Sweet Southern Hearts

Sweet Southern Hearts (Willow Hill Series #3) by Susan Schild. New York: Lyrical Press, 2017. 202 pages. *****

This is the third book in the Willow Hill Series and Linny Taylor has married Willow Hill's handsome veterinarian, Jack Avery. Linny is trying to be everything to everyone and life is getting complicated. Jack's twelve-year-old son, Neal, needs a place to stay because his mother and stepfather are fighting all of the time, so Jack and Linny's honeymoon is cut short. Linny's mother invites her on an RV adventure trip with her middle age friends and Linny enjoys getting to know her mother a little better. When her sister Kate falls and breaks her arm, Linny babysits her niece while juggling her career and responsibilities. Just like life, there is always a surprise around the corner.

This is one of those books that envelops you like a soft blanket and a hot drink. The women are strong, kind and look out for each other...bringing casseroles, offers of babysitting, etc. I definitely will read Schild's other two books in the series. While I was reading this book, it was cold and rainy outside, I didn't even notice or care. This book is filled with laughter, sunshine, and love.

I received a copy for a review.

Susan Schild writes wholesome and sunny Southern fiction. She likes stories about charming men, missing money, adventuresome women, sweet dogs, and happily ever after at any age.
You can visit Susan's website at www.susanschild.com  and follow Susan on Facebook.

#wintervention @booksparks #readalatte


Good Words and More Good Words

Good Words: Memorializing Through a Eulogy by Beth L. Hewett, Ph. D. Indiana: Westbow Press, 2014. 207 pages. *****

Dr. Hewett has written a sensitive, insightful book into writing what has to be the most emotional tribute to someone we love: the eulogy. This book organizes the steps in the writing process by the most-to-least important details. Writing is only part of the process; advice for delivering the eulogy with confidence is also covered. Each chapter stands alone, however, I recommend you read it cover to cover. Some of the chapters include: "Praise in Difficult Relationships" "The Parts of the Eulogy" and "Choosing the Right Person to Deliver the Eulogy." Chapter 6 addresses the issue of children: writing a eulogy for a child and preparing children for the ceremony and speaking their grief.
Appendix A includes sample Eulogies, Appendix B provides Example Words and Poetry for Blessing and Honoring, and Appendix C compiles it all into a Eulogy Writing Guide. This Guide is a step-by-step, fill in the blanks guide. I highly recommend this book and the following ones from Dr. Hewett.

More Good Words: Practical Activities for Mourning by Beth L. Hewett, Ph. D. Indiana: Westbow Press, 2014. 188 pages. *****

More Good Words is written to encourage taking active control of grief through intentional actions and activities. "The activities are applicable to any loss, such as divorce, incarceration, etc." Drawing on her own experiences and those of her family, Hewett normalizes the feelings that emerge when we experience grief. We may experience anxiety because now life is different and others want us to move on. She provides activities for mourning with our emotions, spirits, bodies, minds and socially. Well-written, practical, yet sensitive to the needs of each individual. One size does not fit all in mourning.

Dr. Hewett has also written a series of booklets:

  • Memorializing Through A Eulogy: Eulogies and Difficult Situations (Good Words) 978-1-56123-228-4. 5.95
  • Memorializing Through A Eulogy: Eulogies and Religious Settings (Good Words) 978-1-56123-228-4. 5.95
  • Memorializing Through A Eulogy: Eulogies For Children (Good Words) 978-1-56123-226-0. 5.95
  • Memorializing Through A Eulogy: Eulogies With Childrens Voices (Good Words) 978-1-56123-227-7. 5.95
  • Memorializing Through A Eulogy: Eulogy Writing & Delivering (Good Words) 978-1-56123-225-3. 5.95
  • Memorializing Through A Eulogy: Nontraditional Eulogies (Good Words) 978-1-56123-223-9
  • Grief In The Workplace (More Good Words) written with Dr. Richard Ottenstein 978-1-56123-240-6. 12.95

These booklets are inexpensive, yet, priceless. I once wrote a eulogy on a napkin in a bar the night before a funeral. I had written a very formal, stilted one for a family member and others hated it. We collectively rewrote it, hence the napkin. There is comfort in knowing that someone has written a guide to help during an extremely, emotional time in our lives. I highly recommend buying these books and reading them now before the need arises and then keeping them handy for when the time comes. Not one of us escapes the experience of grieving and mourning. (I thought the terms were synonymous before reading these books) Dr. Hewett has provided excellent guides to ease the burden and the importance of taking active control of grief. These books are such an excellent resource, they should be available in doctor's offices, hospice, counselor's offices, churches, etc. Well-done!

I received copies for review.

Dr. Beth L. Hewett is an experienced bereavement facilitator and counselor, facilitator trainer, author, public speaker, and writing instructor. Her specialty is mindful mourning with Bead Blessings, writing, and other activities. See More Good Words: Practical Activities for Mourning and her other books at www.goodwordsforgrieving.com and email: beth@goodforwordsforgrieving.com.

#goodwords #moregoodwords #eulogy #eulogies #grief #mourning


Singer Red Eye

Meet Esther!

 I have wanted a treadle sewing machine for awhile and posted on Facebook that I am looking for one. A friend mentioned that she has one she wants to sell and SOLD!

The machine in this table is heavy...my husband and I got it home and into the family room. What made me think that I could just sit down and sew on a treadle machine? I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and they make it look so easy! I finally got it going and success! 

Until it hesitated (could have been me) and then it started going backwards and the thread and needle broke. A friend suggested joining Facebook Groups on Vintage machines and everyone has been so helpful. Vintage Singer Sewing Machines and Vintage Sewing Machines gave me suggestions on fixing the tension. I did manage to make a bobbing, treadling like crazy!

My goal is to practice 30 minutes a day. I spoke with a sewing machine repairer and he suggested bringing it in (just the head) and have him service it. 

I did some research and she was born on October 31, 1922 in the Elizabeth, New Jersey factory.

Her name is Esther, named after my multiple Great-Grandmother, Esther De Turk 1710-1798 married to Abraham Bertolet. Esther seems to be a regal name and fitting this machine. 

#Singerredeye #singervintagemachine 


Solstice Challenge

My first 4 Blocks in the Solstice Challenge designed by Pat Sloan

A new block is added every Wednesday and we are just finishing up block 4 of 25. It's not too late to join in the fun! Just register at Pat Sloan's I love to make quilts

Block #1 Churn Dash

                                    Block#2 Day Into Night  

Block #3 Tide Pools 

                                  Block #4 Cobble Stones

Block #5 Gramma Anna's Basket 

It is so important to trim as I go, especially with the half square triangles. 

Ta dah! The first five blocks finished!

#solsticechallenge #churndash #grammaannasbasket #cobblestones #tidepools #dayintonight

Say Goodbye For Now

Say Goodbye For Now: A novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Seattle: Lake Union Publishing, 2016. Book Club Questions Guide. 355 pages. *****

Dr. Lucy is a medical doctor living on an isolated Texan ranch who asks no questions when she tends to people and animals alike. It's 1959 and the quietness of the ranch suits the doctor who has decided she doesn't like people much and wouldn't welcome them at her door if she didn't need the money to feed the animals. The townspeople have made it clear that they aren't too accepting of the lady doctor either. Lucy doesn't know what to think when twelve-year-old Pete and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to her for help.  Lucy doesn't think she will ever fall in love again or be willing to sacrifice her safety for another. The wall she has built around herself crumbles when Justin is beaten for his friendship with Pete and Calvin, Justin's father, is beaten and jailed. Everyone in town knows that black and white folks should not be friends.

Catherine Hyde Ryan has written a heartwarming story of love, friendship, and hope. Once started, I had a difficult time putting it down. I couldn't wait to see how it was going to end and at the same time, didn't want it to end. (no spoilers here) Her faith in the belief that love will find a way is evident in this book and the two others I have read, Worthy and Ask Him WhyPete is wise beyond his years and his insight into what makes a true friend both in Justin and the wolf-dog is beautifully told in this sometimes emotional tale. The contrast between the two fathers and the reaction from their sons is noteworthy in the sense that Pete overcomes his family history of abuse and innately knows that it is wrong. Their story spans the years from 1959-1967 and having grown up during that time, it touches something deep inside of me and makes me grateful that I grew up in Philadelphia. Well done, Catherine Ryan Hyde!

I  received a copy for review.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty published and forthcoming books. Her bestselling 1999 novel Pay it Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the ALA Best Book for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. She has won numerous awards for her novels and short stories. Ryan Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell Unversity, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.


The Girl Before

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney. New York: Ballantine Books, 2017. Publication Date January 24, 2017. 329 pages. ****

This psychological thriller alternates between the stories of Emma and Jane. Both women at different times are looking for a place to live and discover an award winning house at a reasonable rent. The fact that the house was designed for the architect's dead wife and that there are very stringent rules for living there does not deter Emma or Jane. Each tenant must fill out an application, which is more like a personality assessment, and agree to the complicated terms of the lease. No books, no clotheslines, no wastepaper baskets, no knickknacks, no coasters or placemats...everything must stay the same minimalistic decor. On the plus side, it is a technology marvel...the shower identifies the person and delivers the water at just the right temperature, there are sensors in every room and it learns who you are and what your routine is. Each woman has a different reason for wanting a safe environment and healing from the trauma that they have experienced. 

Told in alternating voices, the story is a compelling thriller. Not quite The Girl On The Train or Behind Closed Doors, however, the suspense and surprise is there. Somewhat predictable in some places and not as intense as the other two, there are enough twists and turns to keep me interested. I like psychological, suspenseful books, but I am feeling as if I am being manipulated by a format that has worked for bestsellers recently. The description and the concept of the house adds a new element to the story as well as the fact that the restrictions necessary to live there does not deter the two women. It is well written and has a cliff hanging element to it, so I recommend it for mystery lovers. 

I received a copy from NetGalley to review.

The Girl Before is the first psychological thriller from JP DELANEY, a pseudonym for a writer who has previously written bestselling fiction under other names. It is being published in thirty-five countries. A film version is being brought to the screen by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.


Little Girl Lost

Little Girl Lost (DI Robyn Carter, Book 1) by Carol Wyer. UK:Bookouture, 2017.  380 pages. *****

DI Robyn Carter is drawn into a search for a common denominator in a series of seemingly unrelated murders. Were the murders revenge for an act committed years ago and if so, who is the killer? When a husband goes missing and his wife discovers that he may not be the person she thought she married, she turns to a private detective rather than the police. Robyn returns to the police force after a leave of absence and discovers that her first assignment crosses paths with the missing husband and everyone involved has secrets and something to hide. Which secret leads to death and who has the most to lose if their true identity is discovered? Is someone setting up Abigail to be a victim or is she battling post partum depression and seeing and hearing things that don't exist?

I love a book that keeps me guessing until the last chapter. Every time I think I  know who the serial killer is, then they show up dead and I'm looking for clues again. I made it to the last 10 pages and then "Bluefire Reader" went blank. Nothing! I then downloaded the book to the Kindle Ap and was able to finish it. The ending did not disappoint and even though the plot was a complicated one, Wyer tied it together nicely and all is explained. If you like psychological thrillers and a book that gets inside your head, I recommend this one for your 2017 "to read" list. I can't wait to read book 2.

I received a copy from Netlibrary for a review.

To follow Carol Wyer, visit www.carolewyer.co.uk and @carolewyer.