Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Prophet

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By Kahlil Gibran

I first read this book as a teenager. It has remained on my bookshelf, being read many, many times. I have given it as a gift to several people, over the years. It is one of my favourite books.

The Prophet is a classic, and is considered to be Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece. Gibran himself considered it his “greatest achievement”. Originally published in 1923, it has been translated into 28 languages, and is still a popular piece of literature today.

The book is a beautiful blend of poetry and philosophy. Each chapter takes on a particular topic, or aspect of life. “The Prophet” speaks on love, work, law, freedom, pain, time, and many other important issues we all deal with as we journey through life. Each beautifully written chapter is also illustrated by Gibran.

The importance and beauty of this book is immeasurable and timeless. This book should be on every bookshelf of those who truly enjoy the beauty of poetry and classic literature, to be enjoyed and appreciated by every generation. The life lessons offered by Kahlil Gibran are timeless in essence and belief.

On Friendship
                        ~Kahlil Gibran~
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Summer of Ordinary Ways

The Summer of Ordinary Ways: A Memoir

By Nicole Lea Helget

Nicole Lea Helget has written a memoir that will stay with you. Her story is real, heartbreaking and vivid. She writes with incredible ease, in spite of the words and images they invoke.

Admittedly, it is a painful book to read, as the author’s memories are often quite unpleasant, even horrific. But that is the reality of a memoir: it is real life, as the author experienced and recalls it.

She tells of growing up in rural Minnesota, the oldest of several daughters. Her father is an apparently disturbed and cruel man, while her mother is a tired and overwhelmed woman. Nicole, herself, is overwhelmed.

Each chapter is a dated story, in beautifully written prose, in spite of the pain described. While it may not depict the small town and rural life that we want to believe or read about, it depicts the story that Nicole Lea Helget lived. This is a very powerful and emotional memoir.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

-Dog Mourns at Casket of Fallen Navy SEAL-

Hawkeye lays by the casket during the funeral of his owner, Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, on August 19.
Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson lay in a coffin, in front of a tearful audience mourning his death in Afghanistan. Soon an old friend appeared, and like a fellow soldier on a battlefield, his loyal dog refused to leave him behind.
Tumilson’s Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, was photographed lying by Tumilson’s casket in a heart-wrenching image taken at the funeral service in Tumilson’s hometown of Rockford, Iowa, earlier this week. Hawkeye walked up to the casket at the beginning of the service and then dropped down with a heaving sigh as about 1,500 mourners witnessed a dog accompanying his master until the end, reported CBS
The photo was snapped by Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, and posted on her Facebook page in memory of the San Diego resident. Tumilson, 35, was one of 30 American troops, including 22 Navy SEALs, who were killed when a Taliban insurgent shot down a Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade on Aug. 6.
“I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle,” Pembleton wrote on her Facebook page. “To say that he was an amazing man doesn't do him justice. The loss of Jon to his family, military family and friends is immeasurable.’’
Hawkeye was such a huge part of Tumilson’s life that Tumilson’s family followed the dog down the aisle as they entered the service in front of a capacity crowd in the gymnasium at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School. Hawkeye then followed Tumilson’s good friend, Scott Nichols, as Nichols approached the stage to give a speech. As Nichols prepared to memorialize his friend, Hawkeye dutifully laid down near the casket.
Image: Jon T. Tumilson
Petty Officer 1st Class Jon T. Tumilson was killed
along with other SEALs on Aug. 6 in Afghanistan.
*Article from MSNBC*


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By Lindsay Harrison

I was immediately drawn into this memoir, and haunted by it after I was through reading it. It is an unforgettable story.

Lindsay's mother suddenly goes missing. As Lindsay and her family track her actions, searching for her, other things are revealed as well.

The tragic events that Lindsay shares with us are intimate and difficult, yet she shares these with sensitivity and honesty.

Lindsay learns things not only about her mother, but also about herself. She begins to understand her family and the relationships within it, that make it what it is. Her love for mother is a focal point. It is obvious and poignant. This book is much more than the confusing and complex search for her suddenly missing mother. It is more about a daughter searching to understand her mother, who she is and who she really was. It is easy to forget that out parents are people.

Lindsay Harrison’s memoir is so heartbreaking and beautiful, that it will stay with you. It will make you   look at your own family and relationships, while you still can. And it should.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Search of the Rose Notes

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By Emily Arsenault

Charlotte and Nora have not seen each other in many years. They grew up together, and were best friends as girls. After their babysitter disappeared when they were in grade school, they grew apart. Nora eventually left the area, while Charlotte remained behind. Rose’s disappearance remained unsolved.

Now, fifteen years later, bones have been found in a place previously searched. Nora is drawn back home, as she and Charlotte revisit the past in hopes of solving the mystery of Rose’s disappearance. The high school literary magazine may offer clues, as not only did Rose and later Charlotte work on it, but now Charlotte teaches at the high school.

The characters are interesting, and tightly interwoven in this suspenseful novel. Their histories are long and complicated. In Search of the Rose Notes offers many twists and turns and surprises. It is a perfect summer read.

Book Release!

Good Graces

"Good Graces", by Lesley Kagen
is released in hardcover on
September 1, 2011!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Best Worst Thing

The Best Worst Thing: A Memoir

By Kristen K. Brown

Kristen K. Brown has it all, until one day when she wakes up to find herself a widow. Not wanting to be what she calls a “sad mom”, she sets out to turn her negatives into positives. What follows is this memoir of her journey from the very real edge of despair to a successful, even joyous life that she created.

From surfing to “getting inked”, starting her own business (which takes her to Hollywood), with sheer determination, she becomes the ultimate role model. Her book is inspirational, but her life is a tribute to what a woman and a mother can do when she is faced with serious life decisions. This book is also confirmation as to what love can do, and does.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

National Homeless Animal Day: 20 August 2011

This is for every Homeless Animal...

Most of my life I have taken in, taken care of, rescued, rehabilitated and loved various homeless animals. There has been everything from newborn to aged, from toads and turtles to skunks and opossums, raccoons and rabbits to cats and dogs. I believe that every one of them was worth saving. Every animal I have ever helped knew love in my home. And every one of them returned that love. Love heals.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy Bad Poetry Day!

Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River: A Novel

By Bonnie Jo Campbell

It is 1970s Michigan. When her father is killed, 16 year old Margo Crane loads a rowboat with supplies, along with her rifle, and sets off in search of her mother. Margo doesn’t consider this dangerous, as the river is her sanctuary, her salvation. She also has her favourite book, the book of her personal inspiration: Annie Oakley.

This river journey through Michigan becomes one of self exploration and self discovery. It is a defining journey for Margo. She will meet with many hardscrabble people, and encounter experiences beyond the normal for a 16 year old girl. But Margo is not the normal 16 year old.

Once again, Bonnie Jo Campbell has written a unique book, filled with characters and situations that life is really made of. It is intense, even harsh at times. This book will take you on quite a ride!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Down From Cascom Mountain

Down from Cascom Mountain: A Novel

By Ann Joslin Williams

Ann Joslin Williams does a wonderful job of portraying the beauty of the area in Down from Cascom Mountain. She displays a gift of description of both place and characters.
In fact, it is quirky cast of characters inhabit Cascom Mountain over the period of one summer in New Hampshire, in this entertaining novel.

Each character has their own story, and it is how they come together that make this novel what it is. What could be sorrow evolves into joy, but it is not easily won. It takes a community of quirky characters to accomplish this.

Ann Joslin Williams has written stories, but this is her first full novel. I expect there will be more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Soul Clothes

By Regina D. Jemison

Soul Clothes is a small poetry book with some very important things to say. It is bold and bright, urgent and immediate.

The author, Regina Jemison has practiced and taught law in her native Michigan. She is a devout Christian involved with the chronically ill, and in hospice situations.

Regina’s poetry reflects her beliefs both spiritually and naturally. She sees beauty and reflects it in her writing. Her poetry is warm and visual, inviting and inspiring.

Soul Clothes is personal yet speaks easily to generations.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Suitcase Full of Dreams

Suitcase Full of Dreams

By Hoy Kersh

This is a beautifully written book of growing up in 1940s-1950s Alabama. Hoy grows up poor, but her memoir is full of a child’s fun and dreams. She manages to also write about the troubled ways of the adults in her life with sensitivity.

As an African American child in the South, Hoy relates her own personal journey toward the civil rights movement. She learns about her heritage while learning both her present and future place in history.

This is a beautiful and sensitive memoir.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Secret Lives of Hoarders

True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter

By Matt Paxton with Phaedra Hise

This is a very interesting book, based on the cable TV show “Hoarders”, which airs on
A & E. The book is written by the owner of Clutter Cleaners, Matt Paxton, who also is an expert and speaker on issues of hoarding.

The book is full of case studies of hoarders, including how it begins, causes, and then recognition and resolution. There are reasons explained as to why some people begin to hoard. Also discussed are odd items people have been known to hoard. The psychology of hoarding is sorted out with sensitivity and sensibility, as Matt offers plans of action that work. Sorting this all out with the hoarder is part of breaking the cycle of hoarding, and ultimately healing.

The book is hard to read at times because of the content, the ways in which people are affected, and the reasons behind it. However, never does Matt judge the hoarder, choosing rather to explain the cycle and how to break it. He allows them dignity and hope, as well as help.

This is an important book, as this is a problem that many people have as a hidden source of shame. Only by facing it and sorting it out can one ever clean up their homes and their lives.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Deed So

Deed So

By Katharine A. Russell

Deed So is set during the increasing unrest and turmoil of 1960s small town Maryland. Twelve year old Haddie is impatiently biding her time until she can leave the town. Quite shockingly, she witnesses a horrific crime. A handicapped white boy is attacked and killed by a gang of black youth; a black young man is also killed.

Civil unrest peaks as a white man is put on trial over the killing of the black man. Making the situation more volatile is the fact that the jury consists of only white people. Activists are bused in from nearby Washington, D.C., as tensions rise.

Through all of this, Haddie is exposed to the turbulence involving Vietnam. She becomes aware of the involvement of America’s military, including the reactions here at home. A local boy returns home wounded and forever changed by his experience.

Amidst the turmoil and chaos of it all, Haddie comes of age. She becomes aware of herself and the world around her, including her own community, as she finds her place in both. We see Haddie come into herself, as we recall how our country did as well.

Katharine Russell has a sensitive touch for heavy issues.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


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By Rachel Karns

Maggie is a young woman who is coming into herself. She is learning to make decisions about herself and life. One major decision is to work in her family’s jewelry business rather than attend college. Her parents are away on an extended trip, leaving Maggie to manage things at home.

While Maggie is establishing her role in the business, she is drawn to a newspaper story about a “John Doe”. It seems the man has no known identity and is comatose. She follows the news stories, feeling a strong draw to his complicated story and to him.

However, following John Doe’s story leads Maggie to telling a lie that she cannot take back. This changes everything for Maggie. Not only does she learn things about John Doe, but also about herself and life.

Ms. Karns writes of the beauty and history of the Northwestern United Sates, including the important yet controversial reintroduction of the Gray Wolf. These aspects make this book more than just a novel, but rather an interesting and pleasurable read.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy Friendship Day!

"Don't walk behind me;
I may not lead.
Don't walk in front of me;
I may not follow.
Just walk beside me
and be my friend." 
     ~Albert Camus~ 


Friday, August 5, 2011

An Award!

I received an award!! It came to me from Brenda Youngerman 
of  Fiction with a Purpose*. (*Please visit her incredible blog! She is wonderful!) 
The award is: The Liebster Blog Award. It is for bloggers who have under 200 followers. 

The goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.
The rules of the award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

*Brenda, thank you. You know I adore you. This means a lot to me. Thank you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.  
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all: support each other and have lots of fun!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Not Afraid of Life

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My Journey So Far

By Bristol Palin

I found this memoir to be brave and open. While many wonder what she could possibly have to say, given her age and the publicity surrounding her. However, I think that is precisely her reason for this memoir. Perhaps Bristol felt the need to explain or even defend herself and her son. I respect that.

While reading the book, one needs to remember this is a memoir based upon the experiences, memories, and thoughts of a very young woman. We need to keep that perspective while we read her memoir.

Bristol shares her feelings of being in the political spotlight of her famous mother, the moral spotlight of being an unwed mother, the social spotlight of being linked to a seemingly narcissistic young man, all while coming of age in the tornado of what is the paparazzi.

I give her credit for doing as well as she is, and for not giving up. I give her credit for her perseverance, for maintaining grace and beauty under pressure. I wish her and her son well. I hope she continues to be brave enough to live her life honestly and fearlessly.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove

The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove Cover

A Novel

By Susan Gregg Gilmore

In her second novel, Susan Gregg Gilmore takes us back to a time and place to tell an important story. In this novel we re-visit the American South of the 1950s-1960s. The book deals with issues of race, segregation, societal status and cultural situations.

We are introduced to the Grove family, a longtime, prominent and highly respected family of Nashville. Bezellia is named after a revered descendant of historical as well as family importance.

Bezellia strives to live up to familial expectations and societal obligations. She is very conscious of her place in the community and truly tries to abide by it. However it is an increasingly changing world, under turbulent times. Bezellia is also becoming aware of things, including the divisions of segregation.

While Bezellia’s immediate family confirms the many years of segregation, peripheral characters gain more importance both to Bezellia and the reader as the story unfolds.
As Bezellia comes of age with revelations of both self and family, the country is also coming of age within civil and political rights of culture and propriety.

Susan Gregg Gilmore has written an important book that has heart while remaining true to history.