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Friday, December 8, 2017

The Holiday Season

The Holidays bring about some of our best memories of our lives, but they can also be stressful. They can also make you realize that you are missing someone special to you that is no longer in your life for one reason or another. The Holiday season can often be a time we look hard at where we are with our lives and determine what we are thankful for and where we are going the next year, literally and mentally.  We can get bogged down in the small or large tragedies that crisscross our lives and the terrifying events that are going on in the world. They all have a huge effect on our psyche. But when you are least expecting it, something will happen to reassure you that all is right with the world. It can be a nice gesture by a total stranger, the touching surprise your spouse springs on you, or the kind thank you from your very own child.

Christmas always brings me memories of my Dad. He loved Christmas. After he passed, it seemed that he filled my every waking moment and my world was a gray place. While standing in front of the ice cream freezer at my local grocery store, wishing I could share some with him one last time, a very nice, older gentleman excused himself so he "could get some ice cream for his wife." He smiled and wished me a good night. Then for some reason he turned around and started a conversation with me. There must have been something in my demeanor or face that told him I was going through a bad time and he took the moment to notice and care. He managed to make me laugh and before our time together was over, I saw pictures of his beautiful family and heard how successful they all were. The pride in his voice was evident to anyone listening and while he shared their story with me, I felt touched by his love of his family. I realized that being a father never ends and my Dad was just as proud of me even if he was no longer with me day-to-day.

So don't be sad this Holiday when you think of those loved ones you are missing. Remember the times you had with them together and the special traditions you carry on with your own family that you were taught by your parents. When I was little, my Dad would go out in the virgin woods around our house and cut down a fresh pine tree. It was always too large to fit in our house the first time - guess they look smaller in the forest. And sometimes he brought in a critter or two, but never one that caused anything but laughter from us. So this Holiday while I miss my parents, the memories I have of them and the loving kindness they gave me will be passed on to my family. Start new customs for with your family and friends, Pinterest is full of ideas. I wanted to start a new one on Christmas Day where we ate and read all day but my family revolted. Whatever we end up doing will be filled with love and that is the most important part anyway. Next blog post will have my favorite books from 2017 and some good ones coming out in 2018! Wishing you all a very, Merry Christmas filled with love and joy!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Patty pick is The Woman in Cabin 10

The action in this book revolves around on a cruise ship, but not just any cruise ship - an exclusive floating palace. Lo has won the lottery of job assignments. She gets to take part in the first sailing of this gorgeous ship and enjoy all the amenities available. She and nine other lucky travel writers will write an article for their magazines. 

Right before she leaves for the ship, she wakes up in her apartment to a burglar going through her purse. After being locked in her bedroom for the whole night, she is left scared and shaken. Her life is in turmoil. Her boyfriend and Lo are at a crossroads. He wants to move to the United States for a new job. All of these changes and unanswered problems have her rattled and uncertain of what her future holds. 

Off she goes to enjoy a nice, relaxing cruise aboard this one-of-a-kind vessel. As she finally relaxes the first night in her cabin, Lo believes she witnesses a murder in Cabin 10, the cabin beside of hers. She witnesses what she thinks is a dead body being thrown overboard. After searching the cabin with the staff, nothing is found and no one believes her. During the next few days, Lo is given warnings to back off, but she goes forward trying to figure out if she's going crazy or a murder really did happen in Cabin 10. 

This thriller at sea will have you rooting for Lo and searching for answers to this mystery along with her.  Ruth Ware always gives us, the readers, suspense, and more twists and turns than you expect. But will Lo make it back from this cruise? Nothing is certain in this novel and you will not know what is coming next. A thrilling read and a solid 4 Stars!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Patty Pick for 11/2/17 is "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate has another deeply emotional novel based on true stories of illegally taken children. In Memphis during the later days of the Depression until as late as the 1950's, a ruthless operator named Georgia Tann had the whole system in her pocket. She had children stolen from front porches, off the street, and even convinced poor women giving birth that their children had died. With her network of Tennessee Children's Home Society locations, she schemed to place poor children into rich homes for a price. The parents and children did not see the money but Georgia lined her pockets with this blood money paid for by the children. Many of the children did not make it to adoption since the homes were in such poor conditions and there were predators at many turns. 

Rill Foss along her sisters and brother are taken from their houseboat, while their parents were at the hospital giving birth to their next twin set of siblings. After being placed in the home, Rill tries to keep them together and alive, but they are soon torn apart and scattered to different homes or worse. This is their story, but really it is an example of the tales of these children stolen from their families.

In present day South Carolina, Avery Stafford is being groomed to take her father's and family's long-standing place in politics. She seems to have it all with beauty, wealth, power and a gorgeous fiancee. Her grandmother is struggling with Alzheimers and has been moved to an assisted living facility. While visiting her grandmothers house to help, Avery encounters a waiting taxi. She then embarks an a journey to uncover her family's past, the past no one knows. 

This book was one of the best I've read this year! A solid 5 Stars!! The history is riveting and the story lines flow back and forth through time. You will remember this one long after you turn the last page. Our book club had a long and spirited discussion about the choice each character made and the tragedy of the whole time period in history. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Patty Pick for 9/28/17 is "All the Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda!

Nic, Corinne, Bailey, Daniel and Tyler - what do all these wild young adults have in common? Growing up, they were the closest of friends in Cooley Ridge, North Carolina. Corinne was the risk taker and the leader. She pushed them all to do things they may 
not have done without her dares. But one day that all changed, 
Corinne disappeared and has never been found. The investigation that followed was hard. Facts were laid bare, friends told on friends and everyone in the town developed their own theories. 

Nicolette left Cooley Ridge as soon as she could. She left everyone 
behind to move far away and start a new life. Now she is a counselor in high school and engaged to a dynamic, successful lawyer. Her brother wants her to return home and help him settle their father into a assisted living facility and sell their childhood home. Nic does not want to return but feels she owes her brother her help after how he helped her leave town. Soon she finds out that the monster who lives in the woods is real and after her. 

Megan Miranda has written a page-turning thriller that will not stop until the last page. 
From the start Nic is drawn to her old boyfriend, Tyler. When his current girlfriend disappears just like Corinne, the action really takes off. This is told backwards but the final twist was totally unexpected. Nic searches to find out who was involved in her best friends disappearance and at the same time find out what her father means with his 
rambling, confusing stories. Will the truth come out this time? You need to read this book to find out! 5 STARS!! Loved it!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pattys Pick for 9/14/17 is "The Marsh King's Daughter" by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's Daughter, Helena, is a product of her birth between a sadistic rapist who kidnapped her mother when she was a teenager and the mother she never understood until it is too late. Helena loves her father but the realization that he does not love her or her mother all most comes too late. He only loves himself. Helena knows that she has to escape before it's too late. 

At the beginning of each chapter Karen Dionne gives us a small piece of the Hans Christian Andersen tale. We meet the adult version of Helena. We find out that she is married with children and has a husband who does not know her story. We find out how she got to this point in her life and how she plans to go forward until word of her father's escape from prison reaches her. 

Her father, Jacob Holbrook, has escaped prison after murdering two guards and she knows he is heading her way. She is determined to catch him and turn him in. He taught her everything she knows about the marsh, how to track and hunt. She can shoot and she's not afraid to track him and bring him in. Now her whole life just blew up because of him. Her husband did not know her story and now she has two precious daughters to protect. She will do anything to keep them safe from her father. 

We follow Helena on the trail of her father with only her tracking abilities,  her guns, 
her faithful dog, Rambo, and her will to survive and put him back behind bars. She has no idea what she is up against. This is the suspenseful and well-written novel that is "The Marsh King's Daughter" by Karen Dionne. Needless to say there are many twists and turns for you discover as Helena and her mother's story unwinds through the chapters. Read this one with the light on and quickly!! 4.5 Stars!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Patty Pick is The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams & Lauren Willig

I really liked this book! Karen White is one of my favorite writers anyway, so when I saw this book written by her and two other terrific writers, I was definitely interested. Karen White has a really nice way of introducing female characters you can relate to and her female characters are usually facing some type of emotional crossroads. In this book, "The Forgotten Room," we meet three, interesting strong women who seem to have a connection from the start.

It took me a while to get used to going back and forth from one
generation in time to another and that relationship between the main characters. I guess my old brain just doesn't keep ahold of the facts like it used to! Once I had them down, the jumping back and forth with the characters made more sense, and I loved seeing how they were related. The intertwining relationships were fascinating to watch/read. The novel revolves around Olive, Lucy and Kate. Their lives, connections, families and the world around them unwinds to show us the effects of the decisions from the women and men in the earlier generations and how those touched the life of their daughters and granddaughters.

Our tale opens with Kate saving the leg of Captain Ravenel against the judgement of her boss. She is a doctor working in the old Pratt mansion that is now a hospital. Needless to say, a female doctor during this time in our history, World War II, was rare. Kate had to fight hard for the respect she deserved as a doctor in a man's world and she had to suffer through discrimation for being a woman doctor from her fellow male doctors and female staff. She is drawn to Captain Ravenal and he to her. Copper Ravenel has her image in a portrait belonging to his grandfather, but it couldn't possibly be
Kate, right?

The story revolves around the choices each woman made over the years, going back to the first character Olive. Olive's father was a well-respected architect and built the house for the Pratt family who lived in the house. The house later became a rooming house, which rented a room to Lucy later to live in and was now the hospital that Kate works in. We watch how each woman makes choices that effect later generations and themselves, all the time this house plays a part in their lives. I enjoyed very much reading this historical fiction. Thinking about the ways my mother and grandmother's choices effected my life, made this story resonate with me. I don't want to ruin
the story for anyone, but this well-written book deserves a read! 4.5 Stars!!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Patty Pick for 8/17/17 is "Making It Work" by Kathleen Glassburn

I am very lucky to have a wonderful friend who sent me this book by Kathleen Glassburn to read. Don't you just love friends who love books as much as you do?! To make it even better, she unknowingly sent it during one of my more difficult times of the year - the anniversary of my Dad's death. Every year it makes me sad and I think about all the times I wish that he were still here. So what an awesome treat to open up this package and find "Making It Work" from my dear friend, Amy. If you have a good friend, you are blessed. Let's just say that I am blessed many times over. 

In "Making It Work" we grow to know Sheila Gallagher as she makes her way from a struggling home life to marriage and then unto divorce and living on her on. Sheila is a product of her turbulent 60's generation. She 
yearns to head out on her own and start life. She is a smart, talented girl who is studying for a music career when she decides to marry her high school sweetheart, Jim. With her college plans on hold she follows her new husband to Long Beach. Jim joined the Navy during the Vietnam War and they must move to California for his first assignment. 

The newlyweds find that life is hard in California and people are not always who you think they are. Sheila finds a job to help support them and makes friends with her co-workers. After Jim is deployed, she leans on them to help her endure the separation, but soon finds that her musical talent and drive will shape her future. This is a story of the times, the turbulent 60's and 70's as told by someone who shows that she understands the feeling of the nation during that time perios.  

This is also a story of Sheila and her quest to live, to be valuable and to have a voice of her own. As she matures, we watch the paths she will follow and the actions that her choices will force her to take. Sheila takes us on a visual tour of the times as she journeys toward her future. No matter the year, we are all taking this same journey everyday. "Making It Work" shares with us a new feminine voice in Sheila as she reaches for her dreams. This is a well written book that will allow us to follow Sheila's journey through ten years and to watch the choices she makes and her dreams, no matter where they take her. A solid 4 stars!