Monday, February 06, 2017

#OneBookWinter - The Chilbury Ladies' Choir

What is the one book you would recommend reading this Winter?

Today I'm sharing with you my thoughts on The Chilbury Ladies' Choir A Novel by Jennifer Ryan, my first 5 star read of 2017, and my recommendation for the SheReads #OneBookWinter book rec across social media day today!

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Source: NetGalley / Crown Publishing (e-edition ARC)
Release Date: Next Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Synopsis from NetGalley:
""Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!"

As England enters World War II's dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar's stuffy edict to shutter the church's choir in the absence of men and instead "carry on singing." Resurrecting themselves as "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir," the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, THE CHILBURY LADIES' CHOIR moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit-- a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn't understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past-- we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir's collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict."

My Thoughts:

In a word: Exceptional!

So many layers to this novel. Ms. Ryan's writing is beautiful, and expertly weaves together all of the stories of the women left behind in the (fictional) village of Chilbury during WWII, and shows us not only what they had to do to survive, but also how the choir and its' music unites them, regardless of their ages and backgrounds, and how that unity becomes another tool for their survival during the war.

Side story/background: Back during SIBA/READ Savannah in September, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and chatting at length with Ms. Ryan at the Hilton DeSoto lounge about this novel, and writing & reading in general! (The cover is gorgeous in person by the way and I cannot wait until it comes out next week and I'm able to get my hands on a print copy). Since then I had been looking forward to reading this novel (it's one of my preferred genres - WWII hist fic) so I was thrilled when my NetGalley request to read it was approved via Crown Publishing and NetGalley back on January 4th. I actually finished reading on January 27th but wanted to hold my thoughts until closer to the actual release date.

Highly recommended! For those who love historical fiction and those who love a great story.

Links for Reference:
Penguin RandomHouse book page (to pre-order)
Author Twitter
Watch Author Talk About Writing on YouTube
Crown Publishing on Twitter

I want to thank NetGalley and Crown Publishing for providing me with a free copy of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir A Novel as a member of NetGalley for a fair and honest review. (Opinions are my own, and I am not required by the publisher to write a positive review, nor have I received compensation for this review).

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day

The sunshine yesterday was glorious! I enjoyed every moment of it here at home (top photo) and while we were out for a drive to do errands, taking the back roads. We're back to business as usual today; it's cloudy and dim. But, I'm loving these photos and printing out a few to enjoy too!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

What's Saving My Life Right Now?

Anne Bogel (aka Modern Mrs Darcy) wrote briefly about “what's saving your life right now?” the other day and I thought it was a great idea! Because there are a few things saving at least what’s left of my sanity right now during the-case-of-mono-that-won’t-end, which I’ve been noting in my journal, and today’s the day to share my list with all of you. Let me preface this with the fact that I actually love Winter. Snowy Winters to be exact. Dark, rainy, muddy Winters, with little snow? Not. So. Much. Add the extra illness to the mix and I actually do have a royal case of the Winter Doldrums this year!

So here are the things that are saving my life right now:

-We’re coming off one of the most dark & cloudy Januaries I can recall, so throughout I’ve been all about candles and twinkle lights.

-Book Mail! Whether it's books I've ordered or ones being kindly sent from publishers, they are brightening my day as well.

-Indoor houseplants or fresh flowers from the supermarket.

-Amazon Prime TV shows like Good Girls Revolt and Z: The Beginning Of Everything (engrossing and eye-opening).

-Limit and prioritize social media. Use what I enjoy and do my best not to over-indulge; because while it's a blessing, too much is also not good.

-Limiting phone call lengths throughout the day. (Because cause my aunt and I can talk about nothing all afternoon long lol) But calls can be draining, and right now I just don't have extra energy to spare.

-Knit/Read/Write/Journal 10 minutes each daily. This sounds easy but right now, it's so not. (Read a page, snooze... Knit a row, snooze... Or brain fog so bad you can't wrap your mind around complete sentences to write...) Those of you who've been through this or live with a chronic disease on top of which you also get sick often will be able to relate well. Those of you who haven't, well, you're very lucky that you cannot relate! 

If I'm able to do these things that I love so much for longer periods of time, I do. But, if I'm unable to, that's okay too. Even the basics are difficult to accomplish and dangerous (health) complications can arise at the drop of a dime, so I have to be extremely cautious. I'm having a very rough time right now so I'm trying to do everything I can to be good to myself, not harder on myself.

-The online Winter Retreat, "Hibernate" hosted by Heather Buggeman of Beauty That Moves. This is my second Hibernate Retreat, and I cannot recommend it, the community the Retreat creates, or her gorgeous and engaging blog enough!

-Paying attention to my disconnect alarm - that's when I shut off phone apps, alarm gets set, and the phone goes face down on the night stand.

-TV off when the phone gets put down unless I'm actually watching something (no aimless channel flipping) and then sometimes I may read before trying to sleep. (Reading before bed just doesn’t work like it used to – I fall asleep!)

-Easy, basic yoga stretches right before getting into bed (for back and tummy pain). I only spend about 5 minutes or so doing this, but it makes a world of difference for me comfort wise, and therefore helps me sleep.

-Listening to favorite audio books as soon as I lay down to sleep to help me to sleep and drown out Big’s snoring. Right now it's Julia Cameron's Walking In This World. (Podcasts that you haven't listened to before will keep you awake just FYI lol)

To join the blog link up and share your list, visit Anne's post, "What's saving my life right now" by clicking here.

What's saving your life right now? Share with me in the comments below!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

From My Shelf - Book Mail!

My #bookmail haul from this week! A Gentleman In Moscow was a treat to myself. The Marriage Lie is from the #southernlit chat with Deep South Magazine and author Kimberly Belle - thank you to Book Sparks sending the book!

What books found homes on your shelves this week?

#winterreads #bookstagram #bookworm #booknerd #bookish #fiction #historicalfiction #womensfiction #suspense #wonontwitter #readinglife #frommyshelf