Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #377

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Time to look back over the week and find the blessings.  Those that are obvious and those a bit more hidden.  Join us in sharing 5 of them.  If you are new, please read the guidelines linked in the sidebar.  

1.  Really, really loved this post.  She put to words so well how I sometimes feel.  It's not always the big grand stuff (though that is fun and also needed) or the stuff that societal norm tells us should be a great relationship (tough there is great advice out there)  but it's in the connecting and bonding, sometimes in the everyday of where we are in our lives at this time.  And if we're grumping that the situation is not matching our great expectations all the time we could totally miss the blessing that is laid out before us.

2.  Eat your vegetables chips.  My new favourite snack.  Yum!

3.  Homemade soup.  Ever since I was a kid I've loved homemade soup of pretty much any kind.  This week I took a turkey carcass left from our last turkey dinner and made a big batch of turkey soup.  I put spiral pasta in to make it a bit more substantial and made some Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.  Delicious warming dinner on a cold rainy day.

4.  Hiding at home weekend.  I really, really needed just to hole up at home, not go anywhere, not have any responsibilities.  The only place I went was to the gym and to get a few groceries.  The rest of the time I just putzed around doing this and that, reading lots, watched a couple of movies.  It was just thing to get me rejuvenated.

5.  Friends with big hearts and listening ears.  Such a blessing to find those who are there to listen when you need it and encourage you on.  I never take that for granted.

What were your 5 favourite blessings of the last week?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher Description:  
All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever? Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows. But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family. As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

My Thoughts:
This is a fast paced book that has you cheering for the main character.  Though at first I thought maybe the back cover blurb (up above) may be giving too much away, it really didn't.  From it you know the sister does know something but the story turned out to take a totally different path than I thought it would. Allie's situation is sad and I really wanted her to succeed and move past the small town prejudices.  She had been in a great time of her life, engaged to the love of her life who accepted and loved her daughter, accepted into medical school, she seemed to have everything going for her.  But when the local sheriff came upon her bent over the bloody body of the beloved high school coach, she was arrested.  That she had written an editorial for the paper accusing the coach of some pretty serious things did not help her cause and she was convicted for his murder and sent to prison.  But she set her mind to survive because she had her beloved 5 year old daughter to think of.  Always maintaining her innocence, she now returns to town, paroled 6 years early, to try to take back her life.  But it is so much more difficult that she could have imagined.   And when her now teenage daughter is bristling about meeting her and is confused, demanding of her mom to prove that she is innocent, Allie has no choice but to do just that so that her daughter will once again trust her.  I really liked so many things about the story.  How it delved into the difficulty of a person just out of prison trying to start over, what things a teenager might go through with a parent just paroled and also another area of concern that I don't know how to mention without giving away some of the story.  But it was interesting and caused me to keep the pages turning.   I was much more engaged in this  mystery/psychological thriller than I was the last one.

Of note, though Thomas Nelson (a Christian publishing company) did publish this book, I would not categorize it as a "Christian" fiction.   I would just plain plunk into the contemporary suspense thriller genre.   I think anyone enjoying a good mystery filled with twists that isn't overly violently graphic in nature or dropping swears continuously would enjoy this taut, page turning read.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a free copy for my honest review.  All thoughts and statements are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #376

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Friday has snuck right up on me this week.  I don't know where the time went. But that's what I like about FFF.  It forces me to pause and look for blessings that might otherwise get right by me.  lease join in with us!

1.  Open windows letting breezes blow through!  All week we've been able to open wide the windows to the wonderful spring breezes.  I love the fresh air permeating the house.  Last night a thunderstorm rolled by about 10 miles out from the city but the smell of the rain and storm came blowing through and how lovely that smelled.

2.  Movie night with friends.  Saturday we asked friends over for a movie night but I decided I wanted to throw a little simple dinner in there too.   Into the oven for 4 hours went a pulled pork marinated pork shoulder.  It was fall apart tender and so easy to pull with a couple of forks.  I added spicy pepper bbq sauce with some hot sauce added.   Coleslaw, cucumbers with cream cheese, slow cooker ranch mushrooms, and just for my veggie disliking friend:  prosciutto wrapped asparagus.  He loves bacon so it was a fun tease to get him to eat veggies.  And he did.  In all fairness, I did know he liked asparagus but it was fun to tease.  And to my and his wife's shock he ate several of the cucumbers too!  Perfect meal!  Then for dessert during the movie it was my hubby's delicious stove top popcorn made two ways:  theatre style and my personal favourite, olive oil popcorn.  So much deliciousness and fun.  And the movie The Walk was good too!

3.  First Aid.  A couple years ago I had to take a first aid course.  I hadn't done one since college and in all honesty I was a bit put out as it was such an exhausting 3 days.  But you know when the need arises for that first aid it's nice to fall back on what you learn.  And this week I needed it in a big, big way.  So thankful I had taken the course.

4.  First bike ride of the year.  Sunday was such a gorgeous day so right after church before we even had lunch, Hubby and I took off on the bikes for a ride around town on one of our favourite riding circuits.  I love bike riding and it was so nice to get to it again.  Looking forward to many weekends spent around town and even out and about Alberta riding our bikes.  

5.  Children's laughter.  We've had some really good belly laughs this week, me and the dayhome kids.  Some of the things they've said have just cracked me right up and then it gets us all on a roll of laughter that just brightens up the day!  

What were your favourite blessings from the week?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt ~ Book Review

Baby Mia, aged 7 months, has gone missing from her parent's home without a trace. Gone are all her clothes, bottles, diapers, everything. But what makes it even stranger is mom, Estelle Paradise, was home at the time and all the doors were heavily locked. Then Estelle turns up miles from home in her car at the bottom of a ravine with life threatening injuries. And amnesia. She at first doesn't even remember that Mia is missing. But time is of the essence for her to regain her memory. Is it just convenient that she has lost her memory or is something else going on? Some of her injuries are questionable as are most of her actions as the story is revealed. What on earth is happening and where is Mia? When Estelle is checked into a hospital and under the care of a psychiatric doctor, she must dig deep and find courage to face some things so that she can remember. Did she hurt Mia and do something with her? As time is ticking and is of the essence, Estelle feels the pressure to remember and find answers not only to locate Mia but to vindicate herself as both police and the media put her under scrutiny and find her story severely lacking in believability.

 This was an emotional, twist filled psychological thriller that explored the depths of depression and guilt that post partum depression can bring. As Estelle delves more into her past few days we start to see an unreliable narrative and picture of a young mom who was facing severe depression and had no support. Though I never struggled with PPD the profound feelings of guilt she carried for not being a good mom were very emotional but there were also times of boredom in the reading too as descriptions of her mental state got a bit repetitive at times. In her state of not being able to rationally deal with things I found I grew frustrated at some of her lack of communication skills when it came to trying to tell various police officers what she knew and sometimes at her lack of inaction or seeming lack of concern. The book has lots of flashbacks as Estelle's story comes to light piece by piece which kept you guessing at to what could have really happened and changing your mind as to what you thought happened. Because of all the flashbacks and things happening in real time I did get confused at times as to how much time had actually passed in the story. I found interesting that smells played a part in Estelle remembering some things as scent is a big trigger for me too. There was one section that dealt with small town police that had me wondering if they really would be that negligent to thoroughly check something out. A few f-bombs scattered throughout seems to be the thing with this genre.

 This was a page turning read in that I just had to find out what happened but slogged along at points to get there. I gave it 7/10.

Review is linked at Semicolon Saturday Review of Books.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #375

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five!  It's the end of the week and time to take note of the good blessings in our lives.  Whether it's been a great week or a challenging week it's a good discipline to look for what is good and uplifting.  Please join in with us.

1. Great movie.  Friday night hubby and went to go see Miracles from Heaven.  Such a good movie.  Both of us really liked it.  In fact, I liked it so much I went with my ladies bible study and saw it again on half price night on Tuesday.  All the ladies loved it too.  I am so thankful that Sony is putting out some great family faith based movies that are well done.  And it's based on true events which is a genre I really like.  One warning though.  Take lots of kleenex if you go see it!

2.  Books, books, books at a great price!!  My order arrived from (.ca in Canada).  They had a 50% off sale on their scratch and dent books.  These new, unread books are already an awesome price to begin with, even better if they are scratch and dent books and then with the 50% off I came away with with books as low as $1.83 and no higher than $4.  All for new books!  Now I was holding my breath a bit 'cause with scratch and dent you just never know but most only had a small ink mark on the page edges or a small crinkle or bend in the cover.  The worst one was where someone had tried to remove a sticker and took some of the cover pic with it about the size of a quarter.  It's so fun to get books in the mail!  

3.  Beautiful weather.  Our nights can still get down to freezing but some of days have been absolutely in we have to use sunscreen gorgeous.  I've been able to take the kids out and let them run off some pent up energy.  We've even had our first picnic lunch outside this week.  But it is Southern Alberta and today was cold with some rain and closer to the mountains there was snowfall warning.  But hey, it's spring!!
UPDATED:  I wrote this post on Thursday and today, Friday, I woke up to a snow warning for my area.  LOL.  Welcome spring in Southern Alberta!  

4.  New computer finally coming together.  My other computer which is really only 2 years old broke it's hinge!  So my generous hubby bought me a new one, transferred all my stuff and helped me to get the other one ready to be shipped to see if warranty will cover it.  If it does it will be used by someone else in the family.   But the blessing is I don't have to go without until they decide and possibly fix it or let us know they won't.  

5.  Finding my fave dessert.  One of my favourite desserts is a vanilla slice.  When I was a kid they made the best ones at the Kentucky Fried Chicken bakery.  I know, odd place to get them, but they had an amazing bakery at one of the locations here.  After the bakery part shut down, I could never find one quite as good as the ones from my childhood.  Until the other day that is.  I ran into a little bakery in my neighborhood to buy buns for supper and lo and behold there sat some vanilla slices.  Well you know I had to try one!  Score!  They were sooo good.  Now the only problem is they are way to close to me and it will take some major discipline not to be there constantly partaking of one!
What were your favourites from the week?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I just had to share this picture my daughter, Tamara, sent me on facebook, and I quote:  "Mom, an image of you!"

Who else grew up referring to these things 

as thongs?  When she was little I was always mortifying her by calling them thongs.  I could not get it into my head that they were flip flops now.

What I want to know is who in the fashion industry decided it would be fun to mess with my generations heads by renaming a specific piece of underwear (the likes of which were not even imagined at that time) the name that I called cheap summer shoes?  I can just imagine that board room meeting now.   

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg ~ Book Review

Sookie Poole finally has a moment to herself after planning four weddings for  3 daughters in under 2 years.  She is exhausted and weddinged out.  Having nothing to do except take something out for supper is making her very happy indeed.  Married to a successful dentist, she dreams of maybe travelling with her husband.  But she has Lenore, her mother, to consider.  Lenore is well known in their hometown of Point Clear, Alabama by everyone, and being on or president of several committees she is adored and looked up to by most people but having her for a mother Sookie has other thoughts.  She has found her quite overbearing and bossy and has spent her life trying to please Lenore and feeling like she can never live up to the expectations put upon her by Lenore.  Now with Lenore in her 80's, Sookie must deal with all the details of taking care of her mom though Lenore bucks her every step of the way.  One day while handling her mom's mail, Sookie makes a shocking discovery that puts her in a tailspin and makes her wonder who she really is.  Sookie finds herself compelled to seek answers but will she like what finds.  Her search takes her back to the Midwest and to Texas to a free-spirited lady named Fritzi, who was a wing walker and flew planes for the U.S. and ran an all-girl's filling station while the men were away at war.  As Sookie learns Fritzi's story she finds inspiration for her own life.

I found this book quite enjoyable.  The story of Fritzi and Sookie are intertwined until it reaches a very satisfying ending.  The author is a wonderful story teller and I was drawn in from the beginning.  I especially liked all the history of the women flyers from the second world war who flew planes for the U.S. but who's story has not really been told.  In Fritzi's story we also read between the lines of stories and the challenges of countless women who had to pick up the pieces and take on jobs they never imagined as more and more of the men were shipped overseas.  It was a very interesting look into American life during the war.  The characters are real and honest, even Lenore, whom I sometimes wanted to shake.  I was also drawn to Sookie as her whole world is turned upside down with just one letter and everything she knows about herself is now called into question.  I gave this story a 9.5/10