Thursday, June 29, 2017


We finally are getting rid of all these awful shrubs in the front of my house.  I am so excited.

You can now see my front door again, the beautiful railing my father built for me, and my house.  :)

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER photos.

I will add a final photo when the landscape is done.

Landscape done - so happy!!

The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon

Flossy Merrill's children, her husband, and The Summer House have always been her first loves.

Nothing mattered to her as much as her family.  The family wasn’t together for a few summers in a row because of commitments, but this summer Flossy managed to get everyone together to celebrate their father's 75th birthday party.

Flossy also had another reason to get the family together, but she and Richard couldn't bring themselves to tell their children even though they knew they had to sooner than later.

Getting together was easy this year, but wasn't easy once everyone arrived.  Sibling rivalry still continued into adulthood, and each of Flossy and Richard's children had some issue with each other and in their lives.

Paige still seemed bossy, Sam still liked to pick on Clem, and Clem was still mourning the loss of her husband.

The characters will grow on you and bring you into their problems and their heartaches as well as their joys.  I enjoyed the sibling and parental interactions with some being comical, some being emotional, and some being serious.

THE SUMMER HOUSE is a perfect read for anyone who has a tradition of spending family vacations together.  We never did that, but it would be fun to compare what your family vacations were like and how they might be compared to the family vacations of the Merrills.  It would be interesting to see any similarities and differences. 

This was my first book by Ms. McKinnon, and I truly enjoyed THE SUMMER HOUSE.  I would love to spend some time in that gorgeous house.  :)    

THE SUMMER HOUSE was a heartfelt, lovely read about a family I think most readers could identify with.

If you know this author's work and have enjoyed it, you will not be disappointed in THE SUMMER HOUSE as you become involved in the lives of the characters and feel the emotions they are experiencing.  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall

Willow has an older mother and never knew her father.  Willow is paranoid that her mother is going to die soon because of her smoking, drinking, and her age.  Polly became pregnant at 50 years of age.

Willow wants to know about her mother's life before she married her father who passed away before Willow was born.  Willow also wants to know the secret her mother won't reveal about something that happened in Louisiana.

Willow makes it her mission to find out the secret as she continues worrying about her mother and her longevity.  Willow is a precocious, rule-following child.   I really enjoyed Willow for her spunk.  I enjoyed Polly because she was fearless and didn't really care what anyone thought of her.

THE BOOK OF POLLY made me laugh out loud.  I loved Willow and Polly and loved their relationship even though it is a strained one because Willow is always challenging her mother and Polly is always manipulating Willow.

THE BOOK OF POLLY was a delightful read because of the funny circumstances and situations the characters got themselves in.   

All of the characters were comical and lovable.  You will be laughing as well as crying but mostly laughing. 

If you need a break from murders and serious story lines, THE BOOK OF POLLY fits the bill. 

 I just loved this book.  ENJOY!!  5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

Falling in love and marrying during a war usually turns out to be a good thing, but for Virginia Fortescue Fitzwilliam it wasn't working out.

Virginia fell in love, married, and then spent hardly any time with her husband.  The war is over, she still hasn't seen him, and then she returns to the United States to her father and her sister. 

Her family has secrets, and she finds out Simon does too. Simon seems to be the perfect manipulator and liar.

We follow Virginia and Simon Fitzwilliam as the book goes back and forth from WWI to after the war and as their love affair blossomed and faded and the secrets Simon held were revealed.

After three years of not seeing Simon, a fire in Cocoa Beach claimed his life, Virginia went there to settle things, and her adventure in Florida begins...well if you want to call it an adventure.   An adventure is to be fun, but Virginia runs into trouble and more secrets.

COCOA BEACH had beautifully detailed writing.  It was a bit slow at first, but the story line was marvelous as always and filled with mystery.

COCOA BEACH is another winner by Beatriz Williams that keeps you turning the pages wanting to know what really happened and what really was going on.  

Something sinister was brewing throughout, and the end will have you saying: What?  Who was the bigger liar?

ENJOY if you read COCOA BEACH...a marvelous, thoughtful read with mystery and a lot of questions.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Purple Smoke

 My purple smoke FINALLY grew up.   :)

Here is a closeup of the delicate leaves that resemble smoke.

We planted this tree 20 years ago, and it finally is tall enough to be considered an adult.  LOL!!

It was not growing for the longest time so my husband and son ran over it with the lawnmower, and the next spring it grew about two feet.  :)  LOL!!

This actually is a tree, but looks like a bush.

I am just happy it finally got a bit larger.

I like the smoky, fuzzy leaves.

Does anyone else have a purple smoke in their yard?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

International Giveaway and Spotlight of My Sister's Mother by Donna Solecka Urbikas


Donna’s story, My Sister’s Mother, has just been named a finalist in the Chicago Writers Association’s 2016 Book Awards! It’s a unique and compelling story that will capture the interest of many.

Donna Urbikas' half-sister Mira was five when she and her mother Janina were taken from their small family farm in eastern Poland and shipped to a hard-labor camp in Siberia amid the turmoil of World War II. 

That shared experience of war and exile created a bond between mother and daughter—an exceptionally close relationship that Donna, born years after the war and raised in the Midwest, would struggle to achieve with either of them.

Yet, despite Donna's comparatively privileged upbringing in postwar America, the events of war-torn Europe cast a long shadow on her life. She grew up fascinated by stories of wartime deprivation, but at the same time drawn to mainstream America and the elusive dream of a "normal" American family. 

In the years that followed, Donna lived through ordeals of her own as she first coped with cancer and then watched a son struggle with the same disease. In her own way, she realized, she was also a survivor, like her mother and sister.

In My Sister's Mother Urbikas recounts Janina's arrest in Poland, the grueling journey to Siberia with her young daughter Mira, the hunger and sickness that attended their life in the camps, and their refuge in Persia, India, England, and finally the United States. Interweaved with her mother's and sister's memories of their past are the author's own experiences—less dramatic, to be sure, but also requiring reservoirs of inner strength.

At the broadest level, this is the story of a woman trying to reconcile her identity as a first-generation American with her awareness of herself as a second-generation survivor of World War II and its tremendous upheavals.
Born in Coventry, England, Danuta or “Donna”Urbikas immigrated to the USA with her parents and sister, the subjects of the book, in 1952, settling in Chicago, Illinois, and growing up in the Polish community.  After attending Catholic grade schools and a public high school in Chicago, she graduated from the University of Illinois—Chicago Circle with a degree in biology and began teaching high school biology.
In 1976, she took her first trip to Poland to meet relatives and explore her parents’ home towns.  On the cusp of the Solidarity Movement, her movements were restricted by the Communists and the trip became a significant life experience.  Later, she graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois, with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering.  
The author has published her thesis, technical articles, worked as a teaching and research assistant and served as president of the Society of Women Engineers in Chicago, participating in numerous public speaking engagements.  She went on to work as an environmental engineer and project manager in charge of water and wastewater compliance at coal and nuclear power plants and as an industry spokesperson.
The author is a cancer survivor, currently working as an Illinois Licensed Real Estate Broker, community volunteer, and writer, living in Chicago with her husband.
Facebook URL:

Buy link for My Sister’s Mother Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:


The giveaway copy is “Courtesy PJ Nunn
Publicist, BreakThrough Promotions”




Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer Mini Bloggiesta

 Thank you, Bloggiesta hosts...great job!!

Hello - I don't have too many things that need to be done, but I do want to take part in the Bloggiesta.  

I also want to share the calendar link below that is interactive and keeps me organized. 

To Do:
1.  Clean up my e-mail.  Working on it.....uggghhh.  Best I can make it.  Aren’t there some e-mails you just CANNOT throw out?  :)
2.  Remember to Back-Up My Blog Every Month - did it for this month.
3.  Share this calendar site:
4.  Try to join in the Twitter chats. I LOVE the chats, but I may not be able to make the one at 2 p.m. tomorrow.  I joined in after it was over and still had fun. 
5. Visit other blogs. Visited all of them so far...Friday at 4:45 p.m
6.  Try to find at least 10 new book lovers to follow on Instagram each day. 

I think I did a great job!!!  Everything is done!!

Have fun!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

Ronni Sunshine is a famous, wonderful, pleasant actress on stage, but at home she is anything but wonderful and pleasant. She has no time for her daughters.

We follow Meredith, Nell, and Lizzy as they grow up in an unloving household with a mother who is more of a tyrant than a mother and a mother who cares only for herself.

The girls flee the nest one at a time and have troubles of their own because of their childhood, but now that Ronni is dying, she wants her daughters to rally around her. Ronni also had something else in mind when she invited her daughters back to their childhood home.

Each sister has a totally different personality, and it was interesting to follow them to see the path each one took.  Nell seemed to be the responsible one.  Meredith seemed to still be looking for happiness.  Lizzy was still the fly-by-night, spoiled one.

The family issues and the different lifestyles the girls led were nicely developed by Ms. Green and could be the lifestyle of any young girl growing up trying to make choices.

This is my first book by Ms. Green.  It was an enjoyable read and not something I normally read so I was surprised how her writing and story line pulled me in.

Nell seemed like a genuine person who worked hard in her life to make up what she had missed during her childhood.

Meredith kept speaking to me because of the way she put everyone before herself and kept the peace.

Lizzy was self-centered like her mother, and I liked her the least.

The characters did grow on me as they grew emotionally and made choices they never thought they would.

Women's fiction fans will enjoy this book because of the family drama, the regrets, the healing, and how Ms. Green addressed both family and friend relationships, as well as addressing end-of-life decisions..  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Little Library - Detroit, Michigan

I found this Little Library on the River Walk in Detroit, Michigan, and a HUGE chair to share with someone as you read a book together.  :)


I don't think that's what the chair is for, but that is what I would use it for.  :)

Friday, June 9, 2017


Image Courtesy of ReadItForward

What reader wouldn't agree with this?  :)

I didn't win in their daily contest, but they sent me this beautiful quote.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

A wedding anniversary celebration for Armand and Reine-Marie and a family reunion at Manoir Bellechasse for the Morrow family bring Louise Penny's familiar characters back to beautiful Three Pines and along with the characters comes a murder.

The Morrow family is known to not have much love for each other.  When a marble statue is brought into the pristine landscape, questions are raised about why it is there.  A thunderstorm brings a tragic surprise to mar the statue's meaning.

A RULE AGAINST MURDER is another well-written book with Louise Penny's beautiful, detailed writing that puts you right into the book and the scenes.  You can feel yourself swimming in the lake, walking through the gardens, enjoying the evening chats, indulging in the delicious meals, and being drawn into the tension and murder investigation.

We follow Armand as he investigates the murder of Julia Morrow and find things out about the Morrow family.

A RULE AGAINST MURDER has a title that is significant to the owners of Manoir Bellechasse.  They say there is a rule against murder in their place of hunting or anything to do with death.  This murder was very upsetting to them as well as the guests and family members.

This is an earlier book of Louise Penny, but no matter what book it is, you are never disappointed with her story line and exquisite writing style.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You'll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron

When a child disappears, the pain never goes away no matter how long ago it has been.

Lis Woodham's four-year-old sister, Janey, along with her doll disappeared forty years ago and was never found.  There were no clues about what happened then and no clues now.

Each year Janey's mother, Miss Sorrel, would put an ad in the paper on the anniversary of the disappearance in hopes that someone would come forward with the doll or information about her daughter's disappearance and earn the reward offered.  There never was an answer to the ad for all of those years except for now.  Someone saw the ad and brought a battered doll to their house hoping it was Janey's. 

Before they could tell if the doll was actually Janey's, the person bringing the doll ran out of the house and disappeared.

This caused more anxiety for the family, and it seemed that once the doll was returned, the family was plagued with danger. Their house was burglarized and then filled with carbon monoxide causing harm to Grandma Sorrel and Lis.

The accident brought Lis's daughter, Vanessa, home to help take care of her mother and grandmother, and Vanessa got involved in the forty-year-old investigation. 

YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR was a mystery that will definitely hold your interest because of Ms. Ephron’s talent of drawing the reader into the story. 

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR wasn't fast paced or gripping, but had just enough intrigue to keep you turning the pages.

The ending revealed quite a few secrets that some of the characters wished had not been revealed and other secrets that were welcome revelations.

YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR was a good mystery with tense moments and a mystery that will keep you guessing.  4/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Guest Review of The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

My guest reviewer is my son, Mark, who did a marvelous job reviewing a book I didn't have time to read nor one that would have held my interest.

He read the book on his way back from a trip to Europe.  The photo is while he was on the plane and in his pajamas.  :)  He was flying first class in Lufthansa...excellent airline to fly.

Please follow Mark on Instagram for more exciting European adventures.  His Instagram name is:  markbuttons.

Thank you, Mark.  I hope you, my readers, enjoy his take on THE ESSEX SERPENT, and if you have read the book, let us know what you think.
When I was first invited to do a guest review for this book, I was so excited because I love historical European fiction, especially in Britain.  And then I found out a little bit more like a vicious sea serpent, a gruesome murder, a grieving widow all the makings of a title worthy of top ranking on my bookshelf.  

My initial excitement could not have been more wrong, but in a different way than I initially expected, and overall I was surprised and mildly charmed by THE ESSEX SERPENT by Sarah Perry.

The book begins with a death in prominent Victorian English high-society and continues on with a widow who should be grieving, but seemingly felt bound by the chains of marriage and therefore seemed somewhat relieved by her husband’s untimely death.  

The story begins when the widow, Cora, relocates from London to Essex to raise her now fatherless son.  Cora integrates herself into Essex society as if she were one of the locals, especially with the local Vicar, William Ransome.  The base of the story and the main characters all seem to circle around this relationship and focus on the events of their comings and goings.

Admittedly, I was expecting a book about Cora and her love interest, the local Vicar, chasing a serpent through the English countryside to discover the identity of the beast who was on a murdering rampage through Essex.  Instead, this is a book about human life, love, religion, medicine, surgery and the human heart.  

Depending on your take on this, this is both a good and a bad twist.  This is a good twist because at the end of the story, I understood the point of view of the author when writing to create a world where the “serpent” had paralyzed the town with fear; however, I really was expecting a genuine mystery instead of a story about human life and tendencies.

As the story weaves through 11 months of the year, I can’t say that I am disheartened with the way the author chose to spin the story; however, ultimately I ended up disappointed.  The lack of expected thrill and mystery of chasing the serpent left me wishing I had stopped reading when the chapter turned from January to February.  
However, when I finally got to the crux of the story approximately 395 pages into the book, I smiled.  The story is a heartwarming tale of the way fear of the unknown changes people and brings unexpected relationships to fruition.

Overall the story kept my attention, but it had a lot of secondary characters who I still cannot grasp their relevance to the main plot. Throughout the story I had trouble keeping up with who was who and their relevance. 

The story jumped frequently between different characters, settings, and seemingly unrelated themes which left me going back to a previous chapters to recollect their significance.   

At the end of the day, the title of the book enraptured me into thinking it would be a heroic tale of chasing and slaying a serpent, but ended up a love story and one of human character and its frailties.  3/5.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Going To Visit My Sisters

Image Credit

I will be offline and may pop in, but I will be enjoying some time with my three sisters from May 24 until the first week in June.

Scheduled posts will publish, but I may not be replying or visiting blogs.

I also may not be participating in the weekly memes that haven't been pre-scheduled.

Happy Reading and Blogging!!