WEEKEND POTPOURRI: GOING OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE

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How did this past week speed by so quickly?  I’m not complaining, since I love cozy weekends…but I feel robbed.  Yes, my week was an unsettling one with the Jury Duty summons lurking overhead.

However, by Thursday at 11:30, I was released and happily free!

While awaiting my fate, however, I busily created new blog headers and explored new themes.  Yes, Bloggiesta is coming again…September 18-21, and since I have sooo many blogs, I typically choose one to renovate during this event.

Last time it was Serendipity.

This time…drum roll, please:  it will be Curl up and Read.

Yes, I constantly create new headers and try new themes…but this time, I plan to go outside my comfort zone…and try a theme that I have never used.  Yes, it does make me a little nervous.

Just for practice, I tried a theme like that over at Going out on a Limb.  Check it out!  That site seems to be a great place to risk things, doesn’t it?  Taking a risk is the URL…and the theme.

But we shall see.  I already have a folder of potential headers.

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Meanwhile, this month I have been going out on a limb with my reading genres, with four YA books read and reviewed so far.  Don’t think for one minute, however, that I will be ignoring my favorite go-to reads.  Just to reassure you, my current read is a book in a series I have loved that features three unlikely friends.  The House on Mermaid Point, by Wendy Wax, is a new novel from the author of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, three unlikely friends who were thrown together by disaster get a do-over on life, love, and happiness . . .

 

 

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Blurb:  Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom . . .

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What I enjoy most about a series is the chance to reconnect with characters I love…and this series brings all of that out.  Especially if you read the first book and saw how none of them seemed likely to ever be friends.

What are you up to this weekend?  With Labor Day on the horizon, are there plans for a getaway?  Get-togethers?  Come on by and let’s chat.

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THURSDAY POTPOURRI: RELEASED!

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Happily, I get to stay in my cozy home every day for the rest of this week, if I wish.  I did my final check-in at the Jury website, and I am “discharged.”  Released!  Yay!

I feel like those kids who get to go home from school early, or those who get a holiday from work.

All morning, I have been fiddling around, waiting for the time (11:30) when I had to check into the Jury website.  I did have to run out and do a couple of errands, and even had a cup of coffee at Barnes & Noble, with one eye on my watch the whole time.

 

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Back home again, I’ve been plugging away on Pic Monkey, creating new headers for various blogs, and even my website.  My restless energy syndrome is alive and well….but now that I have been released, I can settle in and enjoy.

Do you hate having your routines in upheaval because of something hanging over your head?  How do you cope?

One thing I also did was go to Amazon Vine and order another book.  Yes, I had my review stack there pared down to two books, so I had to order another.

Then and Always, by Dani Atkins, is a debut novel that sounds so enticing.

 

 

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Blurb:  For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers.
 
Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart.

Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when a sudden fall lands her in the hospital, Rachel wakes to find that her life has completely changed. Now the people she loves most are not the way she remembers them. Unable to trust her own recollections, Rachel tries to piece together what really happened, and not even she can predict the astonishing truth.

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I’ve also downloaded four e-books already this week…I’ll be sharing more about them on Saturday.

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: CONTEMPLATIONS

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It has been a contemplative morning.  After finishing reading and reviewing Falling Into Place, (click for review) by Amy Zhang, I am definitely pondering choices we make.

 

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Not only the choices made by the characters in this book, but choices I have recently made in selecting my reading material.

For years, I have preferred my usual genres of mysteries (including psychological thrillers); contemporary adult fiction; and the occasional memoir.

YA books were the furthest books from my mind.  Who needs all that adolescent drama, was my thinking.  And also, I thought I had had enough of that while dealing with real-life teenagers in my work (social work) for years.

But lately that has apparently been changing.  Out of 14 books read so far this month, 4 of them were YA books.

Is this an accident, or am I purposely picking books that I notice around the blogosphere and wondering if there is more to them than teen drama?  Is there something in them to which I can connect?

The ones I have chosen are not the stereotypical ones I have scorned…okay, maybe “scorned” is the wrong description.  But I don’t want to read about annoying characters, unless there is something more to them than the obvious surface details.

The Amazon Vine program is a great place to find books that I don’t normally read…and a relatively risk-free way to add them to my stacks.

Meanwhile, I will still prefer books about adults….but occasionally, I will be drawn to the YA books that seem palatable to me. 

With a minimal amount of melodrama, please!

 

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Do you find your reading choices changing over the years?  What, if anything, leads to these changes?

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SUNDAY POTPOURRI: BLISSFUL EUPHORIA

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Welcome to my Sunday Potpourri.  Today has been one of blissful euphoria, with me traipsing off to the movies to watch If I Stay, for starters.

 

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This past week, I read the book and enjoyed it a lot.  But let me tell you…the movie was better!  Okay, for those who find that hard to believe, I’ll tell you why.

You know how there are numerous musicians in the book, from cello-playing Mia to guitar-playing Adam?  And then there is the history of Mia’s parents being rockers.  Well, music is definitely better in a movie than something we can only imagine in a book.

Otherwise, the movie stayed true to the book…and I liked how we flashed back to various points along the way, so we could mix the happy moments in with the sad ones.  So while I teared up in the movie, I also smiled.

When I got home, I watched a movie that my daughter has been urging me to see, and I found it On Demand.  At Middleton was all about one day out of time, if you will.  A man and a woman each bring their offspring —her daughter and his son—to tour Middleton College, and end up experiencing some unforgettable moments.

 

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Academy Award nominees Andy Garcia (Ocean’s 11, City Island) and Vera Farmiga (A&E’s Bates Motel, Up in the Air) star as straight-laced, George and eccentric Edith, two strangers who meet on their children’s college tour at the idyllic Middleton University. Despite their opposing temperaments, George and Edith play hooky together, ditching the textbook tour for a carefree afternoon reminiscent of their youth. But what begins as an afternoon of fun soon becomes a revealing and enlightening experience that will change their lives forever. A light-hearted romance for adults on the surface, At Middleton is a deeply moving and enlightening portrait of the timelessness of romance and youth. Taissa Farmiga (“American Horror Story”), Spencer Lofranco (Jamesy Boy), Peter Reigert (“Dads”), and Tom Skerritt (“Picket Fences”) also star in this story about what can happen on your first day of college – no matter who you are – At Middleton.

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Thanks, Heather, for the recommendation.  Now I want to add this one to my DVD library.

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What has your Sunday been like?  Any time-out-of-time moments?  Good books or movies? 

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HUMP DAY POTPOURRI: A BOOKISH ESCAPE

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It has been a cozy morning so far, sipping coffee and reading blogs. 

Yesterday was a complete change of pace, as my daughter called at 8:30, asking if I would hang out with Noah for the day.  She was having a late day, and he is still not back in school (next week).

So I agreed, and, of course, the two of us had fun.  We went to Barnes & Noble to hang out for a bit, and left with comic books for him.

 

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I had Sparky with me and continued reading If I Stay while he shopped.  Finished it a little while later (click for my review).

 

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I knew that I would have to finish this before the weekend, when the movie is released.  I keep seeing previews and wanting to be there in the audience already.

Funny how I am drawn to YA books when they have been made into movies.  Perhaps I just love books with characters that engage me, and I can’t imagine engaging with the characters in some YA novels.  But that’s okay.

I guess that I love the tearjerkers, as I enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Fault in Our Stars, etc.

As a matter of fact, I have discovered that the easiest way to capture my interest in a different genre than my usual is to discover the book on Vine.  This next week, I’ll be reading another one that is not my “usual.”  Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang.

 

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Earlier today, I read a great review of Accidents of Marriage, by Randy Susan Myers, on Rita’s blog:  My Home of Books.  I’ve also seen Patty raving about it at Books, Thoughts, and a Few Adventures.

Of course I have pre-ordered it, and meanwhile, I’m thinking I should download one of her earlier books.

 

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Perhaps The Comfort of Lies?  What do you think?

 

 

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So while yesterday felt like it might be a day that would pull me away from my books, Noah’s desire to go to the bookstore, and then his total immersion in his books and video games after, gave me ample opportunity to enjoy a bookish day.

Here’s an earlier photo of Noah with Heather…after a day at the beach.  The kid knows how to have fun with adults.

 

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How is your Hump Day shaping up?  Anything special happening?

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HUMP DAY POTPOURRI: FALLING INTO PLACE, ETC.

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Yes, there is something about this photo that makes my fingers tingle, wanting to straighten everything out.

But then I look at the cozy clutter of it all, especially set against the backdrop of those perfectly arranged shelves, and somehow it speaks to me.

I have been discovering more and more Pinterest images, and I’m especially fond of the bookish ones.  This is one I found last night, when I was restlessly trolling the ‘net, waiting for something to post.

I like inserting these images in posts…or on blog headers, like the one you see below.

 

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Love the book bench in the upper right, too.

Okay…enough procrastination!  I am reading an awesome book that I wasn’t sure of after I’d picked it.  Yes, it had the “psychological thriller” aspect to it.  But there were teens in a unique therapeutic classroom.  And I thought…enough already with the troubled teenagers.

They do remind me of my last years as a social worker, when I had a caseload of fifteen teens who had bombed out of every home and now were on their “last chances.”  And yet how, despite the strikes against them, there was something about them that kept me engaged.  And rooting for them.

The kids in this novel are like that.  You want to kick them out, but then you want to keep trying.  The Furies, by Natalie Haynes, is a psychologically complex, dark and twisting novel about loss, obsession and the deep tragedies that can connect us to each other even as they blind us to our fate.

 

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It took me a bit to realize that when the narration is in the present tense, we are in the aftermath of what has happened.  Most of the story alternates between what happened before and what is happening now  And as we see the past unfold in bits and pieces, we realize, finally, what is about to occur.  And I am cringing at the level of obsession going on with these young characters.

But I’m a big fan of obsessions….although there is a difference between the kind of obsession in this story, and the kind that has us blogging obsessively, or searching the ‘net for images.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself these days…LOL.

After reading Belzhar, I thought that I had reached my limit with these YA books…but guess what?  Another is headed my way:  Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang.

 

 

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This one was scheduled to arrive yesterday…but somehow, I never made it to the mailbox.  Today!

What are the days and nights of blogging and reading like for you?  Any obsessions?  Books you are eager to read?

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SUNDAY POTPOURRI: A GREEDY DAY OF BOOKS & MOVIES

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Here we are LATE on Sunday, and I’m just now getting around to my Sunday Potpourri post.  That’s because I’ve lazily been enjoying my Sunday.

Earlier, I finished reading and reviewing The Wrong Girl, by Hank Phillippi Ryan, (click for my review!); the second book in a series that is new to me.

 

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Then I watched some movies stored on my DVR…and started reading Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer, which is captivating, especially since I don’t often read this genre.  But I enjoy this author, so I decided to take a chance.  So far, so good!

 

 

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And then, curious about my Amazon Vine Queue, I clicked over there and saw more books had been added.  Yay!

So I ordered The Silent Sister, by Diane Chamberlain, which I had planned to buy…and now won’t have to do that.

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In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she’s in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

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I adore this author’s books, and this one sounds like one I now can’t wait to receive!  So soon it will come.

What was your Sunday like?  What wonderful or lazy or unusual events have you enjoyed today?

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