Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #469

Snow, snow and more snow.  We have had more snowfall warnings this winter than I can remember in a long time.  Valentine's day was another doozy with even snow squall warnings in certain areas.  But there is still lots of good things happening and here is a good place to share 5 of them.  Please join on in.  If you are new or have never read the guidelines please take a moment and go here to do that.  Then join on in.

~the calvary has arrived~ as I sat here typing up my FFF post in came the calvary, the hard working crew who clear the city streets.   When it is dumping snow these guys work round the clock.

We live on a Priority 2 route so sometimes it takes a few days to get around to us but it is always appreciated when they get here. 

~scoring an incredible deal~ I have been on the lookout for a new pair of shorter winter boots for sometime now, a couple of years.  My old ones are finally starting to get cracks and the zipper is getting harder and harder to do up.  I have had them for years and years, and they have paid for themselves many times over.  But I could never find what I wanted in a price range I wanted to pay.  Then on the weekend while in Winner's looking for a birthday gift for my oldest, there sat this cute pair of  Pajar boots on the clearance table for $50.  I knew Pajars were expensive boots, they were leather which I love, they fit perfectly and were comfortable and I thought they looked nice too!  So I nabbed them because they were the only ones in my size figuring I could always return them if I changed my mind.  Then later that evening while on Facebook an ad for The Bay came up with these boots on it so I clicked on it and almost fainted when I saw they were $240 (on sale for $168).  Score!!!!  Needless to say they are not going back.  Love it when I find a super deal like that!

~a favorite show next season has arrived~  One of my favorite shows is When Calls the Heart.  It is based on the book series by Janet Oke, a very popular Christian author who was born in a small Alberta town not far from where I live.  I missed watching the series from the beginning on network tv (CBC in Canada, Hallmark in the States), so when we got Netflix and I saw it on there I started to watch it and loved it.  I basically binge watched the 2 available seasons on the Canadian netflix thinking the 3rd season should be coming fairly quickly.  Not so.  I waited and waited and waited.  I finally gave up watching for it.  Then out of the blue last week up it came in my continue watching section.  So excited.  But by now, I've pretty much forgotten most of what had been going on.  So I've been enjoying some more binge watching this last cold wintery week so that I can get to the season 3.  

~heart shaped pizza~  Hubby treated us to some delicious heart shaped pizza for supper on Valentine's day (among some other sweet gifts).  We usually do not go anywhere on Valentine's day preferring to avoid the busy restaurants.  But this year he announced that he was surprising us for supper and in spite of the snow storm, off we went for this delicious supper to celebrate.

~enjoying the olympics~  I love watching the winter olympics and been enjoying some time each day cheering on the Canadian athletes and really applauding any and all the efforts of all the athletes no matter what country they are from.  I had an unexpected viewing partner for the snowboarding event.

So this weekend is a long weekend here in Canada.  We will be busy helping move our friends on Saturday, and then hopefully I will have lots of time to watch more Olympics and relax with a good book and hot coffee.  Wishing you all a nice weekend too.

What were your favorite blessings from the last week?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova ~ Book Review

Sarah Nickerson is the mom who does it all.  She juggles a high powered career, a husband who also is climbing the career ladder, and 3 young kids one of whom is under a year old.   They live in an affluent neighborhood outside of Boston with both her and her husband commuting into Boston to work and also own a home at a ski resort where they try to escape on the weekends to balance the insane schedules and 80 hour work weeks they keep. She has it all and for the most part loves the busyness.  She is the queen of multitasking to keep that wheel turning.  But one day it all comes to a grinding halt in a split second of time when she makes the choice to answer her phone while driving.  Surviving the accident but sustaining a brain injury called left neglect, she strives to put all her skills and her competitive nature into getting better and getting back to her life.  But brain injuries don't always listen to the strongest of our commands or determination and in the forced slow down Sarah must learn to listen to her body, find new  ways to navigate life and find the good in the bad circumstances.  Retreating to the ski hill she loves, she finds healing and peace but not in the ways she would have ever thought. 

Such a good book again by this author.  Once again, she is able to weave a fictional story around a real life brain illness or injury and teach her readers about the effects on both the injured and their families and those around them.  It's a very real, sensitive portrayal of the struggles they face and gives the reader compassion for those facing this kind of injury without it being a dry textbook factual read.  You are drawn into the story through the emotional elements the author is so gifted at bringing out in both the characters and the reader.  I also love how in this story the concept of the American dream is dissected in the light of one family having to re-examine what they thought was that dream and the accomplishment of it and taking a hard look a what really is important to them in the long run. 

I gave this book a 9.5/10.  The only reason it didn't score 10 for me was because in the beginning Sarah is having dreams at night and that really slowed the story for me.  I'm an at face value reader and struggle with allegorical and hidden meaning elements in stories so I found myself really skimming those parts.  Once those parts were done in the story it really picked up and became hard to put down. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #468

Well winter pack a wallop this week and sent us two winter storms.  The snow shoveled off our double driveway is a high as my daughter's VW Beetle.  That is a lot of snow.  The saving grace is that it's been lighter snow, not the break your back wet stuff.  But no matter the weather, it is still a good practice to look back over the week and intentionally look for blessings and good things in our lives.  Please join us in sharing 5 of those blessings.  

If you are unfamiliar with the guidelines, please read this post first, and then just join on in.  

~hard working hubby~ Hubby has shoveled more snow in this week than you can imagine.  He not only does our huge double driveway and the front sidewalk but the back walk and parking area, then he goes to my mom's and shovels her big ol' driveway too!  I am so grateful for him doing all this hard work.  He is out there before I even get out of bed.  I won't take this for granted at all as I know not all husbands are willing or can do all that shoveling.  

~the snow~  yes, it actually made my list because it was such a beautiful, peaceful snow both times it dumped on us.  It didn't come with the crazy wind that would make it a blizzard, it was just light and fluffy and thick and Christmas card-ish.  Now to be clear, I'm not crazy about the slippery roads and white out conditions on the highways and all the work for hubby, but watching it out my front window it was lovely.  

~taste of summer~ This week I pulled out a container of homemade spaghetti sauce that I had made last September when the tomatoes were harvested.  It was so nice on a wintery, stormy day to have that fresh summer taste on our plates.   

~small change in haircut~ this last haircut we made a small change and went back to what I had last spring.  It was only a small difference, but it made all the difference in the world to how my hair styles and looks.  And I love how my stylist doesn't get all offended if I change my mind on something.  

~comfy bed~  I had new mattress covers on my to buy for the house list so when I saw some for a great price at Costco so I nabbed one.   When I got it home and unpackaged it I noticed it was quite thick.  I wasn't too sure how that would be as sometimes those can be quite hot and I like a cool mattress but it has turned out to be so comfortable.  We liked it so much I went back and got another for the guest bed.  Score on a great product which we needed for a great price!

What were your favorite blessings for the week?

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman

Becky Myers used to be a very busy surgical nurse and assistant in Dr. Isaac Blum's medical practice.  But some tragedies in the doctor's life have taken his ability to cope with life.  Somehow his care has landed squarely into Becky's lap.  Unable to continue his medical practice, Becky packs up what they have and heads to Hope River where the Doctor has a home.  She hopes the change of scenery will knock him out of his stupor.  But when they get there things have changed and Becky and the doctor find themselves homeless.  Looking up her old friend, Patience Murphy, the midwife of Hope River, she hopes that she can help her out.  Once settled into the midwife's old home, Becky's next step is to try to find a job.  But the depression has hit West Virginia hard and there are no jobs to be found.  What's left is to help Patience in her midwifery, but Becky has never been comfortable with the whole birth process and would rather deal with the sick.  When an opportunity comes her way to work as a nurse at the Civilian Conservation Corps camp, she nabs it thinking she can get away from helping birth babies.  But now Patience is pregnant and facing months of bed rest and it seems she still must reluctantly take on the delivering of babies.  Then new tragedy strikes and it will take all her skills and courage to get through it.

I did enjoy this 2nd installment to the Hope River novel.  One of the time periods I love reading about is the 1930's and the Depression and this book didn't disappoint in that regard.  The descriptions of life in those times was very good and I can't imagine what it must have been like for 40% of people to be out of work and then the dust and fire storms wreaking havoc on top of it all.  The Civilian Conservation Corps was a real program developed by then president, Roosevelt to revive the rural economies. It "employed" thousands in several states and was a way for the men to get money sent to their families while it gave them meals and room and board. It was interesting reading how a nurse would cope with a huge crew of all men and the issues that that would bring along in those times.  Though at times I felt there were a  few coarse descriptions of some of the medical stuff.  The Facts page at the back of the book was very interesting concerning this "tree army".

Though Betsy was a reluctant midwife in the story I think, if memory serves correctly, there wasn't quite as many "delivery" stories as the first book. I  loved the author's character development in both the main characters and some of the secondary and side characters as well.  They gave a real understanding to the things that might have been going on in people's lives during that time.  And Betsy having to face her fears of midwifery because she had to was good as well.   Dr. Blum with his mental health issue was especially interesting to me, along with aggravating at times, and yet how he developed down through the story was fascinating to me.   I liked that Patience from the first book was back in the story but didn't override the introduction of Betsy and yet didn't fade away either.  The author balanced the two of them very well. 

I rated this one 8/10

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble ~ Book Tour and Review

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Publisher Description:
"Prepare to stay up all night with Colleen Coble. Coble's beautiful, emotional prose coupled with her keen sense of pacing, escalating danger, and very real characters place her firmly at the top of the suspense genre. I could not put this book down." --Allison Brennan, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered

 After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has. When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son. Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

 In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this latest from Colleen Coble.  It's the first in a new series called Lavender Tides set in Washington state and I'm looking forward to more.  I think it might be my favorite that I've read from her.  And can I just pause to mention the gorgeous cover?  So pretty.  The story is a page turner for sure, but what really made it good for me was that it wasn't just a murder suspense mystery but that it had depth to it and  involved my emotions as the characters struggled through their grief at losing a young husband, father and friend.  The way they were written was really good and very believable.  Though there is an element of romance to the story as is in all the author's mysteries, it didn't take over the story and it didn't make me roll my eyes at an "insta-love" element.  The ones involved had known each other many years and I found the development of their attraction sweet and probably quite natural.  As for the mystery I was really drawn in and couldn't put the book down in a lot of  the parts.  It paced really well to keep me turning those pages.  A few unanswered questions at the end set the book up nicely for the next in the series.

I give this book a good 9/10 using my rating stars that I've done for years.  (Though on the BookLook site it's out of 5 stars with no halfers so on their site I will give it the 5 stars rather than the 4)

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for sending me a free copy for my honest review.  All thoughts are my own and I'm not required to give a good review.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #467

Well it's February already, so much going on in this short month.  It's also Friday so let's take a pause and take note of the blessings that came our way in the last week of January.  Please join in sharing 5 of those favorites.

~quote~  Love the wording of this quote by Max Lucado and the image it puts in my mind.  I think it's from his new book "Anxious for Nothing".

"We can wear our hurt or wear our hope. We can outfit ourselves in our misfortune, or we can clothe ourselves in God's providence. We can cave in to the pandemonium of life, or we can lean into the perfect plan of God."

~birthday celebrations~  On Friday my son turned 26.  Wow, can't believe I just typed that.  We celebrated with his favorite meal at his request:  my soft tacos.  He's requested these for practically every birthday since he was a kid.  We even offered to take take him a dinner out but nope, tacos it was.  And of course, his favorite cake, fruit flan had to make an appearance.  Happy Birthday, Son!  You've become a wonderful young man we are so proud of!

~favorite restaurant dish made at home~  Our family love The Old Spaghetti Factory restaurants.  Unfortunately, or possibly fortunately for our waistlines, there isn't one here and we try to take it in when we go to Calgary.  All of us especially love the Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese.  Very unique and very delicious.  The cheese is very hard to find but the above mentioned son found it at a cheese shop in the city he lives in and bought his dad a chunk of it for Christmas.  Hubby was very nice to share and we had a lovely meal of it at home without having to travel 2 hours.  A real treat.

~lunch out with a friend~  My friend took me for brunch this Saturday to celebrate my belated birthday.  I haven't had lunch out with a friend in what seems like forever.  Though I see her often at church, and we go out with our spouses for couples nights, it has been a long while since I've just had time with her as my friend.  It was great to catch up and enjoy each other's company.  And I love brunch food so it was a blessing all the way around.

~Black Cherry Merlot fragrance items~  I'm loving this scent from Bath and Body Works in everything from hand sanitizer to hand soap and lotion to candles.  I find this one is not overpowering but is just nice.

What have been your favorite blessings from this last week?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner ~ Book Review

This is the story of 3 women.  Two are war brides from World War II traveling on the Queen Mary to join their husbands in America.  After surviving the horrors of war, one in France, the other in Germany they are hoping to start anew in the U.S.  But both hide deep secrets that they hope will never be found out.  One is a present day woman who is facing a huge decision with her husband.  But when an old aquaintance calls desperately requesting her assistance she must face the secrets she herself is trying to run away from.  Helping this person requires her to take a visit to the Queen Mary which is now docked in a city close to her.  What she finds causes her to dig into her secret in order to solve the mystery.

I had a real love/hate relationship with this story.  I love most works by this author and the cover is so beautiful it lulled me into requesting it for Christmas without first checking into a description.  But in reality the description on the back does would not have truly revealed to me what this story is really about.  First the good stuff:  Loved the story of the two women, Simone and Annaliese, from World War II and the heartache and horrors they faced and survived.  Loved the story and mystery that was developed between the two of them.  Their characters were richly told and very believable.  I was drawn right in and had a hard time putting the book down when their part of the story was being told.

What I didn't love or even like was the contemporary part of the story.  Brette is an individual who can see and communicate with "drifters",  ghosts of individuals who are stuck in a place between life and afterlife.  (This is not a spoiler as you learn this right at the beginning).  For whatever reason, they are unable to move on.  This so-called gift is passed along amongst some of the women in her maternal side of the family and no one knows who will get it and who won't.  Brette has been trying to suppress this gift on the advice of her aunt since childhood but when an old schoolmate desperately calls her for help it leads her to the Queen Mary, a ship which historically was used by royalty, then used during the war for battle and for transporting war brides and which is now docked, rumored to be haunted and offers historical tours.  When there, she encounters a drifter who is also desperately trying to show her something and she feels she must solve the mystery.  I felt this whole part of the story just detracted from the wonderfully written historical part.  The ending concerning the drifter and the ship was just weird and left me disappointed.  The whole ghost thing was distracting to me and I wish the story and it's mysteries could have been told without the ghost narrative.   Though I love this author usually, she is one of my favorites, this is now the second book I've read from her that has had a ghost involved.  I think I will be checking reviews a bit better to get a better gist of what her story is about seeing as how the back of the book description didn't let me in on any of this (all it said was the character visits the famously haunted Queen Mary...I did not get from that that this was going to be a story who's major plot would be about communicating with "drifters".  I don't know maybe I'm dense and don't read between the lines well).  Ghost stories are definitely not my cup of tea and I feel if a book who's major storyline is going to be about ghosts maybe make that a little more clear in the description?