Friday Fillins

Questions courtesy of Michelle this week, thanks! I’d love to feature your questions, if you’d like to leave some for future use please feel free!

1. On my laziest day I like to READ!
2. Cooking makes me feel like I’m being productive.
3. I love little Wesley and big Ellie.
4. This summer I want to learn more about photography.
5. Loneliness made me start my blog.
6. Red cars and orange juice.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to reading, tomorrow my plans include going to the Farmer’s Market and Sunday, I want to read and nap!

 I am so looking forward to going to the Farmer’s Market tomorrow.  I found one about a month ago in Greensboro and it is just fantastic.  I got the most amazing Amish butter, it is just drool-inducing.  Last week I got some collard greens that were mouth-watering.  And that is saying something because I have always hated collard greens*.  Obviously I should avoid canned like the plague and get fresh.  Because fresh is SO MUCH BETTER.  I also go fantastic early tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, BREAD (FRENCH BREAD! HOMEMADE FRENCH BREAD!  *drool* ), and strawberries.  I just can’t wait for tomorrow morning!!  Squee!

*If my ten-year-old self could only hear me now…


Did I Expect Angels?

Book Description

Jennifer Huffaker knows that grief is normal, but she thought she’d get over it-that’s what people do. But it’s been eighteen months since her husband Jack died, and she still can’t focus on her young daughter Kaitlin, can’t accept support from her family, and can’t allow herself to live without the love of her life. Jennifer is angry at everything and everyone-including herself for being so unprepared. But what did she expect? Angels?

On the day after Christmas her anguish finally becomes too much, and Jennifer’s pain culminates in a shattering decision. But this is also the night she runs into Henry, an elderly friend from Costa Rica who has seen more of life’s trials than anyone could know. Henry realizes the devastating depths to which Jennifer has sunk, and he decides that tonight is the night to tell her his story.

Touching and incisive, poignant, and sometimes bitingly funny, both Jennifer’s and Henry’s stories intermingle into a tale of love, despair, faith and, ultimately, hope, as Jennifer realizes she has been blessed with the most unexpected angel of all.

My Thoughts

Maughan’s story of how hard it was to get her book published moved me so greatly, that when she asked if I would read, and review, her book, I didn’t hesitate to accept. To make a long story short, (you can read the long one here) Maughan had a very difficult time getting published, it took many, many years and a lot of courage, but in the end she and others believed enough in her to lead her to self-publish. You can read even more about her journey with “Did I Expect Angels?” at her blog.

This story of Jennifer, a young mother who was widowed at an early age, is a powerful one. After the tragic loss of her husband, Jennifer is lost. She’s left with their young daughter and her mounting problems have her contemplating suicide. Enter Henry, a kind-hearted man, who has become increasingly worried about his friend and decides to tell her his life story.

Maughan does a great job of intertwining Henry’s story of love and loss with Jennifer’s. Through the eyes of both characters, the reader is forced to see the sometimes harsh realities that come with the loss of a love one, but also find the new directions that life can take after such tragedies. Henry and Jennifer are able to find understanding in each other’s experiences. Henry is able to lead Jennifer to a new hope for the future and inspires her to finally move beyond her husband’s death and Henry, through telling his story, finds more meaning within his own life.

Maughan superbly paints a picture of the healing power of the personal relationship. In a day and age where people are increasing dependent on machines for their every need, it’s beautiful to read a story that shows how necessary we are to each other. This poignant story is heartbreaking and heartwarming. Maughan beautifully illustrates the healing power of human connection. Maughan has a talent for character develop and quickly endears both characters to the reader. This emotional story is both heart wrenching and heartwarming, and those looking for a good beach read would do well to pick up this novel.

You can purchase the novel here.

Other Reviews:

Booklogged |

More Geekery

and a little filling in:

1. There is absolutely NO way you can get me to jump from anywhere HIGH!

2. The humidity outside reminds me that summer is almost here!

3. I cannot live without my babies.

4. Being more organized and be less of a packrat are two things I’d like to try.

5. When life hands you lemons make lemonade for your kidney stone prone hubby.

6. Reading with my Mama is my favorite childhood memory.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to reading and re-watching Bones, tomorrow my plans include getting the car work done (tires, oil, and inspection due!) and Sunday, I want to read and take pictures!

As for the geekery, this weeks challenge was:

This week’s theme comes from Samantha, who suggested that one week we all write about our fond memories of childhood books.

As I’ve read all the posts this week, something really stuck out for me.  When I was a kid, I really LOVED reading those old Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Do you remember those? This one, pictured over there, is one that really seems to stand out in my memory.  Well, I remember some details, like Odin was a character and that I read it over and over and over again.  They were such great fun.

Other childhood favorites were definitely The Chronicles of Narnia.  I read those until they literally fell apart.  I went through 2 sets of them.  I finally bought the hardcover as an adult and my sis-in-law got the audio version for me one year, for Christmas.  Which reminds me…I think I’m due a reread.

I also read the Little House on the Prairie books to pieces.  I still have my original set and they are gorgeously tattered and well loved.  I wish I had a picture to post of them!  After my father died, when I was 8, his doctor and my grandmother’s employer, donate a complete set of them, in hardback, to my elementary school library.  I wonder if they are still there…

Mother's Day

(would you look at those eyes?  Oh my goodness!)

was a few days ago. I’ve been meaning to post about it for DAYS now, but I just haven’t had a chance. Busy, busy, busy.

But it was a lovely day. We had a cookout for all the family and even though it was rainy and slightly cold, it was still a lot of fun. Since my camera counts as part of my Mother’s Day present, all I got were some very lovely, and hard to kill, flowers.

To add to the days’ excitement, Wesley, newly 8 months, decided to learn a new trick and pulled himself to his feet for the first time. Watch out world, booger wants to walk! Yikes!

And yes, I do call him Booger. What of it? 🙂

 IMG 045

Friday Fill-Ins

1. The ___ had an extra secret ingredient; it was ___. I got nothing!

2. There is some lovely sunlight coming through my window.

3. Right now, I need sleep.  My sweet son has decided to practice crawling in the middle of the night!

4. My aunt and uncle’s house is where I went Thursday night; it was pretty much the same as every Thursday night.  We ate supper and I took pictures!

5. Why do paper cuts hurt so much?

6. All I can think of is the book I have going, a nice hot bath, and then bed!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to reading, tomorrow my plans include cleaning the house (bleck!) and Sunday, I want to read, but we’re having a cookout, so I think that will be kind of out of the question!

6 Things About Moi!

My good friend, The Bookfool, tagged me for this fun meme.

6 Random Things About Me

1. I have a very, very, very hard time keeping up with sunglasses. I typically got through around 5-10 pair from April to September. I either loose them, or break them. The longest I ever kept a pair was about a year. And no, I have no idea where they are now. My husband has had the same pair since we married almost 8 years ago.

2. I hate beans. ALL beans. Well, except GREEN beans, but I don’t really count those. I can’t stand the smell of them. The texture of them makes me gag. They are just horrible. And it’s sad because everyone in my family loves them and they are really good for you. But I just can’t do it. I can’t eat them. Bleck!

3. I love to cook (except beans, natch!) but I hate, hate, hate the cleaning up. It severely impairs how often I cook. And I even have a dish-washer, and I don’t mean the hubby! I’ll be glad when the kids are old enough to do it for me!

4. I have missed a couple of windfalls. Not long after I started working for my current company (almost 8 years ago) a fellow co-worker tried to get me to buy a new little stock called Marvel. She said it would skyrocket after a nice little movie called Spiderman came out. She bought it at $2.80 or so a share and continued to buy a couple a week for months. She sold hers at around $8 a share. Today, it’s worth around $33. I almost did it. Almost and now I often think of how stupid I was. 

We won’t even go into how I considered buying Google stock. 

5. I have Cherokee blood. Just a drop really; my grandmother was half Cherokee. I guess it explains my stick-straight, dark hair and tendency to be rather dark skinned. I tan very, very easily.

6. I have a doppelganger. Don’t you think? I submit for your review:

For that matter, what do you think of him?

Geez I used to be cute.  Wonder what happened… Anyway, there you have it.  Are they a couple of little mini-mes or what?  Poor kids.  Actually though, Wesley looks more like my dad.  With the hubby’s lips. 

And there, Nancy, is that picture of me you’ve been wanting.  😉

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

Oh my goodness. Bad, Heather, bad! I know I am SO late writing this up, it’s ridiculous. It seems like my life has kicked it into high gear the last month or so. Work is crazy. The kids keep me running. There has just been so much to DO! I hope I can remember all I wanted to say about these books. And do it without giving too much away!

At first I was just going to read the last one in the series, the recently published The Sweet Far Thing, but when I started it I realized I didn’t remember enough about the first two to continue! I am really glad I did this, because reading all three straight through really built up the tension and suspense. I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed the reading of these three if I had not read them that way and I highly recommend that method.

The first in the series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, introduces the reader to Gemma Doyle. Gemma is newly 16 and desperate to go to boarding school in England like all the other girls. Her mother is just as desperate to keep her in India; as far away from England as she can get. Things to do not go according to plan however and Gemma makes her way to school, guilt-ridden over her mother’s death and sad. Added to the “bliss” (read, angst!) of being a teenager, Gemma begins changing in ways she can’t understand; unexplained visions come upon her violently and unbidden and terrify her.

At her new boarding school, she makes friends with three other girls; wild-cat Felicity, dour Ann, and delicate Pippa. After learning about a mysterious secret society of women called The Order, the four decide to form their own Order. And when Gemma discovers the ability to enter the Realms…well, I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice it to say, it’s quite a ride up until the somewhat shocking conclusion.

In the second of this series, Rebel Angels, we find Gemma back with her friends and again frolicking through the vast Realms. Gemma did a lot of damage to the Realms at the end of AG&TB and now must rectify what she has done. In the meantime, she’s on holiday from school and learning to make her way through society. Gemma has a lot to deal with now. Her father is sick. Her grandmother is domineering and very opinionated about Gemma. She has met the handsome son of Lord Denby and finds the interest is mutual. Kartik stays close…sometimes uncomfortably and rather attractively close. And Circe continues to be a constant threat to Gemma, her friends, and the Realms. Gemma must act fast to make her mistakes right.

The last in the trilogy, and in my humble opinion, the best is The Sweet Far Thing. And here it gets hard to review, because there is just SO MUCH that happens in this final part of the story. Everything Gemma has worked for in the past year is finally coming to a head. She has relied on herself; her strength and her smarts and now the true tests remains. New perils wait for her, her friends, and Kartik in the Realms as the magic spreads out of control. New alliances must be made, trust given to those whom seem the least likely to deserve it and false individuals discovered. It’s a slippery slope for Gemma one fraught with danger and terror.

These stories, especially the last, are one hell of a wild ride and I know I can’t do them justice with my pitiful reviews. I hope I have given you a suffient taste, enough to convince you to read it, without revealing anything better discovered between the pages of these books.

I followed Libba Bray’s blog as she wrote the last novel and know how much work and worry (read; blood, sweat and tears) went into the writing and rewriting of it. And boy did she deliver. She also reminded me, yet again, just how much I love YA books. I couldn’t put down any of the books, but the last one really took it up a notch. It’s a pulse-pounding adventure story, that is for sure. I highly recommend this series. I couldn’t all three of these together for the Once Upon a Time Challenge II.

Incidentally, A Great and Terrible Beauty has been optioned to be made into a movie. I would be very interested to see how they pull that off!

Others reviews are here:

A Great and Terrible Beauty

In the Spring it is the Dawn | Lesley’s Book Nook | Sassymonkey Reads | Teen Reads | Bookshelves of Doom | Reading Adventures | Books Love Me | Kailana

Rebel Angels

Words by Annie | Bookshelves of Doom | Reading Adventures | Becky’s Book Reviews | Books Love Me | Kailana

The Sweet Far Thing

Bookshelves of Doom | Somer Reads | Becky’s Book Reviews | Kailana

If you’ve read this book leave me a link in the comments, so I can link back to you!

I'm a Late Geek

I am SO late. Work was insane this week and the baby is still teething. I just never found the time to write this up until today. In all fairness, I didn’t even find out about this until like Monday or Tuesday. So maybe I’m not TOO late. 🙂

These were our instructions:

1. Look through the list of blogs on the Mr Linky below and see if you can find five that are new to you. If you can’t, find as many new blogs as possible and then some you don’t read super regularly.

2. Visit those new blogs. A comment would be nice; people like comments.

3. When you’re ready, at some point by Friday if you want to be included in the blurbs next week, write a post in your blog featuring those new blogs you visited.

4. Don’t forget to come back here and leave a link to your post, so that I can get it into the blurbs!

1. Dewey herself!

I’m sure we’ve crossed paths on the great internets, but somehow I never found my way to her blog until she started this most excellent challenge. No worries, I’ll be a regular now! She reads my kind of books! Anyone who loves Le Petite Prince is a friend of mine!

2. Bookworm.

Upon my first visit, I was quite taken with Julie’s template. I’m a sucker for a great template and her’s is very pleasing to my eyes! Next, of course, I automatically click on her reading category. I had to see just what kind of books she reads! And I find this great paragraph that she’s quoted from one of my favorite reads:

I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same. Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books. It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilled. And during this time, these days when I read all day and half the night, when I slept under a counterpane strewn with books, when my sleep was black and dreamless and passed in a flash and I woke to read again — the lost joys of reading returned to me. Miss Winter restored to me the virginal qualities of the novice reader, and then with her stories she ravished me.

Julie just got me hooked on her blog!

3. Susie’s The Stuffed Shelf

I totally LOVE her header. Love it, love it, love IT. Really hooked me in. She loved The Tea Rose AND Interpreter of Maladies. A woman after my own heart. And anyone who can title a blog entry with “Bookstores Help Me Save Money” just has to be read. Cause I need to learn that trick.

4. Ashleigh – Random Field Notes

Okay, so Ashleigh isn’t TOTALLY new to me. But she’s just so flippin’ cool! She’s literary. She’s a crafter. She’s a dreamer. She’s fun. She’s an EGYPTOLOGIST! My goodness, but that is one of those things I used to dream of when I was young and anything was possible. I used to go out in my yard with my tiny shovel and a brush and dig holes and look for fossils. I think the best thing I ever found was an old glass bottle, but it was fun! And she’s living my dream dude! Totally love her!

5. Natasha at Maw Books.

She likes Markus Zusak. So I like her! And her blog looks fabulous. I have lots of exploring to do.

As for Week 2;

So here’s your challenge! If you’re willing, adopt Darla’s policy in your own blog. I realize this is a big commitment, so think it over first, but I think it can be really community-building.

1. Write a blog post as soon as possible telling your readers that you’re adopting Darla’s policy. Darla has people email her, but you could use a Mr Linky or you could just ask people to leave their links in your comments. But however you collect links, I would advise that you then put their review links into the actual blog post. This makes them easier for readers to find, and it’s a more “official” link for your blogging pals, who are taking their time to go find their relevant reviews for you. You may want to just say you’ll post review links from now on, or you may want to let your readers send links for any reviews you’ve ever written, or you may want to set a time limit, like reviews from the past month. If you let readers give you unlimited links, this may be time consuming at first, but after a while, you’ll just get a couple in for every new review you post.

2. As much as you can with the time available to you during the week, visit other Weekly Geeks who are adopting Darla’s policy and see if you have any reviews of books they’ve reviewed.

3. Later in the week (by Thursday is easiest for me, but by Friday is also ok) write about your experience this week: did people take you up on your offer, did you find reviews you could give to other bloggers, did you enjoy the experience, do you think you want to keep this policy, etc. Don’t forget to leave your link in the comments of this post so that I can put it in next week’s blurbs. I’m not going to link to your beginning-of-the-week announcement of your new policy, just to your end-of-the-week reflection post.

4. I would remind people for a while, at the end of your reviews, that you’re doing this. After a while, your regular readers will remember your new policy, but you might want to state it somewhere permanent for new readers.

All I can say is I’ll do my best. I am not organized by nature (and I think rather by choice as well since I have yet to really do anything proactive about that) so it will be difficult for me to be that organized. But I will try.


Just glorious! It has been a very, very, very, nasty long time since I went out and just bought a huge stack of books. Luck for my starving shelves (NOT!) the local Anglican church had their yearly book sale this week.

As I entered their fellowship hall Saturday, I was greeted by the sight of about 16 to 20 tables piled high with fiction hardbacks. I’d say 99% of them were in excellent condition. Off to the side were all kinds of genres; travel, spirituality, nonfiction, children, DVDs, even coffee table books. Not to mention a whole other ROOM full of tradepaper backs and yet ANOTHER room full of mass market. I never made it to that room.

There were a lot of Patricia Cornwell. Some Nora Roberts and JD Robb. Of course. Lots of Jan Karon and John Grisham too. But tucked in the little nooks and crannies were some treasures. I did SO good. I only spent $32 and got some books I have been dying to buy, some for years!

Wanna see? Cause you know I took a picture!

all the glorious book loot

You can click on it to see it bigger. Isn’t it huge? Here is what I got:

Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman. I’ve never read any Colette, but I have long wanted too. She sounds fascinating, just from reading the jacket.

Where God Was Born by Bruce Feiler. I read Feilers’ Walking the Bible and loved it. I hope this is equally as good.

Mayflower by Nathan Philbrick. I am a total history buff, thanks to my grandmother’s influence. She was fascinated by history, all history, and she passed that on to me. I haven’t be reading as much history type stuff lately as I used to and I need to remedy that. I’ve been wanting this one since it came out so I snapped it up as soon as I saw it. Luckily it’s a nice copy.

The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs. I just finished Jacobs’ The Know-It-All not to long ago and knew I had to read this one too. Another excellent copy.

Empress by Shan Sa. The only one I got that I hadn’t heard of before. It has a beautiful cover and interesting subject. So I got it.

A Kiss from Maddalena by Christopher Castellani. I remember thinking this one sounded good back when it first came out. I checked it out from the library a couple of times, but never got around to reading it. Hopefully I will now 🙂

The Last Summer of Me and You by Ann Brashares.  I liked her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, so I thought it’d be interesting to see what she does with more adult fare.

Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs.  So, I like the TV show Bones.  No, it’s more like love.  Since it’s based on Reichs life and books, I thought I’d try one out.

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes.  More living vicariously.

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos.  I liked the title and, if I remember correctly, Iliana liked it.

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull.  Even more living vicariously.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.   He’s from NC like me and I’ve seen so many good reviews!

So there you have it.    I need to do that more often!