Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Life Apart

Product Details

A Life Apart  by L. Y. Marlow

Months ago I received this book as an advance copy and read it, but I forgot to post a review so I reread it to do my review justice.  And guess what?  I liked it just as much, maybe even more, the second time as I did the first. 

When you look at the cover you might think it’s a Romance novel, all lavender and pretty.  But don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  This story is anything but simple. 

Morris and Agnes find themselves in a dilemma.  She is pregnant and it’s the early 1940’s.  Morris does the honorable thing and marries Agnes but then immediately enlists in the Navy to support the impending war.  He is sent to Pearl Harbor, and, well, you know what happens next. 

Morris’s life is saved by someone he doesn’t know.  Robert Dobbins courageously saved many men that Sunday morning and then died himself.  Robert Dobbins was black.  Morris was white.

When he gets the chance, Morris visits Robert’s sister Beatrice to pay respects and honor the sacrifice Robert made so Morris could live.  And Morris falls instantly in love with Beatrice.  Thus begins a lifelong struggle with himself, his family, with Beatrice and the social morals of the time.

Morris never doesn’t love Beatrice and he struggles with his double life for the rest of his own. There are allegiances to family and then there is society. And there is love. There are wrongs and the struggle to forgive.  And there is love.

This is anything but a simple story.  Things just keep happening and I hesitate to say too much for fear of spoiler alerts.  When I read a story I like to know generally what it is about but I don’t want the whole story told to me. I want to find out for myself, to be surprised, to gasp or tsk or laugh or cry as the story unfolds for me.  
You would do well to let this story unfold for you.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.






Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I have made a decision. I keep looking at the picture of that Santa and I've decided he needs another border. Back to the cutting board.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sunny day, keepin' the clouds away

 Yesterday I worked on Santa.  Simple borders to just make him a little more a part of the party come Christmas.  I'm not finished.  I want to add a small off-white pencil thin border before the binding goes on. Right now he's a perfect kid sized little quilt and I think I'm quite happy with him.  Love, love, love the Santa border.  I know I mentioned before that he's the Santa I grew up with and I think this was the right use for that fabric.  Making the front and the back identical  taxed my math skills. I'm notorious for measuring, thinking, measuring and still cutting wrong only to make frantic phone calls to Friend Marilyn crying about how to fix the mess I made.  Well, I had just so much of this fabric and no chance to get anymore and the front and back had to be identical so I spent the better part of hours   making sure I measured and then multiplied by two, talking my way through it out loud.  I don't have but a strip of the fabric left but I did it!  Front and back are identical except for Santa has his backside to us on the other piece!  Don't laugh.  I am math challenged.

On Tuesdays I go to Elizabeth and Adelaide's school and read to their class.  You can take the librarian out of the library but you can't take the library out of the librarian, I guess. More on that later.  Today was a beautiful blue sky sunny day and along the way I stopped to take some pictures of a nice winter day. We are not getting the storm the East Coast is getting.  We were given crystal clear blue skies.

The school is in a small town near here and I pass a small lake on the way.  I always slow down and notice the ice fishermen.  I loved the look of this one chair sitting out in the middle of the lake alone (I took this picture on a snowier day.)
Today these guys were out there swaddled in layers and layers of clothes,  sitting on the ice on their five gallon buckets, holding the fish line trying to catch their supper.

 There are lots and lots of barns along the way and I always stop and take pictures of this one. Some days the shadows hit it just right. Today set against that blue sky it was really beautiful.

I turned around and went back for this one.
 There are apple orchards on every road.
Along the way, just down the road from the ice fishermen, is an absolutely beautiful country church. But I can never seem to capture it right.  I do love walking through an old cemetery when I have the time and this one, associated with that church, dates to the mid-1800s.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Memory of Violets

 Product DetailsA Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

Set in Victorian London, Memory of Violets is the story of Flora and Rosie Flynn, two young girls living in extreme poverty in the slums of London.  From the moment Rosie was born Flora loved and looked after Rosie as they sold flowers on the streets to passersby.  Flora walked with a crutch and Rosie was blind, as were many, many of the orphaned children in the same circumstances.

One day Rosie is abducted, leaving a frantic Flora to search for Rosie the rest of her life.  And yes, Flora did have a life.  Mr. Shaw dedicated his life to training the crippled, blind orphans from the streets in making silk flowers in his factory.  He housed the girls, fed them well, and trained them in a craft thus saving their lives.  He loved them all and his flower village grew.   Flora was rescued.  But she never stopped her search for Rosie. 

Rosie, too, was rescued and her life was very different from Flora’s.  She escaped her adbuctor and hid in the carriage of a well to do woman who took her in and raised her.

Enter Tilly.  After an accident at home where her sister was badly injured and Tilly never forgiven, she leaves her home in Yorkshire and takes a position as a house mother in one of the dormitories in the flower village in London.  Tilly makes a discovery of a memory book written by Florrie as she recounts her life in the flower village and her life long search for Rosie.  Tilly is determined to try to try to use the book to solve the mystery of Rosie’s disappearance.

The world of the street flower sellers, the flower village, the art of making silk flowers, this was something I knew nothing about , making for me, a fascinating read.



Monday, January 19, 2015


I've been wandering around blogland the past couple of evenings and discovered there are people who get a whole lot more done than I do. Some of the work is amazingly beautiful, daring, and painstakingly intricate.  Those pointy points meeting so precisely.  It's enough to make me want to break all of my needles and stop kidding myself.  Me?  I like a nap in the afternoon. So I guess that explains my non-productiveness.

   I have been working on quilting this baby quilt intended for a friend in France. I'm not much of a heart person but I thought this was sweet and adapted and combined it from two somethings I saw on Pinterest and after appliqueing these I've been finding myself pinning more hearts lately.  Never thought I'd see the day.

After an evening or two I have to let my under finger heal a bit before continuing so I started this little project.....

For years, we had this panel Santa stuffed pillow thing we put out at Christmas.  Santa is a bit spotted, faded, frayed and forgotten. He comes out of storage every year, sits propped in a corner somewhere and not thought of again till time to pack Christmas back up.  He was never even given a box.  Just kind of tossed in the attic with no regard.
    Along comes me this year, the one who is packing and purging.  I picked Santa up from the corner, I looked.  I looked.   My sentimental side was starting to speak.  I sat down in a chair with Santa and we talked.  I asked him if he wanted to stay.  He said he'd like to. He remembers a lot of Christmases. He sat in a corner and watched then all.  I asked if he would mind being transformed so he wouldn't have to sit in a forgotten corner but could actually maybe be a part of things.  He said he would like that. 
   Just then PH came in for more boxes and he saw me sitting with Santa.  I was purging broken, never used anymore ornaments and just stuff.  He knows the look on my face.  "Can Santa please stay?"  I said yes.  Santa and I had a talk. He can stay but he's going on a diet.
   I used the seam ripper.  I took the stuffing and tossed it.  Then I appliqued him to a green pinstripe fabric, matching exactly the front and the back.

I dug this out of my stash.  I love, love, love this 50's looking Santa fabric.  The Santa I remember from when I was a kid.  I was saving this for something special and decided it would make a nice border for the Santa my kids and grands remember sitting in the corner all these years.  Maybe now Santa will have the chance to be wrapped around someone's little body or maybe even on one of their beds.
    It's a good project to work on while my under finger heals from time to time.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New project

Another baby, another quilt! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

Product Details

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy  by Rachel Joyce
You’ve read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, haven’t you?  I hope by now we all have.  Harold Fry  receives a letter in the mail one day and as he walks to post a reply he decides to just keep walking to deliver his reply to Queenie Hennessey himself.  Of course, he’s completely unprepared for a 600 mile walk. No money, wrong shoes, no phone, but he’s wearing his tie.  Harold walks 600 miles across England (the long way) to see Queenie.  We have Harold’s story.

This is Queenie’s  story.  And I am telling you here and now, if you’ve read Harold Fry, you only have half of the story.  These should be side by side on your bookshelves. If your book club read Harold Fry, then Queenie’s story is your next choice.  You will never forget it.  Read it.  You must.

When Queenie sends her note to Harold Fry, she is in a hospice nursing home. She is dying.  So is everyone around her but for the caretakers.  While Queenie waits she begins to write her explanation to Harold about why she left those many years ago.  She writes about her love for him. Her admiration from afar. Her involvement from a distance in his life.  She explains it all to him. We wonder if he was completely oblivious those years ago or was he admiring from afar, too?  I guess we have our answer to that in seeing he was willing to walk 600 miles to see her one last time, imploring her to stay alive until he got there.  In explaining her leaving she tells him about the little cottage by the sea that she landed at and fixed up. About the sea garden she planted.  She tells Harold everything.  And so we learn Queenie’s story as she writes this weeks long letter to Harold.

While she physically struggles with the writing she is helped along, helped to stay alive, through the postcards Harold sends telling of his progress.  These postcards become the rallying cry for the other patients in the hospice care.  They are the most inspiring characters I’ve met in ages (and I’m reading a lot lately.)  I laughed, I smiled, I encouraged them to stay alive long enough to meet Harold at the end of his journey.  Something they were all trying very hard to do.
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is one I won’t soon forget.  If ever. There was nothing I didn’t like about this story.    

Saturday, January 10, 2015

snow and ice

This is for my Australian friends who are in the middle of summer.  We are in the middle of winter and it's finally decided to arrive.  This is a picture of a 193 vehicle accident on a major highway that runs all across the bottom of the state of Michigan. Of those 193 vehicles, 76 are semi-trailer long haul trucks.  One was filled with 44,000 pounds of fireworks and they caught.  This accident happened at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and it's now 11:30 p.m. Saturday and the highway is still closed as the mess is still being cleaned up.  Icy roads and white out snows make treacherous partners.  Sorry to say one person lost their life. It could have been oh, so much worse.        Enjoy your summer! We can't wait!

Photo taken from

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Same Sky

The Same Sky: A Novel

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

Wow.  I could not put this down.  This is the story of two that represent the many. 

        Carla lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. When the story begins, she is eleven years old, living with her grandmother and twin toddler brothers.  Carla’s mother “made it” to the U.S. to find work so she could send money back home. Carla begins telling her story “My mother left when I was five years old.”   Times are very hard, there is little money,  poor housing, no plumbing, no schools, gangs, crime a constant fight for survival.  There are two ways to escape.  Try to make a run for the border or sniff glue.

        After Carla’s grandmother dies, desperation turns to desperate acts and Carla and Junior, her remaining brother, make a run for the U.S. border to get to their mother in Austin, Texas. 

        Alice lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Jake. They share ownership of a barbecue restaurant that is renowned in Texas.  Alice is also struggling to survive.  She had cancer, a double mastectomy and cannot have the children they both desperately want.  Alice’s story begins with an adoption gone wrong which leaves her and Jake gasping.  In her attempt to find a focus for her displaced maternal instincts, she agrees to mentor one of the troubled teens from the local high school. 

        This story is told in alternating chapters: Alice. Carla. Alice. Carla. Alice. We can almost understand and identify with Alice’s struggle.  We can see ourselves in her somewhere. We might even know her.  But not so Carla’s story.  We see on the news the story of children being sent to or escaping to the U.S. to live and try to find work.  Carloads of them.  Truckloads.  Frightened, hungry, drifting, lost children.  But do we really know what the journey of these mere children, is?

       I wasn’t sure how, if or when the lives of Alice and Carla were going to intersect.  The author probably fed clues but I was so engrossed in Carla’s story I wasn’t looking for clues, I was absorbing the story.

We lead very sheltered lives.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


     Today I read two posts, from opposite sides of the world but about basically the same thing.  Who are we and how will we be remembered, especially if it looks to us like we're living very ordinary lives. Chookyblue was recalling two funerals she had recently attended and was thinking on the long, deserted road she was driving, what sort of life she was living and how would her eulogy sound?  Has she done anything memorable, remarkable, noteworthy?  (Yes, you have!)
     I thought as I read her post about how many times I've asked myself the same questions.  Mine sound more like "What's it all about, Alfie?"  What's the point?  Who is going to remember or miss me and for how long?  My name has been in the newspaper a few times other than to announce my birth and marriage, but not because I won the Nobel Prize for literature.  So, who will remember me and why?   I mean, what have I done??
    Then I opened Friend Laurie's page and saw this TED talk. 
    Wow, I thought.  Three references to the same thought process on the same day.  Drew Dudley explains that it's not the big, unattainable things that make it possible for us to be leaders.  None of us will be on the world stage but we can celebrate the small stuff. We can BE the small stuff.  It's the small things we do that touch people in ways we may never know if they don't tell us.  Do you know the author Alexander McCall Smith?  He wrote the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and dozens of offshoots. I heard him speak one day and when asked what he thought the appeal of his characters was to us, he said, "None of us is going to live lives of greatness. We all live our little lives being who we are. We go through our days getting through our days the best we can. That's what my characters are doing."
    Drew Dudley asks if there was a person somewhere in our lives who did something that made our life better.  And then he asked if we told them about that moment.  We have, most of us, in our memory banks the name of such a person.  I do.  And I am happy to say I did tell her. 
  When I was pregnant for our son I was given a new, different prenatal vitamin by the doctor.  I am VERY sensitive to any medications.  They affect me greatly so I tend to let nature take it's course.  But, being pregnant, the doctors want lots of vitamins in us.  Well, every morning after taking the vitamin I fainted.  There was also a toddler in the house, not yet two years old and well, it was inconvenient to faint every morning.  So I called the doctor.  Mine was off delivering a baby so the stand in told me to come into the office.  There I sat in the examining room telling the nurse about the problem.  She went out of the room, conferred with the doctor and came back in with more questions.  I answered them. She went out to deliver my answers.  I never saw the substitute doctor.  A prescription was given.
   I went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription and the pharmacist asked, "aren't you pregnant?" I said I was.  But just. I was still wearing my jeans.  She said, "I'm not going to fill this prescription. It's not safe for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester."  I started to cry from relief and went home and called MY doctor and told him what happened.  HE was angry that the pharmacist interfered.  I said, "God bless her!  At least SHE was paying attention!"  (This is also a plug for going to the same pharmacist for your meds and not skipping around.) 
    About 12 years later that pharmacist walked into the bookstore I was working at.  As I finished checking out her purchase I asked if she had a minute.  "I want to tell you something you did that you probably don't even know you did."  And I told her the story and ended it with, "that baby is now 12 years old and in the gifted program in school." I hugged her and she cried and thanked me for telling her.

     You are the tree.  Every leaf is someone you've touched in your life.  Without you, the leaves wouldn't be.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Resurrection Maker

The Resurrection Maker by Glenn CooperThe Resurrection Maker by Glenn Cooper

Sometimes stories begin “Once upon a time” and if you’ve ever read James Michener you know he begins his stories with the dinosaurs and brings you up to date.  Well, the beginning of Resurrection Maker begins before time begins. That certainly got my attention and I found myself reading the beginning pages twice, just to make sure I got the ‘before the beginning’ into my head.  Pretty interesting stuff.

The Grail.  Who doesn’t know what that is?  The cup Jesus used at the Last Supper and the subject of searches ever since.  Was it real, is it real, does it hold special powers because it is what it is?   

The Resurrection Maker takes us on another quest for the Grail, this time led by Arthur Mallory, a descendant of King Arthur and Sir Thomas Mallory, both of whom had a vested interest in where the Grail has been all these years.  Mr. Cooper takes us on this quest by guiding us back and forth between Arthur’s story, Sir Thomas Mallory’s, an order called Qem, ancient alchemists turned physicists interested in the powers of the Grail and today’s Arthur Mallory.  The background information in each of these time lines is interesting stuff. 

Arthur Mallory knows who he is descended from and finds himself the possessor of newly discovered clues which take him on the quest for the Grail but he is being both guided and followed by members of the Qem who will murder and maim in the name of the cup.  While this is a race to find the cup, this isn’t a car chase story.  Things don’t blow up.  Thank you for that, Mr. Cooper.

There’s lots of history packed into this book. There has to be to explain what’s happening. But I liked that.  I did figure the story out before we were told and there were just a couple of instances where the writing was a little off, but it didn’t make me want to stop reading.  It’s a good, well researched story and worth your time.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Toot your horns

 Go ahead.  Toot your horns, wear your crowns and run around the house with chocolate smiles. It's a whole new year and when you go back to school it will be a new month, a different year and when it's your birthday you will be a new number.  They can't wait and are wishing the time away.  And as we watched them running around the house last night I could only see the years gone that brought them to this point and wondering why the time goes so fast. 

 Us?  We enjoyed nibbling...
 We wore crowns,  popped streamers, tooted horns....
played Mexican Train dominoes while watching and singing along to a DVD from 60's groups  and played a little App trick on the girls to lead them to believe they actually stayed up till midnight. 

It was a welcome change for PH and I.  We are used to welcoming the new year in the morning. It seems to come whether we stay up till midnight or go to bed at 10.