Friday, June 24, 2016

simply happy

today was my eldest daughter's first dance recital. and since it was just about the cutest thing ever i'm subjecting the world to a short video.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

simply obsessed

the more I read about them the better it gets.

#hiddleswift #truelove #socliche

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

strictly literary: radio girls by sarah-jane stratford

every once in a while i do get away from the world war ii historical novel, somewhat fittingly i read radio girls in between reading the summer before the war and everyone brave is forgiven i say fittingly because this book takes place in britain between the wars. it is the earliest days of the bbc and at a time where women were beginning to work outside the home regardless of class, in professional environments. it's difficult to fathom now, but europe post-world war i was marked by a generation of young men lost. women had opportunities they wouldn't have simply because there weren't enough able-bodied men left to fill in every space.

maisie musgrave is a nursing veteran of the war, she lied about her age (she was only fourteen at the time) to do something to help the cause. since the war ended she's completed a secretarial school and finds a job at the british broadcasting corporation, yes that bbc. it's the early days of radio, and people are still skeptical about this box that talks. but maisie is excited by her work there. even though she is a simple secretary she gets to see people like hilda matheson and john reith at work building an empire in a new medium. the novel takes us through the early days of the bbc, gives us a sense of the inner working of early broadcast radio.

maisie is a fictional character and while radio girls is nominally her story, it's really the story of hilda matheson. she was a pioneer at the bbc, not only for broadcast radio but also for feminism. she was also a lesbian at a time where homosexuality was very much a taboo. (sometimes one reads these novels taking place in times past and shudders to realize both how far and how little we've advanced since then.) there isn't much known about hilda's biography other than the broad strokes, she was at the bbc, she also worked at mi-5, and she also published a book about broadcast radio. so maisie serves as the person who both learns from hilda and the person who fills in some of the gaps in hilda's biography with fiction. and it works.

i enjoyed the relationship between these two women. maisie looks up to hilda, as she should because hilda was a pretty amazing woman. when you consider all that she accomplished, all the shows she produced at that particular moment in history, it's pretty cool. this is also a time of political upheaval. europe is still re-building after the great war. the germans are restless, crushed under severe war penalites. the bolshevik revolution is still too recent to be viewed with anything but suspicion. working at the bbc means keeping abreast of all the news and happenings, and it also means sharing that information. radio changes how information is shared. for once it can be shared immediately, across great swathes of population regardless of economic class. i enjoy reading about this moment in european history. the early twentieth century was one change after another, it's a time period that provides fertile ground for good stories that still have resonance today. this is one of them.

**radio girls published on june 14, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of penguin's first to read program in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 20, 2016

seriously romantic: idol by kristen callihan

i first discovered kristen callihan off a riffle email. her first book in the game on series, the hook up, was for sale and since i have a soft spot for sports romances i decided to give it a try. then i proceeded to buy the remaining books in the series. and since then i've stalked her facebook page and website in the hopes for more books in the series. what i discovered was that before more game on books, we'd be treated to the kick off of a new series. idol is the first book in the vip series and, well, now it seems that i'm hooked on a new series and am destined to stalk the author on social media until i know when the next release will be. sometimes i wish i discovered all series after they closed so i could binge on all the books at once. i'm not one for savoring.

which is not to say that there isn't plenty to savor while reading idol. one of the things that impresses me about callihan's writing is how much research she puts in to the world she is writing about. in her game on series it is clear that she knows football. she loves it too. the same can be said of the world of music here. it's not just that killian james is a rock star. he's a musician who loves music. he and his bandmates know music. django reinhardt is not only name-dropped, but we get some of the fascinating facts that made him such a legend to people who know about music. my husband is a total music nerd so reading about things that he is constantly telling me about, it's kind of funny and cool. music so often feeds our memories. the white stripes "hotel yorba" makes a special appearance in the novel and that made me smile. my husband put that song on a mixtape he made for me when we first started dating. it was either for my birthday or for christmas, i don't remember, and we'd only started dating in june so it was either two month in or six months in, but anyway that song has the lyrics:

it might sound silly
for me to think childish thoughts like these
but i'm so tired of acting tough
and i'm gonna do what i please
lets get married
in a big cathedral by a priest
cause if i'm the man that you love the most
you could say i do at least

and i remember thinking to myself, he wants to marry me. and that's when i knew we'd be together forever. and so i get why killian is drawn to that song. having music inform and deepen the story is a wonderful thing and the author does a really good job with that.

anyway let's talk about killian james. he's a wreck when we meet him. libby and him have the world's worst meet cute. he's totaled her yard, he reeks of alcohol and vomit, and he actually pukes and passes out on her. but in spite of that introduction killian isn't the bad boy rocker cliché. he's a good guy who is so used to being everyone's rock that when things happen that he can't control, when he feels like he isn't needed, that he can't do enough to fix it, that's when everything goes off the rails. libby bell, has her own demons to wrestle with. her parents' choices, the way they lived, the way they died, deeply affect her. she's still in mourning when she meets killian, she's hidden her heart away from the world to protect it from breaking further.

when they realize the connection they share through their love of music—not just listening to it, but writing and performing—there is nothing to stop the feelings that tie them together. you just know, as a reader, that they will work things out because they have to, because there is no other option. when you feel that much, that strongly about something it just has to happen. they face their fair share of obstacles, sometimes they get in their own way too and you just want to shake them. but they also manage to put so many of their demons to bed. and enjoy a fair amount of time in bed, so if you don't like hot sex scenes in your romances you are going to be disappointed. because the sex between these two is hot and once they get going, they maximize their time together.

one of the other things callihan does so well is establishing the secondary characters. one can only hope that most of them will get their own novels in the series. next up is scottie, who is the incredibly hot and mysterious manager. and who's book i'm already dying to read. at this point i think i have to put kristen callihan on my "must buy" list. and if you like contemporary romance with emotional heft but no unnecessary drama, you will like this too. plus there's the music, and while this one song spoke to me the most, there are others that have their moments in the novel that might speak to you.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

simply the perfect summer drink

sex and the city definitely made the cosmopolitan a trendy drink. and with its blush pink hue, it's also a pretty drink. but it's also incredibly delicious. the key is the fresh lime juice. i'm convinced that fresh lime juice makes everything taste better.

i'm the kind of girl who prefers limeade over lemonade. i love its tart freshness. and basically anything and everything that has fresh lime juice is amazing. the best cosmopolitans in my opinion aren't the ones that are super pink. the cranberry juice shouldn't be the star here. i love cosmos with the barest hint on cranberry juice.

the original cosmopolitan recipe only includes a splash or two of cranberry. try it served in a chilled martini glass. on a hot day there is nothing quite like it.

original cosmopolitan recipe (adapted from the ultimate bar book):
1.5 ounces vodka (my vodka of choice is ocean vodka)
1.5 ounces triple sec
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 to 2 dashes of cranberry juice
lime twist

shake ingredients vigorously with ice. strain into chilled cocktail glass. garnish with lime twist

it's truly delightful.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

simply give me s'more

i don't know what it is about summer, but as soon as it's camp fire weather all i want are some damn s'mores. here's the weird thing, i don't actually like marshmallows. i mean, texture-wise i think they are one of the most disgusting things you could eat. however, roasted marshmallow is another story. and then smashed between a graham cracker and a bar of hershey's chocolate and well, nirvana.

most of the time, when i do get to eat s'mores i'm usually getting the marshmallows my kids have roasted and do not want to eat. so i never get to try the many variations on the tried and true standard. one day i'd like to buy some really fancy gourmet chocolate and try it on a s'more. i'm also intrigued by the peanut butter and chocolate variations i've read. there was a menu going around on pinterest or facebook last summer that i definitely need to look at again for inspiration.

really what i should do is organize my own damn camp fire. maybe one day i'll have the courage to pull together something like that.