Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: Follow the River Home by Corran Harrington


Follow the River Home by Corran Harrington


From the Publisher:
Daniel Arroyo has suffered a lifetime of guilt over the sudden death of his infant sister, who died when he was eight years old. He now lives his middle years between that guilt and worsening episodes of PTSD from a Vietnam he left thirty years ago. When a violent encounter on a dusty highway forces Daniel to face what haunts him, he finds himself pulled back to the neighborhood of his youth, where old houses hold tired secrets. What really happened on that steamy August afternoon? The answer comes spilling from the old neighborhood, and Daniel begins to find his way home. Corran Harrington takes the reader along the Rio Grande, from its headwaters to the sea.

My Thoughts:
Spectacularly written, but quite a bit different than what I had anticipated.

I had expected one fluid story, but Follow the River Home is actually two parts - Daniel's story to uncover the truth about his past which is then followed by supporting short stories that flow back in to the main story - just like the tributaries of a river. I actually found that I enjoyed the short stories more than the main story; they were contained worlds that were richly explored and wrapped up neatly in just a few pages. Plus, I had been dead curious about some of the characters Daniel briefly encountered and was pleased that, for once, an author filled in their stories!

All of the stories were crafted with care, and it's definitely worth a read.

Find Corran Harrington and Follow the River Home around the web:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0985520027/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28194005-follow-the-river-home
Author's Website: http://www.corranharrington.com/


Thank you to Lisa at TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy of this book. To see what others on the tour thought, please click the image above.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Veggies, Renovations, and Summer Scenes






There's been quite a lot going on here lately, and due to the relentless heat, I'm grateful that a lot of it has been inside or in the shade!

Orion's been super in to helping Joe and I out with every thing we do lately; when I'm in the kitchen he pulls out the folding step stool and drags it over for me to unfold so he can "help" with cooking dinner. Since he still tries to touch the stove or grab knives, he helps by standing at the edge of the counter holding the spice jars. And, if something is cool, putting ingredients in the bowl/pot and adding those spices.

Over the weekend, he helped me make two jars of fridge pickles. Then helped Joe mow the lawn while I started my very first batch of sauerkraut.

We've been prepping the house this past week for our first major renovation in the 5 years since we moved in. We're tearing up the carpet in the living room and 2 hallways and replacing them with high quality laminate, and changing the wall colors. Since we'll be replacing the floors, we need to move all of the furniture out, which means we needed to take all of the stuff off of it. We also had to take all of the pictures and paintings off the walls, which makes our home feel awfully naked.

Our poor cat, Molly, has been freaking out as things disappear, while Luna and Orion are unphased. Molly's moved enough times to know that usually when stuff gets packed away, it means he's going to get stuck in a crate in the car at some point. Poor thing.

When it's been cooler in the evenings, we've been pushing Orion on his swing and hanging in our hammocks watching the fireflies and bats and taking a reprieve from all of the work that's been or is waiting to be done.

I'm learning how to hold on to the to-do list a little less tightly and to chillax every now and then. Even in the midst of a major project.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde


Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde


From the Publisher:
Seventeen-year-old Ethan Underwood is totally unprepared to search for his father in the Blythe River National Wilderness. Not only is he small, scrawny, and skittish but he’s barely speaking to the man after a traumatic betrayal. Yet when his father vanishes from their remote cabin and rangers abandon the rescue mission, suddenly it’s up to Ethan to keep looking. Angry or not, he’s his father’s only hope.

With the help of three locals—a fearless seventy-year-old widow, a pack guide, and a former actor with limited outdoor skills—he heads into the wild. The days that follow transform Ethan’s world. Hail, punishing sun, swollen rapids, and exhausting pain leave him wondering if he’s been fooled yet again: Is his father out here at all? As the situation grows increasingly dire, Ethan realizes this quest has become about more than finding his dad.

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of nature revealing human nature—the trickiest terrain. Navigating an unforgiving landscape, Ethan searches himself for the ability to forgive his father—if he finds him alive.


My Thoughts:

I really, really enjoyed this book. Like, really enjoyed it. The writing was superb; I could have been eating burritos, fording rivers, and facing down grizzly bears with the characters. And the characters themselves were all well imagined, believable, and I'd have gladly spent time with any of them - except for Noah.

While coming of age stories in the wilderness are a pretty common genre, I loved this story. It wasn't your typical "kid goes on a solo adventure in to the wild and after surviving deadly things, is changed". Leaving Blythe River was a story of people helping each other out, and of the strength it takes to put aside strong feelings and do the right thing. The main character, Ethan, does change in the woods - but not because he almost starved or anything so dramatic as that - but for the perfectly everyday reason that he stepped out of his comfort zone repeatedly.

He found his voice and strength through many small acts of personal bravery, which is easy for most people to relate to.

This was one of those hard to put down stories, where I found myself thinking about it while I was washing dishes, or walking the dog. I finished the book almost two weeks ago now, and it's still floating around in my mind.

Find Catherine Ryan Hyde and Leaving Blythe River around the web:

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Blythe-River-Catherine-Ryan/dp/1503934462/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27858043-leaving-blythe-river?from_search=true&search_version=service

Author's website: http://www.catherineryanhyde.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crhyde



Thank you to Lisa at TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy of this novel. To see what other TLC Readers had to say, click the image above!


Gratitude*Sunday A Day Late

Each Sunday I stop and count my blessings.

Taking time to honor the things I've been grateful for throughout the week. A quiet, weekly practice of appreciation and positivity. A time to breath and reflect. A small step towards a more simplistic and appreciative outlook. Feel free to join in. <3




This Week I am Grateful For:


* A patient, loving, unwavering husband who is my rock through the even the stormiest periods of my anxiety and depression.
* Getting some time with a beautiful friend who I don't see as often as I'd like, who is in a huge transitional period. The fact that she takes the time to talk and care about other people's shit during her own upheaval is wondrous.
* Sipping sangria poolside. Seeing Orion actually enjoy the pool for a little bit.
* Our neighbors treating us to a delicious lunch.
* Speaking what I want aloud, even though it sounds so cheesy. Letting go of judgement of that cheese.
* New hammock straps that make it a cinch to put up - hammock hangs after bedtime with my love. Watching fireflies dance around us, bats fluttering overhead, and a huge owl swooping out of our pine trees. I guess I know why I haven't seen as many hawks around the yard this year.
* Going through and paring down my jewelry & fabric collections. Letting go of things is far more freeing than I'd anticipated.
* Orion picking a flower for his friend, then dumping dirt in her hair 5 minutes later, then a few minutes after that ripping out an entire plant to give to her which Joe quickly replanted. It's the thought that counts, right? :)
* Having a very light, happy, uplifting weekend. Seriously, I'd call it perfect.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Review: Wrong Highway by Wendy Gordon


Wrong Highway by Wendy Gordon


From the Publisher:
It is 1986. Erica Richards lives in West Meadow, Long Island with ther three young boys, newborn baby girl, and successful Wall Street analyst husband. But dont be fooled by her seemingly placid suburban lifestyle. Erica is fierce, curious, uncompromising and often impulsive. When her teenage nephew Jared rebels against his straight-laced parents Ron and Debbie, he turns to Erica for help, setting in motion a chain of events that will take all of them careening down a dangerous and twisty highway. Buckle your seatbelt, crank up the 80s soundtrack, and learn how stunningly easy it is to keep BIG SECRETS.

My Thoughts:

A cautionary tale about the dangers of "mixing in" - they had me at suburbia in the 80's!

The prologue of the book hooked me in before the story even officially started. A flashback to Erica's youth; an introduction to Wendy's realistically descriptive style of writing. Her characters aren't characters, they're people, and she establishes this in the first 9 pages of her debut novel.

While at certain points in the story I was mentally shrieking "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" at the main character, Erica, I could relate to her desire to escape the monotony of everyday life as an adult to experience the things that thrilled her in her youth one more time. There are few things in life I would choose dishes and grocery shopping over. However, I wouldn't risk nearly as much as she did to get that rush.

The story itself is simplistic enough in that it's essentially a tale about a suburban family that seems to have it all together from the outside with Sunday Dinners and all, but isn't as polished and perfect as others think. The characters really make it something special as their secrets, hang ups, inability to communicate, and escapism culminate in a series of unfortunate events.

My only hangup, is the length. I'd have preferred a slightly shorter, narrower, highway towards the conclusion. Other than that though, it was a solid story.


Find Wendy and Wrong Highway on the web:

Wendy's Website: http://www.wendygordon-wronghighway.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29250010-wrong-highway
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997078006/ref=cm_sw_su_dp


Thank you to Lisa at TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy of this novel. To check out what others have to say as the tour continues, click the image above.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gratitude*Sunday

Each Sunday I stop and count my blessings.

Taking time to honor the things I've been grateful for throughout the week. A quiet, weekly practice of appreciation and positivity. A time to breath and reflect. A small step towards a more simplistic and appreciative outlook. Feel free to join in. <3



This Week I am Grateful For:


* Starting and making good progress on my very first Waldorf doll!
* Rainy days - playing in the wet yard as the rain comes down.
* Watching Orion's fascination and interaction with bees. He squats down by bees and goes "zzzzzz" at them and offers them clover flowers.
* Good books.
* Remembering to recognize all of my creative endeavors as worthy, not just the painting. Sometimes I get so hung up on the fine art, meanings, seeking, uncovering, and feelings aspects of Art (with a capital A) that I feel like despite creating things, I haven't been "creative". Thank you, Cynthia, for the timely reminders.
* Date night with Joe! We went to a 90's themed adults only party at the Children's museum and had so much fun! We danced to our old jams, dressed more or less like we still do (shh... once a child of the 90's, always a child of the 90's), made some crafty souvenirs, and played! Best date ever.


Joe playing music on an organ made of plastic pipes.

Me climbing in the giant, rainbow colored climber! My claustrophobia acted up at the very top where it narrowed, but my fear of heights did not. Booyah!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dolls, Desires, and a River



Hey! Remember this?

I've been slowly working through projects and reading books, but haven't felt much like blogging so haven't shared. While I've been away, I completed a baby quilt that is a few months late but my friends will definitely not mind, repaired the seat in our bike trailer for Orion, finished 2 new paintings, and have been steadily working through all of the categories of stuff in my house Konmari style to pare down to the things that truly bring me joy!

I've also finished a few books, which you can keep up with if you're on goodreads. You can find me here. I'd *highly* recommend Glennon Doyle Melton's first novel Carry on Warrior if you're wanting some woman, mother, wife comradery and musings on life that will hit you right in the feels. My copy is dog eared, underlined, circled and tear stained and I only read it once.

That all cleared up, what am I working on this week?


I'm working on a waldorf doll for Orion using this amazing tutorial from Faith and String. I've never made any sort of doll before and this has been a super easy tutorial so far. I'm really enjoying the process and the only thing I had to buy was the knit for the skin. So I'm $6 in to this. Not bad!

I'm currently reading two books at once. Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map as recommended to me by several friends (and my therapist two days after I had bought it!) and Cathrine Ryan Hyde's ( of Pay it Forward fame) new novel for a review with TLC Book Tours.

What are you all up to?