CREATIVE SPARKS: SATURDAY SNAPSHOT –COZY MOMENTS — APRIL 20

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Welcome to another Saturday Snapshot event, hosted by At Home With Books.

Every week, we come together with a snapshot or two or more….sharing a glimpse of our world and peeking into yours.

This week, I’m spotlighting some of my cozy world, as I read and watch movies.  In the first photo, I’ve pushed the loveseat to a new angle, which brings it closer to the other sofa….and makes for friendly interactions.

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In the photo above, you can see how I’ve discovered more book spaces on the bottom shelf….I put the Coca Cola bears in garage bins for now.

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In the photo above, you can see today’s reading material on the table…and a view of the fireplace and loveseat from where I’m sitting on the larger sofa.

And now…here’s a photo of me, snapped in 1970.  I was cooking Christmas dinner when my partner captured me.  Read more about it here at Dames of Dialogue, where Betty Dravis writes about Why Are These Authors So Happy?

Rain in 1970

Thanks for stopping by!  And now I’m off to visit your featured photos.

Let's chat!
Let’s chat!

MONDAY SPARKS: MUSING ABOUT BOOKISH THINGS — FEB. 18

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Welcome to a Monday Sparks morning:  one in which we muse about bookish things.  Check out Should Be Reading for other participants.

Here are the choices for today:

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

*NEW!*thanks to Caite, I’m adding a new weekly question to MM, and that is: Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

*NEW!*Caite also inspired me to add:  Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

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I do love the extra options added…and while it’s tempting to rant, I’m more in the mood to talk about my current read.

Evil at Heart is the third book in Chelsea Cain’s series about serial killer Gretchen Lowell.

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I’m participating in a Sequel Challenge this year, so the two books shown above were borrowed from my neighborhood library for that purpose.

It’s been quite awhile since I read the first two books in this series.  I checked my Curl up and Read blog, where I have been listing my books read, purchased, etc., since 2010…and it’s not there!  How I wish I’d started tracking my books sooner.

But it hasn’t taken me any time at all to get into the story, and the author gives us enough info to catch up, so even those who haven’t read the first two books can enjoy this one.

Gretchen Lowell is one of those elusive serial killers that took FOREVER to capture…and then she escaped.  I think she has escaped a couple of times already.  But the most eerie thing is that she now has fan clubs all over the place, and has become a cult hero.

What I don’t particularly enjoy…the grisly details at the crime scenes, as Gretchen seems to relish shocking those in pursuit.  And she has also developed an eerie relationship with one of the detectives who has been chasing her, and who captured her a couple of times:  Archie Sheridan.  Now resting comfortably in a psychiatric hospital.

Catch your interest?

What is sparking your intrigue on this Monday?  Hope you’ll stop by and chat…or rant.

My Neighborhood Library
My Neighborhood Library

 

FRIDAY SPARKS: WHAT IGNITES YOUR DAY? — JAN. 11

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What says Friday for you?  What sparks your day and keeps you smiling all through the weekend?

Yes, those drinks would help…but in the meantime, I’m reading a book that promises to be lots of fun.  Sandra Nachlinger and Sandra Allen, fellow book bloggers, have created I.O.U. Sex.  In the story, three old friends are enjoying an evening, looking back, and reading diary entries.  Which then morphs into a pact.  Want to know more?

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Here’s the blurb on Amazon:

Best friends June, Kiki, and Peggy graduated from Dallas’s Rayburn High School—all of them still virgins. After all, they were good girls. Years later, when the three women read June’s high school diary, they joke about the sexual frustration they caused their steady boyfriends back then. That’s when Kiki makes a startling statement. “When you think about it, and I’m only trying to be fair, we owe those guys sex.”
With bawdy jabs and tipsy laughter, they vow to track down their old boyfriends and just DO IT, which is something they definitely did not do back in high school.
Lives intertwined, the three friends share their quest with sexy, poignant, and sometimes hilarious results. Is each woman’s sexual IOU paid in full? Will everyone get what he or she deserves? Or is this just another one of Kiki’s crazy ideas?

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I started reading this one this morning as the potatoes for my potato salad boiled on the stove.  A great way to work my way through the day’s routines.

What ignites your day?  Come on by and share…if you dare!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! IGNITE YOUR CONNECTIONS!! — DEC. 31

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For the New Year, I visualize more time spent in cozy surroundings, and I want to love and nurture my connections.

I also like making a few blog changes, so I altered the colors here.

Yesterday I took down the Christmas decorations.  As I boxed them up, I felt happy to see my usual space beneath, almost as if it had been waiting patiently.  But it looked slightly different, since, as usual, when I take away the ornaments, trees, etc., I see little tweaks I can make to the surroundings.  Nothing major or back breaking.  Just a little change here and there.  Like these:

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I have started reading my first book of the New Year:  Potboiler, by Jesse Kellerman.  I had mixed feelings about some of his previous books, but he is definitely a talented author.  And I love the blurb on this one.

Arthur Pfefferkorn is a has-been, or perhaps a never-was: a middle-aged college professor with long-dead literary aspirations. When his oldest friend, bestselling thriller writer William de Vallèe, is lost at sea, Pfefferkorn is torn between envy and grief, for de Vallèe not only outshone Pfefferkorn professionally, but married the woman Pfefferkorn loved.
Pfefferkorn’s decision to reconnect with de Vallèe’s widow sets in motion a surreal chain of events, plunging him into a shadowy realm of double crosses and intrigue, a world where no one can be trusted–and nothing can be taken seriously.

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What will your day and year bring?  I hope you will find the happiness, peace, and balance you desire.

SMALL TOWN LIFE & THE CONNECTIONS THAT DEFINE US — A REVIEW

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In small town life, the residents come to know each other in wonderful and not so wonderful ways. The gossip trail loops around and filters through the nooks and crannies of such a town and spotlights all the flaws and foibles of everyone who lives there.

But Lee Ann London has adjusted to life in Sugar Springs, the fictional Tennessee town depicted in this novel. Even though her dreams were for a larger world, that dream toppled when her teenage love, Cody Dalton, betrayed her with her sister. The sister who got pregnant and gave birth to Cody’s twins, right after he split from town.

Lee Ann ends up raising the girls after her sister dies.  So, in her eyes, the girls are now hers.

And now, his unexpected return can turn their worlds upside down…again. Lee Ann believes that Cody deserted her and the girls, in addition to his betrayal. So what will his return do to her carefully constructed world? How will her daughters Kendra and Candy react to an unknown father? And how will she steel her heart against the power he has always held over her?

I enjoyed the story of romance, betrayal, reconnection and redemption that unfolded gradually, giving us a glimpse of each of the main characters while showing us the settings and the supporting cast of characters that layer the novel in realistic ways. Just as if the reader had stepped into the world they occupy.

Bringing the characters to life is always a wonderful gift an author can create for readers. Kim Law has certainly done that in her book. There was some predictability about how things turned out, and in some ways, the ending tied it all up in a pretty bow. Issues resolved. A bit too much so, but I did enjoy the story. Four stars.

AN EARTHQUAKE, ITS AFTERMATH, & UNEXPECTED CONNECTIONS — A REVIEW

On a warm night in May, in San Francisco, California, a glittering crowd gathers for a charity dinner dance. A celebrity headliner, a gorgeous venue, and the sparkle of the good life promise a wonderful and profitable evening.

Sarah Sloane, the wife of a wealthy hedge fund manager, is the hostess. And she knows just how to excel at bringing successful events to fruition.

But before the night is over, everything about her life and the lives of all those attending will be upended. A shake, the horrific sound of glass shattering as lights go out, and the unmistakable realization of a huge earthquake changes everything.

In the aftermath, which goes on for days, then weeks, and ultimately for the rest of their lives, four attendees will be forever impacted by the events, as well as the connections and experiences of those early days.

What subsequent event, triggered by the earthquake, will implode Sarah and Seth Sloane’s lives, almost as horribly as the natural diaster? What betrayal will blindside Sarah, even as the detritus of the earthquake reveals itself? How will a journalist, a nun, and the event headliner connect in unexpected ways, and find new meaning and direction for their lives?

The stories of each of these characters were fascinating and engaging, albeit fairly shallow. Predictably, love connections are formed, even as career and life changes come about. Amazing Grace is a sweet tale of finding hope and renewal in the face of tragic circumstances. 3.5 stars.

HOW ARE FAMILY CONNECTIONS CREATED? — A REVIEW

A family is created in many ways and takes many forms.

Marnie, age 15, and her younger sister Nelly, 12, have been neglected and abused their whole lives. Their circumstances seem inescapable, and seemingly nothing can save them.

But then something happens to change their lives, beginning with the death of their father, followed soon after by their mother’s death. And even when the girls bury them in the backyard, how they died is only revealed in bits and pieces throughout the story; the secret is one the girls plan to keep forever, even as the obstacles arise and the threat of exposure hovers nearby. Exposure would mean the descent of the social workers who could separate the sisters and defeat their efforts to create their own family.

Will their neighbor Lenny’s support keep the girls on an even keel indefinitely? What does the sudden appearance of a never-before known maternal grandfather mean for their fledgling little family? What will ultimately bring the secrets to light and turn the forming connections inside out?

Every struggle tests the bonds between the sisters, but in the end, their connections trump the efforts of the outsiders who threaten them. A beautiful testament to the idea of family, no matter what form it takes, The Death of Bees: A Novel is unforgettable. Four stars.

CREATIVE SPARKS: SATURDAY SNAPSHOT — SUMMER DAYS — JULY 28

Welcome to another creative opportunity to showcase photos, via our weekly Saturday Snapshot event, hosted by Alyce, At Home With Books.

This past week, I spent most days hanging out with grandson Noah, enjoying some movies, some lunches, and some time curling up on the sofa.  Here he is watching a movie.

Still watching the movie, he continues enjoying his snack.

While he was engrossed, I was snapping shots of other parts of the room.  Like the new arrangement of decorative items on the sofa table….

Or the halltree by the front door….

Meanwhile, in LA, my three grandchildren (Alec, Aubrey, and Aaron) welcomed another sibling (to join Silas) in their home.  A baby sister named Sidney.

And here she is with her adoring big brother Silas.

Looks like a great summer all around, doesn’t it?  And next week, Alec, Aubrey, and Aaron will accompany their father (my son Brett) to London, for the Olympics.  I can’t wait to see those photos!

What are the rest of you sharing today?  Come on by and leave some comments and links!

CONNECTIONS THAT HEAL — A REVIEW

 

 

“No man is an island…”

The famous quote is a reminder of the connections between people, no matter what their circumstances, and no matter how much they may isolate themselves.

In Island Apart, Claire, a book editor, stays in the cottage owned by her friends after her husband leaves her. She is already struggling with cancer treatment and needs the time away. Time to heal.

The island of Chappaquiddick seems like the perfect spot.

Meanwhile, a mysterious “hermit” moves around the perimeter of the islanders’ lives, quietly taking his own respite from whatever life has hurled at him.

Beautifully portrayed, the island setting, the people, and the foods they prepare draw the reader into what can best be described as a portrait of the sparks that unite people in unexpected ways.

But just when everything begins to seem wonderful again for the two lost souls, a secret from the past threatens their newly developing connections. What will happen to heal the breach between Claire and the Hermit? Will they find a way to get past their mistakes?

I couldn’t put this book down…it was a quick and delightful read that earned four stars from me. The uplifting premise and the beautiful language kept me reading throughout the day.

ALL ABOUT “SMELLING THE FLOWERS” — NOSTALGIC MOMENTS — APRIL 20

 

Last week, I was scrolling through various Facebook pages and found the center snapshot above:  my granddaughter Fiona enjoying the flowers.

And then, of course, I had to find these other two photos that remind me of flowers:  Fiona as a toddler, on the left; and my daughter Heather on the right.

Awhile ago, I wrote a post over at Story Corner:  Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  A look back at the “flower child era” and how those times informed my life.  A bit of nostalgia, a melancholy sentiment about how times change.

On a similar note, as I was driving home last night, I thought about all the things that used to be, but are no more.

On Shaw Ave. in Fresno, there is a place where an old Carnation Restaurant used to sit; after meetings and other night events, friends used to go there and eat, laugh, and talk.  Anyone remember this place?

 

Ours didn’t look nearly as delicious as the one pictured above.  It was a simple, one-story building on the corner of the mini-mall.  But we created many memories there.

Then, in Fig Garden Village, there was a place called Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor.

 

 

What I remember most about this place was how LOUD it was, but how the kids simply had to go there to celebrate their birthdays.

I often wonder what happened to this place?  For awhile, an Applebee’s was there; now there is something else.

 

 

I guess that’s the way things happen:  old things disappear, replaced by new things.  New memories on top of the old ones.

Do you have favorite moments from the past?  What new memories are filling in for the old ones?

What pushes your nostalgia button?  Things that are no more?  Or do you relish how new things come in place of the old ones?