Tag Archives: family

Book Review: The Art of Hiding – Fab Find!

Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding

By Amanda Prowse

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and Penguin in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Nina lives a charmed life. Her husband owns an extremely successful construction company, she has two sons she adores and spends her days as a housewife and mom. Gone are the difficult days of her childhood. She was so young when her mother died that she only remembers a few things about her. Her dad tried his best, but work was scarce so Nina and her older sister Tiggy were raised by their grandmother. She wasn’t the kindest woman. Undoubtedly she was trying, but there was never enough space or food during those years.

Life changed the moment Nina fell for Finn. He swept her off her feet and promised to give her the world. He followed through on that promise. When they moved into their home, The Tynings, they filled it with high end furniture, lovingly picked out together. Nina no longer worried about money; Finn took care of paying all of the bills and making sure their family had everything they needed and wanted.

Nina was at her son’s high school the day her world began to collapse. She receive a call from the hospital, Finn had been in an accident. She was devastated. Her sons, Conner and Declan were shocked by the news and Nina was determined to keep everything together for them. They only had a few days left until a break from the private school they attended, so both boys returned to their routine to keep things as normal as possible.

Then, to make matters worse, the shattering news that Finn had been hiding something slammed into Nina like a runaway train. The results would change the lives of Nina and her sons forever.

This is an amazing novel. The depth of Nina’s pain is profoundly sad, yet hopeful. She loved and trusted her husband, but now his memory is forever tainted with his deeds. Her life has become a struggle again and she doesn’t know how she will be able to go on. If it weren’t for her two sons she might give up.

The growth and change of the characters is one of the best story lines I have read in a long time. Prowse pulls the reader in and takes you with Nina through the good and bad. It makes the reader think about the most important things in life. You can decide if you think money can buy happiness. I also love the way family and friends play a big part in this novel. Can the love of family transcend years of estrangement and hurtful slights that have piled up over years?

The Art of Hiding is the first book I’ve read by Amanda Prowse, but I guarantee it will not be the last. I cannot express how much I loved this book. The characters, the plot, and the emotions it inspires are a roller coaster ride in reading bliss. I cried when Connor gave his speech at the sports award night, I laughed at the sister’s demolition of an offending wall. The end of the book was realistic and satisfying. I suggest getting this book as soon as possible and carving out time to enjoy Prowse’s expert storytelling.

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Book Review: Bookshop at Water’s End – Great Summer Read

The Bookshop at Water’s End

By Patti Callahan Henry

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from  Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Lainey and Bonnie have been best friends since they were children. Bonnie’s parents owned a summer vacation home on a tidal river that surrounds a small town. Lainey’s family spent vacations with Bonnie’s family at the River House . As youngsters, they fancied themselves as a pair of modern day Nancy Drews. During their explorations around the tiny town they made notes in a notebook of unsolved mysteries and clues as to what and why things happened. The thing they never could fully explain was why Lainey’s mother had disappeared one night at the River House, never to return.

Fast forward to adulthood – Bonnie has become a renowned doctor and Lainey is a celebrated artist. They live on opposite sides of the country, but keep in touch. They rarely see one another. When Bonnie’s world comes crashing down around her ears, threatening everything she values, she calls Lainey to join her at the River House.

Lainey, fighting the demons from her past, agrees to come. She is bringing her small children with her. Bonnie is bringing her reluctant daughter Piper along to help her restore the River House for sale. Home from her first year of college Piper does not want to go, or babysit Lainey’s kids, but Bonnie has promised her services.

Ghosts from the past are stirring. They seem to arrive with the tides. When the past collides with the present, will Lainey and Bonnie survive? Will the answers they have searched for since childhood finally become clear?

The bookshop owner Mimi has an integral role in The Bookshop at Water’s End. She supplies the background narrative in many places to add depth and important facts about the past. Expertly spun together, the past and present emerge as one like the tributaries of the tidal river that flows around the town.

The realistic characters had flaws. Not just a little added issue, but real, glaring flaws. That brought them to life. Just like real people that have secrets, bad relationships and make mistakes – big mistakes that could be life changing. I loved that about them, all humans make bad decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time.

The story is deep and rich, without being heavy. It is a perfect summer (or anytime) read. The mystery isn’t the focus of the plot, but is always popping up as it colors the thoughts and actions of the main characters. This is not a cozy, but more of a women’s fiction with a vein of mystery running throughout.

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author. This is the first book I’ve read of Ms. Henry’s but it will not be the last.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Small Great Things – Another Fabulous Book by Jodi Picoult

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things

A Novel

by Jodi Picoult

Ruth is the daughter of a housekeeper. When school was out, she and her sister would go with their Mama to the big house. They either stayed quietly in the kitchen while their mother worked or sometimes play with the daughter of the family. On one such day a premature baby shaped the three young girl’s lives. Ruth grew up to become a labor and delivery nurse. But more importantly, it was a moment of perfect harmony between classes and races that Ruth would not see again for many years.

Fast forward from 1976 to current day and we find Ruth still doing what she loves. She helps bring new babies into the world, comforts new parents and even helps ease the unspeakable burden when something goes terribly wrong. Until the fateful day she had to decide between the orders she was given and trying to save a baby’s life. No matter what choice she made it was not going to be right, but she could have never imagined she would have ended up in jail for murder.

Enter Turk. He and his wife are in the hospital for the delivery of their first child. Everything was going great until Ruth came in to check on the newborn and his mother. Turk demanded to see Ruth’s supervisor then insisted Ruth was not to come near his child. For no other reason other than he was a White Supremacist and she is an African American. Did his actions lead to the death of his firstborn.

Kennedy is the public defender that is given the task of sorting the details out to defend Ruth in court. She normally doesn’t take cases of this magnitude, but after the initial court appearance, she is compelled to help Ruth. But can her upper class back ground understand the issues of a black woman and defend her?

Jodi Picoult takes social issues out of the headlines, researches the issues from every side and then researches some more. The facts and interviews are fictionalized, and then put together in a way that leaves each side distinguishable and intact, yet interacting with the other sides. One of my professors in college used to say the United States used to be a melting pot, but was now a tossed salad – with lots of individual parts adding to it each keeping their individuality. Some of the ingredients are sweet, some are sour, and some are unknown until you give them a try. This is how I see Picoult’s characters; they are rich, full and different as day and night but are put together for some reason and have to work it out – much like real life.

I am the first one to say Jodi Picoult is, in my opinion, one of the greatest authors today. I have read almost all of her books. She has made me laugh, cry, or become outraged over the issues her characters faced that often seem so unfair. I can honestly say I have never finished one of her books without talking about it to everyone I know that reads and loaning them out so others will enjoy them also.

On a personal note, I’ve met her at several book signings and book talks. She is as delightful in person as she seems in interviews and online. If you get a chance to go to one of her book talks and signings, please do so.

Small Great Things will be available on October 11, 2016 and you can pre-order it now at your favorite bookstore.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Trish’s Team – A Great New Tween Book

Trish's TeamTrish’s Team

Part of the Lady Tigers Series

By Dawn Brotherton

Trish loves softball. She is a twelve-year-old dynamo on the field and a pretty great kid off the field. She is serious about the game, but not obsessed with winning. Overall, she is mature for her age, but when she makes one bad decision it affects all aspects of her life.

In order to join the Lady Tigers Softball team she has to give up her violin lessons. Giving up her involvement in the orchestra that has been a part of her life for several years would be a hard thing for Trish to do. She loves playing the violin, and her parents have invested a lot of money in lessons and her instrument.

Her parents are very busy. They are too busy to be around on the weekends and evenings due to meetings, golf games and exhaustion from their demanding lives. Most of the time this has worked out ok, but unfortunately Trish takes advantage of their inattentiveness to deceive them.

She feels guilty and conflicted after making this choice, and soon it becomes a house of cards, threatening to crumble. Will she be able to make amends before it is too late?

This is the first book in Brotherton’s Lady Tigers Series. It is a solid story with interesting and engaging characters. The interaction of  Trish with her friends and parents is refreshingly honest and reads like She shows empathy and feels guilty when she does something wrong. When her lies start to catch up with her she becomes physically sick.

It is written for young readers, deftly showing how one decision can affect many other things and people without being “preachy”. It also demonstrates how conflicted tweens are; mature and childlike while struggling to find their way to adulthood. This is not a heavy book, but it addresses many social issues in interesting ways. For example, the kindness of Trish and her friends to a new girl that someone else is not being nice to is understated but very important.

At the end of the book there is a glossary of softball terms in case the reader isn’t familiar with the game. The descriptions of the games add excitement and action to keep the pace quick and interesting

This is the first book in Award Winning Dawn Brotherton’s Lady Tigers Series. She also writes the Jackie Austin Mystery Series. She is currently serving as a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve and is married with two daughters.

I am looking forward to the next Lady Tigers book, and highly recommend it to tweens. I am also adding the Jackie Austin Mystery Series to my list of books I want to read. I can’t wait to read more of Brotherton’s books.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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WIP Wednesday Christmas 2015 Projects

This was a busy and fun Christmas season. My favorite handmade gift was a joint effort. My husband made this beautiful doll bunk bed for my cousin’s little girl. I might have posted a pic earlier before I completed the bedding in her favorite color (purple) and of course Anna and Elsa comforters and pillows finished the gift.

Ella's doll bed

She really liked it 🙂 I highly recommend going over to Ana White’s website (http://www.ana-white.com/) . That is where I found this pattern and many others I am going to try and talk the hubby into making. 🙂

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I made 5 cabled ear warmers for my best friend to give for Christmas as well as 2 more for one of my work friends. They turned out nicely and I decided to make an additional one for myself. I used this pattern: Braided Cabled Ear Warmer by Jessika Cates, and you can see more pics on my Ravelry site, I’m “writeknit”.

2 earwamers done

This one is mine, made from the alpaca/wool blend that I bought when we visited the local Alpaca Farm last fall.

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As a joke, I made these fun shark slippers from this pattern Crocheted Shark Slipper Socks by Stacie L. Ratcliff. My girlfriend’s daughter jokingly asked for them for Christmas, so the least I could do is crochet them for her! They are fun and from what I heard warm. LOL

Shark slippers

Here is a side view:

Shark detail

 

I made my father-in-law’s annual flannel shirt. It is the 36th Christmas therefore, the 36th shirt. Honestly, it is the only thing he wants, so that is what he gets 🙂 The 2016 shirt will be made on the new sewing machine my hubby got me this year (read this in a VERY excited voice). I use the same pattern since 1980, but this will be the fourth sewing machine in as many years.

damn shirt 2015

My cousin’s scarf has been on my blog before because she isn’t on FB to see it. She really liked it so that made me happy also.

Becky's scarf complete

This year’s NICU hats numbered 31. I also made a Santa hat for the nurse that works in the unit as well as a Santa hat for my son’s godson. Here are all the hats before we delivered them.

NICU hats on tree

Last by not least, I wanted to make little snowflake ornaments for my family. I saw one at work, so I had a general idea as to what I was going to do, but it took a few tries with patterns that didn’t work out for me to finally write a simple pattern myself.

I began with a 2 inch tin with a removable top that that is clear. Next I worked up the pattern with sport wt yarn just a bit smaller so it was snug to pull over the tin. I blocked it dry then sprayed the heck out of it with spray starch, sprinkled with glitter, then let dry over night. Full disclosure, the first one I couldn’t wait for it to dry, so I used my blow dryer, which worked like a charm.

Ornament 2015

The hardest part was finding the perfect picture for each of my aunts and cousins that would fit in the 2 inch “window” nicely. The hubby helped scan them then I got each one cut and inserted into the tin, added the snowflake and a bow on the top. Here is one of the finished ornaments. This was for my Great-Aunt Kathie, the picture is of her mom and dad, my Great-Grandma and Grandpa.

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Here are more of them. By the time I got done making them, I was really loving the pattern. Lucky for me I made notes, because I’ll never remember how I did it next year if I decide to make more. I think I am going to write it up and offer it as a free pattern if anyone is interested.

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I was going to list my works in progress, but honestly, you all have to be tired of reading this by now. So, next Wednesday I’ll share my anticipated project list for 2016. I know for sure it will include at least 2 pr of socks, NICU hats, teaching a Lunch & Learn cowl at work and other adventures with yarn.

What are you hoping to get done this year?

 

 

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Oh Christmas Tree

Friday before our youngest son and wife left for home we went to Kuiper’s Farm to get our Christmas tree. Since it had been raining all day. we decided a pre-cut tree was our best bet. That way no one had to get soaking wet laying in the ground cutting our own.

They were not as happy to pose for a picture, but indulged me anyway.

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Due to the rain, it stayed in the back of our truck until today. The good news was it was nice and dry. The bad news was all of the boys were home so the hubby had to haul it to the patio and cut off the end by himself. Lucky for him Mea was there to make sure nothing was hiding inside the branches.

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It is in the house, but decorations won’t be added until this week.

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Christmas Craft is Always a Blast!

I have posted before about our annual Christmas Craft. To catch you up, it is always a surprise until after Thanksgiving dinner. The craft has to be easily completed by the youngest person participating (the youngest this year is 3) and has to have the ability to be personalized so all of the projects turn out differently.

When this tradition started many years ago, we didn’t have the HUGE advantage of Pinterest. This year I found a couple of ideas using wine glasses. One was creating a snow globe effect and the other was painting the outside to use either as an actual glass to drink from or as a candle holder.

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There were lots of different designs. Our youngest artist painted a blue snowman as well as a plastic wine glass instead of the glass one the grown-ups used. We also helped her make a snow globe out of one of the plastic glasses.

The craft didn’t cost much. I purchased the wine glasses at the dollar store for $1 each. The plastic wine glasses were 6/$1. I got paint brushes in a package of 12 for $1, then just threw them out instead of trying to get the paint out of them.

The paint was .79 – $1.50 each, but I only purchases primary colors, black and white with a 30% off coupon at Michael’s. I also got all of the little snowflake, tree and reindeer stickers and figures 50% off with the additional 30% from Michael’s. The glitter, glue and cotton balls I had at home as well as the rubbing alcohol that is needed to clean the glass before painting. For under $20.00 we had an afternoon of fun and everyone has a Christmas decoration or wine glass to take home.

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She was not happy with the camera flash interrupting her painting. 🙂

 

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It is a messy, noisy, fabulous way to spend Thanksgiving!

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Concentration….

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And sometimes you have to take a break to play with a few toys 🙂

This is one of my favorite traditions, what are some of yours?

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