Author Archive | maymeetsjune

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Taking a Walk on the Wild Side

Have you noticed how animal prints appear to be all the rage in fashion this fall? We’ve really noticed an abundance of leopard making its mark on scarves, handbags, shoes, coats, dresses, jewelry and even leggings.  Although we are seeing quite a revival of everything leopard, we’ve also noticed that this fun neutral has never really been out of style.

 

I LOVE LUCY

Consignment shops are sure to carry some cool vintage pieces to add to your wardrobe.  In our effort to continue to streamline our wardrobes, we’ve paired a few leopard pieces with items already living in our closets. It was fun to see what we could put together.   We also realize that head to toe leopard is not a good look on anyone, so one pop of leopard is enough to make a statement without looking tacky.

Here are a few more items we found while perusing the internet.

 

Leopard leggings from Anthropologie

Anthropologie Leopard Coat

Leopard Loafers from Zappos

 

Or maybe you just want to be an animal at home.

PJs from Nordstrom

Leopard can work as a neutral or a little spice.  Start small and see how you like it.  –May and June

Style is primarily a matter of instinct~ Bill Blass

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Skeletons on Books

Celebrating the Season with Our Favorite Halloween Reads

It’s that time of year again! The Halloween season is upon us and as we stroll through our neighborhoods, we are enjoying those homes decorated with spooky ghosts, witches, goblins, and carved pumpkins glowing on porches. Cooler temperatures and longer nights have given way to more reading time in our favorite chair, wrapped in a soft blanket. Today, we thought it might be fun to share some of our scary, and not so scary Halloween reads.

May- The books I have chosen are definitely a bit more old school.  I have to admit, I haven’t read a truly scary novel in quite some time. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to horror. However, as a younger woman and teenager I loved it and for me, when it comes to frightening- hide under the covers reads, Stephen King tops the list. I haven’t read many of his more recent books, but his classics such as The Shining, Pet Cemetery, Salem’s Lot, and Carrie are sure to send chills down your spine. As I think back, the novel IT was by far his most terrifying book. I often like to read before bed, but this book had me so freaked out, before I turned out the light I had to put that book in a different room, afraid if it sat on my nightstand, the characters would somehow pull me right into their horrifying world.  And in case you’re wondering, no, I did not see the 2017 movie based on the novel. Since we’re talking about Stephen King, two of my favorite (not so scary) novels that I plan to re-read are The Stand and Needful Things. 

A brief Amazon summary:

Stephen King’s terrifying, classic #1 New York Times bestseller, “a landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

Readers of Stephen King know that Derry, Maine, is a place with a deep, dark hold on the author. It reappears in many of his books, including Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis, and 11/22/63. But it all starts with It.

When I was in college, I took a literature class where I was introduced to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve been a fan ever since and enjoy the mystery and darkness that surround his poems and short stories. A few of my favorites are The Cask of Amontillado and The Masque of the Red Death. I highly recommend his book of complete tales and poems.

 

Years ago, I read a series called The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice. The books tell the story of The Mayfair Witches, an old southern family living in New Orleans and the spirit that has guided the women and their fortunes throughout generations. This series was a bit of a commitment, but very enjoyable. Her Vampire Chronicles series is also very good. 

 

A brief Amazon Summary:

From the author of the extraordinary Vampire Chronicles comes a huge, hypnotic novel of witchcraft and the occult through four centuries.

Demonstrating, once again, her gift for spellbinding storytelling and the creation of legend, Anne Rice makes real for us a great dynasty of witches–a family given to poetry and to incest, to murder and to philosophy; a family that, over the ages, is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being.

On the veranda of a great New Orleans house, now faded, a mute and fragile woman sits rocking . . . and The Witching Hour begins.

It begins in our time with a rescue at sea.  Rowan Mayfair, a beautiful woman, a brilliant practitioner of neurosurgery–aware that she has special powers but unaware that she comes from an ancient line of witches–finds the drowned body of a man off the coast of California and brings him to life.  He is Michael Curry, who was born in New Orleans and orphaned in childhood by fire on Christmas Eve, who pulled himself up from poverty, and who now, in his brief interval of death, has acquired a sensory power that mystifies and frightens him.

As these two, fiercely drawn to each other, fall in love and–in passionate alliance–set out to solve the mystery of her past and his unwelcome gift, the novel moves backward and forward in time from today’s New Orleans and San Francisco to long-ago Amsterdam and a château in the France of Louis XIV.  An intricate tale of evil unfolds–an evil unleashed in seventeenth-century Scotland, where the first “witch,” Suzanne of the Mayfair, conjures up the spirit she names Lasher . . . a creation that spells her own destruction and torments each of her descendants in turn.

Skeletons on Books

 
June – I am a huge scaredy cat.  I saw the movie Poltergeist in the fifth grade and to this day, over 30 years later, I cannot sleep with my closet door open even a crack.  I cannot even watch the previews for a horror film so as you can imagine, I avoid any type of scary read.  Instead, for Halloween, I love books that have a gothic feel or have elements of magic or witches.
 
 Gothic books usually have a dark setting and are written in a style that exudes mystery, dread and often grand passion.  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier  is a classic gothic style novel.  Set in the dark and dreary Cornish coast, the heroine of this story sets out to uncover the mysteries of her husband’s past.  I haven’t read this one in a while but remember feeling chilled as I read this story. 
 
A more contemporary gothic style novel (and one I don’t think got the attention it deserved) is easily one of my most favorite books.  The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Sittenfeld is set in an old and creepy mansion. 
A brief summary from Amazon:
 
When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny.

All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

I am definitely rereading this one soon.

Books that have magical elements are great for Halloween. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is another of my all time favorites.  How can you go wrong with an apple tree that throws apples when it doesn’t like someone or to protect its inhabitants, or a caterer that can make food to make you or others feel certain feelings.

From Amazon:

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other. 

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own….

Another great genre for Halloween are books with witches as the main characters.  There are a couple of historical fiction books in this genre including the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe a novel that explores the Salem Witch Trials.

Another great book that explores history and witches and vampires (and I am not a vampire fan as I made it through half of Twilight before I set it aside and have never seen any of the movies) is the Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  This is the first book in a trilogy.  A young scholar, Diana Bishop calls up a alchemical book from the stacks of the Oxford library.  While Diana knows she descends from a long line of witches but she wants nothing to do with the underworld.  By unwittingly calling up the book, Diana unleashes the magical world, leading her to meet a geneticist vampire, Matthew Clairemont.  Matthew and Diana start a taboo relationship further upsetting the magical world.  A book that is rich in history, magic and romance this is a super engrossing read.  

Finally, in Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and its prequel The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman the characters are modern day witches .  The Owens are a  family of witches that cannot escape their magical heritage.  The books explore family relationships and love with a dose of magic along the way.  And Alice Hoffman’s writing is just lovely and magical on its own.

Enjoy all of your Halloween spooky reading. –May and June

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December; And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.  Edgar Allan Poe

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Widows of Malabar Hill

Some Book Recommendations for July

There’s something about summer that makes us want to find lots of time to read.  While we still have to manage regular life, let’s picture ourselves sitting on the porch, or relaxing in a backyard hammock with the sounds of nature in our ears, and a tall cool glass of iced tea at our side as we lose ourselves  in a fabulous book. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? Here’s what we’ve been reading lately. 

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

From Amazon:

From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best―a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.

Our Thoughts:  Put this book at the top of your list to read.  It is sweet, a little funny and a little sad in all of the best ways.  June was glad that she finished this one on her back porch instead of public transportation so she could enjoy her cry without the fellow commuters thinking she was crazy.  Margaret goes from the best day of her life to the worst day of her life in an instant.  She has to learn to accept a life that is not how she envisioned but is still perfect in its way.  A feel good book that makes you appreciate how your messy imperfect life is exactly the life you need.

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

From Amazon:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut—for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

“A psychological thriller that captivated me from page one. What unfolds makes for a wild, page-turning ride! It’s the perfect beach read!”—Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?
 
Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .
 
Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?
 
Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .
 
Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?
 
Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Our Thoughts:  This was a pick for the Reese Witherspoon book club so you may be seeing it everywhere and as a result your library hold list may be long.  This is a well done thriller.  You do have to suspend disbelief a bit to believe that the characters do what they end up doing.  However, none of know to what extent we would go if we thought we found treasure that could change our life.  A good summer beach read.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

From Amazon:

1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award-winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating heroine.
 
Inspired in part by the woman who made history as India’s first female attorney, The Widows of Malabar Hill is a richly wrought story of multicultural 1920s Bombay as well as the debut of a sharp and promising new sleuth.

Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes women’s legal rights especially important to her.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X—meaning she probably couldn’t even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah—in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are  in further danger.

Our Thoughts:  This is a charming mystery with an absolute delightful heroine based on true person.  Set in the 1920s, Perveen is the first woman lawyer in India.  The setting of India is intoxicating and the time period lends a certain formality to the characters and the story.  However, it is also an interesting story of the role of women and the fight for equality.  In the course of settling an estate, Perveen takes an interest in protecting the decedent’s wives who live a cloistered life.  In this case, Perveeen’s gender is a positive because she has access to the wives that men do not.  Unfortunately, a murder occurs in the wives’ home and Perveen’s quest to protect the wives becomes more urgent as she tries to solve the case.  Perveen is utterly charming and brave and I hope that this is the first in a series of books about this heroine.   

The Address

The Address: A Novel by [Davis, Fiona]
 

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else…and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in…and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives—and lies—of the beating hearts within.

Our thoughts: May loved reading about historical New York City and the Dakota (apartments). She knew very little about the Dakota other than it being the site of John Lennon’s untimely death. She enjoyed this story about 2 strong women, one hundred years apart and the mysteries revealed inside the walls of this majestic landmark building. The characters are memorable and the story holds your interest to the very last page. 

The Price of Inheritance

The Price of Inheritance: A Novel by [Tanabe, Karin]

From Amazon:

After eight years in the American Furniture department at Christie’s, twenty-nine-year-old Carolyn Everett is a rising star. But one wrong decision and a scandal leaves her unemployed and broken. Desperate to piece her life back together, Carolyn leaves New York City to work in a tiny antique store in Newport, Rhode Island.

One day at a small county auction, she discovers a piece of Middle Eastern pottery, which she purchases for twenty dollars on a hunch. Curiosity sends her on a mission to find its original owner, and she eventually winds up in the town’s United States Navy Base—and in a relationship with notorious womanizer Marine Sergeant Tyler Ford, who claims the relic came to him as a gift from his translator during the early days of the Iraq War. From two different worlds, Tyler and Carolyn become obsessed with the mysterious relic—and each other—until the origin of the art comes under intense scrutiny and reveals a darker side of Tyler’s past. Carolyn still feels like there’s more to the story, but can she risk attaching herself to another scandal—and does she truly know the man she’s fallen in love with?

The Price of Inheritance is a rare find of a novel. Engaging, suspenseful, and full of intrigue, it delves into the elite world of big bucks deals and dangerous black market promises, where one woman must decide whether she’s willing to gamble her greatest asset—her heart.

Our thoughts: As someone who appreciates antiques, May enjoyed the subject matter, historical factor, and of course you can never go wrong with a little mystery and romance. This was a perfect read to take on vacation, or if you’re just looking for something light to read out on your back porch.

Happy Summer Reading! –May and June

One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by. Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

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What We Are Loving This Spring

Happy Friday! As we head into the weekend, May and June have been thinking about what we’ve been loving this spring. You know, those items and experiences that enhance our present moments.  It feels like warmer temperatures have finally arrived in the midwest, and it’s definitely feeling like summer down in the south. We are so ready for longer days and playing outside. Here are a few things that have us smiling.

As you all know by now, we love fashion and shopping. We did quite a bit of damage together when we lived in the same town, so you might think that living in different states has slowed us down a bit. Nope. Where there’s a will there’s a way, and we still have fun shopping together. We are seeing a big trend toward hair accessories this summer. Pretty scarves for ponytails and colorful, jeweled rubber bands are showing up in most department stores, but our favorite is the colorful headbands we are seeing. We both have longer hair this summer and the headband adds just the right touch to a simple ponytail or bun. The one below is from Anthropologie but you can find them just about anywhere, including Amazon and Etsy.

I (May) have planted a vegetable garden every year for most of  my adult life. The planning, planting, tending, and finally harvesting of the vegetables in the fall is always so fulfilling. Plus, playing in the dirt has always been so therapeutic and grounding. My new yard is a work in progress. I have a vision but of course that comes with a price, and landscape takes time. I am thinking about a raised urban garden at some point, but we have some projects coming up that prevent us from doing anything this summer.  So, I decided to just do a few favorites in pots. For me there is nothing like a tomato picked fresh from the vine, so I bought a potted tomato plant and already have lots of baby tomatoes growing. To go along with the tomatoes I have fresh basil and rosemary. If you don’t have space for a more traditional garden, a potted one is a good alternative. Below is my mini garden this summer.

Part of the fun of moving to a new city is exploring a fresh array of eating establishments, especially when the culture is different from what you’ve always known. It’s always fun to try the trendy hip restaurants where you may need to wait weeks for a reservation, especially in a city like Charleston. However, the little family owned out of the way joints are fun too. A group of us recently had lunch at Martha Lou’s Kitchen, a cozy family owned pink shack that locals frequent for soul food and sweet tea. We enjoyed great food, lots of laughs, and look forward to our next great adventure in lunching. 

Spring and summer are always a good time to change up one of your makeup products, in particular your lipstick or lip gloss.  It’s a relatively inexpensive and a low committed way to add a little summer color.  June had heard about  Dior lip glow which changes to the PH of your own body, to create the perfect color.  It is unfussy, you can simply swipe and go, and it provides moisture much like a lip balm.  This is super fun and while it is a little pricey, June is loving it, and is looking forward to trying other color options.

June has also been busy cleaning out her bookcases.  One thing, she realized, is that there were a bunch of books on the bookshelf that were in the to be read pile.  The question became what to do with the to be read books?  June thought back to her high school days when she worked at the library and decided a book cart would be perfect.  June found this utility cart at Target, which works perfect as a book cart.  This cart could also work great for craft or laundry supplies, but we think it looks super cute as a book cart.

Lastly, Monday (May 21) is May’s birthday.  So we are loving her on her special day!  

Have a good weekend! –May and June

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money.  It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. Steve Jobs

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I was Anastasia

New Spring Releases

For the last several months, many of us have been hunkered down in our homes reading our latest novel under a warm blanket, cozy by the fire. However, even though the temperatures aren’t always showing it, spring is officially here. We love spring! It’s time to clean out our homes, open windows, lighten the layers, enjoy longer days and stop to notice the beautiful colors on spring blooms. There are so many books coming out this spring and we are excited to get started. Here is just a sampling of what we’re looking forward to reading out on our back porch.   Some of these have already been released this spring and others will be coming soon.  

Beach House Reunion– Mary Alice Monroe (May 22, 2018)

Beach House Reunion (The Beach House Book 5) by [Monroe, Mary Alice]  
From Amazon:
Whisking you back to the shores of her bestselling Beach House series, Mary Alice Monroe weaves together a tale of the struggles and triumphs of the historic Rutledge family of Charleston, South Carolina. Beautifully wrought and rich with keen insight, this is an illuminating tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family’s enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn’t know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt’s beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original “turtle lady,” Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In this heartwarming novel, three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.

 

The Perfect Mother– Aimee Molly (May 1, 2018)

The Perfect Mother: A Novel by [Molloy, Aimee] 

From Amazon:

THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF THE SUMMER—SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING SCANDAL’S KERRY WASHINGTON

An addictive psychological thriller about a group of women whose lives become unexpectedly connected when one of their newborns goes missing.

A night out. A few hours of fun. That’s all it was meant to be.

They call themselves the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. Twice a week, they get together in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for some much-needed adult time.

When the women go out for drinks at the hip neighborhood bar, they want a fun break from their daily routine. But on this hot Fourth of July night, something goes terrifyingly wrong: one of the babies is taken from his crib. Winnie, a single mom, was reluctant to leave six-week-old Midas with a babysitter, but her fellow May Mothers insisted everything would be fine. Now he is missing. What follows is a heart-pounding race to find Midas, during which secrets are exposed, marriages are tested, and friendships are destroyed. 

Thirteen days. An unexpected twist. The Perfect Mother is a “true page turner.” —B.A. Paris, author of Behind Closed Doors  

 

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go– Amy E. Reichert (May 15, 2018)

The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by [Reichert, Amy E.]
From Amazon:
Three generations. Seven days. One big secret. The author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake unfolds a mother-daughter story told by three women whose time to reckon with a life-altering secret is running out.

Gina Zoberski wants to make it through one day without her fastidious mother, Lorraine, cataloguing all her faults, and her sullen teenage daughter, May, snubbing her. Too bad there’s no chance of that. Her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys them both, no matter how hard she tries. Instead, Gina finds order and comfort in obsessive list-making and her work at Grilled G’s, the gourmet grilled cheese food truck built by her late husband.

But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine’s kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother’s failing health and her daughter’s rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go…

 
 
 
In an enthralling new feat of historical suspense, Ariel Lawhon unravels the extraordinary twists and turns in Anna Anderson’s 50-year battle to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov. Is she the Russian Grand Duchess, a beloved daughter and revered icon, or is she an imposter, the thief of another woman’s legacy?
 
             Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.
 
Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed. 

Germany, February 17, 1920
: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia. 
     
Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson. 
     As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
     The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
 
 
The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.

Optioned for film by George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures, with Scarlett Johansson to star

America’s next favorite Australian author!

“With jaw-dropping discoveries and realistic consequences, this novel is not to be missed. Perfect for lovers of Big Little Lies.” ―Library Journal, starred review

Small, perfect towns often hold the deepest secrets.

From the outside, Essie’s life looks idyllic: a loving husband, a beautiful house in a good neighborhood, and a nearby mother who dotes on her grandchildren. But few of Essie’s friends know her secret shame: that in a moment of maternal despair, she once walked away from her newborn, asleep in her carriage in a park. Disaster was avoided and Essie got better, but she still fears what lurks inside her, even as her daughter gets older and she has a second baby.

When a new woman named Isabelle moves in next door to Essie, she is an immediate object of curiosity in the neighborhood. Why single, when everyone else is married with children? Why renting, when everyone else owns? What mysterious job does she have? And why is she so fascinated with Essie? As the two women grow closer and Essie’s friends voice their disapproval, it starts to become clear that Isabelle’s choice of neighborhood was no accident. And that her presence threatens to bring shocking secrets to light. 

The Family Next Door is Sally Hepworth at her very best: at once a deeply moving portrait of family drama and a compelling suburban mystery that will keep you hooked until the very last page

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

From Amazon:

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. In this haunting, moving, and beautifully written novel, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife…

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

We hope you’re as excited as we are to dive into these new releases. What’s on your reading list?
 
Have a wonderful weekend!
~May and June
 
There is no friend as loyal as a book- Ernest Hemingway
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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Simple Spring Wardrobe Items – Joanna Gaines Style

In some parts of the country, spring has sprung and in others it is slow to arrive (Chicago we are looking at you).  But regardless, we know it’s coming soon and we’ve been enjoying all the spring clothes in store windows and online.  It’s so refreshing to look at light easy styles after the bulk of winter layers. Although neither of us is lacking in the clothes department, we are trying to be more deliberate about simplifying the stuff in our lives, and that includes our closets.   

While she probably did not set out to be a style icon,  we always love the style of Joanna Gaines.  She manages to look casual, cool and pulled together. 

And while she probably has a closet full of clothes, we notice that she does often wear the same items on many of the episodes.  We hope that like us, she finds something she loves and just wears it over and over.  We are both keeping her style in mind as we plan a few key spring purchases that we hope will become those items we wear many times over.

Clogs

We both noticed these clogs that Joanna Gaines often wears on episodes and in her magazine.

We both love clogs.  As a child of the 70s, May often wore clogs growing up.  June, who loves the bohemian style, knows that clogs fit right in.  And for both of us, the clog gives us some height while being a comfortable shoe to wear.  

So, we tracked these down.  They are from Lotta from Stockholm, a Swedish company, but they sell them through Amazon.   As we speak we each have a  pair making their way to us from Sweden.

Midi Skirt

The midi skirt with buttons seems to be a spring favorite that takes us back to the 1980s, when these skirts were popular.  This is one of those styles where you may need to try on a few to find the right one.  If the skirt is too long or voluminous, the style can look frumpy.  June tried on the striped one below but it was too long and looked more religious cult, instead of fashion forward.  However, here are a few that we think may work well.

Loft Striped Midi

Loft Side Button Skirt

The Loft skirts both come in petite sizes, which for those of us who are just an inch or two over 5 feet should fix the length issue.  Loft runs great sales too.

Madewell Striped Chambray Skirt

June tried on this skirt.  It would be super cute on someone who is tall.  

Great Jacket

A light jacket is a good investment for spring because the weather seems to change from hour to hour.  Try a military jacket or a jean jacket. 

Washed Tencel Cargo Jacket

Depending on how your shoulders and arms are built, it is sometimes hard to get a comfortable fit in these jackets.  June often has this problem where the jacket fits her body, but it is too tight in the shoulders.  June found and bought this jacket from a small online retailer called Grace and Lace.  This jacket is made from a soft tencel making it super comfortable and it has details like a drawstring waist, so you can make it even more flattering.  June can’t wait until the weather is warm enough, so she can wear it.  And as an aside, June loves this retailer.  She always gets compliments when she wears their clothes and everything is made with the attention to what looks good on women’s bodies.

Graphic Tees

Graphic tees are great anytime, but we love showing them off in the spring and summer. They are perfect with a pair of shorts, capris, or even a skirt. We found the best selection at Target. There is such a wonderful variety, the fabric is soft and durable, and you can’t beat Target prices. And, if you’re ready to let it go at the end of the season, there’s no guilt. 

 

Have a wonderful Easter weekend!!

~May and June

“I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.” —Carrie Bradshaw

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Soulful Simplicity

What We’ve Been Reading in March

Happy Spring! It’s time to lighten up our clothes, our homes, and send those long dark nights of winter behind us. We love this time of year as the days grow warmer and we can walk our pups in the evening and still have daylight. However, no matter the season, you can still find us curled up with a good book. Here’s what we’ve been reading in March. 

Lilac Girls- Martha Hall Kelly

From Amazon:  NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of The Nightingale and Sarah’s Key,inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Our thoughts:  This debut novel was inspired by a real life WWII heroine, Caroline Ferriday. The story is about three women whose lives intersect during WWII. Much of the story takes place at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, where medical “experiments” are performed on many of the young women in the camp. These women were later known as “rabbits”.  I am an avid reader of historical fiction, especially WWII, and am still amazed when I learn something new about life in the concentration camps.  I found this story and its characters engaging from start to finish, and even did a little of my own research on the life of Caroline Ferriday, a truly remarkable woman. Loved this book.  

The Woman in the Window: A Novel – A.J. Finn

From Amazon:  For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.

Our thoughts:  If you’ve read here for any time, you know that thrillers are not our favorite genre. June is usually so mad at the ending that she wants to throw the book through the window.  However, this one had a ton of buzz (June was number 98 on the reserve list at the library) so may as well give it a shot.  For a thriller this one was actually pretty good.  There are some twists that you can kind of see coming which keeps you from being mad at the book and the author.  The ending was satisfying but did not make everything all better.  It is a bit reminiscent of The Girl on the Train where you are not sure you can trust the main character narrator.  However, the fact that she is a recluse is fascinating.  Also, if you are a fan of old movies, the movie references and their similarities to the plot points is probably intriguing.  If you are not a fan of old movies, like me, then those references tend to get a little annoying because they are just gibberish.  If you are looking for a fast read and like thrillers this may be a good one to pick up.  

Soulful Simplicity- Courtney Carver

From Amazon:   Courtney Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives.

We are often on a quest for more—we give in to pressure every day to work more, own more, and do more. For Carver, this constant striving had to come to a stop when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Stress was like gasoline on the fire of symptoms, and it became clear that she needed to root out the physical and psychological clutter that were the source of her debt and discontent. 
     In this book, she shows us how to pursue practical minimalism so we can create more with less—more space, more time, and even more love. Carver invites us to look at the big picture, discover what’s most important to us, and reclaim lightness and ease by getting rid of all the excess things.

Our thoughts:  This book had me with the cover. I’m a sucker for a beautiful book cover. Written by Courtney Carver, whose blog Be More with Less was launched in 2010, this for me was a bit of a self help book. Not only does the author help us with the physical act of decluttering and getting more organized, but she also aids us in discovering what’s truly important in life- Love, Happiness, Joy, and Peace. I keep this one on my nightstand and will be giving it as gifts to my friends. 

As Bright as Heaven – Susan Meissner

From Amazon:  From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Our thoughts:  As a fan of historical fiction, this book is in an era not often written about which is World War I and more specifically the Spanish flu pandemic.  The story is told from the viewpoints of several women in the book.  While the story was set 100 years ago, I could identify with many of the struggles the characters had in the book, loss of a child, adopting a child, struggling to find your tribe in a new city, figuring out who you are, sickness and death.  The family moves into a funeral home to start their new life.  The flu pandemic was scary then and it makes you feel a little scared that it could happen again.  June read this at the end of January which was the height of the flu outbreak this year and this book did make her more than a little bit concerned that she had not gotten around to a flu vaccine this year.  The details about the funeral home, embalming and they accept death as a part of life are interesting to read.  This book makes you feel all of the feelings.  Also, if you’ve not read anything else by this author you should check her out.  The Fall of Marigolds is one of my favorites.

Have a good weekend.  –May and June

There is no friend as loyal as a book.- Ernest Hemingway

 

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For The Book Lover On Your Gift List

Happy December!! The most wonderful time of the year has arrived, and along with it comes the question of what to get that special someone on your Christmas list. Since May and June both share a passion for everything books, we thought we would give you a few fun gift ideas for the book lover in your life.

For us, there is nothing like an old edition of a favorite book. Many Christmas’ ago, May’s mom gave her a vintage edition of a beloved book from childhood, Little Women. It is old and beautiful and is the perfect accessory on a coffee table or mantle. 

How about something from a favorite independent book store? In addition to great books, many independent book shops sell t-shirts, coffee mugs, gift cards, and of course tote bags at reasonable prices. Book lovers can always use a new tote bag.  They need some way to carry their book haul, especially when all of their holds come in at the library at the exact same time (June knows from experience).

If you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful book mark. We found some unique and beautiful book marks online. Check out this store for a wide selection.

We love Etsy for great book gifts. A favorite shop is Carrot Top Paper Shop,   which creates illustrations and quotes of literary heroines including Anne of Green Gables and Elizabeth Bennett as well as their authors Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott.

A subscription to a book club could be fun.  Now, before you have flashbacks to the Columbia House record/cassette/cd of the month club, these are more flexible.  We have not signed up for any of them, however Book of the Month Club is getting good press.  Each month, a rotating cast of judges select five titles.  The recipient has the opportunity to select the title of their choice, or they can choose to skip a month.

A reading journal and other tools to help read are also a great gift.  Some readers like to track their titles either for a reading challenge or just for their own spotty memories, plus some readers like to mark passages or take notes.  The Modern Mrs. Darcy sells really great reading journal kits that include a really nice journal, book darts and other fun goodies.  June will tell you those book darts are magical for having the ability to go back and reference ideas, or to re-read a really beautiful sentence. 

If the book lover on your list reads physical books, but also multi-tasks while doing so (we are looking at June who blow dries her hair and reads at the same time), a book weight is a great gift.  The book weight holds the book open and allows your reader to get one more chapter in hands free, for the most part.  June’s husband got her this one last Christmas and it has changed her life.  No more trying to figure out if the toothpaste tube is heavy enough to hold the book open.

A lot of readers belong to book clubs and most book clubs involve wine.  So, why not give your reader their very own book club of wine.  June is currently working on writing a book (more on that later) and her writing mentor, Ann Garvin’s book, I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around, is featured in a new seasonal gift box called Books & Bottles, which pairs two bottles of Francis Ford Coppola’s wine with a featured book.  Check it out.  It looks like a fun gift combining most readers two loves.

Of course you can always buy the gift of a new book.  Readers love new titles and authors to check out.  Consider not only the newest best seller, but also look to the backlist titles that  may have been missed. As we readers know, there are simply too many titles to read in a lifetime.  Get a gift receipt just in case they have already had the pleasure of reading your picked title, and don’t be offended, it just means that you have great reading taste.

Have a great weekend and happy Christmas shopping! – May and June

Books may well be the only true magic. Alice Hoffman

 

 

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What We’ve Been Listening To- Our Current Favorite Podcasts

As two devoted podcast listeners, we thought it would be fun to share some of our current favorites. May often listens to podcasts while on her morning walk with Sawyer, or while preparing a meal.  June also listens to them when she preps meals for the week.   Podcasts have become so popular these days, sometimes it’s difficult to choose!

Some people are confused about podcasts and how to listen them.  Podcasts are a short audio file that is a lot like a radio show but you can listen on your own time.  Often the podcasts have a website or online community where you can participate.  For most podcasts you can listen for free.  Some have a paid subscription service or ask for donations where they use the funds to support the cost of producing the podcast.

To listen to a podcast it is very easy.  If you have an Iphone there is a built in app that we both use called Podcasts.  To listen simply search for the name of the podcast.  You can then click on the title and an episode to listen.  Because most podcasts are weekly, you can subscribe (for free)  so that every new episode shows up in your library.  If you do not have an Iphone or you want some additional features there are a couple of apps that can be downloaded on your phone for free.  Two popular apps are Overcast  and Stitcher.  You can listen to these podcasts through any of the apps using your headphones, your phone’s built in speaker or a bluetooth connected speaker.

Here are some of our favorites:

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. If any of you are familiar with Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday television show, you’ll enjoy this podcast. Always inspiring, Oprah’s guests always leave you feeling a little more soulful and connected to something greater.

What Should I Read Next? This is a podcast by Anne Bogel who writes the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy. This is one of our absolute favorites because the subject matter is books, books, books.   The podcast typically follows the same format.  Anne Bogel talks interviews one reader about three books she loved and one she hated and then recommends three books for the reader to read next.  Even though the podcast is supposed to be limited to only seven books there is often talk about a lot of books.  Some of these are backlist books, meaning that they are not an author’s most current title, which is a great way to find books that your library will probably have on your shelf that you can read immediately.  The shownotes always have a list of books discussed in case your notepad is not handy.  

From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga GirlMay’s daughters told her about this podcast by Rachel Brathen aka Yoga Girl. As a yoga teacher as well as a student, we enjoy connecting with like minded people and her journey is very inspiring and you will find yourself often times laughing, or shedding a few years. 

Serial:  Serial is a podcast created by National Public Radio and This American Life so it is very professional.  Season 1 is the best of the two currently available.  In Season 1, Sarah Koenig investigates Adnan Sayed’s conviction for murder of his high school classmate.  While the season was being recorded, Sarah continued to receive tips and leads on the case.  A compelling told story and it will suck you in to find out the conclusion.  Really great if you are looking for a story that will keep you interested for hours.  June listened to this on road trips with her husband and that made the miles fly by.  This podcast would probably be a great listen to motivate you to get to the gym too.

S-Town:   This is another podcast from This American Life (these people know how to tell a story and actually have a podcast of their own).  This tells the story of John who despises his town in Alabama and asks an investigative reporter to look into a cover-up concerning a murder done by a wealthy citizen of the town.  The story turns to look more into John’s mysterious life, another murder, a feud and a hunt for hidden treasure.  June listened to this one as well on road trips with her husband (she has had a lot of driving trips to Buffalo, New York the last two years).  The format of serial story telling keeps you listening.

The Next Right Thing:  The Next Right Thing is a podcast by the writer Emily P. Freeman.  The Next Right Thing is an inspirational podcast with a Christian viewpoint.  And it is only 15 minutes.  This is a newer podcast so there are only ten episodes (so far) but if you are looking for ways to give your soul room to breathe this is a great way to start your morning.  June often listens to an episode in the wee hours of the morning while she is getting ready to go to the office to give her soul some strength and inspiration for the day.  Emily P. Freeman’s voice is so soothing and calming that alone can provide you some positive space for your day.

Magic Lessons: This is a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert that supplements her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.  If you love to talk about creativity and how to spark creativity this is a great podcast.  Elizabeth Gilbert often talks to a regular person who has creative aspirations but is struggling and she give advice.  In the subsequent episode she often has a “famous” creative person to discuss their own process and also offer advice to the previous guest.  Some of these names have included Ann Patchett, Rob Bell and Brene Brown.

 

Do you have a favorite podcast? We’d love to know what you’re listening to these days.  There are so many great ones out there so sometimes it is hard to choose.  

Have a great weekend.

May and June

Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.” 
― Madeleine L’EngleSwiftly Tilting Planet

 

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Dying to be Me

September Book Picks

We took a little break over the summer from blogging, but are happy to be back just in time for the start of Fall.  And there’s no better way to begin than with one of our favorite topics, books!! There are some great new titles coming out this Fall, but to get you started, the following are some books we have enjoyed over the last few months.

Beartown: A Novel by Frederick Backman

 

From Amazon:

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Our Thoughts:  This book wrecks you in the best and worst possible ways.  While the story centers around a hockey team it is not really a story about hockey.  It is a story about what privilege can get you.  It is a story about small towns.  It is a story about loyalty, family, friendship and belonging.  It is a story about discovering who you are and what you are willing to stand up for and fight for.  This is a hard story because some rather awful things happen but it is a book that impacts you in all the right ways.

The Lying Game: A Novel by Ruth Ware

From Amazon:

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, The Lying Game.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Our Thoughts:  This is a story couched in mystery.  What happened to the girls so many years ago and who is trying to discover the truth now?  Most of the women in the story have tried to put behind them what they did many years ago.  The bonds of that act have kept them connected and now with the discovery of a body their carefully constructed lives are threatened to be pulled apart.  A good mystery although I did struggle with some of the characters being a little dumb.  The setting lends itself to making even the event more mysterious and the setting ultimately saves many of them from the past.

Lucia, Lucia: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani

From Amazon:

It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. The postwar boom is ripe with opportunities for talented girls with ambition, and Lucia becomes an apprentice to an up-and-coming designer at chic B. Altman’s department store on Fifth Avenue. Engaged to her childhood sweetheart, the steadfast Dante DeMartino, Lucia is torn when she meets a handsome stranger who promises a life of uptown luxury that career girls like her only read about in the society pages. Forced to choose between duty to her family and her own dreams, Lucia finds herself in the midst of a sizzling scandal in which secrets are revealed, her beloved career is jeopardized, and the Sartoris’ honor is tested.

Our Thoughts: Although this is not a new release, Lucia Lucia is the sweet story about the ties that bind an Italian-American family in the early 1950’s. Lucia, is the daughter of a proud Italian father and although she wants to please her family by marrying a childhood friend, she is also struggling to find her own independence. The author had a wonderful way of pulling you into Lucia’s family dynamic and although the book wasn’t very complex, it was enjoyable. The perfect read for a Sunday afternoon.

Dying To Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing by Anita Moorjani

From Amazon:

In this truly inspirational memoir, Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years, her body began shutting down—overwhelmed by the malignant cells spreading throughout her system. As her organs failed, she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realized her inherent worth . . . and the actual cause of her disease. Upon regaining consciousness, Anita found that her condition had improved so rapidly that she was released from the hospital within weeks—without a trace of cancer in her body! Within these pages, Anita recounts stories of her childhood in Hong Kong, her challenge to establish her career and find true love, as well as how she eventually ended up in that hospital bed where she defied all medical knowledge. As part of a traditional Hindu family residing in a largely Chinese and British society, Anita had been pushed and pulled by cultural and religious customs since she was a little girl. After years of struggling to forge her own path while trying to meet everyone else’s expectations, she had the realization, as a result of her epiphany on the other side, that she had the power to heal herself . . . and that there are miracles in the Universe that she’d never even imagined. In Dying to Be Me, Anita freely shares all she has learned about illness, healing, fear, “being love,” and the true magnificence of each and every human being! This is a book that definitely makes the case that we are spiritual beings having a human experience . . . and that we are all One!

Our Thoughts: Although we don’t do many memoirs, this one was mentioned on several podcasts and as a follower of Wayne Dyer, it was worth checking out. It was an inspiring story of Anita Moorjani’s struggle with fitting in not only with society, but also her family’s cultural expectations, followed by a cancer diagnosis and near death experience which she shares in detail. It is a lovely book about life and living it on our terms, rather than the expectations of others. 

We’d love to hear what you all have been reading lately. Enjoy this first weekend of Fall!!

~May and June

“If the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid down at my feet in exchange for my books and my love of reading, I would spurn them all.” – François Fénelon

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What We’ve Learned Lately

Well, it’s official. We have entered the dog days of summer. Store aisles that have been filled with coolers, beach towels, and gardening tools the last few months are now stocked with pencils, spiral notebooks, and other school supplies, ready for a school year that is quickly approaching. We know the pumpkins are next! With that said, we’re not quite ready to say goodbye to the long days of the season just yet, and here are a few things we’ve learned this summer.

It’s nice to take a vacation from healthy eating and our workout routine, but always a bit painful getting back on the wagon.  Summer tends to lend itself to getting out of your eating and workout regime, so give yourself a bit of a break knowing that you will make up for it when the regular schedule of life resumes.

For those of us who are very structured with our schedule (May and June), it’s ok to take a break, re-evaluate, and try something new. Remember, change is healthy and can even open new doors.

If you’re not already in one, join a book club or start your own. You will get an opportunity to read something you wouldn’t ordinarily pick on your own, it’s a great place to cultivate new friendships, and of course there’s always great food and wine.

This is a difficult one, we know, but try to embrace adversity. Generally, when something difficult enters our world, it is a tap on the shoulder that a new road is waiting for us. Try to understand what that challenge is teaching us, and go with it. Change always results in growth, even if it is wearisome. 

Similarly, stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that scares you shakes things up.  It may be uncomfortable in the moment, but ultimately the feeling of pride overrules fear.

It is nice to have the house to yourself for a few days, and even better when your spouse comes home.  Absence sometimes makes you remember how much you miss each other.

Chocolate makes everything better.  Indulge (in moderation of course)!

Have a good weekend. –May and June

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Mahatma Gandhi

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Here’s what we’ve been reading in July

Our days have been a little out of control lately around May Meets June.  Summer does that.  Your schedule gets thrown out the window to enjoy the fleeting season.  If you are looking for a little grounding this weekend, though, sitting with a good book may be a good option.  Here are a few books we’ve read lately.  

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS Masterpiece drama Victoriaand author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.

Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”

Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.

On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

Our thoughts: If you’ve been watching the PBS mini-series on Victoria, this book pretty much follows the first several episodes. This historical novel tells the story or Queen Victoria’s first two years as an unexpected successor to the throne. It was definitely a coming of age story as a reigning queen and add to that, the often times funny romance with her future husband, Albert. An enjoyable read.

 

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up — and she hasn’t looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious… and hopelessly in love with her boss.

But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she’s suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking — and finds herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.

But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes… and work out exactly where her future lies…

Our thoughts: May and June are both fans of Jenny Colgan’s novels. She writes the perfect story if you’re looking for a little escape to someplace beautiful, want a little romance, and of course, delicious food. We love that their are always recipes in her books. This takes place in a little coastal town in Scotland where the main character, Flora, must return to her home town for work and has to confront past conflicts with her family. Oh, and she is hopelessly in love with her boss, Joel.

 

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

 

Can you miss something you never had?

Jubilee Jenkins is no ordinary librarian. With a rare allergy to human touch, any skin-to-skin contact could literally kill her. But after retreating into solitude for nearly ten years, Jubilee’s decided to brave the world again, despite the risks. Armed with a pair of gloves, long sleeves, and her trusty bicycle, she finally ventures out the front door—and into her future.

Eric Keegan has troubles of his own. With his daughter from a failed marriage no longer speaking to him, and his brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son attempting telekinesis, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. So when an encounter over the check-out desk at the local library entangles his life with that of a beautiful—albeit eccentric—woman, he finds himself wanting nothing more than to be near her.

Our thoughts:  This book made you root for the heroine.  She has had such a hard life because of her allergy and her mother.  It made me wonder what it would be like to be afraid to be touched by any other person or risk your life.  It would be isolating and we take small touches from our loved ones for granted.  The ending is very satisfying and makes you smile through some tears.  And, of course, we always love a book set in part in a library.

Have a good weekend.  Enjoy the season for all that it is and maybe enjoy some lazy days. –May and June

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.  -Henry Ward Beecher

 

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Celebrating the 4th of July

With the long 4th of July weekend ahead, we are looking forward to celebrating our country’s birthday by taking in a town parade, attending a festival or two, having a backyard BBQ with friends, and of course it wouldn’t be the 4th of July without fireworks. Today, we have put together a perfect treat that everyone will enjoy, as well as a table centerpiece to make your home a little more festive.

Let’s face it, one treat that everyone loves is a dessert with chocolate chips. Instead of a classic cookie, May decided to make chocolate chip cookie bars for an upcoming BBQ. They are easy to make, (no mixer required) travel well, can take the backyard heat, plus you can dress them up with a few fun and festive sides.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Ingredients:

•2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour ( I love King Arthur’s brand)

•1 teaspoon baking soda

•1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tsp cinnamon

•1/2 teaspoon salt

•3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

•1 cup packed light brown sugar

•1/4 cup granulated sugar

•1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

•2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

•1 cup  semi-sweet chocolate chips

Optional toppings: M&M’s, whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan when cool. Set aside.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.

3 .In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Mix in the egg, then the egg yolk. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract. The mixture will be thick. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until combined. The dough will be very soft and thick. Fold in the chocolate chips. The chips may not stick to the dough because of the melted butter, but do your best to combine them.

4. Transfer dough to the prepared baking pan and smooth into an even layer. I usually add a few more chocolate chips on top of the dough before baking  so you can see the chocolate chips on top. Bake for 32-35 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. Use a toothpick to test for doneness; if it comes out clean from the center of the pan, the bars are done.

5. Allow the bars to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for at least an hour. Once they are cool, lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

These cookie bars are delicious on their own, or if you want to get into the spirit of the holiday, you can add a little vanilla ice cream with red, white, and blue M&M’s sprinkled on top, or a little whipped cream with strawberries and blueberries.

And for our table centerpiece we went super patriotic.  This is the time of year to pull out all of the red, white and blue.  Once again we kept the centerpiece super easy so you can put it together quickly, especially if you are hosting a party and have lots of other things to do.

We took a five bud vase holder and added tiny 4th of July pinwheels.  June has loved pinwheels since she was a very little girl and this love has not waned.  So when she saw these pinwheels they brought a smile to her face.  The bud vase holder and the pinwheels were all found at Joann Fabrics.  Joann Fabrics is a great place to find supplies and accessories to make centerpieces and mantle displays.  They have cute seasonal items at reasonable prices and they always have coupons and sales.

We then added some sparkly dohookies (no idea what they are called) in red, white and blue.

A small chalkboard sign with a patriotic saying.  For this chalkboard we just did USA, but other fun sayings could be “the rockets red glare,” “boom,” or “sweet land of liberty.”

And then we put it all on a very patriotic table runner.

It is always fun to put together a festive table centerpiece for a holiday.  If you are hosting outside, this centerpiece would be particularly fun because the wind would twirl the pinwheels.

Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!  May you enjoy the sweet summer weather, family and friends, barbecue and fireworks.  Most importantly remember to appreciate all that we are privileged to experience as Americans. –May and June

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson

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Beach Reads

This week we celebrated the first official day of summer.  So, we can’t think of a better time to check out some summer beach reads.  Beach reads are a little tricky.  On the one hand you want to read something that is light and fun that doesn’t contain long involved prose and themes, but on the other hand you don’t want something that makes you feel like your brain is slowly melting due to stupidity.  There are a few tried and true authors that almost always write a novel that fulfills this requirement.  We have also included a few other beach reads that sound intriguing.

 

Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews usually sets her books in Savannah, Georgia or Tybee Island, Georgia.  What better way to spend a summer day than reading a story set in the deep South?  There is almost always a small mystery, a love story, and some flea market picking.  Some favorites include Savannah Blues, Save the Date and Summer Rental.

Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hildebrand sets all of her novels in Nantucket.  Nantucket always ends up being a character in the story.  Some favorites include The Castaways, Silver Girl and most recently, The Identical’s.

 

Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe tends to write about the parallels between nature and life.  She is a resident of South Carolina and interestingly, May is going to an author event where she is the guest speaker this weekend. Some of her books include The Summer Girls, The Summer’s End, and her just released Beach House for Rent.

Paula Mclain

Paula Mclain is best known for her book, The Paris Wife. She has written A Ticket to Ride about a long hot summer in Illinois, and most recently Circling the Sun.

Karen White

May just finished and thoroughly enjoyed Karen’s latest novel, The Night the Lights Went Out. Other titles include The Girl on Legare Street,  and Spinning the Moon.  Most of her novels are based in the low country of the Southeast.

Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is known for writing romantic comedy fiction. Some of our favorites are Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe, The Bookshop on the Corner, and The Loveliest Little Chocolate Shop in Paris. Her newest release is The Cafe by the Sea.

There are oh so many wonderful summer reads out there, it’s so hard to choose!! If you’re looking for something a little light to read this summer, we’re positive you’ll find something you like from our list.

 

What are some of your favorite beach reads?

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

 

A good book on the beach is pure bliss.

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Summer Dresses For Everyday

Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, school is out, temperatures are warming up, and we are all enjoying the longer days. For us, summer is here. WooHoo!! It’s the season for iced tea,  the pool and the beach, long evening walks, BBQ’s, and of course enjoying the lighter layers that come with a summer wardrobe.

May and June are all about sundresses this summer. Not only are they feminine and flirty, sundresses can easily transition from day to evening, they keep you cool, and there are so many styles to choose from. So, if you don’t like your legs or you want to camouflage your arms, or you want something a little looser around the middle which let’s face it, we all want when it’s 90 degrees outside, chances are you will find the perfect dress.

You can also find sundresses at every price point.  From the pricier at Anthropologie or Nordstrom to the more reasonable Target or Old Navy.

Here are a few we have seen online that we may need to go and try on:

 

Tulip Patchwork Dress

Women’s Knit Ruffle T-Shirt Dress

Floral Drawstring Henley Dress

V-Neck Jersey Maxi Dress

Bo & Nic sheath dress in Vera Cruz Daisy  May found this at a little downtown boutique and loves it. The print is so cute and the fabric doesn’t wrinkle in the South Carolina heat.

Printed Maxi Dress

Enjoy the heat and toss on a sundress wherever you are going.  Great for errands or a dinner out.  Have a good weekend. –May and June

“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.” —Sophia Loren

 

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Summer Reading- New Releases

Hi everyone and Happy June!! We love this time of year!!! As we head into longer days and warm summer nights, we can’t think of anything better than a page turning thriller sitting out on the back porch with a glass of iced tea,  a sweet love story as we relax in a beach chair with our toes in the ocean, or a great work of historical fiction curled up on our favorite easy chair. Plus, we must not forget that it’s June’s birthday month. We both take our books everywhere with us because you never know when you might have a few moments to escape the ho hum of life, even if it’s for just a short time.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, meaning that if you click and purchase we may receive a small commission.

Let’s hear it for summer reading season!! Today we would like to share some great new releases by authors we love, as well as some new discoveries.  We have not read most of these since many are not released, but we have them on our list!

The Stars Are Fire- Anita Shreve (April 18)

From Amazon:

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife (an Oprah’s Book Club selection): an exquisitely suspenseful new novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event and its devastating aftermath–based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine’s history

In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands’ fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms–joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain–and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens–and Grace’s bravery is tested as never before.

Into The Water – Paula Hawkins (May 2)

From Amazon:

An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train.

“Hawkins is at the forefront of a group of female authors – think Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott – who have reinvigorated the literary suspense novel by tapping a rich vein of psychological menace and social unease… there’s a certain solace to a dark escape, in the promise of submerged truths coming to light.” –Vogue

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

Before We Were Yours- Lisa Wingate (June 6)

From Amazon:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

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 the dark truth. 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 fiancé, 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 to 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–Lisa 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.

The Alice Network- Kate Quinn (June 6)

From Amazon:

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

The Identicals- Elin Hildebrand (June 13)

From Amazon:

Identical twin sisters who couldn’t look more alike…or live more differently.

Harper Frost is laid-back, easygoing. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She likes a beer and a shot and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything fashionable. She’s inherited her father’s rundown house on Martha’s Vineyard, but she can’t hold down a job, and her latest romantic disaster has the entire island talking.

Two beautiful islands only eleven miles apart.

Tabitha Frost is dignified, refined. She prefers a fine wine and has inherited the impeccable taste of her mother, the iconic fashion designer Eleanor Roxie-Frost. She’s also inherited her mother’s questionable parenting skills–Tabitha’s teenage daughter, Ainsley, is in full rebellion mode–and a flailing fashion boutique on Nantucket in desperate need of a cash infusion.

One unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever.

After more than a decade apart, Harper and Tabitha switch islands–and lives–to save what’s left of their splintered family. But the twins quickly discover that the secrets, lies, and gossip they thought they’d outrun can travel between islands just as easily as they can. Will Harper and Tabitha be able to bury the hatchet and end their sibling rivalry once and for all? Before the last beach picnic of the season, there will be enough old resentments, new loves, and cases of mistaken identity to make this the most talked-about summer that Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have experienced in ages.

The Lying Game- Ruth Ware (June 15)

From Amazon:

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

Every Last Lie- Mary Kubica (June 27)

From Amazon:

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow’s pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

The Cafe By the Sea -Jenny Colgan (June 27)

From Amazon:

The beloved author of The Bookshop on the Corner returns with a sparkling, sunny, soulful new novel perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand.

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up — and she hasn’t looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious… and hopelessly in love with her boss.

But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she’s suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking — and finds herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.

But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes… and work out exactly where her future lies…

Funny and heartfelt, The Café by the Sea is a delightful summertime novel that puts a modern twist on the classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers story.

We are so excited to get lost in all these books. If you’re like us and get your books from the library, better get on the waiting list for some of these now since there can be long waits. Both of us got on the waitlist for Into the Water at number 90-something. But for us, waiting is part of the fun. We love the anticipation as we wait for the email letting us know our books are ready to be picked up.  And if you can’t wait, all of the books are linked to Amazon which usually delivers it on the release day.  It’s going to be a good summer for reading!

 

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” Jeannette Walls.

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The Art of Arranging Flowers

What We Are Reading In May

It’s hard to believe we are actually coming to the end of May. We are on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, and although many of you will be celebrating your day off watching a parade or getting together with friends for a great BBQ, we can’t think of a better way to spend some of our time off sitting out in the yard, or by the beach getting lost in a great book.

Here is what we’ve been reading this month.

Love Walked In- Marisa De Los Santos

From Amazon:

When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs—eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother—goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life.

Love Walked In, the first novel by award-winning poet Marisa de los Santos, is bursting with keen insight and beautifully rendered prose. Invoking classic movies to illuminate the mystery and wonder of love in all its permutations, Love Walked In is an uplifting debut that marks the entrance of an enchanting literary voice.

Our thoughts: This story centers around a young woman and an eleven year old girl who because of circumstance, end up together where a friendship develops as they both try to navigate their own personal journeys, as well as the journey they are on together. I’ve read a few of Marisa De Los Santos’ other novels, but somehow missed this one, her first. It is a sweet story about love.

The Women in the Castle: A Novel by Jessica Shattuck

From Amazon:

Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Our thoughts:  There is a lot of World War II fiction out there but this one is a little different.  More than focusing on the war, it explores the time after the war.  How do people go on with their lives?  How do people put the things they did during the war behind them?  And how do they coexist and form relationships with their neighbors who had different viewpoints and objectives during the war?  This story is about three women.  One who was a knowing participant in the German resistance, one who was married to a member of the German resistance who knew nothing but suffered for her husband’s treason at the time and one who created a new identity for herself because of her active participation in the Nazi acts during the war.  This is a complicated story of survival, moving forward, forgiveness and forming family when the world has been torn about.  I was taken in by this book and could not wait to pick it up again.  A tough topic at times but it will keep your attention.

The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

From Amazon:

A moving and eloquent novel about love, grief, renewal—and the powerful language of flowers.

Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.

Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need.

Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit. Any life can be derailed, but the healing power of community can put it right again.

Our thoughts:  I was completely charmed by this novel.  This book seems light from outward appearances but handles topics of grief and letting yourself open to live.  A bit predictable but full of fun and quirky characters.  Ruby has conversations with her dog that made me laugh out loud.  Being the soft-hearted person I am, I was very worried that Ruby was going to suffer the horrible loss of her dog.  For others in that same boat (and this is spoiler) something does happen to the dog Clementine but she is ok.  A story about opening yourself to love of all kinds even when your heart has been irretrievably broken.  The best kind of ending that mixes tears and laughter at the same time.

We hope you have a fun and safe holiday weekend and stay tuned for our summer reading book list coming soon.  We are going to make your TBR pile as big as ours!!!

~May and June

A book is a dream that you hold in your hands. 

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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know – All About May

This Sunday is May’s birthday.  So first everyone wish her a Happy Birthday!  Second, in our birthday months we always like to do something a little special.  So we thought it would be fun to interview each other.  I, June, interviewed May to find out everything you ever wanted to know about her.  Well, maybe not really but there are some interesting tidbits here.

The following is not an accurate and completely editorialized interview of my interview with May.  June’s comments are in pink italics.

So give me your stats – I am married to Bob.  I have two sons and two daughters and a labradoodle named Sawyer.  I am in the process of moving permanently to Charleston, South Carolina but right now have a home there and in the northwest suburbs of Chicago (If anyone is looking for a new home, May’s house is gorgeous and you should look at it).  I am a yoga teacher currently on sabbatical, an interior designer that is currently working on my new home, a blogger who is hoping to take over the blogosphere, a corporate and regular wife and a mom.

When and why did you become a yoga teacher?  I became a yoga teacher in 1998. I was going through a difficult time in my life (divorce) and a friend suggested that I try yoga.  After my first class I was hooked and a year later decided that I wanted to teach.  I completed a two year program that studied both the philosophy and the teaching of yoga. I know May had to do a residency for her yoga program and it was an all vegetarian diet at the yoga center which meant lots and lots of beans.  At the airport waiting for her flight home, May ate the best burger and drank the best beer she ever had in her whole life. 

What is your favorite yoga pose?  Child’s pose is my favorite because you can do it anywhere and anytime.  It releases tension in the body.  I also like headstand because it allows me to the look at the world from a different perspective. It really depends on my mood.

 

Everyone has a favorite holiday but what is your second favorite holiday?  Christmas is my second favorite holiday because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

What is your favorite season?  My favorite season is summer although I also really really like Fall (unlike June who hates Fall).

What do you look forward to in the summer?  I look forward to being in my garden and playing in the dirt and just being outside in general. This summer is a little different because I am selling a house, packing it up and moving to Charleston, South Carolina. (June now has her fingers in her ears singing La La La because she doesn’t want to hear about May moving.)

What is one thing that you are good at that no one else in your family is good at?  Organizing. (I’ve been subject to her organizing when she helped me clean my closet.  She is good but mean, very mean.)

What is one of your pet peeves?  When people don’t clean up after themselves. (Are you guys noticing a theme?  Just so everyone knows, May’s nickname is Monica after the Friends character who needs to clean and cleans even after other people have cleaned because it’s not clean enough.)

What is one thing that you are not good at that you wish you could do better?  Math.  I was terrible at geometry.  I had to have tutoring sessions with the teacher and took it pass/fail.  The teacher agreed to pass me if I promised never to have a career that involved anything with math. (I hear you Sister.)

What do you do for fun?  Biking ( Bob and I biked over 500 miles last summer), trying new restaurants (especially in my new city), reading and cooking.

What are some of your favorite childhood books?  Boxcar children, Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, and of course Little Women.

What are some favorite books as an adult?  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  A writer goes to Scotland to do research for her book and she begins to experience some of the parts of her research.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, and the Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.  Honestly, there are so many favorites!!

What are some of your favorite TV shows?  Outlander, The Crown, any Masterpiece series show, The Walking Dead and Younger (I agree with a lot of those but The Walking Dead.  Scary.)

What are some of your favorite movies?  Gone With The Wind (she and her mom often say to each other, “We’ll worry about it tomorrow, Scarlett”), Star Wars, Jaws, ET, any movie with Audrey Hepburn.  I also like foreign films.

What is one weird or unusual thing about you?  I have always enjoyed listening to classical music when I cook or bake.  I used to have a little radio in my kitchen and I would turn on the classical station while I was cooking.  The classical music relaxes and inspires me in the kitchen.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  I would like to know the future.  As a structured and organized person if I knew the future I could prepare for it. (Umm, May do you remember that we are all about living in the present moment? )  I also would like to be able to fly.

Thank you May for allowing me to interview you and ask you some crazy questions.  I wish you the happiest of birthdays and so many blessings in the upcoming year.  I am so going to miss you when you move away from me.  I have already missed you this winter.  It’s good thing we don’t get charged by the text because we would literally go broke.  I love you my dear friend. –June

Today you are you that is truer than true.  There is no one alive that is youer than you.  -Dr. Seuss

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What’s Awesome Lately – May Edition

We think it is always a good thing to recognize your life for being awesome.  The awesomeness does not have to be saved for big moments but can be appreciated in small moments.  Here are a few things that we think are awesome lately.

Friday.  It’s Friday!!!  Friday’s are always awesome.  You can do anything on Friday.

Mother’s Day.  This weekend is Mother’s Day.  If you are a mom take time and enjoy being celebrated for the sometimes thankless but rewarding job of being a mom.  And we all have a mom so make sure to celebrate your mom.  If you are still looking for gift ideas we have some thoughts.

Spring Weather.  Because it is May it means that our favorite season, summer, is quickly approaching.  The earth is waking up from its long winter sleep and showing us her beautiful colors.  Looking out the window, going out for a walk or sitting on a lawn chair is awesome right now.

New Clothes.  The change of seasons also means that it is fun to look and maybe buy a few new clothes.

The ruffle is a big trend this summer.  It is a cute feminine detail and can be flattering.  You can find it on dresses, blouses and even t-shirts.

 

Gingham seems to be on trend this summer as well.  Gingham is always a sweet print but it is being done in styles that don’t make it too young to pull off.

And warm weather would not be the same without dresses.  Now is a good time to look for a few comfortable dress to be cool and look pulled together even in the steamy heat.  This is a cute sundress and looks to be a nice length.

Mexican Food.  Cinco de Mayo was last week and that combined with outdoor dining, makes us want to eat all of the chips and guacamole, tacos and margaritas.  Mexican food is always awesome maybe because it feels like a party.  One of our favorite Mexican restaurants is Uncle Julio’s, the skinny margarita is more than awesome, and we were excited to see that they are expanding and opening more restaurants.

Fun Quotes.  A fun quote we saw this week:

So check out the awesome in your life.  And have an awesome weekend. –May and June

“Whenever I’m sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead.” — Barney Stinson

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Celebrating Mother’s Day

Have you thought about how you are going to celebrate your mom this year? For a few weeks, we have noticed the sweet Mother’s Day commercials showering mothers everywhere with flowers, candy, and of course a Hallmark card. Last year, May and June posted a special tribute to their moms, and today we thought we would offer a few out of the box suggestions for celebrating those women who mean so much to us.

                           

 

Along with your mom’s favorite flowers, how about writing and sending a handwritten note on beautiful stationery? There is something so special and personal about a letter written from the heart that you find in your mailbox. We love the beautiful stationery at Papyrus. In addition, they offer beautiful cards and planners as well as gifts for any special occasion. 

Have you thought about planning a Mother’s Day outing? Sure, there is always going out for the traditional brunch, but sometimes it’s fun to make it a little more personal. Why not pack a special picnic with your mom’s favorite foods and enjoy the day at the beach, a beautiful garden, or a park?  You can also host a little dinner party at your home, especially if you live somewhere where spring weather in May is not always a given.

We also understand that sometimes, a celebration isn’t possible because a mom is no longer with us, and yet we still want to honor her. Getting together with siblings to reminisce and celebrate someone you all called “mom” is a wonderful way to keep her close to your heart.

Of course if you want to give your mom a gift, there is nothing like a book. May and June love, love, love books and think a great coffee table book about Paris, or your mom’s favorite city, or something inspirational that she can regularly go back to is a perfect gift. Don’t forget to write something personal inside the cover and date it.

Is your mom into yoga? We both firmly believe that everyone should be enjoying the benefits of this beautiful practice. A new yoga mat is a wonderful way to say I love you, and you can find them in beautiful colors, patterns, and thicknesses.

How will you celebrate your mom?

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” —Robert Browning

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