Jun 252022
 

Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love
Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter—as well as a gift of saffron—to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic—exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.

Food and a good life—they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship—a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.

A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating.

Thoughts
I enjoyed this book, it reminded me of my best friend who I met when I moved into a new apartment. Louise was my next door neighbor. The first time we met we it was like we’d known each other for ever. I was 21 and she was 42, not as big a difference as Joan and Imogen, but still a gap. I had one son under 1 and her only child still living at home was almost 16. This book brought back a lot of good memories for me.

This is a feel good book for sure, full of things to keep you entertained. It’s a bit sad at times too and I liked the balance. It’s a short audio at just 3 hours and 46 minutes but there is a lot of story packed into that time. I liked hearing the references to the 60’s.  More memories!

The only negative thing I can say is that there was one repetitive thing that did get old, and that’s the PPS’s at the end of the letters. I’m not a fan of hearing anything that keeps repeating. Other than that, I loved this book.

 Posted by at 3:20 PM
Jun 172022
 

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons

Eudora Honeysett is done with this noisy, moronic world—all of it. She has witnessed the indignities and suffering of old age and has lived a full life. At eighty-five, she isn’t going to leave things to chance. Her end will be on her terms. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland, a plan is set in motion.

Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of color and sparkling cheer. All Eudora wants is to be left alone to set her affairs in order. Instead, she finds herself embarking on a series of adventures with the irrepressible Rose and their affable neighbor, the recently widowed Stanley—afternoon tea, shopping sprees, trips to the beach, birthday celebrations, pizza parties.

While the trio of unlikely BFFs grow closer and anxiously await the arrival of Rose’s new baby sister, Eudora is reminded of her own childhood—of losing her father during World War II and the devastating impact it had on her entire family. In reflecting on her past, Eudora realizes she must come to terms with what lies ahead.

But now that her joy for life has been rekindled, how can she possibly say goodbye?

Thoughts
Three unlikely friends who make each other’s lives better. What’s not to love?

And I absolutely did LOVE everything about this book! Eudora, Rose and Stanley are great characters and kept the story interesting and entertaining. Eudora is prim and proper, Stanley is dignified but a bit carefree, and Rose is a free spirit even at her young age. Put them together and you’ve got 3 people who are completely different but together they make the best of friends.

I loved reading about how their friendship started, all they did together, and how they changed each other’s lives. I felt all the emotions while reading this book and now I want to read more books by this author.

I hope that Annie Lyons see’s what a great character she created in Rose and writes a book based on her life. I would grab a copy as soon as it was published and I know others would too!

Will be going on my Favorite Books Of 2022!

 

 

 Posted by at 10:08 AM
May 042022
 

Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals by Laurie Zaleski

Laurie Zaleski never aspired to run an animal rescue; that was her mother Annie’s dream. But from girlhood, Laurie was determined to make the dream come true. Thirty years later as a successful businesswoman, she did it, buying a 15-acre farm deep in the Pinelands of South Jersey. She was planning to relocate Annie and her caravan of ragtag rescues – horses and goats, dogs and cats, chickens and pigs – when Annie died, just two weeks before moving day. In her heartbreak, Laurie resolved to make her mother’s dream her own. In 2001, she established the Funny Farm Animal Rescue outside Mays Landing, New Jersey. Today, she carries on Annie’s mission to save abused and neglected animals.

Funny Farm is Laurie’s story: of promises kept, dreams fulfilled, and animals lost and found. It’s the story of Annie McNulty, who fled a nightmarish marriage with few skills, no money and no resources, dragging three kids behind her, and accumulating hundreds of cast-off animals on the way. And lastly, it’s the story of the brave, incredible, and adorable animals that were rescued.

Thoughts
I first saw this book when Diane posted about it. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE animals, so it was an automatic “get this book”!

It starts with Laura’s childhood and you get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of her family. I was glad the author added all that information, it added a lot to the story and let us get to know them up close and personal.

The story has a lot of information about the animals and the farms. Some hilarious, some sad, some info I didn’t know. I loved this book. It had all of my favorite things. Animals, family, humor, overcoming life’s hardships etc. It gave me all the feels.

I highly recommend it!

Funny Farm Rescue & Sanctuary is located in Mays Landing, NJ

It is free to the public

It’s run with the help of volunteers and donations

 Posted by at 2:08 PM
Apr 112022
 

I Don't Want to Read This Book

I Don’t Want to Read This Book by Max Greenfield
Illustrated by Mike Lowery

From actor Max Greenfield (fan-favorite “Schmidt” from television’s New Girl) comes a hilarious picture book for every child who thinks they don’t like to read books (and all the kids—and grownups—who do).

Words, sentences, and even worse, paragraphs fill up books. Ugh! So what’s a reluctant reader to do? Actor Max Greenfield (New Girl) and New York Times bestselling illustrator Mike Lowery bring the energy and laugh-out-loud fun out for every child (and parent) who thinks they don’t want to read a book. Joining the ranks of favorites like The Book With No Pictures and The Serious Goose, this clever and playful read-aloud breaks the fourth wall and will have all readers coming back for laughs again and again!

Thoughts
I didn’t know about Max Greenfield until the show The Neighborhood premiered. I love this show so when I saw this book was by Greenfield, I knew I wanted to read it.

This is a funny book and is geared toward kids ages 4-8 who don’t like to read. It will hopefully show them that reading can be fun.

The illustrations are big and bold which I think makes the book very appealing. I think most children whether they like to read or not will enjoy this book. For those who don’t like to read, I hope it starts them on a lifelong love of books!

Many adults have enjoyed this book, including me.

 Posted by at 10:38 AM
Mar 252022
 

Listen To Me by Lynne Podrat

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

This memoir was written to honor my youngest brother’s influence over my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly, of living with a Down Syndrome sibling. It tells the story of the children of my family, despite our parents’ frailties, remaining committed to each other through life’s many changes and separations. Who I am today is directly related to who I needed to become.

Praise
“As the intertwined life stories of the author and her brother Bruce emerge, the story takes on a new tone. Bitterness and rancor are replaced with a gentle kind of mellowness and a roaring-fire-on-a-cold-winter-day kind of warmth. This is underscored when the author writes that her plans for Bruce were “to open and enrich his world.” In the end, however, she realizes how being with Bruce “accomplished so much more.” She realizes how this “sweet small man” and “Bruce’s” capacity to love and to “just go on because there was no other choice” profoundly influenced her life. And how Bruce opened and enriched her world.

Oh, and the title? You’ll have to read the book for yourself to figure that one out. Flavored with gentle humor and tongue-in-cheek wit, Listen to Me isn’t a long read. At about 30,000 words, you can finish it in an afternoon. But the reflections and insights will reverberate much longer.”- Kristine, Pages and Paws

“This book is a touching story about the unconditional love between an older sister and her brother, Bruce. The prose is uplifting and inspirational, without the traces of ableism that can be found in other such works. The overall message is a plea to see people for who they are, not their diagnosis and aims to increase disability awareness.”- Laura Quinn, Laura Quinn Writes

“This memoir is exactly what I needed. It made me laugh and cry and helped me appreciate the people in my life even more than I already did. Bruce’s love for his family, friends, and favorite rock ‘n’ roll idols lives on through this book. His larger-than-life personality left such an impression on me; I can honestly say that I feel like I know him without ever having met him. I think about him from time to time and his essence inspires hope in me, showing me how precious it is to have an innocent view of life at any age.

This book means so much to me. Lynne Podrat is a true artist with her words and the life she created around the people she loves. Her tenacity and devotion to her family—and herself—is unparalleled. She is a badass. If I could just accomplish half of what she has, I would be happy.”-Sandi, Proof Reader Sandi

Thoughts
This book was filled with every emotion! It tells the story of Bruce and the family that loved him. Of his bond with his family, especially with his sister Lynne. Bruce brought so much joy during his lifetime to not only his siblings and other family members, but also to everyone who knew him.

Sadly Bruce dealt with health issues during his life but still, he had a happy, loving, wonderful life and brought love and laughter to everyone he met.

I rarely join book tours anymore, but I sure am glad I joined this time. This story will stay with me for a very long time.

Excerpt:
SEPTEMBER 19, 1980
I had been married four years, living in my own home on Levick Street across from Tarken Playground. I was near my parents and soon Bruce would be a bar mitzvah. Bar mitzvah? How the hell did that happen? Thirteen years had flown by.

David and I were in college. I was at Temple Ambler working on my MBA and David was close to graduation from Gynedd Mercy. We were aware of the positive changes in Special Education Standards having had friends in the field, so learning that our synagogue—with its huge congregation and day school had no one capable of preparing Bruce for his special day was incredulous. He would be taught and bar mitzvahed at a reform synagogue in Elkins Park, PA, called Kenneth Israel because they were more “equipped” to handle him. Imagine your whole family being members of an institution for fifteen years—my father on the board of Men’s Club, Mom involved in Sisterhood, me active in youth group, USY, and overnight camp—but needing to go elsewhere because your congregation was not equipped.

“There isn’t one congregant in this synagogue certified in Special Education who can work out a plan with us? No tape could be made so that Bruce could play it and learn the prayers by heart as they do for other kids? He knows words to a bazillion songs and can sign fluently. You don’t think we can get him to learn this?” I was speechless. Well, after this tirade I was speechless. I wanted to meet with the rabbi. The rabbi who had bar mitzvahed David. The same rabbi who had married me. I could not accept his resignation at not wanting to be involved with this latest and even more special simcha (blessing). Sensing my parents’ discomfort, I did not go to the rabbi. This was for them to handle and if they didn’t want to make waves in their synagogue, it wasn’t for me to make them un‐ comfortable. Of course, making waves is how change comes about and can be accomplished with grace and respect. Bruce would manage to do that on his own.

I did insist upon two things: the rabbi’s attendance on that day and a celebration. While over my parent’s house for dinner one Sunday with David and his significant other, we were teasing Bruce about his part and singing along with him for practice. “Is the reception right after the bar mitzvah or on Sunday?” David asked my dad nonchalantly. I had been bugging him to ask this for weeks be‐ cause my parents changed the subject or got testy whenever I broached the subject. He insisted I was imagining things, but finally agreed to ask. “There is no party!” Dad yelled looking at me. “He’s having a service with family. Isn’t that enough?” Like they were doing me a great favor. “No, not enough. Not even close. “You get more excited about my dogs learning a new trick than about your own son’s accomplishments.” I was done. I left.

IN RETROSPECT, my anger was more frustration and heartache for my parents who dearly loved but could not appreciate Bruce. They could only feel guilt and responsibility for his shortcomings, being constantly reminded of his handicap. Janice, Ms. Lee, Cedric, the other caregivers in his group homes, David, and I on the other hand reveled in all of Bruce’s wins, taking great pleasure in watching him get there and sharing this joy with as many people as possible.

Suffice it to say, Bruce did have his bar mitzvah in September of 1980. I cried through the entire service, kvelling (the Yiddish word for beaming with pride) with David by my side. Even my father- in-law who, like Mikey hated everything, was impressed. Our rabbi was present, and a lovely luncheon for family and friends followed, held in my home. This was good. This was right. Overcome by the service, witnessing the love and support for Bruce by Kenneth Israel’s rabbi and teachers, KenCrest caretakers, and our friends, my rabbi real‐ ized what he and his congregation were missing. Change was on the way. Bruce continued his influence on world domination with grace and respect. My heart still smiles at this memory, a framed picture of Bruce with his first girlfriend on a shelf as a reminder. David and I still appreciate how lucky we are to have had this gift.

About The Author
Lynne Podrat graduated from the Pennsylvania State University and then spent fifteen years in the Fashion Industry as an Assistant Buyer and Department Manager with Bloomingdales Department Store before returning to school to receive her educational degrees from Arcadia University and Gynedd Mercy.

A retired educator and Administrator from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania School District, she taught English, literature, composition, and history in elementary and secondary schools.

She has secretly been a writer and poet her whole life but has only recently chosen to share those talents with the world. Lynne now lives with her husband in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, spending winters dragon boating where her heart races and summers hiking the Rockies in Vail, Colorado where her heart sings.

GIVEAWAY
This giveaway is for 3 print copies, one for each of 3 winners and is open to the U.S. only. This giveaway ends on April 15, 2022 midnight, pacific time.  Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only.
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 Posted by at 10:22 AM
Mar 122022
 

The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People

The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People by Rick Bragg

Speck is not a good boy. He is a terrible boy, a defiant, self-destructive, often malodorous boy, a grave robber and screen door moocher who spends his days playing chicken with the Fed Ex man, picking fights with thousand-pound livestock, and rolling in donkey manure, and his nights howling at the moon. He has been that way since the moment he appeared on the ridgeline behind Rick Bragg’s house, a starved and half-dead creature, 76 pounds of wet hair and poor decisions.

Speck arrived in Rick’s life at a moment of looming uncertainty. A cancer diagnosis, chemo, kidney failure, and recurring pneumonia had left Rick lethargic and melancholy. Speck helped, and he is helping, still, when he is not peeing on the rose of Sharon.

Thoughts
First of all, I am a lifetime animal lover, especially dogs. Second of all, just look at how beautiful Speck is!

I’ve never read a book by this author before but when I saw the cover I fell in love with Speck and knew I would get a copy, which I did immediately.

This book was a 5* right from the beginning. I don’t think I could handle a dog like Speck, but I sure love him. It’s like he’s part dog, part rowdy boy. He sure keeps Bragg (and everyone else)  on his toes!

I don’t want to give away any of the story, but Speck gets into things. Lots of things. He has a mind of his own and does whatever pops into his head. And all he wants from Bragg or any of his other people is rubs, scratches, and food. All the foods!

This book is not only a great story about Speck that will give you all the feels, it’s about his people too.

Not only is Bragg the author, he also narrates it. I love his sense of humor, he is very funny! Now I want to read all his books, funny or not, I love the way he tells a story.

I laughed out loud many many times while listening to this book, and it was very much need!

 Posted by at 3:54 PM
Mar 032022
 

Reminders of Him

 

Reminders Of Him by Colleen Hoover

Narrators: Brittany Pressley, Ryan West

A troubled young mother yearns for a shot at redemption in this heartbreaking yet hopeful story from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself.

The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them.

The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.

Thoughts
This was the the second book by this author I’ve read and I loved it even more than the first. Like Regretting You, my emotions were all over the place, only more so. I started out feeling curious, then hopeful, then sad, then went back and forth between feeling hopeful and hopeless, happy and sad, all the time excited to see what was going to happen next. From beginning to end I didn’t want to stop listening but work, sleep, etc. kept getting in my way.

I loved all of the characters, except for a few times I wanted to shake two of the secondary ones, but I did know why they felt that way. I’m not sure I would have felt/acted differently if I was in their shoes. Keena and Ledger were great characters and I was excited to see where this book went.

This was such a good story and I won’t wait as long to read Hoover again.

Both of the narrators did a great job, but some of Keena’s sentences were missing the first word or syllable(s) which was a slight bit annoying. Still, I loved the book!

Just so you know, there are a few explicit scenes in the book, but for those of us who don’t want to hear/read those parts, just fast forward through them.

 Posted by at 3:12 PM
Feb 132022
 

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano

Animal lovers will laugh out loud at the quirkiness of their feline friends with these insightful and curious poems from the singular minds of funny cats. In this hilarious, bestselling book of tongue-in-cheek poetry.

The author of the internationally syndicated comic strip Sally Forth helps cats unlock their creative potential and explain their odd behavior to ignorant humans. With titles like “Who Is That on Your Lap?,” “This Is My Chair,” “Kneel Before Me,” “Nudge,” and “Some of My Best Friends Are Dogs,” the poems collected in I Could Pee on This perfectly capture the inner workings of the cat psyche. With photos of the cat “authors” throughout, this whimsical animal book reveals kitties at their wackiest, and most exasperating (but always lovable).

Thoughts
I love cats so when I saw this series I decided to buy all the books.  This is the first in the series and I loved it! It’s a very short read, but every poem is either funny or makes you think “yes! my cat does that!” And if you’ve never had a cat, this book will give you an idea of what having one is like. It’s definitely NOT like having a dog!

There are photos of various cats throughout the book, and of course they are all adorable!

BTW: I read some of the reviews for the book and saw one where the person gave it a 1* because they thought there was “foul language” in the book, and needs an “Adults Only” label. The only words I remember,  that someone might think would fall under “foul language” was pee, used once (which is in the title!!) and “sex” was used once.

There are four cat-egories in the book: Family, Work, Play, and Existence.
The author Francesco Marciuliano is the writer of the comic strip Sally Forth.

 

 

 Posted by at 6:24 AM
Jan 202022
 

Grandma Gatewood's Walk

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery
Narrator: Patrick Lawlor
The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, she sang the first verse of “America, the Beautiful” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it. “Grandma Gatewood”, as the reporters called her, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person-man or woman-to walk it twice and three times. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance and very likely saved the trail from extinction.

Thoughts
I don’t remember where I first saw this book, but as soon as I did I knew I was going to find a copy because I LOVE books like this, and it was doubly interesting because Grandma Gatewood was going to walk the length of the Appalachian Trail! At the age of 67! I was in awe of Emma! She wanted to walk the trail “on a lark”. She was a mother of 11, a grandmother of 23, and a survivor of more than 30 years of violent domestic abuse.

One of my favorite Emma quotes is “if those men can do it, I can do it.” And she did, 3 times!

What I didn’t know until I started listening to the book was that she was from a place I am very familiar with. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and my family had a cabin on Lake Jackson in Oak Hill, Ohio. In the summer between Jr. High and High School, my parents decided to hire someone to build a house on the land  so we could live at the lake full time.

Oak Hill was so small it was (still is) a Village, the nearest hospital to have a baby was in Gallipolis, where Emma Gatewood lived. All three of my kids were born in Gallipolis, and many places mentioned in the book are places I’m very familiar with, like Sardis, Ohio where my family lived when I was baby and visited friends there when I was growing up,  Old Man’s Cave where I went many times with my family and the Girl Scouts, Columbus, and many other towns/places in the area.

The author, Ben Montgomery, is the nephew of Emma Gatewood. He spent most of his 20 year newspaper career as an enterprise reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. He currently lives in Tampa, which is also interesting because I live  40 min. from Tampa.

I loved this book, but it is extra special to me because I was familiar with so many places in the book and familiar with where the author lives.

I think anyone interested in hiking, strong women, or books about woman in general will love this book!

In the book the narrator pronounces Gallipolis as “Gal O Police”, as do other people not from the area. Everyone who lives in the area or is familiar with Gallipolis pronounces it “Gal A Polis”.

My rating: 5*

 Posted by at 4:21 PM
Dec 202021
 
  1. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery
  2. I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems By Cats by Francesco Marciuliano
  3. Reminders Of Him by Colleen Hoover
  4. The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People by Rick Bragg
  5. Listen To Me: How My Down Syndrome Brother Saved My Life by Lynne Podrat
  6. I Don’t Want to Read This Book by Max Greenfield
  7. Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals by Laurie Zaleski
  8. The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons
  9. Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay
 Posted by at 4:42 PM