Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Patty's Pick for 10/25/18 is "The Marriage Lie" by Kimberly Belle

Iris and Will have been married for 7 years and are thinking about starting a family. In fact, they are starting now, right before he leaves for a business flight. He is a highly sought-after programmer and she is a school psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia. Their life looks  perfect. Will unexpectedly turns up on a flight that crashes in a cornfield on the same day he was supposed to fly the opposite direction to Orlando. It’s a flight that no one survives, a flight he was not supposed to even be on, Iris is confused and frozen in grief. 

As her family rallies around her to pick up the pieces, Iris discovers that she has another problem! Her husband is dead and he is not who she thought he was. There are so many lies that she and her brother spend days traveling to other states to find out who he actually is, but they are left with a lot of unanswered questions. Then his boss tells Iris that Will have stolen 4.5 million dollars from his company and they will be coming after her to recover it. Who can she turn to for help? A lawyer who also lost his family on the same plane seems to be her only choice. She met him at the memorial service where she also met a friend of Will’s that she didn’t know he even had. A friend named Corban who wants to help her too. That are so many secrets she can not imagine Will kept from her.  

Corban seems nice and vows to protect and help Iris, as this was his last promise to Will. With strange text messages and even stranger letters turning up to confuse her, who does Iris trust? What is the truth about Will’s past? You have to read to the very last sentence to find out what happens, and you will want to read this one as quickly as possible. I have been wanting to read one of Kimberly Belle’s books for a while now and I'm so glad that I started with this one. “The Marriage Lie” is a solid 5 stars, a keep-you-up-at-night, don’t-stop-reading-yet, kind of book! 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Hurricane Hardship

Image result for free hurricane pictures
I wrote this during Hurricane Florence and after it had hit our state, that time was such a rollercoaster of emotions. I watched hours and hours of footage of Hurricane Florence and it's effects on the coastline and inland areas of North Carolina - my home. North Carolina is not just my home now, but my birthplace. My ancestors have been here for many years and my husband and I have long roots in this state. I grew up in the Piedmont, in the town of Mebane. It used to be a small town with one stoplight that would turn to blinking after midnight. Now it is crowded with large communities, many businesses and so many people, it is hard to drive around. 

My emotions were all over the place last weekend. First the hurricane was predicted to hit another state and then it was heading to North Carolina. All along I told myself that hurricanes never go where they are predicted to go. As the hours counted down to landfall, Florence was heading directly toward our condo, then not, then who knows? This pull on one's emotions, during one of life's stressful and horrific events, effects us all to some degree. I waffled between terror over the imminent destruction of my second home, my slice of heaven, and guilt over the people that would lose their only home if it hit somewhere else.

I watched hours and hours of footage of Hurricane Florence and it's effects on the coastline and inland areas of North Carolina - my home. North Carolina is not just my home now, but my birthplace. My ancestors have been here for many years and my husband and I have long roots in this state. Our business is in Raleigh. Then after all the agony, it hit somewhere else. But during the event, you don't really know what is happening unless your house happens to be right where a reporter chooses to be. No reporters were allowed on the barrier islands and we are still cut off from them today due to lack of power, water and sewer. But no complaining from me, we are the lucky ones. According to the authorities that run Ocean Isle, we are fine and very lucky to have missed the bulk of the hurricane. There are many people working very hard to help, rescue, recover and repair. We owe them the largest debt of gratitude possible. We are very fortunate in Raleigh and have been spared the worst  part of the terrible winds and rains in our area.

Our business is in Raleigh. We missed a bullet here, but Florence did not spare our southeastern counties or South Carolina. We watched as Florence grew and grew and finally hit somewhere else, Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington. During the hurricane, we had no idea what was really happening to our beach and property. You hope a reporter will choose to be close by so someone can tell you or show you, but not Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel, that seems to be the death knell. No reporters were allowed on the barrier islands and we were cut off from them for days due to lack of power, water and sewer. But no complaining from me, we are the lucky ones. After a survey from the authorities of our island, we were fine and very lucky to have missed the bulk of the hurricane. Helpers flooded into that side of the state to repair and fix. We owe them the largest debt of gratitude possible.  

But our dear friends in Wilmington were not so lucky. We were just in Wilmington recently for the beautiful wedding of two friends. To watch the young couple say their vows and rejoice with their parents are memories that we will carry with us a lifetime. There is nothing like a wedding to renew your own sense of joy and love. It brought back memories of my own small wedding - the love and happiness of the moment and relaxation that flowed through my body when the deed was completed. I remember that day like yesterday even though it was over 32 years ago. Now that both of my parents are no longer alive and my husband's father have passed, I cherish the memories of them being part of that day. My husband's mother is still with us at the amazing age of 92. She is suffering the late stages of Alzheimer's disease and she seems to know us, but she does not have the memories that this once, razor-sharp woman could recall at a second's notice. 

We were all in Wilmington celebrating together one weekend and sadly watching the destruction the next. I finally had to stop watching, it was too sad to know the number of people that were effected. We made it down to check on our place, and it was fine except for a little leak that can be fixed. There is so much heartache and loss that a little paint cannot fix in other places. It was so sad to hear about all the loss of life. But when you see some of the flooding and devastation, you know that many people and animals were saved by amazing, first responders and neighbors. The amount of help that flowed into the area with the flood waters after the hurricane finally exited, was so heartwarming. 

I think the emotions of the hurricane have worn me out - the loss of life and property, the amazing stories of rescue, the kindness of strangers, and the feeling of unity with our neighbors and the nation. All of these many parts of the hurricane's aftermath made me proud to be part of this state and nation. I hope that we all continue to keep the feelings of kindness and pride in our fellow man and woman as we slowly get back to our daily lives. Put down the computers, the telephones, cut off the news and TV, hug your kids, and be present. And please give generously to the unfortunate people who lost so much and the hard-working police, fire fighters, power crews and volunteers, because next time it could be you or me.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White


Barbara Claypole White tells her readers that she usually has a theme of mental illness in her stories. Her writing speaks in an authentic voice. The characters present as people you know or someone you can relate to. They are real families having some kind of trauma that will tear them apart and possibly put them back together again.

Two of the main characters in The Promise Between us are Katie and Callum and they were both in serious trouble with their mental health when they married. Introducing a child into this marriage only made matters worse. They are not dealing with their problems and they will not go away on their own. 
Katie’s OCD forced her to make a decision that I and most mothers can not fathom - leaving your own child. But to Katie’s credit, she choose that route to save Maisie from her own mother. Katie’s form of mental illness constantly made her brain suggest she was hurting Maisie and the line between reality and illness became more blurred. 

Callum could not deal with the fact that Katie needed any mental health care. He blamed her for  deserting himself and Maisie when they needed her. He forced her to make choices that Katie made in a state impossible for Katie to be rational. Callum leaned on his best friend, Jake, to help him. Jake and Callum raised Maisie together.

Fast forward nine years into the future where Maisie and Katie meet again. The artist Katie is helping with a school program at a local museum that Maisie is also part of. Katie recognizes the signs of OCD in her own daughter. The story continues to unfold with the character’s revealing parts of the past that effects where they are in the present. Callum has remarried and his new wife, Lilah, has a child on the way. 

All of these characters come together and the secrets they are holding onto are revealed. There is a lot going on in this book but Barbara Claypole White weaves their stories around and under each other as we work toward the ending. There is so much amazing information about OCD and Metal sculpture that the details are vivid and bring the characters to life. This is a good one that will wring your heart out and teach you not to assume you know what someone else is going through. We all walk our own path. A solid 4 stars and worth every minute you read it. An honest look at mental health, but this is more than a book about mental health, it tells the true stories of many people dealing with their lives and problems. You will want to invest some time in this book. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Patty Pick for 8/9/18 is "The Couple Next Door" by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door is a fast read which will pull you in as it quickly twists and turns throughout the rest of the story. Anne and Marco, our young, married couple, have a new baby to love. Marco is the classic smart, hard-working boy who excelled and won the rich girl. He now has his own successful company and is trying to give Anne the life style she is used to. Anne grew up as the only daughter of wealthy parents. After the birth of their six-month-old daughter, Cora, Anne has struggled with postpartum depression.
Their childless neighbors have invited them over for a small dinner party but the babysitter has bailed out. The couple next door do not like children and want an adult only get-together. Anne and Marco decide to leave the baby home alone and take turns checking on her every thirty minutes. 
As you can tell, something is going to happen - the baby disappears! The rest of this mystery involves the actions of each of the characters after the kidnapping and their interaction with Police Detective Rasbach. He is trying desperately to untangle this web 
in time to save Cora. Every character has a secret to reveal to you during the story and it will surprise you along the path. No one needs to tell you that this is a read you will not want to start and then put down. It will go quickly and keep you guessing until close to the end. 
What happened to Cora? Are Anne and Marco as happy as they seem? Does the wealth of Anne’s parents play a role in the kidnapping? Are their neighbors hiding anything?
I rated this book a 4.5 stars. Make sure you have time to finish it before you pick it up because you will not want to stop!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Father's Day 2018 - What my Dad Gave me...

As we head into Fathers Day, even though I miss my Dad as much or more than I ever had, I know I’ll always have my memories with him. He had a wonderful life, at least I think so. I loved my childhood. It was not the most lavish life and there were struggles, but my Dad always stood by me with calm strength and common sense. I only saw him mad one time and that didn't last long. Whenever we got threatened with a spanking, it was not a threat fro my Dad. My mom was the one who doled out the corporal punishment. She never said, "Wait until your father gets home...." We would have know that was an idle threat, as he was all softness and love.

When I applied to college and had to find a way to pay for it, he was the one that went with me to the endless rounds of financial aid meetings. He helped me fill out the forms as best he could. He rode
with me if I needed a companion for a trip to Greenville to turn a form in. Both of my parents encouraged me to pursue my dream of college, but Dad really wanted me to get there. There was no doubt that he was pulling for me to find a way to make it work and we did. He always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I wished I had done that earlier with my writing, but maybe I just needed a little more life experience to sweeten my words. There must be the perfect novel in my head somewhere. My Dad never gave up on me or life, even when life gave him lemons and there were some big ones later in his life. He lost Mom and the ability to walk. Sure some days he probably wanted to pack it in and call it a day, but when he saw us walk in the door, he held us in a wide-open encircling cloud of love.

They (those often quoted people we don't know) say that you marry someone like your father. And while I don't believe that is always true for everyone, I do believe that I am one of the lucky ones. My hubby is a great Dad, he is the rock in our constantly shifting family ocean. I turn to him for help in decisions and he can usually decipher the direction to the right answer.  He's a great Dad to our daughter and is the quiet one behind the scenes helping to make things happen for her. He is always looking out for the best things for her and me. Yes, I am one lucky girl.

So as I miss my Dad on Father's Day and all year through, I know he gave me an immeasurable gift
of kindness and strength. He taught me to think before I act and to consider what the other person has been through. He gave me love. I know that my own hubby and I have spoiled our daughter with love. I hope we have also given her the knowledge that she can do anything like my father gave me.
When she needs us, I will try to remember the way my Dad taught me. Thank you, Dad.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Patty Pick for 5/31/18 is "Dreams of Falling" by Karen White

This is a picture of the night we opened the box to pass out our bound manuscripts of Karen White's new book, "Dreams of Falling"! My book club was excited to be able to read a new book before it was introduced to the public and we were going to Skype with the author, Karen White, during one of our future book club meetings! It just don't get any better than that! I have loved Karen White's writing since being introduced to her by the lovely ladies at Pelican's Bookstore in Ocean Isle Beach. One weekend I found myself in there trolling for new books and they recommended Karen White's "On Folly Beach." That was it, I was hooked and have been reading her books since. 

My book club read the book and we discussed how we loved the strong women characters in "Dreams of Falling" over a glass of water or wine. The book opens with Ivy falling through the old, rotten floorboards at Carrowmore plantation. But why was she there and what was she looking for? Ivy is trapped between her earthly body and what and who is waiting for her is she crosses over to the hereafter. Thus we go back to the beginning and meet the three friends, Margaret, CeeCee, & Bitty. They have set their paths together with wishes written on ribbons and placed in the old oak tree on Carrowmore's property.  Their lives change drastically after a graduation trip to Myrtle Beach, and we go along for the ride as their futures unfold in different ways than each one had planned or imagined. Their choices effect the daughters who come after. This book had wonderful themes of friendship, love, believing in yourself, and forgiveness. The friends were carrying around a secret that no one wanted to share as they were afraid it would hurt the others.

Ivy is Margaret's daughter, who CeeCee raises as her own after Margaret dies tragically in a fire at Carrowmore. Their mother-daughter relationship is complex, just like in real life and Karen captures it well. The effect of the events of that night push forward into the future of the friends, with Ivy and even effects Larkin, Ivy's daughter. Larkin ran away to New York City to work after college and has avoided coming home to Georgetown, South Carolina and face her old friends and neighbors. Working through some of the reasons she ate too much has made her healthier but she has not faced all of the reasons. I loved her free spirit and self-confidence during her high school years. The fearlessness she showed is what helped her find two life-long friends in Bennett and Mabry. She came home to see her Mom, Ivy, but during her visit works through some of her own issues that she had hidden away from herself in New York.

As the story travels between the past and the present, secrets are revealed. The past and present intertwine to bring our story to an end. I cried, I laughed, and I wished that I could have met them all, but I did in this book. Karen White has a special way of making the characters come alive for me as I read. Enjoy this new book to be published June 5th. And if you get a chance to meet Karen White, you will love her. No one is nicer or writes a better book! A solid 4.5 Star!!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Patty Pick for 5/17/18 is “The Secret to Southern Charm” by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey has another terrific book you don't want to miss called “The Secret to Southern Charm” in her Peachtree Bluff series! The family of women, Ansley, the mother and her daughters, Caroline, Sloane & Emerson have been through some tough times in their lives but, they have grown into strong adult women. They have a strong bond and use their individual strengths to help each other out and make unerring good choices to be there for each other when needed. 

The three daughters are now gathered for the summer at their mother’s house in the quaint town of Peachtree Bluff, Georgia. They have learned that Sloane’s husband, who is serving in the Army, is missing in action. They rally around her and her boys to help in any way possible, like warm up one of the 62 casseroles the neighbors brought over. The other sisters, Caroline & Emerson have their own problems to deal with and you will want to immerse yourself in their lives, too. Better yet, let’s just move there!

This family and the town of Peachtree Bluff will wiggle its way into your heart and you will find yourself invested into the day-to-day challenges each person faces. The story weaves around the lives of each daughter and Ansley and the choices they must face during the life of the novel. I laughed with their humor, I cried with their pain and loss, and I wanted to live for just a little while in Peachtree Bluff in this house with these women. 
Open the first page and experience the raw pain of an army wife not knowing if her husband will come home. This is a true American novel with strong Southern themes that I can relate to, and the family truths are relatable to us all. Don’t miss this lovely novel and by all means, sugar, read them both! 5 Stars and big hug!