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THE SWEET LIFE: A Sweet Life Series Novel ~Sharon Struth

Monday, October 9th, 2017

THE SWEET LIFE is a very positive, sweet romance and I enjoyed the tour through Tuscany very much.  The characters were well developed and conveyed the main plot and sub-stories clearly; all in all it was a good escape and entertaining.

The plot is refreshing and will definitely keep the reader turning page after page. –Fresh Fiction

Mamie has been hiding out since she survived the terrible car accident that took her husband and daughter, leaving her with a limp and sorrow – survivor’s guilt.  Five years she has limped through her life and hidden out at home feeling the pain.  She knows her husband would have wanted her to embrace life and keep on living fully, but separating herself from her grief is not going to be easy.  She is persuaded to write a tour guide for a book company and the tour involves 2 weeks in Italy.

Sharon Struth writes a good story about love and loss.  She knows her characters and has a path she wants them to take.  – Eye on Romance

Julian is the tour leader and he is willing to take a risk or two along the way.  The tour is a group of people who celebrate their time at WOODSTOCK and do trips together to keep the momentum strong.  They are witty and fun and encourage Julian taking risks.  Julian has been running away from a tragic loss of his own and on top of it all he is being hounded by his former boss to return to his old job.  He spent a large part of his youth in this part of Italy and he shares his knowledge freely as he leads the tour on his own turf.

Struth has a gift for layering stories within stories while keeping them all connected.   –Library Journal

Early on as I began reviewing books I read Struth’s first novel, THE HOURGLASS, and also noted that her character development was fresh and intelligent.  I can only read so many romance stories in a row, and this was a good one to just sit back and enjoy fully.   Made me definitely want to go to Italy and see all the sights and taste the food.  I do not think I gained weight while enjoying this story.

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About Sharon Struth

Sharon Struth believes you’re never too old to pursue a dream. The Hourglass, her debut novel, is a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards for Best first Book, and her Blue Moon Lake Novels include the bestseller, Share the Moon.
When she’s not working, she and her husband happily sip their way through the scenic towns of the Connecticut Wine Trail, travel the world, and enjoy spending time with their precious pets and two grown daughters. She writes from the friendliest place she’s ever lived, Bethel, Connecticut. For more information, including where to find her published essays, please visit www.sharonstruth.com or visit her blog, Musings from the Middle Ages & More.

Courage Can Take You places…

Related:
The Hourglass
The Light Between Oceans
Letters From Skye

THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT: A Review ~Kate Hamer

Monday, August 14th, 2017

I could not put THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT down; I had to read well into the night as this abduction – suspense story just held me captive.  When I did go to bed, I was still thinking about the story and how I might resolve it, as I did not skip to the end to see how it concluded.  The writing was superb and I think many, many people will want to read this story and then Hamer’s next and next and next book.

“Compulsively readable…Beautifully written and unpredictable, I had to stop myself racing to the end to find out what happened.” —Rosamund Lupton (Sister)

A smart and dreamy little girl no longer wishes to hold onto her mother’s hand at the book festival and as the fog rolls in she starts to wander into stories, that she finds under the sales table – the two are separated and a feisty man leads the child away.  The fear and sadness of the mother just filled my whole being and I was deeply hooked into story

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Year for 2016
  • Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
  • Dagger Award finalist

As a new single parent, the mother is worried and anxious about all the responsibility and she worries that her daughter, 8-year-old Carmel, will wander off and that she will not be able to pay the bills and get all their needs manifested.  The father has a new partner and has not appeared for a long time in their lives. Carmel is trying to sort out her new life and she has a very perceptive view of the world, her mind does wander and she notices details.  They both want to figure everything out and move forward.

The book goes from Mother to daughter as the story progresses and it is fabulous how Carmel works at remembering her Mother and all the wisdom that was imparted.  Her mother’s mind is always trying to connect with where Carmel might be and they are always working on finding RED in their lives.  The police have given up the search and there is a remarkable connection, as both mother and daughter cannot totally believe the other might be dead.

I do not believe I would have chosen this book to read and then it would have been my loss for sure.  So I say thank you to TLC Book Tours for asking me to read and review this remarkable story – THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT.

About the author:

Kate Hamer’s first novel ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’ was shortlisted for The Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into 16 different languages. Kate won the Rhys Davies short story prize and has short stories published in a number of anthologies. She’s written articles and reviews for The Independent, The Sunday Mail and The New York Times. Kate grew up in rural Wales and now lives with her husband in Cardiff, UK.  Her second book is The Doll Funeral (PW August 21,17 review)

Kate Hamer Twitter
Kate Hamer Goodreads

Related:
Coincidence
The Innkeeper’s Sister
A Tale for the Time Being

Celebrating the Moment of Wisdom

Monday, January 21st, 2013

wisdomThis week I wrote the letter resigning my Ordination in the Ministry of the United Church of Christ. It was a closure for me of the past five and a half years of releasing the old definitions.  I am not walking around giddy or happy dancing; I am standing a bit taller and witnessing the baby steps of discovery.  My goal and intention since my 55th birthday has been to become the healthiest person I can become and to be prepared for turning 65 and the Peak of Creativity.  I am on task.

Releasing the bonds of the old definitions has been a life long journey.  I have not done it alone and have asked for help along the way, and yet have wallowed in my own shadows deeply and sometimes distressed others.   I have read and read and searched and questioned; at times I have driven myself to push for relief and answers.

Depression is anger against the self, it can bleed out in subtle ways.  Ruminating on anger without release is like grinding one’s teeth down to despair – chewing the cud called self.  I developed systems to spew it out, analyze and understand, and I repeated until I could truly forgive. Release.  Now I have even more emotional skills/tools to draw upon.

I knew the day that Nixon signed and abolished the draft and all the U Haul trailers began arriving on the campus of my Seminary so many of the interesting students would depart, that maybe I should be packing my things also, but I thought it was only a short sprint to the end and I was told to finish my work; I did.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”  Rather it is words that I celebrate.  Oh yes if the words sting, rip and tear at the soul, I cry and bleed like all others, then I let them reveal to me the fear and pain of the speaker.  I have obviously assaulted a boundary that they like the edge of and have marked it darker for definition.  Then I question, what does their fear or pain reflect back to me?  What can I learn about people from hearing these words?  How can I pull forth these ideas and change them to my use and knowledge?  I return to the self and diffuse the reflection.

It all takes time.

I never earned any money, retirement, insurance from my work as an ordained minister.  I did fund raise  tremendous amounts of money for projects in my community and for education.  I did work a number of jobs to give me enough quarters for some Social Security and Medicare (Maybe? – remember I was born with cancer and have always been a pre-existing condition)

What did I gain by being Ordained?  I was acknowledged for being smart enough to attend and graduate from a prestigious institution.  I survived! which was an amazing feat in itself.   I learned to trust myself.  I learned how to think, study and contemplate activating those skills into useful information and action.  In the awesome category, I am a skilled counselor and one of the best Adult Educators on the planet. I taught and understood Ethics and I became my own best friend.

I am sure that I will still get all the newsletters and announcements that I can possibly handle and I will still work on Justice, Peace and Women’s issues!  I will always have a community where I belong and which supports the issues that are vital to me.

I am enjoying reading as much as I want and what I choose to read. I am truly happy to be able to say NO to requests.  I no longer want to go to required meetings and pay for the privilege and the gas.   I am figuring out what I want to do in this third of my life to celebrate the peaks of creativity.  I have planted seeds and gotten some insights.   I am no longer that 10 year old girl striving to do something that everyone said could not be done or accomplished.  Been there done that, on to something new.

How about you?  What are your plans for change?  Made any big or dramatic changes this year?

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Thank you.  Donations welcome.

Related Reading:
Making Change an Often Overlooked Step
Wild Heart Painting Workshop- Gifts of Change
30 Days with My Father  – PTSD
Breakfast With Buddha

Snow Day

Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Snow day skiing

Snow day skiing

It is a snow day!  Maybe this is nothing for you to note or write about, but here it is all about enjoying the wonder of the experience.  As a child, it meant usually we had the day off from school, and we did not mind making it up in June, because a snow day was just so rare it was wonder full.

Not until my siblings took skiing lessons up the mountain did we have snowsuits, rather we just layered up and pulled on rain boots, mittens and hats.  When we were so wet and frozen we could not hang out for one more minute, we came inside for warm cups of hot chocolate and often a toasty bath.  If we lost power, then the fireplace was called into service and we played marathon rounds of board games in the flickering light.

The city often set aside streets for sledding, because everyone just stopped and enjoyed the experience.

And then the rain would come warm and wash it away and life would return to regular routines.

I probably had 10 Snow Days during my years in the public school system. (I spent my last two years of schooling in Cleveland, Ohio – no snow days there)  My youngest child celebrates her birthday in February and she had 9 birthdays of snow days during her progress.  One year my children were off from school for 18 days over the course of winter and they had to be made up in June.

One of my children lives in California now, and she is wishing that she was home for this Snow Day.  Yes she loves to cross country ski and build snow folk in the yard, but I think it is also that sense of wonder and just raw joy that comes from deep inside.  That rush to not waste a moment of this experience and feel it soak in right up to the knees.

There is something different this year.  They can tell us that tomorrow will be the worst day of this storm.  There are so many children who go to the mountains skiing every weekend, that snow at home is not so novel an experience.   The city is not blocking off streets for sledding but rather borrowing street cleaning equipment so that there will not be disruption because of the weather.  No snow folks have emerged on my walk.  And I do not hear the sound of children enjoying and calling out, “look at this!  Watch me!”
The school buses are not running, so I am fairly sure that the schools are closed.  We still have power so I think the TV and computer are still available.

The new kind of quiet is actually eerie.  Solemn.  Poignant.

I am curious as to whether or not now “they” will attempt to develop a pill or programming to recreate that inner joy and wonder of a Snow Day?

“Be aware of wonder.
Live a balanced life
–learn some and think some
– and draw and paint and sing and dance
– and play and work every day some.”
Robert Fulgham

ZIP still has the feeling and he comes in a shiny, happy puppy covered in snowballs and barking with glee.

How do you conjure up that feeling from deep inside?  How do you think folks find it today?  Do you think some folks do not know what they are missing?

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Related Reading:
Teaching a Pup to Rain Walk 
Food For Thought Holiday
My Neighborhood Looks like a Snow Globe
Wii and Wii Fit