Winter Garden

1941. Leningrad, a once magical city besieged by war, cut off from aid, buried in snow. A city full of women desperate to save their children and themselves…

2000. Loss and old age have taken a terrible toll on Anya Whitson. At last, she will reach out to her estranged daughters. In a halting, uncertain voice, she begins to weave a fable about a beautiful Russian girl who lived in Leningrad a lifetime ago…

Nina and Meredith sit spellbound at their mother’s bedside, listening to a story that spans more than sixty years and moves from the terrors of war-torn Leningrad under siege to modern-day Alaska.

In a quest to uncover the truth behind the story, Nina and Meredith discover a secret so shocking, so impossible to believe, it shakes the foundation of their family and changes who they believe they are.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah


I felt so many emotions reading this book; sadness, frustration, joy.  I was moved to tears throughout the book.  I felt invested in these characters, without even trying on my part.

The book opens up with a sad incident, which is the lynchpin for the rest of the story.  It works though, and the story we read is one that is not only heartbreaking, but also uplifting.  There are two stories unfolding as the book continues, one deep in the past and one in the book’s present day.  Both of these stories are changing the lives of all involved and are deftly woven together to create a whole.

Kristin Hannah writes in a way that is an emotional journey, and at the end of that journey is a satisfying conclusion.

I’m looking forward to reading other books by the same author and I hope they have the same emotional pull that this one does.


February Financial Challenge – Wrap up

So, rather than trying to cut my bills I decided that I should be more diligent about tracking my spending.

I failed.

Generally I true up my spending weekly and that helps me keep an eye on things, but I haven’t finished my February spreadsheets yet and it’s already a week into March.  The challenge for March is already going, and I’ll get a post up about that soon.

For now, maybe I should go visit that tracking spreadsheet I made.

Cloud Nine (#03)

I’m still figuring out what I’m doing here, and I may change this up a little in the future.  Anyhow, here’s the third installment of Cloud Nine, and the fourth will be up in a couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

  • Netgalley
  • Zombie’s Run!, particularly the 5k training
  • Grace and Frankie – I watched this with my mom while she was visiting, and really enjoyed it.  
  • updated colors
  • Spicy Ranch dressing – So yummy!

Cloud Nine (#02)

It’s my second list of awesome things, this time with a picture!

  • Peek a boo t-shirt from TeeTurtle
  • Lots of time with friends
  • Starry Night lip gloss from Burt’s Bees – I wasn’t sure the Starry Night shade would work for me, but it’s my go to for a dressier look 
  • I feel like this is really silly, but realizing I can change the colors on my Google Drive folders was cool.  I have this happy array of colors now every time I open Drive.
  • The most awesome BB-8 keychain from my nephew – the bottom of him spins around!


Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina (2012)
Anna Karenina (2012)

So, I was bored the other night and scrolling through Netflix, and decided to watch Anna Karenina.  I’ve done a lot of things recently that are period related (mostly Jane Austen related, actually) and thought why not.

I have not read Anna Karenina, and I have not watched any other movie adaptations.  I basically knew nothing of the story.  I’m not sure if knowing the story or having read the book would have changed how I looked at the movie. I mean, undoubtedly it would have made it different, but I believe my opinion overall wouldn’t have changed.  I have no idea if the book is written in the same style as the movie, but I do plan on reading it to see. 

I had recently watched Pride and Prejudice (for the umpteenth time), and so my expectations going into Anna Karenina were probably along those lines.  Those expectations were promptly thrown out the window, as the set up and progression of the movie is not what I would consider typical.

 The movie opens and as it moves through it looks as though you’re watching someone put on a play.  The viewer is given glimpses of the behind-the-scenes setup.  At first I thought maybe there’s a play in the story, and that the movie would then progress in a more typical fashion.

I was intrigued when it did not and began wondering just what was going on.  The same setting was used for different pieces of the story that had no connection in the beginning of the movie.  The viewer saw scene changes and costume changes.  We were led up to the catwalks to another setting, and from the height looked down on the scene below.  This elaborate play setting was interspersed with other settings, however almost all of them kept the feel of being a play.  At times the background of a scene would look as if it were made of cardboard, and then would change to a live action setting.

It was a unique way (at least to me) to have the movie play out and one that I found myself enjoying after the initial confusion.  That bit of what I would call whimsy or quirkiness kept me involved in the story.  I was always interested to see how the next scene would play out.

The acting was well done, as one would expect from the names attached.  I will confess it took me a bit to recognize Matthew MacFayden, even after having just watched Pride and Prejudice two nights before.  I’ve been a fan of Keira Knightley from the start, and I think period pieces are where she shines.