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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Patty Pick for 7/20/17 is "The Orphan's Tale" by Pam Jenoff


Lucky for me I found #TallPoppyWriters and #Bloom Groups 
on Facebook. I picked a good book, "Dear Carolina" by 
Kristy Woodson-Harvey for my book club choice a year or so 
ago. She is an author that is part of this terrific group of writers that support each other and write awesome books! Now I find 
amazing book choices to read and contests to participate in. 
I won "The Orphan's Tale" by Pam Jenoff in one of their contests. 
This book has been on my To-Read list for a while, even before it was published this year. I was so excited to win it and really appreciatative that this great group of writers sent it to me! 

"The Orphan's Tale" takes place in Germany during World War II, 
but the main setting is a circus that is still operating in Germany and France. A young girl estranged from her family, and the baby she rescues from a train car full of dead and dying babies heading to the camps, drop into the midst of the winter circus quarters. 
The owner of the circus and his confidantes save their lives from the snow storm they were trapped in. Now Astrid, the star of the flying trapeze and young Noa are thrown together and need each other to survive. They each bring secrets with them and they have each suffered at the hands of the Nazi's.

Unfortunately they will suffer more while they are trying to keep the circus operating. This honest look at the suffering of individuals during war and their struggle to just survive against the backdrop of a circus trying to continue on, will move you. How much can an individual take and still carry on? Noa and Astrid will show you. Will these two opposites thrown together survive? They have more in common than you think. Their friendship will have you in tears! You need to read the book to find out. A 5-Star Book!!  

    

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Patty Pick is "The Guest Room" by Chris Bohjalian

The Guest Room starts off with a bang, literally. This novel has several character paths to follow and the best action comes when they intersect. When Richard hosts a bachelor party at his quiet suburban home for his younger brother, he does not expect to have sex slaves and murder all in the same night. Phillip and his merry mates are quite the party animals so things quickly gets out of hand. Then Alexandra and her partner show up with their Russian bodyguards and it really gets heated.

When Alexandra and her friend kill their handlers in the Richard's living room, things get even worse. With his house a crime scene, the police accusing them of having sex with underage sex slaves and his wife learning that Richard was "all most" unfaithful, the novel ramps up. Chris Bohjalian tells a haunting tale of sex slaves with Alexandra's back story and the other girls mentioned along the path. You can see how this tragedy could happen and the raw, gritty details will make you sick to your stomach.

At the same time, you are watching one man's life with his prestigious job and happy family go into a nosedive. Richard made a wrong decision, actually several wrong decisions that snowballed into one big live-changing mess. What does his wife and daughter think about this debacle? As we watch and read with horror, Alexandra is running for her life. The ending will be one you will not expect. Chris Bohjalian tells a great, but sad story. 4 Stars!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Celebrating My Dad & My Husband - Fathers Day 2017

I posted parts of this essay on my Dad last year, but I am going to expand and add more of my husband. He's not fond of it when I include him in online posts, but such a good man needs some celebrating too!

My memories of my Dad come stuck together with Gorilla Glue and duct tape. Those two things were the first line of defense in his tool box. My father could fix anything and he proved it many times, especially with my mom. He could have her laughing in an instant. Unfortunately, he could not save her in the end, but he never left her side during her decline. My Dad fixed my hurts, my broken hearts, my broken cars and my furniture in need of repair. He also taught me that kindness goes a long way and to also treat people with respect, as we do not walk in their shoes. He proved this many times over, going beyond the pale to help people he knew and he didn't know. And he always did this without expecting payment or even a thank you. 

My father was a extraordinary storyteller as was my father's father. He and Grandpa had us mesmerized during family events as we gathered around a churning freezer of homemade ice cream and listened to those two tell us stories of their youth and life. My Dad was one of five children and it sounds like they had a raucous time together growing up. Sadly only 2 of my father's sisters are left with us. It is so hard to bury those we love, but this is a celebration, Their lives have touched us and the memories of their love will live in all of us who came in contact with them. 

I could always count on my Dad to be there when I needed him. He encouraged me to go to college and luckily I listened. He helped me become the first one on my side of the family to graduate from college. He was a huge cheerleader in my life and I miss him every single day and I wish we had been lucky enough to have more time with him.  

I have heard that you marry your father and in my case that is true. I married my best friend, my biggest supporter and the right man for me. One thing that will never change is his large supply of integrity and honesty. He will never let you down and he is the first one I turn to for help when I need it. Of course, he is always close to me, as we work together in our small business. We have been doing that for 14 years now. I could not imagine doing it without him and even though we end up being together almost 24/7, we are still married. Ha! Ha!   

My husband is a wonderful father. He always wishes the best for our daughter. He feels her hurts deeply and wants badly to prevent them, while knowing that is not always possible. He will always be there for her and lead by example with respect. I know our daughter is lucky to have him and even though they don't always agree, they know the other one loves them and only wants the best for them. To love and be loved is such a precious value in this world. He always loves us and strives to do the best for his family and those he loves. 


My Father (and my mother) welcomed my husband into the family right away. They were good people who chose to see the best in people and knew I had been lucky enough to find one of the best. When our daughter was born, my parents were right there the next day helping out. One Christmas, we gave our daughter, Ashley, a PowerWheels Barbie Corvette. My dad and husband put it together on Christmas Eve. It took a little while, and when they were finished there were some parts left over. You see, my dad never read the instructions, he just studied the parts and assembled them as best he could. My husband tends to do the same thing. Of course, I sometimes read the instructions for him. That car lasted through our daughter's childhood and we finally gave it away when she turned seven and we were moving to Orlando. It's probably still running somewhere.

When God created kindness in this world, he had to be thinking of my Dad. He was the epitome of kindness and love. He would do anything for the three of us kids, Mom, or anyone else who crossed his path. I was so lucky and blessed to have him as a Father and to have two loving, wonderful parents. God broke the mold when he made my Dad. We talked almost every day after we lost Mom, and he was my connection to that side of my family. I miss those wonderful days of family rollerbat games and homemade ice cream, but mostly I just miss my Dad. But I am one of the lucky ones - I had him for a father. He taught me many things but most of all he taught me to love. They say you end of marrying someone like your father, Lucky for me, my daughter has a Dad that is just a wonderful! I hope she finds one like my Dad and her father. Thanks, Dad...... 



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Patty Pick for June 9, 2017 is "The Choices We Make" by Karma Brown

This book will make you laugh, cry, and question the choices you make and have made. Sometimes it's hard to see them from another person's perspective and sometimes they have unintended consequences. There are quite a few choices in this book, but the main one involves one's couple quest to have a child. When Hannah hit a classmate to protect another girl, Kate, from one boy's terrible behavior, she and Kate became life-long friends. They have always been there to help each other, but now there is nothing that Kate can do to help.  

Hannah and Ben have tried everything. They are at the end of their rope. Hannah wants to try to find a surrogate to carry a child but Ben is not ready to give up on having a child of their own. Kate and her husband, David, are watching their best friends fall apart. Kate and David have the perfect family with two little girls, a perfect house and the life that their friends want desperately.  

Then after struggling for years for their dream of a family, they don't know how they are even going on as a couple. Kate decides she wants to give Hannah and Ben the ultimate gift. It takes David some thought to agree, but he is onboard when he realizes that Kate is making the hardest choice. Kate will become the surrogate mother for their child. As the pregnancy advances, Hannah and Ben become more and more involved in the choices for the baby. But all choices do not turn out the way we think and they all have consequences. Karma Brown writes about this struggle in great detail and accuracy. This book will move you. 4.5 Stars!

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!