Saturday, June 16, 2018

Summer of Joy by Ann H. Gabhart

This is the 3rd installment in the Hollyhill series.   It continues to follow the story of Jocie Brooke and her family.  Jocie is now 14 and looking forward to finishing school and enjoying summer.  Everything is going great for everyone in the family...her Dad and his girlfriend Leigh are becoming closer, her sister is doing well and still living with them along with her adorable little baby.  They are all enjoying doting on him and the community seems to have accepted his chocolate colored skin in spite of last year's racist upheaval.  Everything is fine except for the turmoil that one of Jocie's teacher's is causing her.  He is new, stepping in for the regular English teacher on leave.  And according to Jocie, he is just plain mean and has it in for her.  But as the end of the school year approaches Jocie will have more on her plate to deal with than a frustrating teacher as a shocking appearance by the one person she never wanted to see happens and another stranger comes to town who could just ruin one of her most cherished relationships.

I enjoyed this wrap up to the coming of age story of Jocie Brooks and the people of Holyhill.  It was a satisfying ending to their storylines and their character arc and growth throughout the series was very interesting to me.  The author continued in the vein of good storytelling though there was one phrase that I thought was used way too much throughout the story and I found myself sighing everytime it was brought in.   I thought the author was very skillful in treating the storylines of a stalker, a teacher who was picking on a student, and small town community attitudes with the 1960's feel.  She really was able to convey the attitudes and approaches to those kinds of things from that era's viewpoint.  We would definitely not approach things that way today.  Though this was my least favorite of the 3 books it wrapped everything up nicely.

The other two books are reviewed here and here.

I gave this one an 8/10

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #486

Hi everyone!  Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Please join in as we look back over the week and  look for blessings in our lives, things that made us smile, uplifted us, helped us to take another step.  They may be big or they may be small, they may have big impact or just be something that may have slipped by had you not paused to think about it.  Whatever they are they are helping us to cultivate a grateful attitude.

Of note, I have put my comments to being moderated in the hopes that I will know that people have commented.  Once Blogger gets it together and gets this thing figured out, then I'll put it back.  Unless of course this doesn't work and then we'll be back to square 1.  I have been checking the Blogger comments in my account once a day but I'd rather get the email.  And hopefully it will let me email back.  We shall see.

So this week has gotten away from me with interviewing families for work to fill some spots for the fall and my Dad's health issues.  So today's Fave Five is going to feature my five favorite flowers in my garden or flower pots this year.  I notice that they bring me a lot of joy.  The splashes of color and all the variety of shapes just make me happy.  I don't know the names of them all but maybe the pics will bring a smile to you too.

~ Nicotiana ~ otherwise known as Flowering Tobacco.   I tend to choose this lovely little plant quite often in my rotation through the years.  I just love them.  They usually come in a variety pack so you never know what number of what colors you will get but that's ok, I love them all.  They are beautiful in their simplicity with their trumpet like flowers clustered together on their stems.  This is my favorite color one this year, but they also come in red, a yellowy-white, and dark pink.

~ hostas~  I love me a lovely hosta.  They are so gorgeous, loving those shady spots where you just don't what to put.  I can get really carried away in the hosta section.  They come in so many varieties with lovely leaves of different shapes and sizes and variations of green, yellow and white.  This baby is doing quite well in the spot in the backyard that used to house the wooden garbage can bin that is no longer needed.  It is a hosta that has done well, due to one fact and one fact only... I've basically left this one alone!  I tend to rearrange my garden and so things don't grow so big, but because of how this beauty is doing I am learning to leave them be!  Look at the size of those leaves.  This hosta is about 4 years old now.

~ Verbena~ this is a staple I put in my deck pot every year.  This year I found this lovely "Candy Cane Stripe" variation.  So pretty.  Love how these flowers drape and hang.

~??~  I can't remember the name of these lovely, dainty little flowers at all.  I nab them whenever I see them for my pot on the deck because they are so delicate and lacy looking and they remind me of a little mini daisy which to me is a cheerful flower.  

~ wishbone flower ~ these delicate little things are new to me this year and I just love them.  I got the last pack of 4 left at the greenhouse, they were just sitting there looking lonely so I grabbed them and added this great green nesty thing into the middle.  I have no idea what it's name is.  It has these great curly cue things and is pretty unique.  Yes it's real and not plastic or wire though it looks and feels like it.  

So that is my favorite blessings, garden version.  What were your favorite blessings this week?

Friday, June 08, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #485

Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Intentionally looking for the blessings of the past week is what we do.  Cultivating a grateful attitude and life is our goal.  Please join us.  If you are new to FFF, guidelines are linked in the sidebar.  Please read through them and then just join on in.

In no particular order here are 5 of my favorite blessings from the week:

~mama duck and all her littles~  On Sunday, hubby and I took a stroll around the lake.  As we were walking a mama duck and about 10 babies came swimming by.  If was so adorable.  The were all clumped together and turned as one following their mama as she kept them a safe distance from us.  Unfortunately no picture because I didn't take my phone on the walk.  Darn.  I gotta start taking that thing with me, even though I want to unplug and enjoy nature, just so I can get these awesome pictures.

~golden bleeding heart replaced~ Last year, I really wanted a golden bleeding heart bush for my empty space in my shade garden.  I was gifted one, but I think they had it labeled wrong.  Golden bleeding hearts have very light yellowy green leaves on peach colored stems with light pink hearts. That's not what the one I was gifted looked like.   I planted it anyway but it didn't end up growing at all and then winter kill did it in this last winter.  So I headed to the garden store to try and see about replacing it.  They are a rare variety, imported from England, so I didn't have much hope.  But I found me one.  And it was more the color that I knew it should be.  It's planted and growing, so hopefully it will thrive.

~strawberry coconut refresher~ In the summer I have loved the lime refreshers from Starbucks but I don't get them often because of the sugar content.  This year they introduced a strawberry refresher made with coconut milk.  Some stores call it a Pink Drink.  Oh yum.  Still a bunch of sugar but a girl has to treat herself sometime! I have found a new summer favorite!

~visit from Jeremy~ Our son and his girlfriend made it down for a visit this weekend.  I had a really nice time catching up with them and spending some time with just me and his girl getting to know her better.  Anytime my kids make it home is always a favorite.  And in true Jeremy tradition, like the queen flying the flag when she's in residence, Jeremy also let's us know when he is in residence by mixing up my photos in some way.  I never quite know what combination I will get.  This time it was a new one I hadn't seen before.  And what's funny is it always takes me a day or two to notice.  I oughta know better.  Ha.

Jeremy in residence

How it's supposed to look

~my hero, the wasp hole filler~ Some nasty wasps decided they were going to start building a nest under our back door where the cement was starting to deteriorate.  And these weren't little guys, they were huge wasps.  The kind that require pilot's licenses due to size.  I am scared of them to begin with but have learned to somewhat control that fear around the kids.  But when they are holding me hostage at my back door, I call on the Hubby.  He cemented it up in no time and give a couple days when those nasty things get the hint and quite hovering around the door frame, I can again use my back door without being buzzed.  My SuperHero is very much appreciated!

What were your favorite things fro the last week?

Thursday, June 07, 2018

A Time To Stand by Robert Whitlow ~ Book Review

Adisa Johnson is an up and coming attorney at a huge law firm in Atlanta working in the corporate take over division.  She thrives on finding traps in multi-million dollar business mergers and purchases and putting together major corporate deals.  But when her aunt, who raised her and her sister, has a stroke and will need some help, Adisa heads home to small town Campbellton.  When she arrives she finds her home town embroiled in a huge controversial case that is pulling her town apart.  A white police officer has shot a popular and athletic black high school student.  The youth's life is hanging in the balance as all wait to see if the youth will survive and the officer will be charged.  He claims he had justifiable reason and that he heard a gun shot before he discharged his own weapon, that he is not a racist.  But the black community is not buying it and claims that he used his weapon simply because the youth was black.  Embroiled in the escalating controversy is a prominent black pastor who leads a very large church in the community.  When she comes to town, the pastor assumes which side she will take and wants her help in whatever way she can to prosecute the police officer to the full extent of the law.  Pulling her in the other direction is her old mentor who wants her to defend the officer.  Just when she has made up her mind and wants to get into the fray by helping prosecute, the young black youth's grandmother does something totally unexpected and Adisa finds herself challenged to look at the case with new eyes and with the town becoming more and more divided she finds herself being drawn to do the unthinkable at great cost to herself.

I really enjoyed this very timely story.  It drew me right in and made me think of these issues from other angles other than what might seem obvious.  It challenges perceptions about assumptions, consequences, justice, forgiveness and solutions to the seemingly insurmountable and unsolvable issues of race and profiling and policing.  I loved the character of Adisa who was a strong black woman but also felt the affects of racism in her life but was open enough to have her own perceptions and assumptions challenged.  I loved her bravery in doing what she thought she was being called to do.  With the lines drawn in the sand for the townspeople, I found the aspect of the story which had both sides believing God for victory very interesting, because that is what happens with life.   The story drew me to see how the author would handle that dilemma of which prayer God would answer and how.  Though once in awhile, I found some of the conversations a bit stilted I really enjoyed this book because of how it opened up my own thinking and would be excellent, I think, for a book club to discuss.

I gave it a 9/10.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #484

Hello and welcome to Friday's Fave Five.   I cannot believe it is June the 1st.  This month has just flown by.  It's a good thing this FFF exercise forces me to take a pause and take note of good things or else they would just escape me.  Please join me in sharing five of them.

~short but sweet visit with a friend~ I had been thinking of my friend who I haven't seen in a long while even though we live in the same city and lo and behold she texted me to set a date for a coffee and visit.  It was so nice seeing her again.  We have one of those precious friendships where we just pick up as if we are together all the time and we can be ourselves with no pretense.   How I miss get together more often.  We left with promises of setting dates that are not so few and far between .

~ flowers all planted ~ this year I have been so unmotivated with the whole outdoor flower thing.  I got my deck planter done as I mentioned in last week's FFF but the rest just wasn't happening.  But one evening this week I determined to get it done and I went and bought some flowers and got them put in.  Now I'm so glad it's done and wonder why I wasn't motivated.  Silly how that is.

~ very much needed rain ~ yesterday it started to rain and it is continuing today.  Though it made it much colder out, the rain was so needed.  And it's a nice rainfall that is getting absorbed which our area is desperate for.  It has been so dry that they've already had a fire ban in the river valley.  Which is totally bizarre because we had a crazy winter which saw record snow.  But it melted so fast that a lot was run off and didn't get absorbed and we basically skipped spring around here and have jumped straight from winter into summer weather.  So yes, rain away!

~ fresh cut lawn ~  My hubby is so faithful to keep our grass mowed on a regular basis.  I just love when he does it.  The fresh cut grass smell is so wonderful, and it's so nice for the kids to play in a nicely cut lawn.

~ lilacs ~ The lilacs have been blooming like crazy around here and you can smell it when you are outside.  So beautiful.  Of course a nice vase full on the table is lovely too, though daughter and I both found the smell of them a bit too strong this year for some reason.  Nevertheless we stuck it out cause they are gorgeous!

What have been your favorite blessings from this past week?

Saturday, May 26, 2018


Is anybody else who blogs on the Blogger platform not getting their comments coming through their emails over the past couple of days?  Sooooo frustrating!   Unless I check every post continuously I have no idea that anybody has even commented.  And then I can't reply back to you all through email.  Sure I can leave a comment on my own post but then you don't know I've replied back that way to you.  Ugh.  I hate when Blogger has issues!

The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner ~ Book Review

I picked this book out of my pile because my daughter has just booked her trip to Florence so I thought that was great timing. Meg has been in love with the idea of Florence since she was a small child and her beloved grandmother promised her a trip there. But when her Grandma died when Meg was 12 without being able to fulfill that promise her Dad promised he would step in and take her. As much as she loves him though, her Dad has never been good at doing what he promises. Not wanting to give up hope, Meg is surprised when her Dad sends her an airline ticket and cash card to take the trip. But it's under less than up front circumstances but Meg leaves anyway sure that he will meet her there. And while there she can meet with authors that deal with the publishing company she is working for and check out a new author they want to introduce her to. Sophia Borelli is only too happy to show Meg around the city of Florence and to show Meg more chapters from her book. Claiming to be an only survivor of the Medici family, Meg's bosses want her to find proof of Sophia's claim before they will do anything with the book. But when Sophia starts saying she can hear an old Medici princess Nora, speaking to her through statues and paintings, Meg starts to get caught up in Sophia's world of masterpieces and the Italian Renaissance.

 I gotta admit this started slow for me and never really did pick up or grab me. I found my mind wandering through out the story as I read, to the point where I could not even really remember all that much about the story to write the review, especially the historical parts about Nora and the Medici family and Sophia and her hearing things from Nora through the works of art. I found myself skipping some sentences and paragraphs and I didn't engage with the characters. This book does have great reviews on Amazon, however, so other readers did enjoy it. Though I did enjoy the descriptions of Florence, not sure what my thing was, but I just wasn't into this story.

 I gave this one a 5/10 not because it was a bad story or bad writing but because I just couldn't engage with it.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday's Fave Five #483

Hi and welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  Looking intentionally back over our week and finding those blessings and good things helps us to have a more thankful and hopeful outlook.  Please join us.

**of note**  I don't know why my post is coming out green.  I have tried to find the problem in the html and have tried over and over to change it, even redoing the whole post.  I am now way too tired to worry about it.  So I apologize if it is hard to read.

~Mother's Day Mani and Pedi~ My youngest daughter, who does manicures and pedicures for a salon, gifted me the for Mother's Day.  Saturday I had my appointment with her and it was so much fun.  The hand massage was heaven for my very sore thumbs and now I actually have nice nails.  And the time with her was my favorite.

~ Royal Wedding~ I am definitely not a royal watcher, per say, but I did enjoy watching the wedding and thought the bride looked elegant and lovely.  

~ Flower Pot~  Two years ago my favorite flower pot on the deck finally, after many years of service, bit the dust and I had to throw it out.  I used an old clay one last year but not only hated it and the harsh winter cracked and broke it to bits.  The pots I really like are the glazed ones but I have never bought one because the thought of digging out all the dirt and finding somewhere to store the things for the winter just doesn't appeal to me.   The when I just happened to be in a hardware store, there sat one lonesome pot.  It was just the right size, sturdy plastic but had the look of the glazed clay ones.  And it was in a color I like and in my price range.  Score.  I nabbed that thing so fast and now it is looking lovely in it's new home on my deck.  (pics to come once I plant my flowers)

~ Haircut~ I was in desperate need of a haircut and finally got one last night.  My stylist who usually does my hair is on maternity leave so it has been a bit of an adjustment working it out with the girl she passed me too.  The new stylist is very good but she doesn't know my likes and quirks like my regular stylist.  Last cut was a bit too bulky and long and this time she got the style right but a bit too short.  But I like how she really tries to listen to what I want and asks questions so we are on the right track.  

~First bike ride of the year~  Monday was a holiday long weekend here in Canada.  Traditionally hubby and I go for a nice long bike ride on this day, sometimes ending in a bbq, sometimes stopping at starbucks.  It was a perfectly beautiful morning for the bike ride and we went on one of favorite routes enjoying the view and the fresh air and exercise.

Well those were my favorites this week.  It was a short work week for which I am also grateful as the kids were all kind of out of sorts this week so the weekend is very welcome.  I'll be planting the rest of my flowers and hopefully another bike ride is in the plans.  Have a great week!

What were your favorite blessings this week?