Monday, January 16, 2017

My Books to Read in 2017

In January 2016, I posted a list of 10 books I wanted to read las year. Confession - I only read three of them. I started a fourth, but just couldn't get into it and watched a fifth in movie version which was really good, so, then, I didn't read the book. 

I did, however, read a total of 15 books on 2016. That number is tiny compared to some of my friends who read 50+  books last year, but it's a pretty good number for me. Part of the reason I didn't read all 10 of my original list was because I kind of went on a Liane Moriarty tangent reading four of her books. 

My favorite books of 2016 were: 
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (BEST BOOK EVER!!)
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown. 
My least favorites were:
  • Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
  • After You by JoJo Moyes (Sequel to Me Before You which I loved. The sequel fell very flat in comparison).

I've been researching and checking out other lists of best 2016 reads and upcoming 2017 reads to compile this list of 10 books I'd like to read this year. Hopefully, I can stick to my list for this go-round! 

Books that will become movies in 2017
  • The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman - This is a true story in which Polish zookeepers who, after their zoo is bombed, save hundreds of people fleeing from the Nazis. The movie will star Jessica Chasten and Daniel Bruhl. Click here to watch the chilling trailer.
  • The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. I'm reading this one now. In short, two strangers, Ashley (a writer who is trying to get to her wedding) and Dr. Ben Payne (trying to get home from a medical conference), have their flights cancelled and share a small charter plane in a last ditch effort to get to their destinations. Inevitably, the plane crashes and the two are stranded in the wilderness. Injured and alone, they must depend on each other to survive. The main characters in the movie, set to be released in October, will be played by Kate Winslet and Idris Elba.
Books that will be released in 2017
  • The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian was scheduled to be published on Jan. 10. Annalee is a chronic sleepwalker whose disorder has led to some crazy scenarios and, now, she has gone missing. As her daughter, Lianna, tries to uncover the mysteries surrounding her mother's disappearance, she is attracted to the detective on the case, but also unearthing many, many questions. The New York Times deems it "a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire."
  • Swimming Lessons by Claire Fullers set to be published on Feb. 7th. Ingrid writes letters to her husband, Gil, but she doesn't give the letters to him. She hides them inside her thousands of books. Twelve years after Ingrid's disappearance, her daughter, Flora, returns home to care for her father and attempts to finally discover what really happened to her mother. She doesn't realize the answers she is seeking are all around her. 
  • Into the Water by Paula Hawkins is expected in May 2017. You may remember Hawkins as the author of the oh-so-popular The Girl On The Train. In this novel, also a psychological thriller, females keep turning up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. When that leaves a teenage girl alone and parentless, her aunt comes to care for her. But, her aunt had previously - and purposefully- run away from this place, vowing that she would never return. 
Books from 2016 (and beyond) That I Want to Read
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult is not a plot line that I would usually be drawn to, but it has gotten such high praise, I decided to give it a try.  Although Piccoult is an extremely popular author, I have actually never read any of her books. In this one, an African American labor and delivery nurse, Ruth, is told that she is not to touch one of the white infants in the nursery. But, when that infant goes into distress, she has a difficult choice to make. Her decision leads to a court case that becomes a media spectacle and requires people to reconsider things they have been taught their whole lives. 
  • The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer is reminiscent of a female Jason Bourne novel, based on the synopsis. An ex-agent with a very specific skill set, is on the run from her former employers. However, she must take on one final case in an effort to clear her name. Goodreads calls it a "gripping, page-turner."
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett was on my friend Dana's list of holiday season reading suggestions and I was intrigued by her description. When Bert Cousins and Beverly Keating have a little rendezvous, their marriages are dissolved and their families are forever intertwined. Years later, when daughter Franny Keating becomes involved with author, Leon Posen, the story of these two families - four parents and six children - becomes the basis for a book that brings him great success and forces that family to face their feelings head on. 
  • The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams is described on as "a story of love and intrigue that travels from Kennedy-era Manhattan to World War I Europe." Vivian Schuyler is an up and coming professional in 1964 Manhattan when she receives a package that leads her into her family's past and the life of her aunt, Violet Schuyler Grant in 1914 Berlin. Violet is enduring a terrible marriage to support her position as a female, American physicist, but, when a British Army Captain enters the picture, she must make some difficult choices. As Vivian delves into the life of an aunt she never knew, she realizes how much they have in common.
  • The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio is the story of Julianne Westcott, a well-to-do young woman in prewar Liverpool. Julianne learns that she has a deaf and blind brother who was institutionalized since his birth. When she secretly visits her brother, she meets Kyle McCarthy, a groundskeeper studying to become a priest. As war encroaches, Julianne is forced to leave her life behind to protect her loved ones, but after twenty years of hiding from her past, it finally catches up to her. 
There's my list! Putting it all together, I realize that it's quite a bit of historical fiction and suspense. I can't wait to get started!

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? What books are on your 2017 reading list?


Monday, January 9, 2017

Currently - January 2017

I used to think of these "currently" posts as a bit of a cop out - just a way to write something when you couldn't think of anything else to write. Maybe they were. Maybe they still are, but, now, after a few months of really struggling to write, I don't see anything wrong with that. Sometimes, what you need to get back to writing is to JUST WRITE no matter what that looks like. 

This new year, after being away from this space much longer than I intended, I have had a burst of ideas and a stronger desire to write. However, I feel sure that will wain at some point and I fear getting "stuck" again, so I'm trying to pace myself. I think that giving myself something consistent, but "easy" will be beneficial in the future if I again find myself in a writing lull. 

Another thing - I really love when other bloggers do these posts. We often write about motherhood or share recipes and books reviews, but sometimes the posts about daily, mundane things are few and far between. I consider many of the bloggers I read to truly be my friends, but because we are spread out all over the country, it's not as if we can sit down together and catch up over a cup of coffee. These "currently" posts are kind of like doing that. So, instead of viewing this kind of post as a last ditch effort to just write anything, I'm viewing it as a chance to have coffee with friends and chat about what's going on in our lives. 

So, I'm currently . . . . . . 

Thinking about my "word of the year" for 2017. The word that keeps coming to mind is "CONTENT." At first, when I kept circling back to that word, I thought it wasn't a very good word to choose - it seemed too complacent. However, defines the word as "satisfied with what one has; not wanting more or anything else" and I think I'm okay with that. I've spent too much time thinking about how I should be (skinnier, more stylish, more social), how my house should be (more updated/renovated, cleaner, more organized), and what I should be doing (more traveling, more family time, more blogging). With my 40th birthday quickly approaching, I think it's time for me to stoping wanting more; wanting different. I think it's time for me to learn to be content with where I am, who I am, and what I have. I also think I'm a lot closer to being content than I have been in the past, so I'm going to strive to continue down that path this year. 

Reading - The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. I've had it on my Goodreads list for a while, but recently found out that it will be made into a movie this year. In short, two strangers, Ashley ( a writer who is trying to get to her wedding) and Dr. Ben Payne (trying to get home from a conference), have their flights cancelled and share a small charter plane in a last ditch effort to get to their destinations. Inevitably, the plane crashes and the two are stranded in the wilderness. Injured and alone, they must depend on each other to survive. The main characters in the movie, set to be released on October,  will be played by Kate Winslet and Idris Elba.

Loving this new recipe I found for sausage and potatoes. It is so quick and easy, plus super delicious! Here's what you do:
14-16 oz smoked sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
3-5 potatoes, peeled and diced (or red potatoes quartered)
olive oil
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice sausage and place in large bowl with chopped onion, chopped pepper, and diced potatoes. Pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and mix it all together well. (Add spices as desired - I just add a little salt and pepper.) Pour onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese (which, of course, will melt.) Yum!!!

Enjoying winter. Yes, that's right, I like winter. We got our first snow of the season on Friday/Saturday (Jan. 6-7) and it was a doozy - almost 10 inches! That's a lot for North Carolina! The kids had so much fun playing in it and it was absolutely beautiful. My sister in law cam with her two little girls (because her hubby was stuck out of town on a business trip), and that made it even more fun. All three of my girls are out of school today. The two who attend a private school might go back tomorrow - definitely by Wednesday. I wouldn't be surprised if the oldest (who attends a special public high school program) doesn't go back until at least Wednesday, maybe Thursday. 

Listening to "Hallelujah" by Pentatonix. My youngest daughter is obsessed with Pentatonix and I think they are pretty amazing, too. This song was on their third Christmas album. I don't really think of it as a holiday song, though, so I'm still listening to it and it gives me chills every time. Check it out for yourself! 

Writing a lot more than I have been. It feels good to be back to blogging!

Compiling a list of words to use for "Currently" posts. Well, actually, I've already compiled a list and I thought I would share with all of you! 

Contemplating making this whole "currently" thing a monthly linkup. Would you link up? Very general guidelines- use any words you want; as many or as few as you want. Maybe the second Monday of every month??? I've added a linkup below. It will be open for two weeks (thru January 23), so if you would like to link up, please do. I'll see what kind of interest it gets and decide whether or not to make it a regular thing. 

I hope your 2017 is currently off to a great start!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Five Things That Really Haven't Changed as my Kids Get Older

When my kids were little, I remember thinking that some things would be so much easier when they were bigger. When they could dress and feed themselves; when they could use words to express their feelings instead of just melting down; when the bedtime routine wasn't such an ordeal life would be so much simpler. 

Are you laughing yet?

The truth is that, even though my kids are now 14, 12, and 9, there are some struggles that still haven't changed much at all!

  • We still argue about clothes - When they were babies, they couldn't express what they wanted, so I dressed them in clothes I thought were cute. As soon as they could talk, though, they let me know their own preferences. Only dresses or no dresses; leggings but no jeans; no pink or all pink - and the list went on and on. Now, of course, they dress themselves, but I find myself frequently saying (or at least thinking), "THAT"S what your'e wearing?!?" They are still super picky in different ways and shopping for them is just short or torture. I'm asked multiple times a week if there's any clean laundry and they can NEVER seem to find any clean socks!!!

  • We still argue about sleep- When they were babies and toddlers, I would put them to bed and pray they would fall asleep quickly so I could go to sleep myself. Now, I send them to bed at 9:00 or 10:00 and they argue about going to bed "so early" and I'm still left hoping they will fall asleep quickly. In the mornings, we have a problem opposite of the one we had years ago. I remember Saturdays and holidays past when they were calling, "Mommy!" at 6:30 in the morning and I was silently begging them to go back to sleep. Now, I am begging them to get their backsides out of bed. During summer vacation or holiday breaks, it's a miracle if we can leave the house before noon because it's unlikely they will get out of bed before 10:30. And school mornings???? Don't even get me started! 😡
  • Our schedule revolves around food - My oldest was exclusively breastfed partially because, no matter how hard I tried, she would never take a bottle. So, as a new mom trying to figure things out, my schedule revolved around where I would be at three hour intervals so I could nurse her. I was a little more relaxed with the next two, but still had to think about when they would need to eat. And, have you ever tried to tell a hungry toddler they need to wait for lunch? Now, they ask what's for dinner as soon as they get in the car after school. I spend hours planning dinner menus, making grocery lists, and figuring out when/how to put a meal on the table in between our crazy schedules. Even choosing a restaurant is like an act of Congress and at least one person always ends up pouting.
  • It still takes forever to get everyone out the door - I used to always be a very punctual person. When I had kids, like many people that changed. When they were little, we had to make sure we had diaper bags, get everyone fastened into car seats, and, inevitably, someone would have a dipper blowout just as we were finally heading out the door. Now, we need backpacks and devices, nobody can seem to find their shoes, and then, they argue over who sits where in the minivan. 
  • They still have temper tantrums - The only difference now is that the tantrums involve eye-rolling and slamming doors along with he crying, whining, and stomping. Fortunately, the tantrums usually happen at home now instead of in the middle of aisle 5 at Target. 
Now that the girls are older, life is still chaotic - it's just a different kind of chaos from when they were little. But, one other thing that hasn't changed  - I still love them just as much as ever!!

Got kids? Did you think it would get easier as they got older?

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