Thursday, June 30, 2011

Maine

Maine

By J. Courtney Sullivan


The Kelleher family is a close Irish Catholic family. Every summer they reunite at the family cottage off the coast of Maine. One particular summer four of the Kelleher women are privately battling issues. Some of these issues are between the adult Kelleher children, but some are within the Kelleher matriarch herself. Of course, there are many issues within the Kelleher family, as with all families.

Family dysfunction is an old issue, a common issue in itself. In “Maine”, J. Courtney Sullivan writes of this in a straightforward way, taking the Kelleher family and all of their problems head-on. Tradition and denial don’t mix, or make for happiness on any level.
There is sibling rivalry, unplanned pregnancy, religion, and alcoholism, among other personal and family dilemmas.

Maine is a good depiction of a typical dysfunctional family who gets by  year after year, by maintaining what they know of each other and themselves, holding on to the past and history because it works. The sorrow and pain in these characters is palpable. They are their own worst enemies, just as in real-life.

J. Courtney Sullivan gets it right when it comes to family dysfunction and the family dynamics of it, like it or not.







Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: A Novel 
 
 
By Susan Gregg Gilmore
 
Most teenagers want to be independent, to make their own way, and find their own place in the world. It’s been that way since time began. In 1970s Georgia it was no different for Catherine Grace Cline.

Catherine Grace and her sister Martha Ann were very young when their mother died. Their father, a Baptist minister, does his best to raise the girls. However, Catherine Grace feels a lot of pressure to “be good”, and feels she often falls short. Being able to talk to their neighbor, Gloria Jean, who had been a friend of Catherine Grace’s mother,
is one thing that keeps Catherine Grace going. The other thing is hanging out at the Dairy Queen, plotting her future escape from their small town of Ringgold, Georgia.

Upon graduation, and finally turning 18, Catherine Grace takes her life’s savings, making her long anticipated escape to Atlanta. Settling into life there however, she receives news that draws her back home again. Once back home, to her own surprise, Catherine Grace finds that what she sought may have been right there at home all along. She finds that sometimes not only can you go home again, but in fact sometimes you should, because home really is where the heart is.

Susan Gregg Gilmore’s debut novel is good Southern fiction. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is a sweet treat, full of vivid small town characters with heart.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The End of Everything

The End of Everything: A Novel

By Megan E. Abbott


Lizzie and Evie have been friends their entire lives. They share everything, from clothes to sports to thoughts and secrets. They have carved out places in sports, equaling the boys on that playing field.

Now, at 13, everything is changing. They watch Evie’s 16 year old sister as she blossoms into a beautiful and feminine being, and her effect on the males in the neighborhood. The boys, other kids, adults, families, or perhaps it is their perception, their awareness that is changing.

Lizzie realizes that Evie is changing, as she herself is, too. Their discussions and secrets have taken on new tones, new topics. When Evie disappears suddenly, Lizzie still feels the connection and a responsibility to find her friend. Her bond with Evie’s family gives her strength, but is also a source of mixed comfort and pain.

Lizzie has many revelations and grows up in unexpected ways in Evie’s absence. She realizes things about Evie, herself, and the ways of the world. These things drive her to find Evie, but they also put an end to many things that she felt, believed, and thought she knew.

Megan Abbott has written a book that explores the frightening dark side of adolescence, regarding sexuality and what is the end of innocence. The truth is that when we lose our innocence, we lose our childhood.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Maggie's Watch

Product Details


By Ann Wertz Garvin


Maggie and Martin Finley have returned to Maggie’s Wisconsin hometown, leaving behind a fast-paced, high-profile life. The purpose is to create a safe environment for their child. With the birth impending, safety is increasingly important to Maggie, still recovering from a tragedy that is still fresh.

Maggie decides that the best way to create a safe environment for her baby is to resurrect the inactive neighborhood watch. In doing this, she gets more than she bargained for, including becoming the leader. Then, while organizing the group, Maggie discovers online that a predator is living in the neighborhood! The more Maggie tries to take control of the situation, the more she loses it!

Before she even realizes it, Maggie is making predawn cruises through the neighborhood streets, doing things she knows are not safe, including becoming too involved with the handyman. Her lifelong friend, Julia, tries to be a voice of reason, but has her own set of issues.

Nothing is what it seems for anyone. There are lessons to be learned by everyone.  This suspenseful book is very unique and quirky. There are amusing moments and unexpected twists that will keep you guessing, and leave you thinking.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Evolution of Charlie Darwin

Product Details

Partner with Your Dog Using Positive Training



By Beth Duman, CPDT-KA


Beth Duman takes her experiences with her rescued dog and illustrates how to evolve a dog from orphan to family member. She aptly named her rescue dog “Charlie Darwin”, determined in his evolution.

This informative book is more than a training tool; it is a complete guide for creating a positive relationship between dog and human. Beth shows how to choose a dog and then introduce the dog into your family. She teaches proper socialization of dogs and care for the life of your dog.

Ms. Duman’s approach is positive training and positive reinforcement. Her emphasis is on “positive”, intensive without being overwhelming. It is common sense and therefore easy to incorporate and maintain. She uses stories and examples to prove and illustrate her methods.

Partnering with your dog to create a positive environment makes for a good dog, but a good human as well. This can only benefit everyone. Good job, Beth Duman! Treats for everyone!



Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Pictures, My Words

My Pictures, My Words 

By Mac Kenney


Mac Kenny has combined two talents to make one heartfelt book. He makes it clear from the first page that they are lasting gifts meant to be shared. His book is a gift he offers to all who see it.

Mac’s nature themed photography is incredible, whether flowers, animals or landscape. Each photo allows you to see beauty from his keen point of view, that of a gifted photographer. Paired with poetry, his pictures come alive.

In this unique book, Mac pairs a poem with a photograph on one page. On the facing page, he features a close-up of one aspect of the picture. The effect is amazing, simple yet profound.

Mac Kenney’s poetry is straightforward, full of love, life and living life with love. His message is simple, honest and delivered with beauty. His book is quite effective.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Well and the Mine

The Well and the Mine


By Gin Phillips



Reading this beautiful book takes you back in time to a special place and its people. We see and experience 1931 Alabama through the eyes and voices of a coal mining family. Each voice tells of their hardships, as they see and feel them. They speak of their own lives while reflecting on others. They are guided by deep morals and values. Through them we are given an impression of the coal mining industry. We see the effect on those who actually work the mines and their families.

One warm night, nine year old Tess witnesses a woman tossing a baby into her family’s well. Haunted by it, with the aid of her older sister, she sets out to solve the mystery surrounding such a horrific act. As the summer heats up, the community is also drawn into the mystery of the well.

Gin Phillips created a heartfelt story with characters authentic to the period and place. Her book gives an understanding and respect for these people, who represent an integral part of American history.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Arms Wide Open


Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey 


A Midwife’s Journey

By Patricia Harman


In Patricia Harman’s second book she draws on her journals of many years as a midwife. This is actually the prequel to her memoir, The Blue Cotton Gown. In this book she reveals what brought her into midwifery. She tells of her early years, living in the wilds of Minnesota in a log cabin that she helped to build. After several years of living this way, she longs for a human connection.

Patricia moves into a commune with like-minded people of the counter-culture. As a young mother, she becomes a mentor for other women seeking guidance and natural birth experiences. She begins assisting them.

This desire to help women and babies leads Patricia to take professional training, allowing her to do more as a midwife. Eventually Patricia and her husband, by now a physician, open a women’s health clinic.

In a disposable, plastic society, Patricia Harman still clings to the simple, natural ideals that are the basic principles of life. She makes them work by being an example to other women on how to live life the way is was meant to be lived.






                                               

Thursday, June 23, 2011

South of Superior

Product Details


By Ellen Airgood


Sometimes it takes a lifetime to realize where “Home” is, that perhaps “home” was never really a place but rather a part of us.

Though her roots were technically in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan, Madeline Stone was detached from hers. Having been rejected by her grandfather and abandoned by her mother, she ended up in Chicago, Illinois.

When a lifelong friend of her grandfather needs help, Madeline is drawn back to the place of her birth and that of her family’s. Her reservations are many, including her unresolved feelings regarding her grandfather.

The beauty of the land attracts tourists, and the area residents live for them, knowing they rely on that as a necessary source of income, just to survive year to year, as Madeline learns. The roots run deep here, generation to generation.

Loyalty runs deep, as well. Loyalty to the land that supplies them, maintains them, defines them. This loyalty is the driving force of the people in this small town, South of Superior. Through years of relationships, times both good and bad, the people held strong, united by beliefs and values.

In this place of wild beauty, with its rich history rooted in its people, land and lore, Madeline is surprised to find purpose, and peace of both mind and heart. She finds love in its many forms and ages.

South of Superior is strong in character image and voice. While the ways of the people are not necessarily simple, they are genuine and hard-earned. Both characters and setting feel all that a “hometown” should feel.

Ellen Airgood has beautifully captured the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that I know and love. This book will stay with you, as well it should.

A Special Thank You...

Thank you to all of you wonderful people. Your kindness, patience, and support means so much to me. I am recuperating, though it will be a long, ongoing process. In the meantime, I am able to get back to "work" now! 


I will be resuming my usual postings, including the "fun" postings . I will be using my pages where appropriate, so please check those out, too. My blog, much like myself, is a work in progress. I truly see this as a good thing.


I have been reading, so I have several reviews coming! And my TBR pile is pretty big, so there are many more to follow those I have read! (A special thank you to those who send me books! I appreciate you more than words can say!)


So...stay tuned! I still have lots to say and do!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just a note...

I wanted to say that I will be unavailable for a few days beginning Thursday, June 16th. 
I have some health issues that have to be addressed.
As soon as I am able, I will have several new book reviews to post!
Thanks for your support and your patience.   I truly appreciate it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Award!


 

Thank you, Ellen of "My Mother Stuttered"!
   I appreciate this more than I can say.


Rules:
 1. Thank and link to the person
who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts
about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15
deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies
to congratulate them.


Seven random facts about me:
1. I believe in angels.
2. My favourite place to be is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
3. I went to nine schools while growing up, but was not a "military brat".
4. I love wild birds, especially Sandhill Crane. I have several Sandhill Crane photos and items people have given me. I adore them.
5. I have a very special love of Coyote. I admire and respect their ability to survive in spite of man and his assault on the environment. I believe coyote are misunderstood and under-appreciated. Our 15 year old Polly is a Coydog.
6. Autumn is my favourite season. I love everything about it.
7. I believe that animals go to Heaven when they die...it wouldn't be Heaven without them!

My 15 nominees are
(in no particular order)
1. Mystica
2. Dizzy C's Little Book Blog
3. Feeling Beachie
4. Jelly Loves Books
5. New Prairie Woman
6. I Love My Amazing Animals
7. Welcome to Just Cats In-Home Cat Care
8. Writing is a Blessing
9. The Pet Blog
10. Corgi's in My Garden
11. Coffee Tale Reviews
12. SUGAR MOON
13. Catladyland
14. Brenda Youngerman
15. The Crazy Life of a Writing Mom 

Monday, June 13, 2011

What Matters

"A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see."
John Grogan, "Marley & Me" 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun Blog Hop

Welcome to the 15h weekly Follow Friday Four Fill-in Fun Blog Hop!
From the new home….http://feelingbeachie.com
Each week, Feeling Beachie plans on listing four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs. If you want to join the fun and come up with four fill in’s of your own, please email them to her at: feelingbeachie(at)gmail(dot)com. If she uses them, she will add you as co-host to the hop!  This week’s co-host is Jen from Makobi Scribe she wrote the last two statements!
She would LOVE it if you could please help her spread the word about this hop… So, please visit her blog, then tweet, FaceBook share, and add the linky to your post…
This week’s statements 
1.      When I reflect back upon my life, I regret_______
2.      I over use the word______
3.      The first time I saw the beach/mountains was when I was ______
4.      ________ reminds me of the color yellow.

My answers...
1. When I look back on my life, I regret that I did not finish nursing school. 
2. I over use the word "Really?" . I asked my husband what word he thinks I might over use. At the risk of upsetting me, he said that I say this when someone does something that I question, or think is not a good idea.
3. The first time I saw the beach was when I was a young child. We went to the beaches in Chicago, on Lake Michigan. The first time I saw the ocean beaches was when I was ten years old. We moved to the Galveston, Texas area. I was overwhelmed by the vastness of the Gulf of Mexico!
4. Autumn reminds me of the colour yellow.

*Please note: Future Hops and related features will be on my Potpourri Page!*

The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness












        
            A Memoir




By Brianna Karp


Brianna Karp is on a mission. She has a purpose. She did not choose it, but she chose to take what life dealt her and to use it for good.

Brianna has had a difficult life. From the early age of ten she was forced to work to support her mother and sister. Violence and abuse was a way of life for her. Through perseverance and determination, she fought her way out of it.

Finally, barely into her twenties, Brianna thought she had paid her dues. She had a good job and a place of her own. When the Recession hit, a series of events caused Brianna to lose it all. She found herself homeless.

Inheriting her father’s travel trailer and having nowhere to go, she parked it in a Wal-Mart parking lot. It is then that she begins to blog about being jobless and homeless.
Surprised at the responses she received and the similar stories she read, Brianna finds the courage to become an advocate for the homeless.

Young, smart, and resourceful Brianna Karp has given help and hope to countless people. She has also educated many more. Her book includes a discussion guide and a list of resources. She is a special young woman with an important book.






Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Cat Thursday!




     


         Even having thumbs,
         being polydactyl,
         Purrl just could not
         get the laundry folded!



*PLEASE NOTE:
FUTURE "CAT THURSDAY" POSTS
WILL BE ON THE "CATS" PAGE!*

Wherever Grace is Needed




By Elizabeth Bass


This is the story of a family and the love that holds it together. The adage, “Grace under pressure” applies here.

Grace Oliver goes home after thirty years, to assist her father who is recovering from an auto accident. Unexpectedly, it is also revealed that he has Alzheimer’s disease. This prompts Grace to remain longer than she initially planned.

Unfortunately, the previously distant Grace finds herself confronting her past within the family, including her relationship with her siblings. She finds it difficult to reconnect as they disagree over not only the past, but their father’s future. She realizes that all must be resolved.

Amidst her own family crises, she learns that a tragedy that neighbor and his family are going through. Especially affected is the teen-aged daughter, Jordan. Grace tries to help this family, as well as her own. What she does not expect is how in giving care and support, she learns to receive and accept it. In reconnecting with her past, she finds new connections to her future. Grace learns the value and real definition of home.

Elizabeth Bass writes with comfortable warmth. Her characters feel genuine and their lives true. Grace is a blessing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Quickening










By Michelle Hoover


The Quickening is a very special novel. Painfully told, it records the lives and friendship of two farm women in early 1900s Iowa. The chapters alternate between the voice of Enidina (Eddie) and Mary, who are very different women. Eddie is strong in body and spirit, made for country farm life. Mary is delicate and at odds with farming and the isolation of rural living.

They form a friendship, a bond born of necessity rather than choice. Through the years with its many life changes they remain loyal to each other. The dependence brought by isolation is their constant bond.

As the Great Depression looms, affecting farming and the community, families come under pressure and friendships are tested. Ultimately, secrets are exposed and a series of events changes everything with lasting consequences for everyone.

Michelle Hoover gives an honest look at women’s friendships born of need and strife. Her portrayal of farming and the harsh realities of it, particularly those in times of turmoil are honest and heartfelt.

This is a remarkable book by a very gifted writer.





         

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alice Bliss










By Laura Harrington


Alice Bliss is a teen-aged girl. She is also a “Daddy’s Girl”. When her Reservist father is shipped out to Iraq, she is heartbroken. Finding one of his shirts in the clothes hamper and begins to wear it, much to the dismay of her mother and embarrassment of her sister.

In her grief, she searches for a ways to fill the void he leaves behind. Alice joins the track team, much to her own surprise. Growing into a young woman in her father’s absence, she also attends her first dance, and falls in love. She is doing all of this without her father. Letters and phone calls are not ever enough, and his scent on the shirt is fading. It is hard for Alice to be strong for herself, much less for her mother and sister. They are dealing with his absence in their own ways.

Laura Harrington has written a coming of age story that is important for our time, with today’s harsh reality of war and loss. She gives us a glimpse of people who are living through things that we all do, in a time that is especially difficult. Yet she offers hope through characters we can relate to.

Love is the ultimate healer, in its many forms. Alice Bliss and Laura Harrington remind us of this in a very warm and poignant book.    

Monday, June 6, 2011

Anniversary

"It is not a lack of love,
but a lack of friendship
that makes unhappy marriages."
    ~Friedrich Nietzsche~

Happy 30th Anniversary to my best friend
& husband: Bill

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dove Creek






By Paula Marie Coomer


Dove Creek is a beautifully written novel of a woman’s modern day adventure in the American West. Her journey does not follow a typical path, however.

After a disastrous and abusive marriage to a policeman she leaves her native Kentucky.
Single mother Patricia Morrison wants to make a difference in the lives of others. She draws on her Cherokee roots for the courage to find herself, and finds a place in the Pacific Northwest as a Public Health nurse.

Her journey to heal others leads her to the beliefs of the Nez Perce people. Her journey is not an easy one. She has to constantly prove herself to the people she treats, those in the community, co-workers, even her own family. Yet her perseverance and strength do indeed make a difference.

The book mixes old ways and beliefs with the reality and culture of the modern world that we know now. This is a very interesting blend, both enlightening and comforting.

Ms. Coomer writes in an open and honest way, especially in dealing with sensitive women’s issues. Her book is unique and interesting.



Friday, June 3, 2011

Riversong

Product Details
by Tess Hardwick


Lee Tucker is a woman who has never had it easy, and never taken anything for granted. Even as a girl, she struggled with serious life issues, without parental support. As soon as she is able, she leaves her past behind for a new life in a new place.

Years later, just as she thinks she has found happiness as an adult, tragedy hits her again. Her husband, overwhelmed by debt he kept hidden from her, and running from loan sharks, commits suicide. Dealing with the loss and the debt he left in his wake, Lee also realizes that she is pregnant.

She has no choice; Lee is forced to return to her childhood home. Her negligent mother has since passed away, leaving behind a legacy of sorrow and a house in ruins. All Lee has is that house. She must go back to where she started, to the town she never felt comfortable in. In a strange twist, it is the place she left behind that now offers a new start. Pulling herself together again, survivor that she is, Lee throws herself into making the restaurant named Riversong, and herself, a success.

Tess Hardwick has written a very entertaining novel. It is full of lovable small town folk, friendship and love, renewal, hope, and a heroine you can believe in.

Follow Friday Four-Fill-In

Welcome to the 14th weekly Follow Friday Four Fill-in Fun Blog Hop!
                          
Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs. If you want to join the fun and come up with four fill in’s of your own, please email them to: feelingbeachie(at)gmail(dot)com. If she uses them, she will add you as co-host to the hop!  This week’s co-host is her friend Irene… She submitted the last two statements.
Feeling Beachie would LOVE it if you could please help spread the word about this hop…. So, please visit her blog, then tweet, FaceBook share, and add the linky to your post…
This weeks statements:
1.      I cannot eat just one _____
2.      When I am in a bad mood ____ always makes me feel better
3.      Happiness is___________________
4.      The most comfortable thing I own is __________________________


Okay...here are my answers:

1. I cannot eat just one strawberry.
2. When I am in a bad mood my cats always make me feel better.
3. Happiness is a state of mind. Physical things that can promote happiness in me are cats, books, coffee, Bill, and friends...not necessarily in that order.
4. The most comfortable thing I own is my wedding ring.

Good Graces

by Lesley Kagen



Lesley Kagen continues the story of Sally O’Malley and her sister Troo, from her bestselling novel Whistling in the Dark. However, to simply call this a sequel, while the transition is seamless, does not do this book justice. Good Graces has its own story to tell.

It is one year later in 1960 Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A year in the life of the O’Malley sisters has seen many changes. While home life is more secure, both girls are still grieving the sudden loss of their father a year ago. Ever the good girl, Sally is determined to keep her deathbed promise to take care of Troo. Troo is not making it easy, becoming increasingly rebellious. Troo constantly pushes the limits and crosses lines. Her need for attention and love of drama drives her.

Summer has brought a heat wave, making everyone restless. As the summer heats up, so does the danger. The disappearance of a local boy and the escape of Troo’s nemesis from reform school are problem enough for Sally. Making matters worse, a series of home burglaries in the neighbourhood seem to possibly be connected to Troo. Exhausted and overwhelmed, Sally is unsure of her own judgment regarding both people and situations. Eventually things come to a boiling point and Sally is forced to find the courage to make decisions that surprise even her.

Lesley Kagen is an extraordinary author. She captures the essence of adolescence, with its conflict of innocence and awareness. She has a gift of giving authentic voice to her child characters. Her books are humorous yet sensitive and sweet, leaving you wanting more.




Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cat Thursday






      Charlie really believed
              he was the
        "Life of the Party"


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My First Award!





I have just received my very first award! I have to thank Carol of DizzyC's Little Book Blog for choosing me for this special honour. I love Carol's blog, and adore her as a person as well. I am humbled by her choosing me. Thank you, Carol, from the bottom of my heart.

In accepting this award, I have to admit seven things about myself and then pass the award on to five other bloggers. Though this is difficult, I will admit:

1. I am a creature of habit. I don't like change, it makes me feel unsettled. I'm also very conservative and traditional.
2. I have extreme claustrophobia. I dislike crowds, and choose to sit near exits facing a crowd rather than a wall. I don't like anything near my face, either.
3.I have two artificial hips, two artificial knees, and will soon have two artificial ankles.
4. I don't do Sci-Fi, Horror or Vampire/Paranormal. It just isn't me. One of the wonderful thing about books is that there is something for everyone!
5. I have a serious penchant for good hygiene in general, oral hygiene in particular. I brush my teeth and floss every time I eat, and use mouthwash often!
6. I am fascinated with Forensic Science, especially Criminal Profiling. Human Nature never ceases to amaze me. 
7. I am totally creeped-out and afraid of spiders. I respect their right to live, but not in or on my house.

I admire and respect several blogs and bloggers. However, I can only choose five, so I would like to share this award with the following bloggers:
*Ann's Reading Corner
*I Love My Amazing Animals
*Socrates' Book Reviews 
*Sugar Moon
*Under the Boardwalk