Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Scent of Lilacs by Ann H. Gabhart ~ Book Review

In the quiet town of Hollyhill, Kentucky Jocie Brook is set to enjoy her hot lazy summer before she starts high school.  She has one prayer and that is that she gets to see her sister whom she hasn't seen since she was five.   Jocie has grown up without her since her mother up and left with her sister without saying a word to anyone.  Her loving father is an interim pastor of Mt. Pleasant Church praying to get the permanent pastorship and the vote for that is coming up.   But he has some obstacles in his way and he's just believing God will work it all out.  He has poured his love and God's love into Jocie and she has grown up being raised by him and her strict aunt.  Jocie knows she should just take her father's word for the past but there has always been that wish to know why her Mom and sister took off and left her and nobody seems to know or is willing to tell her.  Her two biggest prayers are for a dog and for her to see them again.  Both would take a miracle.   As she starts digging into her past, she stirs up things she might not want to know and that could affect not only her but her Dad's vote for the pastorship.

This was such a perfect summer read.  It is lovely story building and meandering through the lives of this family during the summer of 1964.  I love stories set in this time period and I thought the author captured small town living and attitudes of the time wonderfully.  Jocie is a fun, inquisitive, spiritual young girl who draws you into her world and her hopes.  All the characters are wonderful from Jocie to her Father with his strong faith in spite of all that has happened to her scripture quoting aunt to her father's quirky friend and co-worker Wes.  The secrets they all are hiding are woven together into a story of faith, love and family that I really enjoyed.  Looking forward to the second book continuing the story.

I gave this a 9/10.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble ~ Book Review & Tour

Publisher's Description:  

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor? As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancĂ© to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

My Thoughts:

This book is revisits the Rock Harbor series, a popular series by Colleen Coble,  which was written a few years back, something that I didn't realize when I requested it for review.  I hadn't read the prior series but I feel this book can be a stand alone and you don't have to read any of the others before you dive into this one.  There were only a couple instances when descriptions of minor characters to this story confused me a bit and I felt those descriptions of who was related to who didn't really need to be in there to make the story flow or come together.

That being said Beneath Copper Falls was a fast paced, edge of your seat murder mystery mixed with romance.  But it is not a fluffy read at all.  Along with the aspects of abuse, stalking and serial killers in the mystery, it also looks at deep heart issues like focusing on outward appearances and how they can be in direct contradiction to what the heart of a person really is.  How do we deal with things we don't like in ourselves especially when life seems to constantly be throwing us curve balls and how do we face what has shaped us and how to go on from there?

I really like the character of Dana as she tries to get her life back together while on the run from an abusive fiance.  To get away from him she heads back to where she feels she'll have some safety and support living with her adoptive brother and in the town where she grew up and has some friends.  But it seems trouble follows her no matter where she heads and just when she doesn't need it the past starts to rear it's ugly head.  I'll not lie, I found some of abusive parts very difficult to read as well as the actual deaths involved in the story and it may be a trigger for some who have been through situations like that.  I can usually handle that and just take it as part of the story but this one touched something in me and it was hard.  But Dana's story drew me in as she tried to deal with the feelings that came as everything was happening.    I liked the exploration into how we face things or bury them and how either way it shapes who we are and how we handle things.  I also liked the look into the work lives of 911 dispatchers and the training of search and rescue dogs.  Both careers that I didn't know much about.   The ending wrapped up a bit abruptly for me but still enjoyed this page turner.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for a free copy of this book for my honest review.  I wasn't required to write a positve review and all thoughts are my own.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #439

Friday has just snuck up so fast and it's time for Friday's Fave Five.  It's been a very busy week and I think that's why I feel it has flown by.  All the better to look back and find some favorite blessings before they pass me by without notice.  Please join in!

1.  Summer visit with these two wonderful people... 

Saturday we took a road trip to go see my  oldest daughter and her hubby.  We had not been to visit them since we went last year for their little wedding celebration in their own city with the friends and church family who didn't make the wedding last year.   They've been here a few times over the year but we decided it was high time we took the drive to go.  It's not a drive I love.  There is not much scenery and the view is so flat and it is a long drive of approximately 7 hours.  But I love once we get there!  We stayed for 3 nights and had a wonderful visit.  If we all look exhausted in this picture it's because we are!  LOL.  And it was hot out which added to feeling tired.  But who can resist a picnic at a beautiful park?  

2.  Virtual Reality Fun...  

Part of our visit included going to a Virtual Reality games place.  So. much. fun!  Kim was going crazy killing zombies in this picture.   It is so crazy, it feels and looks like you are right there.  Those of us waiting our turn could see on the tv screens kinda what she was seeing except in a flat one dimensional way but when you are wearing that headset it's like you are right in the game with views in all directions.  The zombie one was not to my tastes in games but I sure knocked it out in the space game.  I would totally go again!

3.  The food...

Oh my goodness, the food we ate this visit!  The night we arrived we did our traditional "Nachos" night.  We usually always end up at a Boston Pizza but this time Mitch, our son in law, suggested we go to a pub/pool hall place that had good nachos.  Wow, they were some of the best we've had in a restaurant.   Then on another night Kim and Mitch took us to the Kitchen/Wine Bar she works at.  This is a local fancy schmancy chef type place.  I'm talking the kind of place that uses fresh local ingredients when possible and even makes their own ketchup!   I've never eaten at a place like that.  Great atmosphere, and the food was amazing.  The picture above is what we had for an appetizer, one of their Charcuterie boards.  The kitchen chose what was on this one for us, but you have a choice of all sorts of meats, cheeses, breads, crackers, spreads, etc.  So good!  And for supper I had Duck Confit with Parsnip/Pear Puree, blueberry compote (I think it was called), brussel sprouts and cauliflower.  It was melt in your mouth and so perfectly seasoned that they didn't even have salt on the table and none of us needed to ask for it.  For dessert I just had to try their Creme Brulee that was voted best in Canada by the Globe and Mail.  Yum!  And the morning we left we had a delicious breakfast at another local place that was amazing food with a wonderful view.  My tastebuds were singing for days.  The only downfall to all that great food is now I have to work doubly hard at the gym.  LOL.

4.  Safe travels there and back...

Always, always thankful for this.  

5.  To do list being checked off...

This is also my maintenance week with my dayhome.  I close down and get all those things done that you just can't do when kids are around all the time.   It's busy, busy but once I put my head down and get to it, it's amazing what gets done.  

Toys sorted, broken ones thrown out, unused ones donated, boxes and shelves cleaned...check

Walls, baseboards and stair railings washed or dusted...check

Playroom carpet deep cleaned and washed...check

I just have the craft room to sort, organize and deep clean and the stair carpet left and I can relax.

What have been the things you are thankful for this week?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner ~ Book Review

In 1938 Violet and Audrey meet in Hollywood working in the secretarial pool for the making of the movie Gone With the Wind.   Violet is from a small town and looking to start life over in a new place.  Her deepest desire is to become a wife and mother and have a happy home. Audrey is a bit older and more experienced.  Having gotten a big break a few years back in a silent film that fell to the introduction of talking movies, she is looking to get re-noticed and be made into the star she knows she can be.  When she finds out Violet is looking for a place to live, she offers a room in her home and the two, though so different, become extraordinary life long friends.   But the things each woman does to hide the fears from their pasts and to achieve their deepest desires could come to a head and put their very friendship at risk and change the course of their lives.

Meanwhile in present day, Christine McAllistar comes across the find of a life time when a hat from the movie Gone With the Wind mistakenly surfaces in a box of donated clothing to her vintage clothing boutique.  As she returns it to the owner at their request the mystery of how it ended up there intrigues her.

I loved this book.  It's a story of deep friendship and what the definition of that is.  It explores what one does and justifies to oneself as one seeks after their dreams and desires.   What secrets would we hide, what we would expose?   It explores the concept of love and fear sometimes feeling like the same thing and how we hang onto things thinking we love them but in reality we are afraid to let go and that is exactly what love would have us to do.  Both women made choices in their lives motivated by the wrong reasons and were broken characters that ultimately just wanted to be happy.  I thought the characters were well written, though that doesn't necessarily mean that I always liked them, in fact at times they were infuriating, but that is part of the draw for me.  Characters who are flawed and can draw out emotions in me. I thought the author brought the set and making of Gone With the Wind and old Hollywood to life and also touched on  how World War II affected Hollywood and the making of films.   I love this author's ability to tie a historical story into a present day story.

I enjoyed the concept of this story thoroughly and how it played out in the character's lives.  It made me think about some of my own choices in life and the motivations behind them long after I closed the book.  Worth reading are the interview with the author and thinking about some of the reader's group questions.  I gave it a 10/10.

Friday's Fave Five #438

Welcome to week two of the Heat Wave!  Oh my goodness, we are wilting here in Southern Alberta!  it is 10 o'clock at night as I type this and it is still  30*C (86*F).  Saturday is supposed to be 35*C (that is 95*F).  Hot, hot, hot.  Some of you might not think so but to us that is hot especially for this extended period of time!  We might have a day or so of 30 - 32 but then our average is usually the high 20's.  But anyway, enough of weather talk.  Let's talk blessings and being grateful!  If you are new, guidelines are linked in the sidebar then please join on in!

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

1.  Two day reprieve from the heat.  A couple of days this week the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped and a good breeze blew.  It was wonderful.  We could actually turn off the air conditioning and open up the windows and just let the breeze cool the house.  Going to the playground with the kids was way more comfortable and I am very thankful that there was those 2 days for those who don't have air conditioning to help out.

2.   Celebrating my mom's birthday.  Mom's birthday was last Sunday and we had a nice time blessing her and taking her out to dinner for ribs.   I'm very thankful that we still have these times.

3 & 4.  Help in a time of need.  Even as I was making this post, my daughter called to say she was having car issues as she was driving home from visiting her sister in another province.  The 1st thing I'm thankful for here is that she made it to a city and didn't break down all by herself in the middle of nowhere on the highway.  I praise God for that.  I try not to worry too much and try to put my kids (young adults) into God's hands when they are on the road but I tell ya, this kind of stuff always nags in the back of my mind.  It's also a blessing that the phone was to tell us that and not that she'd had an accident!  So very grateful for that.

And the second thing concerning this is that she happened to be in the city where our nephew lives and he knows cars.  But when we tried to get a hold of him I could only leave a message and wait for him call back.  Then we found out he'd moved here.  Oh no.  But when he called me back, lo and behold, he "just happened " to be in the city where my daughter was still.  Hadn't quite finished moving and he went immediately to help her out.  So thankful and appreciative that he was so selfless.

So now my girl is tucked away in a nice little hotel room so she wouldn't have to drive in the dark.  She'll head out in the morning.  And like she said, once she got over the frustration, she thought she'd just go with the flow and adventure, " because you never know, Mom, it very well could be God keeping me from some tragedy or happening farther down the road."  Loved that thought and attitude.  

5.   Wading pool.  With this heat I'm so glad I have a wading pool that's big enough to fit the older dayhome kids so they can beat the heat and have some water fun.  I can't leave it up all week 'cause it kills the lawn underneath but for 2 - days a week that thing is busy doing it's job.  Money well spent!

Well I'm looking forward to a lazy day Friday with some more pool time with the kids and a movie afternoon.  Have a great weekend everyone!

What were you're favorites this week?

Friday, July 07, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #437

More aware of what you have than what you don't. Recognizing the treasure in the simple - a child's hug, fertile soil, a golden sunset. Relishing in the comfort of the common.  "     -Max Lucado

 Ahhh, love that quote above by Max Lucado.  He sums up so nicely what this Friday Fave Five is all about.  Welcome to one and all on this smoking hot Friday.  We in Southern Alberta are in the middle of a "Heat Event",  2 weeks of temps being between 30*F (86*F) up to 36*C (96.8*F) and maybe even higher and it's not cooling down as usual at night either.  Now I know to some of you that is nothing but to those of us whose usual temps are in the higher 20's that is hot.   Whew.    But moving along to the real reason for this post, the favorite blessings of the week.

1.  Canada Day.  This year was Canada's 150th birthday so there was lots of special things going on.  We, however, decided to skip the crowds and went on our traditional bike ride and Starbucks stop.  The weather was lovely and because so many were in certain parts of town where all the action was, it made for a peaceful bike ride on the side of town where we like to ride the most.  Then in the afternoon we were treated to a delicious bbq at our friend's place.  We love to go there because not only is he a wonderful cook but we all like each other's company because we can relax and be ourselves.  There is not too many people we share that with so it's always nice visiting with them.  Then at dark I went with my youngest and my sis to the fireworks.  This year we got seats very close to where they were firing from and were right under the high ones.   The show was especially spectacular this year and went about 10 minutes longer than usual due to the special Canada Day.  Glad I went.

2.  Mountain Day trip.  I took Monday off in lieu of Canada Day being on a Saturday and hubby suggested we go to Waterton.  All the national parks in Canada are free to get into this year due to Canada's 150th so you didn't have to ask me twice.  My sis and her hubby came with us and we roasted hot dogs at our favorite spot, relaxed, took a nice hike to a lovely falls and then went for delicious ice cream to cap off the day.  We are really blessed to have a gem of a park in the mountains only an hour or away.  A lovely mountain village, miles and miles and miles of trails from super easy to a seasoned hikers dream, creeks, waterfalls, red rock canyons and so much more.  It's my happy place for sure.

3.  Beautiful Sunsets.  No flowery words needed.

4.   Air conditioning.  This week I am especially grateful for air conditioning.  Though usually I don't like it running frigid cold and usually do turn it off at night due to the night's cooling off nicely and because I prefer sleeping with an open window, this week I am so thankful for ac.  Because I work at home and with kids it's nice to have the cool house to escape the heat for all of us.

5.  Iced Coffee.  I've been trying not to drink too much coffee in the afternoon but this week I've been treating myself to a tall glass of homemade iced coffee.  No sugar just milk with a splash of vanilla or a dash of cinnamon.  

BONUS and most favorite fave of the son passed his licensing exams and is now a paramedic!  I'm a proud mama and so happy for him.

What have your favorites been this week?  

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy 4th of July to all my American friends.
Have a fun and safe holiday!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends and family!
Stay safe and have fun celebrating Canada's 150th!