Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pump Up Your Book blog tour: The River of Forgetting by Jane Rowan

From the back of the book:

People don’t make up things like that for fun. That’s what Jane’s therapist tells her when Jane reports fragmentary memories from her childhood that hint at sexual abuse. A busy, successful scientist, Jane at first fights the implications, but finally has to admit that something indeed happened. With help from a gifted therapist as well as creative arts, Jane taps into her own aliveness and reconciles with both her parents’ love and their betrayal.

About the author:

Jane Rowan is a survivor of childhood trauma and betrayal and is passionate about sharing her healing experiences, including Inner Child work. She is a New England writer and poet. She retired from a long and successful professional career to have more time to write and to live fully. (Jane's name is a pseudonym.)

To learn more about the book and this author’s work, check out her website.

Just my opinion:

This memoir is written a little different than many I’ve read in the past. The author doesn’t dwell on the events that led her to the point of needing therapy; she talks about how it helped her and why.

Anyone who needs to come to terms with something that happened to them in the past would benefit from this book. Jane Rowan discusses the steps in her therapy, how she learned to express herself and how she reached inside to begin the healing process. I found the movement therapy particularly fascinating. It reminds me of a form of meditation where you block out what’s going on around you and concentrate on your inner emotions. It’s very intriguing and I’m sure others would benefit from it.

The author also includes some poetry she wrote, which opens the window to let the reader see inside her heart.

Well-written, interesting and brutally honest. This is a book that may be difficult for some to read, but it’s also an important story to understand the consequences of sexual assault on the victim. You really must read this one!

Some favorite passages from the book:

Feelings are enormous to a child, especially when they have not been allowed to be expressed.

Myra is always going to be my mother. She’s always going to be manipulative, controlling, indirect, helpless, limited, narrow, smart, capable, careful. She does what she can. She loves according to who she is.

To find out more about this blog tour, visit the Pump UpYour Book website.

Note: This tour stop is actually scheduled for tomorrow (June 29), but we will be camping. I'm not sure if I will have Internet connection where we are going, so I'm posting a day early.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Flowers for Her Grave

By Jean Sheldon

From the back of the book:

An article in the Raccoon Grove Gazette on the twentieth anniversary of Jack Vandenberg’s murder and the disappearance of this daughter, Kimberly, rekindles interest in the tragedy. Anonymous letters arrive – one from a writer who knows the identity of the killer, another that claims Kimberly Vandenberg is alive in nearby Chicago. Growing interest in the crime makes someone nervous, and when the local gossip columnist and gardener team up to solve the case, accidents threaten their investigation.

Just my opinion:

This was an absolutely fun book. I had the time of my life reading it and could hardly put it down!

Here are two women different than night and day who are best of friends. When clues start popping up, they decide to look into a 20-year-old mystery and try to find out who murdered one of the town’s citizens. They are also curious as to what happened to the man’s 5-year-old daughter that same night. To top it off, a stranger arrives claiming to be the only living relative of the estate and he wants his fair share.

A great read that will keep you guessing "whodunit!" Be sure to add this one to your reading list. You’ll love it!

Some favorite passages from the book:

If she didn’t allow herself to feel the pain of loss she couldn’t know the joy of a life shared with others.

People were people no matter what size the community.

When people love you, it isn’t okay to drop out of sight.

Flowers and people grew at their own pace and no amount of urging or manure would make them grow faster.

You’ll know how well you’re doing by how good you feel about what you’ve done.

Our perception of time changes dramatically in a crisis. A brief event becomes interminable as heightened senses capture each passing moment in vivid detail. We see, hear, feel, smell, and even taste, every morsel of stimuli we might not normally notice. That makes the experience vivid beyond comprehension. It is for our own safety that we don’t perceive our daily lives with such awareness. Walking out the front door would quickly overload the senses.

Career journalists can encounter situations that test their wits and survival skills.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Beach Trees

By Karen White

From the back of the book:

Julie first knew loss at the age of twelve, when her younger sister disappeared from their backyard—never to be found. As her once close-knit family grew apart, Julie’s mother obsessively searched for the girl, and when her mother died, Julie took up the search. Even as she went on with life, discovering a love for art that she attributed to her painter great-grandfather, she never let go of the hope that she might find her sister. Then, while working at an auction house in New York, Julie meets Monica Guidry—a struggling artist and single mother who reminds Julie so much of her sister that she can’t help feeling drawn to her and even a bit protective.

Just my opinion:

Here are two women who become the best of friends, so when Monica dies, Julie inherits her 5-year-old son and a beach house in Mississippi. Julie feels it’s important to take the little boy to meet his family. What she doesn’t expect to find is a beloved house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. At first, she’s not sure what to do, but she quickly becomes determined to rebuild. What she doesn’t expect is that ownership of the house is shared with Monica’s brother, who Julie takes an instant dislike to.

Thus begins one of the most amazing stories I’ve read. Not only is the plot wonderful, the words are absolutely amazing. In fact, I had so many page flags marking quotes that I thought I would have to narrow them down to add to my review here. But I decided to include them all because I want you to really see how beautiful this writing is.

It really is a great book and I stayed up late into the night (or early in the morning, if you prefer your glass half full!) to finish it. I know you’ll want to include this one on your summer reading list.

The only question I have is: Why haven’t I read anything by this author before?

Some favorite passages from the book:

Death and loss, they plague you. So do memories.

The garish colors looked defiant against the scrubby grass yards and plywood windows of their neighbors. A tall, white lighthouse sat nestled between the opposing traffic lanes of the highway, leaning slightly inland.

You ain’t dead yet, so you ain’t done.

It wasn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out, but the grain of sand in your shoe.

Wide front steps led up to a gracious front wraparound porch dotted with wicker rocking chairs and more plants hanging from the porch ceiling. Matching turrets framed the front of the house like parentheses, giving the impression of a castle. Large double wooden doors sat in the middle, long rectangular windows in each polished door like drooping eyes staring warily at the encroaching garden.

Climbing hydrangea drooped haphazardly off of trellises, while large clay pots exhibited their gaudy offerings of forget-me-nots and verbena in the shade of the fountain.

Great tragedy gives us opportunities for great kindness. It’s like a needed reminder that the human spirit is alive and well despite all evidence to the contrary.

After a hurricane, when everything is in such disarray, you look up at the sky and see that everything’s clear up there, the sky’s blue, and the birds are stretching out their wings and rebuilding their nests. And it’s up to those who can bear to look down again who are left with the responsibility of restoring life down here.

Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.

Sometimes a person needs to be forced underwater to see if they’re going to drown or swim.

You have a generous heart, Julie. But don’t forget to save some of it for yourself.

We looked at each other as if we were speaking the same language but with accents that made our words indecipherable to each other.

We all need something to soften the sharp edges. To give us balance. Otherwise, I think we’d find ourselves stumbling around in the dark like lost souls.

Sometimes you got to put up with a whole bunch of ugly so you can appreciate a little bit of beautiful.

Having questions doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t already know some of the answers.

The hot spring erupted into a scorching summer, the humidity heavy and intrusive, its thick fingers reaching through window blinds, under doors.

The verdant foliage and brilliant colors of summer gardens faded to hues of brown and beige as dead blossoms littered the ground and scattered with the cool winds.

I was too angry to respond, too scared of the cloying darkness with only the thin beam from my flashlight to illuminate what lurked in the corners.

When everything you’re about to see is too much, look up and see that the sky is clear and know that everything is going to be all right.

Our lives are spent searching for what makes us whole, for the things that make surviving worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer is finally here!

Today is the first day of summer and I'm so excited! It's been a long winter and spring here in the Pacific Northwest, so warm weather will be appreciated by all.

And what a way to start the new season ... the sun is shining and it's an absolutely beautiful day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quotes for Father's Day

"One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters." ~ George Herbert

"You will find that if you really try to be a father, your child will meet you halfway." ~ Robert Brault

"If the past cannot teach the present and the father cannot teach the son, then history need not have bothered to go on, and the world has wasted a great deal of time." ~ Russell Hoban

"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." ~ Clarence Budington Kelland

“Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice” ~ Unknown

"Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!" ~ Lydia M. Child

"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection." ~ Sigmund Freud

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pump Up Your Book blog tour: Ladies and Gentlemen … The Redeemers by Michael Scott Miller

From the back of the book:

Ladies and Gentlemen … The Redeemers tells the story of Bert Ingram, once a successful rep in the music industry, who has lost his way. Desperate for redemption, the perpetual dreamer decides to put together a band, recruiting musicians who have only one thing in common: the need to overcome a significant obstacle in their lives. The volatile mix of the musicians’ personalities and backgrounds threatens to derail the band at every opportunity, but in time, the Redeemers begin to realize they have more to gain from one another than they ever could have imagined.

About the author:

Michael Scott Miller is a first-time novelist who works with numbers by day in the business world and with words by night. He began writing shortly after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and has had his work published in the Welcomat (now Philadelphia Weekly). He also wrote music reviews for the Wharton Journal while his wife was getting her degree there.

Michael grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., and now lives in Lafayette Hill, Pa., with his wife and three children.

To learn more about Michael and his book, visit his website.

Just my opinion:

Fun! That’s the best word to describe this story about a group of misfits who “band” together to make something of themselves. Each member is a qualified musician who for whatever reason has never been able to break into the business on his own. Enter Bert Ingram, who was basically kicked out of the industry years before and is determined to get back into his groove. After months of practice, they finally begin to get some gigs. But will they succeed?

I really enjoyed this story by first-time novelist Michael Scott Miller. There are a few rough spots (after all, this is his first book), but they don’t take away for the enjoyment of the book. It is a very pleasant read and one that is tough to put down. I was anxious to find out if the group ever “made it” and kept reading the last pages until I found out.

A delightful story and one you will definitely enjoy as well.

Some favorite passages from the book:

If you waited until your ship sprung leaks, sometimes you couldn’t bail water fast enough.

You can’t will things to be the way you want them to be. Adversity can motivate or destroy, depending upon the mettle of the man.

For more information about this blog tour, visit Pump UpYour Book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

White Sleeper

By David R. Fett and Stephen Langford

From the back of the book:

When Arkansas experiences a wave of rare fatal diseases, the CDC sends disgraced doctor Dave Richards to investigate, and he knows this is the case that could save his career. When he teams up with FBI agent Paula Mushari, Richards thinks he may have found the person who can help him find the answers. But as they dig deeper, they begin to get a sinister glimpse into what they are dealing with—a vengeful sect, led by the son of a late white supremacist, intent on destroying a nation. As Richards fights to save his job, he and Mushari must race against the clock to prevent a plague of catastrophic proportions.

Just my opinion:

I really enjoyed this story. Co-written by a doctor and television writer, it explores what would happen if the country was suddenly facing a plague so deadly that finding the source was critical to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

This book is very edge-of-your-seat and I had a difficult time putting it down. As the two main characters race the clock, I found myself reading faster and faster as the tension built.

The writing style isn’t the best and could have used some keen editing, but the story itself is so great that it makes up for it. I liked most of the characters, especially the female FBI agent. I felt her personality was key to the storyline and the authors did a fine job helping the reader get to know her personally and professionally.

Full of espionage and intrigue, this is a book that you really must read. It’s a super story and very interesting.

Some favorite passages from the book:

Back in the 1800s, when Congress was considering making it a state, a lobbyist named George Willing suggested the Indian name Idaho. It stuck, but it was later discovered that the name was a prank by Mr. Willing. The word “Idaho” had no meaning. Mr. Willing, however, sealed his place in history by providing the only state name that meant absolutely nothing.

Dave wasn’t sure if this was what it meant to make one’s own destiny. Until now, he’d been certain he’d squandered his chances. But being suddenly thrown into the middle of this crisis had made him reconsider his dire, albeit cynical, life forecast.

When you live a life built on luck, crashing and burning was a natural by-product.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Harley-Davidson Memories

By Bob Tyson

From the back of the book:

When Bill Harley and Arthur Davidson began tinkering with the idea of engine-assisted cycling in 1901, they probably had no idea where it would lead. Harley-Davidson is the one motorcycle manufacturer that has managed to outlast all the others while becoming not only a legend, but a lifestyle in the process. Ride with motorcycle expert and enthusiast Bob Tyson as he takes a look at vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycles and recounts the heady days of early cycling, when the world was just getting to know this amazing machine.

Just my opinion:

There’s nothing like the distinct sound of a Harley! Most people recognize it from a block away and it makes heads turn. It’s classy and classic.

Bob Tyson brings that sound and style to the pages in this fascinating book that tells the history of Harley-Davidson. With a great array of photos – past and present – and a bevy of advertisements, you will be transported to the open road as you explore how this company changed the course of travel more than 100 years ago.

Tyson is no stranger to either motorcycles or writing. He’s written for motorcycle magazines and is a member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. He brings that experience to the pages as he delivers an interesting account straight from the annals of history. In fact, this book could have been titled “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Motorcycles … But Were Afraid to Ask Mr. Harley or Mr. Davidson.”

Honesty, I have an innate fear of motorcycles, but with the right driver, whom I can trust with my life, I do enjoy a ride now and then. So, I found this book quite interesting and informational. Whether you’re a fan or not, if you enjoy reading about how American standards were made, you’ll also find something to like about this book.