Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Memory of You by Catherine West ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher's Description: 
Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

 When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so. And Natalie never says no to her father.

 Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her. But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

My Thoughts:
I loved this story.  It captured me right from the first pages and totally had my emotions invested into the characters all throughout the book.  The setting is beautiful, the Sonoma wine valley,  and the author's descriptions made me picture it clearly in my mind's eye.  The two main characters  are both dealing with tragic circumstances that have changed who they are and their struggles came across as authentic and well written.  Right from the get-go I felt for Natalie's pain and vulnerability as the life-long struggle with the death of her sister so many years before comes back full force after a negative event in her adult life.   As her life starts to spiral her father decides she should go back to the very place her pain began, her grandfather's  home and winery, with the mandate to shut it down.  Because her grandmother bequeathed her the majority of shares in the winery, Natalie hopes to see if she could improve on it and not close it's doors.  But she must go against her father to that.  And after spending her growing up years and her adult life trying to please her father, Natalie doesn't know if she has the strength to go against him.   As she comes face to face with a combative, defensive and angry vintner, who just happens to be a crush from her childhood and  who believes she is about to put him out of a job, you can't help but hope she can hold it together.   I must admit I struggled a bit to like Tanner at first until his story started to unfold and you saw the place of pain he was operating from.  The secondary characters were all nicely developed too.   As the story peals back it's many layers it deals with loss, guilt, secrets, family dynamics, depression,  facing the past and moving forward, forgiveness, faith and love.  I found it multi-layered and rich with a satisfying ending.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for a free copy for review.  I was not required to give a positive review.




Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #428




1.  Chickadee sighting.  Though these have been a favorite little bird of mine in pictures, I don't think I have ever actually seen them.  Then this week, when I turned into the back alley, there in the bushes of the corner house were two little chickadees bouncing around in the budding greenery.  I was so excited but didn't want to scare them off so I didn't scramble for the phone camera and instead just enjoyed the gift of the moment and watched them.

2.  Finding an Easter family pic that I forgot about.  After seeing everyone's wonderful family Easter pics I felt a little bummed that I didn't take one when the family was together at Easter.  I thought other than the meal picture I posted last week, which of course I'm not in because I'm taking the pic, I thought there was none of the family.  But after looking at everybody that posted on FFF I started scrolling through my phone hoping.  And lo and behold, we did get some pics that I totally forgot posing for.  LOL.  Sheesh.  Better start taking ginko or something.  But I'm thankful we did get some pictures.




3.  And speaking of pictures...I finally got some pictures from the wedding printed and framed.  Seeing as the kids had their 1 year anniversary a few weeks ago and I've had the frame gifted to me at Christmas, it was about time.  I'm really please with how it turned out and it fills the spot above the fireplace perfectly.  I love the black and white with focused splash of color on each picture.  It's fun playing with these simple editing programs like iPiccy and PicMonkey and seeing fun results.





4.  Organic Peppermint Tea.  I came down with yet another head cold this week.  Ugh, my third one I'm sure since Christmas.   Peppermint tea has been soothing and helping me to keep my liquid intake up.

5.  Turkey Noodle soup.  I think I made the best batch I ever have.  I started a broth bag in the freezer and everytime I have veggie scraps such as onions, celery that's gone a tad limp, the destemmed tops of peppers, the ends that get cut off of asparagus, parsley stems, etc. , I throw it into the bag.  I used this along with the turkey carcass from Easter to simmer away and make an absolutely wonderful broth.   I've been a soup lover since I was a kid so when I experiment and it turns out that good it makes me happy.

What were your favorite blessings this week?





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!



TELL ME IT ISN'T S(n)O!



Updated 2 1/2 hours later: 

Well that's a bit better!






Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #427


Welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  I'm not going to do a big intro paragraph this week as my 1st fave pretty much sums it up.  I'll just extend an invitation and invite one and all to join on in.  Guidelines are in the sidebar if you have never participated before.  

1.  This post from Lysa TerKuerst on facebook.

"Are we rushing past God’s goodness?

 One summer when my son Mark was working at a camp and feeling homesick, I mailed him a special care package to cheer him up. 

I was a little disappointed when several days passed, and I hadn’t heard a word from him about the package. When we called to ask if he’d received it, Mark simply said, “Oh yeah, I did. But I haven’t opened it yet.” 

Who gets a gift of love packaged up and sent to them and doesn’t even take time to open it?

 In that moment, the Holy Spirit pricked my soul, “Lysa, in all of your rushing, you do this very same thing to me.” God places gifts of love all throughout our days, things He knows we need. But it’s up to us to slow down enough to even notice."





This is exactly why I started Friday's Fave Five.  It's why I have continued it for 427 posts.  It's why even when Thursday night rolls around and I haven't done my post and I'm tired and unmotivated that I stop in my tracks and pause and intentionally do my post whether I feel like it or not.  I am trying to train myself to daily and moment by moment notice the gifts God places in my day.  I don't always get it, the tyranny of the busyness still gets me at times even after all this time,  but at least FFF helps me to intentionally look.

Check out Lysa's FB page (linked above) or the Proverbs 31 Ministries homepage for more daily encouragement. 

2.  Gift from my youngest.  Mother/Daughter watches.  Cause Mom is not quite ready for a tatoo (though the girls are trying hard to convince me).  But it was a sweet idea.  And she actually was able to get a watch that has a picture of something that means something significant to each of us.  A bird for me, an owl for her sis and a butterfly for herself.  What a special gift from the heart.

Note to self:  Don't let my hand be on top 'cause it will look twice the size!  :D


3.  Easter celebration with the family.  It was a special weekend indeed.  A couple of nice dinners with the all the family.  Easter Sunday service with all of us together.  And a show together with the girls.  Lots of visiting time and lots of fun.  



My sister even had her Easter egg hunt which is hilarious because my 80 something mother gets right in there with the young people.



4.  Movie evening with hubby.  Monday was a day off for me and with the kids headed back to their respective homes, hubby and I relaxed and watched the movie "Lion".   Such a good movie!  I love "based on a true story" movie and this did not disappoint.  Even though the first 1/4 of the movie was sub-titled it was easy to read and follow and because I was invested into the character's story.

5.  The gift of beautiful warm afternoons.  Gorgeous mid-days have found me and and kids able to go outside every day this week.  Sunshine and exercise,  room to move and run around always perk us all up after being cooped up inside.   I love spring!
What were your favorite blessings this past week?
 



Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #426


Happy Easter weekend everyone.  I don't know how many of you will be coming to do Friday's Fave Five but regardless of if you actually do a post I hope you take a pause at some point this weekend and reflect on the death and Resurrection of Jesus and all of the blessing that means for you.

This last week has just zoomed by.  It was very busy with the added busyness in dayhome that any holiday brings so it's a good thing I have this post to take that moment and be thankful for the good things in my life.

1.  Movie night with the ladies study.  The week before we had finished up a study on the book of Ephesians and won't be starting another one up until after Easter so we took this week and went to go see "A Case for Christ" based on the true story and book by Lee Strobel which tells how he, a staunch atheist and journalist who dealt in facts, tried to prove to his newly believing wife that there was no evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It was really well done and we all enjoyed it and each of us took away something and related to different aspects of the film which made for really interesting discussion.  It was a great movie to see right at this Easter time.  


2.  Surprise lunch from my hubby.  Just after I fed the kids lunch one day this week I received a text from my hubby telling me he was bringing lunch.  It was a really nice surprise on a busy day when I don't always get a sit down meal.

3.  Rain.  The past few days have seen scattered showers here and there.  I love the smell after rain and I know this moisture is going to make for a lovely green spring so I'll take it even though the last couple of days have been a bit grey.

4.  New fast food.  For our Friday night out, we tried a new fast food place in town called Chopped Leaf.  Not the usual fast food fare, they specialize in gourmet salads, wraps, sandwiches and soups.   Everything was very fresh and tasty and I especially enjoyed their orange and mint infused water.  I always enjoy giving a new place a try.

5.  Cleaning spree.  I know, an odd thing for a fave five list but it just felt so good.  It didn't take forever, just set an hour and worked like crazy in that hour.  That little bit of intense time just made everything look and feel so sparkly clean and fresh.  I love doing it in concentrated short bursts like that rather than hours long cleaning routines that take up half of my precious 2 days off.  

What were your 5 favorites blessings this week?

May you all have a wonderful Easter weekend filled with good family, friends, food and love.  I'm looking forward to my kids all being here together and cooking for everyone.  I'm sure I'll be dog tired after it all but I also have Monday off to recuperate so looking forward to that too.  :)






Friday, April 07, 2017

Friday's Fave Five #425



Happy Friday!  That wonderful day where we take a moment to pause and intentionally look for blessings from our past week, whether our week was a good one or maybe not so much.  Fostering a grateful attitude and an intentional looking for the good things in life helps us to get through the tougher times and makes for a more happy me.  Please join me in this.

1.  Another nice candle.  I started burning a new one yesterday morning that I had bought on the same sale as last weeks fave.  This one was called Sea Grass(from Bath and Body) and smells very fresh and subtle.  It was also a great deal which makes me even happier.


2. First bbq of the year.  Sunday was a pretty nice day so we set aside the planned after church lunch of chicken pie and made a pit stop at the grocery store after church to buy hamburger supplies.  And it was so worth it.  Nothing like a grilled burger, especially the first grill of the year.  Yummy!

3.  Movie afternoon with Mom.  Mom had been sick the week before Sunday so I knew she would appreciate getting out of her house and just sitting around with us for company.  So after the burger lunch we put in the movie "The Light Between Oceans".  Very sad but very good, I had read the book a couple of years ago and loved it.  I watched the movie a couple weeks ago with hubby but had a hunch Mom would like it and I wasn't wrong.  It was nice pleasing her this way.

4.  

The little meme that I shared on Facebook and tagged my bible study ladies with.  I am so thankful to be part of a group of ladies that have bonded so well and really do build each other up and care for one another.

5.  Chocolate Berry Burst tea.  I found this at Winner's, which is like a T.J. Maxx kind of store one day.  Turned out to be a yummy buy.  Gives a little taste of dessert without the sugar or calories.  I've been enjoying it in the evenings when I've got a craving to routing through the cupboards for the sweet fix.  Hopefully, I'll be able to find it again.  That's not always the case with this type of store so I might have to go hunting online.

What were your favorite blessings from the last week?






Saturday, April 01, 2017

Some Small Magic by Billy Coffey ~ Book Tour and Review

Publisher's Description:
All Abel wants is a little bit of magic in his life. Enough money so his mom doesn’t cry at night. Healing for his broken body. And maybe a few answers about his past. When Abel discovers letters to him from the father he believed dead, he wonders if magic has come to the hills of Mattingly, Virginia, after all. But not everything is as it seems. With a lot of questions and a little bit of hope, Abel decides to run away to find the truth. But danger follows him from the moment he jumps his first boxcar, forcing Abel to rely on his simpleminded friend Willie—a man wanted for murder who knows more about truth than most—and a beautiful young woman they met on the train. From Appalachia to the Tennessee wilds and through the Carolina mountains, the name of a single small town beckons: Fairhope. That is where Abel believes his magic lays. But will it be the sort that will bring a broken boy healing? And is it the magic that will one day lead him home?



My Thoughts:
Have you ever read a book where you just didn't know how you felt about it or what to say about it?  Well, turns out this is one of those reads for me.  Parts I really liked and others not so much.  The description sounded interesting, a bit out of the genres I usually tend to gravitate towards .  

After reading it, I would have to say I don't know if I would list this as Christian fiction, and by the barcode of the book neither is it listed as such but just as fiction.  Has a smidge of faith element to it but I would  not call it a biblical based story.  If I had approached it this way, rather than expecting more of a faith based read because of who published it, I think I might have enjoyed it a touch better.  But I kept waiting for more of a biblical foundation to come through.

I found there were parts that captured me, where I couldn't put it down and then other parts that tended to the tedious side and I found myself skimming the pages.  The friendship struck between Abel who was a young boy born to poverty, raised by a single parent and living each day with a disease that caused his bones to break very easily and the young adult who was mentally disabled was beautiful.  How they supported each other was heartwarming and inspiring as goals of friendship. I had to really push past the name given to this character however,  as I found it offensive to this day and age and my own sensibilities.  The character was a simple-minded man because of events that occurred when he was small and he was called Dumb Willie by those who knew him.  For the setting, I understood this and got that the attitude towards him was being established, but then to keep on referring to him as such through the whole story, even by his best friend, was really hard for me to get past, especially with my own experience working  with mentally impaired children.  The portrayal of brokenness and the different ways brokenness manifests in people's lives was also really well written.  But the comparisons, or maybe the right word is references,  of faith, miracles and magic just didn't sit quite right with me.    This made the telling of the story just a bit too long for me but that could be because with this type of story, rather than relaxing and enjoying it I feel like I always have my discerning feelers up and working.  Was it a bad story or unenjoyable?  No, just not what I was expecting and not quite my cup of tea.


Thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for providing a copy free of charge for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review.

Linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books