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More Book Reviews!

Here are more book recommendations for your summer reading enjoyment!

Broken Chords by Carrie Elks:Broken Chords

Lara knows she should feel lucky. Married to the man of her dreams, with a gorgeous new baby, she should be enjoying her happy-ever-after. But she never expected motherhood to be so difficult, or for her life to change so dramatically. Alex has it all: hot, tattooed looks, a beautiful wife, and a band that’s finally getting noticed. A lucrative offer of a US tour should be the icing on the cake. But as he leaves the country, distance isn’t the only thing that starts to pull their relationship apart. With half a world dividing them, Alex and Lara have to battle for a marriage they once took for granted.

While I’ve never been attracted to “band guys,” there are a whole lot of people out there who are (my daughter included). What I enjoyed about this book was the realistic view of marriage and the many ways having a child changes a relationship. Despite the heady topic, this was an entertaining and sexy read. I’ll read more of Carrie Elks for sure.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman:Where She Went

It’s been three years since the devastating accident … three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other. Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I read this sequel to If I Stay after reading the first book so my daughter and I could go see the movie together. Both are enjoyable reads (and, coincidentally, feature another “band guy”), but I hated how the first book ended (and the movie)! So many unanswered questions! This book wraps up all the questions about what happened when (or if) she stayed in a fast paced plot from Adam’s point of view. I love having the man’s take on things, so this book was a winner for me. If you haven’t read If I Stay, read it first for sure, or get both books together to avoid the frustration. You won’t be sorry. 

*Blurbs and Covers from authors’ websites.

Mackinac Island

Recently my family and I visited Mackinac Island, a small island located north of Michigan where no motor vehicles are allowed, restricting transportation to foot, bicycle, and horse & buggy.

Mackinac town

It’s a really neat place and a family tradition on my father’s side of the family. In fact, we still have a few members who live on the island year round which is CRAZY — unless you like the snow. They do. 🙂

west bluff

This shot was taken looking up West Bluff Road, a street lined with beautiful cottage mansions where people stay and enjoy the northern Michigan summers on the island.

view from The Grand Hotel

This view is looking down toward the town from The Grand Hotel, the famous location where the movie Somewhere In Time was filmed.

ferry boat

Ferry boats take visitors to and from the island and are quite a sight to see with their huge rooster tails besides being a lot of fun to ride!

lilacs

Lilacs flourish on the island and are the focus of the Lilac Festival every June. Dipping my nose in returned a breath rich in memory as I recall the scents of my grandmother’s drawer liners and perfume.

arch rock

Arch Rock is probably one of the most photographed spots on the island. On a clear day you can see the Upper Peninsula and even Canada beyond!

harbor view inn

We stayed at the Harbor View Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast located on the east end of the island.

patio view from Harbor View Inn

Relaxing comes natural at a place where patios are lined with flowers and drenched in garden view. And then of course, there’s the fudge. Mackinac Island is known for its fudge and you can’t walk a single block without passing at least two different fudge shops. Or candy shops, ice cream… I think it’s the only tourist destination where sweet shops are more prevalent than gift shops!

It’s a dream destination for our family and the first time my kids have visited since they were babies. Both loved it and are ready to spend their summers on the island.  And why not? It’s a FUN place to have fun. Check it out for yourself!

The weather is fabulous, wish you were here

The other day, a friend and I were complaining about the unusually wet weather in Atlanta, and she asked me where the sun went.

“Holland,” I told her, and it’s true. It’s like Mother Nature decided to switch things up this year, whisking our sun across the ocean to dry out Northern Europe and sending their low, leaden skies to dump torrential rains all over Georgia. Vampires get more sun than I’ve seen this past month, and I found myself wishing I were there instead of here, homesick for a place that’s no longer my home.

Strand-014-500x375There are so many things I miss about the Netherlands, especially when the weather is balmy like it is now. Lazy days on North Sea beaches. Biking through fields of flowers. Amsterdam and cafes and canals and french fries with mayonnaise. Friends and family.

Before I moved to Holland all those years ago, I never really gave much thought to the fact that I’m an American. My nationality was as much a part of me as my curls and hazel eyes. And then suddenly there I was, in a country where I knew exactly one person. I was a foreigner, an outsider, an expat. Ugh! It didn’t take me long to detest the word expat. Am I less of an American patriot just because I moved to a foreign country? I daresay anyone who has  ever been in an expat’s shoes will tell you the experience only heightens their feelings of nationalism.

But after more than a decade in the Netherlands, I’m part Dutch, too. Some of my favorite places on earth are in the Netherlands. Some of my favorite memories happened there. Some of my favorite people still live there. It took a long time and an enormous effort to put down roots, but then suddenly, without my even noticing, they took hold and became firmly entrenched. There to stay, even if I’m not.

Even though at this very moment, I wish I were.

The Middle of Summer

While Christy faces The End of Summer, up on the Canadian prairies, we’re smack in the middle of our summer season. And it’s been a hot, humid summer with temperatures close to 90 degrees F (30 C).

I know. Some of you are laughing at me right now. But to this Canadian, the 90 degree temperature is as bad as minus 40 in the middle of a winter blizzard.

This year on Seabrook’s pond, there’s no time to dilly-dally and hide from the heat. We decided to spruce up our duck pond by adding a fountain.

Except we discovered the trees we’d planted 19 years ago blocked our view, so we needed to move them. The man with his head in the tree mover is my husband. His self-assigned job was to ensure no branches were lost in the process.

Then we figured we needed a viewing area, somewhere closer to the pond than our back deck, a place we could sit and watch the ducks and their ducklings without frightening them into their hiding spot in the trees. We filled in the tree holes, built a wooden border, and started digging.

The plan had grown from installing the fountain and moving two trees to visions of flowerbeds, benches, and a tiny gardening shed surrounded by cedars and shrubs.

Sometimes in the middle of summer, when the temperature and humidity are soaring, and I’m standing on the top of a ladder sweating my butt off, I really miss winter.

So what do you dislike most about your favorite season that makes you long for the days of your least-liked season?

The End of Summer

For our family, this week is the official last week of summer. I frankly can’t believe it is August and the summer is almost over. It seems the older my kids get, the busier we are and the shorter summer becomes. While I’m ready to get back into some semblance of a routine, here are a few things I have enjoyed about this summer:

Snickers at Lake with Friends

Snickers at Lake with Friends

1. House full of kids. We’ve had an unusually high amount of sleepovers at our house this summer. From teenaged boys crashed in the basement after hours of ping-pong and video games to girls dancing overhead in my daughter’s room. I love that the kids gather at our house, even though it means I’m usually low on food and never seem to know what day of the week it is. I hope next summer is exactly the same.

2. A weeklong family vacation. We spent a week, just the four of us, in Colorado this summer. It’s not often that we go away just as a family and I love our time together. The kids get along because they don’t have anyone else to talk to. My kids count the years until we don’t have to do this again, while my husband and I tearfully count how few years are left of having the kids under our roof.

Hershey at Lake with Friends

Hershey at Lake with Friends

3. Group vacations. We took several multi-family vacations this year. From our baseball tournament in Florida to our week at the lake with friends and several weekend hops, we have spent a lot of time in the company of our dear friends. The kids enjoy traveling with friends and there’s nothing better than sharing memories with others.

I had hoped to get a lot of work accomplished this summer, but I can’t seem to finish a thought, much less a manuscript. I hope your summer has been as wonderful and not as hectic as mine. If you have a moment, I’d love to hear about your summer, too.

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