My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

As my family tried to ease back into routine, it was still a difficult week with much to do. We had a pretty good weekend though, starting with a bbq at my brother’s on Friday night. He has a new puppy and a great yard, and it was a lovely evening. Summer is here, finally, I think. (fingers crossed) The boyo has three days left of school, and I am looking forward to having him home again. I hope to do lots of cool stuff this summer!

Read Last Week:

Last week I read and reviewed and gave away a copy of Montauk, which was excellent! I really enjoyed it. I also tried to read The Summoning but couldn’t get into it so it became a DNF, sadly.

Reading This Week:

I think I am in need of a little summer reading and I ran across this book in a Facebook group that I belong to called The Romance of Reading. It sounded perfect so I am giving it a whirl!

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: Montauk by Nicola Harrison

Watching:

I’m afraid our television watching is not that thrilling right now – still Criminal Minds on Netflix. Lol.

How about you all? What is going on in your neighborhood?

Review and Giveaway! Montauk by Nicola Harrison

Publisher Summary:

Montauk, Long Island, 1938. 

For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The MontaukManor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city. 
College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was. 
As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future. 
Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…

My Thoughts:

Beatrice Boudreaux is a woman of privilege and class, status, a member of Society with that capital S. However, she married into that world of wealth and privilege and sprung from more humble beginnings in rural Pennsylvania. She struggles to find her place in a society that she is not entirely comfortable with, and would prefer curling up somewhere quiet with a book than big parties most of the time. When her husband gets wind of an investment opportunity in Montauk, he relocates Bea there for the summer season, joining her only on the weekends. Beatrice hopes that their summer will bring them closer together, as they have been drifting apart, partly because of the fact that they still remained childless after five years of marriage.

Bea is alone and lonely, with only the other society wives to be with during the week. She has a hard time connecting with their lifestyle and values and beliefs, and prefers time on her own at first, hiking off trail through the woods and reading in her room. But her husband expects her to befriend these women and fit in, so she does her best at forming connections. Her quick and curious mind though often separates her from her peers, as does her naivete, which I assume can be chalked up to her age and background. She slowly forges a friendship with Elizabeth, the laundress from the town, and becomes more and more involved with the lives of the locals, whose lives are not as glittering and shiny and filled with luxury, but are happy and simple, despite the hard work they do everyday. Beatrice begins to reexamine her own life, her own priorities, and has to choose what exactly it really is that she wants.

What I really loved about this book was the side by side comparisons of the lives of the people who share the same spot of land for a summer. The privilege set against those who are paid to do the things like their laundry, or transport a weeks worth of dirty diapers from Montauk all the way back to the city to be cleaned then sent back – that’s a 117 mile journey, one way. That reeks of entitlement – plus, gross all the way around. These society women at the Manor loved a cause, as long as the cause ultimately helped them too – like the woman who fundraised for animal welfare but also to get publicity for herself, and for the business she was starting of a dog hotel so that city people could bring their animals with them but then not have to do anything with them, like walk them, feed them, or even keep them in their own rooms. Beatrice’s husband is also a real piece of work, and a man of means and a man of those times as well. This reader didn’t care for him right off the bat!

I loved thinking of this wild island, with its hardworking village and natural beauty, slowly changing Beatrice’s perceptions of life. The rhythms of a life well lived, an authentic life, opened Beatrice’s eyes to the real world around her. She makes some mistakes and blunders, but we all do when we are first learning. Overall I really enjoyed this book, although the ending was a bit of a surprise.

Beautiful and enchanting, this is a definite must read for the summer, whether you are on the beach or in the woods or just on your own couch. I was enthralled in Bea’s journey and just the setting of Montauk itself. and definitely recommend this one!

The Giveaway!

It’s super easy! Just leave a comment below and your email address! I’ll pick a winner and send you the book. You don’t need a blog to enter, but you do need to live in the United States for this one. I’ll do another giveaway this summer that includes everyone! This giveaway ends June 8th, so it’s a quick one! Be sure to use the rafflecopter link too, that is how the winner will be chosen! The winner has been chosen – Linda E. you are the winner! I’ll be contacting you via email. (winner is also displayed on the rafflecopter link widget)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the chance to read and review this book and for providing the giveaway copy! I received an advance copy of this book in exchange an honest review.

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz 

Nine days ago, our world changed when my stepfather suddenly passed away. He had been fighting lymphoma when a chemo session hit him too hard to battle, and we lost him. He was one of the best men I have ever met, full of art and music and kindnessh and a bit of mischief too. This has been a rough week for all of us, particularly my mother.

In times like these, I crave routine and schedules and lists. This is how I function. I am a creature of habit. For me, it is easier to cope with things when I have a plan. So, today we start easing our way back to sort of normal. Things will be different and changed and there is so much to do, but today we slowly try to find our rhythms again, making space for all the differences and grief we are feeling in our hearts.

Reading This Week:

Lake of the Ozarks: I am all about the tourist kitsch and summertime attractions, so I am really interested in reading this book!

Watching:

Not anything new. Just old Criminal Minds and Monty Don.

A Wee Road Trip

On a whim, spur of the moment, fly by the seat of our pants type situation our family took a trip to the western side of Michigan over Mother’s Day weekend. My husband very nonchalantly said to me one day that he would like to see the tulips in Holland, MI , and I was like, well let’s go! We had originally planned to go to Mackinaw for that weekend, so he already had the time off – we just switched our destination at the last minute. And I was really glad that we did! I love northern Michigan but that weekend would have been absolutely freezing – we were cold in Sauguatuck and Holland, but nothing like it would have been in Mackinac.

It was not easy finding reservations at the last minute, especially ones that were not $400 a night. We ended up staying outside of Holland, for which I was grateful, as it was nice to visit the tulip festival and have a place to retreat that was less crazy, especially with our four year old in tow. The hotel we stayed at was one of a few that are out that way that I have always wanted to stay at – the Saugatuck Retro Resort, which is a restored and renovated motor lodge from 1966. The decor is mid-century modern, which I love, and it was super clean. I am one of those weirdos about rooms and cleanliness and this place passed my inspection. I have a love apparently lately for vintage style travel and the Saugatuck Retro Resort did not disappoint. I only wish we could have been there later in the season as the motel offered a communal fire pit and a great looking pool, as well as grills for guest use. Definitely a place to remember for the future.

We left early, stopping only for road provisions at Avalon Bakery in Detroit for croissants and cookies and headed out west, destination Windmill Island in Holland. I was there once as a very little girl but I didn’t remember it. It was insanely beautiful that day, with a super blue sky and a riot of tulips everywhere. I didn’t expect all the people there who came strictly to take photos in the tulip gardens, decked out in particular outfits to strike a pose, although I could see why they would! Some people were very respectful of the flowers, while others tromped all over them trying to get the perfect picture, which was sad. One woman was screeching at her kids and changing her lenses repeatedly trying to get her shot, all while squashing tulips beneath her Hunters -it was pretty sad. For the most part though, people were there to enjoy the scenery and take in the tulips. We walked around, visited the windmill, and poked around the tiny Dutch village replica, where I bought Wyatt a teeny pair of wooden clogs and a wooden duck call. (he loves ducks..)

The Visitors Center told me that there were 4 million tulips planted around the city, which was mind-blowing! That is a ton of tulips. But the results were majestic. They lined every street along the curb, and great fields were planted in open spaces. It was certainly a visual treat. Our motelier told us that it is the biggest tourist event in Michigan, which I was not aware of. I haven’t checked this fact, but I could believe it by the sheer number of people who were there. It is just a small time frame in the spring, during the peak of tulip season, but they definitely make the most of it. We took in the sights and then left the city for a little family time away from the biggest crowds.

We wound up in Saugatuck, which is where we were staying anyway. In search of coffee, we bumbled into a newish looking brewery that was a hop, skip, and jump from our motel, thanks to Google literally giving us the closest place that coffee could be found. The Guardian Brewery was new and bright and clean, and the coffee was delicious, probably because they use it to make a coffee porter. And of course, while we were there, we sampled their menu, both food and beer! I had the asparagus and wild rice salad, which was so good, Billy had a grilled ham and cheese, and since they did not have chicken tenders for my picky eater, he had chips and guacamole, that we of course helped him eat. Everything was absolutely delicious. It was a bit of an early bird dinner/late lunch, which put us at a weird schedule, so we went back to our room and let Wyatt decompress and be a kid for a bit, before hopping back in the car and tooling around town, looking about. We had a lovely evening, sitting outside the motel later, in the gloaming, as my dad would say. The motel was empty at the point except for us, so we had the place to ourselves, so we let Wyatt use his duck call. It was just nice to sit out there with our tea and each other’s company.

The next morning we stayed off the beaten path, and had breakfast at a local diner called Vicki’s, where Wyatt proceeded to eat two orders of bacon and a little bit of pancakes. After filling up on toast and scrambled eggs and bacon, we went to the DeGraaf Nature Center and spent a good few hours there, watching birds and hiking around. We are big nature center people, and they had a wonderful one. Wyatt enjoyed all the animals that lived there, especially the two screech owls who talked to us. He wasn’t so sure about the giant rabbit though lol. He is such a bird kid already! He can imitate bird calls almost perfectly, it kind of amazes me honestly. We saw 6 new birds to check off our list, and the pretty white trilliums that bloom in the woods in the spring. We also spotted fiddlehead ferns near a small stream as well! I love their spiral shape as they grow. They also had a small trail of rocks, as I called it, and I was tickled to see that there was a stone called a puddingstone! I am not sure why, but I really liked its name. It just made me smile.

Wyatt was so ready to go back to the room for a bit and get his wiggles out and watch some well-deserved Daniel Tiger, so we went back there for a bit. We spent the rest of the night shopping our way through Saugatuck’s downtown, where I could have probably bought a billion things, but I ended up buying only a book of poems written by a local poet and writer. For dinner we went to The Butler, a tradition for us. It is situated right on the water, and this time, it had special meaning for me. My aunt, who passed away in February, loved this restaurant and would drive all the way across the state to eat there, and then come home after. I think it was more for the experience of it, to just take a road trip, eat, and come home, but it was something she did. It was a moody evening, raining but very peaceful, and we raised a glass to her memory.

The next morning was mother’s day morning, and when we drove into town for breakfast we saw all the ladies dressed up, surrounded by their families, going to their breakfasts. We didn’t have reservations anywhere of course, so we found an awesome little bakery by the water where we literally got the best cup of coffee we had all weekend, and bagels. We had a water view and the place to ourselves and I couldn’t have asked for anything more but that perfect moment with my two guys.

Book Review: The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

Goodreads Summary:

From the outside looking in, Lauren Delaney has a life to envy—a successful career, a solid marriage to a prominent surgeon and two beautiful daughters who are off to good colleges. But on her twenty-fourth wedding anniversary Lauren makes a decision that will change everything.

Lauren won’t pretend things are perfect anymore. She defies the controlling husband who has privately mistreated her throughout their marriage and files for divorce. And as she starts her new life, she meets a kindred spirit—a man who is also struggling with the decision to end his unhappy marriage.

But Lauren’s husband wants his “perfect” life back and his actions are shocking. Facing an uncertain future, Lauren discovers an inner strength she didn’t know she had as she fights for the love and happiness she deserves.

My Thoughts:

When I picked up this book, I was in the mood for a book that I could really lose myself in – and this book delivered. I really enjoyed this book!

Lauren endures a marriage for twenty-four years that was controlling and loveless, and the reader knows right away that she will not be growing old with her husband, Brad, and that this year together is their last. She knows what will happen, and what she needs to do in order to leave the marriage and plans well and plans thoroughly. However, of course, there are still major issues and problems, despite all of her careful and meticulous planning. With Brad, with her daughters, with trusting her own judgement and decisions to some extent. The title of this book is perfect – Lauren’s new viewpoint is physical, and emotional, as she reflects back on her life and the choices she has made. As she looks out and forward, she is also taking a look in, and back. She undergoes some real self-reflection and finds not just her independence but also that she is tough and smart and and strong.

I found her relationship with her two daughters to be completely realistic, especially in this situation. One aspect I enjoyed in this book was Lauren exploring her new relationships with her daughters out from under the umbrella her ex, and meeting them on new terms. Her whole life was changed, and it was like a rebirth in a way.

I am a relatively new Robyn Carr fan, and every book I read by her, I like her books more and more! I loved this one, and I am looking forward to reading her again in the future!

Thank you to Little Bird Publicity for the review copy in exchange for an honest review~

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz 

Hi all! I hope you have had a great weekend! We have spent ours outside working on our front garden. We let Wyatt choose our color scheme, and honestly he didn’t do a bad job! We have lots of reds and purples and pinks happening out there. Wyatt and I also hung out with my dad on Friday, visiting Greenfield Village and walking around. It was a nice day, and we hope to go back soon. So many schools were there on end of the school year field trips that we couldn’t get on the train ride, so we are definitely going back for that.

We have got a lot on our agenda for this week, but lots of fun stuff! Stuff with flowers and bees and turtles – should be a lot of fun!

Read Last Week:

I finished The Familiars and I really loved it. Review soon hopefully! I also started Common Ground, and I am enjoying it as well.

Reading This Week:

My husband just started Caraval, so I am looking forward to entering this world again so we can talk about it!

Watching:

Criminal Minds on Netflix, Monty Don’s Big Dreams Small Spaces, Game of Thrones, and American Gods. That last episode of GoT!!!! Wow. And American Gods is so good! I am a fan of Mad Sweeney. Anyone else watch this?

Posted Last Week:

In addition to my Sunday-Monday Post, I posted a book review of Bonavere Howl, which was really good.

Book Review: Bonavere Howl

Goodreads Summary:

It is 1955, and the three Fayette sisters have lived their whole lives in the enchanting French Quarter of New Orleans. Though neglected by their parents, they share a close bond with one another–from afternoons in their small, shared bedroom, to trying to speak with ghosts beneath the sweeping trees in their garden. When the middle sister Constance disappears, the family believes she has run away, as she has done before; it is only the youngest–thirteen-year-old Bonavere (known as Bonnie)–who suspects there is more to it. Met only with grief from her family and resistance from the police, Bonnie embarks on a journey to bring her sister home, venturing through fabled Red Honey Swamp, and the city’s vibrant and brutal history. Unravelling the layers of her sister’s secret life, Bonnie discovers a pattern of girls found half-mad in the Louisiana swampland, and a connection to the wealthy, notorious Lasalle family. To rescue her sister, she must confront the realities of true violence, and the very nature of insanity.

My Thoughts:

I will often pick a book for the setting, and Bonavere Howl was one I chose simply because the blurb said New Orleans. New Orleans is one of my very favorite cities to visit, I love its vibe and its energy and its people so much. One of my best friends is from New Orleans, and I love just listening to her talk about her hometown. So when I saw this, I had to read it.

If you have ever been to the Crescent City, you will know what that swampy, sticky, humid heat feels like. And Galway evokes this feeling, that lazy, energy sapping heat, that makes you want to just hide out in the shade with a big old glass of something cold, listening to some music, daydreaming. This sense permeates this book, and I read it during a particularly cold and damp week here in Michigan. The murky feeling penetrates to the plot of the book as well, not just the setting, but also the central mystery. Bonavere is a young woman whose sister just goes up and missing one evening, and Bonavere takes it upon herself to figure out where she disappeared to when it seems no one is looking hard enough. She has many accomplices throughout her search – her best friend Saul, her oldest sister Fritzie, but it is Bonavere’s perseverance that stands out. She is determined to find her sister, or at least the truth of where or what happened to her. Bonavere must contend with many obstacles along the way as well, including putting her friend Saul’s life and that of his family’s life, into danger.

The main focus is on the three sisters and their relationship. In some ways I was reminded of The Virgin Suicides, with the girls having a closeness and no one else really knowing or understanding them fully. Fritzie and Connie and Bonnie have a strong sisterly bond, one forged it seems through some parental indifference to the three girls. Bonnie never gives up on trying to find her sister, and just the fact that Connie’s presence is missing in the house lies palpably upon the two sisters remaining.

I was slowly sucked into this story, which languidly leads you down different paths until the final, chilling ending. A slow read, but a good one.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.