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Under A Gray Sky bio picture

    This is my little corner of the world where I can do whatever I some of my favorite (and not so favorite) books, whine about yet another gray sky, or just share a little of what it means to live in the Pacific Northwest after a lifetime of living in the sun.

    Reading As you spend time on my blog, you may notice that my reading tastes are a bit eclectic. I used to be what I call a "book snob". That was before I began work on my master's degree and needed light recreational reading and discovered that while some books might not be "critically acclaimed", they could still be some great fun to read! Now I read a little bit of everything.

    Writing One of my lifelong dreams (besides meeting John Taylor from 80's Duran Duran fame) has been write the next great American novel . I'm sure many of you share this dream (you might even share my dream of meeting John Taylor, who knows). I've always been afraid to start writing. I put "writing" in the sub-title of the blog hoping that it will force me to begin writing something or else I will have to crawl away in shame...

    Living I'll also be sharing stories about my experiences living and parenting in the PNW. If you're expecting great tips on how to organize your schedule or how to prepare gourmet meals on a shoestring budget...sorry, you won't find that here. I am chronically messy, chronically disorganized, and chronically planning gourmet meals that never get prepared. It's just going to be me...sharing my trials and tribulations of not only leaving 365 days of sunshine for 350 days of gray skies but also the oh so fun adventure of parenting two "tweens" who think they know more than me.

Blog Tour/Review: Daring by Gail Sheehy

Title:  Daring
Authors:  Gail Sheehy
Genre:  Memoir
Source:  Publisher/TLC Book Tours
Rating:  4 stars

Publisher’s Synopsis: The author of the classic New York Times bestseller Passages returns with her inspiring memoir—a chronicle of her trials and triumphs as a groundbreaking “girl” journalist in the 1960s, to iconic guide for women and men seeking to have it all, to one of the premier political profilers of modern times

Candid, insightful, and powerful, Daring: My Passages is the story of the unconventional life of a writer who dared . . . to walk New York City streets with hookers and pimps to expose violent prostitution; to march with civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland as British paratroopers opened fire; to seek out Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat when he was targeted for death after making peace with Israel. Always on the cutting edge of social issues, Sheehy reveals the obstacles and opportunities encountered when she dared to blaze a trail in a “man’s world.” Daring is also a beguiling love story of Sheehy’s tempestuous romance with and eventual happy marriage to Clay Felker, the charismatic creator of New York magazine. As well, Sheehy recounts her audacious pursuit and intimate portraits of many 20th century leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Presidents George H. W. and George W. Bush, and the world-altering attraction between Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Sheehy reflects on desire, ambition, and wanting it all—career, love, children, friends, social significance—and lays bare her major life passages: false starts and surprise successes, the shock of failures and inner crises; betrayal in a first marriage; life as a single mother; flings of an ardent, liberated young woman; her adoption of a second daughter from a refugee camp; marriage to the love of her life and their ensuing years of happiness, even in the shadow of illness.

Now stronger than ever, Sheehy speaks from hard-won experience to today’s young women. Her fascinating, no-holds-barred story is a testament to guts, resilience, smarts, and daring, and offers a bold perspective on all of life’s passages.

Review:  I don’t read many memoirs but found myself drawn to Daring.  I think it was the idea of getting a front row seat to this “groundbreaking” woman’s adventures.  Sheehy forged a journalistic career at a time when women were just beginning to break down barriers to many male dominated careers.  She spent time with Robert Kennedy right before his assassination, she worked with Gloria Steinem in the very early days of the feminist movement, she was right in the middle of Ireland’s Bloody Sunday massacre, she visited refugee camps and attending balls with the heads of state.

Reading Daring not only gave me the story of Gail Sheehy, it also gave me an inside look to most of the important historical events of the past fifty years.  I loved that I got a contemporary view of much of the history of my childhood, stories that I vaguely remember happening but was too young to fully comprehend.

Daring is a quick read and a great read for anyone with an interest in contemporary history and/or women’s history.  Whether you agree with all of her choices or not, you will close this book realizing that this woman, Gail Sheehy, has led an amazing life.   I already have a few friends in mind that I will be recommending read this book.

*I received a copy of this book as part of participating in the book tour.  My review is my honest opinion.

October 18, 2014 - 1:45 pm

Gail Sheehy, author of Daring: My Passages, on tour September 2014 | TLC Book Tours - [...] Wednesday, October 15th: Under a Gray Sky [...]

October 18, 2014 - 1:51 pm

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours - I don’t remember many of these important events either so I think I’d enjoy seeing and experiencing them through Gail’s eyes.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

Cookbook Review: Extra Virgin

Title:  Extra Virgin
Authors:  Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar
Genre:  Cookbook
Source:  Publisher
Rating:  5 stars

Publisher’s Synopsis:  DEBI MAZAR and GABRIELE CORCOS are ambassadors of contemporary Tuscan cooking. In Extra Virgin, food, family, and style come together in a celebration of the pleasures of the rustic Italian table with 120 recipes for simple yet exquisite meals that are accessible, full of fresh flavor, and easy to prepare. Gabriele is a traditional Italian with a big heart, and Debi is an outgoing, brash New York City girl. Their sassy and playful exchanges illuminate what’s important in everyday life: good food and a lot of love.

Ranging from traditional antipasti and soups to their spin on entrees, pizzas, and desserts, recipes include Pecorino and Honey Dip, a sweet and salty way to start a meal; tangy, luscious Grilled Apricots with Goat Cheese Ricotta, inspired by wild Tuscan apricot trees; and Sausage and Beans, which offers hints of fennel in a Tuscan red sauce. Here, too, are Braised Artichokes softened in guanciale-infused oil, Breakfast Pizza, and Coffee Granita just as Italians make it.

So flag these recipes, get sauce on them, let splashes of olive oil mark the pages—and invite Debi and Gabriele’s charisma and passion for cooking to spill into your kitchen.

Review:  I didn’t know that Debi Mazar and her Italian husband hosted a cooking show, did you? It’s called “Extra Virgin” which coincidentally is the title of their new cookbook. I recently received their cookbook, “Extra Virgin” and loved it cover to cover. Seriously, I loved the cover. It is gorgeous! As gorgeous as the cover is, everything inside is just as wonderful.

The cookbook is chock full of amazing recipes with just the right amount of personal stories from Debi and her husband, Gabriele. Italian cookbooks can sometimes be intimidating but Extra Virgin is a cookbook for any home cook. The recipes are simple enough to be placed into your regular meal rotation but can also be served to guests. I’ve tried a few recipes successfully and am looking forward to trying many more. Well, for maybe the steak tartare and the raw beef pizza.;)

*I received a copy of Extra Virgin from the publisher. This review is my honest opinion.

Giveaway & Book Review: I Shall Be Near To You

Title:   I Shall Be Near To You
Author:   Erin Lindsay McCabe
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Source:   Publisher and TLC Book Tours
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier’s letters home
Rosetta doesn’t want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they’ll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she’s always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she’s told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

My Thoughts:

I actually asked to be part of this book tour.  My mom recently discovered I Shall Be Near To You at our public library and wouldn’t stop talking about how much she loved it and how I really needed to read it.  Well, she was right.  The story of Rosetta, Jeremiah, and their friends is absolutely charming.  You’ll find yourself falling in love with both Rosetta and Jeremiah.  Rosetta is not your usual mid-19th century woman.  She is stubborn and strong and independent.  She is willing to fight for what she loves.  You quickly find yourself wanting to fight for Rosetta.

Erin Lindsay McCabe did an amazing job of detailing life on a Civil War battlefield.  She brought the sights, the sounds, and even the smells alive for me in her writing.  McCabe’s gentle use of dialect and first person perspective (a perspective I’m not always fond of) truly immersed me in Rosetta’s life.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below.  If you give I Shall Be Near To You a try be sure to let me know what you think.

*Thanks to TLC Books for giving me a copy of this book in order to participate in the blog tour and for sponsoring this giveaway.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 6, 2014 - 9:30 am
September 6, 2014 - 10:08 am

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours - First person narration can be tricky but it works so well when it is done right. This sounds like a wonderful read! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

September 11, 2014 - 6:32 am

Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) - I love good historical fiction, especially when it’s “based on a true story.” I’m definitely going to enter the giveaway. Thanks!

September 11, 2014 - 6:33 am

Susan (Bloggin' 'bout Books) - Oops, guess I missed the giveaway. I’m going to request the book from my library instead :)

Book Review & Giveaway: Inamorata by Megan Chance

**Don’t forget to enter the giveaway down below**

Title:   Inamorata
Author:   Megan Chance
Genre:   Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Source:   Publisher/TLC Book Tours
Rating:  4
Locate It: Amazon


American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work.

But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent Odilé Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price.

As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows Odilé’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.

My Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I agreed to review it for the blog tour.  Honestly, I chose it because I liked the cover.  ;)   I’m glad I accepted it because I really liked this book.  I liked the small mysteries that unfolded over the pages.  I liked the way Megan Chance brought historical figures into the story.  I liked the slight paranormal twist of the story.

This is one of those books that I could talk on and on about what I loved but I am afraid that I would give something away in the discussion.  So I’m cutting this review short and am instead giving you a chance to win your own copy so that you can experience Inamorata for yourself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 *Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a digital copy of Inamorata and for sponsoring this giveaway.

September 1, 2014 - 3:47 pm

Megan Chance, author of Inamorata, on tour August 2014 | TLC Book Tours - [...] Friday, August 29th:  Under a Gray Sky [...]

September 1, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours - I’m glad you enjoyed this book! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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