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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Patty Pick for May 25 is "Britt-Marie Was Here" by Fredrik Backman




"Britt-Marie Was Here" is another thought-provoking book by Frederik Backman. A follow-up novel featuring a polarizing character, Britt-Marie, from his book "My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry." Britt- Marie is off into the world on her own for the first time. As we look back with her on her former life, we find out how she came to be the person she is today. As the book goes forward we see her dig a little deeper into the reasons for her awkwardness. She is not sure she is ready to venture out into the world on her own, but she is going forward anyway.  

Britt-Marie needs to work now that she is divorced and she is determined to have a job and find a purpose for her life. She and her husband, Kent, 
have gone their separate ways after the revelation that he has cheated on her for years. She knew in her heart, but in her other life she was a good wife. She tried to do everything by the rules. As she deals with her OCD, she finds ways to make things work for her and she asks a lot of questions. 

She ends up in Berg, a small town in the middle of nowhere, on the way to nowhere. Somehow she is "stuck" there as Someone and her crew try to teach Britt-Marie how to be their soccer coach. Britt-Marie has always lived her husband's dreams and his life and not her own. Now she is living for herself finally. Along with the sweet children, the residents struggling to survive, and the quirky situation, this Fredrik Backman novel reads along with surprising quickness. She even has a love interest in the local policeman.

As she unravels her life and tries to put it back together, we find our how and why Britt-Marie came to be the annoying, rules-following person in Fredrik Backman's "My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry." Being in the same car accident side-by-side with her sister who was killed, changed her whole life. She is just learning to deal with it. In Berg, she comes into her skin and learns she can make a difference in her life and others. Cheer along with her as we watch and read this hilarious story of Britt-Marie finding herself. A solid 4 Star read.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Patty's Pick for May 18th is "When We Were Sisters" by Emilie Richards

Cecelia and Robin are sisters, clear and simple. Even though they met in foster care when they were children, they have adopted each other and their relationship has grown into something special. Cecelia made sure that Robin was taken care of to the best of her abilities as a teenager. Now Cecelia is a mega pop star and Robin is a stay-at-home mom with a lawyer husband and two children. When Robin cheats death in a car accident in which her good friend and next door neighbor is killed, everything changes for her after that. Robin re-evaluates her life and what she wants to do with the rest of it that she realizes she could have lost. She misses her former career as a photographer. With her husband, Kris, never home, their marriage is drifting apart.

Cecelia rushes to be by Robin's side when she hears the news and offers Robin a unique opportunity - an opportunity to be part of a documentary on Cecelia's life which will be filmed by a renowned director. Robin would be taking photographs throughout the journey as the group films. The director and Cecelia hope to use the film to shine a light on the good and bad of the foster care system. Cecelia and Robin have both seen and experienced the good and the bad side together and apart. But as Cecelia goes back in time while exploring her childhood and the places she lived, she struggles to deal with what happened to her. She has hidden some of the experiences from herself and finds that facing them now is threatening her mental health.

Robin's marriage is holding on by a thin thread and now Kris is thrown into full time care of his kids. The choices he must make between his career and his family's needs become harder and harder for him. As he works through the day-to-day events with his children,
he realizes the truth of what he wants, he and Robin must decide what will happen with their marriage together.

This is a story of two sisters that saved each other in the foster care system. We also watch as Robin's marriage struggles to survive and the impact of that between Robin and Kris. At the same time, Cecelia is working through the repressed details of her traumatic childhood and how it has affected her for her entire life. Will she let it continue to do so?

I wanted to read this book in one sitting but my own life got in the way. I did read it as quickly as I could, so I could see what was going to happen to these sisters and those around them. You will want to read it quickly too! A solid 4.5 stars!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

If you had known me during my late teens, you would never have believed that I wanted to be a Mother, nor should I probably have been a Mother. I didn't really enjoy being around small children or babysitting for neighbors like my sister. But after I married, I realized that I desperately wanted to be a Mother. We wanted a little mini me running around. Of course, everything happens in it's right time and after much hard work and fertility specialists, we were blessed with our daughter. There is nothing to prepare you for motherhood. It is constant and total joy. You will never love anyone like you to do your child or children. You will never not be a Mother again, not matter how old they get. And you will never be as happy, worried, sad or blessed again, sometimes all at the same time. 

It's hard to believe that my Mom will be gone for 15 years in October. To have a Mom with you for much of your life is so special. Those that are lucky enough to have that should cherish every minute. There were so many questions and problems that I did not get to ask my Mom. So many things I wanted to share with her or ask her opinion about, but she 
was not here. I don't think you ever truly get over the loss of a parent, but it is a part of life and you have to carry on. 

We are dealing with Alzheimer's with my mother-in-law. And while she may not remember we were there the next day, she enjoys the time we have together thoroughly. She can not do everything she once could, but she is still a human and deserves to be treated as one. She deserves the best care we can give her. We can just enjoy what time we have with her and keep our good memories in our heart.  

 O
ne thing I do remember about my Mother is her ability to enjoy life. She had a great sense of humor and would break out this "cross-eyed, tongue-out" face for no reason at all. It always made us laugh. There are way too many pictures with versions of that face in them in my photo collection. She also loved being outside and had one of the greenest thumbs I've ever seen. Our yard, our garden, and inside of our house was always covered in green and abundantly healthy plant life. The plants thrived vigorously under Mom's care. In the few attempts that I've tried to copy her gardening skills, I've failed miserably. Usually I would end up with dead plants and a multitude of insect bites. One of those moments came when I had a "come-to-Jesus" moment with an angry group of fire ants while planting pansies in our Florida yard. Let's just say I turned my yard over to the professionals after that. 


But it's not the gardening tips or the funny faces or the special way she made me feel over my successes or failures, that I miss the most from my Mom. I miss being able to have my Mom to call during those joyful times to celebrate, to see her during the Holidays, or just to call for encouragement during stressful times when I need "Mom" advice and comfort. The saying, "No one knows you like your Mother" is so true. 

So even as I cherish my memories of the time I did have with my Mom, I miss her. I miss her sage advice, the joy of her pride in our family, the love for her granddaughter and son-in-law, and the never-ending love only a Mother can provide. If you still have your Mom alive, please cherish her, the time together is too short. Wishing you all the best Mother's Day you can have!  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Patty Pick for April 27 is "Flight Patterns" by Karen White

"Flight Patterns" by Karen White twists and turns from war-torn France during World War II to modern-day Apalachicola, Florida. We learn to love and root for Georgia, Maisey, Birdie, and Becky as they work their way through life and family turmoil. Georgia has left her hometown and ended up on New Orleans. She is a successful antique estimator and happy in her job, but she is cut off from her family and trying very hard to keep anything or anyone she loves at arm's length so she doesn't get hurt again.  

Then one day in walks James Graf into her office and her life, and things will never be the same. He becomes the impetus Georgia needs to return home to try to uncover the origin of the Limoges china set that his grandmother had her whole life. Recovering from the death of his wife, James is amazed by the life that Georgia lives, unconnected from the world and her family. As the search leads them back to Apalachicola to find the tea cup
covered in a delicate honeybee pattern that Georgia saw in her mother's closet many years ago, Georgia stumbles on more and more unanswered questions about her mother's past and the history of the special china set.

Georgia's grandfather is a beekeeper. He suffers a stroke when shown the teacup from James' family collection. Is this a coincidence or did the teacup pattern trigger his strong reaction? Birdie, mother to Georgia and Maisey, has not spoken in years and has spent time in and out of mental hospitals. Will she have the clues they need to figure out this mystery of the china? 

But there is still a reason that Georgia left her home and family a decade ago and has never returned. Maisey blames Georgia for the death of her first child. Neither sister has made an effort to repair their relationship. Becky, Maisey's second child, is thrilled her aunt is finally around and works hard to get her to stay, while also trying to repair the estrangement of her parents. Becky and Birdie share a special relationship of helping each other through the fear of the long night time. Becky claims that Birdie speaks to her even though no one else has heard Birdie speak in years. Birdie starts to remember the reason she put the curtain up to protect herself. Can she give them the 
clues they need to put the pieces together?  

This Southern family is too stubborn to heal itself, history will finally reveal a way to get them back to a future together if they can let themselves take the chance. A line in the book from James' sister Caroline tells us, "There are no limits to starting over. That's why the sun rises every day. Unless you're running in circles, and then the outcome never changes." So don't run in circles. Good advice for anyone. But do run to the store to get this book and enjoy it with a hot biscuit and some honey! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Triangle Reads Interview In Full!

A big thank you to Teresa Leonard with the NewsandObserver, http://nando.com/trianglereads, for asking me to participate in her column on with my recommendations and influences in reading! Please read this Sunday, March 12th, for my answers! Let Teresa know what you thought. She is always looking for people to include in her column. Excited to be included, so let me hear from you!

So excited to have been included in this column by Teresa Leonard of the News&Observer! Let Teresa know that you saw my column and tag or copy me, too. This column offers excellent suggestions for good reads!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Patty Pick for April 6, 2017 is "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi

There are a few books that touch something deep within you when you are lucky enough to read them. This is one of those books. I thought I was handling it pretty well. This book is really about living and learning how to live your life with meaning. It is not a book about dying, even though the author was doing just that when he wrote this book. In fact, he did not quite finish it and the ending which his wife wrote to finish the book, sent my tear ducts into overdrive.  

Dr. Paul Kalanithi is a young neurosurgeon all ready making a name for himself. Coming from a family of doctors, he is uncertain that the field of medicine is where he wants to be. But he soons discovers his place in the world and he knows he wants to make a difference in people's lives. Some lives that other people give up on. He is all most finished with his residency and he and his wife will soon be choosing their next medical jobs. That's when, after ignoring the symptoms he knows so well, he is diagnosed with Stage IV Lung cancer. 

To say that this is devastating is stating the obvious, but his oncologist gives him hope. He did manage to live longer than expected and even have a daughter with his wife before he passed away. But this book, his book, will make a difference in more lives than he could ever have touched with his very talented hands. 

I laughed, I cried, and even though I knew the outcome, I even hoped along with him. He had an amazing talent to tell a story and to make you want to find a way to be a better person. His book will not preach at you, but you will want to take up his unassuming banner and try to make yourself and the world a better place. Isn't that all we can hope for? Don't take my word for it. This is one book you need to read each and every word because they are all so beautifully written. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Update on My Resolution to Simplify for 2017!



This picture shows exactly what I want my life to by like in 2017. Spend time with my wonderful family and write! So let's see, here is part of what I wrote back in December when I chose Simplify for my one-word resolution: 

"So my one word resolution for 2017 is Simplify.  I want to simplify my life, enjoy the little things, read more, enjoy time with my family more and stop trying to do it all. 
I want to clean out the debris that is cluttering my desk, my store, my closet, and yes, my brain. I want to clean out, so to speak, manage to "spring clean" myself and my surroundings. I am hoping that this does not mean I clean up and then cannot find anything at all as has happened in the past. I plan to simplify what I do and stop trying to do everything and accept some help when I need it. I plan to simplify my writing and go back to what I love - long hand. I know that seems odd since you are reading my blog on a computer of some kind, but when I write a book or story, I need time for my brain and fingers to sync and often with a computer keyboard that syncing just seems hard to do. So back to my pen and paper style, that allows me to think at the same time. Eventually it will make it to the laptop but not until I have the first draft. 
I don't plan to just simplify my writing, I want to simplify my whole life so I can truly enjoy it. I hope I am successful but if not I will not beat myself up. Life can be hard enough without that. So let me hear what your one word resolution or your multi-word
resolutions are for 2017. And if you have any wonderful tips to share with me on ways to simplify my life, by all means please pass those along. I am going to need them!! 
Can't wait to hear from you all."

And how am I actually doing?  That is a very good question. I have made myself stick more to a schedule with my writing. At the same time, I do cut it off some nights to just spend time with my husband. We work together five days a week at our business, but that's not the same as spending time together. I try to make more time for just being with him.
(I wrote this early last week as we were going to be busy celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary! When I think about the length of 31 years, it amazes me! I am the "luckiest girl in the world.")

It's harder to make time for my daughter as she is out of the house and living her own life most of the time. We try to have dinner with her at least once a week so we can all catch up and we talk on the phone. We are so fortunate to have her and lucky that we talk so much to each other and that she also enjoys spending time with us. 

As for my things, my house, the store, the closets.... I am working on them. We are remodeling the store. New paint, carpet, wood floor and exterior signs coming soon. The prep is killing us, but it's good to get rid of some of the debris that's been hanging out for the 27ish years that it's been accumulating. Hope the hard work makes a good difference. As for my house, I am working on it. Slowly, I usually find other things that I would rather be doing, but I feel like I am going in the right direction at least. I really appreciate all the wonderful encouragement I received last week after my spot in the Triangle Reads section of Sunday's News&Observer! A big thank you to Teresa Leonard to asking me to participate. 

How is your resolution or year working out? Do you feel like you are heading in the right direction? Any tips to make life easier for us busy people? Hope to hear from you soon!