Saturday, June 17, 2017

Menu Plan Monday– June 19, 2017

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6/4/17-6/11/17

Sunday 18th – Grilled Chicken with Savory Summer Vegetable – Strawberry Salad with Greens and Feta Cheese – Steamed Sweet Potatoes with Butter (Tree House)

Monday, 19th – Salmon Oriental – Broccoli and Sweet Potato  (Tree House)

Tuesday, 20th  – (Mom out of Town) – Chicken Pot Pies

Wednesday, 21st – (Mom Out of Town) – Hot Dogs

Thursday, 22nd – (Mom Out of Town) – Simek’s Lasagna

Friday, 23rd -  Grilled Hamburgers – Waffle Fries

Saturday, 24th – Leftovers

Sunday, 25th – Super Juicy Pork Chops – Crisp Green Salad – Simple Steamed Broccoli (Tree House)

Monday, 26th – Lemon-Herb Fish – Simple Springtime Salad with Raspberry Dressing – Baked Potatoes (Tree House)

Tuesday, 27th – Italian Skillet Frittata – Simple Roasted Asparagus (Tree House)

Wednesday, 28th – Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, House Salad, Grilled Pineapple (Tree House)

Thursday, 29th -  Leftovers

Friday, 30th -

Saturday, July 1st – Chicken Caesar Salad (Tree House)

BREAKFAST
Potato & Egg Burritos
Blueberry Muffins

LUNCH
Strawberry, Feta & Almond Salad : 

2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
¼ red onion, minced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ⅓ cup olive oil salt & pepper
4 oz spinach ½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 quart strawberries, hulled— small berries halved, large ones quartered
1 cup almonds, chopped

1. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, honey, onion and vinegar. Stir in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 2. Put the spinach & lettuce in a large bowl. Add the strawberries, feta and almonds.
Avocado Tuna Salad

For more Menu Planning inspiration stop by and visit Laura at Organizing Junkie and participate in Menu Plan Monday. 

Wishing you a wonderful week!!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

  32148570._SY180_Title:  Before We Were Yours
  Author: Lisa Wingate (Website)

  Genre: Literature/Fiction
  Publisher: Ballantine Books (June 6, 2017)
  Length: 352 pages
  Source: First To Read Reviewer Program

 

About the Book: (From Goodreads)

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancĂ©, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

About the Author:

WingateHeadshot1-WebResLisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and bestselling author of more than twenty novels. Her work has won or been nominated for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, and the RT Booklovers Reviewer’s Choice Award.

The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others as recipients of the National Civics Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.” More information about her novels can be found at www.lisawingate.com.

 

My Review: I love books that are based on actual real-life events.  I had never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and Georgia Tann.   Ms Tann ran an adoption organization that kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families.  From 1924 to 1950 Georgia Tann used deception, manipulation, threats and force to obtain children from poor families and single moms.   The children were than sold to families of means.  Notable celebrity, Joan Crawford used Georgia Tann’s services to obtain her twins.   The treatment of children at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society resulted in many children dying during their time there.  It is hard for me to believe that this continued for 30 years without detection or intervention.

Knowing this historical context, makes Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate all the more powerful.  Lisa Wingate provides amazing character development.  Many of the characters have stayed with me long after finishing Before We Were Yours.  The story takes place in two time periods.   In present day we meet Avery Stafford, the senator’s daughter and successful lawyer.  Avery as a character grows throughout the story and begins to understand what is really important in life.  She takes a journey through her families history and brings the truth forward, even though she is unsure if her Grandmother, Judy wants the truth known.  I love how Avery kept after the truth even though it could change her family.   As she grew, her life priorities changed and she found happiness.

In 1939 the Foss children lived on a shantyboat in Memphis with their parents.  They are a very happy family of limited means.  A medical emergency takes the parents away from the shantyboat.  During their absence, their 5 children (Rill, Lark, Fern, Camilla and Gabion) are kidnapped and taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.  The children are slowly separated as some are adopted. Georgia Tann changed all the children’s names when they came to the orphanage and tricked families into signing papers to legal surrender their children.  Some of the legal paperwork were completely fabricated. 

The oldest daughter Rill, feels she is to blame for not keeping her siblings safe.  Rill is an amazingly strong young girl in a no win situation.  She does the best she can to take care of her siblings.  I have so much respect for all she did for her siblings.  Rill gave up a great deal to stay with her sister, Fern and build a life with her.

I don’t want to give too much away, but Before We Were Yours is an very emotional journey.  Lisa Wingate skillfully weaves together the past and present to drive the plot.   I absolutely loved the ending.  There is freedom in the truth for the eldest of the characters.   I think the ending perfectly brought both story lines together, allowing a lost family to be found.   Before We Were Yours is about deep love and family secrets.   I have had a hard time starting another book since I finished Before We Were Yours, as I keep thinking about these characters and their lives.  

I rate Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate a 5 (it was amazing) due to the depth and development of the characters as well as my love for books based on real-life events.  I know this story and its’ characters will stay with me for a long time.   The images of the Tennessee Children Home Society and the events that happened there are forever with me.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate was received from The First To Read Program at Penguin Random House in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: June by Miranda Beverly–Whittemore

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  Title:  June
  Author: Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
(Website)
  Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (February 14, 2017)
  Length: 432 pages
  Source: Broadway Books and Blogging for Books

 

 

About the Book: (From Goodreads)

Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?

Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal.

As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

My Review: June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore takes place in St. Jude, Ohio.  The story weaves between present time and 1955, when a Hollywood file crew came to town to film Erie Canal.  The star of Erie Canal is Jack Montgomery, a Hollywood heartthrob. The crew takes quaint little St, Jude by storm.  There are parties and community members working for the film. 

June and Lindie are best friends.  June is engaged to marry Arthur, who is schedule to be coming to town soon.  Lindie is a young lady, who secretly is in love with June.   June lives in an elegant mansion called Two Oakes.  Lindie and June have grown up together.  June’s mother Cheryl Anne has great ambition for her daughter to marry well.  There are a lot of twists and turns following the story line that takes place in 1955.  There is murder, secrets and the cover up.  June is a very strong woman who is able to make some difficult decisions. 

In the present day,  Cassie the grand daughter of June comes to Two Oakes after her grandmother’s death.  Cassie is struggling with functioning day to day.  She has inherited Two Oakes, which is in great despair.   Two Oakes is a living breathing character in the story.  This works sometimes and other times seems out of place.  One day, Nick arrives at her door.  Nick is the assistant to Tate, who is the daughter to the Hollywood star, Jack Montgomery.   Nick informs her that she has been left a large amount of money from Jack Montgomery, who she does not know.     The mystery begins to unfold as the truth is slowly revealed between the dual narratives from 1955 and present day. 

Initially June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore did not grab me.  Towards the middle I was invested in the story and the story continues to gain momentum to the ending.   I really enjoyed a number of the characters, especially the relationship between June and Lindie as well as Two Oakes.  I found it interesting that the house was an actual character in the story. 

I rate June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore as 3/5.  I didn’t lose any sleep to read June, but the ending had me and I had to finish before my day could continue. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore was also reviewed by Mockingbird Hill Cottage, Cover2Cover Mom, the Smug Cloud, Perfectly Ambitious and Becky Renner.

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore was received from the Blogging for Books Program in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Coming Soon to a Bookshelf Near You: June 2017

Book Shelf

Loving this beautiful weather!   Today is my last day of vacation before heading back to work.  We just returned from South Dakota, where we celebrated my parents 60th wedding anniversary and my mom’s 80th birthday! I thought I would have time to review and read while in SD, but we stayed very busy visiting with family.    Before heading back to work, I thought I would share some books that have caught my eye.   These books will be available in June.  If you like, maybe even get on the waitlist at the library for these upcoming titles.

As a book blogger, I am able to request, read and provide feedback on upcoming titles.   I love being able to do this, but some months my ambitions are larger than what time allows.  I still have a full time job which interferes regularly with my reading/blogging schedule.  So I decided to share with you some upcoming releases that have caught my eye.    I would hate for you to miss an upcoming title due to my lack of time!!

Here are some books which were be available in bookstores in June 2017, that caught my eye!

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                                 Review of The Child                             

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Happy Reading!


*Note – if you would like to keep up with book reviews on Reading in White Bear Lake, please take a moment to like us on facebook!   If you are interested in my other loves: cooking, menu planning, organizing and my family check out our other blog, Living in White Bear Lake.   Living in White Bear Lake can also be found on facebook.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Coming Soon to a Bookshelf Near You: May 2017

Book Shelf

Loving this beautiful weather!   Time for lunches in the park with my favorite book.    What better time to share some books that have caught my eye.   These books will be available in May.  If you like, maybe even get on the waitlist at the library for these upcoming titles.

As a book blogger, I am able to request, read and provide feedback on upcoming titles.   I love being able to do this, but some months my ambitions are larger than what time allows.  I still have a full time job which interferes regularly with my reading/blogging schedule.  So I decided to share with you some upcoming releases that have caught my eye.    I would hate for you to miss an upcoming title due to my lack of time!!

Here are some books which were be available in bookstores in May 2017, that caught my eye!

And finally...the book I have pre-ordered as I can't wait to read it.............

 

Happy Reading!


*Note – if you would like to keep up with book reviews on Reading in White Bear Lake, please take a moment to like us on facebook!   If you are interested in my other loves: cooking, menu planning, organizing and my family check out our other blog, Living in White Bear Lake.   Living in White Bear Lake can also be found on facebook.

* This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Review: The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

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  Title:  The Shadow Land 
  Author: Elizabeth Kostova (Website)
 
  Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 11, 2017)
  Length: 496 pages
  Source: Good Reads and Random House

 

About the Book: (From Goodreads):
From the #1 bestselling author of The Historian comes an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and haunted country.

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by oppression and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Kostova's new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

My Review: The Shadow Land by Elizabeth is told from two points of view.  The view of Alexandra, an American that came to Sophia, Bulgaria to teach English.   The Shadow Land starts with Alexandra accidently becoming into possession of the ashes of Stroyan Lazarov.  She begins a wild goose chase of a trip to find the family of Stroyan Lazarov to return the ashes.  She starts this trip with a taxi driver, Bobby.  During their trip they escape danger, become close and meet many interesting individuals connected to Stroyan Lazarov.  Through their travels, we find out more and more about Stroyan.  Will they ever get Stroyan’s ashes back to his family???

Stroyan Lazarov also told the story of his life in Bulgaria during the communist regime.  Stroyan was very in loved with and married to Vera.  Stroyan was a very talented musician with his career derailed due to the communist regime.  Stroyan answers the door of his apartment one night and was met by the police and taken into custody.  The abuse and mistreatment that began is disturbing.  It is made even more disturbing by Elizabeth Kostova’s skillful, vivid descriptions.  Stroyan is a strong man with the ability to get lost in this thoughts.  Secrets are revealed and the connect between the past and present come to the forefront. 

Elizabeth Kostova’s writing and descriptions of Bulgaria are beautiful.  Kostova provides a very vivid snapshot of Bulgaria during two distinctly different times in history.  I found myself re-reading a sentence here and there due to skill of the writing.  I found The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova to be character driven.  The character, Stroyan Lazarov entered the story in an Urn and became my favorite and the most developed character.   Kostova provided such a detailed description of Stroyan’s life in the prison camp that you could even smell the scents of the camp.  Stroyan’s story was very compelling and moving as he struggled throughout life with the effect of the communist regime. 

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova is slow to build. Once Stroyan begins to tell his story,the pace increases and the pages fly by.  I decided to read a bit of The Shadowland this morning with my coffee at 6:30am….soon I find myself riveted to my seat until I finished the book around noon.  What a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning!!    The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova receives a 4 star rating from me.   I so enjoyed my travels around Bulgaria.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova was received from Ballantine Books through Goodreads.com giveaway in exchange for a fair review.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

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Title:  The Woman in Cabin 10  
Author: Ruth Ware
(Facebook) (Website) (Twitter)
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (April 11, 2017)
Length: Audio CD Version
Source: White Bear Lake Library

 

About the Book: (From Goodreads):
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

My Review:  I am a little late to the party as The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware came out in hard cover in the summer of 2016.  For whatever reason, I heard a lot about The Woman in Cabin 10, but didn’t pick it up.  This could be due to the fact that during that time, everything was compared to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.   Ruth Ware is a new to me author, with The Woman in Cabin 10 being her sophomore book. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware comes out of the gate strong with the main character, Laura “Lo” Blacklock, being a victim of a break in, which understandably leaves her distressed.   Lo is a travel journalist and needs to leave for a cruise on a new luxury boat called the Aurora, despite the recent break in.   Lo struggles on the boat with feeling safe, which leads to her drinking too much.

One night she is awoken by a noise, she believes she sees a body being thrown overboard.  In typical mystery fashion, a murder happens with a witness, but everyone else denies it.   So did Lo really see this or was it a dream as a result of her drinking?   All the passengers are accounted for and the cruise staff begin to think Lo is making things up.  Lo is unreliable narrator with her drinking and history of mental health issues which adds to the confusion as to what is real.

The creep factor for me in The Woman in Cabin 10 was the setting!  A cruise ship in the middle of the sea and the sense of claustrophobia was very real for me.  ARGH!  Lo is certain a murder has happened, but she is trapped on a cruise ship with no way to contact the authorities.  She is unable to get ahold of her family or boyfriend due to not having internet access while out at sea.  I hate the feeling of being TRAPPED!

I listened to the audio of The Woman in Cabin 10, I loved the pace of the book and Lo seems even more unreliable when you listen to her.  There are many characters in The Woman in Cabin 10 and they are all pretty well developed.  I loved all the accents in the audio book!  You are never sure if you can believe Lo.  The suspense builds, twists happen and things start to fall into place.  The end had me on the edge of my seat.   The very last sentence or so of the book, made for the perfect ending!   I was very satisfied with the ending.   I finished The Woman in the Cabin 10 on my road trip to Duluth and give it 4 stars. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was also reviewed by Crime By The Book, Rebel Mommy, Mrs. B Book Reviews,  and Curled Up

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was checked out from the public library.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.