Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Broken Beautiful

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It’s Tuesday – I should be teasering, or writing one of the 2 reviews for books I have finished this past week, or probably unpacking and organizing our new house (the reason I’ve been MIA for the last two weeks.)  But today I’m taking a day off – I took the kids to the zoo this beautiful AM (which by the way it was 66 degrees when we left the house!) and now I’m sitting down, something I haven’t done much of lately, and wanted to post a short, much overdue, song post!

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This one is inspired by my LL, who has proclaimed this her favorite song as of late.  It’s an upbeat song, one I’ve now listened to a thousand times, but today actually took some time to meditate on the words and realized it really applies to life right now.  In a few ways.  More literally – our “broken” house – broken meaning old and a bit neglected for this example.  It has its dents, scratches, stains, lots of wear and tear, and in need of much repair.  But we came in and are working on it – some rooms look great, others will get there, but we saw the potential and can make this broken house beautiful (in time.)

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Sound familiar?  Maybe how God is working in all of us?  At least I see this in me.  I’ve read, and been taught, that we all are broken vessels, jars of clay, that God repairs, time and time again, and not just repairs, makes beautiful.  Broken in this case is referring to our sins, our transgressions, our past, all things that God sees and knows and loves us in spite of.  In this time of change, unknowns, homesickness, trying to make our home a home, trying to make new friends and find out where we fit in, I have days where I feel very broken.  So today I wanted to put out this short reminder (mainly to myself but maybe it will help a few others too) that God will make all of this beautiful.  He always does, and even if I don’t see it right away or even soon, I can rest knowing He does and He is right beside me and working on it.  AND I need to focus on the beauty that is already here, my husband, my kids, my family & friends, my dogs, too much to even list! I’ve added a few verses to some pictures taken lately (it really is beautiful here!), and will leave you with this one I find especially hopeful and had found listed as inspiration for Ellie Holcomb’s song, video and verses below.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.
Psalm 30:11

Thanks for stopping by today – I’ll get back to book reviews and hopefully some home updates in the next few days/weeks, but today am resting in the beauty I am surrounded by.  Have a blessed, beautiful week!

The Broken Beautiful
Ellie Holcomb

I know that I don’t bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There’s days I wonder if You’ll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?
Would You remind me now of who You are?

That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful

I’m better off when I begin to remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace
Remind me now that You can make a way

That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful

You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness & cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That You can make the broken beautiful

You make us beautiful, oh oh
You make us beautiful

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Book Review: What It Was Like by Peter Seth

What It Was Like (click on book or see below for description)
By Peter Seth
Releases 9/2/14
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time:  5 nights.  This book had me up late turning pages in antici………..pation!  The build up for this book was ridiculous.  The description on the back (and see below) and first few pages of the book set it up and there are teasers throughout about this “big unknown” event, and until it happens, it’s really hard to guess.  (Also see another quote I featured in my Teaser Tuesday this week too!)  I had a few guesses throughout, some were on the right track, others way off, but I had no idea what and when it was coming.  Seriously, when I finally had to put it down at night, I’d dream (or have nightmares) about what happens.  This book creeped me out and stuck with me in a way like none other.

The crazy part is – we never learn the narrator’s name.  It’s told 100% from his point of view (similar to another book I just finished).  A recent high school graduate working at a summer camp then beginning college in New York City at Columbia University.  A classic tale of boy meets girl, they fall in love, and their love makes them do crazy things.  Ok maybe not so classic, but it’s been told before, just not like this.  I did a Google search to confirm this is fiction, the way it reads, I’d believe you if you told me it was a true story.  The author had me believing this really happened and was buried in sealed case files until now.

During my search, I uncovered the website for this book which provides more information on Who’s Who and what happened on this day in 1968-69 (the year in which the events of this book took place.)  It’s a fun little supplement to the book, which I always enjoy.  But back to the story.  I toyed with 3 v. 4 bones for my rating.  I enjoyed reading the book and it kept me frantically turning pages, but I was turning those pages for quite some time to get to the meat of it, which finally happened at about 2/3rds of the way in.  As I mentioned in the beginning of this review – the anticipation was killing me and maybe that was the point, but it frustrated me at times and messed with my head!  That first part was the set-up, probably a good year or two before the “big unknown,” which was fine, but just a bit too much.

Once the “big unknown,” finally happened or was happening, I became very uncomfortable and frustrated with the characters.  Not really a situation where I’d like to think “what would I do” but I guess one could say it would make them think just what they would do if there were ever in such a predicament.  Hopefully not what was chosen, no spoilers, the narrator begins the book from jail, so from that point on, you can confidently predict what will happen.  I would have liked more points of view or even excerpts from the trial to get others points of view, as I mentioned it was only from the narrator’s.

Overall depressing book.  Very well written.  Full of suspense and keeps you on your toes and guessing.  If it sounds like your style book, it’s worth your time.  I would definitely read this author again and am very impressed for a first book!

Thank you to NetGalley and The Story Plant for allowing me to preview!

Description from Amazon:

“It’s really a very simple story. What happened was this: I met this girl and did a very stupid thing. I fell in love. Hard. I know that to some people that makes me an idiot and a loser. What can I say? They’re right. I did some extremely foolish things; I’m the first to say it. And they’ve left me in jail and alone.”

So begins one of the most compelling, emotionally charged, and affecting novels you are likely to read this year.

It is the summer of 1968 and a young man takes a job at a camp in upstate New York before starting his first semester at Columbia University. There, he meets Rachel Price, a fellow counselor who is as beautiful as she is haunted. Their romance will burn with a passion neither of them has ever known before…a passion with the power to destroy.

In the tradition of Endless Love and Gone Girl, What it was Like is an intimate, raw, and revealing journey through the landscape of all-consuming love. It announces the debut of a remarkable storyteller.

 

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Teaser Tuesday: July 15th

Happy Tuesday!  Busy times here, but started a new book this weekend, so had to share a teaser.  Since last week I finished July’s Kindle First read – Rain Girl.

And have started a NetGalley pre-release by Peter Seth, titled What it Was Like.  (Click on book for description)  This one releases September 2, 2014.  Talk about anticipation – I’m about halfway through and can’t wait to find out what happens!!

I’ve decided on 2 teasers today – they are both from the first few pages and are a good set-up of the book, which I am still unsure of what the narrator is even talking about!  Can’t wait to find out!

“It began with a pure and deep passion, and ended in obsession and violence.  In heartbreak and shame and the personal destruction of many lives.”

“My new lawyer tells me that I have reason to hope.  Why am I suspicious of “hope?” All I know is that it’s breaking my mother’s heart for me to be in here.  I can stand it; I don’t know if she can.”

1% into book

Thanks for stopping by today! Share yours in the comments please!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

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Book Review: Rain Girl by Gabi Kreshlehner


Rain Girl (click on book or see below for description)
By Gabi Kreslehner
Releases 8/1/14
Downloaded free through Kindle First program

Rating: 2 bones

Finish Time: 3 nights.  Overall I’ve been impressed with the Kindle First selections and have made an effort to read one each month.  This month was kind of disappointing, I wasn’t too excited about any and unfortunately this book lived up to just that.

I enjoy a good mystery and thriller, as this book is set up with a murder and subsequent investigation.  I enjoyed the chapters dealing with the investigations, but there were others thrown in from different story lines or different voices and I was never really able to fully follow and I walked away still not knowing who was who and how they were connected.  Because of that the characters were kinda blah to me too.  No one very likable as they all dealt with their “issues.”

Marie, the rain girl, is alive in a few flashbacks, but her murder is the main story line of the book.  She had quite the load of issues as more and more was revealed about her.  Throw in a personal tie to one of the investigators (not a spoiler – this is set up from the beginning) and I wanted to find out how the book ended.  But fast, thus my quick finish time.

Really not much to say.  Not awful, just not my favorite as of late, but short so I’m glad not too much time wasted.  Will still keep reading a Kindle First selection each month, so stay tuned!

Description from Amazon:

Veteran homicide detective Franza Oberwieser prefers her job in the winter. Summer is for growing, not for dying. So when the body of a beautiful young woman is found on the autobahn, dressed in a glittering party dress and bathed in June rain, Franza is determined to give her justice.

Revealing victims’ hidden lives is part of the job, but as Franza and her partner, Felix, peel back the layers shrouding the girl’s disturbing past, darker mysteries emerge. Everyone has something to hide—even Franza, who must face her own secrets to reveal the truth.

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CLE is the place to be!

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For once I’d like to say we were ahead of the curve!  With the RNC picking Cleveland to host the 2016 convention and today’s announcement of LeBron coming home to the Cavaliers, there is an awful lot of pride going on here in little old Cleveland.  Much of the charm of Cleveland that we’ve experienced is from the outside simply not knowing how great this city is, so hopefully this is a good thing (at least maybe some of you will be more excited to come visit!!)  Seriously, today I had to pick from going to the beach, the pool, or one of the many parks/playgrounds that are all within a few miles of us, many of them along beautiful Lake Erie.  (I’m very blessed by my hardworking husband who allows us to have this lifestyle – and with a 2 & 4-year-old in tow, the word relaxing you will not hear!)

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I figured I was overdue for an update – going on 9 weeks here – and this is as good of reason as any for just that!  See my first two updates here & here, keeping up that momentum, we’ve been keeping very busy.  1st order of business – we bought a house!  Very excited.  We’ve loved living where we are so much, that we bought a house just a few streets over.  1 block from Lake Erie, in quintessential small town America.  Lots of people have been here their whole lives and there is a lot of pride in living here (also evident in the almost 3% property taxes – yikes!)  I’ve also heard it referred to as a bubble – sound like another town GA friends??  We are set to close this week and move over the next few.  Very excited to get settled – also stay tuned for some house projects.  A deviation from what I usually blog about – but I think it may be fun to document.  Thanks to Houzz.com – we have lots of inspiration!

I’m so overflowed with pictures that yesterday my iPhone told me I couldn’t take anymore – so sorry for the photo purge – but we’ve just been doing so much AND it’s just so beautiful here.  (We’ll talk come winter!)  So here are a few more things to do in CLE!

Bay Days Festival.  An old-time carnival invades this picturesque small town around the 4th of July.  The kids had a blast on all the rides (which can also be described as old!) and this year we kept them up late to watch the fireworks.  An amazing display over Lake Erie made it a magical first time (and a lot of live up to!)

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  I’ve mentioned before how impressed I am with the Metroparks system here.  The zoo did not disappoint, so much so, we bought a pass!  We first got to visit doing a 5k, then went back.  We could go a few more times before we see everything there is to offer.  But a beautiful zoo, easy to get to, and not for the out of shape – as there are A LOT of hills, but makes for some good exercise, especially with the double stroller!  There is tram for those who can’t keep up though!  And not to miss is the Circle of Wildlife Carousel – beautifully handcrafted – you can pick almost any of the zoo animals to ride!  (And you can also see LL on a real camel!!)

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Cleveland Botanical Gardens.  As a member of Atlanta Botanical Gardens, I was happy to learn we get reciprocal membership here in Cleveland!  We’ve been seeing adds for the latest exhibit – Nature Connects – a Lego exhibit – so we went for a quick trip.  In a really cool park of town – University Circle – the gardens sit among many other museums all around a circle!  Will definitely be back often to visit more of these cool places!

Local Beaches, Pools, and Splash Pads.  Kids completed two weeks of swim lessons at our local pool, which doubles as a small waterpark, really I’m impressed with it!  And growing up going to the Jersey shore, Lake Erie beaches don’t bother me, so it’s fun to mix it up and go there, and the kids don’t know any different!  I think I had mentioned before too – but there is a dog beach that the dogs have been loving too!  And even a few local splashpads for more water fun!  (Now if it would only get above 70 – haha my GA blood is already thickening – I have no idea how I ever survived in the 90’s!)

Last week we also wished our Zevon a Happy 10th Birthday!

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Anything peak your interest?  We will very soon have our own house, complete with guest room – so come visit!  All the cool kids are doing it! Thanks for stopping by today – have a FABULOUS weekend!

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Teaser Tuesday: July 8th

Happy Tuesday and Happy July!   Missed you last week.  For good reason, I hope you can forgive me.  Exciting house news coming soon, so been busy with details.  I have been reading; what else would I do before bed!?  But had to play catch up this Sunday on 3 books I’ve finished since the last time I posted.  All from NetGalley, so as always excited for the opportunity to read and review some awesome book!

1st was When the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney (click on book for description or HERE for my review.)

2nd was Prime Deception by Carys Jones (click on book for description or HERE for my review.)

And lastly You by Caroline Kepnes (click on book for description or HERE for my review.)

Also my teaser for today is from You.  Check out the review – this book is too crazy to not share a tidbit and SO many good ones too.  But don’t get too excited just add it to your list because it doesn’t release until September!

“She is supposed to be in a morgue, not a hospital.  Because I have no idea what happened, because I am not a stalker I respond surprised and inquire about details.”
(45% into book)

Thanks for stopping by today! Share yours in the comments please!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

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Book Review: Prime Deception by Carys Jones

Prime Deception (click on book or see below for description)
By Carys Jones
Released 4/7/14
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time: 3 nights.  A mystery by true definition, really kept me guessing until the very end.  And I’ll call myself out right away – took me until the end to figure out the title.  The book follows the Prime Minister of England, thus it is a true story of “Prime” deception, pun intended.

This book starts with a death, ruled a suicide, then a flashback to the deceased by the one who loved her.  But ofcourse nothing is as it seems and it becomes clear that Lorna Thomas was not a girl who would take her own life, but the question begs, who did?

As the Prime Minister, who was having an affair with Lorna begins to have this question in his time of grief, conveniently Lorna comes back from the dead to help!  But actually it’s just her twin Laurie.  Call me whatever you want, I’m not a fan of identical twin stories, seems too easy?  That’s not what I mean, I still could never write like this author, maybe cheesy to me?  Anyways, Laurie is different from Lorna is everything but looks, but decides that to solve this mystery, she must dive into Lorna’s world.

It’s a good story, kept me turning pages, and trying to figure it out til the very end, which was a bit of a surprise.  Not very likable characters, fine, well drawn, just no one I cared about or rooted for.  I think my favorite was the secretary to the prime minister who, let’s just say, saw through all the B.S.  If only she had talked!

A quick read, well written, love the cover (even though I read on my Kindle Paperwhite– looking at it now above – the yellow on black looks awesome!), and I greatly appreciate being invited to read this book through NetGalley.  At .99 on Amazon right now – don’t pass this up – great deal for a good story!

Description from Amazon:

John Quinn, an investigative journalist on England’s biggest-selling and most notorious tabloid newspaper, is about to write the story of his life – a kiss-and-tell with one of the country’s most powerful men at its heart. But the story dies when Lorna Thomas, the kiss in his kiss-and-tell, kills herself on a quiet country road.

Unable to accept her twin’s suicide, Laurie Thomas follows in her sister’s footsteps to London and to the heart of government. And as she becomes more involved in Lorna’s world, she grows more convinced than ever that Lorna did not take her own life. But if Lorna didn’t kill herself, who did?

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Book Review: When the World was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney


When the World was Young (click on book or see below for description)
By Elizabeth Gaffney
Releases 8/5/14
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time: 4-5 nights.  Sticking with my love of historical fiction for this read, this book did not disappoint.  Full of heartache, self-discovery, mystery, and historical truths, this book transported me back to a time when “the world was young.”

The book begins with a very young Wally, a child of a soldier stationed overseas, living with her mother, who is described very much like a child herself.  She is a child you can’t help but want to hug and protect.  She is surrounded by a cast of characters, her mom, grandmother, her grandmother’s maid and her son, a family friend, and a few others, who do seem to love and care about her, but each so wrapped up in their own lives, she seems to be on her own.

An unlikely friendship develops with Ham, the son of her grandmother’s maid.  Ham is a few years her senior, and of a different race, but they have a great relationship and much of the book follows their adventures.  Ham introduces Wally to insects, specifically ants, which sparks an interest in her that follows her throughout the book.  Kind of a weird side-story, I know a lot more about ants than I ever cared to, but her passion for them and eventual study of them is pivotal in Wally’s life, so definitely a welcome addition to the story.

Wally searches for answers about her father and mother throughout the book, so kind of a mystery going on too behind the scenes.  The reader knows (or understands) more than she does, but with age a few more answers are revealed.    The book probably follows Wally over the course of 15-20 years, so some times are very detailed, while others are glanced over.  But I felt gave the reader a good picture of WWII and the struggles of those on both sides – sides in this case being those in the states versus those overseas.  It addresses a few “controversial topics” and has some very sweet moments.

I was between 3-4 stars on this one again (happens a lot for me – but trying to stick to the round numbers), as there were times it was hard to focus, but overall it held my interest and was a good historical fiction.  But in comparing it to some other books of late, it fell a little short.  Good read, kind of predictable, but a great glimpse into when the world was young!

Description from Amazon:

Wally Baker is no ordinary girl. Living in her grandparents’ Brooklyn Heights brownstone, she doesn’t like dresses, needlepoint, or manners. Her love of Wonder Woman comics and ants makes her feel like a misfit—especially in the shadow of her dazzling but unstable mother, Stella.
 
Acclaimed author Elizabeth Gaffney’s irresistible novel captures postwar Brooklyn through Wally’s eyes, opening on V-J day, as she grows up with the rest of America. Reeling from her own unexpected wartime tragedy and navigating an increasingly fraught landscape, Wally is forced to confront painful truths about the world—its sorrows, its prejudices, its conflicts, its limitations. But Wally also finds hope and strength in the unlikeliest places.
 
With an unforgettable cast of characters, including the increasingly distant and distracted Stella; Loretta, the family’s black maid and Wally’s second mother; Ham, Loretta’s son, who shares Wally’s enthusiasm for ants and exploration; Rudy, Wally’s father, a naval officer, away serving in the Pacific; and Mr. Niederman, the family’s boarder, who never seems to answer Wally’s questions—and who she suspects may have something to hide—Elizabeth Gaffney crafts an immersive, beautifully realized novel about the truths that divide and the love that keeps us together

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Book Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

You
By Caroline Kepnes
Releases 9/30/14
Downloaded free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 4 bones

Finish Time: 5-6 nights.  Well this was quite a deviation from my normal read.  Which is a good thing but this was sick and twisted and kept me up thinking after I finished it.  Could someone really be that messed up to think the stuff they are doing makes sense?  Obviously, not that this book is based on a true story, but I’m thinking there are some crazies just like Joe out there.

Meet Joe Goldberg.  Generic enough name.  Seems like a normal enough dude.  Manages a book store, seems likable enough, I guess is attractive based on his ability to “get the girl.”  The book is entirely from Joe’s point of view speaking to “You”.  “You” is Guinevere Beck, simply “Beck” to all who know her.  She seems like a normal girl, but something about her gets Joe’s attention, his undivided attention, the day she walks into his bookstore.

The stalking begins.  And accelerates.  Joe dig into Beck’s life through both Google and following her, and finds out a whole lot of information.  Very scary how fast someone can do that in this day and age.  It doesn’t hurt that Beck is a bit of a voyeur, but the reader soon learns, she’s an impressionable young woman who is easily taken advantage of.  But then a “chance” encounter in a train station allows Joe to jump in as Beck’s savior, and their relationship begins.

I’m tempted to use too many quotes as again, relationship is a rough word.  To her it seems like the beginning of a courtship (I sound so old!), to Joe, it is all part of the plan.  He gets possession of her phone and can be even more woven into her life.  They have their ups and downs, all with Beck having no idea about Joe’s extra level of craziness/knowledge/craftiness.  You’ll just have to take my word for it and read it because that’s just what he does – crazy, twisted, well thought out things.  Call it for love, maybe.  In his head, which as the reader, you are in, it makes sense.  If there is an obstacle that is in the way of Beck loving you, ofcourse, by all means it should be taken care of.  You’ll get it if you read it.

Joe is calm and collected for most of the book and if you had no sense of right or wrong, maybe you could relate?  I have no idea.  I would compare it to a train wreck, but I’m not one that would watch it, but that analogy holds true.  It was so awful (the situation not the book), that I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happens.  I am not going to say it was predictable because that totally depends on what kind of outlook you have on life or situations.  But it was a fitting ending and I will leave it at that.

Again, just a different read for me.  And I’m basing my rating on the fact that it kept me up late wanting to know what happened next and that it was very well written.  Now I’m going to lock my door, turn on the alarm, get my dogs, and hope that no one is out there watching me!

Description from Net Galley:

Love hurts…

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.

 

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