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LANGUAGE ARTS: A Novel ~Stephanie Kallos

LANGUAGE ARTS was what English and Spelling and Writing was called when I was in elementary school.   It involved The Palmer Method of learning to write cursive and when I was in 4th grade I won a prize for my beautiful penmanship.  It was one of the only prizes I won during my school years, and I have always been proud of my lovely lettering ability until now when my hand shakes so dramatically and it is hard to hold a pen or pencil; typing is easier and dictating even better.   This is a story about the Palmer Method and a teacher who teaches LANGUAGE ARTS in Seattle, Washington.  The author captures a great deal of what it was like in my elementary school and how it has changed currently.

This is not Kallos’ latest book, but I have had it on my Kindle for a while, well, until my book group decided to read it this autumn and I delightedly opened it up.  This book touched me in so many ways, I am sure and certain that I will read it several more times and I am delighted to refer you to this read.

One of the members of my book group described the book at weird; maybe I would use that word also in the beginning of the read.  The writing just drew me in and the compelling nature of the story and the similarity to my own experience just wrapped the story into me and I was part of the tale and part of the life of Charles, the boy doing the Palmer Method and winning the prize and the man teaching students now and doing the best that he is able to do.  Did I tell you how much I appreciated the writing and the play full words and sentences in this story?

Yes, the story is a bit confusing but isn’t that how love is when it is real?  Are we not all searching for love, acceptance and appreciation?  How did you recognize love when it came your way?  Was it obvious and over the moon?  Did you need to contemplate and have a glass of wine?  Were you just born into the feeling?

This is the story of the disintegration of a family when they are caring for a special needs child.  I know the exhaustion in my very bones and the constant search for feelings of appreciation and affirmation.  I know how and why it destroys families and pits one against another.   I liked that the story was in Seattle, Washington and that the rain was real and the schools were like/are like that, and that family dynamics are what they are.  The disintegration process has a chaos stage that is well articulated in this finely written story.  LANGUAGE ARTS really is a love story.

And as the confusion flattens out into the linear events of the current ebb and flow of the present tense, I cried and was touched very deeply.  The story distilled into its own truth; the loneliness of my own story made loops around me and I wondered what I would do next as the words amazed me and filled me up.  I was content with my own story and my own love.

“Stephanie Kallos is the author of the national bestseller BROKEN FOR YOU, which was selected by Sue Monk Kidd for the TODAY book club, and SING THEM HOME one of Entertainment Weekly’s ten best novels of the year.  She lives in Seattle with her family.”  (from the book)

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MISTRESS OF THE COURT: Historic Fiction ~Laura Purcell

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of  MISTRESS OF THE COURT for review. It is quite an interesting historic study and the author has done a great deal of research before adding her fictional parts.  I quite enjoyed this good read.

“The second in Laura Purcell’s captivating and acclaimed series of novels chronicling the lives and loves of the consorts and mistresses of Britain’s rash, reckless and ebullient Hanoverian kings.

Her first novel, Queen of Bedlam, was published by Myrmidon in the summer of 2014.” (TLC Book Tours page)

About the Author from the TLC Book Tours site:

“Laura Purcell is a former Waterstones bookseller who lives in Colchester. She is a member of the Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces and featured on a recent PBS documentary, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court. She maintains a history blog at”

Henrietta is an orphan who marries very young to a man who is extremely abusive.  His blows of anger deafen her and she is forced to flee his rages in order to feed her son.  She heads off to the House of Hanover in hopes of finding employment for herself and her husband as Princess Caroline and Prince George wait their turn as the royal family in England.  George’s father, George Ludwig becomes the first King and he handles the court with an iron hand and unbounded cruelty towards his family.

Henrietta becomes an attendant to Caroline and they develop a friendship; well one of tentative trust and power inequality.  They both loose their sons to fathers and control issues.  Caroline offers some protection to Henrietta and some relief from her husband and the abuse.

There is a considerable amount of true story to this book and the story weaves in conversations, which could truly have happened.  Purcell is an accomplished storyteller and historian of this royal family tree.   She has studied the family and is now working on a series of stories about the Hanover Court.  I have always enjoyed reading these historic fiction pieces and have been a great fan of Philippa Gregory’s work over the years.   My mother in her childhood had to memorize the English Kings and Queens and study them in school and I read a number of these stories to her in her later years.  She much more enjoyed US historic fiction and thought it was wise to only have President’s for eight years not so many royals.

I had some confusion at the beginning of the book and needed pencil and paper to keep things straight and then I found a rhythm that made the book more enjoyable.  I put aside an hour to wander the Internet to read more about this Court and their times as a general history lesson and to bring me more in line with what I was reading.   I do like this genre and think I would have devoured this story when I was in high school.  This read did not dwell so much on beheadings and torture, it was more about the family experience and the role of waiting for your turn.

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IF YOU LEAVE ME, CAN I COME WITH YOU? Daily Meditations for Codependents and Al-Anons…with a Sense of Humor ~Misti B.

A book of days to get the brain thinking and started off leading the way to recovery. Though inspiring and loaded with good common sense, IF YOU LEAVE ME, CAN I COME WITH YOU?  is not romantic or poetic or beautiful phrases – very real and down to earth.  It is a focused look at how to change behaviors one day at a time with a great deal of “tongue in cheek” and “sarcastic” style humor.   Each day a hard lesson is described and then the process to change the thinking is explored in real time and with great truth.  This is Misti B.’s journey shared with others to assist them in moving forward and living a fuller more centered life.

The Hazelden Foundation sent me a copy of IF YOU LEAVE ME, CAN I COME WITH YOU? in plenty of time for me to divide up the read into monthly chapters.  I did not need to read all 365 days at one time.   I read groups of the meditations and then could put the book down to come back to at another time.  A large number of the selections stuck with me during the day and brought on another laugh or an opportunity for me to think some new thoughts.

I read a poem everyday or I read from a book of days everyday and it just feels right to start my day off with a bit of inspiration and good thoughts. This book is quite fun and I can understand why it might be useful for others in their recovery.  It made an impression on me.

“HAZELDEN Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs.  It is the nation’s largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center.  With 15 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults.”

It is important that we share our stories and Misti B. has done a fun telling of her recovery story that I believe will be helpful to many readers along the way.  The promo materials give this short descriptor:

  • Meditations and wisdom to successfully tackle everyday challenges we all face, whether or not you identify as a codependent, Al-Anon or as someone in recovery.
  • Advice on how to deal with Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and other holidays
  • Tips for working through common struggles that people in All-Anon face such as perfectionism, caretaking, people-pleasing, and more
  • Lighthearted and humorous approaches to struggling through stressful events and situations
  • The Twelve Steps of Al-Anon and the Twelve Steps of Codependents Anonymous.

Misti Barnes, a writer, filmmaker, and recovering codependent, writes humorous books about life in recovery, shining some light into normally very dark spaces.  Misti’s career in entertainment – producing live events, writing and directing for stage, TV, and film – combined with her dysfunctional upbringing provide the fodder for her gritty but inspiring recovery stories.

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PARIS TIME CAPSULE: A Little Romance Within a Real Life Mystery ~Ella Carey

I was so ready for a romance read on the schedule and PARIS TIME CAPSULE did not disappoint.    I just gathered up my Kindle and headed to the deck umbrella for a lovely day of escape reading and staying cool in the unusual heat wave.   The city became still as folks left for a last holiday experience and to escape the heat before school starts here.  I traveled to Paris and enjoyed the adventures of CAT.

The story begins with the arrival of a mysterious package and the information that Cat has inherited an estate of a woman who lived in France.   This opens the story up to the true historic event that intrigued the author to write this novel.  In Paris, an apartment was found which had been locked up for 70 years and belonged to a French Courtesan in the 1840s up until World War II.  It was a time capsule of a lifestyle and a life and has revealed interesting secrets of its own.  The author found this to be a fascinating idea and a good foundation for her novel.

I found myself to be desiring a croissant and a glass of wine very soon into the story and the reports of the lovely food kept my mouthwatering.   Cat becomes engaged to a young man who is a member of the wealthy New York jet set and likes being in NYC close to his extended family.  Because Cat’s parents are deceased the family takes her under their wings and begins to make all the preparations for the parties and wedding.  Cat loses herself into the hustle and bustle of the expectations and yet still flies off to Paris to remedy the inheritance and to work on solving the mystery.

Enter dreamy, handsome French man and his family who have been left out of the will and their family’s inheritance.  Oo La La!   We have quite a story to tell now and yet the time capsule of the apartment and the mystery of the connections keeps us reading forward.

TLC Book Tours sent me the advanced reading copy of the book for review and apparently for a lovely afternoon escape.   I enjoyed the book and can recommend it to my readers as a delight – PARIS TIME CAPSULE

Ella Carey has been studying French since she was five and has degrees in music and art, and was a classical piano major in school.  Writing is her passion and this book was independently released in 2014 and rose to #10 on Amazon’s Indie selection during the year.  It is now being published by Lake Union Publishing and to be made into a motion picture.   She has been to Paris many times and is currently working on her second novel, walking the beach with her dogs and enjoying her life with two children.

Ella Carey Facebook 

PARIS TIME CAPSULE has gone to #1 on historic fiction!  And is free for Kindle Unlimited readers

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