Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Salon: Something Wicked

 Good morning and a happy long Labor Day Weekend to you all!  It  has been a busy week here at the Nawrot house!

The first bit of fun was on Monday night.  I met up with Jackie from Farm Lane Books for dinner while she was visiting here from England with her family.  Jackie and I have been following each other almost since the beginning of our blogging careers, so it was really nice to finally meet her in real life!  I got to meet her adorable husband and children as well.  I've said this before but it is kinda amazing when you do a blogger feels like you've known them forever.  

We also had a back-to-school night at my daughter's school on Wednesday, which is a three hour ordeal.  I brought my husband this time so he could see what he was paying for.  It was at this event that I learned that there is a long waiting list for student parking spaces.  So that dream that in three weeks, when my daughter gets her license, my troubles are over?  Nope.  A little piece of me died when I found that out.  I can't even think about it.

The husband was out of town later in the week, on his annual trip to Chicago.  I got my first turn in getting both kids to school in the morning!  Hee Hee!  (That would be my maniacal cackling.)

If we are going to do a glass half full attitude though, I am KILLING the audiobooks.  I finished up "You Should Have Known" by Jean Hanff Korelitz, which really pulled me in but overall had some issues.  I won't go into the specifics but the link will connect you with my Goodreads thoughts.  I then quickly flew through the fifth installment of the Kate Burkholder series "Her Last Breath" by Linda Castillo.  This series will never be a mind-blower, but is fascinating because it takes place in Amish country.  A very treacherous Amish country it seems...I'm thinking more murders per capita there than Chicago.  Then just yesterday I finished up Rob Lowe's second memoir "Love Life".  While I didn't totally love this one as much as his first, it was entertaining albeit a bit scattered.  Inspired by someone (I'm sorry I can't remember who), I decided to start the Swedish crime series by Camilla Lackberg, "The Ice Princess".  If I enjoy it, there are six or seven more installments to pursue.

In print I read the short but devastating "The Colour of Milk" by Nell Leyshon.  Then I turned to "Wool" by Hugh Howey.  This one is going to take longer.  It has some amazing world building I must admit, I just haven't been settled enough to really sit down and dig in.  Maybe this weekend.

So before I sign off, I just wanted to let you know that Ti at Book Chatter and I will announce a fun project tomorrow that we hatched a few weeks ago.  You know how those e-mails start talking about something and before you know, it spirals into a Thing.  Just earmark your October.  Stay tuned! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Salon: Blessings

I'm definitely breathing a sigh of relief after the end of this week!  It was my son's first week of high school, and I think I was as nervous about it as he was.  But he got through it, I got through it.  He was placed in a couple of classes that were not honors and should have been, so we are still hanging in limbo a bit trying to finagle some schedule changes.  I'm also trying to figure out pick ups and drop offs, with two kids at two schools that are far apart from each other with different hours.  Logistically it was a total nightmare, and I declared that I cannot do this for an entire year.  I just pray that in a month when my daughter gets her license, she is able to get a parking spot at her school and this insanity can end.

But!  There were good things happening this week as well, and I need to focus on that.  On Thursday, my husband and I had our 22nd wedding anniversary.  We celebrated with a nice dinner on Friday night at a place called Eddie V's.  They greeted us with rose petals on our table, a card, a rose for me, and a free dessert.  It was a nice touch!

On Saturday night we attended a 50th birthday party for a friend we have known since our kids were 3 years old.  He just completed a year of battling colon cancer and he has recently gotten clear scans, so we were celebrating more than just his birthday last night. It was wonderful to see him and some old friends.  These are the blessings that I need to remember when I'm a fugue state after being in the car for three hours!  LOL

I had a good bit of reading this week.  I finished "Duma Key" by Stephen King on audio, and it was really an enjoyable book.  He created a wonderful setting on a fictitious key on the gulf side of Florida, with some spooky stuff but not too much.  This story was more about the bonds of friendship.  Great King storytelling at its best.  I also finished King's "Joyland" in print, rounding off my Summer of King.  This was another novel that was light on the scary and heavy on the feels.

I am now nearly through the audio of "You Should Have Known" by Jean Hanff Korelitz, and the jury is out on this one.  I hate the characters, very large chunks of the story seem to be missing, and it seems to be wrapping up a little too conveniently.  So stay tuned for the final verdict on that one.  Have any of you read this one, and what did you think?  I am also reading "The Colour of Milk" by Nell Leyshon in print.  A short book, but one that is promised to level me.

We've got nothing on the agenda today but taking my daughter to her SAT class.  Maybe a little pool action later since it is probably going to hit 98 again today.  Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday, and hopefully one that is cooler than mine!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Salon: Summer of King

 Good Sunday morning friends.  Well it's been one of those weeks.  I don't know how else to put it.  Not the worst week, but one that could certainly not repeat itself if I had my druthers.

On a good note, my dad returned from Africa.  He had an excellent experience this time around, and didn't harm himself, get Ebola or get shot down by terrorists.

My daughter started school on Tuesday.  She is a high school Junior so it is old hat by now, but there is already no shortage of stress going on.  She gets up at 4:40am for cross country practice, has three AP classes and is taking an SAT exam prep course.  She's going to have a most shitty first three months of school.  I plan to stay out of her way, except to provide food and the occasional pedicure.

My son starts high school tomorrow.  Gah!  So this week we ran around trying to get the information we needed to, you know, be prepared, and it isn't easy.  I did attend a Freshman Mom Mixer and orientation, BUT.  This is our first foray in public school, and they do not hold your hand like the private schools do.  It is like a scavenger hunt to figure things out, dependent on your wily and creative skills.  He is going from a class size of 40 to 600, from a school he has attended since he was 2 1/2, and I know he is worried about fitting in and finding his place in this sea of humanity.  Pray for us tomorrow!

We had a doctor appointment to follow up on his endoscopy from a couple weeks ago.  Esophagus is awesome, and they pulled him off one med.  But he has lost a lot of weight since April and doesn't have much of an appetite, so more tests.  So I guess several weeks into the new year we will miss a whole day of school.

The Robin Williams thing.  I'm worn out over that.  It pretty much devastated me, not only because he was a beacon of light, but because of his suffering.  If I hear one more person that says he was selfish, I'm going to lose my shit.

Books, then, kept me settled this week.  I finished Karen White's "Return to Tradd Street", the latest in that series.  As I have said before, the male and female protagonists in these stories drive me crazy.  They adore each other but they take part in a ridiculous game of self-denial and pride.  But praise the Lord, things are finally looking up, and I did enjoy this installment much more because of that.  (Small digression:  The funniest thing in this book was when Melanie's secretary, an avid golfer, becomes one of Tiger's flings and moves to Florida to be closer to him.  LOLOLOL).

Then I decided it was finally time to institute Tina's "Summer of King", never mind that summer is almost over.  I needed this.  So I started "Duma Key" on audio, something I've had loaded on my iPod for EVER.  And it is so good.  Not an action-packed novel, but classic King storytelling on a fictional Florida key two islands south of where we just vacationed.  I also just started "Joyland" in print.  King is good stuff, and not necessarily horror.  He gets a bad rap for that, and people don't read him because they think it will be terrifying.  Some of his stuff IS terrifying ("It" or "Pet Semetary" come to mind), but some is very subtle and more about the journey, on which you will be totally sucked in.  I'd match some of his work up against any author of highbrow literary fiction.  It is that good.  There is a reason why a gazillion people love him.

Besides running my daughter up to her SAT class today, I'm not really sure what is on the agenda.  I'm hoping to keep it low key but these things are often not in my control.  Hope everyone gets their day of rest today.  


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Salon: The calm before...

 Yes, so I'm popping in here a little later than I normally do.  We had a late night last night.  We attended (I think for the third of fourth year in a row) the monstrously-sized "Taste of the Nation" fundraiser with some folks from my husband's company.  Food stations, wine stations, and silent know the drill.  Usually we walk away winning something, and I was doing my best...a Big Lebowski bowling pin signed by Jeff Bridges, an Aveda gift basket, Erasure concert tickets, a golf package.  But apparently the economic downturn is over in Orlando.  We walked out with nothing.

The last time I checked in we were at the beach.  We swam in the ocean (water was 90 degrees, I kid you not), burrowed under our beach umbrellas and napped and/or read, we ate at some great restaurants.  We went and saw "Guardians of the Galaxy" and loved it.  But on Tuesday morning, we grumpily drove back home to reality.  Haven't seen my daughter much since then.  She has an insane amount of work still left to do before school starts this Tuesday.  Haven't seen much of my son either.  He has, you know, video games to play and stuff.  His school starts the following Monday, so he has a little bit more freedom left.  The week was pretty low key.  A couple doctor appointments and that was it.

It has been oppressively hot and humid.  It is hard to want to go outside frankly.  There is the pool, but you are guaranteed a storm in the afternoon so you have to make it quick.

I plowed through Liane Moriarty's "Big Little Lies" at the beach.  It was a pretty quick 458 pages, which is an accomplishment for me.  I loved that book.  She has got such a way with portraying life as a woman today.  I'm going to highly recommend it to everyone I see.  I read a couple more "Saga" graphic novels (I've gotten through three so far) and I am hooked.  I'm now about halfway through Karen White's fourth Tradd Street book "Return to Tradd Street".  It is a bit of a mystery why I continue to read these.  I love the Southernness of it all, but the behavior of the two protagonists drive me MAD.  I do like to finish what I start though.

On audio I finished "The Silkworm", which I adored.  This second installment is much darker than the first, a little more complex of a mystery.  For me the icing on the cake is the narration of Robert Glenister, which is genius.  I then blew through "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry", something I should not have put off as long as I did.  Narrated by Scott Brick, this is the sweetest, most touching story.  Something I'll carry around with me for a long time, and it is a love story to books.  So all around, I've had some amazing reading lately.

Not much planned for the day.  We went for almost a two hour walk this morning, so the exercise is done.  Maybe a trip to Target, maybe some PGA on TV this afternoon.  Good Sunday activities.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Salon: Happiness found

 Good morning friends!  So last week I was whining about everything, having just arrived home from two weeks at the farm.  I buzzed around and got my stuff done, called my newly beloved yard man and asked if he would help with my backyard vine problem, got my trees trimmed, and things started feeling better.

My daughter had three driving classes with the Florida Safety Council this week.  These are hired professionals that use THEIR car to teach them to drive on the insane interstates, and I get a discount on our insurance once she gets their license.  She did well, but there was some nausea going on with me while I was waiting it out.

My son also got a repeat Endoscopy this week to determine the status of his esophagus and stomach, after the identification of his dairy allergy back in April.  Things are looking good, but will get some hard data at an appointment in a couple of weeks after the biopsies are analyzed.

So apparently my dad arrived safely in Africa (ebola-free praise Jesus) and is happily enjoying his safari.  His endurance and capacity for discomfort aren't what they used to be, so I'll be happy when he gets home.

My husband came home early this week and declared he needed beach, and he needed it NOW.  So he found a place to rent on Siesta Key for three nights...these are actual Hyatt residences, so it is more like large condo, which works better than two hotel rooms when you have vampire-like teenagers that hide.  We've got access to bikes, kayaks, beach boys that will set up your umbrella.  I'm all over this.  After I finish up with this post, my butt is headed out there with my book, a cooler, and sunscreen.  This is exactly what we needed to get us through to the start of school.

Sunrise on our morning walk

Lightning storm off our balcony last night

On the reading front, I did read the graphic novels "Saga" and "Snowpiercer" pretty quickly.  I liked was strange but good enough to prompt me to order the next two installments from the library.  Snowpiercer was a disappointment however, after seeing that movie.  I also read "Vengeance is Mine" by Reavis Wortham.  This is a mystery series I've been following since I met the author at a mystery writer's conference several years ago.  It is set in the '60's in Texas, and is something special...part coming of age, part nostalgia for that time period, and part messy gritty crimes.  I have started Liane Moriarty's "Big Little Lies" and will accompany me on the beach for the next few days.  I just LOVE her.  She gets women's dynamics like no other.  And this is not chick lit.  It is something much more than that.

On audio I'm still listening to "The Silkworm".  I keep saying this, and I probably won't stop any time soon...I love these audios, and I love the storytelling.  Listening to them are just pure delight.  That is all.  I also posted my Goodreads review of Ned Hayes' "Sinful Folk" audio, if you want a little more detail.  It is definitely going to be in my top listens for the year.

Well time is ticking, and the beach is calling.  Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!