August 10, 2014

  • THE DOG….UM…I MEAN CAT DAYS OF SUMMER!

     

     

    So, Kids, here we are almost 2 weeks into August.  Sales for school supplies and school clothes are all over the news.  Schools are getting ready to open and the kids, hopefully, are eager to return to school to see their friends and find out which teacher they have for each class!  This time of year used to be my favorite ~ well, Actually September was my favorite because I always felt like I had a fresh start to another year.  I still get upbeat and eager to do something around this time of the year.

    Time just seems to fly by for me and yet, when I try to think of what kept me so busy, I can’t come up with much.  I clean the house and do laundry and vacuum every week.  I go to the grocery store once a week.  Occasionally, I have lunch with friends.  I feed the birds and my cats, clean the litter pan every morning, take out the garbage and recycle.  Lots of little chores with not much to show for it.  I guess if I didn’t do it ~ it would be noticeable!

    I did succeed in getting my new white wood blinds installed in my living room ~ kitchen area.  I have 5 big windows across the South side of my little house.  What a huge difference they make and best of all….so far my cats are leaving them alone!

    I was trying an experiment and eating some different food mixed in with my Nutrisystem choices.  I put Nutrisystem delivery on 60 days backup because I was tired of the same foods.  I’m trying to eat up what I still have.  I haven’t lost any weight but I haven’t gained any either so I consider that a win-win.  Besides it was nice to eat something different.  I guess I should contact a counselor because I haven’t lost any weight for about 4 weeks.  I think they will tell me to eat more!  I average between 1150 and 1300 calories a day.  I don’t know if I COULD eat any more every day.  So I expect my metabolism isn’t working as well as it should.  I guess I need to admit that I need to join a gym and start exercising again ~ especially before the cold weather comes back to Indiana.

    Once more I have opened up my SIMPLE ABUNDANCE book by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  The essay is entitled SECOND THOUGHTS.

    “Today…realize how blessed you are.  In quiet moments you overflow with excitement at the golden possibilities that stretch endlessly before you.  Because happiness is the most difficult emotion to bear alone, you may confide your dream to your partner, best friend, lover, sister, lover or children.”

    “Their lack of enthusiasm may hit you at point-blank range.  The “for your own good” litany pours forth:  you’re too old, too overextended to try something new, too broke, too inexperienced.  You don’t have the resources, the talent, the contacts, or 1 chance in a million to bring this dream to fruition.  OH REALLY?  Consider the track record of each naysayer.  How many dreams have THEY successfully brought into the world?”  

    THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT…..

    Be careful about confiding your sacred dreams, especially when you are first working on the process. Never seek someone’s advice if you “know” what they are probably going to say.  Second thoughts have stopped more dreams than most of the difficult circumstances.   It’s self-abuse to allow others to make  you doubt yourself.  Few of us are immune to the opinions of others.  If the offered information is insightful and something you haven’t considered, retain it.   If it’s discouraging, let it go.”

    With that being said, I am currently just “thinking” about another book.  I’m working on a title and haven’t quite found the right one yet.  The working title for now is COBALT CRYSTAL.   It doesn’t feel quite right so I am hoping for an inspiration to change it.  I have an idea for the beginning and the ending which is usually the way I write.   As I write, I have hopes that the characters will tell me how to get from Point A to Point B.    I’m planning on writing in November during the annual Novel Writing Challenge (NANO).

    And, speaking of books ~~~~ I read a few this week.

     

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    This was another intriguing story. A young woman marries a man she met after just a few days. She moves way from home and feels that her connection and bond with her mother has suffered. As she begins her new life in a small town as a mid-wife, things become very mysterious. Her husband hasn’t told her everything about his previous life. And, as she begins to learn some of the secrets ~ she feels very connected in some strange way to the entire town. Nightmares that she had as a child come back and she is often at a loss to explain how she feels. During the story, the reader learns what the connections are and it finally seems to resolve. I thought it was a bit confusing at some points because the switching back and forth between characters and even many years of  generations was often used.

    However, the story was original and the mystery kept my attention. It isn’t until near the ending of the book that it all seems to come together and fit.

    Here’s the book jacket description…

    For Ava Whalen, a new marriage and a move to St. Simons Island means a new beginning. But what she doesn’t realize is that her marriage will take her on an unexpected journey into the deep recesses of her past that will transform her forever… For as long as she can remember, Ava Whalen has struggled with a sense of not belonging, and now, at thirty-four, she still feels stymied by her family. Then she meets child psychologist Matthew Frazier, and thinks her days of loneliness are behind her. After a whirlwind romance, they impulsively elope, and Ava moves to Matthew’s ancestral home on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. But after the initial excitement, Ava is surprised to discover that true happiness continues to elude her. There is much she doesn’t know about Matthew, including the mysterious circumstances surrounding his previous life. And her new home seems to hold as many mysteries and secrets as her new husband. Feeling adrift, Ava throws herself into uncovering Matthew’s family history and that of the island, not realizing that she has a connection of her own to this place—or that her obsession with the past could very well destroy her future.

    And another reader’s review…

    Ava Whalen marries Matthew Frazier. This does not make Ava’s mother happy. Especially as Ava and Matthew will be starting their new life on St. Simon’s Island. For someone who has a fear of the ocean, Ava is either brave or really in love. 

    Ava can not explain it but she feels a connection to St. Simon’s Island. It is here that she learns about who Matthew really is. Rumor has it that Matthew killed someone. Could Ava be living with a murderer?

    I am a fan of Mrs. White. Her latest book, Sea Change, is one not to be missed. This book was party mystery, part intrigue, and part romance. I was more intrigued by the mystery part of the story then the present. It was not until about the second time that Ava had a flash back to the past that I figured out the mystery. Then I really got into this story even more. I like the concept of the mystery surrounding Ava and the past. If it was not for the mystery then Ava would be boring. Ava is the type of person that is more suited for being a wallflower then a leader. Although, she did blossom as the story progressed. The rest of the characters were kind of secondary. They did not add too much to the story. Again, the mystery was the best part of this book. I do plan to check out Mrs. White’s next book.

     

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    This was a sad story. A Chinese American family made up of a mixed marriage of a white mother and a Chinese father have 3 children. The middle child inherited her white mother’s blue eyes and her Chinese father’s black hair. She is the favorite child and her parents are sure she is going to succeed as she follows the path they have set for her. When she disappears, the entire family starts to fall apart. Each one of them ~ her parents, her older brother and her younger sister have secrets. They all know things about the others and never have told. Each of them has a longing for something better but doesn’t confide in one another. Each struggles to find a way to happiness. The reader will have to decide if they are successful.
    Here’s the book jacket description….
    A haunting debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s  Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation.

    Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

    When Lydia’s body is found , the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

    A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

    And another reader’s review…
    From the opening sentence, I could tell this was going to be a somewhat difficult read. In the fifties, mixed marriages were frowned on, not just black and white, but in this case Chinese and white. Marilyn had long wanted to be a doctor at a time when woman were expected to marry, keep house, have children and not much else. Then she meets James, A Chinese professor and finds out she is having his child, her plans change and they marry.

    A story about expectations, about fitting in or not, being different from your classmates, a look at racial and gender prejudice, and a sensitive look at a family in crisis. As James and Marilyn foster their hopes and dreams on their daughter Lydia, they are blind to what is really happening in their family. After her death, they search for answers and quietly truths and secrets are revealed. The reader hears the thoughts and feelings of each member of the family and what they find is emotionally shattering. They must now, as a family, pick up the pieces and start again. 

    In the face of tragedy it is natural to dwell on what is lost, instead of looking forward to what is left. This is the decision this family must make, and the author did a fantastic job of showing us that what led them here and how they can move forward. A well written, poignant and stirring novel by a debut author. A quiet story told with grace and wisdom.

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    bookshelves: familymothers-and-daughters

    This was a “coming~of~age” book which takes place in the summer of 1964. Liberty aka Ibby is dropped off at her paternal grandmother’s house in New Orleans. Her father has died in an accident and her mother doesn’t seem to want her. She is greeted by Dollbaby and Queenie who work for Miss Fannie (her grandmother.) She is taken under their wing and soon meets many more of Miss Fannie’s friends. Dollbaby and Queenie teach Ibby about the Southern customs. She soon makes her own friends and a few enemies and fits right in. Of course, there are some secrets that are slowly revealed. This is a very good story line and I enjoyed it.
    The book jacket description…
    A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets

    When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.
     
    For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
     
    For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help,  Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.
     
    By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts

    And another reader’s review…
    I started this on Sunday and finished it on Monday. It was just one of those books that is filled with secrets of the past that you just have to know about and characters that you love as soon as you meet them and then you love them more as the author lets you see who they are.

    Almost twelve years old and still reeling from the death of her father, Ibby is abandoned by her mother and left on the doorstep of a grandmother who she just barely found out she had. Fannie, her grandmother is a seemingly eccentric, smoking, and gambling, woman is really a mentally unstable, sad woman who has many secrets. The loving relationship that develops between them will move you.

    The story is set in New Orleans just as the Civil Rights Act is passed in 1964. Queenie, the endearing maid who “came with the house “has endured losses of her own. She is wise but set in old ways and doesn’t think anything will change with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Dollbaby, her daughter, of the newer generation wants change not just for herself but her own daughter. These women become as big a part of Ibby’s life as they are of Fannie’s.

    The secrets, one after another begin to unfold about Fannie’s life. Ibby learns about Fannie’s hard life as a child and how she came to New Orleans. I loved the descriptions of the French Quarter, both when Fannie first came there and in the time when Ibby arrives. But it isn’t until the end that the whole story is divulged.

    The story though is about more than just the time and place. It is about loss, about friendship, family, race and prejudice, but mostly about the beautiful relationships between these characters. There are things that happened in the past that Ibby doesn’t learn until the end , but the most important things she learns is that she is not alone. It’s a beautiful story, beautifully written and full of heart and love.

    ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR WEEKEND!!!

     

August 1, 2014

  • WHERE WERE YOU ON AUGUST 16-17, 1987?

    Yes, kids, it’s been almost 3 weeks since I last confessed ~ I mean posted.   The time just seems to go faster and faster this summer!   Here we are on August 1st and in just 5 weeks it will be Labor Day!  Schools will be back in session and Autumn won’t be far behind.

    So ~ while I have a small amount of things to blog about ~ nothing is really THAT exciting.  I turned to my book of SIMPLE PLEASURES by Sarah Ban Breathnach again for some inspiration.

    Did you read the title of this blog ~ “Do you remember where  you were on those dates?  

    I don’t.

    If you  do, perhaps you were among the more than 144,000 people who journeyed to “power points” around the world, such as Egypt’s Great Pyramids; Peru’s Manchu Picchu; Japan’s Mount Fuji; the Temples of Delphi in Greece; Mount Shasta, California; Sedona, Arizona; the Black Hills of South Dakota; and New York’s Central Park to hold hands, hum, and resonate in harmony in the New Age global event known as the Harmonic Convergence.”

    I wasn’t there either!

    Sarah Ban Breathnach explains…”this weekend was so significant because it was a rare astronomical occurrence known as “a grand trine” (when all nine planets were in their astrological fire signs and positioned exactly one hundred twenty-three degrees apart from each other.)  It had been 23,3412 years since the last time.  Now add an interpretation of ancient Mayan and Aztec calendars and a Hopi legend about fathering of enlightened teachers meant to awaken humanity and it’s not surprising that thousands of New Agers decided that circumstances were as perfect as they’d ever be to direct the earth, through mediation, toward a peaceful spiritual awakening instead of a cataclysmic one in the next millennium. ”

    It doesn’t appear to have worked, looking at our world these days,  does it?

    Sarah Ban Breathnach goes on to say “there are so many voices offering clues, glimmers, and insights on how to achieve harmony through the Divine grand trine of mind, body, and Spirit.  How do you discern your own truth?   American Buddist master Jack Kornfield says “We must make certain that our path is connected to our heart….”  When we ask  ”Am I following the path of my heart?”….we discover that no one can define for us exactly what our path should be.  We must allow the mystery and beauty of this question to resonate within our being.  Somewhere within us is an answer coming our way and understanding will arise too.

    During this month of August  ~ try to be still and listen deeply, even for a moment.  Rediscover and celebrate your creativity, to access your authentic self.  It’s never too late to reclaim your individual gifts, revisit a dream, and create an authentic life.”

    Celebrate your originality!

    *******

    I’ve been very busy with visits and lunches and dinners with friends.  Some from Indianapolis, Florida and Michigan.  I put together a small reunion of former co-workers last Sunday.  We had 14 counting  the spouses and it was lovely to see everyone again.

    I only read one book and I didn’t care for it.  I had it for 6 weeks counting a renewal and still couldn’t get through it.

    2728527        I tried to get through this book for over 6 weeks even renewing it at the library. I usually love books with letters written between the characters to tell the story. But this one just didn’t do it for me. It takes place right after WWII when a writer receives a letter from a man on a British island of Guernsey. By chance, he had seen her name on the flyleaf of a book that he enjoyed and reaches out to her to find out more about the author of the book.

    From there are a series of letters being exchanged which tell the story of how the war affected the island of Guernsey. I don’t know why I couldn’t get into this story but I tried. I read about half of the book before I gave up.

    Here’s the book jacket description….

    “ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

    As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

    Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

    Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

    Here’s another reader’s review…

    This book is boring, predictable, and pointless. Maybe the kind of thing that charms the sentimental. It’s a series of letters in post WWII England between an author facing writers block and an island community who formed a book club during the German occupation. Eventually we meet the characters (who, oddly, have the same voice as the author in their letters) who come to describe one saintly, cliche, full of b.s. woman who held them all together during the occupation, while she manages to slap an overly-religious type, find the one good, true human Nazi and have his child (yep) and then die tragically simply by being her holier-than-this-earth self.

    Two stars for one of two well thought-out paragraphs buried among the 200 something pages.

    ****

    I do hope by the next time I blog, I will have read a few more books.  I may have to put myself in “time-out” from Facebook to achieve that goal!

    I was talking to friends about the abundance of chipmunks in everyone’s yard and how they were eating our flowers and plants.  I noticed, however, that what we had been calling a chipmunk was actually a 13-line in-ground squirrel.  So I asked the farm owner where I get my birdseed about them.  They can be driven out or killed by putting pellets into their underground holes.

    This is a chipmunk —-

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    And this is a 13-line in-ground squirrel…

     

    and this is a cat…..LOL

July 17, 2014

  • SUMMER TIME ~ IS IT HALF OVER OR IS THERE HALF LEFT TO ENJOY?

    It’s the middle of July, 2014 already!   Have you enjoyed the summer so far?  Have you done anything unusual or special or out of the ordinary?  Are you thinking of Autumn yet?  I’m hopeful that you are thinking of the weeks of summer still left to enjoy.

    According to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE BY SARAH BAN BREATHNACH…..”How often in our lives, do we still not “get it”?  The “IT” could be a power struggle going on in an important relationship, an inability to control our credit card spending, a career problem undermining our self-esteem, the beginnings of an addictive behavior in ourselves or our loved ones; or an unconscious form of self-sabotage that has us bouncing from one self-inflicted crisis to another.  The “IT” doesn’t matter.  Some of these scenarios are occurring in most of our lives and will continue again and again and again until the moment we begin to see the pattern.  Perhaps we should start paying attention.  

     

    The language of the heart is longing; the language of the mind is rationalizing, the language of emotions is feeling.  Your spirit speaks all of them.  Today I hope all of us get it at last; not to focus on what we don’t have, but to be grateful for what we do.  For us to accept, give thanks, bless and share.  For us not to hoard or hold back for fear that there won’t be enough.  …..You probably have all that you need.”

    In another essay, Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about carving out time for personal pursuits that bring contentment.
    While we are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in our lives between domestic chores and obligations ~” writer Toni Morrison has observed. “I’m not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for that.”

    But the house work calls to us, our children need us, We have obligations.  But when, then, does our creative need call to us?   Probably every day.  But we’re too busy listening to everybody else instead of our authentic selves.  Maybe we…have convinced ourselves that we don’t have time for personal pursuits that bring us contentment if they last longer than 15 minutes.  Maybe we don’t listen for the whispers of authentic longing because we don’t want to hear.  Because then we would have to acknowledge it.   Instead……we tell ourselves we have to wait until there’s more time, when the children are back in school, when our parents are feeling better, when things let up at work.”

    How about this?  How about “my authentic passions will have to wait until I acknowledge that they are essential for my happiness.”  How about “I haven’t learned to put myself on the list of priorities!”

    Space and time to nurture our creativity may be one of our authentic hungers.  Perhaps we think only food, drink, work, shopping or pills can reduce that gnawing to a dull throb.  But maybe if we took an hour a day to paint, to read, to create ~ we wouldn’t be in such pain ~ physical or psychic.

    JUST MAYBE…..

    For me, the summer is flying by.  Every day I seem to find something that I need to do and I never seem to get it all done.  On the other hand, I spend plenty of time on Facebook every day…reading what people are doing or playing some of the games.  My cats come up in my computer room and sleep in a chair by me or get a few minutes of attention by jumping on my lap.

    I’m still fighting the bird seed feeder vs the squirrels.  I tried using flaked red pepper in the seed.  It works until enough of the bird seed is eaten and then the pepper flakes are covered up when new bird seed falls down.  I have squirrels, piney squirrels and chipmunks along with doves, sparrows of various types, a pair of blue jays, a pair of cardinals and yesterday a gold finch showed up.  In fact, today there were two goldfinch that came to the feeder and thistle seed sock 3 times in the morning.

    I’m still doing the Nutrisystem eating plan.  I still don’t drink enough water or exercise enough but in under 6 weeks, I have lost 9 lbs.    I really don’t have much craving for anything.  I am putting veggies into my lunch and dinner entrees.  I’m drinking at least one protein powder shake a day and trying to get in some fruit and other good protein/carbs.  It really hasn’t been difficult but it does seems very repetitive.

    I vowed not to buy any new clothes for 6 months as an incentive to keep on working on this new eating plan.  By then, I may not need new clothes because some of my old clothes will fit again.  LOL

    I really need to weed my garden area.  I think I need to just pull up everything and almost start over. And..I just ordered more plants for next year so I have to make some room!  I’ve discovered what doesn’t work well in some spots  and  I will have to be moving some of the plants.

    *****

    I also managed to read a couple of books…

    I love Diane Chamberlain’s books. I often read a few and then forget about her. I recently found 3 of her stories that I haven’t read. This is one of them. Two very close female friends have gone through everything together, including Joelle finding the perfect man for Mara.   Joelle just happens to work with the man who does marry Mara. All of them spend a lot of time together. When Mara becomes pregnant, something unsuspected but devastating occurs. Mara can not take care of her child so her husband does his best. With the help of Joelle, the two of them spend their time with Mara and with the baby and in their stressful jobs.

    There is a back story (which always makes the book interesting) The reader finds out about Joelle’s birth and childhood. At some point, what happened to Joelle many years ago comes up and is used to help Mara.

    The ending isn’t what the reader may expect but it all works out well.

    The book description…..

    Joelle D’Angelo’s best friend, Mara, is left with brain damage after she suffers an aneurysm giving birth to her son. Alone and grieving, Joelle turns to the only other person who understands her pain: her colleague—and Mara’s husband—Liam. What starts out as comfort between friends gradually becomes something more…something undeniable.

    Torn by guilt and the impossibility of her feelings for Liam,  Joelle sets out determined to find help for Mara, no matter how unconventional the source. Her search leads her to a mansion in Monterey, California, and into the life of a woman shrouded in mystery. Carlynn Kling Shire is a healer and, according to Joelle’s parents, saved Joelle’s life when she was an infant. As Joelle is guided down an unfamiliar path by a woman keeping her own shocking secrets, she discovers that while some love is doomed, some love is destined to survive anything.

    And another reader’s review….

    I am reading more and more books by this author, many of which I had already owned and have been scattered in different places in my house. While I didn`t enjoy this one as much as `Midwife`s confession`that I had just previously read, I did still enjoy it.
    Diane Chamberlain`s books are packed with emotion and bring the reader into that. There`s often deception, secrets, and stories behind the original storyline. I found myself liking the main characters and while I am not always fond of the jumping back and forth from present to past and back, it was easy to follow and I liked it in this case where going to the past answered questions and clarified why things were the way they were. Anyone who hasn`t read books by this author should give her a try. So far I have not been disappointed.

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    I usually love books by Elizabeth Berg. This one was…..different. I found it fairly depressing. At first, I even thought I had read it before because some of what happened sounded so familiar. But as I continued to read, I finally knew it was the first time I had read the story. I didn’t like some of the characters and I thought they just seemed so…..bland. It’s good enough to read for an afternoon but it’s isn’t the most interesting or even thought-provoking book I ever read.

    Here’s the book description…

    From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of Home Safe and  The Last Time I Saw You comes a beautiful and moving novel about a man and woman, long divorced, who rediscover the power of love and family in the midst of an unthinkable crisis.  

    Even on their wedding day, John and Irene sensed that they were about to make a mistake. Years later, divorced, dating other people, and living in different parts of the country, they seem to have nothing in common—nothing except the most important person in each of their lives: Sadie, their spirited eighteen-year-old  daughter.

    Feeling smothered by Irene and distanced from John, Sadie is growing more and more attached to her new boyfriend, Ron.  When tragedy strikes, Irene and John come together to support the daughter they love so dearly. What takes longer is to remember how they really feel about each other. 

    Elizabeth Berg has once again created characters who embody the many shades of the human spirit. Reading Berg’s fiction allows us to reflect on our deepest emotions, and her gifts as a writer make Once Upon a Time, There Was You a wonderful novel about the power of love, the unshakeable bonds of family, and the beauty of second chances.

    And another reader’s review….

    Here’s something that doesn’t happen often, an Elizabeth Berg novel that I didn’t particularly enjoy.

    The good: It is refreshing to occasionally read a story about some inconceivably bad event happening to a character, and the character actually getting past it. So many books I’ve read have had a terrible thing happen, and it rips apart the lives of anybody even loosely connected to that character. In this case, the repercussions of “the event” are widespread, but on a realistic level.

    The bad: When Sadie, the daughter of the main characters, undergoes her traumatic event, it is practically just another blip in the saga of John and Irene’s failed marriage, and the ensuing years of failed communication. It is almost as though every chapter is just a discourse on why these two particular middle-aged adults are so dysfunctional, and their handling of their daughter’s  trauma and the fallout just provides evidence to support that. Sure, maybe in real life not all similar events explode into a People magazine headline, but nor are there books written about all of them. I could better envision “Once Upon a Time, There Was You” as a short story that would be engrossing for all of its twenty pages.

     

    *****

    So as the rest of the summer goes on,  I’m going to try to stay on my new eating plan, hope to increase my exercise and water consumption, look forward to having some new wood blinds put up in my living room/kitchen because my cats have shredded my fabric blinds and read some good books.  How about your plans?

July 4, 2014

  • BOOM BOOM!!!!

     

       HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!!!!!!!

     

     

     

    I’m spending the holiday alone.   My son is working.   I have been listening to ENYA and enjoying the cooler weather these past few days.  We had a very bad storm a couple of nights ago.  Thankfully I didn’t have any damage at my place ~ just a few twigs blown down.

    I have been trying to feed the birds but the squirrels have now figured out if they climb my window screens, they can launch themselves above the baffle and get to the feeder.  I am just about ready to give up except I have a 1/3 of a metal trash can still filled with the seed my husband bought last year.  So, I guess it really doesn’t matter who eats it even though I would prefer it to be the birds.

    This has been a lazy week for me.  I decided to just not to do anything more than I had to do.  I read some books and some magazines, watched from recorded television shows and did just……N.O.T.H.I.N.G.    I can’t say that I minded either.  Just didn’t have the desire to do anything.

    Of course, I did go to the grocery store for more frozen veggies for my eating plan.  I only spent $35 this week which included some cleaning supplies.  That helps off-set the cost of the Nutrisystem plan.  My second box should arrive any day now.  I will decide after this if I want to continue to buy the food from Nutrisystem.

    I also am a member of a sock sister exchange club and had to shop for my “sock sister”.  This month is flip-flop month ~ just for something different before the club takes a summer break.  I was fortunately that my sock sister understood that I don’t really wear flip flops any more so she got me socks ~ 3 pair!   I have her flip flops ready to be mailed and will take them to the Post Office tomorrow.  I also have to go to the library again to return some books but this time, I read most of them!

    And speaking of books….

    18079776       I just finished this book last night. I have read many books about the slaves and their “owners” in the past. This book reminded me, once again, how strong and courageous some of those black women were. They were often abused, used as animals, treated unkindly, separated from their loved ones and yet, somehow, they found a way to go on towards a better life. This story is about a young white girl who is “gifted” with her own slave on her 11th birthday. She is horrified at the thought and tries to free Hetty Handful Grimke. When that proves impossible, Sarah teaches Hetty to read and write ~ which was against the law. Sarah tried to help Hetty whenever she could. Hetty, in turn, learned how to sew from her own mother, Charlotte, and became a prized possession of the Grimke family.

    What is most interesting is that there really was a Sarah Grimke. She and her sister, Angelina, were among the first women to work for racial equality, emancipation and other causes. They were not very popular in some circles but traveled around the country giving lectures and working to make changes. They had to leave their family, their church, their friends in order to do what they felt was right.
    Here’s the jacket description….
    Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

    As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

    This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

    And another reader’s review…
    Where to start in trying to explain all the amazing things this novel contained. It is powerful, intense, profound and amazing in every way. The real life Gremke sisters, born into a family of wealth, on a plantation that of course had slaves, in Charleston in the middle of the 19th century, but before the Civil War. This is their story and the story of others who also fought for the abolishment of slavery. It is also the story of Handful, a slave and her mother, Charlotte, on the Gremke plantation.Some was hard to read, the whippings and other mistreatment of the slaves, their longing to be free and the many times they had to swallow what they really thought when in their owner’s presence. The conversations, the characters, well rounded and exactly right. Sarah Mapps, a black woman who opened the first school for blacks in Philadelphia, a free black and a woman trying to influence others in her own way. So many characters that actually existed in history.

    Loved that the author took time to explain her research and her fascination with this subject. She also explains who and what were real and what was not. Always appreciated in a historical novel.

    Read yesterday that this has been picked up by Oprah’s bookclub and I would not be at all surprised to find that this will be made into a movie someday. Not because it is melodramatic, because it is not, but because the lives of the Gremke sisters need to be acknowledged and more widely known.
    18104697      I just finished another Danielle Steel novel. Yes, they are usually the same format…beautiful people, usually very successful, some type of drama and then a good ending most of the time. This particular story was about the difference between women CEOs and men CEOs. It was a concept I have read about before. The story indicates that men use their power to cheat and lie, often have hidden mistresses or even second families. And how that tears up so many lives. Women CEOs are usually working very hard to maintain their difficult jobs and also trying to be a good wife and mother. If the women are successful; they are usually labeled as cold, bitchy, and having slept their way to the top. And the men….well…they are usually promoted and given all sorts of “perks” and treated like gods.

    Anyway, it was a good story line and I enjoyed it. I keep in mind that usually it is over the top with fabulous clothes, interesting travels and all kinds of fantastic people.
    Here’s the jacket description….
    Fiona Carson has proven herself as CEO of a multibillion-dollar high-tech company – a successful woman in a man’s world. Devoted single mother, world-class strategist, and tough negotiator, Fiona has to keep a delicate balance every day.Meanwhile, Marshall Weston basks in the fruits of his achievements. At his side is his wife Liz who has gladly sacrificed her own career to raise their three children. Smooth, shrewd and irreproachable, Marshall’s power only enhances his charisma – but he harbors secrets that could destroy his life at any moment.

    Both must face their own demons, and the lives they lead come at a high price. But just how high a price are they willing to pay?

    And another reader’s review…
    Along with Stephen King, Danielle Steel was my first ‘grown up’ author. So even though my tastes have matured and become more refined since I was 12, I still check in with her on occasion to see what she’s up to.My last several encounters have been on the weaker side of her oeuvre, it seems like she’s really phoning it in , but at this point I can’t really fault her for it.

    This book though seemed a lot sharper and more on point than anything she had written in a while & I enjoyed it. Yes , it follows her formula, but the characters were interesting and I was definitely engaged in Marshall’s storyline. Fiona’s seemed like more of a sideline/storytelling device, but it still held my interest.

    I don’t read Steel for gritty realism, so I won’t quibble about plot, but in escapist literature, I do like to see the bad guy get his just desserts, so the ending was a bit of a letdown on that point.

    18079815        This would make an excellent beach read because there is a love story involved. However, there is also a great mystery too. I found myself reading faster and faster as I tried to figure out who was the one causing all the problems. The 336 pages were filled with twists and turns and just as the reader thought they had figured it out ~ it changed. When the villain was finally revealed, I thought “Well, of course, why didn’t I see that coming?”

    Jayne Ann Krentz always writes a good romance mystery. She has written over 50 books. And she also writes under the name of Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick.
    Here’s the jacket description…
    It’s been thirteen years since Lucy Sheridan was in Summer River. The last time she visited her aunt Sara there, as a teenager, she’d been sent home suddenly after being dragged out of a wild party—by the guy she had a crush on, just to make it more embarrassing. Obviously Mason Fletcher—only a few years older but somehow a lot more of a grown-up—was the overprotective type who thought he had to come to her rescue.Now, returning after her aunt’s fatal car accident, Lucy is learning there was more to the story than she realized at the time. Mason had saved her from a very nasty crime that night—and soon afterward, Tristan, the cold-blooded rich kid who’d targeted her, disappeared mysteriously, his body never found.

    A lot has changed in thirteen years. Lucy now works for a private investigation firm as a forensic genealogist, while Mason has quit the police force to run a successful security firm with his brother—though he still knows his way around a wrench when he fills in at his uncle’s local hardware store. Even Summer River has changed, from a sleepy farm town into a trendy upscale spot in California’s wine country. But Mason is still a protector at heart, a serious (and seriously attractive) man. And when he and Lucy make a shocking discovery inside Sara’s house, and some of Tristan’s old friends start acting suspicious, Mason’s quietly fierce instincts kick into gear. He saved Lucy once, and he’ll save her again. But this time, she insists on playing a role in her own rescue . . .

    And another reader’s review…
    I am a long time fan of Jayne Ann Krentz, and this book is a good example of why she is a must read author for me. This book had just the right balance of romance and suspense. It kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next, and I fell in love with the main characters, Lucy and Mason, right away. Lucy has returned to Summer River, where she often visited as a teenager, to settle her aunt’s estate. She is unaware of sinister events that occurred as a result of her last visit thirteen years ago, and is soon caught up in a completely unexpected web of danger. Security expert Mason Fletcher has always been protective of Lucy, and as his feelings for her intensify, he is determined to keep her safe. I loved seeing the relationship between Lucy and Mason develop, and the storyline was both entertaining and suspenseful.
    So that was my week…….not too long….not too boring….and I have things planned to do tomorrow and probably next week.

     

June 28, 2014

  • TIME PASSES AND LIFE HAPPENS….

     

    Or to put it more nicely…

    Time passes.
    Life happens.
    Distance separates.
    Children grow up.
    Jobs come and go.
    Love waxes and wanes.
    Men don’t call when they say they will.
    Hearts break.
    Parents die.
    Colleagues forget favours.
    Careers end.
    BUT…………
    Girlfriends are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you.
    A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach.
    When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, your girlfriends will be on the valley’s rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley’s end.
    Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you.
    Or come in and carry you out.
    Girlfriends, daughters, daughter-in-laws, sisters, sisters-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, bless our life!
    The world wouldn’t be the same without them, and neither would I.
    When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead.
    Nor did we know how much we would need each other.
    Every day, we need each other still.
    I was thinking the other day that I spend most of my time alone…almost in silence.  I play a lot of CDs, talk to the cats and listen to television along with reading.  But when I go to the library, I do self-checkout, at the store, I often use self-checkout if I only have a few items, I don’t have to get gas often so any conversation is  usually just how much money I want to put on a particular pump to gas up.  I don’t get a lot of phone calls either.  I have lunch out once a month with friends, an occasional lunch with one friend or another ~ maybe every 2 months or so and a dinner out with high school girl friends at the end of each month too.   My son worked a lot of hours so I don’t often see or hear from him either.

    That being said, I know that I am alone but I am not often lonely!  I find things to do around the house, I have chores to do, errands to run, bills to pay and the hours seem to fly by in one way or another.

    I’m working on losing weight.  I’m just starting my 4th week.  I had lost about 6 lbs.  I was trying to add in a bit more protein and I think I got too many carbs in there too.  I didn’t lose anything again.  I am still tired of veggies but I try to eat at last 3 or 4 cups every day with my lunch and dinner.  I am using Nutrisystem and the second box should come next week.  I’m hoping the meal choices are different as I am already tired of what I had this month.  I may cancel after the next box.  I know what I need to do and I think it would be easier to make my own variety of foods instead of being governed by so many similar choices and tastes.

    I also ate out 2x this week.  And that didn’t make it any easier to stay on the plan.  I really need to join a gym and get to work on this.  I have no excuses and plenty of time.

    The weather has been extremely humid here this week.  I turned on the Central Air for 3 or 4 days and then turned it off for 2 days and now it is back on because it is very hot and humid this weekend.  Just opening up the door to go outside hits you in the face with the heavy, wet air.

    There isn’t much going on around my place. The flowers are slowly getting ready to bloom and I can’t wait.  The squirrels have figured out how to get past the baffle on the bird feeder and have been climbing my screens and then launching themselves to the feeder.  I may have to give up.  I wanted to use up the bird seed that my husband bought last year but I may not be able to do that if the squirrels keep running amuck or flying into the feeder every day.  I’ve seen a pair of cardinals, a  pair of bluejays and of course, some wrens and sparrows.  There have not been any goldfinches over here.  At the big house,we had goldfinches and grosbeaks and nut-hatches too.   I didn’t even put up a hummingbird feeder as no one around here has been able to attract them.  We had them at the old house though.

    So, I did read some books….

    11367726         This book was a suggestion to me. I did enjoy the story. An assistant DA is on a murder case and as he gets deeper, he starts to worry that a family member could be involved. Throughout the story, the reader is never sure who really did the murder. As it continues to look bad for the DA’s son, the DA and his family are being shunned by everyone who used to be part of their lives. The DA is on administrative leave, the mother can’t teach school, the son stays home because the school doesn’t want him there. It looked worse and worse and yet there doesn’t seem to be any other person of interest. Just when it seems like everything is coming together, the reader learns that the outcome is never what you think it will be. There is a twist in the ending, although I did figure it out right before it was revealed. This is a fast-paced story and one that should keep your interest.

    Here’s the jacket description…

    Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

    Every parental instinct Andy has – rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

    Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

    And another reader’s review…

    I liked that this book kept me guessing right up to the end. I loved that when it seemed to be wrapping up, there was one more sharp swerve to the left tokeep me trying to put my finger on what makes Defending Jacob such a compulsive read. Landay clearly has a killer storytelling instinct. The pacing of this novel is near perfect. He drops just enough clues, teases with just enough foreshadowing to keep the reader completely engrossed at all times. I started listening to this as an audiobook and finished it in print, not being able to turn the pages fast enough. 

    Defending Jacob is not a unique plot by any stretch. In fact, when I first heard about this book I couldn’t help but think of the movie Before and After starring Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson, where their teen son Jacob (yep, he’s Jacob too) is accused of murdering his girlfriend and it tears the family apart. 

    This book is much better than that movie though. Defending Jacob does a great job at looking at issues of guilt, innocence and culpability. It dissects the shortcomings of the legal system and the theatrics of courtroom proceedings without getting all preachy and legal mumbo-jumbo about it. It cuts to the heart of family dynamics and the parent-child relationship, poking at the difficult questions — how far would you go to protect your child if they were innocent? guilty? 

    And there’s the rub — fourteen year old Jacob is standing trial for murder and we don’t know if he’s been falsely accused or not. There are things that point to his innocence, but also actions that point to his guilt. Even though it is a much denser read and told using a very different narrative voice, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores some of the same terrain of mental pathology and the genetic and external factors that combine to result in antisocial behaviors. For anyone who isn’t sick of arguing the nature/nurture debate, Defending Jacob raises some interesting questions concerning the existence of a “murder gene” and whether violence can be passed down through the generations like eye color. 

     

    14759321        I  enjoyed this story. Something a bit different. Two women living on opposite sides of the US have a husband they love very much. Everything seems ideal until one woman’s daughter meets the other woman’s daughter at a summer camp and goes to visit her at home.. Then everything falls apart and two families are overcome with emotion, disgust, financial problems, worries, scandal and all other sorts of issues. It took nearly the entire book to figure out what was going to happen in the end but it was well worth the wait.

    Here’s the jacket description….
    New York Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart. As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?

    And another reader’s review….
    I was torn between giving this book 3 stars and 4 stars. On the one hand, it’s fairly predictable, the characters are not terribly compelling, it hinges on an enormous and very unlikely coincidence and the ending is saccarine sweet. On the other hand, it’s immensely readable – I devoured it in one sitting – and despite its flaws, it has a genuine charm. The story is about two women living on opposite sides of the US (Sylvie and Maggie) who lead quite different lives but will get to know one another over the course of the book. The connection between them is pretty easy to guess from the outset, although it is meant to come as a surprise. Sylvie is the more likeable character initially although she’s a little…sweet. Maggie is highly status conscious and pretty shallow, although she develops depth as the novel proceeds. They both have teenage daughters who have struggles of their own and husbands who travel a lot for work and may or may not be unfaithful to them. The theme of the book is really about picking yourself up after your world falls apart and finding yourself in the second act of your life. 

    Look, it’s not a great book, but as I say it’s very readable and I liked it more than I would have expected. The sub-plot which deals with a teenager’s eating disorder is well done and I liked the way that both women developed friendships to sustain them. If you’re after something light and easy to read, you could do far worse.

    18246276       This was quite a different kind of story. A “normal” American family of a father,mother, and teen daughter and a young son who has a form ofmutism (he won’t or can’t speak to anyone outside of his family) are going through the most common life issues of bickering, an angry daughter, an over protective mother, a husband who has been out of work for over a year, not to mention the struggles with their young son.   Suddenly their home is invaded by two unknown men who shut them up in their basement. During the course of the story, the reader is not sure what is behind this. Did the husband set it up for insurance purposes? Did the daughter make someone mad who called in a gang? Did the mother do anything to make someone want to hurt her family? Why is this happening? As the invasion turns violent, the reader wonders what is really going on. I thought the book was very good until near the end when the author tied it all up in a fairly neat package. This is definitely not your regular summertime read ~ but it is read-worthy.

    Here’s the jacket description…
    Bestselling author Sophie Littlefield delivers a riveting, ripped-from-the-headlines story about a family put to the ultimate test when two men take them hostage inside their home. Jen Glass has worked hard to achieve the ideal life: a successful career, a beautiful home in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, a seemingly perfect family. But inside the Glass house, everything is spinning out of Jen’s control. Her marriage to her husband, Ted, is on the brink of collapse; her fifteen-year-old daughter grows more distant each day; and her five-year-old son barely speaks a word. Jen is on the verge of breaking, but nothing could have prepared her for what is to come. On an evening that was supposed to be like any other, two men force their way into the Glasses’ home, but what begins as a common robbery takes an even more terrifying turn. Held hostage in the basement for more than forty-eight hours, Jen and Ted must put aside their differences if they have any hope of survival. They will stop at nothing to keep their family safe;even if it means risking their own lives. A taut and emotional tale of a family brought together by extraordinary forces, House of Glass is a harrowing exploration of the lengths a mother will go to protect her children, and the power of tragedy to teach us what truly matters. Sophie Littlefield shows considerable skills for delving into the depths of her characters and complex plotting.
    And another reader’s review….
    A fast paced, gripping novel, House of Glass is the story of a family taken hostage in their own home. Locked in the basement by two gun wielding thugs, Jen Glass, her husband, Ted, teenage daughter, Livvy, and young son, Teddy, can only hope the men will take the money they want and leave.  But when things begin to go wrong for the hostage takers, the terrifying situation begins to spiral out of control. Despite outward appearances the Glass family is already a fractured reflection of perfection. Ted is unemployed and Jen suspects him of indulging in an affair, Livvy has become a surly teenager and five year old Teddy is a selective mute, refusing to speak to anyone outside of the immediate family. These stressors, added to the recent death of her estranged father, has Jen feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment when ‘Dan’ and ‘Ryan’ storm into their home. She can’t help but wonder exactly why, and how, these strange men came to target her family and are privy to personal details. Though determined to keep her family safe, she feels powerless as the crisis worsens and she has to consider they may not survive.

    The pace is compelling and the tension is high from the first moment the men appear in the doorway of Jen and Ted’s bedroom. It continues to increase as things begin to go wrong and the Glass family grows ever more desperate to escape the clutches of their hostage-takers. While I admired the intensity of the story I didn’t feel that the characters were developed as they could have been. The family dynamics were a little superficial and in particular I felt I didn’t know Jen well enough to understand her thoughts and actions, aside from her base motivation to protect her family.

    House of Glass is a story of betrayal, of desperation and ultimately of survival. Inspired by a reported home invasion that took place in Connecticut in 2007, Littlefield dramatizes a horrifying event that every family fears, creating a page turning thriller.

    17287028         It’s difficult to give this a high rating because I didn’t want to say that I loved it when it is all true.

    We have all heard of Elizabeth Smart who was kidnapped and held as a slave for about 9 months in Utah. After she was rescued, she never seemed to have much trouble adapting back into her original life. In this book, Elizabeth tells the reader about what she endured. She was raped every day at least once.  Other sexual abuse acts were also forced on her. She lived in a tent and had to hike up and down a mountain on a regular basis. She was starved, she was terrorized, she was forced to drink alcohol, she was constantly told that her family would be killed, that her little sister would be kidnapped, that one of her cousins would be kidnapped too. She decided early on that she would rely on her strong faith to get her through. And she did. She even talks about two “miracles” that happened just when she thought she was going to die.This is a difficult story to read, especially when the reader realizes that it is true. This young lady was very strong in her love of God, her family and her belief that she was here to do something good.

    Here’s the jacket description…
    For the first time, ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime.  
    On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving.  Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.

    In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In  2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine.

    And another reader’s review….
    Definitely worth reading/listening to. Here are the problems — the writing isn’t amazing, which I can overlook, but the toughest thing was that it’s read by Elizabeth Smart herself, who often reads it as though she is reading a children’s book or a young adult to someone, as in “My Life as a Zany Teenager” or something. I would be thinking, “Whoa this is not like wearing a bad outfit to school,” but that’s how it sounds. Obviously she didn’t feel that way about it, but she sometimes reads it that way, which trivializes how horrible it was.On why-you-should-read-this: You just can’t believe this happened to her and she survived. I was grateful that she avoided being graphic. But definitely you knew the terrible things she endured. Even though I knew the ending, my heart was pounding! And when she was reunited with her family, I couldn’t stop crying.

     It was interesting to me that she hardly mentions her Dad, but loved her Mom sooooo much, and mentions her repeatedly. I also REALLY enjoyed listening to how she has coped post-kidnapping.

    So, as I began this post with TIME PASSES AND LIFE HAPPENS…..Let me end it with this.
        

June 18, 2014

  • I’M INSPIRED ~ I THINK…..

    I was feeling a bit lethargic these past couple of days.   I’m not certain of the cause.  It could be a combination of a few things.  On Father’s Day, my son and daughter-in-law and I took some of Dean’s ashes to the Police Memorial and put them by the eternal blue light.  It was more emotional than I was expecting.  Well, I was expecting to feel some sadness but it still came over me rather quickly.  We spent some time there.  It was so peaceful and quiet and lovely.  We looked at some of the big memorial displays put there by the South Bend Police, Mishawaka Police, St. Joseph County police, and the Indiana State Police and read the Policeman’s Prayer.

     

    Then we went to a very small cemetery near where some relatives used to live.  We put more ashes at the gravesite of Dean’s brother and sister who have passed away.

    After that we went to get something to eat and then went to 3 small units in my community where there were some open houses.  We saw one very tiny one bedroom unit that was very cute.  Honestly, I think it would be too small for just me but it was very nice.  The other two we visited were 3 bedroom units with a basement and upstairs.  The stairways are very narrow and the current owners have been there for a long time.  One has lived there for 18 years and the other one has lived there for 52 years!  (There would be a lot of updating necessary to get those two units comfortable for a new owner, I think.) The community will be having Open Houses every 3rd Sunday through September so, hopefully, we can visit some others…just to see how they are decorated.

    The weather has turned very hot and very humid this week.  I finally had to turn on the Central Air because I couldn’t get cool.   It has made it easier to sleep for both me and my cats!  I will probably have to keep the Central Air on until next week when it is supposed to be less humid.  My plants are growing slowly but they are still alive.  I dug up the multi-colored rose bush and sent it back to the plant company.  It never did grow.  I’m hoping for either a replacement or a credit towards next year’s selection.

    I had also ordered something for a gift but when it arrived, it was very small ~ not like the description.  I wrote to the company to return it.  They responded quickly and offered to  me to choose another item up to $5 more than my original purchase.  I have selected something and hope it turns out to be what I wanted.

    I had very good news yesterday when my son informed me that he finally got the promotion he has been working towards for almost a year.  He is now an official Dispatch Supervisor!  I’m so happy for him.  The money isn’t much over what he currently makes but he deserves the title since he has been doing the job for a very long time.  Also, this may cut down on his recall (overtime) so he will have a little more time for himself and his wife.

    I still don’t have the other remodeling work scheduled.  The company is so busy that they haven’t been able to take a day or so to do my work. I guess it doesn’t really matter except I would like to have it done.

    So since I was feeling less than enthused about doing anything constructive, I turned to SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach once again.  Today’s essay is entitled CHOOSING TO BLOSSOM.

    “…and the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin

    How much time, creative energy, and emotion do we expend resisting change because we assume growth must always be painful?  Much personal growth is uncomfortable, especially learning to set boundaries in relationships.  When we commit to nurturing our authentic selves, people close to us are going to start noticing that changes are taking place.  This is the season when growth in the garden, which had been gradual, now accelerates.  It’s that season for us as well, now that we are six months into the (year) journey towards Wholeness.”

    “For it can be difficult to express your authentic needs by saying “Sorry, I can’t” when everybody assumes you can.  But it’s worse to thwart the ascent of your authenticity.  The day comes–maybe it is today–when “remaining tight in the bud” is more painful than blossoming!  ”"Gardening is creative work, just as much as painting or writing a poem.”" the Victorian writer Hanna Rion tells us.  ”"It is a personal expression of self, an individual conception of beauty.” Gardening is also a wonderful way to gently explore some of the personal growth issues raised by authenticity.”

    “Can you find one perfect rosebud, either in your garden or at a store?  Place it on your desk or night table.  The Talmut tells us that “each blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers. “Grow, Grow, Grow!”

    So I was thinking about that and realized that I have been working on my authentic self since my husband passed away.  I’ve made myself go out to be with other people.  I’ve tried to accept every invitation I have received.  I’ve been working on making my home more comfortable for ME….I chosen things that I want around me for several months now.  And, most recently, I have decided it is time to lose some weight.  I haven’t gone into it in a huge way but I have ordered a food program and have been following it for almost 2 weeks now.   I’ve lost about 4 lbs to date.  There are a lot of veggies in the picture and I am getting tired of them but I have lost my cravings for sweets and cut way back on carbs too.  I’m hopeful I can continue on this new way of eating and continue to lose some weight.  I do need to exercise more and I expect I need to join a gym again just to make myself do the work.

      

    In other areas, I am still watching Game of Thrones.  I’m on the Second Season and loving it.  I ordered the 5 books in the series and have them sitting on an end table just waiting for me to sit down and read them.

    Speaking of reading, I haven’t done too much again this week.  But  I did read ~

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    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage

    Read on June 05, 2014

    I can say that I liked this book. It was enjoyable. It followed a common pattern of several women friends having some problems in their lives and rallying around each other to help. This book was a little tiny bit over-the-top for me. Each of the 4 women have a serious situation nearly at the same time. Every possible problem including infidelity, trauma in the marriage or relationship,mental breakdowns, children who get into trouble, serious illnesses and all the other problems most of us face at one time or another happen to these four women and their families. I felt there was also a tiny feeling of “preaching” to the reader on why these things happen and how to “fix them”. But if you want a quick read for a summer afternoon, this book will fit that need.

    Here’s the book description…

    Gerri can’t decide what’s more devastating: learning her rock-solid marriage has big cracks, or the anger she feels as she tries to repair the damage. Always the anchor for friends and her three angst-ridden teenagers, it’s time to look carefully at herself. The journey for Gerri and her family is more than revealing—it’s transforming.

    Andy doesn’t have a great track record with men, and she’s come to believe that for her a lasting love is out of reach. When she finds herself attracted to her down-to-earth, ordinary contractor—a man without any of the qualities that usually appeal to her—she questions everything she thought she wanted in life.

    Sonja’s lifelong pursuit of balance is shattered when her husband declares he’s through with her New Age nonsense and walks out. There’s no herbal tonic or cleansing ritual that can restore her serenity—or her sanity. 

    Miraculously, it’s BJ, the reserved newcomer to Mill Valley, who steps into their circle and changes everything. The woman with dark secrets opens up to her neighbors, and together they get each other back on track, stronger as individuals and unfaltering as friends.

    And another reader’s review…

    What it’s all about…
    Why…it’s about four friends and the lives they lead. These four just happen to live in the same neighborhood.

    My thoughts after reading this book… 
    When we first meet these women they are up at 6 A.M. ish and power walking. However…soon everyone’s lives begin to change and even crumble. Andy finds out her husband is cheating, Gerri finds out her husband has cheated, Sonja falls apart because her husband doesn’t want to eat nut meatloaf any more and BJ enters the picture with a deep dark secret of her own. 
    Husbands are tossed out, someone gets committed, teen children get in trouble, secrets are revealed and some people fall in love…again…and this is all within the first few pages! Just teasing but there is a lot going on in this book! And you can sort of predict how this book will roll…dysfunction, angst, revealed secrets and a happy ending…sort of!

    What I loved best and what I didn’t love best…
    The characters are interesting and I loved their issues! It made the book fun and speedy to read! One of my fave characters is Bob…the Builder/Carpenter and Beau…his dog. Gerri…has been married the longest and is the most visible character in this book. Her complaints about sex and menopause were kind of annoying…she needed her gynecologist to tell her women had sex after fifty? Sheesh! 

    My ending thoughts for potential readers…
    A fun light hearted book with both real and quirky over the top characters. Lots of issues are addressed…drugs, marital abuse, teen sex, homosexuality, fidelity and vegetarianism. Yes…I said vegetarianism!

    Again…probably a great beach read…I think that this is the first book I have ever read by this author. I did enjoy it!

     

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    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriagemothers-and-daughterssisters

    Read on June 16, 2014

    This is an easy beach read ~ perfect for the warm weather with a cool glass of something while you sit outside. Violet Turner has always wanted to open up a vintage boutique store. She has been saving clothing and other pieces of art and/or accessories for years. She finally finds a good location and then begins to meet an assortment of friends who walk through the shop door. As always, there are some minor problems in the way and each character has something they want to make better. In the end, it all comes together in a good way. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the clothing Violet treasured and the stories of how they came her way.

    Here’s the book description….

    A sparkling debut novel in the vein of The Friday Night Knitting Club, centered around a Midwestern vintage clothing shop and a group of women who eventually transform the store and each others’ lives.

    At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women who are drawn there.

    Yellow Samsonite suitcase with ivory, quilted lining, 1950s…
    Violet Turner had always dreamed of owning a shop like Hourglass Vintage. Though she knows the personal history behind each precious item she sells, Violet refuses to acknowledge her own past. When she is faced with the possibility of losing the store, she realizes that, as much as she wants to, she cannot save it alone.

    Taffeta tea length wedding gown with scooped neckline and cap sleeves, 1952…
    Eighteen-year-old April Morgan is nearly five months along in an unplanned pregnancy when her hasty engagement is broken. When she returns the perfect 1950s wedding dress, she discovers unexpected possibilities and friends who won’t let her give up on her dreams.

    Orange sari made from silk dupioni with gold paisley design, 1968…
    Betrayed by her husband, Amithi Singh begins selling off her old clothes, remnants of her past life. After decades of housekeeping and parenting a daughter who rejects her traditional ways, she fears she has nothing more ahead for her.

    An engaging story that beautifully captures the essence of women’s friendship and love, Vintage is a charming tale of possibility, of finding renewal and hope when we least expect it.

    And another reader’s review….

    My ” in a nutshell” summary…
    A vintage store and some ladies with issues…that’s the makeup of this book!

    Violet loves old things…she finds them, collects them and sells them in her vintage shop.
    Violet seems to also collect people…some good…some bad…she has a horrible ex husband, a lovely dog and a mismatched collection of friends. Basically she is happy in spite of being forced out of her lease, wanting a baby, and dealing with other issues in her life. There are other characters…April and Nimitri…each dealing with their own issues. 

    I loved that this book was so sweetly written. It’s a story of the lives of these women as they went through some major issues in their lives…infidelity, unwanted pregnancy, death, yearning for a baby, career issues and even more.

    Perhaps this book was a just a little predictable…but that really didn’t bother me at all.

    I found this to be a sweet, calming, delightful book to read. I loved getting to know these women and their issues. I loved learning about vintage clothes. I loved seeing how they dealt with their life changing issues!

          

June 11, 2014

  • A NOOK OF YOUR OWN AND I DON’T MEAN AN E-READER.

                         

    I’m turning once again to Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach for inspiration.  An essay entitled A NOOK OF YOUR OWN caught my eye today.

    In solitude we give passionate attention to our lives, to our memories, to the details around us.”  ~ Virginia Woolf.

    “In October, 1928, the British novelist and literary critic, Virginia Woolf gave 2 lectures on women and fiction at Cambridge University in England.  In her talks she publicly voiced for the first time what women had been sharing among themselves for centuries:  in order for women to create, they needed privacy, peace, and personal incomes.  The following year, Ms. Woolf published those lectures as her book ~ A ROOM OF YOUR OWN.”

    “Tillie Olsen has exquisitely explored the creative voice when it is muffled, muzzled and mute ~ “the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being, but cannot…” in her book SILENCES.  Ms. Olsen was silenced herself for 20 years while she raised and supported four children through menial jobs that left her no energy to write; she was nearly fifty when she published her first novel, TELL ME A RIDDLE.”

    “Many of us today experience creative silence…the creative silence brought about by circumstances we feel are beyond our control, lack of time, and/or lack of space or a place to create.  Perhaps we also suffer ….a failure to realize how necessary it is to nurture our creativity daily.”

    “To begin with, many of us, unless we live alone, don’t have a room entirely our own.  That does not mean we cannot carve out a small space~ even a nook ~to call our own.  No room for a desk and a chair?  Then start with a bookcase all your own.  The important thing is that the bookcase is YOURS!  A space that offers passionate reminders to attend to  your own private, artistic impulses, a place to encourage you to reclaim your creativity.”

     

     

    I had a busy few days.  I had my May dinner out with my high school friends.  It was my turn to host the after dinner dessert.  Everyone came and admired my redone family room and kitchen floor.  On Tuesday, I had an impromptu lunch with another girl friend from high school.  We hadn’t seen each other for about 2 years so it was great to catch up.   On Thursday, I had lunch with another good friend who was also a former co-worker.  We had a lot to talk about as well.  This past Monday was my dentist appointment and it all went well.  In-between that, I did grocery shopping, looked for more plants, cleaned up some of the yard space and put up a bird feeder.  It seems like the time went by very quickly and I did accomplishment several small things.

    I am still waiting for my contractor to come back out and give me an estimate on wainscoting the little upstairs hallway and to see if he can improve on my big closet…which is falling apart.  I had been putting off moving my clothes out and sorting them.  In my former home, I had a walk-in closet with double rods.  I would put the current season on the top rod and the out of season clothes on the bottom rod.  Then I would just switch out every 6 months.   With my current closet, I have the current season behind the door that opens the most easily.  The out of season clothes are behind the harder to open door.  I finally decided this week that I might as well move the clothing around so that I can get to the seasonal clothes more easily.  I am also giving myself 6 months to lose some weight and then I will be seriously purging the too small, too tight, too out of date, too unattractive pieces out.  And I promised myself that I would not buy any new clothes until the 6 months is up…unless it is a perfect piece that I absolutely cannot live another second without having it in my closet whether it fits or not….

    I’m still playing Criminal Cases and Candy Crush on Facebook.  I finally broke through a level on Candy Crush that I was stuck on for weeks!  I love when that happens…..

    Most of the plants that I ordered are coming up.  My Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors rose bush didn’t make it.  I’m going to return it and hope to get a replacement.  I’ve been looking for this rose bush for a couple of years.  My blue geraniums are leafing out ~ I hope they bloom this season.  One of the two clematis is starting to entwine itself around the chain link fence.  The second one is growing more slowly.  The two lilacs are growing as well.  I bought a few Impatiens for color in the front of my unit this week too.

    I’m watching Game of Thrones.  I just started the second Season.  I ordered the 5 books from Amazon and have them sitting on an end table just waiting for me to start reading.  I really have so many books to read.

     

         

    So…speaking of books….

    I haven’t read any recently.  I’ve read some magazines that were stacked up.  I returned a lot of books to the library.  I did little chores around the house but I didn’t read any books.  Guess I need to do that very soon.

     

               

     

        

     

June 1, 2014

  • HAPPY JUNE AND WELCOME HESTIA

     

    According to Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach…..

    “Three thousand years ago in ancient Greece, Hestia was the goddess of the hearth, guardian of family life and the temple.  Women turned to Hestia for protection and inspiration so that they might transform their dwelling into homes of beauty and comfort.  Hestia was one of the twelve Olympians in classical Greece mythology.  She is the least known of all of them and there are no legends about her, even though Zeus bestowed on her the privilege of sitting in the center of their celestial home so that she might receive the best offerings from the mortals.  While the other gods and goddesses were personified in sculpture and paintings, Hestia was not rendered in human form.  Her spiritual presence was honored as an eternal flame.  Her sacred fire provided illumination, warmth and the heat necessary for food.”

    “Today, as in ancient times, Hestia focuses attention inward to the spiritual center of a woman’s personality enabling us to tap into an inner harmony as we go about our daily lives.  She is not frazzled, hanging on by a thread.  Hestia is grounded in the midst of outer chaos, disorder or ordinary, everyday business.  Everything that gets done in the home is accomplished with ease and grace.”

    By now, I am sure many of you are saying   “YEAH, RIGHT…!”   “So, just how do we do this?  You could ask Hestia for help as you work around the home.  Thinking of Hestia can help you tend to the household details as a centering activity equivalent to meditation.”  If you feel you have no time to sit down and mediate, or you have a valid excuse for not seeking guidance because you are too busy, that’s alright too.

    Or hire a cleaning service….. 

                

    So, what have I accomplished this week myself?  Glad you asked!  I cleaned my little house because I was having company on Friday.  A small group of girl friends from high school meet once a month for dinner and then go to someone’s house for dessert.  It was my turn this month and the first time I have hosted since I rejoined the group.  So, I did a little extra cleaning and tried to make my house look the way I envision it most of the time.  All the 5 girl friends liked my little place and said it was so cute and very cozy.  They also loved my two cats who decided the gathering must be for them so they were in the same room and just going from one to another of the women to get praises and petting.

    I made a new dessert that went over very well.   Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out for yourself.  After all, I am featuring Hestia as my theme.

    OOEY GOOEY CHOCOLATE INDULGENCE

    Cookie dough:   (this is basically a chocolate chip cookie dough)  You could probably just buy pre-made cookie dough.

    1/2 Cup softened butter

    1/4 Cup brown sugar

    3/4  Cup of granulated sugar

    1 egg

    1-1/4 tsp. vanilla

    1-1/4 Cup flour

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp baking soda

    1/2 tsp baking powder

    1 Cup chocolate chips.

    Press cookie dough into a foil lined bottom of a  9×11 pan.  Make it as level as possible.

    Add one package of Oreo cookies side by side into the pan (all the cookies will not fit so you will have to eat the rest of them…LOL)

    Drizzle caramel sauce over the top….as much as you want

    Prepare an 18 oz. package of brownie mix according to the box instructions.

    Pour the brownie mix over the top of the pan and make it as level as possible.

    Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Sometimes it takes a little longer because of the brownie mix.

    After the pan cools, drizzle caramel sauce over the top and sprinkle with sea salt.

    I also did the laundry, mopped the floors, vacuumed too, grocery shopped and did all those things that need to be done regularly.  I paid some bills and got a royalty check for my books on sale at Amazon.com.   Thanks for buying them!

    And I read some books.

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    Muriel Sullivan is the third child in a family. She never felt wanted, needed, appreciated or loved. She adored her big sister but couldn’t seem to connect with her. Her brother left home right after he graduated from high school. She wanted her mother to love her and for a short amount of time, she felt they had a connection.  Then one Saturday afternoon,  she saw something that changed her mind. As an adult, Muriel made her own way and continued to try to have a relationship with her mother and her big sister. It didn’t seem to work out until the day her sister came to tell Muriel a big secret. Another big secret she was to promise not to tell anyone.Muriel finally saw where she fit into the family and how the secrets had kept them all apart. She got the courage to do something about it and then her life changed.

    Here’s the book description….
    Mary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

    The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivan has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired and round, she worships her beautiful blonde sister, Pia, and envies the close bond Pia shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

    But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

    Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.

    And another reader’s review….

    The story of the two sisters is like a grapefruit; fragrant, special and often bitter but good for your guts and spa inclined mind. It’s a beautiful and bittersweet, suck-you-in type of a book that made me feel as if my fingers were glued to the pages, I read most of it in bed on a Sunday shedding a tear or two towards the end, weeks later as I’m writing this review , it still haunts me. This book is based on something real that the author has experienced and that echo of that intensity rings true though the work.

    Muriel is an adult but as a child she wasn’t considered the pearl of the family, she’s nowhere near Pia’s statuesque tanned, gold haired blonde beauty often dismissed by her perfectionist mother Lidia and her absent minded father, she grows up to have her own isolated life after a childhood of secrets and betrayals but her past comes back to haunt her when her perfect sister comes for a sudden unexpected visit, old scabs and wounds reopen whether she’s ready or not with shocking new revelations that will forever change the entire family.

    This was some great stuff, I loved the story and felt its pains and tribulations, now that’s always appreciated, a tale that makes me feel what I felt here means a lot to me.This is part mystery as in what’s going on/ juicy family secrets, realism and escapism, just good reading with a heart jerking message.

     

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    bookshelves: familyfriendsmarriage

    This book wasn’t what I was hoping for. It does tell the history of Los Alamos when scientists and other skilled and educated people were asked to go to Los Alamos to work on a secret project. They took their wives and families along. The wives and families had no idea what they were doing there. The scientists could be gone for days at a time but never told their families what they were working on. Often when the family arrived, there was no house for them to live in and they had to sleep in sleeping bags in the main Lodge for weeks. There were only a few bath tubs and the rest of the homes had a small shower. The water was discolored or thick as mud if there was any water at all. Any produce or dairy or meat was usually old and past it’s date to be consumed in spite of a fresh market not too far away. Most of the families were there for about 3 years before they finally learned what the big secret project had been.The author wrote without much detail. She wrote saying “we did this or we did that”, offering up different scenarios. “We had a child or we lost a baby or we didn’t want children or we had many children.” “We drank too much or we never drank. We flirted or we didn’t. We did this or we did that.”

    Just my opinion.

    Here’s the book description….

    Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago—and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with a P.O. box for an address in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of a project that didn’t exist as far as the public knew. Though they were strangers, they joined together—adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, full of the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery. 

    And while the men were working on something, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed from an abandoned school on a hill into a real community: one that was strained by the words they couldn’t say out loud, the letters they couldn’t send home, the freedom they didn’t have. But the end of the war would bring even bigger challenges to the people of Los Alamos, as the scientists and their families struggled with the burden of their contribution to the most destructive force in the history of mankind.

    The Wives of Los Alamos is a novel that sheds light onto one of the strangest and most monumental research projects in modern history, and a testament to a remarkable group of women who carved out a life for themselves, in spite of the chaos of the war and the shroud of intense secrecy.

    And another reader’s review…

    Let’s get one thing out in the open first. This book is written in the first person plural. This is unusual and it might drive some readers crazy. At first I kept thinking, oh, soon the real book is going to start and it will be more conventional. But no, it’s “we did this” though the whole book. But once I adjusted to it, and realized it’s not exactly a novel, I did enjoy the book. The book is the story of the families who went to Los Alamos, NM in the 1940s while their husbands (and a few women) worked on building the first atomic bomb. Since it’s a story of a community, rather than a single person, there’s no dramatic event or plot, other than the obvious lead-up to the detonation of the bomb. But over the course of the book you really get a sense of what it’s like to live in a community shrouded in secrecy, to be uprooted and not be able to share any of your experiences with outsiders. There are fascinating details about how the scientists’ families interact with local Native Americans, and the end of the book deals with how everyone came to terms with the impact of their work. I definitely recommend the book to those willing to try something a little different.

     

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    bookshelves: dramafamilymarriage

    The only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars was that I felt the ending was rushed. This book captured me from Page 1 and it was a wild ride trying to figure out who did what and why and would they tell or get caught or keep quiet. This book is 427 pages that I almost read in one day because it was so good. It’s a story about secrets….serious secrets….and what can happen when you don’t tell. And if you do tell….sometimes bad things still happen.
    Here’s the book description….
    A riveting, poignant family drama perfect for readers of Defending Jacob and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which explores the power of the secrets people keep-the darker, hidden facets of our lives, and what happens when they come to light.Diagnosed with XP, a rare medical condition which makes him lethally sensitive to light, Tyler is a thirteen-year-old who desperately wants just one thing: to be normal. His mother Eve also wants just one thing: to protect her son. As Tyler begins roaming their cul-de-sac at night, cloaked in the safety of the darkness, he peers into the lives of the other families on the street-looking in on the things they most want hidden. Then, the young daughter of a neighbor suddenly vanishes, and Tyler may be the only one who can make sense of her disappearance…but what will happen when everyone’s secrets are exposed to the light?

    And another reader’s review….
    I gave this five stars because it has that one quality that I think defines a good book–I couldn’t put it down. I started it one night before bed and didn’t stop reading until the afternoon of the next day! I had to keep reading to see how everything resolved itself. I mistakenly thought this book would be an insular family drama dealing with the harsh realities of having a child with XP. People with XP cannot stand UV light–it burns and blisters their skin and then causes mutations at a level that almost insures cancer growth. This book ,though, is about so much more than XP. It’s not just a family drama–it is a crime drama, a neighborhood drama, personal dramas. Buckley does a fantastic job of reeling the reader in with well-constructed, colorful, emotional characters. Each character has their petty dramas, personal conflicts, and moral failings. Without giving any spoilers, this book goes from seemingly ho-hum to thrilling in no time at all. 

    So, now you know how my week went.  I hope you think about Hestia and find pleasure in making your house your home.  And if not, I’m sure any local  Cleaning Service can send out a crew!
    Embarrass Cat  Shames you into doing house cleaning properly          
    Happy June!

May 24, 2014

  • HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND.

          Here we are, kids.  It’s Memorial Day Weekend! The first of the spring/summer celebrations!  I have my USA flags out in the front yard and they are beautifully blowing in the warm breeze!

    I was busy this week with the usual chores and little things to get done.  I have been checking on the plants that I put in the ground last weekend.  They are growing!  I even saw some tiny green leaves on the blue and white geraniums that I planted from the root….Yay!  I had lunch out with some friends on Monday too.  My son came over yesterday and helped me put up a curtain rod because I couldn’t reach it.

    So, once again, I didn’t have much on my mind until I opened up SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  The topic was appropriate and interesting too.

    REAL LIFE: CLOTHES THAT FIT  YOUR LIFESTYLE….

    “I haven’t got a thing to wear” does not, of course, mean that we must resort to nakedness or seclusion; it means that our wardrobes contain nothing that might match our mood or offer a just reflection of our current lives.”  by Kennedy Fraser.

    “Most of us have had the experience of looking at a closet full of clothes and finding nothing wearable that matches our mood.  With a sign of resignation we resort to a well-worn and time-tested “uniform,” whether it be a black dress and pearls or a denim skirt, sweater and boots or jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes.

    “Actually most of us wear, with few exceptions, the same thing or the same style over and over again.  The outfits may be changed according to the season, but not our dependence on a few staples, which, in their own way, offer a revealing reflection of how we view our current lives.

    So what do we do with all the clothes we don’t wear?  Nothing…They just hang there abandoned, because of their size or color or lack of appropriateness, because they are uncomfortable, or we had a bad experience the last time we wore it…..”

    Spring is the perfect time to take stock of our wardrobes and reconsider our relationship to them.  We long to shed our heavy coats and sweaters for lighter clothing.  Let’s shed our attitudes about what is fashionable, and replace them with new ideas about what works for us in our real lives and truly reflects….. us.”

    What is everything in your closet was something you loved..some that made you look good or feel wonderful when you put it on?  Think of how good you would feel every day!

    Today, consider your real life and the clothes you wear every day.  Do they REALLY reflect the woman you are?  What about the clothes that speak to you in the fashion magazines?  What about the clothes that hang abandoned in your closet for weeks at a time?

    “Clothes have a life that is quite independent of their shape and color.” ~ Kennedy Fraser.

    Be quiet, go within and think about the threads of your life and how you want to wear them.

       I know, for myself, since I have retired, I seem to wear the same things most of the time.  I don’t have to dress up in business casual clothing any longer.  Now I usually wear a pair of jeans, a nice shirt and my New Balance sneakers.  I like bright colors and try to wear them often.  I know, for myself, that I have a lot of clothes that I don’t wear.  Some are too small but I have hope that some day…..oh, you know the thought!   I have some that are too big but I keep thinking they will be good for layering in the winter.  I have a few sweaters and coats.  I have a few nice jackets and a couple of dresses for funerals or special occasions.  I can’t wear many shoes except New Balance  anymore because my feet hurt too much but I do have a couple of pairs of “just in case” shoes.

    Ok……on to the books I read this week.

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    bookshelves: familyfriends

    Read on May 19, 2014

    This was a fast-moving and interesting read. A young boy and girl had a very strong relationship as they grew up. They knew they were destined to be married. But circumstances and different choices changed their plans. Just when Kate finally felt she could return to her first boyfriend’s side, she discovered he had moved on. However, an unexpected turn of events changed their lives forever. 13 years later, they had another chance to change the situation. What happens is not what they had planned at all.

    Here’s the book description…

    Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices.   She’s made them before. Now it’s time to do it again.

    Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. And she’s getting on with her life.  Her business is thriving. She has a strong relationship with her family, and a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. If Kate had ever made a list, Rowan would fill the imagined boxes of a perfect mate. But she wants more than the perfect on paper relationship; she wants a real and imperfect love. That’s why, when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan’s drawer, she panics.

    It always happens this way. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she’s filled with dread. And she wants more than anything to make this feeling go away. But how?

    When the mistakes have been made and the running is over, it’s time to face the truth. Kate knows this. She understands that a woman can never undo what can never be undone. Yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past. It’s time to act.

    Can she do it? Can she travel to the place where it all began, to the one who shares her secret? Can the lost ever become found?

    And Then I Found You gives new life to the phrase “inspired by a true story.” By travelling back to a painful time in her own family’s history, the author explores the limits of courage, and the price of a selfless act.

    and another reader’s review….

    This was a lovely book. It was a great story with just the right amount of angst. It was the story of Kate/Katie and Jack. They knew each other for most of their lives. They assumed they would always be together and then something happens…in this case Katie just wants to stop waiting for Jack and wants to do something of her own. And…when she does…Jack stops waiting for her. But then there is this life altering event that happened 13 years ago on the last night they were together…that will keep them connected forever. 

    Just as the name Luna will keep them connected…forever…at least once a year…anyway.

    What I loved about this book…

    This book was just enjoyable lovely and romantic. I loved the Alabama/South Carolina/ New York settings. I loved the characters…especially Kate and Emily. I loved the anguished tortured secrets being kept. It was all just kind of yummy. Nothing earth shattering going on really…nothing but family and friends and soul-searching and lost love and discovery. And a clothing shop I really wish was real…darn it!

    What I didn’t love…

    Honestly…nothing…it might have been slightly predictable but I still loved the book!

    Final thoughts…

    This is my first experience with this author and it was simply enjoyable…I settled on my deck with a tall glass of iced tea and my book and just read…it was lovely. I am happy calling this a perfect summer book. 

    *****

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    bookshelves: dramafamilymarriage

    Read on May 22, 2014

    When I started this story, I was sure I knew what the basic plot was going to be. And I was right at first….and then there was a twist in the story and the mystery came into it. I really enjoyed this book because I couldn’t quite figure out who was the real bad guy after all. It’s a quick and entertaining read ~ perfect for a weekend. This author always writes a good story and I’ve read several of her books.

    Here”s the book description…
    Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater.

    On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all. 

    Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.

    Another reader’s review….

    After I began reading this book and discovered what it involved ,  I thought—not again. I’d just read a book with a similar plot line a week or so ago and was frustrated at the thought of another character not facing up to their moral responsibility—it was just too much. Scottoline’s characters, Jake and Ryan Buckman, a father and son, find themselves having to tell lie upon lie to keep their secret hidden from wife and mother Pam, school friends and business associates, etc. Anyway, I don’t remember at what point Scottoline grabbed my interest, but the plot began to thicken and suddenly I was turning pages and reading into the midnight hours. Although Pam is a real bitch, I cared about Jake and Ryan and wanted them to figure a way out of this mess. “Keep Quiet” is a good read with some surprising twists and some characters you care about. I guess the moral of Scottoline’s tale can be summed up in Walter Scott’s saying: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

    ****

    18114158

    bookshelves: familymarriagemothers-and-daughters

    Read on May 23, 2014

    I don’t know why I picked up this book. I never watched 90210 or any of the other TV shows Jennie Garth was in. But I did pick it up and it wasn’t bad at all. She explained about her childhood and her family and how she got into television. She talked about how she was married for a short time and then met a man she thought was the one she really needed. They were married for many years. She has survived 2 divorces. She had 3 daughters, appeared on Dancing With The Stars with Derek Hough and lasted until the final 4 couples were up. She has also had a reality show and plans for another one on HGTV. All in all, I read this book in just a few hours.

    Here’s the book description….

    For the first time ever, Jennie Garth is putting it all out there, sharing her joys and her sorrows, her successes and her failures, with candor and a surprising, even bawdy, sense of humor.

    From her sudden rise to fame as a golden-haired teen beauty, to recently redefining herself as a single working mother to three growing girls, Jennie Garth has defied the odds and thrived in a town that can be more than a little tough on its blondes.
     
    Since Jennie landed in Hollywood at just sixteen, she has built an enduring career as a television and film actress, producer and director, beginning with her iconic turn as Kelly Taylor on Aaron Spelling’s smash hit Beverly Hills 90210, a show that ran for a decade and which cemented Jennie’s place in American pop culture.
     
    Recently, Jennie found herself facing her forties from a place she never expected to be in: newly single, in demand again as an actress after years spent focusing on her family, and all over the tabloids. So she decided to do what surprised many—including herself: she decided to write about it, to tell her own story, in her own words.
     
    And now, in this intimate memoir, she explores the highs and lows of her life, both in front of the camera and behind closed doors, revealing the real Jennie Garth—smart, funny, and stronger than she ever realized.
     
    This is one unforgettable, utterly lovable Hollywood Blonde, and these are her deep thoughts.

    And another reader’s review…

    I know what some of you may be thinking-Why would I want to read a book like this, but honestly I’m always open to anything. I have always been a fan of the original Beverly Hills 90210. So when this book came out I was a little excited to read it. Jennie writes the truth and doesn’t hold anything back. She talks about how she got into acting, what filming Beverly Hills was like and even her marriage to Peter. Many of us just read the tabloids and assume that what they are saying is really the truth, but that isn’t the case. This book was interesting and a quick-read because I didn’t want to put it down. I found it to be inspiring at times and made me think what a great person Jennie Garth is and how strong she is for going through difficult times in her life. There are some important life lessons in this book and even though I’m not a parent, some of the things that she does for her kids, my parents have done for me. She talks about not taking life for granted, and supporting her kids whatever their talent is and making the best life choices for them. After reading the book, she really sounds like a great mother and I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for her, but her kids have been a big role in her life and she makes it clear that she is there for them no matter what. She’s got a good head on her shoulders and knows what she is doing. She has dealt with many heart breaks, losing family members, gaining confidence and coming out of her shell. I found myself relating to some of the life experiences that she has gone through. Just consider reading this book. Have an open mind.

    ****

     

May 17, 2014

  • HOW DO YOU LOOK TO YOURSELF?

    Well, kids.  Whenever I am not sure what I want to blog about, I just pick up my book of SIMPLE ABUNDANCE by Sarah Ban Breathnach and open to the current date to see what she wrote about.

    “Like all of us, you see yourself in the mirror every day.  But when was the last time you nodded your head in approval at what you saw?  Today, let’s try something different: look at yourself lovingly and appreciate what you see.  Take an inventory of what you like about yourself.  Most of us are very quick to criticize ourselves.  We’re always finding things wrong with the way we look.  Today let’s…discover and give thanks for what pleases us.”

    Ms. Breathnach goes on to say….“Tonight, set aside an hour to celebrate how marvelous you really are.  Prepare an inviting bath, use scented oil or bubble bath.  Bring a candle into the bathroom and bathe by candlelight.  Allow  yourself at least twenty minutes to soak in the warm water to renew yourself.  Ask your authentic self to bring to your conscious mind all the special things you should discover tonight.  After you pat yourself dry, gently apply some talc or lotion to your body.  Give yourself a slow massage and as you work your way down from your shoulders to your toes, visualize each body part surrounded by a beautiful white light.  This light is LOVE and you are sending it to every cell in your body.”

    “Then go to a full length mirror and take a compassionate look at yourself.  Find ten things you love about your face and your body…such as your hair, your nose, your eyes, beautiful hands and so on.  Even if you see something you don’t like, find something about that area to like instead.  If you see fat rolls, look at your skin and see the beauty of the color or the softness or the curves.  Write the 10 things down.”

    And I want to add to this exercise…..Now think about what you like about your personality.  Your shopping skills, your craftiness, your cooking skills, being a loving person, being a great friend, helping others.  Write it all down.  Try for at least 10 characteristics.   Even if  you can’t find 20 things about your body and your personality, try this exercise over and over until you do.

    Then accentuate the positive.  If your eyes are beautiful ~ try a new shade of eye shadow to make them even more lovely.  If you have great lips, use a red lipstick to call attention to them.  If your hair is grey, think about either coloring it or bringing out the silver highlights.  Consider a new hair style if you are not sure your current style is the best choice.

     

    It’s been a busy week.  I had my doctor’s appointment on Thursday.  My blood test and mammogram were just fine. Doctor is suggesting I take 2 Aleve pills 2x a day to see if it helps with my sore ankle.  The ankle has gotten better but still hurts on occasion.  The doctor did a lot of pushing and twisting of the ankle to see if it caused pain…which it did not…Thank goodness.  I was concerned that a new statin medicine I was taking could be causing the problem but the doctor said any aches would have been in my upper legs.   Unfortunately I did see that I gained some weight over the very long winter season.  I am newly inspired to try to cut back off of too many carbs  again.  I hope I can get this under control.

    I also received some plants that I had ordered from Michigan Bulb.  Today I planted 2 blue clementis starts near my back fence.  I’m hoping I will get some blooms this season.  I know it will take time to get it wrapping about the chain link.   

    I also planted some dwarf lily roots.  I was pleased to see some green at the tops so I hope they will take root and have blooms this season also.  I don’t remember what color they are so it will be a surprise.    

    I also planted 3 blue and white geranium roots.   The roots had some tiny green leaves sprouting at the top.  I’m really hoping these come up.  I”m going to plant a red geranium in the same pot in case the blue and white plants don’t come up.

    I have a Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors climbing rose bush soaking in water right now.  I am going to plant it tomorrow.  It will be a long time before it is this tall but I can’t wait to see the flowers change colors as they grow.  I am putting this out in front of my house.

    I also have 16 more lily bulbs to plant and 2 Sunday lilac plants that should arrive this coming week.    The ad said the lilacs bloom all summer  and bloom on the entire branch.  Can’t wait to see them.

     

    And last,but not least,  by any means….I read some books this week too.

     

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    4 of 5 stars

    bookshelves: friends

    This book was so interesting….and so different. Mae Holland has a friend who works for THE CIRCLE which is the most powerful internet company around. The friend gets Mae an interview and she is hired. She starts out as a customer service representative and is soon deeply involved in all the operating systems at THE CIRCLE. As the reader follows Mae’s path, it becomes apparent that THE CIRCLE is taking over every aspect of Mae’s life…not to mention her family. She gets so addicted to all the facts and data that she can access that she soon tries to become one of the top tier of the company known as The Gang of 40. This 491 page book goes very fast and soon the reader is totally involved in the story and wondering where it will end.
    Here’s the book description….
    The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

    When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

    And here’s another reader’s review…
    Once upon a time, we used to think about the future and the many wonderful things we would be able to do online, and we used to say ‘one day we’ll be able to do this.’ and now we live in a time period where the mentality’s changed from ‘one day we’ll do it’ to ‘now we can do it, and we should.’ And we mostly do that without pausing to wonder what the repercussions may be. The Circle explores this idea with stomach-churning gusto.

    The Circle is a disturbing book, not only because of the troubling ideas and themes described within, but more importantly, because we live in a world where The Circle (a clear surrogate for Google) could easily happen. I cannot begin to mention the number of times I stopped and thought ‘wow, this could happen right now and no one would bat an eyelash.’ In fact, a chase near the end of the book brought to mind the Reddit manhunt for the Boston bombers. It’s a timely book, almost terrifyingly so.

    Halfway through the book, I’d mentioned that this is 2013′s 1984. At the time, I wondered if it was exceedingly high praise. But by its end, I was sure of it. This is a book that will cause you to pause repeatedly while reading it, pondering if the tale it tells isn’t so far removed from the world we’re living in right now, and that maybe – just maybe – we’re just as doomed. 

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    How could anyone criticize a true story about a young woman who spent 5 years as a slave in 7 different Nazi work camps? Sala volunteered to go to the first labor camp instead of her sister. The Jews were told that if one member of each family went to the camp for 6 weeks, then no one else in the family would be taken. Of course, that was a lie and thus began the systematic plan to get rid of the Jews in several countries.

    Sala managed to save almost all of the letters and photos she had. Often she had to bury them or entrust them to another person until she could take them back. It was against the rules to keep any letters or photos. She was befriended by an older woman when she was boarding the train for the first labor camp. She also managed to make friends in some of the camps and they looked out for her. She was willing to do almost any task and managed to stay alive that way. Out of 50 members of her family, only Sala and 2 of her sisters survived. She never told her daughter about her ordeal until almost 50 years later on the night before she was having heart surgery.

    The daughter took the letters that her mother had saved and the letters her father had and did a lot of research to put together a history of what was going on at the time.

    Here’s the book description…
    “Do you know why I write so much? Because as long as you read, we are together.”
    – Raizel Garncarz (Sala’s sister),
    April 24, 1941

    Few family secrets have the power both to transform lives and to fill in crucial gaps in world history. But then, few families have a mother and a daughter quite like Sala and Ann Kirschner. For nearly fifty years, Sala kept a secret: She had survived five years as a slave in seven different Nazi work camps. Living in America after the war, she kept from her children any hint of her epic, inhuman odyssey. She held on to more than 350 letters, photographs, and a diary without ever mentioning them. Only in 1991, on the eve of heart surgery, did she suddenly present them to Ann and offer to answer any questions her daughter wished to ask. It was a life-changing moment for her scholar, writer, and entrepreneur daughter. 

    We know surprisingly little about the vast network of Nazi labor camps, where imprisoned Jews built railroads and highways, churned out munitions and material, and otherwise supported the limitless needs of the Nazi war machine. This book gives us an insider’s account: Conditions were brutal. Death rates were high. As the war dragged on and the Nazis retreated, inmates were force-marched across hundreds of miles, or packed into cattle cars for grim journeys from one camp to another. When Sala first reported to a camp in Geppersdorf, Poland, at the age of sixteen, she thought it would be for six weeks. Five years later, she was still at a labor camp and only she and two of her sisters remained alive of an extended family of fifty. In the first years of the conflict, Sala was aided by her close friend Ala Gertner, who would later lead an uprising at Auschwitz and be executed just weeks before the liberation of that camp. Sala was also helped by other key friends. Yet above all, she survived thanks to the slender threads of support expressed in the letters of her friends and family. She kept them at great personal risk, and it is astonishing that she was able to receive as many as she did. With their heartwrenching expressions of longing, love, and hope, they offer a testament to the human spirit, an indomitable impulse even in the face of monstrosity. 

    Sala’s Gift is a rare book, a gift from Ann to her mother, and a great gift from both women to the world.

    and another reader’s review…
    This is the story of Ann’s Mother, Sala, who went to a German labor camp in place of her older, but more frail, sister Raizel. She survived 5 or 6 different camps before being liberated in 1945. Sala managed to save all her wartime correspondance from her sisters and friends, hiding her bundle of letters at each new camp. After the war she emigrated to the USA as a war bride knowing very little English and made a home and family for herself and her husband, Sidney. 

    Sala made friends of both fellow- workers and even some Germans. She worked well and tried to make the best of an awful situation. 

    Another piece of the story of the Nazi regime, Sala’s Gift shows the resilience as well as the humanity of the condemned Jewish Europeans.

    The story is a 4 or 5. Ann’s research fills in the gaps around the letters, giving a 6 year story of her mother’s coming-of-age in a war-time setting. The only drawback I noticed, was that it was kind of slow going. 

    13634460

    bookshelves: familydrama

    Read on May 15, 2014
    When I started reading this book, I kept thinking I had read it before….finally I realized that I had. This is a story of a very lonely child…one who was abused and neglected for most of her life. She found a way to get through most of it with some “friends” who came along. Just when she thought she had an escape planned, things went wrong…as they often do. Her life required new decisions…ones that she didn’t want to make and she suffered as a result. Finally she was able to figure out how to make herself happy.

    Although there is not a lot of description of the abuse she suffered…the implications and your imagination will be enough to make you cringe.

    And here’s the review, I wrote back in 2012.
    I’m not sure how I feel about this book. Anyone who has been a child of abuse in whatever form it took will “go there” when reading some of the story. It will bring back memories of some kind. On the other hand; the book was not graphic at all. This young girl lived a childhood filled with horror and she soon learned how to turn her mind off and “hide”. About half-way through the story; I figured out how she did it. And then she meets someone who understands everything without her saying a word. I thought the writing in some ways was amazing but I also thought in many ways it was very simplistic and everything got wrapped up in a neat little package. I guess the reader should decide if they want to read this story to see what they get out of it.
    Here’s the book description….
    Ellie Wayne doesn’t just live. She survives.

    Ellie Wayne has grown up in frightening circumstances, damaged by a sexually abusive father and mentally fragile mother. Scarred and still threatened by a father she hates and fears, Ellie believes her future holds nothing more than danger, shame and secrets . . . until the unspeakable happens, and Ellie is forced to choose. She can claim her life or continue to hide in the shadows. 

    One amazing man might be the miracle worker who can help Ellie see that she has the power to move on with her life, to hope for something more. If she can trust him. 

    Readers will cheer for this amazing woman as she struggles to leave victimhood behind.

    And another reader’s review…
    “The Boarding House” by Sharon Sala was some real tough well written read. This is a subject that a lot of people don’t want to talk or read about..’child abuse’ but it is something that must be addressed and this author did a wonderful job at it. This was done with such a compassion and skill that the reader is left only feeling the emotions for this person..Ellie Wayne. Wow was all I could say in the end.” The Boarding House: was definitely a heartbreaking story with a twist toward the end that will only leave you thinking and saying ….OMG!

    “The Boarding House” was a story that of surprises that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Get ready for a unbelievable ride. I don’t want to tell you too much…it was a very difficult read for me with this child being a victim of child abuse and the molestations coming from a parent…and her feeling that she had no one to turn too? 

    I would recommend this wonderful novel to anyone (adult) who would like to see what this author wrote to make this such a excellent read dealing with child abuse. 

    Happy Spring Weekend.   I hope you enjoy your time.
             HOW