Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Ragged Edge of Night - Book Review

The Ragged Edge of Night - Book Review
What Others Are Saying About This Book
Nazi Germany.  1942.  A priest in search of redemption.  A widow seeking provision for her fatherless children.  A people desperate for relief—relief from oppression, from evil, from hopelessness.  Olivia Hawker's new historical novel, The Ragged Edge of Night, is a revelation.  To immerse ourselves into Anton and Elisabeth's war-torn lives is to see glimmers of unimaginable beauty beneath the desolation of loss, shame, failure, and fear.

As the story begins, Anton is still reeling from the abrupt end of his mission as a Franciscan friar.  To be wrongly stripped of his life's calling has been painful, but even worse, he cannot forgive himself for being powerless to save the children who were in the church's care.  When the Nazis loaded up Anton's students, he was overcome by an overwhelming sense of having committed the unforgivable sin.  Though there was nothing Anton could have done to save the children's lives, the guilt is crushing.


While Anton wrestles with his demons, Elisabeth, a young mother of three who is still grieving over the unexpected death of her beloved husband, is in the midst of considering the hardest decision of her life: whether to remarry in order to provide for her family.  Elisabeth feels great shame as she struggles to reconcile the feeling of being unfaithful to her first husband.  If there was another option, she would gladly choose it.  Alas, the harsh realities of wartime force Elisabeth to publish the following personal ad:
Good churchgoing woman, widowed, mother of three.  In need of a humble, patient man, willing to be a father to my children.  Interest in legitimate marriage only.  I have no money, so those who think to profit need not reply.
 In coming across Elisabeth's plea for help, Anton is immediately struck with a new sense of purpose.  Though his first choice would be to eventually return to his Franciscan order, and while Anton remains true to his sacred vows, he feels that supporting Elisabeth and her children is the right thing to do.  This opportunity has the potential to fulfill Anton's deep need to be useful, to find forgiveness, and to protect those who need it most (addressing his need for redemption due to the loss of the children snatched up by the Nazis who shut down Anton's school and religious order).

The soul of this book is revealed in the simplest, and yet loveliest of ways, as two faithful individuals remain true to their vows, their principles, their hearts, and all that defines a life worth living, and for which they are willing to die.  When Anton's involvement in the resistance movement against Hitler brings danger into his new family's life, relationships will be tested, and the true nature of love will be revealed.

Based on the real life experience of one of the author's family members, The Ragged Edge of Night is a timely story that is sure to inspire every reader who is concerned about the extreme tensions that are being felt in today's world.  This is a moment in history when every single one of us can take heart as we consider the difference an ordinary person like Anton can make in the lives of those who are hurting.  I was deeply moved by this book and highly recommend it.








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Language of Flowers - Book Review

Read More Reviews
To read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is to reflect on how the bouquet of each of our lives is crafted flower by flower.  As we enter Victoria's story, none of us would want the bouquet she sees as the definition of who she has become: thistle, peony, and basil (flowers that represent a deep mistrust of people, anger, and hate).  Well before the end of this book, I suspect, like me, that you will be urging Victoria, in your heart of hearts, to pick a few white violets and daffodils.

Who is Victoria, this self-described thistle?  She is a child who has spent her entire life in the foster care system.  Victoria's self-image has been shaped by the one constant she has known throughout her childhood: rejection.  After being bounced from 32 different placements, Victoria is finally aging out of the system.  Having turned 18, she is eligible for emancipation.  While that freedom is welcomed, it comes with a whole new set of challenges.  Victoria has no money, no family, and no place to call home.  What she has, though, is an extraordinary gift for changing lives.  It will be the discovery of this gift that offers up new hope for a girl who has always been too afraid to hope, or trust, or love.

We learn early on that Victoria had one significant relationship at the age of nine.  Her foster parent, Elizabeth, taught Victoria how the meanings of flowers were an important form of communication during the Victorian Era.  This language of flowers is something intuitive for Victoria.  Plants, flowers, and growing things become her solace, her sanctuary, and the very life of life.

As Victoria seeks to find her way in a world that frightens her, individuals from her past reappear.  One offers the chance for true love.  The other offers the chance for redemption.  Both can give Victoria something she has always wanted more than anything: a family and a sense of belonging.  Will Victoria be able to move past the shame and feelings of unworthiness that stand in the way of making her way home?  You will want to read The Language of Flowers to discover the answer to that question.

Before we go, were you curious, in the introduction to this review, about why we might want Victoria to pick some white violets and daffodils to replace the thistles, peonies, and basil in her bouquet?  Those white violets represent the sentiment "let's take a chance on happiness" and daffodils are symbolic of new beginnings.  When it comes right down to it, isn't that what we wish for everyone who has waited a lifetime to grow into something beautiful?







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review
I do it too often. That is, pick up a book without a true appreciate of what I am about to read. Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss definitely fits that bill. I picked it up because it was written by a wonderful Canadian music artist and because my mother is experiencing some memory issues right now.

Feeding My Mother turned out to be a series of diary or journal-style entries written over a period of a few years while Arden tried to continue working in the music industry and care for her ailing parents. What I expected was information about memory loss; what I did not expect was the diary style of writing or the recipes. I did expect and receive heartbreak, which is definitely on the menu when a loved one disappears in this manner. It is not really a book to turn to for information about Alzheimer's disease but rather one to read to understand one family's struggles to deal with their situation.

It is a nicely put together book with pictures; caring and sharing; family, pets and lots of love; tears but also much laughter; and with a few simple recipes, some of which I may return to. This book was crafted from (apparently) popular Facebook and Instagram posts that Arden wrote during her journey. I believe that she handled her parental situation as best as she could, something we can all aspire to do if and when we become caregivers for our parents. As Arden says, it is not easy becoming a mother to your mother.

Jann Arden


Arden is an accomplished Canadian singer songwriter who has won eight Juno awards and been nominated for a total of eighteen. She has also written three books. This one plus If I Knew, Don't You Think I'd Tell You and Falling Backwards: A Memoir. Another couple of books for our reading lists.

You can hear Arden discuss Feeding My Mother on CBC Radio by clicking right here. They call the book a cookbook, which I disagree with though it does have a few recipes. If you picked this book up thinking it was a cookbook, you would be disappointed. It is more correctly categorized as a biographical book about Alzheimer's disease and patient care.

Do I Recommend Feeding My Mother? 


Yes, I do recommend Feeding My Mother. It is definitely of interest to someone who is dealing with a family member with memory loss or who sees that coming in the future, as I do. However, I am uncertain if it is a book that my mother should read. I know she would appreciate the humour and the love that is found within the covers but not sure that she needs to really think and worry about all of the situations found in this book. What do you think? Should I give my mother this book to read or not?  Have you read Feeding My Mother? Have you been a caregiver for someone with memory loss?

You can get your hands on a copy of Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother by ordering it from Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Order your copy of Feeding My Mother from Amazon.










Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Guilty Book Review

In The Guilty, David Baldacci takes you on a non-stop, action packed adventure in Cantrell, Mississippi.

When a top ranked government assassin is unable to perform his job, he heads home to deal with unresolved issues from his past and winds up embroiled in his father's murder investigation.

Making matters more difficult is the fact that he has been estranged from his father for 20 years. Talking to his father is no easier now than it was when he was a lad and his father's life being on the line does not seem to make a difference. His father wants no help from his son and is resigned to his own personal situation.

Robie, however, refuses to let his father take the murder charge without fighting back. His efforts, combined with those of an equally skilled coworker, to save his dad eventually help him start a proper relationship with his father. Better late than never, as they say. It turns out that his book is about murder and about family.

I was amazed at the action that took place in the first half of the book, which meant that there was lots more still to come. It was fast paced and hard to put down.

Yes, The Guilty is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. Read more about it or order your copy from Amazon by clicking right here.

As it turns out, The Guilty is number four in a series called Will Robie and David Baldacci has written many other books, which I look forward to checking out. It is always great to find a new author that you enjoy and if all of Baldacci's books are as good as this one, I will have some more sleep deprived nights ahead.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Order The Guilty from Amazon here.
See David Baldacci's author biography on Amazon.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kristin Hannah’s Home Front Book Review

HOME FRONT is an excellent fictional story by Kristin Hannah. I previously reviewed and loved Hannah’s The Nightingale, which sent me looking for more titles by this author.

It is a relationship story and a war story. It features a husband and wife who seem to be perfectly situated with a wonderful marriage, great careers and lovely children. However, as happens, they have drifted apart and are headed for disaster and when she is sent overseas to Iraq and the rift is almost too much for this family to bear.

This novel presents an interesting role reversal with the mother a helicopter pilot and the man trying to maintain order at home. What happens is dark and dreadful and presents a mountain for this family to surpass.

Here is the official video book trailer. In this trailer, I think the book is represented in a very light and fluffy manner especially given that divorce and military service are not easy things to deal with.



I believe that this second video, in which Hannah Kristin discusses the book, does a better job of representing the issues faced by the family in Home Front and by families in the same situation.



Hannah calls the book “the best, most emotional book she has ever written” and goes on to say that it is about “love, honor, duty, commitment, sacrifice.” I agree that it was an emotional book. It is RECOMMENDED by me and yes, you will cry. For what it is worth, I preferred the book The Nightingale.

Have you read either book? What did you think?

If you are interested, you can see all of Kristin Hannah’s books including Home Front on Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Home Front from Amazon.
See all of Hannah's books on Amazon.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Amazing Things to Do Between Christmas and New Years Day

One of my Favorite times of year is Christmas, but once it's over you can feel let down.  So let's Review Ways to keep that after Christmas Depression at bay!

If your family is anything like mine, the days leading up to Christmas have been full of all kinds of trips, errands to run, parties to attend and a host of other fun and time consuming activities.  Depending on the ages of your children or grandchildren, there will also be more than one Christmas recital to attend as well.
This is not a complaint, but, it is a reality.  We get so wound up with places to go and people to see, that when it stops, we feel lost!  Some of us will only feel that way after the New Year because we are still in the middle of all the partying still.  Others, who do not go "all out" for New Years will feel that way sooner.
The bottom line is, it doesn't have to be this way at all!

Part of your planning for the holidays should include that time between the holidays, so that holiday let down is minimized or completely obliterated.  No one really wants to be depressed at the best time of the year. 
christmas party, depression, let down, emotional times, familySo let's make those plans now!  If the plan is in place,  you will actually follow through.  

So let's get down to some concrete ways to stave off any negative feelings.

First of all, if you have family visiting, make arrangements to go somewhere on an outing.
  • visit the downtown area and look over the lights and Christmas Displays
  • Go sledding or skating, if your body allows that kind of seasonal fun.
  • Make Snow Angels (with the above caveat)
  • Go to a park with a handful of bird seed, for those birds who don't have a feeder close by
  • Pick up some small gift cards for a coffee shop and give them to "Street People" to enjoy
  • Visit a local church and see their Nativity Displays
  • take lots of pictures while out and about
  • when you come home, make some Hot Chocolate and watch a favorite movie
  • Be Thankful for the Blessing of Family and Friends.
Between Christmas and New Years is a great time to make some plans for the next year too!  Many a lively conversation could be had over those plans.  Will you make resolutions for 2018?  Will you decide to travel more or less?  How about making a resolution to get together with friends more often?  It is a great idea to look forward, but also take some time to look back and be thankful for all the good things that happened in the year just past.  

gratitude, family, visits, make plans
When the hustle and bustle has come to a standstill, it's no longer a dreaded fear, rather it's a time to take stock.  Look ahead at what might be coming your way, and look back to see where you have been.  If things weren't the greatest, find ways to make this year to come, better.  If the year past was wonderful all around then celebrate this wholeheartedly, and pray that the year to come will be as blessed as the one just past.  Gratitude for everything is a great way to live.  You don't become nearly as disappointed and you really don't let yourself become engrossed in the things you have no control over either.  

Start taking note of things you are thankful for and try to do something new in the coming year.

If you need help thinking of all the things to be grateful for, there are several different types of journals that can give you some coaching either in pictures or scriptures.  One of my favorites is the one:


If you don't have a gratitude journal, a blank book works well too. Sometimes though in our busy lives, we need a hint of encouragement and for that a true gratitude journal is a bonus. Each page will give you a little inspiration to get you started with the right attitude. If you are not a particularly spiritual person, there are journals that remind you of gratitude without scriptural readings. Whichever one is to your liking, will be a good choice and they are inexpensive.  Maybe Santa brought you one, but if not that's okay too.  You can always get your own when you feel the need for it.  It will be an investment in yourself, for your mental and physical and spiritual well being.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and all your family a most Beautiful, Blessed and Wonderful New Year!
gratitude, holidays, cheer, new year, thankfulness

pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Art of Racing in the Rain Book Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein was the latest book for my book club. As usual in the weeks leading up to my book club's meeting, my husband could be heard uttering his usual reminder, "Have you finished the book?" This time, however, he was particularly interested in the book because the main character is a dog named Enzo Ferrari. Yes, Ferrari as in the car.

The story is told from Enzo's perspective. The idea of reading a book from the point of view of a dog might seem weird but it worked. It doesn't actually seem like a dog talking although the narration definitely looks at the world from the Enzo's point of view.

Enzo believes in reincarnation and really wants to be reincarnated as a human being so that he can voice his views (and so that he can have thumbs.) He understands everything that people say and wants to add his thoughts to the conversation.

Did I say that the story is about a race car driver, too? Enzo's master is a driver and Enzo is therefore often immersed in the world of race car driving. Don't let that put you off though. If you are not into race car driving, you will still enjoy this book. Race car driving is simply the world that the characters in this book live in though if you are like me, you might also learn a bit about race car driving. There is never anything wrong with learning about another world.

Enzo is not like other dogs. He is a philosopher and is almost human in a number of ways. He is self-educated with the help of his television and his master, Danny Swift. In the story, Enzo reflects back on his life, the life of the Swift family, on what he has learned about being human and, as the book says, "how life, like racing, is about so much more than simply going fast."

I expected my book club book to analyze this book. However, they did not. Instead, they pretty much unanimously agreed that it was a pleasant book and a nice read. Some questioned a few life-changing decisions on the part of the main characters and some including myself particularly enjoyed the comical moments in the book.

So is it recommended? Yes. The Art of Racing in the Rain was a New York Times best seller for many weeks. It is a good story. It is lighthearted though sometimes sad and there are definitely some things between the covers to think about. I think the book is perfect for dog lovers and enjoyable for the rest of us, too.

The way, the image that I think most reflects what Enzo looks like is at the top of the page. That image just seems to capture Enzo's spirit. You don't have to agree with me on that point but you can see all of the artwork available on the covers of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon by clicking right here. Of course, you can also order yourself a copy of the book at that location, too.

This book is set to become a movie though originally Universal Studios picked up the rights and then did not follow through. However, The Hollywood Reporter says that Walt Disney Studios has picked up the rights so now all we have to do is wait and see what Disney puts together for us. Disney has made a lot of successful dog movies; let's hope they do this one properly.

Have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain? Would you recommend it? What else have you read lately?

See you at the bookstore!

Brenda
Treasures by Brenda

Quick Link:

Order your copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain on Amazon here.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Feature Family Photos in a Unique and Decorative Way

Do You Have a Wall that's Been Waiting for Just the Right Photo or Photos but are Unsure What to Feature on it?

If you do, you're in the club of just about everyone. Resorting to old habits usually wins the day when it comes to decorating. However, if you're feeling creative and have the time for a worthy family project, you have to look at the idea of featuring a large family tree wall graphic.

Putting up a family tree wall decal isn't an instant project, so you'll have to put aside time to get it finished. Also, there are several informative how-to videos on YouTube that you can review before you take the leap. Even though manufacturers vary, the videos give you a first hand account of what to expect when putting up large wall graphics.

This Popular YouTube How To Video is One I Personally Like Best - However there are more:


This particular video shows you how to put up a large wall tree decal versus an actual family tree graphic, however the process is essentially the same. For the purpose of gaining an understanding of what's involved, it's helpful.

Taking the Family Tree Leap

In terms of creating a visible display of your family and for your family, it goes without saying that this project is worth every cuss word you may utter while tackling it.

Imagine your family and friends entering your home to see a wall that not only features your clan, but does it in an incredibly artistic way.

There are numerous designs, colors and styles to choose from. The decal featured at the very top gives you an example of one designed for staircases; truly a gorgeous way to utilize the often empty wall space you see on a staircase.

You'll want to allow yourself lots of time to do this, but if you're handy, go for it!













Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Halloween Countdown Calendar Reviews

A countdown calendar will help put the "How many days 'til Halloween?" question to rest. Here are three Halloween countdown calendars that you can make yourself.

October is a long month and with Halloween coming at the very end, it can seem like forever to a child who can't wait to wear his new costume and go trick or treating around the neighborhood.

A Halloween countdown calendar will help put the "How many days 'til Halloween?" question to rest. Here are three easy Halloween countdown calendars that you can make yourself.

Downloadable Halloween Countdown Calendar | ReviewThisReviews.com | AbilityPoweredDesign on Etsy
AbilityPoweredDesign on Etsy

Downloadable Halloween Countdown Calendar


Since I'm sure I'm not the only one who puts off projects until the last minute, I'm going to start with this one. It's super-quick and easy to make for as little as three dollars if you have a spare picture frame on hand.

Simply purchase this Halloween Countdown Calendar download, print it out immediately, put it in an 8 x 10-inch frame and you're ready to start counting down the days 'til Halloween. Each day, use a dry erase marker (available at the link or at your local discount store) to write the number on the glass. Next day, wipe off the number and update. Hooray, you're one day closer to trick-or-treat!

I've personally purchased many downloadable files from Etsy and just love the ease and convenience. This is a great project, simple and fun. I think this would make a cute gift for a teacher, neighbor, relative, or friend, too. Choose a pretty black, orange, or gold frame, include a new marker with the gift, and voila! I know I'd be impressed if someone made one of these for me. Oh, and if you like the idea but would prefer another design, you'll find many more choices in AbilityPoweredDesign's Etsy store.


No Tricks! Halloween Countdown Calendar With Treats


No Tricks! Halloween Countdown Calendar With Treats | ReviewThisReviews.com | OhHappyDay.com
OhHappyDay.com
This next project is from the Oh Happy Day blog and I think it's adorable. It takes more time to make, but it's actually quite simple, the supplies are easy to find, and the end result is quite impressive and makes a beautiful, seasonal display. What's more, you'll be able to add little candies or stickers to the adorable cupcake-cup witch's hats to add even more fun each morning when your child counts down one more day.

Chiara, who wrote the post, includes complete directions and awesome photos to help make this project really easy. I hope you'll leave a comment on her blog if you like this project.









DIY Halloween Countdown Calendar With Printable Numbers



DIY Halloween Countdown Calendar With Printable Numbers | ReviewThisReviews.com | DIY Network
DIYNetwork Blog
Next we have a Halloween countdown calendar project from the DIY Network blog. This is another countdown calendar that will take a bit of time to put together, but it's a simple craft that even a beginner can handle.

I love the popular chevron-patterned gift bags and the printable letters and numbers, all in seasonal black, orange, and white. (Note: I can see this project being carried over to other holidays, using other colors, can't you? Love it!)

The project calls for either a bulletin board, as shown, or a foam board. The supplies are inexpensive, the instructions are complete, and the final product is adorable.







So there you have it, three easy DIY Halloween Countdown Calendar projects. I hope one or all appeal to you. Which one do you like best? If you make and use one of these, I'd love it you come back to let me know. Have a happy Halloween!

~Susan

Click Here to Read More Halloween Reviews From Our Review This! Team






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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Board Game to Encourage Your Better Self

A Board Game that Encourages Positive Action & Thought

Are you looking for a family game or party game to help inspire and encourage the better side of people?


There isn't anything that says we have to continue to feed into the overwhelming negativity that seems to be infecting our lives and our playtime

Many are consumed with violent video games and even board games that promote the not-so-nice side of people. Although game lovers will never stop playing violent and vulgar games (and yes, they can be fun too!), it's nice to know that, once in a while, we can actively switch things up to something that leans positive.

With Thanksgiving approaching, 'Better Me' is a game the whole family can play. It encourages us to expose the better side of ourselves to others.
"Better Me is a new approach to relationships and personal development. The game encourages it's players to take real action after the game has ended to better themselves in this life. It uses the basic principles of positive psychology to help strengthen relationships and to help tap into the better side of the human condition"
Better Me helps you to quickly get to know people as well. If you're hosting a party and need a game to encourage conversation, this game does it in a positive, constructive and forward thinking way. You'll get to see the inside of people very quickly just by their responses to a variety of life questions and scenarios. 

The fundamental play of the game involves Players completing their five areas of life; Heart, Mind, Body, Tangibles and People. You earn points by passing along a true compliment, sharing a story where you learned a positive lesson, and even committing to taking a positive step in your life when the game ends.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays - Have Fun, Be Happy

by Barbara Tremblay Cipak
Owner - Funkthishouse.com






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Canadians and Thanksgiving, The Time is Now!

This coming weekend while our friends south of the Border will be still dreaming about Turkey and all the fixings, Canadians will be in Full Turkey Mode!
It's time to get out the fancy glasses, a nice tablecloth, napkins, china and all the things we save for a "special day". For my family, it doesn't get more special than Thanksgiving. We like to celebrate and we like to do it up right!
Canadian Thanksgiving has had it's day celebrated at many different times of the Calendar year.  It was only in 1957 that Canadian passed a law that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the second Monday in October.

Until that time, Canadians had sometimes celebrated the holiday and sometimes did not.  In the late 1850's it was celebrated in June following the end of one of the many battles of Upper and Lower Canada.  At that time Thanksgiving was only celebrated 6 times in a 15 year period.

In 1872 it was celebrated in April when the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) was returned to health, from a very serious illness.

So you see in Canada, we don't have the same attachment to Thanksgiving that our American cousins have.  Ours is still a very "young" holiday.
It doesn't mean that we don't do it up right, though. Most families will go that extra mile to make Thanksgiving dinner something to remember.
The important word is "Holiday", who doesn't enjoy those.  Added to the holiday is good food and family get togethers and you have a "holiday" that everyone enjoys.

Just to make it even more special, we will have all the fixings, Turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, squash soup, or a vegetable, some green salads and dessert of course.




Just to make everything perfect, a beautiful table and all the things needed to make dinner wonderful, joyful and thankful. While it's early for a lot of people to be thinking about Thanksgiving, just know that up north, we will be dining on Turkey and feeling very, very stuffed! Happy Thanksgiving to all, whenever you celebrate.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.