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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!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Patty Pick for 8/3/17 is "Little Black Lies" by Sandra Block

Zoe Goldman has secrets, some she doesn't even know she has. The nightmares have returned with the pressure of residency. Zoe is a resident in the psych ward of a hospital, working her way to being a Psychiatrist. Her mother's death haunts her and she feels guilty wanting to know the details, since her adopted mom is dealing with dementia. Discussing that night always upsets her mom and Zoe knows that time is running out to find out the answers she wants to know about her real mother and the night she died. Her dreams make it seem like the answers are so close, but even with therapy Zoe can not discover what is right there in her memory and unlock the secrets to the past.
As the plot twist and turns, many secrets and lies will be revealed to Zoe. Zoe lives with her step-brother in the town where she grew up. She is separated from her longterm boyfriend, Jean Luc since they finished college and went their separate ways. Even though she can spend more time with her adopted mom, being back in Buffalo has made her nightmares return. The nightmares about the night her real mother died. Her 
brother is worried about her.  

One of her patients, Sofia, is trying to win her own freedom from her past. Sofia, a violent killer who has been locked away since she was a teenager, has been on her best behaviour for a while. Zoe's boss wants to set her free, but there's something about Sofia that does not set well with Zoe. All the while, Zoe is dealing with her own personal issues, like ADHD, and since her return all of her inner demons seem to be torturing her. With Zoe's family and the characters she works with at the hospital, you are going to like them all. Well most of them. Don't let the cover fool you, prepare to stay up and finish this one like I did. 

I know that the story of Zoe Goldman has been turned into a trilogy by the talented author, Sandra Block. I can't wait to read the next two as I loved this one and Zoe. You will, too but beware there are many scary twists and turns coming your way. "The Girl Without A Name" and the soon-to-be released, "The Secret Room" will give us more time with Zoe. I can't wait! All 5 Stars are shining or rather burning for "Little Black Lies"!

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!  

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!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Patty Pick for 3/2/17 is "Hillbilly Elegy" by JD Vance



I had read a lot about this book on different forums and it was high on my to-read list. At our annual Book Club dinner in December we do a book exchange, and after much finagling I was able to "steal" away with this book! Yeah! Of course, one of the first things I had to do was look up the word, elegy. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "elegy" is defined as "a sad poem or song, a poem or song that expresses sorrow for someone who is dead." Not to assume what JD Vance, meant by his title, but he definitely seems to be singing the blues where his hillbilly heritage is concerned. The sad fact that some of them make it out of the poverty-stricken Kentucky area that where they grew up, but they continue to struggle to find their way. The system and society are not set up to help them in many ways. People are not looking for handouts - someone to do it for them, but they are looking for a hand to make the transition plain to them, a pathway to make the hard work they put into this life a little better for the next generation. 

What I thought I would be reading was his childhood and how he made it out of poverty to become a successful something in life - author? He did become a successful Harvard-educated lawyer. What I did not expect is the harsh realities of his childhood and the struggle of his family to maintain and take advantage of the opportunities they worked hard to obtain. What I did not expect was to read some of the very same examples that I have in my own family to some degree. What I did not expect was to relate to the reality of the effects of your family life has on future generations. What I did get was a wonderful dose of Southern family life in the rawest possible form. I did read harsh situations that he and his family found themselves in, many after "making" it out of one of the poorest areas in the South. What I did find was some of my own family's stories woven into his book. If you are from the South, you will get this easily.

The South is a unique place in this world and I would not trade being born and growing up
here for anything in this world. I thought my family was always middle-class until I went
to high school and then saw some of my friend's homes and how they lived. I did not know
all the society niceties that I wished I had been taught, and my family sometimes struggled. I did watch my sister turn from a smart, kind person into someone who lost her way. Was it in her genes? I don't know, but I do know that we are all influenced by our family - our wonderful, loving, dysfunctional family. And we all have one - that took 
years for me to figure out. We all have the crazy uncle who throws snakes out of the yard 
and across the road to rid the yard of the huge creature. We also have memories to cherish, like those warm, bright Sunday afternoons at our grandma's house, making homemade ice cream with the aunts, uncles and cousins.  

I loved my childhood. I had two of the most wonderful parents ever to walk on this earth. Sure we could have used more money and I wanted more "things" at some years in my steps on adulthood, but I was loved and well taken care of. JD Vance had to fend for himself and deal with a no-nonsense, gun-toting grandma and a drug addict mother, but he made it. He also had some wonderful people around him, his sister for one. They became a tight team that just kept each other together when they needed to.

Success is what you decide it is and sometimes it is hard to comes to term with your own
family. But you only get one and you better cherish those moments while you have them.
Maybe JD didn't have a lot of money but the story of his life to this point is inspiring and
sad at the same time. There are people out there who still struggle to find their way.
It took me years to have any self-confidence and all most 40 years to start writing again. Be proud of yourself and embrace the kooky and calm members of your family - you only
get one family. They can all teach you something  and they are all irreplaceable in this world.

Don't walk to the bookstore or your on-line portal, RUN for this book. A big, huge READ!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Patty Pick for 2/16/17 is "small great things" by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult has written some of the most powerful and memorable books that I have read. "My Sister's Keeper" and "The Pact" to name a few, but I have not missed many. Her new book, "small great things" falls in as another one of my favorites. It leaves you with a good feeling which I like in my endings, but along the way you will wonder what is going to happen to these characters. 

This is definitely an American story with White Supremacists, racism and our American history present in every word. This is also a universal story in the way it handles the delicate effects of race on our society. This is not a knock-you-on-the-head type of story, it will sneak up on you before you know it. You will be invested and reading away to find out what happens to Ruth Jefferson. Don't you like the play on names with this character? She is a labor and delivery nurse with a 20-year history of experience under her belt. She intersects with a couple who gave birth to their baby boy the night before. What she doesn't know if that the baby is sick and that the couple are White supremacists. 

This story take off after this introduction at a breakneck speed toward a collision between them all. We can walk in Ruth's shoes but we will also walk in the father's shoes. We will see how he grew up and how he got to become the person he is today. Turk and Brit are the parents of this sick infant who passed away on Ruth's shift. The way Jodi Picoult brings these characters powerfully to life will put you in their shoes in a way that you don't get to do very often. We also meet the public defender who takes Ruth's case on and realizes she doesn't look at the world the same way Ruth does.

Kennedy McQuarrie is drawn into the desperate situation facing Ruth and her son, Edison. She realizes that this case will have a long range effect of her life and her career. But she doesn't realize that it will be in ways she did not foresee. Jodi Picoult has a unique and special way of presenting a story without preaching, just presenting one character's perspective and the other. You get to live in each character's mind as the book advances and it is eye-opening. This book receives 5 stars in my book.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Patty Pick for Groundhog Day is "The Opposite of Everyone" by Joshilyn Jackson

"The Opposite of Everyone" by Joshilyn Jackson has it all. Smart female main character, dangerous but good-hearted love interest, crazy mother, and siblings coming out of the woodwork. This book by Joshilyn Jackson has her signature dysfunctional family storyline, but with the twist of smart girl making it in the law field. Because one thing that Paula Vauss is, is very smart. 

Paula Vauss seems to have it all. She is a successful divorce attorney practicing in Atlanta with two of her long-time partners. Even though, she was born into and grew up in strange circumstances, she seems in control of her life. That is, until an unknown sibling shows up in the lobby of her building and her whole facade starts to crumble. 

Paula was born in Alabama and spent most of her younger years traveling from state to state and boyfriend to boyfriend with her mother, Kai. Kai goes with the flow and re-invents herself for each flame until she gets tired of them, and moves on, taking then Kali Jai with her. During one such stop, Paula made a decision that will change both of their lives forever. Paula spends the rest of this part of her life, trying to get back to her mother as close as they used to be with each other. But as you know, you can never go back. 

Paula thinks she has made her decision, changed her life, and moved on. She is about to find out that she is not done with her mother. She never really was. Now she is in a race to find her mother before she can't, and Paula has to come to terms with her own life and what she wants for herself. All of this is going on as she breaks up with her boyfriend, meets her unknown brother, and is in the middle of a nasty divorce case. 

Somehow Joshilyn Jackson manages to pull all these strings together and weave us a very good tale from beginning to end. You will remember Paula's strength and read along during the journey she takes to find her mother. Another fabulous Joshilyn Jackson story that will test your heartstrings. A solid read.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Love this Local Bookstore! Page 158 Books

I know this is for book reviews but it's a new year and there is so much reading time ahead for us all! Mostly I am reading my Book club choice this month, "Nobody's Fool" by Richard Russo. Even though I read it quite a few years ago and saw the adorable movie, I wanted to re-read it again. I try to do that as long as it's been a few years since I've had my eyes on it. Now that Christmas is behind us, there should be lots of time to indulge ourselves in the wonderful world of reading. I hope so at least. It may take another ice storm to give me the time I want, between my family, our store, Signarama/Raleigh, writing and oh, yeah, life. 

Living in Wake Forest, I love to support the local businesses as often as possible. The local restaurants seem to get the larger piece of my spending pie, but downtown is so lovely I try to get there as often as I can. I had been in Page 158 Books a few times but had not had the chance to talk with the owners. At a recent author book talk, I was fortunate enough to hear two wonderful authors discuss their books and many other things with owner, Sue Lucey. Sue does a great job with the interview and asked the questions that I wanted to hear answered, and many I had not thought of but also wanted to know. She had a community TV show at one time before moving here and it shows. She runs the author visits like the pro she is. 

But don't get the wrong idea, this is not a big, cold operation. When you enter the small store, you will get it. There are more books than you can shake a stick it, and Sue and Dave will help you find whatever you are looking for and more. When I went in that night in November for the book talk, I had only planned to buy Pat Conroy's last book, "A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life." I am supposed to be on restrictions until I read some of my previous purchases. But after listening to the talk, and then talking to both Sue and Dave, I walked out the door with around 6 or 7 books! Don't judge, some of the books were gifts for Christmas and they had awesome suggestions. 

Sue escaped, like me, into reading at a young age and started and joined book clubs her adult life. When she and Dave moved to Wake Forest in 2007, she wanted to start a literary festival. When the Renaissance Center opened, she approached them and came up with Author Interviews once a month. At that time, she worked with Storytellers Bookstore to coordinate some of the events. One day she mentioned to the owner that she would love to own a bookstore one day and two days later the owner emailed Sue with an offer she and Dave couldn't resist - Page 158 Books was born. 

The name was suggested to them by a good friend, Andy Ellis, who owns a marketing firm in Wake Forest. You can visit them at 158 South White Street, Wake Forest! Can you figure out where the name came from? They are open on Monday - Wednesday from 10am - 6pm, on Thursday - Friday from 10am - 7pm and on Saturday from 10am - 6pm. They are closed on Sundays. They continue to use their name to promote the store by having their visiting authors sign their books on Page 158 which usually turns out to hold a turning point in their story Sue told me. And have they hosted some amazing authors, from Diane Chamberlain, to Vivian Howard and Ashley Christiansen. Check out their full calendar on their website or Facebook page. Sue recommended some of her favorite books for this blog, "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck and "The Bright Edge of the World" by Eowyn Ivey. I added that one to my To-Read List!  

Even though they love their location, a larger building across the street has caught their eye. Plans to refurbish it with a soda fountain and large upstairs room for author visits is on their wish list. But for now, they love being at 158 S White St. With bookclubs, adult coloring events, cookbook clubs, and author visits, there is lots to see and do at Page 158 Books. If you don't have time to get in, they can special order just about anything. Check out their amazing online store or call with requests. You can find them on Facebook, @Page158Books or on the web, page158books.com. Whatever you are looking for Sue and Dave can handle it. But more than anything after you meet them, you will know why they are a big success from the warm feeling and love for books and people that you will feel yourself when you walk away. Visit them today!  

Friday, January 13, 2017

Patty Pick for 1/12/17 is Happy New Year of Reading!

Winter is definitely here and that gives me a lot of time 
to write and read!! Finished "The Opposite of Everyone" by 
Joshilyn Jackson. She remains one of my favorite authors. 
This book tells another tale of a strong, but vulnerable woman with her heart in the right place. Joshilyn has written some of my favorite books like, "Between, Georgia" and "A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty" and "Gods in Alabama". 
I also loved her 2013 novel, "Someone Else's Love Story". 
It starts hard and fast with a robbery at the mini-mart and goes from there. You just 
can't go wrong if you like to read. A novel by her, with her quick Southern wit and terrific sense of family will be the ticket, they are not family in always the most typical form either. 

I also have a very special book awaiting my reading time, "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult. The first time I read one of her books, "My Sister's Keeper", I was blown away. 
Not your Southern genre per se, but she portrays amazing characters, situations, and endings. She always has a twist that you will not see coming and sometimes it will not come until the last few pages. Talk about page turner! My daughter gave me her latest book for Christmas and it is burning a hole in my reading schedule! I can't wait to get to it. She usually picks current topics and this one is about race relations, something we have all heard so much about lately. Too much - I thought we had come further in our country, but sorry to say that we have not. 

At least this weather gives me lots of time to work on my latest book, "One in a Million" 
about Lisa Shank's amazing recovery from a rare and deadly disease. You will not believe her story!  Hope you all are staying warm and dry and reading! When is Spring coming?