Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week - "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" Dr Seuss

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year New ME!

Wow! It has really been a long time since I have blogged. For the last few months I have seriously considered not blogging anymore. Trying to find my place within myself through a lot of changes in my life this past few months. The changes started a couple of years ago but these past four months have been especially hard and trying for our family. This all started my questions of where I really want to be in this life - WHO I really want to be in this life. This has begun a journey within myself.

I have always been one to reflect on my life but only seem to do so after tragedy or loss has come and gone. Never while I am in the midst of it. One reason is because I can only face so much at one time and another is because we aren't always the person we want to be or expected ourselves to be in the midst of hard times and situations. I am trying to do that DURING instead of AFTER. It is much harder for me this way, but it has made me a much humbler person. 

I think I lost myself somewhere along the road. I don't wish to reclaim my youth or become who I was when I was 20 - how awful would that be!! I like being in my 30's for many reasons. What I wish is to find that person who loved life and didn't look at it through skeptical eyes. Ones that are too wary, see too much danger or too much risk. I need to find my balance again. Find my peace again. 

I usually don't make resolutions at the new year. Mostly because I believe you set a goal when you know you need change not because it is Jan 1st, Monday, first day of the month, etc, etc, etc...  I set myself up for failure if I set these 'start' dates. I am more successful if I start my goal on the day I decided I wanted to reach that goal. I am such a procrastinator by nature so putting my 'start' date to far in the future is the same as never setting one. So this year I am calling it my New Me Journey not my New Year resolutions.

It took a tragedy in my family this past September to realize that I wanted - needed more from my life. We lost someone very close and special to us in Afghanistan on September 9th. Someone whom we loved so dearly. Our hearts have been broken and we are still trying to heal and keep moving forward. It shattered so many things close to us in our family that it has taken a while to post about that here. I may share more in the future when I am ready.

I love books too much to not read and blog about them. I will be blogging every Friday. Sometimes it will be about a book and sometimes it will be just about whatever I feel the need to share. I have many other goals that I have on my list to start my journey to becoming a new, better, more improved ME! I will share those along the way. 

I have missed you all and even though I haven't posted on your blogs for a while I still read them everyday. You have helped me to laugh on those hard days that I didn't think I could. I have read books and listened to music that I may never have chosen if not for you and your posts. I look forward to 'talking' with you all again!!!

Have a fantastic weekend and I'll blog with you again next Friday!


Monday, November 7, 2011

A Gentle Thief by Amanda Dickson

A Gentle Thief
By Amanda Dickson
A Gentle Thief

Maddie Johnson loved Shakespeare. Unlike everybody else she knew growing up, she seemed to understand him, enjoy him, more with every reading. It was partly because of this love that she drove her home in rural Pennsylvania to college to Southern Utah University, home every summer to the Utah Shakespearean Festival. It was partly that, and partly desire to get as far away as possible.
Maddie thought being in Utah would help her forget, that the stark beauty of the scenery and the power of the metaphor would be enough to clear her.
They weren’t.
The novel unfolds in two time periods, 2004 as Sophie Brownlie, attorney-at-law, become obsessed with helping the father of a girl who died 20 years before prove that she didn’t kill herself, and 1983 as a tortured and lonely young Maddie moves closer and closer to the day of her premature death. After considering several possible suspects, you begin to believe that the Utah Medical Examiner may have been right all along.
May have been.

This is a great who-done-it kind of mystery. I love those kind of stories but seem to have a knack at guessing who it was long before the story ends. I don’t always mind that I can do that but prefer if I can’t guess because it keeps me deeply interested and my mind churning away at all of the possibilities of who it is.  Yes I loved Clue when I was growing up!
This story had me from the beginning and although I had my suspicions as to what happened to Maddie I did not figure it out until it was revealed.  So to me that is a great mystery!  Ms. Dickson did a great job at going back and forth between 1983 and 2004. There were a couple of transitions that could have been smoother and I had to go back a page and double check that we moved to the other timeline. I am going to assume I had an ARC copy because of a couple of minor discrepancies that would have been fixed by a good proof-reader and editor. Nothing that detracted from the storyline and plot.
I especially enjoyed the connections to Shakespeare. Every chapter begins with one of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. It was enthralling and so fitting within the context of the storyline.
I hate to give anything away especially in a murder-mystery. This book is so much more than that though. It is the story of two women that lived 20 years apart but are brought together by tragedy. Maddie died too young to figure her life out and move forward to be happy. Will the same fate happen to Sophie?  It may if she doesn’t solve this case.

Thank you so MediaGuests for another great book for me to review.  Please visit their website for more information about all of the great authors they are touring with this year. You will definitely find a great story that you will want to read!

I give this book 4 stars. If you love a murder-mystery that spans over time along with the drama, intrigue, and suspense you will love A Gentle Thief.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review of Catherine by Sigrid Weidenweber

Inside the Heart & Mind of a Great Monarch
By Sigrid Weidenweber

“You look astonishingly pretty,” admits Johanna when Sophia steps out of her bedroom dressed in Ulrika’s magnificent gown. Sophia is stunned, halting in mid-step. This is rare praise from her cold mother, so she must, indeed, look very good. At Frederick’s side during the elaborate court dinner, Sophia shines and sparkles with youth and wit. The monarch is very pleased with his choice. Indeed, he is so enamored with the girl that he opens his purse to outfit mother and daughter, both woefully deficient in material matters appropriate for court life. So begins the transformation of Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst into Catherine the Great of Russia. The personal and professional triumphs and tribulations of this remarkable woman are retold by Sigrid Weidenweber, whose research into the life of Catherine reveals a new perspective on Catherine, from the inside out. Sigrid portrays with heartfelt understanding what it was like to have been such a major European political and military, social and cultural figure during the eighteenth century.

I believe I have mentioned before how much I love history. But I LOVE HISTORY!! So whenever someone writes a historical fiction book I can’t wait to get it and devour it! I am rarely disappointed either. Catherine was definitely no different in my expectations. I could hardly wait to get started and delve into this time machine of love, deceit, and intrigue. All of the great things we think of when we think of the great monarchies. I have a fantasy of these time periods from Europe that I put myself in these books as part of the court of each monarch. I know that is crazy since no one really ever survives the ‘Court’ unscathed or quite possibly dead!  But still I picture myself there and try to imagine what it would have been like.  I don’t think I would like to have actually lived in these time periods but poking my head in through a book is the best adventure!

This book is superbly written and the research impeccably done.  It is hard enough to piece together a life of someone from 200+ years ago when records are not the most accurate or complete. But to also piece together a full life of personalities and drama is quite another. Ms.Weidenweber has combined these together to create a story wrapped in so much excitement and mystery that I could hardly put it down each day. She made Catherine so easy to love and to watch her grow into her status as Empress was filled with answers as to why she was the person she became in the end. I don’t think I would have liked Catherine any other way. If I just looked at the facts I would see a harsh, spoiled Queen and not cared who she was. The author truly made Catherine into a real person that had real struggles in life.

I give this book 5 stars! If you love historical fiction then you must read this book. It leaves you trying to keep your eyes open in the middle of the night because you just can’t bear to put it down. You finish the book fully satisfied of an adventure into the past.