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review 2018-03-13 11:30
A delightful read, full of great characters, inspiring, and heart-warming. Also recommended to dog lovers!
When the Stars Sang - Caren J. Werlinger

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you want to get your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

I occasionally read romance novels although I am not their number one fan, but there was something about this book that called my attention from the very beginning. I am always attracted towards stories that are set in special locations (real or imagined) and the description of the island definitely fitted the bill for me. And, in this case, first impressions were right.  I loved the story and the place, and I wish it existed and I could be a part of the community in Little Sister.

The story is narrated in the third person from the point of view of two female characters, Kathleen, who returns to Little Island as an adult (after a traumatic breakup with her on-and-off girlfriend of 14 years), and goes to live to the house of her recently deceased grandmother (although she had not been back there since she was a child due to a very traumatic event), and Molly, the island’s sheriff, and also a handywoman, who loves restoring and repairing boats, but can set her hand at anything that needs repairing (even a broken heart). Although they are suspicious of each other at first, it is clear that they are meant for each other, but, as we all know, the path of true love never does run smooth, and there are a number of obstacles on their way, some of their own making, but others to do with childhood trauma, dysfunctional family relationships, and a past that refuses to be buried. If you are a big fan of romances, LGBT or otherwise, you do not need to worry. Although I won’t discuss the ending to avoid spoilers; I think you’ll be happy with it.

The author creates realistic characters we care for, and not only the protagonists. While Kathleen and Molly can be stubborn and blind at times (and even annoying, but ultimately likeable), there is a full catalogue of fabulous secondary characters, including Molly’s family (her wonderful parents, and her brothers, including Aidan, who is an integral part of the incident that made everything change for Kathleen), sisters Olivia and Louisa (who always carry the ashes of their father with them), Rebecca, the librarian and depository of the island’s traditions, and many more. Oh, and let’s not forget Blossom, a stray dog adopted by Kathleen (well, the adoption is mutual), that is both a totally realistic dog and a fantastic and heart-warming character.

There is lovely food, a variety of ceremonies and traditions, a strong sense of community [including matrilineal heritage that reminded me of the book The Kingdom of Women by Choo Wai Hong (you can read my review here)], secrets, deception, ecology and renewable energy, and plenty of love, not only between the two women, but between all the members of the community. The sense of belonging and the healing and growth of the characters is intrinsically linked to the way of life in this island that mixes Irish folklore and beliefs with Native-American (First Ones) ones. Werlinger creates a beautiful setting, both in its landscape and spirituality. Readers feel a part of this wonderful community, and I, for one, was sorry to come to the end of the book and would love to live in such a place.

The writing ebbs and flows, allowing readers to enjoy the descriptions of the island, its inhabitants, their actions and also their mental processes, although I did not find it slow and I was hooked to the story and the feeling of becoming one with the inhabitants of the place. As a writer, I easily empathised with Kathleen, who is an editor and also creates book covers, and I enjoyed the fact that female and male characters are diverse, are not restricted to standard gender roles, and the attitude of the islanders towards same-sex love is open and unquestioning. There are certain necessary characteristics that make a relationship truly compatible, but gender is not one of them.

As readers, we share the thoughts and experiences of the main characters although the third person narration also gives us enough distance to be able to make our own minds up. There are some surprises, some quasi-magical elements, some light and fun moments, but there are also nasty characters (although these are always outsiders), and intuition and family connections are very important. As for the love story, there are some sexual elements, but not a full-blown graphic description of events, and I found it rather delicate and in good taste (and I am not a fan of erotica).

I wanted to share a few things I highlighted:

Normally, those messages would have torn at Kathleen’s heart. But she wasn’t sure she had a hart any longer. She tapped her chest, half expecting it to sound hollow, like the Tin Man.

“It should be a mix. None of us is just one thing, complete in and of ourselves. We are the island, and the island is us.”

“That is not how it works. Love that has to be deserved or earned was never love to begin with.”

A joyful read, which I recommend to readers who enjoy books set in special locations, who appreciate a strong sense of community and belonging, and love solid characters. There are ups and downs, happy and sad events, although it is not a book for lovers of adventures and frantically paced novels. This is a contemplative and inspiring book, heart-warming and positive. If you need a pick-me-up, this is your book.

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review 2017-02-12 14:41
Families
Families - Shelley Rotner,Sheila M. Kelly

Families is a short nonfiction book describing the many types of families. It received a score of AD210L on the Lexile reading scale, and would be a good book to use in a kindergarten or preschool classroom. This would be a good book to teach about diversity as it explains that families come in many different varieties. 

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text 2016-12-23 02:22
I took this from the library
I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know - Ellen Kirschman

But I don't think I'm going to try explain the convoluted non-logic behind this choice, at least not while I'm this tired.   Not fully.

 

I'm also curious to see if this will help, and I don't think I want to explain it all before I know.   If it doesn't, then I'll be stuck with this horrible devastation, and nowhere to put it.   It does explain some things, like a certain obsession of mine.   (The most obvious one is Robocop and not what I'm talking about, although I believe I have mentioned this particular boy.)  It explains why I wasn't able to finish a reread.  

 

I've been grieving for, what, a year now?   And I didn't realize it, but I saw this book cover and there was a lump in my throat.   It won't do anything to bring him back, not in the continuity where I most want him to be alive.   He's not real.   

 

And yet I've been grieving for him as if he were, I've been sick to my stomach, I've been in a great deal of pain.   And maybe this will give me some sense of closure by going back, accepting what I was in for in the first place, and then processing that book again. 

 

I'm going to try it.   If it works, I'll consider talking about the whole process.   If not... I don't know, guys, because this is hitting me hard.  

 

 

 

 

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review 2016-11-16 19:37
Big Little Lies Review
Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty

Lies generally serve a purpose.

To save someone from harm. To make one look better to their peers. To get out of a jam.

When we were children, we were always told to NEVER tell a lie. You would get into so much trouble if you told a lie as a child. I for one remember the punishments for lying.

As you got a little older you found out there others have lied to you before...but it's okay. It was just a white lie...which to our understanding THAT lie was to save us from harm.

Then we grew up. One lie after another. But it's okay. We are now adults, so we can tell big lies. We just tell the kids it's a white lie and that they shouldn't lie at all. (And we get away with it.)

Well, sometimes we can get away with them.

A group of parents are getting ready to take their kids to school. A few moms stick together like before; a few new mothers are in town needing guidance. First day of school can be hectic, but once you deal with the cliques; getting the kids ready the rest of the day should go easy as baking a pie.

Apparently someone forgot to set the timer on that pie for it just burned!!

A child is accusing another child of bullying; teachers get worried, want it solved right away so saying your sorry is in order. But, the child in question says it wasn't him. As any parent would do they stick up for their child. Of course other Mom's don't agree with that policy and name calling gets thrown out into the air, and people start having opinions of others (especially if they are new to the town) and start gathering in their cliques to force others to choose: Truth, or power.

It isn't easy for Jane to be new in town and trying to understand the small town antidotes but when her son is accused of bullying and she fully well knows he didn't do it, it just takes the cake. Good thing she became good friends with a woman wouldn't shouldn't be reckoned with. Madeline has been there, done all that even had a divorce. She knows the in's and out's of the small town and knows everyone and everyone knows her. Even though she used to part (or known) the cliques, she sides with the new girl. Helps her out of jams once in a while. Of course she doesn't do this alone, she has help from her friend Celeste.

A woman who has everything: wonderful, handsome husband and two loving boys. She has a wonderful house, beautiful looks, great clothes. Everyone marvels on how she can handle twin boys and always being there for the school/church activities. But we must ask ourselves...do we really know our neighbors? Or do we see what we are supposed to see?

Lies are like a domino effect: once one gets going, it gets tough to stop them from growing. But also like in domino's, somehow, somewhere the domino's stop falling. How would you like the domino's to stop thought is the question? Towards you? Or something more sinister?

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/19486412-big-little-lies
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review 2016-11-10 21:59
Boundless Grace
Boundless Grace - Mary Hoffman

My first day of placement this semester, my cooperating teacher used this book in her whole group lesson. The book is about a girl named Grace and Grace lives with her mom and grandmother. Once day, Grace sees a family that has a mom, child, and a father. Grace then begins to think that her family is incomplete. It Grace traveling to where her father lives and to see that there is a variety of different families and that who she lives with, s her complete family. She ends up to know that just because her father does not live with her and she does not live with him, its OK. I would use this book in two different ways. I would first teach the students how to inference. The other thing I would teach the students is just because you mom or dad does not live you, doesn't mean your family is incomplete. Your family is anyone you care about whether they do or do not live with you. I think this book would be good in grades 3 -4. The actual level of the book is  4.1.

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