THURSDAY SPARKS: IGNITING OUR CONNECTIONS…AND MEMORIES

Our connections in life ignite us and help us get through our days.  The symbol of my connections (above) has been my One Word for the past two years.

And the people in my life…cement the connections.

Today I’m sharing a few of those people.  My No. 2 Son, below, loves connecting with his three kids over favorite sports.

Or he loved spending time in Europe with his daughter, when she enjoyed a semester in Prague.

Here is my No. 1 Son with Aubrey, in Prague…wrapped in a snow globe.

Back home…here is a photo of my daughter…and youngest grandson (in his ROTC uniform).

 

A holiday party:  Heather, far left, and her coworkers…

Here is Noah, several years ago.  I love this one!

 

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Two years ago, my granddaughter Fiona and I went far north to the beach, and spent time with my youngest son.  Here she is, walking the beach with him.

And (below), here is a blast from the past:  Me, Christmas in 1970, in Sacramento, CA.

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Life’s moments, past and present, are best enjoyed with our special connections.

What ignites you?  What moments are memorable?

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Linking to A Web of Stories.

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THURSDAY SPARKS: A BOOK ABOUT A WOMAN & A TRIAL…

Recently I watched the Netflix show about the O.J. Trial, which gave us a peek behind the scenes at the players.  Marcia Clark was portrayed by Sarah Paulson, and she did an excellent job.

After watching the show (the first time, on network TV), I started reading Marcia Clark’s books, but had not yet read her story of that trial.

Today I downloaded the book…and can’t wait to start reading it.  Without a Doubt is not just a book about a trial. It’s a book about a woman.

Marcia Clark takes us inside her head and her heart. Her voice is raw, incisive, disarming, unmistakable. Her story is both sweeping and deeply personal. It is the story of a woman who, when caught up in an event that galvanized an entire country, rose to that occasion with singular integrity, drive, honesty and grace.

In a case that tore America apart, and that continues to haunt us as few events of history have, Marcia Clark emerged as the only true heroine, because she stood for justice, fought the good fight, and fought it well.

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I remember the trial IRL, beginning in 1995, and how it took over the TV stations.  I was frustrated that there was nothing else to watch, back then; but I was glued to the screen for the TV movie.

We do have a tendency to watch, like those viewing a train wreck, but what does that say about us?  Is it simply curiosity, or are we gluttons for the harsh evil around us, clamoring for more, even as events wrap themselves around us and grip us like a noose?

We love our thrillers, we watch reality TV events, and we can’t seem to get enough.  What is next?  I know that I look at the news feeds daily to see what is going on in the world, what events are occurring that could change things for us.  I hope for the downfall of some who represent the tawdry world in which we now live.

Do you love watching?  Are you caught up in the turmoil?

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THURSDAY SPARKS: FOREVER CONNECTED….

Some of you may know that this blog began as Snow Connections, at Blogger, and celebrated the “twin cousins,” Aubrey and Fiona, born just days apart.

Over the years, we’ve seen how their lives have taken them on different paths, but they are always and forever connected by their circumstances.

Nowadays, they do not resemble their photos (above).  For a few months now, Aubrey has been attending a university semester in Prague, and this week’s photos offer a glimpse of some of her “extracurricular” activities, like visits to neighboring countries…for example, Poland.

 

I especially enjoyed this Krakow Christmas Mart.

 

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I loved this one, too, a view:

 

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Then we can see the countryside…

 

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In this one, Aubrey is playing around with photo editing…or she has figured out how to clone herself:

 

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This sad photo makes me think about the horrific mistakes of the past:  Auschwitz…

 

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Back at home, Fiona is trying on her various versions of herself.  I especially enjoy this one:

 

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And this version…

 

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And here they are again (far right), back in the past…enjoying the weird tree house/fort that my youngest son (Fiona’s dad) created at our foothill home.  I loved the line of eucalyptus trees that bordered the property on one side.

 

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Check out the trees that line the border…and Aubrey with her dad, Brett…

 

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What photo memories are you enjoying today?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: EXCERPTING “THE MELODY LINGERS ON”

Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s featured book is from an author I’ve enjoyed for years.  The Melody Lingers On, by Mary Higgins Clark, is a headline-making finance scandal and a breathtaking tale of deception.

 

 

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Intro:  Thirty-year-old Elaine Marsha Harmon walked briskly from her apartment on East Thirty-Second Street in Manhattan to her job as an assistant interior decorator fifteen blocks away in the Flatiron Building at Twenty-Third Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  Her coat was warm but she had not worn gloves.  There was a distinct chill this early November morning.

She had twisted her long auburn hair and fastened it at the back of her head.  Now only wisps of it blew around her face.  Tall, like her father, and slender, like her mother, she had realized after graduating from college that the life of a teacher was not the way for her to go.  Instead, she enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology and after receiving a degree had been hired by Glady Harper, the doyenne of interior decorating among the wealthy and the socially ambitious.

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Teaser:  Back at the table, he unfolded the Times first.  Then with dismay he read the headline on the right-hand side of the page.  “Parker Bennett’s Secretary Indicted as Co-conspirator.” (p. 77).

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Synopsis:  As the sole assistant to a famous upscale interior designer, Lane Harmon is accustomed to visiting opulent homes. So her latest job at a modest New Jersey townhouse is unusual. Then she learns the home belongs to the wife of disgraced finance magnate Parker Bennett, who vanished two years earlier, along with the five billion dollar hedge fund he managed.

The debate over whether Bennett was suicidal or staged his disappearance still continues. Both his clients and the federal government want to trace the money and find him. But Lane is surprisingly moved by Mrs. Bennett’s steadfast faith in her husband’s innocence. Gradually, Lane is also drawn to the Bennetts’ son, Mark, who is equally determined to prove his father is not guilty. What she doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to the notorious family, the more her life—and that of her five-year-old daughter—is in jeopardy.

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What do you think?  Do the excerpts grab you?  Would you keep reading?

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THURSDAY SPARKS: RANDOM THOUGHTS ON LIFE, ETC. — MAY 23

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When I found this photo of poppies on Pinterest, my mind reeled backward in time.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are about wandering the land around our home, picking poppies at will.  Not something we can do nowadays, if we can even spy a spare poppy field.

And I loved the song about Poppies, golden poppies, gleaming in the sun….

Nostalgia catapults me backwards at the oddest moments, but never more than when I’m reading or watching a movie.  Images thrust me into the oddest places in my life and my mind.

As I came here today, presumably just to check out alternate themes…and then when I actually changed the theme to this one, I thought about “followers.”

Our blogs keep track for us, and while not one of my blogs has very many followers—the largest total being on An Interior Journey, with 146—when I add up the totals of all eleven blogs, I have 772 followers.  Would I have more or less followers if I had stuck to just one blog? Definitely a random thought….and trivial, at best.

What does any of this have to do with nostalgia, or childhood, or random thoughts?  Well….random, as in traipsing all over the place and seemingly going nowhere.

Do you have days like that?

Meanwhile, I’m struggling with my reading this week.  After a promising start with my quick read of captivating Don’t Go, by Lisa Scottoline, I’ve been trudging through the books that followed.  Alternately watching movies, taking naps, and doing anything but staying on track.

 

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Is it WHAT I’m reading…or something else?  How do you bring focus to your reading when your mind wants to take a journey elsewhere?

It didn’t help that I’ve downloaded some new books and two new Vine reads came in the mail.  I’m itching to grab one or more of these, and forget all about my plan for the day!

Kind of Cruel, by Sophie Hannah, is one I really want to read!

 

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And The Husband’s Secret has me drooling, too….

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Yesterday, I downloaded All the Days of My Life (so far), by Alison Sweeney.

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And another download is practically shouting at me:  The Glass Wives, by Amy Sue Nathan

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So now that I’ve laid it all out there, what should I do?  What would you do?

 

THURSDAY SPARKS: MOOD READING — MARCH 14

messy bookshelves-memeWelcome to Thursday Sparks, where today we’re celebrating a Booking Through Thursday event.

Today we’re examining the issue of Mood Reading:

Does your current mood affect your reading? Affect your choices? I know there are plenty of books I enjoy, but only if I’m in a particular kind of mood–or books that can lift me out of a bad mood without fail. Surely I’m not alone?

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Lately, my reading has been somewhat organized, as I’ve been planning out each week and blogging about it on Mondays.  But when I plan, I do consider my moods, as well as any review books on my stacks that need to get done.

Despite the “obligations,” therefore, I do consider my moods.  Some weeks must have mysteries, to elevate me from my angst or distract me from my issues.  And I also need something light in there to balance out the heavier reads.

This week, my list seems strongly weighted toward review books, but I purposely picked a mix that included something I knew I would enjoy:  a fun sounding read.

Click for my review
Click for my review

The View from Penthouse B is all about women at a certain time in their lives, having dealt with several crises, finding the joy and hilarity in their connections to the people around them.  Light and funny moments to balance out their troubles.

I also turn to authors I’ve enjoyed when I need to feel uplifted.  Like Wendy Wax’s newest book:  While We Were Watching Downton Abbey.

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I just finished this one last night, and it was the kind of book I needed for my current mood: I had a few worries and distractions that needed an escape.

And finally, I’m now reading this review book that is also taking me out of my everyday world, and enhancing my mood:

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The Tin Horse is a multigenerational story, but at its heart are secrets, a little mystery…and that feeling that exists in families and friendships.  About the intense, often fraught bonds between sisters, mothers, and daughters and the profound and surprising ways we are shaped by those we love. At its core, it is a book not only about the stories we tell but, more important, those we believe, especially the ones about our very selves.

See, even my organized weeks can cater to my moods.  And always there are books nearby that I can pick up, depending on my mood, even if they’re not on my list!  Because it’s my list…right?

So how do you deal with your moods in terms of your reading?

THURSDAY SPARKS: THEMES & BOOKING — OCT. 25

 

Welcome to another day of bookish delight, as we celebrate two events.

Theme Thursdays, hosted by Reading Between Pages, is all about finding themes in the books we read and enjoying the writing styles of the authors we explore.

Booking Through Thursday is like a conversation amongst bloggers in response to a prompt issued each week.

Come on by and join in the fun!

Theme Thursdays:

The themes we discover in our bookish explorations show us a bit about an author’s descriptive style of writing.

 

The theme for this week is

TIME , hour, minutes, seconds, duration etc.

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Today I’m spotlighting a mystery from Lauren Carr:  Dead on Ice.

Snippet:  Slipping his arm across her shoulders, Joshua introduced her to Albert.  “Cameron and I have been seeing each other since this past summer.  She’s a homicide detective with the Pennsylvania State Police.”

Snippet:  “But it’s like he’s aged twenty years overnight.  I think I’m going to invite him to dinner after church this Sunday.”

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Blurb:  Dead on Ice is the first installment of Lauren Carr’s new series (Lovers in Crime) featuring Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates. Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

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Booking Through Thursday:

The flip side of last week’s …

Are there any good books that you read IN SPITE OF the cover and ended up wondering what on earth the artist and publisher were thinking to pair up a cover that so badly represented a perfectly good book?

And … if you didn’t like the cover, what made you pick up the book? The author? Assigned reading from school? A recommendation from a friend?

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I don’t like the covers of the Stieg Larsson books, but I’d heard a lot about them…so I read the first one and I’m planning to read the second.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was definitely compelling…once I got into it.

 

And Shades of Murder, by Lauren Carr, had a cover that didn’t really grab me, either.  But I have enjoyed the books by this author.

 

And I didn’t really HATE either of these covers, but they didn’t compel me to pick up the books.

Scrolling through my reading lists for the past two years, I didn’t find that many covers that were unappealing or didn’t match the book.  Perhaps the covers are very influential in my actual picks!

What about you?  What pulls you in and keeps you reading?

WHAT SPARKS MY ENTHUSIASM ON A THURSDAY? — OCT. 18

Bookish Treats

 

Nothing does it for me quite like a new book.  Something glossy and gorgeous that arrives in the mailbox.

And while I find much pleasure in my downloads on Sparky (my Kindle), I do thoroughly enjoy the touch, feel, and scent of a real book.  And what I received last week has sparked all of my pleasurable feelings.

I preordered Blackberry Winter, by Sarah Jio, months ago.  It felt a little like waiting for Christmas as the calendar days ticked off and the release date marched toward me.

 

I wanted to start reading it right away, but I had review books that took priority.  But after I had finished my third review book this week, I felt totally justified in grabbing this one.  So I set up a reading spot in the dining room with the cool air coming in through the open patio door, and enjoyed the opening pages along with a plate of scrambled eggs and orange juice.

Pleasurable moments sparked by my love of books.

 

Another book arrived unexpectedly this week.  I had read this author’s two previous books, so I was delighted to get You Tell Your Dog First, by Alison Pace.

 

What sparks your excitement on a Thursday?  Or on any day of the week?

THURSDAY SPARKS: THEMES & BOOKING — SEPT. 20

Welcome to another day of bookish delight, as we celebrate two events.

Theme Thursdays, hosted by Reading Between Pages, is all about finding themes in the books we read and enjoying the writing styles of the authors we explore.

Booking Through Thursday is like a conversation amongst bloggers in response to a prompt issued each week.

Come on by and join in the fun!

Sometimes on a Thursday, I am tempted to just unplug…after all, the week is almost done, and yet it’s not Friday.

But then I visit the hosts of these fun events and I have to participate.

What about you?  What are you hoping for today?

 

Theme Thursdays:

Every week, we are presented with a new theme; these theme give us a wonderful opportunity to explore and understand different writing styles and descriptive approaches adopted by authors.

The theme for this week is

RUN , jog, race, sprint etc.

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Okay, the theme today didn’t fit the books I’m reading.  Can you believe I couldn’t find a single “run” in the first few chapters, so I gave up and grabbed A Different Kind of Normal, by Cathy Lamb, a book that was just patiently waiting on the stack.

Description:  From acclaimed author Cathy Lamb comes a warm and poignant story about mothers and sons, family and forgiveness–and loving someone enough to let them be true to themselves. . .

Jaden Bruxelle knows that life is precious. She sees it in her work as a hospice nurse, a job filled with compassion and humor even on the saddest days. And she sees it in Tate, the boy she has raised as her son ever since her sister gave him up at birth. Tate is seventeen, academically brilliant, funny, and loving. He’s also a talented basketball player despite having been born with an abnormally large head–something Jaden’s mother blames on a family curse. Jaden dismisses that as nonsense, just as she ignores the legends about witches and magic in the family.

Over the years, Jaden has focused all her energy on her job and on sheltering Tate from the world. Tate, for his part, just wants to be a regular kid. Through his blog, he’s slowly reaching out, finding his voice. He wants to try out for the Varsity basketball team. He wants his mom to focus on her own life for a change, maybe even date again.

Jaden knows she needs to let go–of Tate, of her fears and anger, and of the responsibilities she uses as a shield. And through a series of unexpected events and revelations, she’s about to learn how. Because as dear as life may be, its only real value comes when we are willing to live it fully, even if that means risking it all.

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Snippet:

I tried to run after the baby, my mother wobbling behind me on her heels in shock, but two nurses stopped us at the swinging white doors of the ICU, grabbing our arms, holding us close, our hands outstretched toward the baby as we cried, we pleaded.  p. 10

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Booking Through Thursday:

Quick–what are you reading right now? (Other than this question on
this website, of course.) Would you recommend it? What’s it about?

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I am reading Click: An Online Love Story, by Lisa Becker.

The story is about a couple of singles, living in LA, who decide to try Internet dating to find “the one.”  That elusive someone who could be their love interest.

The story is narrated via e-mails, and while it took me awhile to get into the flow of this style, it is smart and funny and full of the comedies life presents when we’re putting ourselves out there.

Here’s the Amazon description:  Fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats, Renee Greene, the heroine of Click: An Online Love Story, reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds through a series of emails between Renee and her best friends (anal-compulsive Mark, the overly-judgmental Ashley and the over-sexed Shelley) as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. From the guy who starts every story with “My buddies and I were out drinking one night,” to the egotistical “B” celebrity looking for someone to stroke his ego, Renee endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC’s, FWD’s and inadvertent Reply to All’s, readers will root for Renee to “click” with the right man.

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So what are you reading today?  Come on over and share…..

WHAT SPARKS YOUR ENTHUSIASM ON A THURSDAY? — SEPT. 13

Thursday is the day in the week that can be kind of “meh,” but sometimes there are solutions for that feeling.   Like participating in an online discussion that brings in other bloggers and forces us all to think about how we do things.  My Interior World of Organization is my post that addresses one such topic.

I also spent part of today creating and recreating blog headers via PicMonkey.

Earlier in the week, I was rearranging my collections again, like the dolls in the photo above.  I had moved some tables around, thus shaking things up and requiring me to reconsider the arrangements I had.  It’s always good for me to shake things up, since I then have to reassess (and dust) things.

I’ve also been reading The Redgraves, which is interesting, but slower going than a novel.  Lots of facts, time periods covered, etc.

After I finish this book, I hope to read Left Neglected….

I’ve had this one on Sparky for a couple of years, I think.  Last week, I read Love Anthony (click for review) by this author and knew I had to catch up on her other books!

Come on by and share what sparks your enthusiasm on a Thursday…or any day, for that matter.