Running in Heels

February 28, 2016 at 6:40 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

51RViTYQLSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgTitle: Running in Heels

Author: Mary A. Perez

This book was hard for me to read, mainly because – post motherhood – I have discovered that reading about terrible childhoods pulls at all the wrong heartstrings.  Getting through the beginning and wanting to scoop little Mary away from all the mess, while simultaneously wanting to save her mother from herself, was stressful.  The things I loved about The Glass Castle are the same things that, after having a daughter, held me back from finishing The Liar’s Club.  Things I have the stomach to deal with in real life, because it needs done, is not something I have the stomach for in past tense memoirs, because what is done is over with now.

Mary’s memoir remains hopeful and hope filled.  After all the trials and tears, she comes out the other side, not just ok, but happy.  For this reason, I plan to donate my copy (that was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review) to the women’s ministry down the street.  There are so many people who could be blessed by her story.

She’s a quick paced writer, a little repetitive at times, but that is the way it is with memory: certain things stick out and you rehash them trying to make a bit of sense from them.  A mother who doesn’t like to cook is one thing, one who won’t cook is quite another.  As an adult, a mother, a grandmother, I imagine much of this repetition is bafflement and she articulates the differences at different ages through her life.  A child will say “mama doesn’t like cooking” whereas a woman would look back and think, “Why didn’t my mother cook for me?”

Through much of the book, Perez tells you the facts, and leaves you to infer your own conclusions as a nurtured adult.  Through obviously more emotional periods she tells you what she was feeling and leaves you to infer the facts.  It’s a riveting tactic.

 

 

 

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Peace Like a River

October 25, 2015 at 2:31 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

PeacelikeariverTitle: Peace Like a River

Author: Leif Enger

Genre: Fiction/ Literature

One of the few tragedies of working in a bookstore is seeing the popularity aftermath of a book.  When there are fifty copies of something for $1 we clerks get in the mindset (if we haven’t read the book yet) that the title was a fad.  Not just a fad, but it was clearly a book not worth keeping or re-reading.

Note to shoppers: just because a lot of people don’t keep their books and just because a book isn’t something people jump to re-read, does not mean it’s not worth reading in the first place.

For this very reason, it has taken me years to getting around to reading Peace Like a River.  Not just that, but I was tentative and checked the book out – I didn’t even purchase it!

Next time I see a beautiful hardback, I will.

Peace Like a River is all soul filled and gorgeous with running themes concerning miracles, family, God, and consequence.  It’s not what I would call a happy book, but it’s not a sad one either.  I think it is one of the few in this world written truthfully about human experience, religious families, and the nature of people who function within the knowledge of an ever present God.  People without the faith of Jeremiah Lands just don’t live lives like Jeremiah Lands.  Some might think that would be a blessing – to go through life without such scruples.  I mean, look where it got him. The fictional character finds himself in the precarious position of being a good and godly father to a fugitive, his other son – though revived from death at birth by a miracle – is a severe asthmatic.  His daughter is an insanely intelligent poet, but becomes a target in their war with existence.

How exhausting.

But Jeremiah Lands, even in pneumonia and illness, never seems exhausted.  The guy is a far cry from energetic, but he is steady.  He is solid.  He is the kind of father I think many hope for, despite his oldest son’s resistance to him.  That sort of resistance is natural, I think, when it comes to family and God. It happens.  And it happens very much just like that.  Davy is a good person with scruples of his own, he was raised right and chooses I think what many of us would choose in certain situations.  But the consequences of his choices make faith hard, and the lack of faith makes each choice harder than the next.

I needed this book this year.  And if you see a copy in a bookstore for a dollar, snatch it up quick.

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Haunting Jasmine

July 11, 2015 at 12:58 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have a cousin I’ve never met.  She married my actual cousin that I grew up playing with on a good chunk of our weekends when we were kids – and special holidays – so she’s not really MY cousin, but I have a habit of adopting people that way.  My family is weird, he’s the great grandson of my Grandfather’s sister, but I spent more time with their family than a lot of people spend with first cousins.  Unfortunately, he flitted away out of state and I haven’t had a chance to spend time with his lovely bride.

She’s been a published author for quite awhile now, longer than I’ve been running this blog, but I had conveniently lodged that information into some lost corner of my brain – until recently, as he and I played Scrabble over Facebook.

Anjali Banerjee is the lovely woman my awesome cousin chose to spend the rest of his life with and I’m so pleased to finally read one of her books.  While reading Haunting Jasmine, I felt like perhaps we were kindred spirits, as we have both written about bookstores, and clearly have a mutual passion for the written word.

She’s just way better at using those words than I am!

Title: Haunting Jasmineabanerjee-2l-haunting

Author: Anjali Banerjee

Genre: Women’s Fiction

If you’re in the mood for a haunted bookshop, a fabulous Indian aunt, a god hanging out with Dr. Seuss, Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, and a number of other ghosts – then you might need to find yourself a copy of Haunting Jasmine.  Set in the north west, there’s a nice bit of ocean, some chilly weather, rain, hot tea, and a divorcee you might want to spend a day with in Seattle.

The writing is easy to get into, and she made lucky choice to use the word wafted – we all know how much I love that word, I think.

There’s a bit of a romance, but nothing too over the top to actually place it in the romance genre – it’s more about Jasmine and her journey to understanding herself and the nature of her aunt’s shop.

It’s definitely worth a bubble bath or day off, and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. 🙂

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A Chick Lit Weekend

June 22, 2015 at 10:48 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sometimes a girl just feels the need to read some check-lit.  I read two novels this week that I think fit the bill – one more Anne Tyler – esque and the other a little more Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

Title: A Scattered Life

A_Scattered_Life_CoverAuthor: Karen McQuestion

Genre: Women’s Fiction

A Scattered Life embraces the art of telling a story from three different women’s viewpoints.  When done well, this is a nice way to allow things to unfold like an onion but still maintain a linear storyline.  McQuestion does it well.  Time your reading to finish the book right before bed so you can sleep after, because you’ll feel like you’ve lived three lives all at once when you turn the last page; it won’t exhaust you, it’s just nice to immediately fall into a slumber after living so much.  McQuestion writes for young adults as well, and I’m looking forward to see what she has to offer when she crosses genres.

Title: Vanity Fare

18880674Author: Megan Caldwell

Genre: ChickLit

Book references, pastries, coffee… umm, yeah that’s right up my alley.  Except there’s definitely a romance novel chronology to the book that distracted me from my book envy, pastry drooling, and coffee binging.  (Ironic, I know, as I am the author of The Bookshop Hotel and the characters totally tried to get romancey on me while I put them to paper.)  All in all, good stuff.  It’s something I will definitely recommend to lit-snobs who need a break from heavy reading and chronic romance readers who are looking for something less pornographic that will gently encourage them to dip into the classics.

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The Clover House

June 1, 2015 at 10:56 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

15798318Title: The Clover House

Author: Henriette Lazaridis Power

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Length: 397 pages

It took me much longer than it should have to read this book. It has the vibe of a Kate Morton novel, but didn’t quite enrapture me in the same way – mostly because I am preoccupied.  It’s possibly ironic because this preoccupation was along the same vein of that of the main character – but I was left unmoved.

It’s the slipperiness of memory that caught my attention though.  How some people remember things so drastically different than other people who were right there in the same room.  How perceptions are changed by knowledge.  How ignorance is not always bliss, but can be if you let it.

I think more than anything, the book was good, but perhaps I wasn’t ready for it.  And if I was, perhaps I’m just not ready to discuss it.  Don’t be surprised if I bring it up six months from now, once I’ve digested it all.

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And When I Think, I Fall Asleep

November 25, 2014 at 4:37 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

one-hundred-years-of-solitudeTitle: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Genre: Fiction/ Literature

Length: 458 pages

When I was a kid I had a poster of a chimpanzee on my wall.  Underneath in a font that was surely intended to motivate a young mind it said: “When I Work, I Work Hard. When I Play, I Play Hard.  But When I Think, I Fall Asleep.”  The monkey had his chin resting in his human-like hand, eyes drooped down.

Although I’ve read more books that my norm this year, I’ve just *mostly* finished my 93rd title, it’s been a lot of fluff.  It’s been a lot of things that digest easily and go down like lemonade on a hot summer day, or cooled hot cocoa in winter.  The heavier stuff that I tend to enjoy has bored me.  I’m too tired for all this thinking.  My energies are spent writing.  I want to just download books into my head, Matrix style, when I sit down to read.

One Hundred Years of Solitude has been sitting on my shelf radiating all this promise for years.  I’ve put it off because it was going to blow my mind.  It was going to be too wonderful for words.  Then, when the words came, it was supposed to be the most intelligent thing that had ever come from my mouth – or been typed by my fingers.  Because it’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Because Garcia is wonderful.  Because this is his magnum opus.

I was bored.

There’s a lot to take in.  There’s a lot to quote.  I could never write anything so wonderful in all my life.

But around page 300 out of the 458 pages, I caught myself skimming.  The drama was annoying me.  The people were unfriendly.  I couldn’t relate to anyone, nor did I want to.  This probably says more about my mood than anything else, but I started flicking through the pages speed reading to a level that even I know I’m not really reading anymore.

“Not finishing a book that doesn’t move you is a sign of reading maturity,” I just told a co-worker at the bookstore tonight.  “It’s knowing that there are so many wonderful things out there that you shouldn’t waste your time with things that aren’t wonderful.”  I waste my time with things that aren’t wonderful all the time.  Even more so, I waste my time with things that are wonderful even if I’m not feeling wonder at them at all, I’m just reading it because I’m supposed to feel awed.

Around page 370 or so, I took a deep breath, skipped to the last chapter and read it.  Yes, I skipped pages.  Lots of them.  And just read the end.  I still started nodding off.  I’m not even that tired (ok, I am that tired, but good books are supposed to keep you awake!), just that unmoved by this family and their crap.  Sadly, I didn’t feel like I missed anything at all.  I was just relieved that it was over, that I was going to mark this one off my list.  Then, I felt the annoyance of the knowledge that I was not going to write my one solid literary essay of the year, at least not on this book.  (Once a year or so, I write an essay.  A proper one, as though I’m still in school.  It’s lame.  And nerdy.  But I feel like I have to do this to stay in practice.  You know, in case I ever go back.  They get worse every year.  I’ve stopped sharing them.  Now, it looks like I’ve even stopped writing them.)

I’m further annoyed that this is a favorite book of my best friend.  I hate that I can’t share that with her.

Maybe I’ll read those pages I skipped one day.  Maybe.  For now, I’ll admit defeat and enjoy my sleep.

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There’s Something About Bungalows

September 27, 2014 at 1:44 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

P1000507Title:The Last Beach Bungalow

Author: Jennie Nash

Genre: Fiction

Length: 271 pages

I love beaches, and despite my father’s distaste for them, bungalows as well.  So naturally, the cover of the book moved me the instant I saw it.  But it took me awhile to sit down to read it.  I was saving it.  I was saving it for when I needed to lose myself in a fictional bungalow romance.  The romance, of course, being with the house, not between people.

This is a beautiful story that Nash has written.  All that is within is conveyed on the front cover except for the holiday aspect – the story revolves around Christmas time.  But maybe that’s what Christmas looks like in California.  I don’t know.  I’ve never been there.

The story is about April Newton, a cancer survivor, who is building her dream home with her husband.  Except she has an impression of her McMansion that stems from the state of her lackluster life, and instead she seeks wisdom and warmth from a beach bungalow.

The owner of this 1928 original bungalow is seeking a buyer with heart.  What would you give – besides money – to live here? Bring your offers, your stories, and a promise to preserve and protect.  Winner will pay $300,000.

The story is lovely. Lines like, “I wanted to hear the sadness out loud that I felt so silently in my bones,” trickle through and keep you turning the page.  It’s about coldness and warmth, on a level beyond the skin, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  But my favorite part was at the end, in the reader’s guide, when the publisher thought to ask teary eyed book clubbers: “Have you ever fallen in love at first sight with anything or anyone – a person, a dress, a dog, or a house?”

Yes.  Several times over, yes.  With a dog (a beagle, Geoffrey Chaucer), with a bike (a 1960’s Sears Cruiser), with two of my previous homes, and finally – the most appropriate answer – a bungalow.

Recently, we’ve been home hunting.  We’ve been redefining our dreams, our lives, our priorities.  Is it stuff?  Is it land? Is it the right neighborhood or is it being debt free?  I’ve dreamed of beaches in Georgia, of hole in the wall houses in Galveston, of land in the country, of many places… but briefly, I was madly in love with a bungalow being sold by a widow – just like in the story, but there was no contest.

It had teal trim, just down the road from a university I once planned on attending.  It was for auction as is for $55k.  There were fig and citrus trees in the back, just behind a box garden that was just beyond a patio I could have lounged on for hours.  There was a lean-to that had been enclosed to make a faux laundry room and I nearly cried with glee when I walked into it, because I’d been having discussions all year with my editor as to whether the general public these days would know what a lean-to was.  The walls in the lean-to weren’t finished and I dreamed of finishing them myself and painting them sunshine yellow.  I could see myself folding laundry with my dogs at my feet, my husband’s tools in the corner.

Just inside the back door was kitchen with custom made cabinets, floor to low ceiling.  They had been made by the man who had lived there.  Like Nash’s story, the daughter was the one showing the house.  She had tales about her father and uncle making those cabinets.  I envisioned a vintage style refrigerator where the appliance should go.

Hardwood floors, a cast iron stairway her father had welded himself.  The living room was my least favorite, but it would do, I didn’t plan on spending much time there.  The downstairs bedrooms were cozy and the attic was built out with two more – one large and strangely shaped with nooks and cranies to tuck oddly built shelves.  I wanted to hide my library there and create a writer’s nook – or make it my daughter’s bedroom.  I wasn’t sure, but it seemed like a nerdy-princess’s dream tower.  Also upstairs was a much newer restroom than was down below and a tiny bedroom fit for a doll – or a cool playroom nook.

My best friend drove me there to look.  My daughter twirled around the rooms telling me she’d live there (which was a big deal since we were leaving the only house she’d ever known).  We walked the property, me saying awkward and possibly inappropriate things in my distraction and awe while my best friend asked the real questions.  I kept going in and out.  I mentally filled the house with my own things and started visualizing what didn’t fit going into the trash can.  Outside there was a garage clearly meant for a carpenter.  The yard clearly meant for dogs and a garden.  I was dying to show my husband.  The neighborhood wasn’t quite right, but the house was a dream.  Small and quaint and restful.

Like April Newton, I wanted to rest there.  I could see myself there for years to come, if only it would offer me the peace and coziness away from the outside world that I desire most.  Like April Newton, it was not meant for me.  I can’t find any photos of it online, which must mean it’s off the market.  I only hope that whoever finally found it is treating it well.

There’s just something about bungalows.

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Seashells, Gator Bones, and an Interview

August 5, 2014 at 8:08 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Interview with Susan Adger

seashells and gator bones1. Seashells, Gator Bones, and the Church of Everlasting Liability. What a title! Can you tell us a bit about it?

Actually, my daughter Emily came up with the title, based on three of the stories in the book. Seashells are reminders of a girl’s first love, one of the characters makes jewelry out of gator bones, and the Church of Everlasting Liability is one of the town’s churches; the name came from the fact that the members are supposed to be “libel” for each other – to take care of each other – which means they have to know everybody’s else’s business.

2. What made you choose Florida as a setting?

My family has been in the Tampa Bay area for five generations, and the characters in the book are based on some of the old stories my Grandma Keathley used to tell us. When she was born in Mango, FL in 1891, the population swelled to thirty-eight people. Her mother was one of seven children, and her grandmother was one of eight, so there were plenty of crazy, I mean interesting, relatives out there to get ideas from. While everything in the book is fiction, my relatives will be able to tell you who some of the characters are based on.

3. Can you tell us a bit about your earlier work A Quiet Voice?

A Quiet VoiceThe book was inspired by a man named Eugene Hairston, who grew up in grinding poverty, then to keep himself out of trouble – he thought – he enlisted in the army and ended up fighting in Vietnam. When he reported the rampant discrimination on the base, his sergeant pushed him out of a helicopter into Viet Cong territory. He survived almost by accident, when some American soldiers on patrol happened by a few days later and rescued him. After the incident was reported, Eugene was given the opportunity to return home, which he did. With untreated P.T.S.D., he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, spent almost two decades in jails and prisons, and lived on the streets of Tampa for eight long years.

In 1998 he changed his life. I met him a few years later and we started working on A Quiet Voice in 2005. It took us almost two years of meeting weekly to complete it. Today he is married, holds a responsible position at the Bay Pines Veterans Administration Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, and is held in high esteem by hundreds of people who know him. The V.A. sends him to speak to veterans about his life at conferences nationwide, and he has received many incredibly heart-warming letters from readers. I’m very gratified to know that writing this book has helped him reach so many people.

4. Ray Bradbury once said, “You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices.” What do you think about this statement?

Well, actually, I never studied writing in college, but for me it has been really important to read a lot, to learn from what others do, and to get feedback on my work. I’ve done this mostly with other writers; I’m in two critique groups and value their input. When I’m critiquing others, however, I always remind them that what they’ve written is their work, and while it’s good to listen to input, in the end it’s their creation.

SusanPHLibInitially, I was told that I should know my entire story inside and out before actually writing it; have my outline and character sketches completed and go from there. And heaven knows I tried to do that. But when writing fiction, the only way that seems to work for me is to have an idea about a character and then just watch to see what happens; when there’s a knock on the door in the story, I go along to answer it and we both see who’s there. Of course, I do a lot of editing that way, but it works for me.

I enjoy writing short stories, keeping it light. These days I can hardly bear to watch the news or read the paper; seems to me there’s plenty of negative out there and we could all use a laugh once in a while.

5. What were your educational experiences like? Do you think these experiences have influenced the kind of writer you have become?

I was never too wild about school and wasn’t a great student, partly because when I was growing up my family moved almost every year so I was always the new kid on the block. I remember in the second grade, looking out the classroom window and thinking I’d give anything to be outside with the guys trimming the hedge rather than sitting at my desk. But somehow I ended up with a B.A. in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Education.

I’m sure everything I’ve experienced in my life has colored what I write. I don’t think any author can avoid putting themselves into their work, even if they want to. I spent a number of years working in child abuse and neglect, as well as with young children with behaviour/emotional problems or developmental delays, and their families. Being able to watch people work to make changes in their lives has been both rewarding and heart breaking. They all taught me a great deal.

6. What brought you to the writing world? What made you decide to write?

I am definitely a late starter. I first began writing when the last of my three children moved out. I remember coming home from work that day, sitting on the couch in an empty living room and listening to the quiet; nobody yelling that somebody stole her sweater (nothing was ever misplaced, it was stolen), no loud music competing with the television, no phone ringing off the hook. I felt let down, a little lonely. For about ten minutes. Then it occurred to me that after twenty-two years of raising kids, mostly as a single parent, I had a life of my own again and could do whatever I wanted. I started with family stories, and branched out from there.

7. Do you have future projects up your sleeve?

I’m in the middle of recording the Seashells book, in my grandma’s old Florida vernacular and hope to have it done this fall. (Why is everything harder than it looks?) And I have a number of stories completed for a companion book.

8. Who are your favorite authors? Do you have an author whose career you aspire to emulate?

Years ago I discovered Lee Smith, whose stories about poor families in Appalachia drew me in. While I haven’t intentionally used her as a model, she has unquestionably had an influence on my work.

9. I see on your facebook page that you do a number of public speaking events and lead group discussions on your books. What do these events involve? How do they work out for you?

I’ve been fortunate to be asked to give a number of book talks at local venues, and have been gratified to see how encouraging and supportive audiences have been. When I first started speaking, I found it quite challenging (read terrifying), but with practice, I no longer feel that I’ll have a nervous breakdown before it’s over.

I talk a little about how I got into writing and my Florida family’s background, read some excerpts from the book, and encourage listeners to record their family histories.

10. If there were one thing you would want your readers and fans to know about you, what would it be?

One of the reasons I thought to write this book was because of interviews I did with my Grandma Keathley. Years ago I sat down with her and recorded her reminiscences about growing up in Mango, and later raising her six children in Tampa. I had to kind of twist her arm to do it; she finally relented after I talked her into reciting poetry like she did to her kids when they were small, and singing a few hymns. Then I just kind of sneaked her into the interview by asking questions.

I love hearing her stories about growing up in Mango in her voice with the old Florida “southernisms” Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I’ll make myself the breakfast she’d always fix me, a fried egg on top of some buttered oatmeal, then listen to one of her interviews, and I feel better.

When I speak, I strongly encourage the audience to interview the older members of their families – these days it’s easy to videotape them – or write about their own histories. The little details are what I love most – knowing that the oxen my great-grandfather hooked up to the wagon to take his vegetables to market were named Red’en and George; and when my great-grandfather would pull my grandmother up on the horse with him so she could see the baby birds in their nest; and once, when my grandma was at a “Church Sing” with a new boyfriend, the horse took off with the buggy and when they found him he’d gotten stuck halfway over a fence. For me, details like that make my family history come to life.

And you can quote me on this: “There is NOTHING more interesting than families.”

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Entangled

July 24, 2014 at 2:53 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

EntangledCoverWebHalfAAAA1Title: Entangled
Author: Barbara Ellen Brink
Genre: Mystery
Length: 332 pages

It was the title that got me, with its spindly lettering. Then the grape leaves mysteriously hiding the heroine.  It’s grape season.  A mystery in a winery sounds just like the sort of thing to read in July.  Even more perfect, it came in time for me to pack it into my suitcase for my “vacation” – ahem – book signing tour.

Brink’s writing is heavier than I anticipated, the mystery less cozy and a little more John Grisham minus the courtroom meets Alice Hoffman.  A few times while on my road trip, I had to put it down.  The characters had more going on in their lives than my vacation was going to allow.  Of course, I found myself picking it right back up again later.

The truth is, Brink won me over with the word “wafted” on page 22. I’m a sucker for that word.  It’s one of my favorites, and I’ve blogged about this oddity of mine before.  “The sound of a child singing wafted through the open window…” and immediately I thought of my own child, back home, not a part of this trip, and I missed her.  Brink has a way of doing that to you.  You sit down to read a mystery and find yourself thinking about all the people in your life, past and present.

“I know we were just kids, but a bond like that doesn’t disappear. […] It might fade with time, but it doesn’t disappear.” – pg. 89

No, it really doesn’t, does it?  There are so many childhood friends that I don’t keep in touch with anymore, not really.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t think of them fairly often and wonder how they are, hope that they are well.  So many of them affected the way I view the world, and they probably don’t even know it.  We’re all in our thirties now, we don’t talk about any of it, we’ve all outgrown each other.  It doesn’t make the love go away.  It makes it different, but not gone.

There’s a romantic twist in Entangled as well, the kind I like: not too over the top or explicit, a romance between friends, caused by the intrusion of the past into the present.

All this intrusion is what makes Entangled special.  It’s not just women’s fiction.  It’s not just a mystery.  It’s a mystery featuring people with real problems.  In all my cozy mystery reading, that’s not often the kind of story I get.

I’ll be picking grapes tomorrow.  Maybe even having some wine later in the season.  For sure, I’ll be reading Crushed (book two in the Fredrickson Winery Saga) in the future.  There’s too many secrets at Fredrickson not to go back.

 

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Grandmother’s Cabin

July 23, 2014 at 5:31 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Grandmother's CabinTitle: Grandmother’s Cabin
Author & Illustrator: Angela Rout (@mamacomic on twitter)
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

We received this book in the mail from the author right before I left on my book signing tour to San Antonio.  I was mean, I was so excited about it, I made kiddo wait until I got back from my trip.  Daddy was under strict orders that this book was not to be read while I was away.

I thought about it while I was away a lot.  All the colors of the front cover kept coming to mind while I was faced with all the colors of San Antonio.

It was worth the waP1020726it.  Grandmother’s Cabin lived up to my own mental hype.  Kiddo snuggled up in my lap last night and settled in for the new book to review, ready with opinions.

It seems to be a snugly sort of book in general, my favorite kind, as during story time today everyone was reaching for their mothers and trying to get into laps.  That’s not typically the case with other stories.  Instinctively, children know: this book is for families and heritage, and appreciation of the good things that calm our souls.

The front cover is simply one of many exciting illustrations.  The further into the story you get, the richer the images, and more vibrant the colors – or maybe it’s the story that makes me feel like they’re richer and more vibrant…

Rout maintains a splash of color on the right side of the page and ornate pencil sketches on the left side along with the text.

P1020725

It’s whimsical, magical, and even won a “Moonbeam” award.  If that doesn’t sound mysteriously romantic, I don’t know what does.

P1020722Dedicated to all things grandmothery and cozy, the book is about spiritual healing found by looking back to your ancestors, finding comfort in tea, and relaxing with a good book and favorite activity.

“I like to paint too!” My kiddo squealed when Grandmother revealed an easel and paint tray among the tropical forest.

When Grandmother did her super hero pose, Kiddo did hers too.  Later when we went over the discussion questions Rout provides on the last page, Kiddo answered that she wants to be like Grandmother.  “I can heal like Grandmother – by licking – like Helo.”  Helo is the dog.  Clearly, my child needs more grandmother interaction and less puppy play.

“When I’m happy I don’t fly high in the sky,” Kiddo lamented.  “And I get sad when I’m sick.  And I get upset when Dad plays with MY frisbees.”  Well, then.

Finally, I read the last question to my daughter:

Grandmother’s love makes Mother feel happy. How can we connect with our ancestors and our loved ones who have lived before us?  What can we do to help them be of service to us? As an example some people tell stories, remember them, pray for them, learn about them, or celebrate their accomplishments.  What does your family do?

“Walk in the woods.  I like to walk in the woods,” my child responded wisely.  Yes, my darling, we do.  And that’s why this book spoke to us from the front cover alone.  Coffee and Tea Cups, Books, Paint Brush, Foliage… what more could a gal need to feel restful and restored?

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Grandmother’s Cabin is lovely and enriching.  It opens up a topic of discussion many people believe to be beyond what children can handle, but it’s perfect, and the children I’ve read this book to today handled it with grace and curiosity.

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I read children’s books at the Half Price Books in Humble every Wednesday throughout the summer, starting at 10:30 am.  Many of these titles are plucked from the shelf and are available for purchase right then and there.  Some of what I read and share come from a publisher or an author and might not otherwise be readily discovered.  Like today, Grandmother’s Cabin was sent to me from an author in Calgary, Alberta.  If you have kiddos, live in the area and wish to join us, please do.

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