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Jenny Hodges. Fitness Buff. Tampa Librarian. SharePoint Wife. Mom to Irish Triplets. Living and Traveling in the Autism World.


27. March 2015 07:55
by jennifer
2 Comments

Summer beach reads 2015

27. March 2015 07:55 by jennifer | 2 Comments

Working in a library and being a librarian certainly has its perks!!

Being one of the first to discover a brand new author is one of those great perks! Check out these dazzling new and forthcoming debut novels! Looks like I'm going to be doing a lot of great summer reading!!

 

Debut Authors Spring 2015

 

The Silver Swan

By Elena Delbanco 9781590517161 May 2015

Alexander Feldmann is a musician of international renown, a man whose prodigious talent, striking good looks, and charm prove irresistible to all who meet him. After years of hunting, Alexander acquires a glorious instrument, the Silver Swan. One of the few remaining cellos crafted by Antonio Stradivari, the Silver Swan's clarity and beauty of tone are unmatched. The maestro has one child, Mariana, who by the age of nineteen emerges as a star concert cellist in her own right and is viewed by many as the inheritor of her father's genius. There are whispers that her career might even outpace his. Mariana has always believed that the Silver Swan would one day be hers, until a stunning secret from her father's past entwines her fate and that of the Silver Swan in ways she could never have imagined.

 


 

The Ghost Network

By Catie Disabato 9781612194349 May 2015

Has the world's hottest pop star been kidnapped, brainwashed, or simply gone into hiding? The answer lies in the abandoned subway stations of Chicago . . . One minute insanely famous pop singer Molly Metropolis is on her way to a major performance in Chicago, and the next, she's gone, her cell phone found abandoned. Has she been kidnapped? Gone into hiding? Molly's personal assistant and a journalist who'd been writing about Molly launch a desperate search to find her using her songs and journal as a guide. It leads them to a map of half-completed train lines underneath Chicago, which in turn leads them to the secret, subterranean headquarters of an obscure intellectual sect--and the realization that they've gone too far to turn back. And if a superstar can disappear without a trace . . . what can happen to these young women?

 


 

House of Echoes

By Brendan Duffy 9780804178112 April 2015

In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family's dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare. Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school. When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it's just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven's chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn't the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village's haunting saga is far from over.

 


 

Hausfrau

By Jill Alexander Essbaum 9780812997538 March 2015

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno--a banker--and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her. But Anna can't easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it's difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

 


 

Liar's Bench

By Kim Michele Richardson 9781617737336 April 2015

In 1972, on Mudas Summers' seventeenth birthday, her beloved Mama, Ella, is found hanging from the rafters of their home. Most people in Peckinpaw, Kentucky, assume that Ella's no-good husband did the deed. Others think Ella grew tired of his abuse and did it herself. Muddy is determined to find out for sure either way, especially once she finds strange papers hidden amongst her mama's possessions. But Peckinpaw keeps its secrets buried deep. Muddy's almost-more-than-friend, Bobby Marshall, knows that better than most. Though he passes for white, one of his ancestors was Frannie Crow, a slave hanged a century ago on nearby Hark Hill Plantation. Adorning the town square is a seat built from Frannie's gallows. A tribute, a relic--and a caution--it's known as Liar's Bench. Now, the answers Muddy seeks soon lead back to Hark Hill, to hatred and corruption that have echoed through the years--and lies she must be brave enough to confront at last.


 

 

The Turner House

By Angela Flournoy 9780544303164 April 2015

The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family. The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone--and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts--and shapes--their family's future.

 

 

 

 

The One That Got Away
By Bethany Chase 9780804179423 March 2015

Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down; a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer—and former flame—Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn. Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices—and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life—and in love.

 


The Happy Hour Choir

By Sally Kilpatrick 9781617735684 April 2015

Life has dealt Beulah Land a tough hand to play, least of all being named after a hymn. A teenage pregnancy estranged her from her family, and a tragedy caused her to lose what little faith remained. The wayward daughter of a Baptist deacon, she spends her nights playing the piano at The Fountain, a honky-tonk located just across the road from County Line Methodist. But when she learns that a dear friend's dying wish is for her to take over as the church's piano player, she realizes it may be time to face the music. . .
Beulah butts heads with Luke Daniels, the new pastor at County Line, who is determined to cling to tradition even though he needs to attract more congregants to the aging church. But the choir also isn't enthusiastic about Beulah's contemporary take on the old songs and refuse to perform. Undaunted, Beulah assembles a ragtag group of patrons from The Fountain to form the Happy Hour Choir. And as the unexpected gig helps her let go of her painful past--and accept the love she didn't think she deserved--she just may be able to prove to Luke that she can toe the line between sinner and saint. . .

 

 

Our Town

By Kevin McEnroe 9781619025288 May 2015

Our Town is the debut of a striking literary voice, one that captures the disillusion at the fringes of Hollywood as seen through a haze of drugs, alcohol, abuse, and fallen aspirations. An unseen narrator guides us through the dark fairy tale of Dorothy White, an aspiring actress who “never quite figured how to get out of her own way.” Her perfect marriage to an equally golden actor, Dale, quickly turns into one of jealousy and violence. Dorothy ends the marriage yet begins a legacy of self-destruction for the failed couple, as well as their two children, Clover and Dylan. But we see the pathos in Dorothy’s attempts to get back on track, to be a good woman, mother, and grandmother. Throughout the novel, she is left in the wake of decisions that turn disastrous. Her downward spiral from elusive fame into consistent infamy—a series of DUIs, the continuing neglect of her children, a string of failed and unhealthy relationships—is not without its grace, with the warmth of her character shining through her spackled makeup and cloud of acrid perfume. In many ways, Dorothy White is an anti-heroine for the ages—“vanilla voiced,” bewigged, loving, and ever radiant —a sympathetic character caught in the riptide of her transformation from small-town southern girl to one-time toast of Hollywood to embarrassing tabloid fodder.

 

 

The Anchoress

By Robyn Cadwallader 9780374104252 May 2015

A startling and strange debut novel about a young girl's desperate choice to isolate herself from the world England, 1255: Sarah is only seventeen when she chooses to become an anchoress, a holy woman much like Saint Hildegard of Bingen, shut away in a small cell, measuring seven by nine paces, at the side of the village church. Fleeing the grief of losing a much-loved sister in childbirth and the pressure to marry, she decides to renounce the world, with all its dangers, desires, and temptations, and to commit herself to a life of prayer. But it soon becomes clear that even the thick, unforgiving walls of her cell cannot keep the outside world away, and Sarah's body and soul are still in great danger.

 

 The Well

By Catherine Chanter 9781476772769 May 2015

Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to serve out a sentence of house arrest for arson and suspected murder at her farm, The Well. Beyond its borders, some people whisper she is a witch; others a messiah. For as soon as Ruth returns to The Well, rain begins to fall on the farm. And it has not rained anywhere else in the country in over three years. Ruth and her husband Mark had moved years before from London to this ancient idyll in the hopes of starting their lives over. But then the drought began, and as the surrounding land dried up and died, and The Well grew lush and full of life, they came to see their fortune would come at a price. From the envy of their neighbors to the mandates of the government, from the fanaticism of a religious order called the Sisters of the Rose to the everyday difficulties of staying close as husband and wife, mother and child—all these forces led to a horrifying crime: the death of their seven-year-old grandson, drowned with cruel irony in one of the few ponds left in the countryside. Now back at The Well, Ruth must piece together the tragedy that shattered her marriage, her family, and her dream. For she believes her grandson's death was no accident, and that the murderer is among the people she trusted most. Alone except for her guards on a tiny green jewel in a world rapidly turning to dust, Ruth begins to confront her worst fears and learns what really happened in the dark heart of The Well.

 

Academy Street

By Mary Costello 9780374100520 April 2015

Tess Lohan is the kind of woman that we meet and fail to notice every day. A single mother. A nurse. A quiet woman, who nonetheless feels things acutely—a woman with tumultuous emotions and few people to share them with. Academy Street is Mary Costello's luminous portrait of a whole life. It follows Tess from her girlhood in western Ireland through her relocation to America and her life there, concluding with a moving reencounter with her Irish family after forty years of exile. The novel has a hypnotic pull and a steadily mounting emotional force. It speaks of disappointments but also of great joy. It shows how the signal events of the last half century affect the course of a life lived in New York City.

 

 

The Death’s Head Chess Club

By John Donoghue 9780374135706 May 2015

SS Obersturmfuhrer Paul Meissner arrives in Auschwitz from the Russian front. After being badly wounded he is fit only for administrative duty and his first and most pressing task is to improve flagging camp morale. He sets up a chess club which thrives, as the officers and enlisted men are allowed to gamble on the results of the games. However, when Meissner learns from a chance remark that chess is also played by the prisoners he hears of a Jewish watchmaker who is 'unbeatable'. Meissner sets out to discover the truth behind this rumor and what he finds will haunt him to his death...

 

 

Hugo and Rose

By Bridget Foley 9781250055798 May 2015

Rose is disappointed with her life, though she has no reason to be—she has a beautiful family and a perfectly nice house in the suburbs. But to Rose, this ordinary life feels overshadowed by her other life - the one she leads every night in her dreams.  After a childhood accident, Rose's dreams take her to a wondrous island fraught with adventure. On this island, she has never been alone: she shares it with Hugo, a brave boy who's grown up with her into a hero of a man.  But when Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, both her real and dream worlds are changed forever. Here is the man who has shared all of her incredible adventures in impossible places, who grew up with her, even if they aren't what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be?

 


The Underwriting

By Michelle Miller 9780399174858 May 2015

Todd Kent is young, hot, and on his way to the top of Wall Street when the eccentric founder of Hook, the popular new dating app, handpicks him to lead its IPO. Given just two months to pull it off, Todd and his investment banking team—brainy Neha, party-boy Beau, and old college flame Tara Taylor—race to close the $14 billion deal of the decade. It’s the chance of a lifetime for Tara, too, who sees her opportunity to break through the glass ceiling and justify six years of sacrifices for her career. But nothing is what it seems in Silicon Valley, and when tragedy strikes Stanford University’s campus, there’s no telling where the sparks will fly… 

 

 

 War of the Encyclopaedists

By Chris Robinson and Gavin Kovite 9781476775425 May 2015

On a summer night, in the arty enclave of Capitol Hill, Seattle, best friends Mickey Montauk and Halifax Corderoy throw one last blowout party before their lives part ways. At twenty-three, they had planned to move together to Boston for graduate school, but global events have intervened: Montauk has just learned that his National Guard unit will deploy to Baghdad at the end of the summer. In the confusion of this altered future, Corderoy is faced with a moral dilemma: his girlfriend Mani has just been evicted and he must decide whether or not to abandon her when she needs him most. He turns to Montauk for help. His decision that night, and its harrowing outcome, sets in motion a year that will transform all three of them.
Months later, Corderoy and Montauk grapple with their new identities as each deals with his own muted disappointment. In Boston, Corderoy finds himself unable to play the game of intellectual one-upmanship with the ease and grace of his new roommate Tricia, a Harvard graduate student and budding human rights activist. Half a world away, in Baghdad, Montauk struggles to lead his platoon safely through an increasingly violent and irrational war. As their lives move further away from their shared dream, Corderoy and Montauk keep in touch with one another by editing a Wikipedia article about themselves: smart and funny updates that morph and deepen throughout the year, culminating in a document that is both devastatingly tragic and profoundly poetic.


The Art of Baking Blind

By Sarah Vaughan 9781250059406 May 2015

In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now that her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her facade shouldn't slip.

As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn--as Mrs. Eaden did before them--that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much more difficult to achieve in life.

 


The Memory Painter

By Gwendolyn Womack 9781250053039 April 2015

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there's a secret to his success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordinary new skills...like the ability to speak obscure languages and an inexplicable genius for chess. All his life, he has wondered if his dreams are recollections, if he is re-experiencing other people's lives.

Linz Jacobs is a brilliant neurogeneticist, absorbed in decoding the genes that help the brain make memories, until she is confronted with an exact rendering of a recurring nightmare at one of Bryan's shows. She tracks down the elusive artist, and their meeting triggers Bryan's most powerful dream yet: visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer's, died in a lab explosion decades ago.

As Bryan becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the scientists' deaths, his dreams begin to reveal what happened at the lab, as well as a deeper mystery that may lead all the way to ancient Egypt. Together, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

 

 


Our Endless Numbered Days

By Claire Fuller 9781941040010 March 2015

Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons.
When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and begins a search for their owner, she unwittingly unravels the series of events that brought her to the woods and, in doing so, discovers the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she thought she’d lost.
After Peggy's return to civilization, her mother begins to learn the truth of her escape, of what happened to James on the last night out in the woods, and of the secret that Peggy has carried with her ever since.

 


Her Name is Rose

By Christine Breen 9781250054210 April 2015

In a cottage in the west of Ireland, Iris--gardener and mother to an adopted daughter, Rose--is doing her best to carry on after the death of her husband two years before. At the back of her mind is a promise she never intended to keep, until the day she gets a phone call from her doctor.

Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Rose is a brilliant violinist at the Royal Academy in London, still grieving for her father but relishing her music and life in the city. Excited but nervous, she hums on the way to an important master class, and then suddenly finds herself missing both of her parents when the class ends in disaster.

After the doctor's call, Iris is haunted by the promise she made to her husband--to find Rose's birth mother, so that their daughter might still have family if anything happened to Iris. Armed only with a twenty-year-old envelope, Iris impulsively begins a journey into the past that takes her to Boston and back, with unexpected results for herself and for Rose and for both friends and strangers.

 

 


Love is Red

By Sophie Jaff 9780062346261 May 2015

Katherine Emerson was born to fulfill a dark prophecy centuries in the making, but she isn’t aware that this future awaits. However, there is one man who knows the truth: A killer stalking the women of New York, a monster the media dubs the “Sickle Man” because of the way he turns his victims into canvasses for his mesmerizing, twisted art.

Unleashed upon Manhattan after lying dormant for centuries, the Sickle Man kills to harvest the precious hues of his victims. As his palette grows, so too does his power. Every death brings him closer to the one color, and the one woman, he must possess at any cost.

While the city hunts the Sickle Man, Katherine must decide what to do about two men who have unexpectedly entered her life: handsome and personable David, and alluring yet aloof Sael. Though she’s becoming increasingly torn between them, how well does she really know them? And why is she suddenly plagued by disturbing visions?

 

So....which of these novels will make it on to your MUST read list for the summer?? For me...while I certainly want to read ALL of these, Our Town, The Anchoress, The Art of Baking Blind and Our Endless Numbered Days are first on MY list! 

 

 

26. March 2015 09:22
by jennifer
8 Comments

Push Away the Screen: Summer Camp at Busch Gardens Tampa

26. March 2015 09:22 by jennifer | 8 Comments

Summer is right around the corner! Holy smokes has the time just flown by! I'm a working mama now, so that means I need to find summer camps for my kids that will not only keep them safe, but active, and engaged. When Busch Gardens Tampa Bay reached out to me about sending the #TampaTrio to a week of camp at their facility, I might have squealed with delight, and in all honesty, felt huge pangs of jealousy. I LOVE Busch Gardens.   Whether your kid is five or fifteen, they are ALWAYS ready for an adventure and Busch Gardens day camps offer adventures that last a lifetime! Discover what adventures await your kids this summer at Busch Gardens. Day camps allow campers to make new friends, learn team-building skills and discover new things. A variety of camps fit kids’ interests and grade levels. From caring for animals to becoming a Counselor in Training, day campers will take on new challenges while having fun. This summer my kids will be rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders (again..WOW!! How did that happen??) They had some great camps to choose from! Ronin chose Zoo Chefs where he'll lend a hand in helping feed more than 12,000 animals at Busch Gardens. Ella chose to learn how important water is to Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and Adventure Island by choosing Splash Seekers camp! Haley is going to get her hands dirty while shadowing a field researcher in the Creature Researchers. ALL camps include: Daily lunches, snacks & drinks A Camp T-shirt and a water bottle A complimentary photo with a Busch Gardens animal ambassador Complimentary admission to Busch Gardens following camp each day for campers   You can check out all the available DAY camps for your child HERE. And the chart below lists some of the camps available for kids up through middle school.   What camps are you sending your kids too this summer??

19. March 2015 08:23
by jennifer
5 Comments

Jord #WoodWatch-A Review and Giveaway

19. March 2015 08:23 by jennifer | 5 Comments

Right before Christmas Jord Wood Watches reached out and asked if I was interested in reviewing one of their BEAUTIFUL wood watches. I said yes, and they sent me this beauty!   I put it right on, and went about my normal daily tasks including washing the dishes, taking a shower, bathing the #TampaTrio, you know, mom duties. The next morning I got up and the watch was all foggy and DID NOT WORK. A quick peek at their website told me this: Q.  Are JORD watches water resistant? A.  JORD watches are considered to be splash proof. Normal wear and use can include kitchen activities, a day on the beach, the gym, etc. However, full submergence in water is not recommended both for the integrity of the movement and the wood itself. Excessive moisture exposure can result in a diminished flexibility in the bands wood links. If this occurs, allow the watch to dry for 1 to 2 days to allow the wood links to dry and return to their natural size.   I put the watch in some rice and gave it a few days, but NOPE. I broke it. Oops. I'm just so used to my Polar M400 and it's ability to do all activities.   I let Jord know what had happened and they were kind enough to send me out another #WoodWatch.   This time though, I was smart about it and I gifted it to a librarian co-worker. One who was used to taking her watch off for all activities, and was in desperate need of a new watch.   The following is a review from her:   Wearability:  It just fit my ample wrist, so I didn't need to remove any links.  This worked out well because there were no instructions! (Not so good for the not so mechanically inclined) It was very comfortable and surprisingly lightweight.  The color was perfect!     Fashionability: (is there such a word?):  I thought the watch was beautiful!  It fit my personal casual style, but I felt it could also be worn as a statement piece with business wear- a nice suit perhaps.  My husband, who collects watches was very impressed  (might consider gifting one to him for our anniversary).  Only two other people remarked on the watch, both were men - I'm thinking that the wood and style may appeal more to men.  I maintain that it a beautiful watch!     Functionality:  Some instructions would help regarding setting the date, if you need to remove/add links or if it winds, has a battery or is works on movement.     Overall my friend really loves her new Jord #WoodWatch and Jord wants to give one of YOU your very own! Just follow the link below and get entered to win!  CLICK HERE FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!