A JOURNEY TOWARD FULL-BLOOM — A REVIEW

elly

 

Elly Jordan is a funny, quirky, and delightful character who transformed this story of one woman’s journey through pain and disappointment into a whole new life and the joy of being Elly In Bloom.

Finding her husband in bed with another woman could seem like some kind of bad cliché, but this kind of thing does happen in real life.

I liked Elly’s story of driving away from that old life and starting a new one miles from her Georgia home to one in a St. Louis suburb, where she starts a flower shop. Her first best friend Kim helps support her emotionally on this journey. Other characters fill up the pages and kept me reading, like the gorgeous Isaac, who helped her feel beautiful again; and the deli owner Keith, who seems to be waiting in the wings for her.

I also liked that Elly, a bit on the plump side and a little klutzy, finds true enjoyment in food, designing, and her friends.

What I didn’t love was the one-dimensional character dubbed Snarky Teenager. At first the name was kind of funny, but ultimately, this character seemed like a caricature that depicted every stereotypical teen behavior: smirking, eye rolling, and furious texting. And the fact that she had no actual name annoyed me.

However, I did like finding out what would happen to Elly and her crew when they took on their biggest job ever. What price would Elly have to pay for accepting this job that would turn into her worst nightmare ever? What will Elly learn about herself in the process?

Despite the engaging parts of the story, the numerous editing/grammatical errors did interfere with my reading pleasure at times. Therefore, 3.5 stars. However, there were many reviewers who liked or even loved everything about this book, so potential readers should check out what they have to say.

ALTERNATING INTERIOR WORLDS — A REVIEW

Emmy Rane is a young woman grief-stricken by the loss of her baby girl. It happened one day when she went inside and left the baby outdoors…and from that moment on, her life seemingly unravels. Her desperate search leads to her hospitalization in what can best be described as a very restricted environment.

Meanwhile, in another time and place, a young fourteen-year-old girl named Sophie Marks is living her own restricted life, hidden away indoors and homeschooled by a very secretive mother who pulls up stakes and moves frequently. Sophie’s first attempts to reach out and forge an individual life for herself comes when she meets the boy next door and his “aunts” who read regularly and joyfully. A glimpse of this life opens up the world for Sophie and gives her the courage to begin uncovering her mother’s secrets.

It isn’t much of a mystery that these two lives will converge at some point, but the tale told in alternating perspectives is a captivating character-driven portrait of each young woman’s journey and how freedom and joy are finally achieved.

Emmy and Sophie were wonderfully detailed characters whose individual voices showed the emotional landscape they lived. I enjoyed You Are My Only so much that I wanted it to go on longer.

The denouement was completely satisfying and brilliantly portrayed, even as I wondered if it would happen at all. Therefore, I’m giving this one five stars.

THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERIOR — FACING CHANGE — 9/22

INTERIOR THOUGHTS -- CHANGE!

One of the main things we learn in this journey of life is that change is inevitable.  Sometimes change feels like the only thing we can count on.

But that doesn’t mean that we embrace change, or even accept it.  Sometimes we flail around, beating our chests and protesting.  I know that’s what I do sometimes.

Facebook has done it again.  Yes, fixed something that wasn’t broken.  At least that’s how we feel about it.

In the past few days, we’ve seen our news feed morph into something resembling a ticker tape…and because it’s different, we’re having trouble navigating.

I’m as frustrated as anyone else.  But I guess that somewhere someone thought it was a good idea.  I wonder why?

The networked blogs page is unrecognizable, too.  Cramped up and difficult to even access.  I tried to change the picture on one of my blogs, and that didn’t work, either.

Okay…heavy sigh.  Now what?  Well, perhaps they’ll leave it alone for awhile?  At least I’m still able to find my friends and change my profile photo.  I’m even able to still post links, although the update section looks quite different, too.

Anyone else have any thoughts on these changes?  Or on change in general?  Please stop by and share your interior thoughts.

THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERIOR — SEPT. 20

Good morning, Blog World!

After BBAW wrapped this past week, I felt reflective, and while I was musing about all that I’d learned, I wrote a post about branding.

What is our unique voice and presence on our blog(s), and what does it convey?

Since this blog is An Interior Journey—which started out as Explorations and then morphed into Explorations, Reflections, and Meditations—I decided that the answer to that question lay in the title and what it conveys.

An inner journey, if you will.  Recently I took one of my characters from Embrace the Whirlwind and launched an interior journey in a new book called Interior Designs.  A play on her career as an interior designer, but also a symbol of the inner explorations she would have to pursue as she tried to understand the mistakes she’d made…and change the direction of her life.

Do you ever do that?  Wonder about why you did what you did in the past?  I’m sure that most of us do at one time or another.  Obviously, we can’t change the past, but maybe we can figure out our feelings and behavior and change the present.

So, in embarking on this interior journey with Martha Scott Cummings, the abandoned wife from ETW, we learn that there is a lot more to this character than we saw in the first book.

Yes, she came across in ETW as a b…h, but she, like everyone in this world, has some redeeming qualities.  At least I believe that most people do have those qualities.  Sometimes they’re hard to find, and we might have to dig deep to find them.  But maybe it’s worth the exploration.

What, if any, unique experiences have led to your blog presence?  I hope you’ll share.

PAYING THE PIPER — A REVIEW

What will a self-sacrificing daughter do when her life of caring for her invalid father ends abruptly with his death? In the midst of her loss and pain, she must now make decisions that will determine her future. Will she go ahead and cut her ties to the life she led? Will she find an independence she lacked all these years?

These are the questions before Isabel Moore upon her father’s demise. She had loved him, looked up to him, and now she must create a new life without him.

Isabel’s friends Liz and Eleanor begin to step forward to aid in this metamorphosis. But it’s Liz’s husband John who offers Isabel an opportunity for a job she seems well-suited for. A job assessing the caretakers of the infirm, who are doing so with a government stipend.

First she must sell her family home, but she does so; she moves into a small apartment in the suburban town where she will work.

Another side-effect of Isabel’s new life includes the reawakening of her sexual being. Two men become a part of her new life, but in an oddly unexpected way, the men bring about a self-doubt that will ultimately result in Isabel’s turning away from her new life and returning to a life of self-sacrifice. But will she find what she seeks? Or will she ultimately decide that self-sacrifice is not the answer after all.

I enjoyed this passage which describes the conflicts Isabel faced in her new life as she was struggling to decide if she should go forward with her lover Hugh, whose wife had unleashed her fury upon Isabel in a very public way:

“There had been a gradual darkening in the background of my life with Hugh since he had first suggested leaving his wife. But after she had publically accused me of theft I began to accept the identity of a thief. I lived as though I had been forced into a hideout. It was February; the light was bad, as I imagined the light to have been bad in wartime London. I was afraid to go out of the house. It took a new kind of courage for me to go about the business of my daily life. I drove around the supermarket several times before I went in, trying to calculate the possibility of meeting anyone who had been at the party. In the years that I lived as the daughter of my father I had always been greeted with reverence and delight by shopkeepers, by people carrying groceries. I was the good daughter. I took care of my father. I had nothing to fear. Faces were open to me, for mine, they believed, was the face of a saint. Now faces would be closed to me, and I myself would learn to close my face…As the daughter of my father I was above reproach…..”

Exploring themes of good vs. bad; the pull of desire weighed against the unique place of self-sacrifice in one’s life; and the joys of the flesh contrasted with the possible rewards of giving to others, especially the undeserving–these provocative issues, and characters acting out these issues, populate this very compelling novel. Final Payments is all about what can happen when one makes choices, and it’s also about the consequences of those choices.

I could not help but award this wonderful book five stars. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Mary Gordon’s work, as well as those who enjoy the exploration of these issues.

WALK AWHILE IN HIS SHOES….

After all these years, I finally read the book To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition, soon to be followed up with this classic film.

Over the years, I had seen tidbits of this movie on TV, so it was a real treat to finally view it in its entirety.

Narrated in voice-over by “Scout,” we first glimpse the Southern lifestyle of the thirties as three children explore their neighborhood. They are obsessed with catching a glimpse of Boo Radley, about whom much has been whispered amongst the neighbors. Like many rumors, there is much more to the story, which will become apparent toward the end of the movie.

The stark black and white images perfectly depicted the settings and the deprivation of this small town world. Yet despite their lack of material trappings, the children found plenty to amuse themselves, utilizing their minds and their imaginations.

The themes of the film are fear, racism, and integrity—and the latter trait was depicted most notably by Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch.

The lessons in understanding and empathy came specifically from Atticus, as spoken to his children: You never really know a person until you walk for awhile in his shoes.

This film To Kill a Mockingbird (Collector’s Edition) is still very relevant, despite the fact that some race relations have been improved. The messages of acceptance and tolerance, as well as integrity, are still important today.

Five stars.

MONDAY MEMES: MAILBOX AND WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Monday signifies that day in our reading week when we look back, chart up our successes, and plot the week ahead.  It is also our chance to network zealously, visiting other blogs and adding books to our TBR lists.

To help us do that, we turn to the hosts of Monday Mailbox and It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?

Chick Loves Lit (Monday Mailbox)

Book Journey It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?

My Blogging Week:

Check out my Sunday Salon Post, for highlights.

What My Mailbox Brought (or what I bought!):

1)  Fragile, by Lisa Unger, came from the Amazon Vine program.

Snippets from Amazon:

“[A] nail-biting nuanced whodunit.”
—People

“Folks in a small town descend into darkness and revisit long forgotten memories when a young girl disappears….[A] simmering, tragic tale. Fans of authors like Jodi Picoult will want to read this one in a nice comfortable chair….Unger’s fans won’t be disappointed.”
—Associated Press

“This one is a stunner…Unger’s genius is in plotting the story so that the reader never knows what’s coming next…This is a read that will stay with you.”
—New York Journal of Books Review

2)  The Good Daughters, by Joyce Maynard (I ordered this from Amazon!)

Tidbits from Amazon:

“ THE GOOD DAUGHTERS, weaves a story of choices and events so intimate I felt I was part of it. The novel is wrenching, the emotions radiant, and will leave readers transformed.” (Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author of The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners )

*****

*********************************

My Reading Week:(Click Title for Review)

1)  Irish Twins, by Michele Cozzens

2)  The Long Way Home, by Gail Caldwell

3)  Give Me Your Heart, by Joyce Carol Oates

What’s Up This Week:

1)  My Story, by Marilyn Monroe with Ben Hecht (I’ve had this one on my TBR stacks for ages!)

A beautifully illustrated story of the actress, told in her own words.

2)  Comfort Food, by Kate Jacobs

Here’s a blurb from Amazon:

Jacobs follows The Friday Night Knitting Club with another multigenerational tale, this time on the foodie circuit. Popular Cooking with Gusto! host Augusta Gus Simpson, a widowed mother of two adult daughters who’s about to turn 50, is tiring of her many obligations, which include throwing an annual birthday bash for herself. That trial pales, however, in comparison with the introduction of saucy former beauty queen and YouTube star Carmen Vega as Gus’s cohost: Carmen is younger, hotter and very tight with the boss. It’s soon apparent on the set that this new situation isn’t working, so the two are packed off, along with a forgettable cast of secondaries, to a corporate team-building weekend, complete with New Age guide. When the resort’s head chef calls in sick, a team-building opportunity presents itself. Jacobs gives Gus a reasonable love interest and provides the requisite bickering and backstabbing, but the foodie moments lack passion, and the results yield no stars. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

3)  To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

This book really needs no introduction, but here’s a snippet:

One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. It was also named the best novel of the twentieth century by librarians across the country (Library Journal). Harper Collins is proud to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s publication with this special hardcover edition.

My conclusions:  This is going to be an exciting reading week!

What did you get in the mailbox, and what are you reading?  Come on in and explore your reading experiences here.

A TODDLER EXPLORES HIS WORLD

A Toddler Exploring his World

The other day, I found this photo in one of my albums.  I even made a collage of this one and another of this same toddler, my youngest grandson Noah.

He is much older now, but just viewing this photo takes me back to that time when I lived in the foothills and Noah lived in my guesthouse with his parents.

Here is another photo showing him exploring his world.

More Explorations