.  Hemingway really has an interesting writing style, which is not my favorite, but he and his life still fascinate me.  I was able to set my DVR from NYC to record the movie on TCM – so I can’t wait to watch it.  All 2 hours 45 minutes of it.
  • The talk at the library was by Allison McGhee, author of “Shadow Baby.”  I haven’t read anything she has written, but I will now.  I am always fascinated by author discussions and she was not a let down.  She was able to speak eloquently about her insecurities and her writing process.  She said she reads poetry every morning, and that sounds like something I’d like to do.  She also talked about writing exercises, and I think I’ll do one!

Things I’m looking forward to in early February –

  • I look forward to organizing my NYC photos and blogging about the trip!
  • I “get to” take a class, which starts Friday!  I’m working on my clinical license and have to get some “hours” in different content areas and this class will help a lot.  I’m thankful that the class will be very relevant to my job, but I’m dreading the actual work of taking a class.  I have homework due before I even go to class, so I’ll be looking at that this weekend.  The books have arrived, so now I’ll get organized.  It’s one Friday per month, so I can do it.  And I’m thankful for an ED colleague who is also taking the class – she will keep me motivated and on top of things!
  • Next weekend is SocialICE downtown Rochester!  I have gone every year with Kristine and a varied group of people, and this year is no exception!  Saturday night we will be enjoying the bands, the weather, the beautiful ice sculptures, and the company of fun people!  Can’t wait!
  • Just bought tickets to see Jeremy Messersmith at FIrst Ave for Marissa’s birthday!  Looking forward to spending her birthday with her!  Yay!
  • Although I work on Valentine’s Day, I will actually have a Valentine this year!  That’s something to look forward to, right???  Wow.  Thankful for him.  🙂

I’ll end with the quote that I adopted for my January photo album on Facebook.  I think it’s a great sentiment and I hope to live up to it!  (And I hope to read something by Neil Gaimon in 2014, too!)

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.  

—Neil Gaiman

It’s 2014 – and other things making me happy…

2014

Time… keeps marching, doesn’t it?

Here’s a list of things that have made me happy since Christmas –

  • Christmas with the family on the Ponderosa.  A snowfall, a bonfire, good food and laughs with family.  Bliss.
  • “Phantom of the Opera” at the Orpheum with Marissa and my mom (and Mo’s friend, Tricia).  The music didn’t disappoint, the set was beautiful, and the chandelier dropping made me jump!  Good stuff…
  • Lots of Laughs (LOL) with Land O’ Lakes (LOL) at their Christmas party at Goonie’s Comedy Club!
  • New Year’s Day movie watching with Jenny and Chris – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty at the Wehrenberg (loved it!), and take-out Chinese and Don Jon via my new AppleTV (also making me happy – thanks Chris!).
  • The day-after-New-Year’s-Day movie watching with Marie – Saving Mr. Banks – a tear-jerker, for sure!
  • A “Grand Getaway” to Minneapolis (and St. Paul) – the Minnesota History Center for Speakeasy Saturday, a double-date with Deadra and John to see Lorna Landvik at her Party in the Rec Room at the Bryant Lake Bowl, followed by a retro-bar crawl to Nye’s and Honey and brunch at Ike’s.  Good stuff.  I’m a lucky gal.  🙂
  • Celebrating Chris Riggle’s birthday with her today!  Pizza and brownies… nothing fancy but it was sure delicious!  It was fun to catch up!
  • I made my Goodreads goal for 2013 – 32 books read.  I set my goal for this year at 36 and am optimistic that I can make it.  🙂  I’ll continue with Audible for a little while longer, but I’m collecting enough that I have a few banked up to read!  Below is a list of the books I read in 2013 – looking forward to hitting more in my TBR pile in 2014!

Looking forward to spending more time reflecting on what my theme for 2014 will be… do you set New Year’s Resolutions or goals?

Happy (Belated) New Year!!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Wishin' and Hopin'
Perfect
Pope Joan
Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones, #3)
Paris Was the Place
Falling Together
Freud's Mistress
The End of the Affair
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Ready Player One
Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell, #1)
Fin & Lady: A Novel
My One Square Inch of Alaska
The Night Circus
The Promise of Provence: A Novel
11/22/63
Little Wolves
Stories I Only Tell My Friends
Elizabeth the First Wife
The Accidental Tourist
Sick Girl
The Silver Linings Playbook
Gone with the Wind
A Week in Winter
84, Charing Cross Road
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Silencing Sam (Riley Spartz, #3)
Mistletoe Mischief
Swim
Missing Mark (Riley Spartz, #2)
The Next Best Thing
A Highlander for Christmas (Children of the Mist, #5)
Forget Me Knot
Stalking Susan (Riley Spartz, #1)
Shunning Sarah (Riley Spartz, #5)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Postmistress
High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky
 

12.24.13 What’s Making Me Happy

Merry Christmas everyone!  It has been so long since I posted (more than a month!) and I’ve done many things, so I’ll try to catch up with a whirlwind post of what’s making me happy:

  • I love firsts – even the first day of winter!  It means the days are getting longer and we are heading towards spring, instead of away from summer.  There was a year when I had a party for every first day of the season (or last day of the season, depending on where it landed in the week).  Maybe someday I’ll reprise, but for now know that I quietly celebrated and remember.
  • I’ve seen movies –

On Netflix DVDs:  

  • Frances Ha (a girl wants to pursue dancing career – and avoid growing up!), 
  • The Kings of Summer (boys build a home in the woods to avoid their families), 
  • Smashed (a married couple goes separate ways when one decides to be sober)
  • and at home right now is The Salt of Life (an Italian movie starring the man in Mid-August Lunch, the inspiration for Ferragosto!)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Christmas DVD Traditions: 

  • Elf
  • Love, Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Family Stone
  • Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

On Netflix Streaming:

And in the Theatre:

  • About Time (I loved this so!  I thought it had such a great message of how to live life… soooo good!  Bummed that it didn’t stay in the theatre long – I will be buying this!), 
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (So fun to see this with the girl who loves it best – Gracie.  We went on opening night, so the theatre was filled with other lovers of the series, and there were cheers and boos and sighs throughout.  A good movie!), 
  • Dallas  Buyers Club (Not a feel good movie at all, but outstanding performances, and a thought-provoking glimpse into the government/ pharmacology difficulties in obtaining medications.), 
  • Philomena (a great British film about a woman who goes in search of the son that was taken from her in the 50s while she was “banished” to a convent as an unwed mother – great story, great performances, great movie),  
  • Delivery Man (Vince Vaughn finds out his sperm-donating days have wielded him a passel!  It was not as funny as I like Vince to be, but it was a pretty good movie), 
  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (and so it does.  The story is original and the point they make about 24 hour media is pretty spot-on. Not great, but not a bad sequel.), and 
  • American Hustle (I love that “some of this really happened” was the tag line at the beginning of the movie.  Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence were amazing, and the story was fun to follow. )
I do indeed...

I do indeed…

As always during the holidays, there have been Musical Events:

  • Crossings At Carnegie – Becky Schlegel and the 48 High – a great, intimate setting, with fun music – a little country, a little bluegrass!  
  • Messiah “Sing In” – Always a treat to go with Beth!  This year Vicki went as well!  The music seemed harder to sing, but it was a great night.  
  • Take Note! and Winona Brass Band – our concert has been a tradition since 2006 – isn’t that amazing?  It always goes by so fast, but is a fun night at the beginning of the holiday season! 
  • Christmas program at church – Even though it was only 20 minutes long between church services, I was glad to get to the program!  Good smiles, good songs… 
  • Take Note! party – Mom and Dad opened their house for the Christmas party for the choir.  Everyone brought delicious food, we had good weather, good laughs, watched our concert, and had a relaxing afternoon.
  • Festival of Lessons and Carols at the Chapel at St. Mary’s – Gracie has been singing with her choir at this concert for a few years.  It’s a nice time to reflect on the season, listen to beautiful choral music, handbell choirs, and to sing favorite hymns.
  • Dan Chouinard and Peter Ostroushko – Such a great evening of singing and music!  The ability of these two men is awe inspiring, and they make it look effortless.  Such a great Christmas tradition I hope I will do every year!
Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books

Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books

I’ve read some books: 

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding – It’s nice to hear Bridget’s voice again, although she really should grow up, right? It’s a fun read with Bridget antics and a few precious moments.  
  • Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross – Read this for the book club in the ED.  It’s amazing how I never want to read historical fiction and then enjoy it a lot.  This takes place in the 800s and it’s fun to read about their education, religion and beliefs.  Good discussion!  
  • Perfect by Autumn Jordan – Very short Christmas story!  Trying to “pad” my book numbers for 2013!  
  • Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine – on audio – a story about a young man being raised by his older sister.  A good story, which probably would have been better if I had a more consistent listening schedule.  🙂  
  •  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling – Currently listening to this on audio – I love Mindy and can’t wait to listen further. 
  • Wishin’ & Hopin’ by Wally Lamb – another short Christmas story – hoping to maybe make my goal of 32 books in 2013!  
  • Next on my list is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – hear it’s a great YA book!  

football_santa

And then I’ve made it to a few sporting events – 

  • Wrestling – I spent an afternoon watching cousin Trevor wrestle – well, I waited all afternoon to watch Trevor wrestle once, as he had a win by forfeit in his second match of the day and I missed his first one! 🙂  He wrestled hard and I hope to make a few more meets this winter.  
  • Basketball – Trajan is playing Junior Varsity for Mayo, and I’ve made a few of his games so far, hoping for more!  Gracie and Rees will also be playing, so hope I can get to some of those, as well!  

Phew!  I wonder how many will make it to the end of this long list!  I’m hoping to blog again before the end of 2013 so let’s see if that happens!  I know that the days ahead are filled – with work, with fun events, and with family time.  

Christmas

 

I hope that your Christmas holidays are as blessed and a blessing to you!