Everyday Tidbits...

"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile." - William Cullen Bryant

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conversations at our House

Mom: "Is your homework finished?"
The Boy: "Not really. We have to read an essay by this 200 year old dead guy and do a dialectical journal."
Mom: "Who are you reading?"
The Boy: "Somebody named Thoreau."
Mom: (excitedly) "Henry David Thoreau. He wrote Walden."
The Boy: "Yeah, Walden, that guy. I don't get any of it."
Mom: "Show me what essay and I will read it and then we can talk about it together. Will that help?
The Boy: (relieved) "Yes!"
Mom: "And then I will show you Dead Poets Society. Robin Williams. Awesome."

Yep, Thoreau is a 200 year old dead guy. Did you know?

What was really cool about this conversation was that later that evening, we sat down together. We talked about the essay, he found his quotes and necessary points for his dialectical journal. He began to get a grasp of the essay and points. We went through the questions at the end of the essay and talked about them, even though he said we didn't need to.

The next day, the conversation went like this:

The Boy: "You totally saved me in English today."
Mom: "Why?"
The Boy: "We had a sub and the assignment was to do the questions at the end of the essay. I looked at the kid next to me and said, 'It's cool. I've got this. My mom went over these with me last night!'"
Mom: "So it was a good thing that we did that then?"
The Boy: "Yes, and I totally understand the part about the train now too!"

Yep, sometimes homework help does have its rewards...

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten...Review

About the book:
The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Three siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In White Christmas by Cara Putman, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theatre in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the front line in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and God’s plan for a future?

I love Christmas. I love Christmas stories. And there is just something touching and poignant about war time Christmases.

Where Treetops Glisten is fantastic. These are novellas, so of course the stories are wrapped up fairly quickly, but they're also full of depth and heartwarming. I would have loved a full-length novel for each couple!

Honestly, I can't pick a favorite although if I was forced to it would probably be Pete and Grace's story in I'll be Home for Christmas and that is mostly because Linnie was such a delightful child! But, I loved their story of forgiveness.

I loved the Turner family and I spent a happy afternoon curled up in my easy chair following their stories from book to book. This really is the perfect winter read.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

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5/5 Stars

Friday, November 14, 2014

Loving Lucianna...Preview and Giveaway

About the book:
Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.

Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.

About the author:
Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

Thanks to Laura at Italy Book Tours for the opportunity to preview this book. You can learn more about Joyce DiPastena here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Singing to a Bulldog...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
Growing up in 1950s California, young Anson William Heimlich showed very little promise. Clumsy, unsure of himself, and made to feel like a failure by his disappointed artist of a dad, Anson started working odd jobs as a teenager to help support his family. His boss at one of these jobs, an aging African-American janitor named Willie, unexpectedly became a mentor -- and the lessons he taught young Anson proved to be invaluable throughout his subsequent career as an actor, director, and entrepreneur.

In Singing to a Bulldog, Anson Williams (as he came to be known) relates both these lessons and the never-before-revealed stories of the many seminal TV series he has worked on and the famous (and not-so-famous) folks he's encountered during his 40 years in Hollywood, including:

  • the day Robin Williams woke up Happy Days
  • being directed by Steven Spielberg in his first dramatic role
  • getting kidnapped by Gerald Ford's daughter at the White House
  • subbing for Sammy Davis, Jr., as a headliner with Bill Cosby
  • being humbled by Sunny, a young volunteer for the Cerebral Palsy National Organization
  • being inspired by Shailene Woodley on the set of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and many more.
This compelling read has a cross-generational and broad appeal, combining all the fun of a celebrity memoir with the emotional impact of an inspirational bestseller. With Singing to a Bulldog, Anson Williams brings his gift of storytelling to a new medium in a book that is sure to touch readers' hearts and lives as profoundly as Willie once touched his.

Like many who grew up in the 1970s, I loved the television show, Happy Days. And, like most people, I had no idea about the personal lives of the actors. 

Anson's home life wasn't great and while he doesn't dwell on the difficulties at home, they had a profound effect on him. Getting his first job as a department store janitor introduced him to Willie Turner, an uneducated, alcoholic African-American janitor who saw potential in Anson and proceeded to become an unlikely mentor to him.

As he shares his experiences in becoming an entertainer, Anson does speak of meeting John Lennon and Elvis Presley, but he shares what he learned from each man, rather than simply the awe he felt in meeting them. He's not afraid to talk about other celebrities, but always in the context of what knowledge, insight or lesson he gained from the association.

His friendship and association with Willie taught him many important things and the life lessons Anson learned as a teenager are still relevant today. In telling his story, he's honest and forthright and very willing to give credit where it's due.

I loved that while this was a memoir, it wasn't a "look at me name drop" memoir. It's really a life lessons memoir and one I appreciated. 

Thanks to Leyane at FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Anson Williams here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

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5/5 Stars

Because I loved the book and I think you will too, please enter the giveaway for a copy. U.S. Addresses only.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
Move over, Miss Marple—Mark Reutlinger’s charming cozy debut introduces readers to the unforgettable amateur sleuth Rose Kaplan and her loyal sidekick, Ida.

Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover.

But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.

While I don't think the intended audience is only Jewish, the Jewish terms and Yiddish words were numerous, but most I was familiar with. The setting is refreshing and the heroines not young and perky. The folksy first person narration by Mrs. Kaplan's best friend Ida had potential, but the story was just too slow for me and got bogged down in details, funny as they were.

I'm not so sure about the Miss Marple comparison and Ida fancies herself a Watson to Rose's Sherlock, but the book certainly had its moments and Rose and Ida are feisty, funny sleuths. Fans of cozy mysteries should enjoy it.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

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