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Friday, May 27, 2016

Patty Pick for Memorial Day Weekend is "You" by Caroline Kepnes

This book will definitely make you think twice about that nice clerk on the other side of the counter from you. It is a cross between "Gone Girl" and "Shades of Grey" with a 
serial killer thrown in for good measure. You will need a thick skin where language is concerned as this one pulls no punches on the reality of what people that are this sick think and say out loud. 

Beck and Joe have an interesting relationship to say the least. Joe runs a book store 
in the City that Beck wonders into one day. He is instantly entranced and tracks her 
down, finding out where she lives and who she has relationships with. He stalks her 
and plans on having her fall in love with him or else. Joe can be persuasive.  

Guinevere Beck is an aspiring writer who lives alone and definitely likes her 
sexual fantasies. She doesn't know that Joe will stop at nothing to have her as 
his own, but she gets a hint when people start disappearing around her. 

In the end, we are confused at which one of our characters is using the other one.   
This novel will scare you and confuse you until the end. The outcome will surprise 
you. In the middle, you will be glad you have not met either one of these people!

After you finish this one, read something light and fun for your Memorial Weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Patty Pick for 5/19/16 is "Room" by Emma Donoghue

Image result for room book

This book by Emma Donoghue sounds kind of gimmicky to the uninformed reader. Why would you want to read an adult book from the viewpoint of five-year-old Jack? But once you sink your teeth into the idea of living in a 12' square room for years while a being used by a mad man, you will be hooked. This book gives "scary" a new name and adds an exclamation point to the phrase "psychological thriller".   

Abducted by "Old Nick", our heroine at nineteen fashions an existence for herself and the son she births during this novel's span. She protects him and tries to educate him with what she has available to her in the tiny underground room they inhabit. During the seven years that the novel covers, we learn what is happening to them both and how they manage to live and survive in such sparse and harrowing conditions. Imagine having to 
make do with all most nothing from the outside world or even knowing what is going on. 

Will "Ma" find a way to survive and will anyone ever find them? Will they figure a way 
to escape? This is something you need to read and experience for yourself. The movie 
was good, but isn't the book always better?! Read the book first, at least!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lucky Enough - A Writer's Life for Me!

     I've probably bored you all before with the way I came to finally trying to put the books running through my head down on paper, but here goes again. Writing and reading have always been two things I am passionate about. I thought about a life in the halls of an English department but changed my mind as a young person does while in college.
Actually I changed my mind multiple times about a major.

     I ended up in the School of Business at East Carolina University and enjoyed an average
college career while learning a lot. Loved my Business Law professor and enjoyed working for the Head of the Finance Dept. During my last year of college I did meet the love of my life and as we are want to do, my career plans changed. They probably would be on this path anyway, but we can not look back and change things. Needless to say that falling head over heels was the best thing I have ever done. My husband and I have been married for 30+ years and I still wonder at my good fortune, or as my husband occasionally reminds me, my choice in becoming "The Luckiest Girl in the World".

     When our daughter was born, I began telling her stories of different adventures and magical dogs that protected her at night while she slept. We would read and take adventures in our heads when possible. I always meant to write them down and have my little brother illustrate them as he is quite the artist. Time passes and I loved being a wife and mother and PTA President among other things. We moved around and I was lucky enough to make some wonderful friends along the way. When we decided to start our own business and move back to North Carolina, we plunged head-first off the mountain of faith. That decision was one of the best ones we have ever made. My mom was sick at the time and my husband's mom was not getting any younger. We were lucky enough to be close and share irreplaceable memories with my Dad and my mother-in-law. We still have my mother-in-law going strong at 90. She is valiantly fighting a losing battle with Alzheimer's, but we are lucky to enjoy the time we have left with her. We love owning our own company and staying put in one place - our beloved North Carolina.

     When I turned 50, my book club read a book about bucket lists and we all brought in our top three things we wanted to do in the time we had remaining in our lives. 
"The Next Thing on My List" by Jill Smolinski helped my to realize that time was short. That sweet book put me on my current path. You could die at 28 or 38 or 50! I needed to start doing those things I had been waiting to do when I had time. That same week, while eating at Pei Wei, my fortune cookie told me, "Someday you will write a book." That some day is today. I have now written a 75000+ word novel, short stories, and 160 posts on this wonderful blog among other things. I have started two more novels. When I first shared my dreams with my daughter and husband, my wise, young daughter told me to start a blog and get the rust off my writing skills. I do love writing this blog. Reading in my second favorite pastime after time with my family and writing. 

     So keep your fingers crossed out there that my novel, "The Distance Between Us", will someday find it's way to your hands and remember that your life is too short to wait one minute longer to begin living it. Now get out there and go for it!  You are lucky enough!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

My Mother
     My mother was a strong person despite her faults and short-comings. Unfortunately I don't think I figured this out until a few years after her death. Now I can look back and remember the good times and bad ones with equal joy, even though I miss my Mother terribly.  She has been gone for all most fourteen years, but I know she and my father are having a great time in Heaven together. They are probably laughing their butts off at the screw-ups I continue to make as a mother. They know they worked hard when they had the chance to make me a good person and to teach me the right way to live my life. Some of those values did stick, at least I try very hard to pursue them.  
     My mom worked hard and helped me to see the value of a good work ethic. She would teach me that every morning available to her in the days of my summer break as we toiled out in our large family garden, pulling weeds and pruning plants. She taught me to play hard, too. She loved board games, card games and pulling practical jokes on all of us. The night she placed plastic spiders under my father's pillow is an especially vivid memory as he screamed loud enough to wake the dead. He harbored a huge terror of anything with eight legs.
     I would look at the things that she did not do and hold her accountable for those too often and not at what she did do. Yes, she did not like to drive and would find ways to wait for my Father to get home to take us places. Yes, she would succumb to her headaches and stomachaches and lay in the bed when she felt sick. Why did this bother me? At that time,  growing up in my home, I thought mothers were invincible. They had to be superwomen to conquer their daily lives. I had this image in my head of the perfect mother and my mother did not fit the bill all the time.
     Now I know different. Now after becoming a Mother myself, I know that being a Mother is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You anxiously wait for nine months for this creature that is holding your lungs and bladder hostage to erupt out of your very body. And then you have no manual or rules or guidelines to help you navigate the motherhood road. You and your spouse are just supposed to love this tiny baby and figure it out amongst yourselves. The day my newborn introduced me to projectile poop is the day I
all most threw in the motherhood towel and that was in the first week.
     One thing that my mother did teach me was to take some time to have fun with your children. Play games with them, read to them, actually listen to the words that come out of their mouths. In this day and time, mobile devices make it hard to unhook ourselves from the world, even for a minute. Find the time and put the phone and iPad down and actually play with your kids or set down and ask them about their day. It doesn't take rocket science to be a good mother, just time and effort.
     The day my mom told me that she was going to be a mother again at the age of all most forty-two, was to say the least a memorable one. My parents had tried to have another child after me but had given up and sixteen years has passed since I was born and twenty since my sister. My parents faced what could be a hard road ahead with a baby born to parents at their advanced ages in that point in our history. These days many women have children in their forties, sometimes their first, but in 1979, the world did not have the medical advancements they do today. My parents told me that no matter what the challenges of this baby they would be having it. My mom went through endless tests and the day came for the results and she faced it all with calm because she knew that she was making the right choice for herself. My brother was born on a Monday in February and he was a healthy, strong baby boy fortunately without any mental or physical issues. My mom taught me a valuable lesson that day - how very strong she was and how very far she would go for one of her children.
     My mom was always there for me when I needed her and even though she left this world too soon, she left her mark on me. She didn't let me get away with too much stupid stuff, and her and my fathers' voice were in my ear at those times when I was asking myself if what I was about to do made a lot of sense.  She was the glue that held my family together and after she  died, we were never the same again. You can survive, but you always need your mother. 
      What age does provide (in a good way), is the ability to look back at your life. So don't take one minute for granted and mother the hell out of your kids. They are grown and on their own before you know it. As Mother's Day approaches, I'm sure that we all are thinking about our moms and all they have done for us over the years. But if you are on the younger side and have not had the joy of facing Motherhood yet, give your Mom a break. It's a tough job.  There may be days you see her crying for no reason and think she's having a nervous breakdown. She's probably not. There may be days that she yells at everyone in the household for no reason and then slams the door to her bedroom shut in your face. She just need a minute of privacy. Once you become a Mother, you will understand. I'm in my fifties, and my daughter still thinks it's fine to yell at me through the bathroom door to ask a question or even open it up if I cannot hear her. There will never be privacy again. Get used to it.    
     So on this Mother's Day, if you mom is alive, give her a big hug or a take the time for a long conversation over the telephone. You can bet she has been waiting to hear from you. If she's not, then take the time to remember those wonderful times you had with her. It may be a few years before you realize how much space she took up in your life and there will be a big hole when she is gone. But know that she loved you with her whole heart and body while she was here, as I love my child. One of the most important things my Mother taught me was that to be a good mother you do not have to be a perfect mother. 
Happy Mother's Day!  

                                                        My Mom & Daughter

           My Husband & My Mother-in-law

                                My Daughter & Me on her Graduation Day from ECU

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Patty Pick for 05/07/16 is "Long upon the Land" by Margaret Maron

This book makes me sad and happy at the same time because it is the end of one of my favorite series, The Deborah Knott Mysteries by Margaret Maron. I was introduced to Margaret Maron's writing by a good friend of mine while we were both living in Florida. Debbie and I lived next door to each other and we both loved to read. We would share books back-and-forth along with book suggestions. We would also usually share a glass of wine while we talked and watched our children play together outside. She knew I was from North Carolina and suggested I check-out the first book in the series, Bootlegger's Daughter, from the library and see what I thought. That was all it took! I have been a huge Margaret Maron fan every since and eagerly awaited each Deborah Knott release with a healthy helping of anticipation. 

In Long Upon the Land, we are treated to our usual mystery for Deborah and husband, 
Dwight to solve. But the back story of Deborah's parents, really made the book for me. 
I do love to have all the loose ends tied up with a book. I know you should want to be 
left with thought-provoking questions to the universe when you read a book but not me. 
I love a book that pulls everything together for me at the end, especially if I didn't see it coming. This series has a special place in my heart since I grew up in North Carolina. My grandfather was a tobacco farmer and my great uncle also made moonshine and tried to outrun a few "revenuers" in his day. 

While I will miss Deborah, Dwight and everyone in this series, I know I will be able to enjoy other books and stories that Margaret Maron publishes. When I was lucky enough to hear her discuss this book at Quail Ridge Books last year, I left with an even deeper sense of the hard work she puts into each book and the joy of writing she passed along to all of us. As an writer, that inspires me to keep trying to improve myself and my writing.  
I picked up this book several times from my huge stack of "to-reads" but each time held 
back because it's the last one and I didn't want this series to end. So don't wait another minute and read this book and if you haven't been keeping up - by all means READ THEM ALL!!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

LIfe is Hectic!

Where has the time gone? April has flown by and finished itself out without me. Sometimes it feels like you can not breath because life is not giving you a chance to slow down. You are rushing to and fro and never catching up. This month we traveled for work out of town for a week and then made the big move. This weekend we moved our daughter into her first apartment after college. 

Watching her make her own life decisions sometimes made me so proud that I could cry for the little girl she used to be. It's always hard to watch your children grow up and especially hard to watch them go out into the big world on their own. You want them to succeed and never have a moment's worry, but life does not work like that. We just have to remember that as they take a misstep here or there, it creates a life lesson for them that hopefully they will not repeat. They are learning the things that work for themselves and how to operate in this world on their own. But at the same time, you just want to protect them and keep them from all harm. You want to put a protective bubble around them to keep all the bad things away. If only we could do that. 

I'm sure my parents felt the same way when I went off to college and never returned home to live. They would get the tearful calls, begging for help with something or the other, or receive the calls that meant I was just lonely and wanted to hear their voices. Those calls will probably come in the future from our girl, but if not that will be a good thing. That way we will know our little girl is happy and making her own path in this life. We want to provide her with a safety net so she can make mistakes, but know that we are here to back her up. After much worry, I think we have learned that this approach is not always the best. It doesn't seem to be stopping us though.  

I was only able to read two books the entire month. Of course, one of them was all most 600 pages long. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is well worth the time and effort 
to read. His writing will drop you right into the muggy, complicated world of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the lives of Shiva and Marion along with their family. My book club had a lively, and interesting discussion of this book, so please look for my full review in the future. That's the future where I can breath again and write again. May you new month start off a lot quieter than mine, but with the joy knowing that your hard work to raise your children will help them take those steps to their own lives.