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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Don't Give Up and Always Remember

     I was all ready to review another book this week, but as is usual lately in my life, 
I just flat ran out of time. Getting up at 5am to work out, then off to our small 
business, then home to eat, clean, write, etc. There really needs to be more than 
24 hours in the day to successfully complete what I wish I could get done in a day! 
I am very excited about the success of our business. My husband and I run a sign 
company in Raleigh and working with your spouse can have it's challenges. But I 
am proud to say, that we run like a well-oiled machine most days. Being together 
so much of your 24 hours may not work for other couples, but it has brought us even 
closer together and given me moments that are beyond priceless. 
     He supports my goals. One of my goals being to publish my first book and continue 
to write. He and my wonderful daughter, even brought me a comfy chair so I could turn our "computer room" into my new writing enclave. I have taken over the desk, the bed, and pretty much the whole room. I wish it had succeeded in finding me an agent for my first book, but I am continuing to plug along. That includes currently writing two books. I'm not sure how that is going to work out in the close future but have no doubt they will be finished. 
     I am very proud that an amazing woman, Lisa Shank, has chosen me to help her 
write her story. She is one of the strongest and most honest individuals I have ever had 
the pleasure to get to know. She and her husband, Doug, have been through hell and 
back and survived. She has beaten a terminable diagnosis with grace, strength, and 
courage that would boggle your mind as I hope to be able to help you read for yourselves in our book. When I say that her adult stem cell treatment saved her life, there are no truer words, but it took a toll on her and she is still recovering with that same smile and grace. 
     I do feel that my life is going by too fast. There are so many places, people, and things I want to see and do. But as a very smart person named Jim Valvano once said, "Don't give up, don't ever give up." He knew that his life was coming to an end but did he lay down 
and give up, never. I want that same attitude - that same attitude that drives Lisa and 
so many people I know and that I admire. So bear with me as we take this journey, 
and please help me find that agent!! I'll be back with a book review of "After Her" by 
Joyce Maynard next week!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Patty Pick for 7/21/16 is "Pretty Baby" by Mary Kubica

Loved Mary's debut novel, "The Good Girl." It had twists and turns that drove my book club and myself crazy! This one, "Pretty Baby," is also very good! Heidi, Chris, & Zoe have 
a nice, neat family. They work, live and go to school in the city and where Heidi rides 
the train to work every day. One day on the platform during a torrential rain storm, 
Heidi notices a young girl with a baby. A girl about the age of her own daughter. Heidi invites Willow home with her to dry out and intends to help her get on her feet by staying a few days. Her husband and daughter are shocked by her actions, but the twists and turns will keep coming after this. 
Willow's baby, Ruby, is sick and they both need food, clothes and help. Heidi becomes more and more involved in their lives and finds it hard to let them go. Heidi always wanted a large family and when she was pregnant with their second child, she was diagnosed with cancer and the child had to be sacrificed to save Heidi's life. Heidi still misses the unborn children she never had but planned for and sees Willow and her baby, Ruby, as a way to give back. As Heidi becomes more and more involved in their care and less in her own life, her husband is being tempted at work and her daughter is barely surviving on the little amount of food she eats. 
Willow has secrets of her own. She was an orphan that was placed in foster care when 
both her parents were killed in an automobile accident. Her sister was put into another home and Willow feels responsible for her. Joseph, her foster dad and his family have their own secrets. Let's just saw his twisted religious zeal forces Willow to do things that no child should have to do like, to clean, cook, and take care of his mentally ill wife. He refuses to let her go to school and Joseph finds other ways to torture Willow as well. 
Not to give too much away, but all of these characters need some help! How will Heidi 
let the baby and Willow return to a life on the street? Will Chris get fed up and turn to 
someone else? Why is Willow running from her foster home? Read this book when you 
have time to stay up because you will not want to put it down. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Patty Pick for 7/14/16 is "The Color of Water" by James McBride

We do not read a lot of non-fiction in my book club, but boy am I glad that one of us chose this book to share with the club. "The Color of Water" is a very timely choice with the current state of race relations in our country. What I enjoyed the most about this book was not the fact that a white Jewish woman chose to marry a African-Amercan man in the 1940's. I loved the story of a mother and her children - all twelve of them. Jame McBride's mother was not a perfect person, as no one is including our own moms, but rather a strong mother who found a way to shepherd her flock through thick and thin.

James McBride began searching for his mother's story, her family, her roots, her past without any help from her. During this process he finds out a little bit about himself and more about the trials and tribulation that helped to shape the woman his mother became. This is the amazing story of his mom, Ruth McBride Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew who immigrated to America with her family as a young child. She had an abusive father and a handicapped mother, but she learned that life is what you make of it and preceded to make as much of her own as possible. Ruth was married twice and had twelve children who all grew up to be valued members of our country. They attended school and married and raised families. They became lawyers, 
doctors, neighbors and parents. 

They learned lessons sometimes through hard knocks and sometimes through the nuggets of wisdom that their mother taught them along the way. One lesson that Ruth instilled in them all, is to get your education, the best one you can and go as far as you want to get to in life. Please read this American story of what you can become in our great country if you try hard and work harder.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's my birthday and I am having a wonderful day, eating, shopping and writing. Tonight I am being treated to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Winston's with my husband and daughter. What more could I want, right? Not much. I am very blessed. 

I'm one of a set of very lucky people in this world that realize what we have is special. Just sitting out on my screened porch in the morning with my cup of coffee is special to me. Watching the different kinds of birds chow down on the bird food in our feeder and the hummingbirds slurp up their liquid diet makes my heart sing. Watching my daughter and husband take a walk down the beach together is special to me. Dinner out with a good friend or hanging with my book club is special to me. Finishing a good book with tears streaming down my face or laughing so hard I can hardly catch my breath is special to me. Spending a day with my extended family and listening to their stories is special to me. 

There are not many times that I think I wish I were someone else - only when I watch an author I like publish a new book, do I get that zing of envy. I don't need more cars, houses, or things. I actually need to get rid of a few things. My life is wonderful! Why it took me 50 years to get back to doing one of the things I love, I can not figure out for the life of me!? Don't put off for another minute your chance to go out there, grab your life by the throat and make it your own. I wish I had been writing down my stories when I had a younger brain and it was easier, but I didn't. I let life get in the way, I made up more excuses than are invented and sat back for someday. Someday is today!

So whether it's writing like me, exercising (I'm trying), taking a break for your work to enjoy your family, there is no excuse not to enjoy and live you life. You only get one and 
you had better make it a good one! I hope our country finds a way for us all to come together as we did in 1776 to make it a better place. Everyone deserves the best life possible. Now get out of here, why are you still reading? Please comment and tell me what you started doing to enjoy your life and if it made your life better.       

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Patty Pick for 7/716 is "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese

This long novel was one of the best that I've read in 2016. Abraham Verghese's medical knowledge definitely shows up in his words, but so does his humanity. The conjoined twin brothers of Marion and Shiva will touch your heart and the rich, flowing river of descriptive words that Abraham weaves into this first novel will keep you glued to this book until the end - even with 541 pages to read. 

You will probably end up picking sides between the brothers. That is just human nature, but along the way you will be left with a full and lasting impression of Ethiopia and the humanity of the brothers. The story of Thomas Stone and Sister Mary Joseph Praise will end and begin this novel but the middle is all about the boys. The twin sons, Shiva and Marion, who are orphaned when their mother dies in childbirth and their father disappears were separated at birth by the tissue that connected their heads. Raised by the unlikely couple of Hema and Ghosh, who eventually marry, the boys explore the grounds of Missing Hospital where they live. Hema and Ghosh both grow into their new roles of parenthood by being thrust into the job with the surprise birth of the boys, but they mostly learn how to make a family. 

As the boys grow up with their doctor parents and family of friends at Missing, they learn how the world works inside their Missing compound and in their country of Ethiopia. Marion studies medicine at Ghosh's side from a small boy and up and eventually attends medical school. Shiva is brilliant and drawn to the study of pregnancy and childbirth. He wants to make the tortuous side effects of pregnancy in underdeveloped nations safer for the women involved. 

During the rebellion to overthrow the king by one of his bodyguards who is a close friend of the family, Marion leaves to avoid arrest. He and Shiva have grown apart from their all most inseparability as children. They have an argument over the attentions of a playmate who was their third wheel growing up, Genet. This leaves the brothers estranged and living in different countries when Marion leaves to pursue his medical training in America. 

There is so much more to this book than I can put in one blog posting. The detail of the writing and the descriptions of their childhood home will jump off of the page. Read this one and let me know how you liked the ending.