Friday, October 13, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - October 14

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We're back with another set of pictures from our anniversary getaway at the beach.  After visiting Fort Lewis and Fort Clatsop, we headed back south down the beach to Oswald West State Park.  My husband claimed that he wanted to visit the tide pools, but this beach isn't the best for that.  I think we really wanted to relive one of his favorite films, Point Break, which was filmed, in part, at this beach.

See all those dots out there....those are surfers!


I let him do the tide pools himself.  I'm not a fan of being out on rocks as the tide comes in!

Afterwards, we went out for "the best fish and chips in Cannon Beach," which can be found at the hardware store.  Seriously.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - October 7

To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Last week, I shared our pictures from our visit to Fort Stevens near Astoria, Oregon.  Once we were done checking that out, we headed a few miles up the road to Fort Clatsop / Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.  In all my years living in Oregon, I had never been there!  This was where Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1805/1806.  As National Parks go, it was a pretty sweet deal--only $5 a person (which was great because our National Parks pass had expired!)  Here are some of the pictures:

There were several impressive sculptures in the park.  This one was in the Visitors' Center

I loved this one of Sacajawea


The hubs and the Fort

Lewis and Clark's quarters

Lewis and Clark River

Next week...my husband tries to relive Point Break.


Book Review: "The Fire By Night" by Teresa Messineo #TheFireByNight #TLCBookTours

The Fire By Night Teresa Messineo
Date Finished: October 4, 2017
Date Published: January 17, 2017
ISBN: 9780062459121
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours and HarperCollins Publishers
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Novels about WWII, books about strong women, stories about nursing, character-driven novels.

Summary:
A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.

In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.

Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.


When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place—and the hope of love—in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time. 

My Thoughts:
It's easy to burn yourself out reading novels about World War II.  I do understand the draw of stories set in this time period, but there are just so many of them!  But, even if you don't think you could stomach one more novel from this period, I beg you to give this one a try.

If I had to choose one word to describe this book, that word would be brave.  This is a story of extreme bravery (and anyone who doesn't believe that woman can serve in combat positions, or that they have never served in a combat position, should read this).  We meet Jo and Kay towards the end of the war.  Jo has been essentially abandoned on the Western Front and Kay is on the verge of being captured by the Japanese.  To say that they are in harrowing positions is an understatement, but both women display almost super-human courage in the face of indescribable adversity.  These women aren't superheroes in the sense that they are able to handle their circumstances with ease and then are able to brush it all off.  No, these women suffer beyond what most of us can comprehend,

This book is also brave in that Messineo does not hold back.  When writing about such atrocities, there is the temptations to allude to things and to soften events for the reader.  Messineo does neither, and the book is better for it.  I respect an author who does not shrink away from the difficult things, but instead treats them with respect and realism, without falling into the pit of sensationalism.  This book is, at times, very difficult to read.  Twice, I had to put the book down for a day to clear my mind before reading on.  But the difficulty is what makes this novel so important and I commend Messineo for being bold enough to go all the way.

This is very much a character-driven novel.  We get to know Jo and Kay's histories, their dreams, their inner-most selves.  I adore character-driven novels, so this worked for me.  However, if you are looking for a more plot-driven novel, just be aware that this book would not fit into that category.

I only have 2 small complaints about this book.  I do wish that Jo's and Kay's story intersected more throughout the novel.  While we do get each character's history and how the two women knew each other and formed their bond, this did frequently feel like two stories in one book.  I also felt that the end was less meaty than I would like.  I wouldn't say that it is too "clean," as in everyone lives happily ever after.  But, after the intensity of the rest of the book, the ending seemed a little too light to me.  Yet, in both cases, my complaints were greatly outweighed by everything I did appreciate about the book and ultimately didn't hamper my satisfaction of the novel.

If you enjoy World War II novels, I highly recommend this one.  And, if you have WWII fatigue, I beg you to give this one a try.  Messineo has created a compelling and important novel that would be well worth anyone's time.

About the Author:
Teresa Messineo spent seven years researching the history behind The Fire by Night,her first novel. She is a graduate of DeSales University, and her varied interests include homeschooling her four children, volunteering with the underprivileged, medicine, swing dancing, and competitive athletics. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.


Connect with Teresa on Facebook.

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.



To learn more about this book, please visit some of the other stops on the blog tour.






Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - September 30

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I'm back with more pictures from our anniversary trip to the beach.

In all the time that I've lived in Oregon, I've never visited the historic section of Fort Stevens.  Since it was only a half hour or so up the road, we decided to check it out...

Checking out the old jeep at the Visitor's Center

We made a quick stop so that I could see what was left of the Peter Iredale

Some of what is left of Fort Stevens, which was active from 1863-1947




Next week, we go up the road a bit and back even further in time...


Friday, September 22, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - September 23

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Welcome back friends!  Last week, I mentioned that my husband and I were going to the beach for the weekend to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  Starting with this post, and for the next few weeks, I'll be sharing pictures from our trip.

First off, we stayed in Cannon Beach at the Hallmark Resort and it was wonderful!  The best feature of our room was the oceanfront view...

Taken from our balcony
We had dinner at a little restaurant called The Irish Table.  I forgot to take any pictures, but it was AMAZING!  It was a little on the spendy side, but so worth it!

Afterwards, we took a walk on the beach as the sun set....



Unfortunately, the clouds were low so we didn't get a real sunset...but we still had a dramatic sky.


More pictures of our adventures next week!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - September 16

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When this post goes live, my husband and I will be out of town celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  Since I post wedding pictures every year on the weekend closest to our anniversary, I'm going to post some that I haven't shown before--not because they are bad, but because they are the ones people seem to forget about.  Here are some of the details from our wedding day....





Hopefully I'll have some fun pictures from this week's getaway up next week!


Friday, September 8, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - September 9

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What a crazy week!  We're still adjusting to the school schedule and I somehow managed to schedule an appointment for myself every day this week.  Also, we've had to stay inside as much as possible, due to the poor air quality.  We've have a horrible wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge and much of western Oregon was covered in smoke.  Thankfully, it started to clear today, although the fire is still burning.  We're all praying that the firefighters are able to contain it soon.

Because of all this I have no pictures from this week.  However, we did get the our family pictures back that we had taken for our church directory.  While we had some of the whole family, we also got a few of just the kids...and this was one of the gems:


Sigh...I'm sure that one will end up on the Christmas card.  Kids!


Friday, September 1, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - September 2

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Well, our summer is officially over (despite the fact that we're in the  midst of another heat wave!).  The kids started back at school this week and here are some pictures from the big day!  (Can you tell the kids are a little excited?)






Sunday, August 27, 2017

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? August 28 #IMWAYR

Folks...we're almost there.  I can see the finish line....

SCHOOL STARTS ON TUESDAY!

Now, before you think I'm a worn out mother (I mean, I am, but....), my kids are just as excited about this as I am.  They both enjoy school and are wanting to see their friends.  My daughter had a lot of friend time at the beginning of the summer, but then most of her friends were out of town during the last part of the summer.  Plus, I think they are sick of looking at each other.  Anyone who grew up with siblings close to their own age can understand this.

Now, I promised that I would reveal who my other favorite audiobook narrator is.  If you go back to this post, you will recall that I was so taken with David Giuntoli's narration of The Clockwork Dynasty, that I added him to my "will listen to them read ANYTHING list," which previously only had one other name.  I left some clues, I offered a $15 Amazon card as a prize...and no one got the right answer!  So, I still have that card and I'll find something to do with it in the future--I think just a plain giveaway is a little dull, so I'm going to try to come up with something fun, but maybe not quite as hard.

But, I did say I would reveal who that person was in this post, so here you go...


Yes, ladies and gents, it is the incomparable Emma Thompson.  She actually doesn't have that many audio credits, but she has narrated some of her own books.  She wrote a few new Peter Rabbit books, which included CD's of her reading it.  The books are amazing (I actually didn't like the Beatrix Potter books--they freaked me out when I was a kid--but I love her books).  The kids and I also listened to her narrate another book she read, which I purposefully left off my post last week, but more on that below.  Anyway, I am keeping my eyes open for anything new that she narrates.

Okay, now onto the update:


It's Monday...What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.  Please visit her blog to link up and join the fun!  Also, if you are participating in the meme, please be sure to link to your blog in your comment so that I can visit!


We've been busy with end of summer stuff this week, so I didn't get much reading done, but I did a fair amount of listening.

I didn't make much progress with either Wish You Were Here or Priestdaddy.  But, again, that was completely due to circumstances.  I've really enjoyed what I have been able to read of both.  Once school starts up again, I will have more time (including my pick up line reading...man, I've missed that), so I'm hoping that both of these books will be moved below to the "read" portion of this update next week.

While I finished a lot of listening this week, I also gave up a lot listening--more on that below.  I decided that I needed to take a break from fiction because I just wasn't finding narrators that were working for me.  I came across Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House and thought it would be a great choice.  I have different narrator standards for non-fiction (basically, I'm much less critical) and, people, I really need some Obama stuff right now.  Anyway, this sounded great and I'm enjoying it...but so far Mastromonaco has spent time talking about menstruration mishaps, IBS, and travel induced vomiting, so it isn't exactly what I thought it would be.

I did finish two audio books last week, and loved both of them.  The first is the one I happened to not mention last week, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang.  I was a little worried about how this would go down with the kids.  They haven't yet seen the first (or second) movie--although I think both are now waiting for me to pick up at the library, thanks to them not streaming anywhere!  Secondly, this has the story interspersed with Thompson's diaries about filming.  I wasn't sure if the kids would follow this, but they seemed to have no trouble with it.  From my part, I enjoyed the diary parts more than the actual story--not because the story was boring, but because the diaries were fascinating.  There is also a Q&A section at the end, which was quite fun.

I powered through Eleanor and Park and loved every minute of it.  I had previously read the book, so I knew I loved the story.  In fact, I think this might be my favorite YA novel of all.  But the narrators were quite good.  I was a little worried about it at first, only because both--Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra--seemed to be playing it a little safe.  But, as Eleanor and Park's relationship's intensify, so does the narration.  There were a few little nitpicks I could make about how the narrators did the secondary characters, but overall I'd give both narrators an A-.

As I said, it has been a crazy week, so not much on the blog.  The only post was last week's anemic eclipse-themed Saturday Snapshot.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - August 26

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As many of you know, this past Monday was the big eclipse!  Being in Oregon, we had a great view.  We originally had plans to head south to my brother's house, which was in the path of totality--but we decided to stay put and avoid the traffic.  We were at 98%, so it was still a great experience.

Unfortunately, I don't have great pictures of it.  My husband tried to get some pictures of the actual eclipse, but none of them turned out.  I was going to try to do a time-lapse video, but the kids were too excited and kept knocking my iPhone tripod over.  So, here it is...the one eclipse picture I have!


Most of my friends have these great family pictures of everyone with their eclipse glasses on, all looking at the sky.  Unfortunately, I wasn't that organized, so this is what you get!